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Ocean Trout, Edamame and Mint Salad with Lime Dressing

9 Apr


What you’ll need…


1 cup frozen edamame (sold at Asian grocers)

1/2 cup green peas

3/4 cup risoni

handful chopped mint

handful chopped parsley

2 rashers bacon, diced

2 pieces ocean trout


Juice of 2 limes

2 tbsps EVOO

1 small garlic clove, crushed

Salt and pepper


1. Boil edamame for 4-5 minutes, strain, rinse in cold water then shell. Place in salad bowl.

2. Boil peas, rinse in cold water then strain. Add to salad bowl.

3. Fry bacon until crisp, drain on paper towel. Add to salad.

4. Boil risoni, strain and rinse in cold water. Add to salad.

5. Season trout fillets with salt and pepper and pan fry in a little oil for around 2-3 minutes per side or to your liking.

6. Combine ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake.

5. Flake fish into salad bowl along with the chopped herbs and bacon. Toss with dressing and serve.




Smoked Cod and Poached Eggs for Breakfast

17 Jan


Although the idea of eating fish for breakfast may repulse some people, I’m with the Scots and their kippers, the Chinese and their salty fish congee, Eskimos and raw fish. All the cool people eat fish for breakfast. It’s protein, healthy oils and salty goodness to get your taste buds humming for the day.  But this recipe is not stinky, slimy sardines heads and all, but a nice, firm, flaky white cod with not too much fishy smell. Ok, so I used to call it ‘stinky fish’ when I was a kid, but it only smells when it’s raw. Straight out of the packet and into the water and trust me, your nose won’t notice a thing. Mum used to serve it up for dinner with mash, steamed veg and smothered in creamy white parsley sauce. We all loved it!

My dish is kind of like a breakfast salad. Totally not suitable for hungover people or children under 15 (nor my dear friend Amber who’d probably rather go a deep fried tarantula than this for breakfast – sorry Amby) . For me it evokes; 1) Poverty – What nutritious meal can I cook for less than $5? (Yeah I’m back there again). 2) Dieting – What maximum protein breakfast can I eat that doesn’t involve pork fat in all its glorious and fattening manifestations? 3) Nostalgia – I think I ate this about twice a week for all of my twenties (remark – as those of you who know me would know, I was most definitely NOT on a diet for most of that time, I was just poor most of the time).

As for the fish, I had a terrible moment of moral incertitude when I recently asked myself the question “Oh crap, is this stuff sustainable? Or I have I been supporting some far-away over-exploitation of some poor, endangered species of obscure fish all this time, paying no mind to the potential ethical and environmental wrong I am committing regularly for the sake of my $2.80 Stinky Fish fillet”? Could I blame it on Woolworths? But PHEW! It’s all good. And in the process of finding out that the fish is in fact Hake, not Cod at all (it’s only marketed in Australia as Cod) and both the fish and the South African fisheries it comes from have the ‘Marine Stewardship Council’ tick of approval, I found this webpage – It provides quite a comprehensive list of the availability of their certified ‘sustainable’ fish products in Australia. Click on ‘Where to Buy’. There is also lots of information on fisheries and species and the whole shebang.

Truth be told, this dish is awesome for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

To serve 2 people

Here’s what you’ll need…

2 handfuls rocket/roquette (however you want to spell it) and baby spinach – or any other lettuce you like, really

2-4 eggs (one or two each)

1 fillet smoked cod

2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

squeeze lemon

some dill or parsley or basil, finely chopped

2 small potatoes

Four simple steps…

1. Boil or microwave the spuds until soft and tender. Slice, dice or smash.

2. Poach the fish fillet in simmering water for about 4-5 minutes (or less if it’s a small one). Remove to a plate and flake with two forks. It should slide off the skin really easily. Discard skin.

3. Poach your eggs. If this thought infuriates you – poaching eggs can be a b*#ch of a process if you haven’t nailed it yet, listen up. Medium pot of water, bring to the boil. Once boiled, reduce to simmer (with only little bubbles), add 3 tablespoons white vinegar. Crack the egg in as close to the surface as you can. Do nothing for 3 minutes. Remove egg with a slotted spoon.

