Back to Basics: Creamy avocado basil sauce

Sauces can transform even the simplest of dishes such as chicken and vegetables or pasta into something quite extraordinary that you are excited to eat. This creamy avocado basil sauce is the next instalment in my ‘Back to Basics’ series as it’s a sauce that can be easily made and stored to enhance almost any dish.

Vibrant green ingredients

Four basic ingredients is all that is needed to create this delicious sauce: avocado, fresh basil, lemon juice and garlic.

Smoothy, creamy sauce

The avocado provides this sauce with a creamy texture and beautiful green colour. This fruit is also packed with heart healthy fats and fibre – so enjoy its health benefits by adding it to multiple dishes.

Full of good fats and flavour!

This sauce takes on a pesto like flavour due to the fresh basil and the lemon juice prevents the avocado turning brown. It also provides the sauce with a hint of zestiness.

Mixed through zucchini pasta

Enjoy this creamy sauce mixed through lightly cooked zucchini noodles or ‘zoodles’, gluten free pasta, served with chicken or salmon, or with vegetables crudités.

Creamy avocado basil sauce

Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Process for 3-5 minutes or until smooth.
  3. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

Notes: this sauce does not heat well so add it to a dish once cooked, not whilst its cooking.

Are there any particular ‘basic’ dishes you’d like to see in the ‘Back to Basics’ series?

Mango, macadamia and basil salad

Twas the week before Christmas and the celebrations had already begun…

As there has been a lot to celebrate this past week, including finishing my double degree, last night good friends joined me for an early Christmas dinner. We’ve spent the last four years of university together and are now ready to graduate and face the ‘real world’. It was an evening filled with delicious food, fabulous drinks and even better company.

Celebrating in style

We started the celebrations in style as it’s not everyday you finish two degrees. Nibbles included goat cheese camembert, Mary’s Gone Crackers (my favourite crackers), Sicilian olives, fresh strawberries and macadamia nuts.

Christmas spread

Following the nibbles, we feasted on Christmas Dinner. The menu consisted of:

  • Chicken skewers with a spicy peanut sauce
  • Mango, macadamia and basil salad
  • Paprika sweet potato, parsnip, basil and lime salad – made without the chicken
  • Quinoa, chickpea, coriander and avocado salad
  • Wild caught king tiger prawns
  • Raw vanilla macadamia cream fruit tart
  • Christmas chocolate bark

All of these recipes will be posted this coming week so you too can hopefully enjoy them come Christmas Day! I’ll also be posting ideas on how to festively set the table for Christmas Day, including a way to keep the your guests entertained and create memories whilst you dine.

Here’s the first of the Christmas recipes for you to enjoy… Mango, macadamia and basil salad. This salad really complements seafood, especially prawns, as it’s very fresh – in both colour and taste.

Mango, macadamia and basil salad

I absolutely love the vibrant colours in the salad. Summer to me always signifies mangoes – growing up in Cairns they were definitely a staple in our household throughout the season.

The shallots, basil and chilli lend this dish a Christmassy feel in terms of colour whilst the macadamias provide a delicious crunch.

Fresh, vibrant salad

This salad will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two days.

Mango, macadamia and basil salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe mangoes, diced
  • 1 cup fresh basil, washed and finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup macadamias, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1/2 chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Place mangoes, basil, macadamias, shallot and chilli in a large bowl and mix until well combined.
  2. Stir through lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Enjoy!

How will you be celebrating Christmas in style this year?

Roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto

I cannot believe it has been a week since Melbourne Cup, as the year goes on time just seems fly by! To celebrate Melbourne Cup at work we all brought in a dish to enjoy for lunch whilst watching the race. I hope you backed a winner!

I made this roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto as it caters for almost all dietary requirements as it’s gluten free, vegan, dairy free and can be made nut free by swapping the pine nuts for pumpkin seeds in the pesto.

Basil pesto

My very first post was a quinoa salad (actually, very similar to this one) and remembered how delicious it was. It’s really the perfect dish as it feeds a lot of people, it’s very tasty and you can use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.

I added lemon juice to the pesto as it lends a freshness to this otherwise heavier salad due to the roasted vegetables.

Salad ready to be served!

