6 fast, easy and healthy tray bakes

6 fast, easy and healthy tray bakes

For the lazy cook like me, the tray bake has to be the ultimate dinner. I read a lot of recipe books and immediately turn the page if too much chopping or browning is involved. A tray bake is perfect because I can pop it in the oven while I am driving my kids around. And bonus - minimal washing up!

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Chicken cacciatore with spelt pasta

Chicken cacciatore with spelt pasta

This is our new family favourite, midweek pasta meal.  If you don't want pasta it is just as good over zucchini noodles.  For a warm lunch the next day I like to put in a tin of drained cannellini beans to the sauce mixture to increase the fibre content and make enough for left overs.  Depending on how much energy I have at dinner time I either serve with a big salad or stir a large handful of spinach leaves through the sauce at the end.  I get four types of veggies into this dish, plus chicken thigh fillets which are a good source of iron.

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Provencale kingfish

Provencale kingfish

I love this time of year with the hint of spring starting.  Here is a favourite recipe adapted from an old delicious magazine  that I have made with salmon, snapper and kingfish.  Easy, fresh and perfect for topping up your omega-3s

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Six Salads for Summer

Six Salads for Summer

It's heating up here in Sydney!  With a newly vegetarian teenager in my house I'm trying to get in the habit of creating a big, substantial salad on a Sunday that can work as leftovers for the week. Or I get on the #meatfreemonday bandwagon.  Here's 6 of my favourite salads, and one little extra.

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Tray Baked Salmon with Green Beans and Salsa Verde

Tray Baked Salmon with Green Beans and Salsa Verde

With the arrival of spring in Sydney I've had a craving for this Jamie Oliver inspired recipe.   Salmon is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids which are inti-inflammatory and extremely beneficial to your health - they can help lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure,  and may reduce symptoms of arthritis and depression.  I've accompanied the salmon with salsa verde and some lovely roasted veggies.

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Supercharged Shepherd's Pie

Supercharged Shepherd's Pie

I love taking classic comfort foods and making them a whole lot more nutritious.  I've added lentils and plenty of veggies to my shepherds pie base and my mash is half cauliflower and half potato.  With the veggies, lean lamb and lentils this is a immune boosting recipe for winter that my kids love!

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Nicoise salad

Nicoise salad

Create this delicious classic french salad with loads of veggies and heart healthy tuna and eggs for a hot summer night to transport you to the south of France.

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Bun Cha Bowls

Bun Cha Bowls

Hot summer evenings are calling for this divine BUN CHA bowl with a warm dipping sauce.  

Healthy, low carb, high protein, with heaps of veggies, Gluten Free and FODMAP friendly!

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Salmon Burgers

With the arrival of spring in Sydney I've been looking for a new way of including fish in our meals. Salmon is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids which are inti-inflammatory and extremely beneficial to your health - they can help lower cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure,  and may reduce symptoms of arthritis and depression.  Omega-3s are essential fats that must be obtained from our diet. These burgers are an excellent source of quality protein that can help build and repair lean muscle.

I modified a Teresa Cutter recipe here and it was a huge hit with the family.

salmon burgers

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 slices stale bread (preferably wholegrain)(gluten free if needed)
  • zest of 2 lemons and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • small bunch parsley
  • 2-4 spring onions
  • 600g salmon fillets, bones and skin removed
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil for shallow frying

METHOD

  1. In a food processor pulse bread, zest of one lemon, 1/3 bunch parsley.  Tip into wide, shallow bowl
  2. Add remaining lemon zest and parsley and spring onions to food processor, pulse.  Add salmon fillets and pulse again (so you have a chopped texture not a paste).  Add egg and lemon juice and briefly pulse again until just combined.  Season with salt and pepper
  3. Divide into 8 portions and form into burgers
  4. Roll burgers in herbed breadcrumbs and place in fridge for 20 minutes to firm up
  5. Heat fry pan to a low - medium heat and cook in a little olive oil for  4-5 minutes on each side until golden outside and just a little pink in the middle

I serve the burgers on a bun for the kids and "naked" for me.  I like to serve along roast sweet potato and carrot wedges (cook at 200 C for 40 minutes, drizzled with evoo) and a big green salad.