4. Mix the yoghurt, herbs and a squeeze of lemon.

Serve – Put down a bed of greens, place the potato on top, then the fish, then the eggs. Tuck in!


Hollandaise is nice instead of yoghurt. Sour cream is an ok substitute for yoghurt. Or don’t have any sauce at all, just a good crack of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

Barberry Rice Pilaf with Chicken

9 Jan


I met an Iranian woman recently who introduced me to barberries. They are a little, very sharp tasting berry used in pilaf dishes throughout the Middle East. They remind me of tangy pomegranate. I have made this pilaf of my own for years with currants, but I found the little red berries at my local Lebanese deli and thought I’d give them a whirl. The guy there told me to keep them in the fridge as they are semi-dried, but they keep for ages. They add such a yummy sourness. With the addition of a pan fried, sliced chicken breast, this pilaf makes a very satisfying meal. It is not heavy and is very healthy – barberries are crammed with vitamin C and the dish is low in fat. I have made it several times this summer. You can serve it hot, warm, cold – doesn’t matter. I hope you like it.

For a large bowl to serve 4, You will need…

 2 cups basmati rice

large pot of waterchicken/vegetable stock powder

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 teaspoons cumin

2 fresh bay leavesblack pepper

1/2 cup barberries (or currants)

1/2 cup pistachios, flaked almonds, pine nuts (or a mix)

2 medium size red onions

1/4 cup fresh parsley (flat leaf or curly)

1/4 cup fresh mint

1/4 cup fresh coriander

2 chicken breasts

salt and pepper

juice of one lime or half a lemon

olive oil


Slice the onions into thin rings or half-rings and add to a hot pan with olive oil. Turn down the heat and stir occasionally until well caramelised – this will take up to 15 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, prepare the rice…

Add stock powder, cumin, smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves and ground black pepper to a large pot of water, add well rinsed Basmati rice, bring to the boil and boil until the rice is just tender – strain the rice while it is still ‘al dente’ as it will continue to cook for a while after it is strained (as it cools). Overcooked rice will wreck this dish.

Place the rice in a large, flat bowl or on a serving platter and toss through the barberries. Set aside to cool.


While the rice is cooling, toast the nuts in a dry pan over medium heat. As my funny sister in law says “I’m going to burn the pine nuts now” – whenever she cooks them! I swear at least 75% of the pine-nuts cooked in my house turn to little black nuggets and go straight to the bin. Don’t turn your back on your nuts!

You can chop them roughly or leave them whole. I don’t bother chopping except for pistachios. Set aside. Chop your herbs and set aside.


When the rice is around room-temperature, toss in onions, nuts and herbs along with some salt and pepper to taste. I like to mix it gently with my hands.

For the chicken…

Gently beat chicken breasts with a rolling pin or meat pounder on the thickest part of the breast (for even cooking), dry with paper towel, season with salt and pepper (and sumac is nice if you have some), heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the chicken breast for about 3 minutes each side (or until no longer pink in the middle). Remove to a chopping board and slice into thick slices. Toss with the lemon/lime juice and a few tablespoons of olive oil.

To serve…

Either toss the chicken breast with the lemony juices through the salad and serve from the bowl, or plate up piles of rice salad with some chicken breast on top and drizzle with lemony juices. Be sure to refrigerate promptly if you do not serve the chicken hot.

Without meat it is a nice side dish or salad.

Without meat it is a nice side dish or salad with some lemon and oil dressing.





Thai Style Salad Deluxe

7 Sep


I’m not going to bother with any long intro to this dish, all I will say is that I made it tonight, probably enough to serve 4 people and we polished off the lot. We seriously COULD NOT STOP.

You will have heard a million times, Thai food is all about the balance – sour, sweet, salty. You’ve got to get that right in this dressing but honestly, it’s not brain surgery.