This salad will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Roasted vegetable quinoa salad with pesto

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 cups vegetables (I used carrot, sweet potato, red and green capsicum, potato, pumpkin and zucchini), all thoroughly washed and diced*
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 2 cups basil, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/8 cup macadamia oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place vegetables onto baking paper and coat with just enough coconut oil.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.
  4. Place basil, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and garlic in the food processor. Process until everything is combined. Slowly add macadamia oil (you may not need 1/8 cup) and continue to process until it forms a paste. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Mix together the cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables and spinach leaves in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Fold through the pesto and mix until the quinoa and vegetables have all been coated. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • If you like to keep the skin on your vegetables (like me) ensure they are washed thoroughly to remove all the dirt
  • This is delicious when topped with hummus and sliced avocado!
  • I doubled the recipe for Melbourne Cup and it served 10 people easily
  • If you don’t use all the pesto, keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days!

What’s your favourite dish to bring to a friend’s party/work function?

Paprika chicken, sweet potato, parsnip, lime and basil salad

I love making salads that are complete meals, not just an accompaniment to a meal. This makes life so much easier and encourages people to eat more vegetables.

This salad is full of contrasting flavours which somehow all come together to complement one another. It’s a tasty salad that can be served all year round.

Paprika sweet potato

Paprika is an earthy spice that really gives this salad depth and an element of warmth.

Paprika chicken strips

The chicken adds an element of protein to the salad. If you don’t have any or want to make it vegan, you can use chickpeas instead.

Parsnip and sweet potato all cooked

I think people often overlook cooking with parsnips. This vegetables belongs to the carrot family and is high in vitamin C. When cooked it takes on a sweet nutty flavour which really complements the flavour of the sweet potato.

Vibrant greens

The green beans, basil and spring onion really bring a freshness to this salad, both in colour and taste.

Tasty, healthy salad

This salad can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two days.

Paprika chicken, sweet potato, parsnip, lime and basil salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 4 TBSP paprika
  • 1 large sweet potato, washed and finely sliced
  • 1 parsnip, washed and finely sliced
  • 4 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 cup green beans, washed and ends cut
  • 4 sprigs of spring onion, washed and finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and roughly chopped
  • 2 TBSP pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Coat parsnip and sweet potatoes in 2 TBSP of paprika and 2 TBSP coconut oil.
  3. Place on prepared baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, turning them over at 10 minutes.
  4. Coat chicken strips in 2 TBSP paprika.
  5. Heat a large frypan over medium heat and add 2 TBSP coconut oil.
  6. Cook chicken strips for 5 minutes or until golden and no longer pink the middle.
  7. Combine green beans, spring onion, basil and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl. Then add cooked sweet potato, parsnip and chicken and toss until well combined.
  8. Whisk lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together. Then pour dressing over salad.
  9. Enjoy!

Do you prefer to make salads as a complete meal, or as an accompaniment?

Vegan spelt pizza

I love having pizza nights. There’s something so enjoyable about getting friends together, making pizzas and watching movies.

This spelt pizza is a healthy, vegan alternative to the traditional pizzas. Please don’t let the term ‘vegan’ deter you from making it. Vegan basically means it does not contain any animal products e.g. eggs, honey, chicken, goat cheese, etc. However, feel free to add some chicken or lamb as toppings if you’d like some animal protein!

Mixing the wet and dry ingredients

What I really like about spelt flour is it’s very filling, but surprisingly doesn’t make you feel heavy.

Finished kneading, ready for rolling!

It’s important to knead the dough as this helps it to come together and makes it easier to roll out.

Ready to be baked

I baked this before adding the toppings as this ensured it was properly cooked.

All toppings on

I love the combination of earthy basil pesto and zesty cashew cheese – they really complement each other.

Dinner is served!

This pizza will keep in the fridge for up to four days in a sealed container. Reheat in the oven at 180C/350F for 10 minutes or enjoy cold!

Spelt pizza

Makes 1 large pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour, extra for flouring surface
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons macadamia oil
Toppings (feel free to adapt to suit your tastebuds)
  • Basil pesto
  • Cashew nut cheese – place in a ziplock bag, cut off one corner and squeeze to pipe the cheese on top
  • Red onion, washed and chopped
  • Zucchini, washed and chopped
  • Spinach leaves, washed
  • Asparagus, washed and chopped
  • Pumpkin, washed and chopped
  • Mushroom, washed and sliced
  • Broccolini, washed and chopped
  • Red capsicum, washed and chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line baking tray or pizza tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the spelt flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the center and add the water and oil. Combine ingredients gradually, be careful not to over mix.
  4. Transfer the dough to a clean, floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes, until smooth.
  5. Roll the dough out to your desired thickness and place on prepared tray and into oven.
  6. Bake spelt base for 10 minutes then removed from oven.
  7. Place pesto, then toppings of your choice, finishing with cashew nut cheese.
  8. Place into oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden on top.
  9. Slice to serve and enjoy!

What are your favourite pizza toppings?