Zoodles with Chickpeas & Pesto

It was time to harvest my crazy flat leaf parsley plant today. Because parsley is rarely the star in any recipe, I kinda knew I’d be making a pesto. What else can you make with an over-abundance of any green herb? I chose a Parsley & Walnut recipe I found on Taste.com.au (link to that recipe here ) …but halved the ingredients because (1) I’m single and don’t eat much and (2) I didn’t really have enough parmesan cheese left to make the full batch…

Now even before I’d finished creating it I knew how I’d be enjoying the first serving: zoodles. Zucchini noodles, for those not in the know. Because I’m not a huge fan of Italian food – pasta and the like – I’m a bit clueless about the uses of pesto: besides as a dip, all that comes to mind is its presence in pasta dishes (total cliche). So, there it was: raw zucchini spiralled into spaghetti-like strands, to be crowned with my parsley pesto… BUT… what in between? I can’t just do ‘pasta’ & pesto: I mean, where’s the nutrient density in that? ‘Myright?Food Fervour

This is how my (single serve) meal came together:

I popped a frypan on the stove, splashing in a little EVOO and setting it to a low heat. Then I cut about a quarter of a red capsicum slicing it thinly lengthwise. I added it to the frypan.

Next I ‘zoodled’ (spiralled) half of a medium sized zucchini, and arranged the ‘pasta’ bed on my plate. I added approximately ¼ cup of (cooked) chickpeas to the frypan, with the now softening capsicum and gave it a little stir. Then I retrieved some feta & my freshly made pesto from the fridge, and my nutritional yeast from the pantry. There really wasn’t much left to do…

With the chickpeas warmed and the capsicum soft, it was time to plate. (Too easy, right?) I topped the zoodles with the capsicum first, creating a kind of ‘nest’ with them, then I tipped the chickpeas into the centre. Plopping a good dollop of the pesto on top of them, I cut a little piece (maybe 20gms?) of feta, crumbled it over the lot and finished with a sprinkle of (about 1 teaspoon of) nutritional yeast.

It’s a nice light veggie meal, like a ‘warm salad’ in a respect. I found the sweetness of the capsicum tempered any bitterness of the walnut & parsley pesto, and then there was delicious saltiness of the feta and nutritional yeast. If you want to give it a go (NB vegans simply omit the feta) I’d love to know what you think. 🙂

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Quick Chicken Mushroom Stew

I LOVE a quick meal. Usually I’ll spend more time on Google looking for a recipe (to adapt!) than I’ll end up spending on the actual cooking process.

Last night I had two boneless chicken thighs to thawed and knowing my button mushies were only days away from turning funky, I searched “chicken mushroom recipes” and found a great, easy recipe on BBC Good Food (here’s the link to the original recipe).Food Fervour

Because I didn’t have all the required ingredients, and because I prefer a higher vegetable content in my meals anyway, I made some changes. (What’s new?!) I used the following:

2 (large) boneless diced chicken thighs, about 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour, 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, about 1 heaped tablespoon diced bacon, 1-1½ cups roughly chopped button mushrooms, 250mls chicken stock, approximately 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 1 large chopped shallot, 1-1½ cups broccoli florets, 1 large thickly chopped zucchini.

While half of the coconut oil heats up in the frypan (over medium heat) coat the chicken in the cornflour. (You can do this one of two ways: the sustainable but messy method is to put them together in a bowl and use your hands to coat the chicken, or you could pop the meat & flour in a plastic bag, seal it, then jiggle the contents around until the job is done. I only chose the latter this time around because I had a plastic (food) bag I was about to dispose of.) Chuck the contents in the frypan and cook until the chicken is sealed and browned. Remove from the pan.

Add the rest of the coconut oil, the bacon and the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms soften. Pour in the stock and vinegar, scraping any cornflour from the frypan base and mix it through the liquid (the meagre amount of cornflour used in this recipe means the stew won’t be ‘thick’ in texture). Bring the chicken back to the mix and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the shallot, broccoli & zucchini and cook until the broccoli has turned a brilliant green (brighter than it was when raw) – no more than 5 minutes or you risk overcooking the greens. And that’s just no good!

Serve immediately, seasoning if you wish. This will feed two not-so-hungry people but I imagine it would satisfy the ravenous if served over rice. Because I felt like being ‘starchy-carb-free’ at the time, I managed to inhale the entire dish …by going back for seconds 😉 Umah!

 

Red Lentil & Veggie Curry

This is one of my fall-backs. You know: one of those recipes that is quick & failsafe and you know it’s full of goodness. It’s a slightly adapted version of a soup recipe I found in a Women’s Weekly cookbook I snapped years ago, because of its title:food fervour

All I’ve done is reduce the fluid ingredients to ‘thicken’ the soup to a curry consistency. Too. Easy.

To make this delish meal you will need the following:

1 teaspoon coconut oil, 2 tablespoons red curry paste, 400gm passata (or can of crushed tomatoes if you prefer) 2 cups chicken (or veggie) stock, 1 large diced carrot, 2 finely chopped celery stalks, ¾ cup (washed) red lentils, 2 cups broccoli &/or cauliflower florets, 1 large chopped zucchini, handful of roughly chopped snow peas, ⅓ cup (80ml) coconut cream, 2 tablespoons fresh coriander

Method:

Melt the coconut oil in a very large saucepan, then add the curry paste, stirring for about 1 minute. Add the passata/tomatoes, stock, carrot and celery, bringing to a boil before reducing to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the lentils (& cauliflower if using), cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables (broccoli, zucchini & snow peas) mixing well and leave to simmer again, covered, for 5-10 minutes (depending upon how ‘al dente’ you prefer your vege). Stir the coconut cream and coriander through just before serving. food fervour

I love this with or without rice and can even gulp it down cold from the fridge when I’m in a hurry. It makes at least 4 meals for me… and I’m a pretty big eater!

