Tag Archives: Salad

Ottolenghi’s Walnut, Fig and Goat’s Cheese Salad (+Bonus Fig and Proscuitto Pizza)

8 Mar

Everyone seems to love the Ottolenghi cookbook, so when I tried a few recipes from it and my reactions ranged from “it’s okaaay but not worth the effort” to “oh God I’m going to be sick” I figured I had done something wrong and tucked those blog posts away in shame.

I was leafing dejectedly through my Ottolenghi cookbook the other day when I saw a recipe that I knew would be fine – I’ve never met a combination of walnuts, figs and goat’s cheese that I didn’t like!

The salad is supposed to serve 4, but if it’s you are a big eater it will easily serve 2. Also I cheated a bit – I didn’t have mint and parsley so I just used a mix of random salad greens.

I think I cooked the sauce a little too long because it was quite thick at the end – more jammy than dressing-like, which meant that it clumped instead of spreading out nicely over the salad. Oh well, lesson learned!

We had lamb cutlets with the salad. It was a delicious (though somewhat high calorie) meal, and afterwards James made a point to tell me how much he had enjoyed it. =) I think he is trying to encourage me to make it again.



  • 125ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 60ml red wine vinegar
  • 50g honey
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  • 50g walnuts, broken
  • 100g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
  • 20g mint leaves
  • 25g flat parsley leaves
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 fresh figs, halved or quartered


  1. Place all the sauce ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan, stir and put over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until reduced by two thirds. Remove from the heat and keep somewhere warm.
  2. Place the walnuts in a non-stick frying pan and toast over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
  3. Gently toss together all the salad ingredients, apart from the figs, seasoning with salt and pepper. Make sure the components stay separate and that the cheese doesn’t smear the leaves.
  4. Place the figs on the serving plate and pile the salad next to them. Drill a small amount of sauce over the figs and salad.

Also I had some leftover figs so a couple of days later I made a pita bread pizza with them.

From memory the toppings were olive tapenade, figs, brie and proscuitto, with rosemary sprigs and balsamic vinegar drizzled on afterwards.

Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 serve of salad: 690 calories,  62% fat, 9% protein, 29% carbs

The Best Greek Salad Dressing You Will EVER Have

12 Jul

When I made this a couple of nights ago, James ate the salad, then tipped the bowl to his lips so he could finish off the rest of the dressing.

This Greek salad from Allrecipes is his favourite salad (his second favourite is watermelon salad, so it seems like there is something about the combination of feta, red onion and olives that appeals to him).

Though admittedly, this is an incredible salad. The flavour is tangy and bright, and it’s gorgeous to look at.

I just put random amounts of feta, cucumbers, salad leaves, tomatoes, red capsicum, kalamata olives and red onion in, and then pour the dressing over it. It’s dead easy if you make a big batch of the dressing in a jar – just leave it on the counter and give it a good shake before adding it to the salad.

This is the original recipe scaled down to about 15 serves (though I must use extra for our salads because it’s closer to 6-8 serves for us). We’ve eaten a giant bowl of it every day this week – it goes well with sausages or other grilled meats, and it’s a good way to disguise the blandness of chicken breast (I get that that breast has more fat and protein than thigh, but ugh … it’s so unappealing taste and texture-wise).

But anyway, make this salad. You won’t regret it. My mouth is puckering a little just thinking about it.


  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar


  1. Mix ingredients vigorously until blended. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
(Just the dressing, not the salad) 1 serve: 106 calories, 94% fat, 1% protein, 5% carbs 

Raw Food Event at the Collingwood Lululemon Outlet

22 Jun

Or as James titled it: Haha You Went To A Crazy Hippy Dinner.

Yesterday night the Lululemon outlet in Collingwood hosted a raw food event with Kemi Nekvapil (who incidentally, I recognised from a segment on Gardening Australia, which I watched back when I was garden-obsessed). I signed up because I like the idea of incorporating more raw vegies into my diet. I don’t know anything about the raw food movement, but in general I prefer to minimally cook my vegetables because I’ve always assumed that it helped retain most of the nutrients. Also because grey beans make me shudder.

In the spirit of being healthy, I walked from my place to Collingwood, which took about 30 minutes each way. I like to think it was a fairly heroic effort because it was a very cold night. I’ve never been to a Lululemon event before, and I wasn’t sure if everyone else was going to show up head to toe in Lulu. I didn’t want to jog there since I was bringing my camera, so I just wore normal clothes with my new Scuba hoodie since it’s one of the warmer jackets I own. Good call. Nobody (except the Lululemon staff) was dressed in Lululemon. I would have looked like some crazy fangirl (which I kind of am. But still. And yes, I know I worry about stupid things.)

It was definitely the sort of night where a nice big bowl of carbs would have hit the spot. And I confess, I did bring my wallet in case we were presented with a lettuce leaf and a radish, and I needed to make an emergency stop at Maccas afterwards.

