Spaghetti Vongole with Fresh Mussels


Ingredients30 grams butter 6 cloves of garlic 1 onion (Brown onion,red onion or shallotts) 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley 4 stems of thyme 1.5 teaspoons lemon zest mussels (quantity depends on the catch but let's say this is around 1kg) 1 cup white wine 1 cup cherry tomatoes

Method (If you want to eat the mussels with spaghetti, cook the pasta just before beginning cooking the mussels. Drain the spaghetti in a colander and place a lid on top to keep it warm) 1. In a large heavy based pot with a lid, melt butter over medium heat and saute onion and garlic til onion is soft. 2. Add in wine, tomatoes, thyme and mussels, turn heat up to high and place lid on. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer until mussel shells open (about 6-8 minutes), discard any that don't open. 3. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the parsley and lemon zest. 4. If you want to reduce the liquid you can remove the mussels once they open and turn the heat up to reduce the 'soup'. 5. To serve put the spaghetti in bowls, place mussels on top and then pour the mussel soup over the top of the spaghetti.

Photo: Nikki Fisher at Wholefood Mama

Black Beans

Black beans, or turtle beans as they are also known, are a staple from Cuba to Mexico and down into South America. Black beans are full of iron and really easy to cook.  I have been able to find the raw ones in health food stores here on the peninsula.  I have also found organic tinned ones at the Blairgowrie IGA. Black beans are very versatile - lovely in a burrito, as a dip with chips and salsa, as the bean in chili con carne and just with a side of saffron rice- and they freeze well, too!  Because I soak the raw beans with vegetables and spices, they have more flavour.  I also add a piece of seaweed adding nutrients to this already nutritious protein.  If you prefer to use tinned ones, skip to #5
2 cups uncooked black beans (or use 2 tins of precooked) 2 medium to large red onions 1-2 capsicums - green or coloured depending on your preference 8 large garlic cloves 1 chili pepper 6 bay leaves Olive oil for frying the onions, peppers and garlic 1 large tablespoon tomato paste 3-5 medium size tomatoes 1 tbsp cumin seeds toasted and then ground zest from one lime coriander leaves and stems Salt and Pepper to taste
Method 1.  SOAKING OF THE BEANS Clean and rinse the beans several times looking for any little pebbles. Place in a stock pot with 1 onion cut into quarters, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 4 peeled garlic cloves, 3 bay leaves, large piece of Kombu seaweed. 2.  Fill the pot with water about 1 inch above the bean line, cover and soak overnight for at least 12 hours…. 3. In the morning,  check the bean water line- water has been absorbed, add more, at least 1-inch above the bean line.  Bring to a high boil for about 5minutes, stir and reduce to low heat. 4.  Cook uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours.  Stir and keep checking water line and bean tenderness.  You want a bean that is tender, not mushy. You can take veggies out and puree them with the bean water and add it back in if you want a wetter bean.  For burritos, I like to drain the beans in a colander. 5. Meanwhile in a large fry pan, heat oil.  Add 3 bay leaves, 4 garlic cloves pressed, 1 large onion finely diced, 1 capsicum finely diced, chilies finely diced (optional).  Continually stir until onion is translucent. 6.  Toast cumin seeds until they start jumping and brown slightly.  Grind in a mortar and pestle. 7.  Add cumin and tomato paste to the frying pan.  Then cut your tomatoes in half vertically and grate them into the frying pan too.  After a few minutes, add the beans. 8. Taste and adjust seasoning adding salt, pepper, lime juice, tomato paste.  The cumin should not be over powering. 9.  Just before serving top with minced coriander and the zest from one lime.
For Burritos
1. Take a tortilla.  layer black beans, avocado, salsa, rice, grated cheese and a bit of mixed lettuce and roll.
2. You can add a side of sour cream and/or make the avocado into guacamole!


Tomato Salsa

This is wonderfully fresh on corn chips or with black bean burritos. You can also make it when you have a glut of tomatoes and preserve for the winter.  This is a very quick recipe that involves no peeling of tomatoes.  I use a food processor and while the texture could be a bit chunkier, it takes 5 minutes at the most to prepare! Ingredients 6 tomatoes (I use the over ripe ones) 1 capsicum - coloured or green 1 red onion 2 fresh garlic cloves 1/4 bunch coriander - mince the leaves and stems juice of one lime 1/2 tsp olive oil 1/4 tsp sea salt freshly ground black pepper

Method 1. Roughly divide the onion,  capsicum, garlic cloves and optional chili pepper and put into food processor.  Mince finely (you may need to scrape the side of the bowl) 2. Add 4 tomatoes and olive oil and blend being careful to keep it a bit chunky. 3. Add lime juice and mix through. 4. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Depending on your tomatoes, you may need a pinch of sugar too. 5. Once the seasoning is right, add the extra tomatoes pulsing to keep them chunky.  Add coriander. Check seasoning.  Serve! 6. The flavours will marry over time but wonderful straight out of the mixer too.

