Spicy Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

I’ve mentioned before that I’ll never make it as a vegetarian, and certainly would fail miserably as a vegan. I’d give myself until my second meal until I slipped up on something minor (like the time I put sprinkles on vegan cupcakes for a vegan family member – luckily, I caught myself just in time to decorate the second half with berries), and just give up altogether.

In saying that, I’m playing around with vegetarian lunches a lot – not for any real ethical or health benefits (although I do recognise that there are both, and the hipster hiding inside me tempts to say that’s the case!), but because there are so many delicious options. I still don’t see myself giving up animal products for more than a few hours, but I’m REALLY digging meat free meals more and more these days.

I’ve had Nigella Lawson’s book Simply Nigella since it came out. I’m not sure if I’m the only one who does this, but when I get a new cookbook, I read it cover to cover, then attack it with post-it notes to indicate what recipes I want to cook, and ideas on how to make them my own. Yes, I’m a little crazy, and it’s hereditary, because even at 7 years old, my daughter does the same thing. How Nigella’s recipe for warm spiced cauliflower and chickpea salad with pomegranate seeds wasn’t instantly post-it-ed is a mystery, but the page flicked over while I was looking for her chilli recipe for later in the week, and I haven’t been able to think of anything else since.

As always, I’ve made the recipe a little more calorie-conscious, and to suit my taste preferences. I also skipped some olive oil, because 3 tablespoons was it was just too much – I like extra virgin olive oil as much as the next foodie, but I have my limits, both for taste and caloric intake. I also switched the parsley that Nigella recommends for my beloved baby spinach, and used sambal oelek instead of harissa. The results were phenomenal, and I’m so looking forward to leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

Serves 2-3, at 312 calories for a third.

Ingredients

1 small head of cauliflower

1tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp allspice

1tsp cumin seeds

400g can chickpeas, drained

2 tomatoes, chopped

1tbs sambal oelek

60g baby spinach

75g pomegranate arils

Method

  1. preheat oven to 220C.
  2. Cut cauliflower into medium sized florets.
  3. Combine oil and spices in a large bowl. Add cauliflower and mix to coat. Tip onto a baking tray and keep bowl aside, uncleaned. Bake cauliflower for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add the chickpeas and tomatoes to the oily bowl, and mix to coat. Add sambal oelek and stir to combine well.
  5. When cauliflower is ready, remove tray from oven, and tip the chickpeas and tomatoes over the cauliflower. Return to oven for another 15 minutes.
  6. Lay the roasted vegetables over a bed of baby spinach. Scatter pomegranate seeds over the top and serve.
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Deluxe Greek Salad

There’s really no other way of saying it – Summers in Sydney suck. It’s not just hot – it’s scorching, muggy and unrelenting down here in Satan’s armpit.

Not exactly the best conditions for food-spiration. Who wants to turn on the oven or stove when it’s been 40 degrees for weeks on end? But also, who wants another bloody salad?

That would be me.

There’s no such thing as too many salads. Salads are magical. However, I do feel the need to change it all up a bit. While I could eat salad five nights in a row, it cannot be the same salad. Hence all the varieties on this blog, with more to come, I can guarantee it.

I’m really rather partial to this particular salad, as it takes all of 5 minutes to make, barely uses any heat, and is hearty enough that you don’t need to serve it with bread, although nobody would fault you if you did. It’s a 250 calorie salad, 329 with the dressing. As I’m not a huge fan of salad dressings or vinaigrette, I usually skip it altogether, but I am well aware that I am an anomaly in this situation.

serves 4

Ingredients

1tsp olive oil

500g heart smart diced lamb

Salt and pepper, to taste

150g mushrooms

60g baby spinach

1 yellow capsicum, sliced

1 cucumber, sliced

250g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2 small beetroot, roasted (or, purchased pickled), cut into small chunks

60g feta

Dressing

1tbs olive oil

1tbs lemon juice

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2tsp brown sugar

Method

  1. To make dressing, place ingredients in a small jug and whisk to combine.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan. Season meat with salt and pepper. Add meat and mushrooms to pan, and stir occasionally until lamb is cooked to your liking.
  3. Combine all other ingredients except for feta together in a large bowl.
  4. Add lamb and mushrooms. Sprinkle with crumbled feta.
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Sweet Chilli Chicken and Haloumi Salad

Ahhh, cheese. It’s always there for me. I don’t eat a lot of it anymore, but you can bet your sweet Aunt Betty that when I do, I savour every second of it. And maybe moan just a little bit into it. Also, it tends to be consumed within a salad, because salad is simply The Best Meal Ever, especially when cheese is included.