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Moussaka with Cauliflower Béchamel

A few years ago we had an amazing holiday in Greece and although it was the height of summer I still enjoyed ordering moussaka.  It was absolutely delicious but also very rich and filling.  The other day across my Facebook feed came a "paleo moussaka" from Australia'a favourite Paleo Chef Pete Evans.  As a Nutritionist there are a few things I don't agree with about paleo eating (the exclusion of wholegrains and dairy) but there are a few things I love (plenty of veggies and lean protein).  I loved how the paleo recipe included cauliflower in the béchamel sauce and the layer of silver beet (swiss chard).   Cauliflower and silver beet are both a great source of Vitamin C.  Combining this with zinc from the lamb makes this a great immune boosting recipe for winter. I decided to combine the paleo recipe with a more traditional Greek recipe from George Colombaris to create a beautiful healthy moussaka.  


MOUSSAKA WITH CAULIFLOWER BÉCHAMEL

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplant (about 450 g), sliced 1-cm thick
  • sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ bunch of silverbeet or kale (about 200 g), central stalks removed and leaves chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 600 g lamb or beef mince
  • 1 red capsicum/red pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried organo
  • 2 crushed cardamon pods
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 400g tins of crushed tomatoes

Cauliflower béchamel

  • ½ head cauliflower (about 550 g), processed into "rice"
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot (see note)
  • 80g parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cook the eggplant in batches in a frying pan with a little olive oil over med-high heat until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Wipe the pan clean, add a little more olive oil and sauté the silverbeet or kale over medium heat for 2 minutes or until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the lamb or beef mince and spices, breaking up any lumps with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the meat is browned. Add the tinned tomatoes, mix to combine and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, to make the cauliflower bechemal, bring half the milk to the boil with the cauliflower rice and simmer  for 15 minutes until very soft.  Process with a stick blender.  Whisk the arrowroot with the remaining  milk until combined. Turn the heat down to low and whisk in the milk and arrowroot mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool slightly.
  5. To assemble, lay half the eggplant slices in a single layer in a large baking dish. Spread the silverbeet or kale on top, then pour on the mince mixture. Add the remaining eggplant slices. Finally, pour over the cauliflower béchamel.  Sprinkle with extra parmesan.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before cutting and serving with a simple green salad

Serves 6

Click here for more simple, healthy and family friendly recipes

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One pan Mexican Quinoa and Black Bean bowl

This is my new favourite dinner that I could eat every day for a month and not tire of.  You will desperately hope there will be enough for leftovers for lunch!  This recipe is full of veggies, black beans and quinoa so it delivers plenty of fibre and plant based protein which is a winner for preventing lifestyle diseases such as some cancers, cardiovascular disease and stroke plus it tastes amazing and will keep you full for ages.

This recipe was inspired by marin mama cooks but I've increased the veggies and beans a bit and "Australianised" the ingredients.  I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does.


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 red chilli, half the seeds removed and sliced 
  • 1 cup well-rinsed and scrubbed quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 
  • 2 rinsed and drained cans of  black beans
  • 1 can tinned diced tomatoes 
  • 1 medium zucchini diced
  • 2 red capsicums, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican spice powder (I used Herbies but masterfoods do one too or use 1/2 tsp chilli, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander) 
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • juice of one lime
  • chopped fresh coriander leaves, greek yoghurt and shredded sharp cheese  to serve 

METHOD

Heat the olive oil in a large frypan over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and fresh chilli and cook for one minute stirring well.

Add in the chicken stock, quinoa, black beans, tinned tomatoes, zucchini, capsicum, salt, and spices.  

Stir well, then bring to the boil.  Leave to simmer for 20 minutes until cooked.

Before serving stir through the lime juice and chopped coriander.  Serve with a sprinkle of cheese and a dollop of greek yoghurt.

Serves 6


mexican quinoa and black bean bowls

 

 

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Gado-gado with Chicken sates

gadogado.jpg

I adore chicken sates and gado-gado, both firm favourites from learning Indonesian at school and many many visits to our northern neighbour.  I love gado-gado as a fantastic way of having a filling salad at dinner with plenty left over for lunch the next day.  Here's my recipe, adjust it to suit your favourite veggies.