Hearty Tomato Soup


Ingredients2 cups chopped carrots 2 cups chopped celery 3 cups diced onions 6 cloves garlic, minced 12 cups chopped fresh tomatoes 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 cups stock 2 Tbsp salt 2 tsp. sugar 2 bay leaves 4 cloves 12 fresh basil leaves

Method 1. Roughly chop all the vegetables. It doesn’t matter what they look like because the soup will be blended later, but make sure the carrots, onions and celery are all about the same size so they cook at the same rate. 2. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add in the carrots, celery, onions and bay leaves and cook until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook another 5 minutes, but don’t let the vegetables brown. Add in the tomatoes,  stock, sugar, salt, basil and cloves. Allow to simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the carrots are soft. 3. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes. 4. Puree the soup, either with a stick blender or in batches in a conventional blender. 5. Once the soup is all pureed, push it through a sieve.  You want to get out the tomato skins and seeds, but push through the rest of the vegetables. If you use too fine a mesh strainer, you will just end up with tomato juice. If you can skin and seed your tomatoes before making the soup you don’t have to strain it. But this is time consuming and I found it just easier to strain. 6. Put all the strained soup back in the pot and add the salt and sugar to taste. Even though my tomatoes were very ripe and sweet, I almost always add a couple of teaspoons of sugar to tomato soup or sauce because it helps balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and bring out the natural sweetness. 7. You can serve as is, or add cream to make a 'bisque'.

Classic Greek Salad

The classic Greek salad - The taste is carried on the freshness of the vegetables and the flavour of the olives, feta and olive oil.  I still remember traveling through Greece consuming this salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner - using fresh bread to mop up the left over juice. Ingredients I whole tomato cut into 1/8's 6 cherry tomatoes, halved 1 large cucumber, skin forked, quartered lengthwise, chopped 1 small red onion, chopped 1 small red capsicum, chopped 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved 100g Greek feta cheese, cut into cubes 1 1/2 tblsps olive oil 1 1/2 tblsps lemon juice 1 garlic clove, crushed 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves

Method 1. Place oil, lemon juice, garlic and oregano in a screw-top jar. Season with salt and pepper. Secure lid. Shake to combine. 2. Combine tomato, cucumber, onion, capsicum and olives in a large bowl. Top with feta. Drizzle with oil mixture. Serve.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

You can eat these as is...the roasting intensifies the flavour...very tasty! or marinate them in extra virgin olive oil first.  They are not dry enough to last for long periods of time in oil, though.  So consume them within a week on sandwiches, tossed in salads for a special spark or simply with a soft cheese, basil and tender greens.
Ingredients Cherry tomatoes, cut in half horizontally Extra virgin olive oil Salt and Pepper to taste

Method 1. Preheat the oven to 140ºC. 2. In a small roasting pan, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil. 3. Roast the tomatoes, seed-side up, for 2 to 3 hours. 4. Serve with good bread, cheese and greens.

Cucumber, Tomato, Feta and Olive Salad

Cucumber, Tomato, Olive and Feta Salad Ingredients 2 medium cucumbers cut into 1/4's and then into 1cm cubes 20 cherry tomatoes cut into 1/4's 15 kalamata olives cut in half 200 gms Main Ridge Dairy feta cheese cut into 1cm cubes Balsamic Vinaigrette 3 tbsps balsamic vinegar 5 tbsps olive oil 6 basil leaves cut into thin slivers salt and freshly ground pepper

Method 1. Cut all vegetables, olives and cheese into a large bowl. 2. Add vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and basil and stir. 3. Serve over lettuce or on its own.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Quinoa and Feta

I have seen and tried many variations of this recipe.  Some have no cheese nor chick peas.  Some roast the tomatoes in a cooler oven for more time.  Some have lots of parsley and lemon juice, like a quinoa tabouli.  Here is a starting point to create your own variation. Ingredients 2 cups quinoa 2 cups vegetable broth 2 cups dry white wine 15 - 20 cherry tomatoes 5 cloves of garlic – minced 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 - 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme sprinkle of salt and pepper 4 oz crumbled feta cheese 150 grams chick peas, pre-soaked and boiled until soft or 1 can of chick peas Herbs to taste - Parsley, basil, purple basil

Method 1. Cut tomatoes in half.  Sometimes I scoop out and discard seeds and juice. But sometimes I don't.  The first way presents better. 2. Toss tomatoes in olive oil and thyme and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 3. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and fill each with a sprinkle of minced garlic. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until they start to shrivel a little. 4. When tomatoes are halfway cooked, start to prepare the quinoa. Combine quinoa, white wine and vegetable broth in a small pot, cover and bring to boil. 5. Reduce heat and let simmer with lid half on for about 15 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. 6. Remove tomatoes from oven and mix into the quinoa, adding chick peas,  feta and  herbs. Mix gently, adjust seasoning and serve.


