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?

Quinoa chickpea vegetable salad with hummus

Since Sunday I have been down in Melbourne as I am completing an internship for three weeks as part of my university studies! As I’m a self-confessed foodie I have already been sampling the delicious food Melbourne has to offer. So, I thought I’d share some meals with you..

Vegan shepherd’s pie with salad and chutney!

I enjoyed this gluten free vegan shepherd’s pie from The Organic Food and Wine Deli in Degraves St Melbourne CBD, for lunch on my first day. It was absolutely delicious and really reasonably priced!

Delicious dinner at Mamasita’s!

I caught up with a good friend at Mamasita’s, Collins St Melbourne CBD, last night for dinner. Although there was about a 30 minute wait to be seated, I believe it was well worth it. We enjoyed their signature corn, a taco each (I chose the fish) and their chickpea fritters – these were my favourite of the night! The entire restaurant is gluten free, yet the most surprising part was the bill. All of this only cost us $20 each – such great value! I highly recommend eating here, but do be prepared to queue!

So now onto the recipe…

As I’m working 9-5 days I’m experiencing what it really is like having to cook after a busy day at work. I believe the words ‘simpler is better’ are very appropriate to use here!

Chopped vegetables

This salad is very simple and you can basically use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.

Cooking away

The quinoa and chickpeas add an element of protein to this filling salad.

A little tip – cook a lot of quinoa on Sunday and store it in a sealed container so you can add it to dishes throughout the first part of the week!

Simple, healthy dinner

This salad will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to two days – perfect to take for lunch the next day!

Quinoa chickpea vegetable salad with hummus

Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1/2 zucchini, washed and finely sliced
  • 1/2 eggplant, washed and finely diced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, washed and finely diced
  • 1/2 head broccoli, washed and cut into florets
  • 3 mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1x 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup rocket, washed
  • 3 TBSP hummus
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Place a large frypan over medium heat and add coconut oil.
  2. Add in carrot, zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, broccoli and mushrooms, and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add cooked quinoa, cumin and chickpeas to vegetables. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Stir through rocket, season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with hummus.
  5. Enjoy!

Note: goat cheese would work really well with this salad!

As I’m down in Melbourne for three weeks, I welcome any suggestions from you for healthy cafes/restaurants for me to try!

Chopped salad with spiced mint lamb

As mentioned in my last post, here is the dinner I made for guests Friday evening.

When entertaining I like my guests to feel relaxed. By allowing guests to serve themselves this creates an informal, casual atmosphere and also enables them to serve their own portion size.

Fresh herbs

Make sure you wash your fresh herbs as they can be quite sandy. By adding a dash of apple cider vinegar to the water it will remove most pesticides from the outside of the herbs.

Light salad dressing

This salad dressing is really light and fresh. The lemon provides a tanginess and mellows the pungent flavour of the garlic.

All dressed!

I love the bright reds and greens in the salad. The coriander and parsley really bring out the flavours of the salad ingredients.

Seasoned lamb

I seasoned the lamb with cumin and paprika just before cooking to ensure each piece was coated with the spices.

Cooked lamb topped with fresh mint

Lamb and mint go hand-in-hand, especially in this case as the lamb was seasoned.

Complementary condiments

These condiments improve the flavours of the main dish. By adding the spices to the coconut yoghurt and the pine nuts to the hummus, it really dresses up what could be quite plain condiments.

Dinner is served!

The salad and lamb will both keep in separate sealed containers in the fridge for up to two days.

Chopped salad with lamb

Serves 6 generously

Ingredients:

  • 6 tomatoes, washed and diced
  • 1 cucumber, washed and diced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, washed and diced
  • 1 green capsicum, washed and diced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander, washed and chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, washed and chopped
Dressing
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Lamb
  • 2kg grass fed lamb, cubed
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 TBSP paprika
  • 1 TBSP macadamia oil, for frying
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, washed and chopped
To serve
  • 1/2 cup coconut yoghurt
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • Homemade spelt pita crisps or gluten free pita bread
  • Olives
  • Goat cheese
  • Hummus
  • Pine nuts, cumin and olive oil for topping hummus

Method:

  1. Place tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, capsicum, coriander and parsley in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and taste for seasoning.
  3. Add dressing to salad and toss well.
  4. Season lamb with cumin and paprika.
  5. Heat large frying pan over medium heat and cook seasoned lamb in macadamia oil for 7-10 minutes.
  6. Serve on a large dish and garnish with fresh mint.
  7. Sprinkle coconut yoghurt with chili flakes and sumac.
  8. Add pine nuts, cumin and olive oil to hummus.
  9. Serve salad and lamb with spelt pita bread, spiced coconut yoghurt, olives, goat cheese and hummus. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • When entertaining, you can cook the lamb just before your guests arrive and leave on a simmer covered whilst you wait till it’s time to serve.
  • Here’s the spelt pita crisp recipe will be posted tomorrow!

What do you like to make when entertaining guests?

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?

Organic tamari chicken and vegetable stir-fry

As Easter is this weekend, I am sure many of you will be indulging in a bit of chocolate. I will be too, however it will be of the dairy and sugar free kind. Yet, as much as I do love my chocolate, I find I am always craving vegetables afterwards.

This stir-fry is a quick and simple way to enjoy a meal packed with them. I love the crunchiness of the vegetables against the tender chicken.

Tamari marinade

I use tamari as it is the gluten free version of soy sauce. It can be found in most health food stores and sometimes in your local supermarket (in the health food section). This is such a simple marinade but gives the chicken a lot of flavour.

Vibrant vegetables

I always make sure I use a rainbow of vegetables as it not only looks appetising but each one of them provides your body with essential nutrients.

Fresh, healthy dinner

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

Organic tamari chicken and vegetable stir-fry

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 organic chicken breasts, diced
  • 2 TBSP tamari, extra for serving
  • 2 TBSP fresh ginger, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, washed and finely sliced
  • 3 mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped into matchsticks
  • 2 zucchinis, washed and chopped into matchsticks
  • 1 cabbage, washed and finely sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, washed and chopped into matchsticks
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Coconut oil for stir-frying
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • Sambal oelek for serving

Method:

  1. In a medium sized bowl place the diced chicken breasts and tamari. Cover and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to marinade.
  2. Heat a large wok over high heat then place half the tamari chicken in 1 TBSP coconut oil and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer to a bowl (including the juices) and repeat with the other half of the chicken. Set aside.
  3. In the same wok, over high heat, add 1 TBSP coconut oil, ginger, garlic and leek to the wok. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, cabbage and capsicum and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  5. Add the tamari chicken, along with the juices and stock cube. Stir-fry for a further 2 minutes.
  6. Add the coriander and cashews on top.
  7. Serve with sambal oelek and extra tamari. Enjoy!

Note: this stir-fry can be enjoyed with cooked quinoa, brown rice or rice noodles.

What are your favourite vegetables in a stir-fry?