5 make-ahead vegetarian and pescatarian dinners

5 make-ahead vegetarian and pescatarian dinners

Busy? In a rush? Know that you should be eating more veggies and fish but not sure where to start? If you’re flying in the door after a busy day and need something easy to get on the table that’s healthy and tasty for your family here is a round up of my favourite vegetarian and pescatarian meals.

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Roasted pumpkin, pear and chickpea soup

Roasted pumpkin, pear and chickpea soup

We love soup for Meatless Monday or after Saturday morning sport.  However often a plain vegetable soup can be low in protein and leave you hungry later on, so I’ve added chickpeas which are a terrific source of plant based protein and fibre.  Adding pear brings a beautiful sweetness to this dish.  This soup is very simple to put together with the oven doing the bulk of the work.

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Product Review - Naked Kitchen Black Bean Chilli with Red Quinoa & Paprika

Product Review - Naked Kitchen Black Bean Chilli with Red Quinoa & Paprika

I'm always on the look out for shelf stable products that are healthy and delicious that I can serve up for a quick lunch or dinner.  Since my daughter became vegetarian I've explored some new areas of the supermarket and came across this product in the fridge section which she and I both think is delicious!

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Sports Nutrition for Teenagers

Sports Nutrition for Teenagers

Do you have sporty teenagers?  With the winter sports season kicking off, you might be wondering if your teenagers are eating the right types of food to support healthy growth and development as well as their training and competition. It's not all about protein powder to get "shredded", or litres of sweet sports drinks!

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Grilled vegetable and fig platter

Grilled vegetable and fig platter

Perfect for entertaining, or for a family dinner with the hopes of leftovers, here's how we've been enjoying our grilled veggies.  Our secret is to include a punnet of figs (so cheap at the moment - and they used to be such a luxury!) and to marinade before grilling.  This is a delicious side to barbecued steaks, sausages or halloumi.

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12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas

I hate to use the term superfoods (eye roll) but I was thinking about all the lovely food we are blessed to be surrounded by this time of year and that I associate with Christmas.  I thought I'd share some of their health benefits as well as recipes that my family enjoy this time of year.  I'd love to hear about your Christmas super foods too!  My favourite part of Christmas is sharing a meal with the people that I love.  Food should be seen as part of the celebration - not something to feel guilty about.  Include plenty of fresh fruit and veggies and some lean protein and use the time off work to schedule in a walk or run.  Consider Mindful Eating  over the Christmas break by making more conscious food choices, paying attention to how you eat, and practicing self-acceptance.   

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Your vegetarian teenager

Your vegetarian teenager

Has your teenager recently announced they are a vegetarian?  Mine has!  The rest of the family eat meat and I'm too busy to be cooking 2 meals every night so here's some ideas for how I cope.  I've also seen quite a few vegetarian clients recently with iron deficiency so I'll outline some common nutrient concerns with a vegetarian teenager and how to avoid them.

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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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Beetroot Smoothie

Beetroot Smoothie

If you hang around the sports nutrition world you'll see there's a lot of fuss about beetroot juice, which has recently been promoted to a Grade A supplement by the Australian Institute of Sport.  Whether you are trying to improve your exercise endurance, improve your blood pressure or just add more veggies to your diet - check out my beetroot smoothie.

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Product review - HIT 100

As a nutritionist people often come to see me for weight loss, glowing skin or extra energy.  These might be a measure we can see on the outside but  I believe it is far more important to invest in your internal health and do everything you can to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.  Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, including silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.  I wrote about pre-diabetes and insulin resistance here.  With more than 100,000 Australians having developed diabetes in the past year it is likely that you know someone living with diabetes.   

I first came across Hit100 when researching a university assignment looking at strategies for managing diabetes and insulin resistance.  Hit 100 is a meal delivery service catering specifically for people living with diabetes.  The meals have been developed by dietitians and prepared by chefs and are aimed at improving blood sugar levels. Hit100 were kind enough to offer me a few frozen meals to try.

We tried:

  • chicken tikka marsala

  • hearty beef stew

  • pumpkin and ricotta lasagna

There are plenty of other choices on the hit100 website including some great looking breakfast and lunch options like corn fritters and oat and berry pikelets.

What are they?

The Hit100 meals are based on the latest healthy eating guidelines containing non-starchy vegetables, good quality carbohydrates, healthy fats and lean proteins.  These are the guidelines we all should be following - whether or not we have insulin resistance, diabetes or not.

If you have diabetes you don't need to avoid carbohydrates - carbohydrates play an essential role in your diet as they are the main source of energy your bodies rely on to function optimally. Many carbohydrate based foods are also a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, which all act together to keep us healthy. 

How did they taste?

I heated the dishes in our oven (microwave for 5 mins is also an option) for 35 minutes and tried the meals with my two teenage kids.  We enjoyed all the meals with the favourite being the hearty beef stew closely followed by the chicken tikka marsala.  What I loved was the generous serve of veggies on the side.  I was concerned that the veggies would not heat up well in the oven but they had a delicious lemon salsa on them and were all eaten up.  