Ingredients2*1/2 kilo eggplants, cut into cubes 1 ¾ teaspoons plus ¾ teaspoon salt, divided 1 kilo tomatoes, diced 5 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 1/3 cup loosely packed, chopped fresh basil ¾ cup loosely packed, chopped flat-leaf parsley 700 grams onions, thinly sliced 3 bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped 1 kilo of zucchini, cut lengthwise and then into ½-inch slices 1/3 cup dry white wine

Method 1. Place a single layer of paper towels on 2 large plates. Place the cubed eggplant onto the plates and sprinkle with 1 ¾ teaspoon salt. Allow the eggplant to sit for 20 minutes. 2. In a large saucepan, cook the tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, basil, and parsley, uncovered, over medium heat. 3. In a large skillet, sauté the onions and bell peppers in a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very lightly browned. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the browned vegetables to the tomato mixture. 4. Pat the eggplant dry with a fresh paper towel and add it, along with the zucchini to the tomato mixture. Cover the pot and cook the stew over low-medium heat for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. 5. Add the white wine and ¾ teaspoon salt and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Thai Vegetarian Red Curry

This Vegetarian Thai red curry recipe is easy to follow and combines shallots, lemongrass, red chillies, galangal, cumin, coriander seeds, kaffir lime leaves, wheat gluten or tofu, yams or sweet potatoes, Japanese or Chinese eggplant, shiitake mushrooms, and Thai holy basil.Ingredients Paste 3 shallots OR 1 small red onion, diced 1 stalk lemongrass (see instructions below) 1-3 red chillies (depending on desired spiciness) 3 cloves garlic 1 thumb-size piece galangal, peeled and sliced (may be substituted with ginger) 1/4 tsp. white pepper (may be substituted with black pepper) 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, roasted and ground with pestle & mortar (or a coffee-grinder) 3 Tbsp. regular (light) soy sauce or tamari 1 kaffir lime leaf 1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce 1 tsp. brown sugar 1/2 tsp. dried turmeric (or 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh turmeric, sliced)

Other 10-15 cherry tomatoes, or 3-4 regular tomatoes, sliced 3-4 kaffir lime leaves 1 small Japanese eggplant, sliced into bite-size pieces (do not peel, as there are vitamins in the skin) 1 sweet red pepper, or 1 red bell pepper, chopped into bite-size pieces 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

Optional 1 small sweet potato (or yam), peeled and cut into cubes 1/2 cup fresh Thai holy basil leaves OR sweet basil 1 package firm tofu cut into bite-size cubes 1 to 2 cans coconut milk (depending on how mild you like your curry, or how much sauce you prefer)

Method 1. To make the paste, place all paste ingredients in a food processor. 2. Add 1/2 can of the coconut milk and process into a paste. 3. Place paste, tofu, remaining 1/2 can coconut milk, and limes leaves in a casserole dish. 4. Stir well until paste is thoroughly mixed with the other ingredients. 5. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Then remove from oven and add vegetables. Stir well. (Note: if you prefer more sauce, or if you find the curry tastes too spicy, add 1/2 can more coconut milk.) 6. After another 10 minutes, remove from oven. Check to make sure vegetables are cooked to your liking. 7. Do a taste test for salt and spice. If not salty enough, add up to 2 Tbsp. more soy sauce (or season with sea salt). If not spicy enough, add another red chilli, sliced finely, OR 1-2 tsp. Thai chilli sauce. If too salty, add up to 2 Tbsp. lime juice. If too spicy, add a little more coconut milk (yogurt will work too if you are non-vegan) and stir well. 8. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves (these can be roughly chopped if too large), and serve with plenty of Thai fragrant rice (white or brown) for a nutritionally complete and satisfying meal.

Source:  Darlene Schmidt, Your Guide to Thai Food

Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic

Seems almost silly to write this one - as it is so simple...and so very delicious! You taste every piece of this recipe so use high quality oil, fresh, yummy bread, fresh organic tomatoes, just picked basil and sea salt. Ingredients chunky baguette sliced on the diagonal tomatoes basil 4 cloves garlic extra virgin olive oil salt/pepper -optional

Method 1. Press garlic into 1/2 cup of olive oil. 2. Slice basil and arrange on plate. Slide a basil leaf in between the slices. 3. Drizzle garlic infused olive oil over the top. 4. Serve with bread to soak up any juices left in the plate!

