Mushroom, Leek & Spinach Stew

With below average winter temperatures here on the Gold Coast at the moment I’m craving warm comfort food a bit more than usual… but tonight I was feeling pretty lazy.

I had my mind set on using up the button mushrooms and leek in my fridge so searched for some inspiration on Google. Nothing particularly hit the spot, so I ended up combining ideas from three different recipes: a vegetarian mushroom stroganoff, a leek & mushroom pasta dish, and an actual leek & mushroom stew…food fervour

It’s not like me to limit the veggie content to just three in most of my meals, but I was tired, and running behind, and just too plain lazy to go the extra mile. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I’d made a batch of gluten free cacao chip biscuits earlier in the afternoon and eaten a few too many of them?

Contrary to its deceptive title, this dish is not vegetarian: I deliberately opted for beef stock to pump up the stew’s flavour. Chicken stock would enrich the mushrooms as well, but Veggos, I am certain that veggie stock would still taste terrific, should you wish to try it (…and please let me know how you go if you do!)

For a solid single serve, you will need 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, 1 leek thinly sliced, salt & black pepper to season, approximately 200gm sliced mushrooms, 200mls beef (or veggie) stock, 1 teaspoon thyme, ½ teaspoon sage, 40gm cream cheese, 100gms baby spinach.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frypan over a medium heat and cook the garlic and leek for 3-4 minutes (until the leek has softened) stirring occasionally. Season with salt & pepper, then add the remaining oil and the sliced mushrooms, cooking for another 3-4 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, sage & stock, bringing to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Mix the cream cheese through then add the spinach, stirring until it has just wilted.

Serve immediately and enjoy immensely! If you’re super hungry, I can imagine a chunk of bread would compliment this perfectly and help you mop up every last drop from your dish.

Quick Quinoa & Haloumi Salad

I’ve already told you I’m lazy, right? Well this dish (it changes every time) is one of the easiest I know to make when I want something substantial – and slightly warm. Lunch in a hurry today…

I’m loving quinoa (most of you know by now its pronounced ‘keen-wah’ not ‘kwin-o-ah’) as much as the next healthy foodie and I’ve worked out it’s because it kills two birds with one stone: it has ‘complex-carb-functionality’ but an incredibly higher protein content than your average rice or couscous serving. So it makes for a great base to what would normally be a primarily veggie-based meal (what salad isn’t? Oh yeah….pasta salad. Urgh.)Food Fervour

You can throw in whatever you like, considering there are a couple of processes involved (oooh, very technical and not-so-lazy of me!) but make sure you pack in the vege. I’m loving the stronger flavour of red quinoa at the moment but the usual kind will do.

For a single serve of this messy little concoction (pictured) you will need:

1/4 cup rinsed -or previously soaked- red quinoa, 1/2-3/4 cup water, coconut oil, 1-2 tbspn cornflour, approx 100gms haloumi cut into chunks, 1/2 small red capsicum roughly chopped, 2 kale leaves de-stemmed & finely chopped, a decent handful of rocket or spinach roughly chopped, 1-2 tbspn pine nuts (toasted if you can be bothered), 1/2 avocado sliced diagonally, juice of 1/2 lime, 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, Himalayan salt (if required)

Place the quinoa & water in a saucepan, bring to the boil then reduce to simmer partially covered for 12-15 minutes. (I actually use my Thermomix for this because it cooks quinoa than I ever have been able to). Meanwhile, pop the oil in frying pan over a medium heat and quickly roll your haloumi chunks in the cornflour. Add them to the pan along with the capsicum and cook for about 4-5 minutes, turning the browning cheese and stirring the capsicum. Add the kale, combining with the capsicum and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the kale has wilted.

Make a bed of the rocket/spinach in your serving dish, dump the quinoa on top, then the capsicum & kale over that (we’re not about ‘Looks’ here!). Arrange your avocado slices & haloumi chunks on top then sprinkle over the pine nuts. Add lime juice & olive oil separately by hand, or mix them if you want to add to the washing up.

Salt if you need it, and chow down.