Vegetable Soup with Quinoa and Nettles

Quinoa, a grain like seed is a complete protein, unlike rice or beans. It is also gluten free. It is the best source for a plant based protein and being high in fiber and iron it should have a place in every vegetarian kitchen. Sopa de quinoa is a staple soup in Peru.  The Andes is where this grain thrives.  Quinoa is cooked with potatoes, onions and garlic in lard or oil and flavored with native oregano and annatto seeds. Whatever vegetables or greens are at hand are added to the soup. The soups I had ranged from a clear pale yellow soup to a thick creamy one, chock full of vegetables and greens.It usually served with an aji made from chili peppers.  You can take one slice from a chili and float it in your bowl of soup until you have the desired heat you like.

Ingredients 8 cups (2 liters) of vegetable or chicken stock 1/2 cup quinoa, well rinsed 1 cup carrots, quartered and sliced 1 cup pumpkin, peeled and cubed 1 cup onion, finely chopped 1/2 cup celery, chopped 1 cup potatoes, cubed salt (to taste) 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley 1cup minced nettle

Method 1. Combine carrots, onions and celery in a heavy bottomed soup pot with a splash of olive oil.  Gently fry until the onion is translucent. 2. Add pumpkin, potato, quinoa and stock.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender and the quinoa has "split", the curly tails have removed, about 10-15 minutes. 3. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt, if necessary and add the fresh herbs. Cook 2 more minutes, then remove from the heat.

Chunky Potato and Leek Soup

This is my new favourite crew lunch soup recipe.  The chunkiness allows each vegetable to speak for itself while the overall flavour is gorgeous. Ingredients 300 gm sweet potato - scrubbed not peeled and cut into 1 cm rounds (if they are the finger sweet potatoes) 500 gm potato - scrubbed not peeled and cut into large bite size pieces 3 carrots - halved and cut into 1/2cm semi rounds 1 leek halved and sliced into 1/2cm semi circles 250ml white wine 200 gm of pumpkin peeled and cut into 2 cm squares a large knob of butter...about 80 grams 1.5L vegetable stock 1/2 cup chopped parsley 3/4 cup chopped stinging nettles

Method 1. Place the butter and leeks into a large heavy bottom stock pot on medium heat.  Caramelise the leeks...stirring occasionally until they begin to brown. 2. Add carrots, potato, pumpkin, sweet potato and wine and turn the heat up burning the alcohol from the wine. 3. Turn heat back to medium and add stock.  Ensure that there is ample stock to cover vegetables.  Simmer until pumpkin begins to break down.  The pumpkin can completely disintegrate adding flavour to the stock. Add stock if needed. 4.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Once the stock is well flavoured, add the parsley and nettles and remove from heat.  Let rest for five minutes before serving.

Photo Credit Belinda Sheekey at Dyeing Trade


Hearty Winter Vegetable Stew

Serves 4-6Ingredients 2 Tbs. olive oil 4 shitake mushrooms, cut into quarters 4 small onions, quartered 3 celery stems, roughly chopped into 1cm pieces 4 carrots chopped into 2cm pieces 300 gms potatoes, well scrubbed and cut in to chunks 2 turnips peeled and cut into chunks 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped into chunks 1 small cauliflower, cut into florets 2 cloves garlic, crushed Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 2 ½ cups rich vegetable stock ½ cup dry red or white wine 1 Tbs. tamari soy sauce a bunch of parsley and thyme, 1 sage leaf, and a 25 cm stem of rosemary…(dry herbs may be substituted)

Method 1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium heat. 2.  Cook onions for three minutes.  Add celery, shitakes and carrots for another two minutes. 3. Add all remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to low. Cover pot, and cook, stirring contents occasionally, until all vegetables are tender, 1 hour. 4.  To thicken the sauce, right before vegetables are done, take a large frypan and melt 2 tbsps butter. 5.  Add about ¼ cup of red wine and 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped.  Reduce by half. 6. Add approx 3 tbsps of flour. Gently whisk the flour allowing it to brown slightly. 7.  With a ladle, slowly spoon some of the stock into the fry pan, whisking all the time.  Continue adding stock until you have the desired consistency.  Add this back into your stew. 8.  Season with fresh herbs, salt and pepper.  Serve as is or top with mashed potatoes to make a delicious vegetable shepherds pie.