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salsa

This is wonderful on corn chips or toasted mountain bread. It is also great mixed with black beans and avocado in a burrito. Ingredients 2 ears fresh corn 3 tomatoes 1/2 capsicum 1/4 tiny hot pepper 1/3 bud fresh garlic 1/3 large, red onion 1/4 bunch coriander Pinch ground cumin juice of one lime 1/2 tsp olive oil 1/4 tsp sea salt freshly ground black pepper

Method 1. Finely chop garlic, hot pepper, and cilantro 2. Chop onion and pepper 1/4 inch dice 3. Cut tomato into bite sized chunks 4. Remove corn kernels from cob. With a sharp, French knife, cut the base of the cob flat so it won't tip or roll.  With the cob standing up, carefully cut the kernels off the cob, from top to bottom, being careful not to get pieces of the hard cob.  It doesn't matter if the kernels are connected, as they will separate while mixing. 5. Mix all, adding bits of seasonings to taste. 6. Let sit for 30 minutes so flavours "marry."

Source - Susan and Robin Koster

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Bocconcini

Fresh Tomato Pasta with Basil and BocconciniIngredients1/2-kilo fresh tomatoes sliced into quarters or eighths depending on size (cherry tomatoes work well with this) 4 cloves of garlic, minced 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced 1/4-cup olive oil 16 bocconcini balls cut in half 20 Spinach leaves, sliced Salt and Pepper to taste Pasta for four people

Method 1.  Cook pasta, removing and draining when it is still al-dente. 2.  In a small skillet, heat olive oil and garlic over low to medium heat, removing before garlic browns. 3. Pour infused olive oil over pasta, straining the bulk of the garlic. 4.  Add tomatoes, basil, cheese, spinach, salt and pepper and toss.  Serve immediately.

Zucchini, Cherry Tomato and Chicken Kebabs

Zucchini, cherry tomato and chicken kbobs Ingredients 2 boneless chicken breasts 1 zucchini 16 cherry tomatoes or small tomatoes 8 long kebab sticks

Marinade 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons seeded mustard 3 cloves garlic, pressed ¼ tsp salt freshly ground pepper 1 tablespoon diced lemon basil

Method 1. Soak kebab sticks in water. 2. Whisk marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to hold chicken breasts. 3. Cut up chicken breasts into 2 cm cubes. Place into marinade. 4. Cut zucchini into 1 cm rounds. Cut these into quarters if the zucchini is large or halves in the zucchini is small. 5. Stick 1 zucchini piece, 1 piece of chicken, 1 zucchini piece, 1 piece of chicken,1 tomato, 1 piece of chicken, 1 zucchini piece, 1 piece of chicken, 1 tomato, 1 piece of chicken, 1 zucchini piece, 1 piece of chicken,1 zucchini piece, etc  on to the kebab stick. 6. Place kebab in a baking dish.  Keep sticking until you have used all of the chicken.  You can vary the pattern and add other vegetables such as capsicum, onion slices and garlic.  Pour any remaining marinade over the top of the kebabs and leave them for at least three hours. You can also just marinade the chicken and then grill immediately. 7.  Grill, turning frequently.


I have been told that every region in Italy has its own ministrone.  Keep that in mind when you are making this, substituting and adding anything you feel works. I have written the straight recipe from Slow Cooking by Joanne Glynn. Ingredients 220 gms dried borlotti beans 50 gms butter 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 15 gms parsley, finely chopped 2 sage leaves 100 gms pancetta, cubed 2 celery stalks, halved then sliced 2 carrots, sliced 3 potatoes, peeled 1 tsp tomato paste 3 roma tomatoes chopped or 400 gm tin chopped tomatoes 8 basil leaves 3 litres chicken or vegetable stock 2 zucchinis, sliced 220 gms shelled peas 120 gms green beans, cut into bite sized lengths 1/4 cabbage shredded 150 g small pasta 6 tablespoons pesto grated parmesian cheese

Method 1. Put the borlotti beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight. 2 Next morning, drain and rinse thoroughly under water. 3. Melt butter in a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic, parsley, sage and pancetta.  Cook over a low heat, stirring once or twice, for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden. 4. Add the celery, carrot and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, basil, and borlotti beans. Season with plenty of freshly ground pepper. 5.  Add stock and bring slowly to a boil.  Cover and leave to simmer for 2 hours stirring once or twice. 6.  If the potatoes have not broken up, roughly break them up with a fork against the side of the pan.  Taste for seasoning and add zucchini, peas, beans, cabbage and pasta.  Simmer until the pasta is al dente. 7.  Serve with a dollup of pesto and Parmesan. Source - Slow Cooking by Joanne Glynn