But anyway, to the food! Check out the Vitamix. It was the first thing I noticed when I walked in.

Actually that’s not true, the first thing I noticed was how swish the Lululemon office is! Their kitchen is to die for, and the space is gorgeous (you can see part of their main office behind the kitchen in the first photo), and it’s all wooden floors, open space and exposed beams. There was also a meeting room filled with Lululemon clothes on hangers, and I kind of wanted to roll around in them like Scrooge McDuck.

OK, OK, now onto the food. Kemi started off with a couple of green smoothies. I make these in Summer a fair bit, so they weren’t that much of a revelation. A green smoothie is basically where you add greens like spinach and silverbeet to your smoothies. If you choose mild-flavoured greens you can’t taste them at all (especially if you use strong-flavoured fruits). The second smoothie had some ginger and parsley in it, along with pineapple and orange, and probably some other stuff I can’t remember. It had a bit of a kick that the first one didn’t, almost like a cold soup. Kemi said that ginger was a good addition for cold weather, since it has some heat to it.

We all got samples, but I was fiddling with my camera and spilled my smoothie on the floor. =( Luckily one of the lovely Lululemon girls gave me another smoothie. This is a photo of the replacement smoothie (I was a lot more careful with the contents this time).

Next we moved onto salads, which involved using the food processor to chop raw vegies. It has actually never occured to me to make salads that way, and it is definitely going into my repetoire. The beauty of it is that it’s not so much a recipe as a method – just add whatever is in season (or whatever you like).

From recollection, this salad had sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, red cabbage, parsley, coriander, spring onion, and corn. Maybe some cos lettuce too. There were also some seeds, dried fruit, and ground coriander. Similarly, the dressing is a mixture of  oil with something astringent/sour (lime juice, vinegar, mustard) and something sweet (maple syrup, pomegranate molasses). This dressing was thrown together with oil (a lot of oil – I don’t like too much oil in my salads, so I will probably use less), some apple cider vinegar, and an apple juice concentrate.

And for dessert we had chocolate balls, which was a mix of cacao, nuts, raisins, seeds and honey, with water to bind. It was pulsed in the food processor, and the Lululemon girls formed the mixture into rum balls.

It tasted like nutty dark chocolate. =) Obviously you can make it sweeter if you add extra honey or vanilla extract, but I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so I liked it as-is.

So even though I entered with some trepidation (and my emergency Maccas money), it was a surprisingly tasty experiment. I’m not convinced by some of the more extravagant health claims, but that doesn’t really matter one way or the other. It’s kind of like yoga – I don’t believe that yoga flushes out my body’s toxins, but I do it because stretching is good for my body. The raw food night definitely gave me a few ideas on how to better incorporate raw vegetables into my diet without sacrificing flavour.

So thank you to Kemi and the Lululemon staff for a great night. It was the first event hosted by the Collingwood Lululemon, and hopefully there will be many more to follow.

Donna Hay’s Salsa Verde Lamb Skewers

1 Feb

Since we have a lovely barbecue (/pats Weber lovingly) it seemed a travesty to not grill something up for Australia Day. I wanted to try a new recipe though, so I hunted around until I found this Donna Hay recipe.

It was supposed to serve 4, but we only barbecued half of the meat, reserving the rest for another day.

Fresh off the barbecue. You can see the steam!

This recipe was tasty, but 1 cup of oil is pretty excessive (1929 calories!) so I don’t think it will make it to my regular rotation, though I am willing to experiment further with lamb backstrap. The smaller pieces were definitely more tender, so next time I barbecue lamb backstrap I’ll cut everything up smaller.

I served it with mushrooms on a bed of rocket salad. I find that as long as I stick to a lean(ish) protein plus a whole bunch of vegetables for meals, my everyday diet is pretty good without a lot of effort. I need to drop another 2kg before the Vics, so I should probably start optimising what I eat.

Salsa Verde Lamb Skewers

  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup (250ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) lemon juice
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 x 220g lamb backstraps (boneless loin), cut into 3cm pieces
  • Lebanese bread and lemon wedges, to serve
  1. Place the mint, parsley, rosemary, anchovy, garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until roughly chopped.
  2. Place in a large bowl with the lamb and toss to coat. Place in the fridge to marinate for 23 hours.
  3. Preheat a char-grill pan or barbecue over medium heat.
  4. Thread the lamb onto skewers and char-grill or barbecue for 68 minutes, turning occasionally, for medium or until cooked to your liking. Serve lamb skewers with bread and lemon wedges.


Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
(rougher than normal since the calorie counter didn’t have lamb backstrap so I substituted another loin cut … and obviously a lot of the oil gets discarded so IMO the calories and fat content have been waaaaay overstated)
1 serve: 890 calories, 71% fat, 28% protein, 1% carbs

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad

31 Jan

Chilli. Coriander. Fish sauce.