Ingredients

  • 600 gm, chicken, cubed
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tab lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • sml knob of ginger peeled
  • 1-2 fresh red chillis (seeded if you don’t want it too hot)
  • 1/3 cup tamari
  • 1 tab brown sugar
  • 270ml coconut milk
  • ½ cup 100% crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 4 soft boiled eggs
  • 6 new potatoes, boiled until soft, about 10 mins
  • 2 carrots
  • big handful of green beans
  • 2 lebanese cucumbers, cut into long batons
  • bean shoots

Method

  1. In a food processor blitz the onion, garlic, ginger, chili. Mix in the tamari, lemon juice and sugar. Add to a ziplock bag with the chicken pieces. Leave to marinate for a couple of hours in the fridge. Soak 12 bamboo skewers.
  2. Prepare your gado-gado salad by assembling the veggies that you like, I’ve included a suggested list in the ingredients, but use the gado-gado to clean up your fridge. You can also include quickly fried firm tofu pieces.
  3. Remove the chicken pieces from marinade (reserve the marinade) and thread onto the skewers.
  4. Pour the reserved marinade into a saucepan, add the coconut milk and peanut butter. Bring to the boil and heat through until thickened. Taste and adjust for lemon juice, tamari and chili.
  5. Barbecue the chicken for 6 minutes or so until they are browned and cooked through. Serve sates with the gado-gado salad.

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Wholemeal Spelt Pizzas

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I love homemade pizza on a hot summer night.  I use a wholemeal spelt flour in my pizza base to improve the fibre content, and because I find the wholemeal spelt gives better results than wholemeal flour.  If you have a sensitive tummy spelt can sometimes be better tolerated than a traditional wheat flour as it has less gluten (but it is NOT gluten free).  If you're pushed for time you can use wholemeal pita breads - however a Thermomix or stand mixer means the making the dough is very painless as long as you have time to let it rise.


ingredients

  • 200 grams wholemeal spelt flour
  • 200 grams bakers flour
  • 125 grams semolina
  • 5 grams salt
  • 1 sachet dry yeast (7 grams)
  • 300 ml mineral water
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • passata
  • a mix of grilled veggies, I like eggplant and capsicum
  • fresh bocconcini, drained
  • prosciutto
  • A big rocket and spinach salad, with sliced pear and parmesan shavings, dressed with lemon and EVOO to serve

Thermomix recipe

  1. If the mineral water is fridge cold, cook for 50 seconds at 90 degrees on speed 1
  2. Place the water, yeast, oil and salt in TM bowl. Mix for 5 seconds on speed 3.
  3. Add flours, mix for 6 seconds on speed 8.  Set dial to closed lid position. Knead the dough for 2 minutes on Interval speed.

Stand mixer recipe

  1. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the flour, semolina and salt. Whisk the yeast, mineral water and oil in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer to slow, add the liquid all at once, and bring together to a soft dough. Once combined, turn the speed to high and mix for a further 6 minutes until you have a smooth, silky, springy dough.

METHOD

  1. Cover and allow to prove for 45 minutes in a warm spot.
  2. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  3. Knock back dough and shape into 4 small balls. Allow to rest for another 5 minutes, then roll out thinly. 
  4. Top with passata and pizza toppings bake for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Serve with a big green salad.
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Spanish gazpacho - drink your veggies

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gazpacho

A couple of years ago we had a beautiful holiday in Andalusia, Spain.  We'd sit out in the garden and start our meal with short glass of gazpacho which you could buy in tetra packs from the supermarket.  I've come up with this recipe which gets some veggies into everyone before the meal has started.  I tend to use tomato juice (no added salt or sugar), it would be better to use real tomatoes but I can't get that lovely rich tomato flavour from the disappointing supermarket tomatoes.  The advantage of tomato juice is there is no de-seeding or peeling.  Think of it as a red green smoothie!


Ingredients

  • 2 slices crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1L tomato juice
  • 1 red capsicum, seeded, chopped
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, seeded, chopped, plus extra finely chopped as a garnish
  • 1/2 long red chilli, seeded
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tabs olive oil

METHOD

  1. Break bread into large pieces and place in a bowl (or your thermomix bowl). Pour over red wine vinegar and set aside for 10 minutes
  2. Place bread in a blender or food processor. Add garlic, sugar, tomato juice, capsicum, cucumber, chilli and green onions, and blend until combined (1 minute speed 10 in thermomix). With processor running, pour in olive oil in a thin stream
  3. Transfer gazpacho to a large jug, cover and refrigerate until chilled. Just before serving, stir well with ice cubes and add extra finely chopped cucumber as a garnish.