I liked that the meals had a decent amount of protein (17 for the lasagne to 29 for the beef stew) and you could see real pieces of chicken and beef.  The sodium levels are less than 120mg/100g which means they are considered as low in salt.  The portion size was ideal for a woman, an active teenager or man might like these for lunch or need some extra veggies at dinner.

When would I use these?

While I am a big fan of cooking and believe you can put together a quick healthy dinner in less than 20 minutes, I realise not everyone likes cooking and also sometimes even 20 minutes is too much to ask.  These are a great option to have in the the freezer and much much healthier than takeaway pad-thai.  I also think they would be a great option to get for an older parent or friend who might not enjoy cooking for themselves.  

Want to know more?

You can head over to the Hit100 website and try an introbox.  

Want to know more?

You can head over to Hit100's website and try an introbox - which is a great taste tester of what they're all about.  For $69.95 you’ll get:
+ 5 main meals
+ 2 mini meals
+ 2 breakfasts
+ 2 yoghurts

Enter coupon: ‘racheleagleton10’ at checkout to receive this exclusive $10.00 discount (valued at $79.95)!

* As mentioned Hit100 provided these meals free to me for my review.  I only post reviews of products that I like and am happy to use. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely mine. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

 

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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.  Reduce heat, cover and leave to simmer for 20 -25 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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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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Quinoa Tabouli

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Did you know that quinoa is a complete protein which means it contains all the essential amino acids?  It's  also a rich source of B vitamins, a good source of carbohydrates and easy to digest.  For these reasons  it is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied space flights! If you've had a quinoa fail before it might be because you haven't washed off the bitter tasting saponins on the outside of the quinoa.  Lightly rubbing the quinoa under running water gets rid of the saponins and improves the flavour.

With the lovely warm weather we've been enjoying a tabouli salad most nights.  I cook a cup of quinoa and use about 2/3 in the salad and then use the leftover quinoa for quick salads for lunch.

I like to serve the salad for dinner with some seared lamb loin fillets marinated in a little lemon and olive oil, perhaps a touch of sumac or smoked paprika. For a portable lunch the next day the salad is delicious with some feta or almonds.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1.75 cups of water
  • pinch of salt
  • generous handful of parsley, leaves picked, roughly chopped
  • generous handful of mint, leaves picked, roughly chopped
  • two big handfuls of baby spinach
  • 4 spring onions, white part only, chopped
  • 2 lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways and chopped
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Seeds from half a pomegranate (optional)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional, if you don't have it omit, do not substitute!)

METHOD

  1. Soak the quinoa for 15 minutes in plenty of water. Drain in a fine wire colander and gently rub the seeds to remove any saponins.
  2. Combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt.
  3. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes, partly covered. The quinoa is cooked when the grain starts to spiral.
  4. Drain any remaining water.
  5. Leave in the saucepan with a clean tea towel or paper towel between the saucepan and the lid for 5 minutes or so. You'll need about 2/3 of the cooked quinoa for the tabouli, the rest will keep in the fridge for 48 hours.
  6. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of black pepper. Add half of the dressing to the quinoa.
  7. Put spinach, herbs, spring onion, tomatoes and cucumber in a salad bowl. Add the quinoa. Toss and add remaining dressing. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds to serve.

Serves 4

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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My muesli with a 5 star health rating

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For Australian supermarket shoppers you might have noticed the new "health star rating" system being slapped onto cereals, dips and other packaged food.  The health star rating system is voluntary  and it takes into account four aspects associated with increasing the risk factors of chronic diseases - energy, saturated fat, sodium and total sugars content. Fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content, and in some instances, dietary fibre and protein content are also considered.

If you've discovered that your favourite cereal has less stars than you'd like, how about a new 5 star health rated muesli?

I've been making my own muesli for a few years now, this recipe gets changed around depending on what I feel like, for example sometimes macadamia nuts instead of almonds.  I keep a 1/2 cup scoop in my cereal container and measure it out each day and top with a generous handful of berries and a big scoop of greek yoghurt.  Serve with your favourite milk.

Because I am a huge data nerd, I put my recipe through the health star rating calculator and it receives 5 stars, plus it tastes great, is full of fibre and protein and will keep you full until lunchtime!


INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g (17oz) rolled oats
  • 30 g (1oz) flaked Coconut
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) raw almonds
  • 100 g (3.5oz) sunflower seeds
  • 100 g (3.5oz) pepitas
  • 60 g (2oz) dried blueberries or cherries (unsweetened)
  • 50g (2oz) LSA mix (linseed/flaxseed, sunflower, almond) or flaxseed meal
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

METHOD

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and serve 1/2 cup with greek yogurt, your choice of milk and berries

14 serves

285 cals 15g fat, 31g carbs, 10g protein, 7g fibre

If you need help sticking to your healthy eating goals I can help you. I'm a university qualified nutritionist based in Balmain, Sydney and the busy working mum of two teenagers, so I'm practical and realistic with my advice.  Find out more about me here.