For reasons utterly beyond me, I haven’t made this salad in over a year, nor did I ever think to blog about it. Which is stupid, because it’s delicious, healthy, quick and easy when you’re battling an Australian Summer with no aircon (I know, right?!), and filling. By rights, I should be making this every week. I certainly wouldn’t mind. However, I had a craving for haloumi today (and yesterday, and the day before that, and basically for the last decade or sothat haloumi has been in my life…), and was so annoyed with myself to realise I never wrote down the recipe. What I DID the do last time I made it, luckily, was log the ingredients into the recipe builder in My Fitness Pal, so I did have something to go by. I mean, it’s by no means difficult or schmancy, but I do find chronicling recipes inspires me when it’s a week before Christmas (or school report season, or just run of the mill busy) and my dinner give-a-crap has broken. Besides, I’ve been so slack with this blog lately, and I think it is the kind of recipe that deserves a little online love. And it’s only 400 calories for a generous serve, so you can have some guilt-free cheese love – a novel idea if you’re anything like me!

Serves 4

Ingredients

1tbs olive oil

500g chicken breast, diced

3tbs sweet chilli sauce

1tbs lemon juice

2-3 second spray oil

1 tsp minced garlic

1tsp minced ginger

180g haloumi, sliced

60g baby spinach (or leaves of your choice)

2 truss tomatoes, cut into large chunks

100g sugar snap peas

100g snow peas

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced

Method

  1. Combine oil, sweet chilli sauce and lemon juice in a small jug. Pour over chicken in a glass bowl, mix thoroughly and let to sit for an hour or so.
  2. Place tomatoes and spinach into a large salad bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Heat pan and add garlic, ginger, chicken and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until chicken is cooked through. Add to spinach and tomatoes.
  4. Cook haloumi for 1-2 minuted until golden brown. Add to salad.
  5. Blanch peas and asparagus. When completely cool, add to salad. Toss well and serve with a little additional sweet chilli sauce.

 

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Mustardy Chicken with Roast Vegetable Salad

I love salad. Perhaps even more than soup. Maybe. Perhaps it’s equal. Either way, it’s a lot.

Salads generally gets me through the hot, disgusting Sydney summers, and then when it turns bitterly cold, I invariably feel a sense of loss. And then I realised the glory that is a warm salad!

Like most of it’s ilk, this recipe is extremely versatile and forgiving – it’s really just roasted veggies and some chicken. But tossed together with the right dressing, it is so much more. It’s complex, and warming, and filling, and makes you feel a little smug because look how healthy it is!

It’s barely adapted from Taste, but the addition of cauliflower was due to having less broccoli than I thought, and was a more than welcome addition to the mix. I also use a lot less oil than the original, because I don’t enjoy the taste of food that is drowning in oil – even the healthy, high quality oils.

Ingredients

500g chicken tenderloin, breast or thigh (I used a bit of breast and thigh)

2tbsp olive oil

1tsp mince garlic

1tsp dried basil

500g sweet potato, cubed

200g  broccoli, cut into large florets

200g califlower, cut into large florets

200g mushrooms, sliced

1 quarter red cabbage

1tbs red wine vinegar

1tsp brown sugar

1tbs wholegrain mustard

 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Slice chicken into tenderloin-sized strips, if using breast or thigh. Combine 1/2tbs oil, garlic and basil and rub over chicken. Cover and set for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine broccoli, caulifower and sweet potato with 1tbs oil. Arrange on a baking tray in a single layer, and roast for 25 minutes on the bottom level of oven.
  4. Heat frypan over medium high heat, and cook chicken for 10 minutes, turning every few minutes. Remove from pan and cover with aluminium foil to rest.
  5. In the same pan, add cabbage and mushrooms. Combine well and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, until mushrooms have softened.
  6. In a small jug, combine remaining oil, vinegar, sugar and mustard.
  7. Combine chicken and vegetables in a salad bowl. Pour over dressing and toss to combine.

 

 

 

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