This dish is a kind of hybrid salad! Paul always makes this beautiful glass noodle salad with shredded cos lettuce, herbs and prawns and I love to make Thai green mango salad when the fruit is in season. I yelped with excitement the other day at our Asian green grocers when I saw them there for the first time since last summer! Beautiful, slender, sour green mangoes. And thirdly, everyone’s favourite Thai salad – Larb – the one with the roasted rice powder and ground meat.The result is a bit of all these and boy was it amazing!

Like any salad you have full artistic license with this one – you just have to remember the sweet, sour, salty balance thing.  The star ingredient of ‘larb’ – the roasted rice powder, is not in this salad, I made little fried garlic slivers instead.

Here’s what you’ll need…


2 Thai green mangoes (you want them very firm and green so they are tart and crunchy, not soft and floppy) See picture below!

3 spring onions

2 red chillies (optional)

about 2 cups bean thread noodles (cooked)

One baby cos lettuce (or 1/3 – 1/2 a big one)



roasted peanuts

5-6 cloves garlic

fried shallots (from the Asian grocer)

12 cooked prawns

50-100 grams chicken mince

50-100 grams pork mince

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar


juice one large lime (or 2-3 tbsps)

2-3 tbsps fish sauce

2 tbsps sugar (palm, white, raw, brown – doesn’t really matter)

1 tbsp thai chilli and soy bean paste (from Asian grocer)

A rule of thumb for this dressing is to use equal quantities of sour, salty, sweet – but you can make it to suit your taste. Just start with less and adjust gradually as you know fish sauce is mega salty!

Now that you’ve scrapped the idea of making this salad because the list of ingredients is soooo long, WAIT! You can make this without the three different meats and just pick one – or use none and serve it alongside grilled fish or meat. We bought prawns and then realised we had a leftover pork chop and some chicken breast so we used it all up. If you don’t have the chilli bean paste the dressing is beautiful without it.

Here’s what you do…

Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well to allow sugar to fully dissolve. Set aside.

Soak your noodles in hot water according to packet directions, drain, cut into manageable lengths and set aside.

Slice the garlic and shallow fry it in a little oil until they just start to change colour – these will burn easily and remember they will continue to cook and darken in colour even once they have been removed from the hot oil. Drain on paper towel.

Slice the spring onions and chillies on the diagonal into thin slices.

Shred the cos lettuce (not too fine).

Peel the mangoes. Cut into thin strips** see below for notes on this**.

Place all the above ingredients in a large salad bowl.

Slice the prawns in half – add to the salad.

In a very hot pan with a little oil, fry minced pork and chicken with the 1 tbsp fish and the sugar until it is lightly coloured. Allow to cool slightly. Add to salad.

Roughly chop herbs (if you wanted to add thai basil or vietnamese mint you can) and add to the salad.

Toss all salad ingredients with the dressing until well mixed. Sprinkle with a handful of smashed roasted peanuts and some of the little fried shallots to serve.


** You can cut the mangoes any way you like really but I do rough julienne strips the way a Thai friend of mine taught me to and it’s quite nifty and looks nice- you hold the mango so that it’s lengthways down the palm of your hand (i.e. where the stem would be is at the top of your middle finger), with a sharp pairing knife or short bladed knife cut incisions in the mango from top to bottom (they don’t have to o all the way through to the seed), then turn your knife so that the blade is perpendicular to the incisions you’ve just made and scrape off the strips. Confusing? Just slice off thin slices from each cheek and then slice into thin strips.

Firm, bright green mangoes are what you want. Most Asian green grocers should have them through Spring and Summer. You can skip the chillies if you don't like spicy.

