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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Roasted pumpkin salad with crispy chickpeas, pomegranate and mint

Roasted pumpkin salad with crispy chickpeas, pomegranate and mint

In worrying news for hummus fans the world over - we are facing a GLOBAL SHORTAGE OF CHICKPEAS! After the avocado crisis I'm not sure how I'll cope! In the meantime, while tinned chickpeas are still cheap I'll stock up. Here's how we had them last night - roasted til crispy tossed with coriander, cumin and oregano, roasted along side some pumpkin. Served with rocket, mint, toasted pepitas, pomegranate seeds and some halloumi too. 

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Watermelon & Pomegranate Salad with Whipped Feta

Watermelon & Pomegranate Salad with Whipped Feta

If you are asked to bring a salad to a BBQ or Christmas party - this one is a winner!  Look at those colours!  And yum, any salad with pomegranate and feta is a winner in my books.  Then add in that beautiful refreshing watermelon and the crunch of almonds, so good.  

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Quinoa Tabouli


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.


  • 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!)


  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

Simon's baked beans


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!


  • 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)


  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

Cauliflower and potato mash

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!  By adding in some cauliflower into my mash 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 range of vitamins and minerals.  Cauliflower is high in antioxidants and a great source of vitamin C.

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Baked eggs, spinach and ricotta in prosciutto cups


These make a delicious brunch and are perfect for lunch boxes.  My children enjoy them after an early morning swim squad or netball session and I love knowing I've got them in the fridge or freezer for an easy lunch.

Baked eggs, spinach and ricotta in prosciutto cups

Serves: 6


  • 6 eggs

  • 6 slices of prosciutto

  • baby spinach

  • ricotta

  • chopped herbs - parsley, basil and oregano (or herbs of choice)

  • sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

  • muffin liners - optional but does help with cleaning up


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

  2. If using, line 6 muffin pans.

  3. Cut each slice of Prosciutto in half and wrap into each cup to hold the egg mixture.

  4. Put a few baby spinach leaves on top of the prosciutto

  5. Crack in an egg to each muffin cup. Add a heaped teaspoon of ricotta.

  6. Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and chopped herbs.

  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until done.

Calories: 188 (792kJ) Fat: 12 Saturated fat: 5 Carbohydrates: 3 Sugar: 0 Sodium: 776 Protein: 19


White bean puree - a mashed potato substitute

This is a very easy to make white bean puree which the whole family enjoys.  We have it with quickly cooked steaks and grilled asparagus.  It works as a mashed potato substitute and I am always happy to find ways  to use more legumes.

photo by Liz Parsons

White bean puree - a mashed potato substitute


2 (generous)


  • 1 can cannelini beans (I always use the italian ones - they seem softer and also don't contain additives)

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1/3 cup chicken stock

  • 1 slice lemon rind


  1. Simmer the beans,garlic and lemon rind in the stock for about 5 mins.

  2. Remove the lemon rind and puree with a stick blender. Once blended add 1/2 tab olive oil and quickly whiz again.

Cauliflower 'rice'

If you've overindulged on the bread, cheese, wine or chocolates on the weekend, why not have a lower-carb day and add some extra vegetables to your plate.  The marvellous Jane Kennedy came up with cauliflower rice in her book "cooking without the boombah".  I was extremely dubious about it, but served with something saucey you really don't miss the rice.  For the kids I mix in the cauliflower rice with their basmati. Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family, like broccoli.  It contains sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound.



Cauliflower 'rice'







  1. Take half a head of cauliflower. Break into florets and place into a microwave dish with a lid. Don’t add water. Turn on high for (approx) 4 minutes. Whizz the cauliflower with a Bamix or food processor until it resembles cous cous. It should be light and ‘fluffy’, not mushy.

  2. The ‘rice’ soaks up the juices and flavours of whatever dish you’re serving….without the added calories.


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Lentil and Feta Salad


This is a great salad, high in protein, great for vegetarian or coeliac guests. 


  • 1 cup Lentils du Puy or french green lentils

  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ cup shredded flat-leaf parsley

  • 12 fresh mint leaves

  • ½ red onion, finely sliced

  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced into four lengthways and diced

  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with 1½ cups water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender. Strain and set aside.

  2. While the lentils are cooking, soak the red onions in the lemon juice – I find this reduces the bitter onion taste.

  3. After the onion has soaked for about 20 minutes, drain the lemon juice and whisk with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a bowl.

  4. Add the lentils and onion and allow to cool.

  5. Add the parsley, mint and cucumber and stir gently to combine. Place in a serving dish and top with the crumbled feta.

  6. Fantastic on its own or with some lamb or sausages for the carnivores

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