Mashed Turnips and Potatoes With Turnip Greens

This is inspired by colcannon, an Irish mix of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. This lightened version is a mixture of two-thirds turnips and one-third potatoes, with the turnip greens stirred in at the end. Ingredients 2 bunches turnips with greens attached (1 3/4 to 2 pounds, including greens) 1 pound gold or white potatoes, peeled and quartered Salt to taste 1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped 2/3 cup low-fat milk, or as needed Freshly ground pepper

Method 1. Cut away the greens from the turnips. Peel the turnips and quarter if they’re large; cut in half if they’re small. Stem the greens and wash in 2 changes of water. Discard the stems. 2. Combine the turnips and potatoes in a steamer set above 2 inches of boiling water. Steam until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the steamer and transfer to a bowl. Cover the bowl tightly and leave for 5 to 10 minutes so that the vegetables continue to steam and dry out. 3. Fill the bottom of the steamer with water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste and add the greens. Blanch for 2 to 4 minutes, until tender. Transfer to a bowl of cold water using a slotted spoon or skimmer, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop fine. Drain the water from the saucepan, rinse and dry. 4. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in the saucepan and add the leek and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until leeks are tender and translucent but not colored. Add the milk to the saucepan, bring to a simmer and remove from the heat. 5. Using a potato masher, a fork or a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mash the potatoes and turnips while still hot. Add the turnip greens and combine well. Beat in the hot milk and the additional tablespoon of olive oil if desired, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot, right away, or transfer to a buttered or oiled baking dish and heat through in a low oven when ready to serve.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish.

Advance preparation: You can make this several hours ahead and reheat as directed, or in a double boiler.

Recipe Credit: Martha Rose Shulman presents food that is vibrant and light, full of nutrients, fun to cook and to eat. (Found in the N.Y. Times)

Spanish Truita (potato omelete)

4 eggs
3 potatoes
1 onion
salt/ cracked white pepper
olive oil
optional: capsicum, zucchini, chilies, chiorizo

1. First peel the potatoes and cut it into 1 cm thick slices slices. Do the same for the onion.
2.  Heat a non-stick fry pan over medium heat.  Add tsp olive oil, tbsp butter and onion.  Fry onion until it is translucent and it starts to caramelise.  Taking the time to do this step gives this dish a delicious depth of flavour from such simple ingredients.
3. Turn the heat to high.  Add the potatoes and enough boiling water to just cover them.  Simmer.
4.  While potatoes cook, break the eggs into a bowl and whisk gently.  Add salt and cracked white pepper.
5. As the water evaporates, test that the potatoes are tender.  If they are, pour off the remaining water, taking care to not pour out the onions and potatoes.
6.  If no oil remains in the pan, add a little.  Turn the heat down to medium and add egg.  Take care that the omelet does not stick to the fry pan by gently easing it off the sides with a plastic scraper or spatula.   Lean the saucepan back and forward while you separate it from the border. Egg will reach homogeneously all the omelet if you do it this way.
7. Once you think it is done (take less than 5 minutes), flip it, and shove it back in the frying pan in order to cook the other side. To flip it, use a plate or lid the same size as the fry pan.  Tip the pan over holding the lid on so that the omelet falls onto the lid.  Then gently push the upside down omelet back into the pan to cook the top. The most difficult part is flipping it, so be sure the frying pan is not too heavy and you have the right dish or lid and it is not slippery. I would recommend to check it beforehand. That is a clue step!

Here is a video I found in internet that shows the flip. Skip ahead about 3 minutes.


Vegetable Pakoras - from Paul Dempsey

Paul and Lisa Dempsey are the faces behind Big Blue Backyard, a local, secluded, award winning, ocean beach hideaway for couples. Designed to blend into the natural environment, this unique retreat sits perfectly between the dunes abutting the National Park at wild and often deserted St Andrews Beach. Paul is a wonderfully diverse chef who draws his inspiration from the ingredients presented to him each week.  The meals served to guests are unique, exquisite and seasonal with ingredients sourced locally. This recipe is a great example of that.  Use it as a starting point to create something from what you have in your box.

Paul makes his pakoras on the fly so there really isn’t a recipe just a list of ingredients and a methodology of sorts.

Here are the quantities he used yesterday but that made at least 180. Par cooked pakora’s freeze beautifully so you can always have them on hand for last minute dinner ideas or unexpected guests.