 

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Chicken fajitas

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The weather is warming up in Sydney so I am making some quick chicken fajitas featuring lime and capsicum (peppers).  This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson's "Kitchen".  Capsicums (red peppers) are low in fat, carbs and calories and high in antioxidants such as beta-carotene a precursor to vitamin A, helping to promote vision and support a healthy immune system.  Capsicum is also packed full of vitamin C and their sweet flavour means they are a favourite with kids.


 ingredients

  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, sliced into long strips (or you can use precut stirfry chicken)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 tab extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 capsicums (red, yellow or orange) cored and cut into strips
  • hot chilli sauce, avocado, baby spinach, coriander leaves, 4 soft wholegrain tortillas (to serve)

METHOD

  1. Combine the chicken with the oregano, cumin and lime juice. Leave to marinade while you slice up the onion and capsicum. Pop the tortillas in a low warm oven
  2. In a frying pan, saute the onion over medium heat with a little olive oil and one crushed garlic clove for five minutes.  Add the capsicum to the frypan and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and put in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 1/2 tab of olive oil and other crushed garlic clove to the pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and its marinade. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Check that the chicken is piping hot and cooked through, then add the onions and capsicum. Stir together, then transfer them to a serving dish.
  4. Take the warmed tortillas out of the oven and put them on the table alongside the chicken mixture, chilli sauce, avocado, baby spinach leaves and chopped coriander for everyone to assemble.
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Diwali Masala Ginger Prawn Curry

Diwali Masala Ginger Prawn Curry

Happy Diwali!  Diwali is  the Indian festival of lights - and signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair.  Let's celebrate by sharing a meal together - here's a beautiful prawn curry that I learnt how to make  when I lived in Singapore. The flavours are very fresh with a beautiful pop of mint.

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Thai style beef salad

thaibeef.jpg

This is how I like to eat in summer - a big salad topped with delicious steak.  I discovered this salad when I was pregnant as I was trying to increase my iron stores and eat lots of leafy greens.  It's now a firm family favourite and perfect for my teenage children who need zinc and iron for growth, energy and immunity.

GF, LF, FF - see below for notes

ingredients

  • 400 g lean beef (I like sirloin or porterhouse)
  • plenty of black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 large handfuls asian salad mix or baby spinach leaves
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 20 green beans, sugar snap peas or snow peas, blanched
  • 2 red capsicums,sliced
  • 2 Lebanese / Japanese cucumbers sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 small bunch coriander picked
  • 1 small bunch mint picked
  • Cashews to sprinkle over

Dressing

  • juice from 2-3 limes
  • 1 sliced red chilli (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoon palm sugar (or castor sugar)

METHOD

  1. Season the steak with the pepper and cook in a hot pan with a little olive oil until medium rare. Remove from the pan, cover loosely and allow to rest for about 5 minutes then slice thinly.
  2. Combine the salad leaves, tomatoes, green beans, capsicum, cucumber, onion and herbs.
  3. Add the sliced beef.
  4. Make the dressing by mixing the lime juice, chilli, fish sauce and sugar.
  5. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix through. Top with a small handful of cashews.
  6. Divide between serving bowls and enjoy. Lean chicken breast, grilled fish or grilled firm tofu can be used in place of the beef.

Serves 4

GF - check fish sauce,

FF (FODMAP friendly) - substitute green tops of spring onion for onion, limit portion of snow peas to five pods, substitute peanuts for cashews

 

 

Cauliflower and broccolini fried rice served with pickled cucumber

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A vegetable hack I've been using a lot lately is to mix in half cauliflower rice with our brown basmati.  Tonight I'm sharing my cauliflower fried rice which is a huge hit. I serve it with quickly pickled cucumber, a fried egg and some tamari almonds. I did wonder how the "rice" would be received - see picture below, but mixed in with aromatic ginger and coriander plus the colour somewhat disguised by turmeric no-one gave it a second thought!

cauli2

Cauliflower is a fantastic vegetable being a source of cancer-fighting agents (glucosinolates).   I've been using a lot of turmeric in my recipes recently as the active ingredient -curcumin - as it has been linked to warding off dementia and preventing cancer.  The AIS is investigating the anti-inflammatory properties for use as a sports supplement.