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Roasted tomato and white bean soup

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Today I've got two sick children so I'm making soup for dinner.  Soup, particularly vegetable based soups are a great option nutritionally as they combine lots of key nutrients including vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories.  Tonight's soup is full of tomatoes, my son is happy to eat this although he will "never, ever eat a tomato". Tomatoes are a wonderful source of vitamin B6, C, K, beta-carotene, potassium and manganese. The lycopene in tomatoes has been linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

Ingredients

  • 1kg tomatoes, quartered or halved depending on size. I like a mixture of truss and romas.
  • 1 red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tab maple syrup
  • 400g tin cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 250 - 500 ml water to taste
  • Pesto to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200degrees.
  2. Put tomatoes, garlic and onion in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Season to taste.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes or until vegetables are soft
  4. Squish garlic out of skin, and discard skin. Add all vegetables and juice to saucepan.
  5. Add the canellini beans and process the mixture with a stick blender.
  6. Add water (I tend to use closer to 250 ml as I like a thick soup) and heat through gently.
  7. Serve with a dollop of pesto

Click here for more simple, healthy and family friendly recipes

 

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Cauliflower and potato mash

It's not that I hide veggies from my children, it's just that they haven't asked what's in my mash!  I love that I can get an extra serve of veggies in with our dinner.   Potatoes have been given such a bad rap, but they are a great source of fibre and a good source of vitamin B6.  Cauliflower is high in antioxidants and a great source of vitamin C.

CAULIFLOWER AND POTATO MASH

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g cream delight or other mashable potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 small cauliflower, trimmed, cut into florets
  • 50g parmesan, grated
  • 125ml milk

METHOD

THERMOMIX 

  1. Grate parmesan for 10 seconds on speed 8, remove and set aside
  2. Cook potato in milk for 10 minutes at 100 degrees, speed 1
  3. Add cauliflower and cook for another 10 minutes at 100 degrees, speed 1
  4. Insert butterfly whisk and parmesan, and whiz for 30 seconds at speed 4

STOVE-TOP

  1. Cook potato in milk on stove for 10 minutes and add cauliflower for another 5.
  2. Drain any extra liquid.
  3. Mash and stir through parmesan cheese.

 

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Lemon - raspberry lunchbox muffins

I love to make a bunch of these on a Sunday afternoon and freeze in snap lock bags to pop in the kids' lunches.  Did you know you can usually modify your standard muffin or cake recipe by reducing the amount of sugar or butter by about half?   The only change you will notice is that the muffin goes stale quicker, which is why I freeze them.  I've been enjoying using wholemeal spelt flour (available from the supermarket), it  has a higher amino acid profile then regular wheat flours, it’s also high in fibre with a low GI for sustained energy. gluten-free-raspberry-ginger-muffins-940x600

Lemon - raspberry lunchbox muffins
Author: rachel
Ingredients
  • 300g plain wholemeal or spelt flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 90g raw sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 1 egg
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 220ml buttermilk (if you don't have butter milk use 1/2 cup plain yoghurt and fill up with milk to 220ml)
  • 80ml olive or macadamia oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 160g frozen (not thawed) raspberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C/160 C fan-forced/gas mark 3.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice, honey, egg, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and honey until combined. Don't worry if it curdles!
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – don’t overmix.
  5. Gently stir through the raspberries
  6. Spoon the mixture into 12 1/2 cup capacity muffin tins lined with paper or silicon cases.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked. A skewer should come out clean.
  8. Variations:
  9. - replace the lemon with orange and add 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
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Sicilian caponata

A few years ago we had a lovely holiday in Sicily – I remember seeing miles and miles of eggplant farms and eating many versions of this dish.  I have tried many caponata recipes and this is my favourite .  This eggplant dish is lovely served warm or cool, it keeps well in the fridge so you have your vegies sorted for a couple of meals.  Caponata makes a beautiful side to some grilled lamb, tuna or swordfish.

 

18250_l
Sicilian caponata
Author: rachel
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • coarse salt
  • 1 tab olive oil
  • 1 stalk celery, trimmed, sliced thinly
  • 1 medium (150g) onion, sliced thinly
  • 400g tin peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 2 red capsicums, diced
  • 1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, optional
  • a handful of black or green olives
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the eggplant into small cubes, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain for 30 minutes. Pat dry.   *Heat oil in a large pan, add onion, capsicum and celery,  Cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes.   Add eggplant and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring.
  2. Add tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and crushed garlic.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Add olives and capers, stir well.  Simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle pinenuts over to serve.
  3. *  To salt or not to salt? In Europe eggplant is salted before cooking to remove the bitter juices, but the improved varieties grown in Australia have lost this bitterness – unless they have been on a greengrocer’s shelf too long. Some say salting also helps to reduce the amount of oil absorbed during cooking.

 

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