Ingredients 1kg chick pea flour All the vegetables you want to use— Root vegetables – grate Peas – just podded Cabbage – shredded Peppers – julienned 5 brown onions sliced The roots of the coriander bunch blended with 10 whole green chillies 12 eggs, beaten

Method 1. Mix all the vegetables, beaten eggs and blended herbs together. 2. Depending on how much liquid comes out of the vegetables, one may have to add more chick pea flour to the mix to make the batter more viscous. 3. Gently heat canola/sunflower oil in large sauce pan or wok – medium to deep – oil should get to around 165degrees Celsius.  Using a large serving spoon, spoon big dollop of mixture one by one into the oil – make sure the stay separate and then as they brown gently roll each pakora around in the oil to cook and brown on all sides. (if you want to freeze a few, just let them get to golden brown) With a slatted spoon remove each one from the oil letting excess oil drip back into the pot and then lay to rest on some kitchen paper. 4. Serve warm with a grated yogurt and cucumber mix. 5.  If freezing some, allow to cool and then pack in zip lock bags and put in freezer.



Spinach and Chicken Curry

Ingredients1 cinnamon stick 8 cardamom pods 1 onion or six spring onions, finely chopped (leave the spring onion tops for garnishing at the end) 2.5 cm ginger finely grated or finely chopped 4 garlic cloves finely chopped 2 tomatoes – finely chopped or 1 cup of canned tomatoes 2 large chicken breasts cut into chunks (or similar quantity thigh fillets, or meat on the bone if you prefer) – chopped into bite sized pieces. 2 tsp cumin seed 2 tsp coriander seed 5 tbsp ghee 6 tbsp greek or natural yoghurt. One bunch of spinach or chard. Salt to taste Optional 2 chillies with or without seeds finely diced

Method 1. In a cast iron fry pan over very hot heat, gentle roast cumin seeds.  Tip into mortar once lightly toasted.  Then roast the coriander seed and add to mortar.  Grind until you have a powder. 2. Heat ghee, then add cinnamon and cardamom (you can put them into a piece of muslin for easy removal later). Cook for about a minute or two and then add onion. 3. Fry onion until lightly golden brown.  Add ginger and garlic.  Fry over a low to medium until they are cooked and the onion is a deep golden brown. 4. Add cumin, coriander and optional chilli.  Cook for a couple of minutes. 5. Add tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes collapse and the oil starts to separate. 6. Add chicken and chopped spinach or chard. Continue stirring until the spinach breaks down. 7. Then add the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time, stirring thoroughly in between to ensure the yoghurt is well integrated into the sauce. Season with salt. 8. Cook for a further 5 minutes and ensure the chicken is completely cooked.  Serve with rice

Steamed Baby Potatoes with Parsley

This may seem so simple...that it can not possibly be tasty.  And you may be questioning whether you can steam potatoes! Trust! If you have lovely, spring potatoes, they steam to perfection and all they need is some butter, salt, cracked pepper and parsley!

Baby Potatoes
Real butter
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Fresh parsley

1. Gently clean potatoes with running water and your hands.
2. Steam in a stove top steamer for about 7 minutes (check after 4 - If your fork goes in without a problem, they are ready!)
3. Toss with butter, chopped fresh parsley, salt and cracked pepper.

Lamb Stew with Root Vegetables

Lamb stew cooked very slowly with root vegetables. Beautiful, tender, and rich. Ingredients 2 1/2 lb boneless lamb 2 medium onions 4 turnips 4 carrots 4 potatoes 2 tbsp olive oil 2 bay leaves bunch of fresh thyme 2 tbsp plain flour 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp pepper 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Method 1. Cut the lamb into 1 inch cubes. 2. Peel and chop the turnips, carrots and potatoes into small chunks. Peel and chop the onions. 3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the meat. 4. Put all the vegetables plus the browned meat chunks and the salt and pepper into a Crock Pot. 5. Add 2 cups of water or stock if you have it and cook for 8-10 hours on low. 6. Mix the flour with 1/4 cup water to a paste, and turning up the heat add to the stew. Stir well until gravy thickens and stir in the parsley.


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.
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
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

Potato and Green Bean Salad

700 gms new potatoes, cut into cubes
300 gms green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon seeded Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh lemon thyme, fresh lemon basil or plain thyme
zest from one lemon
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1. In a large saucepan, place the potatoes, 2 teaspoons salt and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard, lemon zest, salt and cracked pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until combined.
3. Steam the beans until tender but still bright green.
4. Toss the potatoes and beans with the dressing to coat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Potato and Leek Soup

Ingredients3 tablespoons butter 3 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 4 1/2 cups) 4 medium potatoes (about 18 ounces total), peeled, diced 4 1/2 cups (or more) chicken stock or vegetable broth 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives Cream to taste
Method 1. Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks; stir to coat with butter. Cover saucepan; cook until leeks are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. 2. Add potatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes begin to soften but do not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. 3. Add 4 1/2 cups stock. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes. 4. Puree soup in batches in processor until smooth. Return to saucepan. Thin with additional stock if soup is too thick. 5. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) 6. Garnish with chives and cream (optional).