If you have a bit of a clue about curries, I’d encourage you to experiment with the vegetables. My attitude regarding them is “The More, The Better” 😉

Kangaroo Bolognese

Some people can’t understand how I (or anyone) can eat our ‘national emblem’. The vegetarians’ and vegans’ opinions are justified but any other carnivore (or omnivore, for that matter) cannot complain about me eating ‘Skippy’ if they don’t think twice about eating ‘Daisy’, ‘Babe’ or Nemo!

Kangaroo meat is higher in protein than beef, naturally lower in fat as well, and provides the haem iron I choose to include in my diet. Added to the fact that it is considered ‘Game’ (wild caught) and therefore likely to be a much ‘cleaner’ source of animal protein to consume than the chemical-laden animals being farmed for bulk consumption.

From an anthropological perspective, humans evolved thanks to these kinds of meats: hunters (physically active people) originally had to chase down highly active creatures in order to eat. Daisy wasn’t docilely ‘grazing in the fields’ back then. It was suggested by one of my favourite fitness/nutrition/neuroscience gurus Paul Taylor that “you are the animal you eat”…

On with the story…

I picked up a kilo of kangaroo mince on sale and since I find the ‘mini-chore’ of divvying up individual portions kind of onerous, I decided to create something immediately to lighten my workload. I’m not usually a pasta fan, but somewhere along the line I’d bought some gluten free macaroni and since I’ve been trying to get rid of it (and cannot simply throw it out – wastage is a Sin!) for a while, “spag bol” came to mind.

Straight to the Thermie. Too. Easy. I literally walked in the door at 1:15pm and was eating by 2pm.food fervour

I threw 1 garlic clove, a roughly chopped brown onion, carrot & celery stem in the bowl and almost pulverised them (which ultimately resulted in a very smooth bolognese consistency) for 8 seconds on Speed 7. Then I threw in 20gm of olive oil, the 400gms of Skippy mince (instead of ‘Daisy’ & ‘Babe’) and various herbs (basil, nutmeg, parsley & a bay leaf) and set it on to cook for 10 minutes @ 100ºC, Reverse Speed 1.

In this time I apportioned the remaining kangaroo mince, put away the rest of the groceries and the already-used-ingredients, and pulled out the ones I had yet to use: red wine, tomato paste, tamari, the gluten free macaroni and parmesan cheese. And a zucchini, which I chopped up finely. (My usual bolognese recipe includes more vege – like capsicum & mushrooms – but I didn’t have my Thinking Cap on today. I was more interested in Time-Saving.)

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While the bolognese simmers away in the Thermomix, the Magic Bullet pulverises the parmesan…

Finally, I added the zucchini, 80gm red wine, 60gms water, 2 tspns tamari & about 300gm tomato paste, set the time to 16 minutes, again @ 100ºC, Reverse Speed 1 then set to work on the other elements:

Since I’m not yet an expert at multi-skilling with my Thermomix alone, I prepared the pasta to cook on the stovetop, boiling the electric jug first (ala Jamie Oliver-style) not just to speed up the process but also to minimise electricity usage a tad. Once the GF macaroni was bubbling away, I pulled out my handy little Magic Bullet, threw a chunk of parmesan in and grated that up in seconds. Everything was ready. I had time to begin the clean-up!

The alarm for my pasta went off literally seconds after the Thermie signalled she was done. Perfect timing. A heavy-duty meal – enough to feed four – complete within 45 minutes… Brilliant!

 

 

Chicken Massaman

So I had a few chicken tenderloins left in the fridge that HAD to be used, and I realised I hadn’t made a curry in awhile…and not at all in my Thermomix as yet. So I ‘tweaked’ the Red Thai Chicken Curry recipe in the Everyday Cookbook to suit what I had available. Hmmm, only Massaman curry paste in the fridge? Ok!

Now I could bang on about how much time I saved using my Thermomix (literally 20 minutes in total, including most of the washing up done too) but I know this is going to wear thin pretty quickly, so I’m going to provide the recipe for those who sadly don’t have one.Food Fervour

Curries are REALLY easy if you are a lazy twat like me and buy your curry pastes ready-made. No, I have not actually ever made my own, but I know this won’t be the way forever. In the meantime, I choose carefully when I am buying them pre-made: scouring the ingredient lists for sugars, certain oils and of course additives.

This recipe will only feed one (hungry) person without rice, but may satisfy two if you add that. Remember, I’m not a specific cook so you’ll have to pay attention to the state of your food as it’s cooking.

You will need:

50gm massaman curry paste, 200ml coconut cream/milk, 1-2 kaffir lime leaves, 250-300gm chicken tenderloins (thinly sliced) 1tbspn fish sauce, 60gm roughly chopped snow peas, 80-100gms broccoli florets, 1 zucchini (chopped), 50gms peanuts, 10-15 fresh basil leaves

Grab a large saucepan, and mix the curry paste with about 60mls of the coconut cream/milk over a medium heat, stirring for about 1 minute. Add the remainder of the coconut cream/milk and the lime leaves and bring to a boil. Add the chicken strips and reduce the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally for 5-6 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce & vegetables then cover and let simmer for approximately 8 minutes. Add the peanuts & basil, stir and cover again for about 2 minutes, then serve immediately.