Tuna Ceviche Salad

16 Aug

Ceviche is a dish originating in South America which is made by ‘cooking’ fish or other seafood in citrus juice and garnishing it. It is usually eaten as an appetizer. There are so many variations and I encourage you to give them a go. There are versions with coconut milk and coriander, Asian versions with fish sauce, palm sugar, lemongrass etc and a myriad of other combinations. Google Ceviche and you’ll find hundreds of recipes. I made this version with fresh tuna, but you can substitute any fresh fish, prawns/shrimp, scallops, squid or a combination. This one is very simple – inspired by guacamole and fresh salsa. The ingredients go together really well so you can’t really mess this up. It looks pretty served in a glass (you need something low and wide – a low ball or a dessert glass) with toast or crispbread on the side. Or, lay it out flat on a plate for people to share. You really must have something crunchy to scoop it up with. It takes very little time to prepare and is very healthy. Of course you can add other ingredients to this dish like finely chopped chilli, a little garlic or some mustard. Diced cucumber would be a good addition.

Here’s what you’ll need…








2 ripe tomatoes, diced

1 piece of tuna, about 250 grams (it needs to be very fresh and good quality)

juice of half a lemon

juice of half a lime

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp capers

1 avocado

1/4 red onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon each chopped fresh basil and parsley (or you can substitute chives, dill, coriander – up to you)

1 tablespoon sour cream

freshly ground black pepper


black caviar to garnish (optional)


Blend the avocado, sour cream, about a teaspoon of the juice and some salt and pepper in a food processor or with a fork, until smooth.


Dice the fish into small cubes about 1.5 – 2 centimeters. Place the fish along with the chopped onion, tomato, capers and herbs in mixing bowl and toss. Taste the juice – if it is very sour you can add a pinch of caster sugar. Pour the juice over the salad mix. The juice will start to cook the fish immediately. Leave aside for about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and toss again.

To serve…

Spoon the avocado mixture into the glass (or glasses if you want to do multiple individual serves) and top with the salad mixture. Garnish with a spoonful of black caviar if you want to. Serve with pieces of toast, toasted pita bread, bagel crisps or whatever crunchy cracker you have.













a different way to serve









a generous spoonful on a little toast

Promiscuous Pomegranate

2 Feb

Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening, 1944.













This fruit is very high in antioxidants and so is considered an aphrodisiac (apparently the effect of these antioxidants on the body is increased blood flow through the vessels which leads to heightened sensitivity). It was sacred to Aphrodite and the Chinese revered it as a symbol of prosperity because of the abundance of seeds in the clusters within the fruit. It looks so curious, and it is a potent pleasure to eat. Apart from its aesthetic, when you sink your teeth in and suck out the flesh coated seeds the sensation of popping the little beads between your teeth and the tart, sweet crimson juice that bursts out is just so pleasing.

Here is a recipe for a delicious salad featuring pomegranate that I made tonight. It is easy and quick to prepare.

You’ll need…

Mixed salad greens to serve 4

One pomegranate *see notes below on how to get the seeds out without squishing them or getting red stains on your apron

One small ‘Granny Smith’ apple (or other variety you prefer)

2 tbsps Walnuts (coarsely chopped and toasted)

Some shaved parmesan (about 1/4 cup) or crumbled feta

1-2 French Shallots (finely sliced)

Vinaigrette (any kind is fine – whatever you like)

Prepare the Salad…

Toast the walnuts lightly and set aside to cool.

Once nuts are cool, arrange all salad ingredients on a large platter. Toss with vinaigrette just before serving.











* To remove the seeds, follow these steps…

1) Slice the pomegranate down the centre widthways with a sharp knife – some juice will run out and be warned – it stains!

2) Fill a large mixing bowl that you can fit both hands in with clean cold water.

3) Place the fruit in the bowl while working so that you don’t squirt out the juice. Carefully pull apart the halves into halves again and then into quarters. The seeds are clustered together and will come out easily if you gently roll them off with your thumb. You’ll get the feel for it – just don’t poke your fingers in and burst the little pearls. Discard the white part and the skin as you go (although an old Brazilian woman used to steep the skins in hot water and gargle to fight a throat infection – at the time I thought it was sorcery, but apparently Kingston Uni are finding out it really does have naturally occurring anti-biotic qualities). Sorry for getting side-tracked.

4) Scoop off any little bits of yellowy-white pith from the surface of the water and strain through a colander.