(I am listing this a vegetarian, but you'll need to take out the ham)

cauliflowerfriedrice

 

Cauliflower and broccolini fried rice with ginger and turmeric
Author: rachel
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 200g packet of pre-cooked brown basmati rice
  • 2 french shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cm piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli (seeds removed)
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 100g ham
  • 2-3 tab tamari
  • 2-3 tsp tomato sauce (I use sugar free)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • shallots to serve
  • fried egg to serve
  • cucumber pickle to serve
Instructions
  1. In a food processor or by hand pulse together the cauliflower florets and broccolini. Remove and set aside.
  2. In food processor or by hand chop the shallots, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander.
  3. In a heavy bottom frypan or wok fry the processed shallot mixture in a tsp or so of coconut oil or olive oil. Stir fry for 3 minutes then add ham and fry for another minute or so.
  4. Add pulsed cauliflower, broccolini and rice and fry for another minute.
  5. Add turmeric, paprika, tamari and tomato sauce and fry for a few minutes.
  6. I like to serve with a fried egg, some pickled cucumber, a squeeze of lime and some tamari almonds
  7. Make a quick cucumber pickle by slicing up 2 cucumbers, pour over a little rice wine vinegar, a squeeze of lime juice and a tsp of sugar.

 

 

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Simon's baked beans

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Having a rustle around in the freezer I found the ham bone I had saved from Christmas.  I asked my husband to make his amazing baked beans and he also wrote down the recipe as we can never quite remember how he makes them.  These make a delicious breakfast, lunch or easy dinner.  You can cook an egg in the bean mixture as well.  If you don't have a frozen ham bone left over from Christmas then you can get a ham hock from the butcher or make a vegetarian version. A diet rich in legumes such as cannellini beans  is associated with lowered blood sugar and reduced harmful LDL cholesterol.   They’ve been linked to reduced risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon and other cancers, as well as improved weight control.  Plus my kids love eating them!

Ingredients

  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 red onions roughly chopped.
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Ham bone (frozen from after Christmas) or ham hock.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 x 400gm tin of crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp of smokey paprika
  • 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes (this gives it just a hint of heat but up to you)
  • 1 tsp of dry mustard powder
  • 4 x 400gm tins of Cannellini Beans (drained and rinse beans from 3 of the tins, but use liquid and beans from 4th)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 160 deg C.
  2. Fry up garlic, onions and oil over a medium to high heat (choose a big pot that is also able to go in oven). Whack in the ham bone. Pour in 2 tins of tomatoes and the bay leaves. Then add the maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, and spices.
  3. Drain the beans in a sieve and rinse off the briney liquid from 3 of the tins, but chuck liquid and beans from the 4th. Give it all a stir.
  4. Check seasoning but probably could do with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and put the pot in the oven for a 1 1/2 hrs.
  6. I like to cook it the beans long enough so that the meat has fallen off the ham bone but not so long the dish becomes too dry. I switch off oven and just leave the pot in until I'm ready to serve.
  7. Dish it up with crusty bread and green salad

You can also cook this in the slow cooker on low for 4 hours.  

Serves 8

Salmon, mussel and fennel stew

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I love a fish stew and this is my simple one.  After watching a documentary last year about the fish farms in Vietnam I only buy Australian fish that has been sustainably farmed.  You can buy cleaned bearded mussels in the supermarket.  Mussels are a good source of omega -3 fatty acids.  These fats have many beneficial effects, including improving brain function and reducing inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. Mussels are also a great source of vitamins such as zinc which helps build immunity.  Plus they are fun to eat, the kids love them! http://gty.im/175816512

Salmon, mussel and fennel stew
Author: rachel
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 1 red onion
  • ½– fresh red chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 700 g passata
  • 1 small bunch of fresh basil
  • 400 g mixture of fish fillets, scaled and pin-boned. I used salmon but snapper or whiting would be good. Cut into large chunks
  • 1kg mussels scrubbed, clean and debearded
Instructions
  1. In a large, deep frypan (with lid) heat a splash of olive oil. Finely slice the fennel, onion, chill and garlic and add to the pan. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
  2. Add the white wine and let it simmer for a couple of minutes then add the passata and most of the basil (chopped). Simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Add the fish and simmer for a couple of minutes
  4. Add the mussels. Put the lid on the frypan and allow the mussels to open. When the mussels have opened (throw away any that remain closed), the fish will be cooked through (roughly four minutes).
  5. Serve with crusty bread and a big green salad.

 

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