I’ll pretty much eat anything with that holy trinity of deliciousness. So luckily this recipe from Taste hits all three. It’s a fabulous light dinner, and it’s perfect hot weather food, especially if your chicken is already cooked. It’s refreshing to have a cold salad for dinner, and since this one is packed with noodles and chicken, it’s more substantial than eating leaves.

I’ll have to look through my Vietnamese cookbook for a more authentic version, but this one is pretty awesome. I’ve already tweaked the proportions from the original recipe and I’ll probably keep on tweaking, depending on what I have in my fridge at the time.

I’m thinking of doubling the sauce (so it would be 4x the original quantity) because the sauce is where all the flavour comes from, and it’s lip-smackingly good. The recipe is very flexible – next time I think I’ll try it with skin-on chicken breast for more fat, and no noodles for fewer carbs.

I also think it would be better served in a big bowl, since it’s a bit hard to mix everything together on a plate. There were bits of carrot all over my kitchen bench.

My version serves 2.


  • 2 chicken breast fillets
  • 150g rice stick noodles
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 4 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 2 TBSP sweet chilli sauce (or if you want it spicier, a couple of bird’s eye chillies)
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • 100g (2 cups) finely shredded Chinese cabbage
  • 1 carrot, peeled, coarsely grated
  • 4 green onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed fresh coriander leaves
  1. Place chicken in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chicken to a plate. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Coarsely shred chicken and place in a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, place noodles in a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 5 minutes to soften. Stir with a fork to separate. Drain well.
  3. Place vinegar, lime juice, sweet chilli sauce, fish sauce and oil in a screw-top jar and shake until well combined.
  4. Add the noodles, cabbage, carrot, green shallot, mint and coriander to the chicken and gently toss to combine. Drizzle with dressing and gently toss to combine. Divide the salad among serving plates and serve immediately.


Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 serve: 625 calories, 16% fat, 40% protein, 44% carbs
(if you omit the noodles it’s 357 calories, 29% fat, 67% protein, 4% carbs)

Watermelon Salad

2 Dec

This is one of two salads that James has commented favourably on (the other being a Greek salad that I make). The gold standard for salads is if James eats the salad at the same time that he eats the meat, instead of eating the meat first in case he gets full. The first time I made this salad it was finished before the meat. Holy crap!

It’s more of a fruit salad than a proper salad so I never count it towards my vegetable quota. But I have to say it really does hit the spot in hot weather, and the cleanness of the salad is great for cutting through the taste of heavier barbecued meats.

I don’t even have a recipe for it – it’s more of a method at this stage. Slice half a red onion and soak in some lime juice (it cuts down on the bite of the onion – feel free to omit the lime if you prefer your onion zingy). Chop up the watermelon, add enough mint, feta and kalamata olives so it looks right.

I think the original recipe called for dressing the salad with olive oil, but the watermelon is so juicy that I don’t find that necessary.

I had to roughly guess the quantities I used (guessed 400g watermelon and 50g feta) so the nutritional guide is even rougher than normal. But watermelon and feta are where the bulk of the calories come from, and the other ingredients don’t matter so much. Also this is the first time I’ve noticed that the % don’t add up to 100%! Don’t blame me, blame calorieking.


Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
1 salad: 327 calories, 44% fat, 15% protein, 40% carbs

Rib-Eye Steak on the Weber

18 Nov

I’m not used to thinking of steak as a healthy meal, but maybe that’s because I normally associate it with fries. But steak is on a weekly (or at least fortnightly) rotation at our table because it’s such a healthy, filling meal with a great macro breakdown.

I used to use Alton Brown’s method of cooking steak (sear on both sides in a cast iron pan, then finish in the oven) but it’s definitely less hassle grilling it on the Weber.

I think the stovetop to oven method wins out a little in taste, but that’s probably because James and I are still getting the timing right for the barbecue. And the advantage to cooking on the Weber is that we can do asparagus at the same time. We had a spare red capsicum and grilled that as well for some extra colour, and served it all with a small side salad.

It’s hard to tell from that photo, but this was actually a pretty substantial 400g rib-eye. It’s just that the overflowing vegetables make it look small. Once upon a time I would have decided that the asparagus was enough of a vegetable accompaniment, but nowadays I try to make sure that vegetables are at least 50% of the plate.

I think I’ll have to start getting a bit more scientific about cooking times – next time I get steak I’ll measure the thickness – I’d say this one was roughly 2-2.5 inches thick. We cooked it for 2.5 minutes each side and it turned out on the rare side of medium rare. For the same size steak I would try for 30 seconds longer next time since it was a touch rarer than we prefer.


Very Rough Nutritional Guide:
400g rib-eye steak: 824 calories, 41% fat, 59% protein, 0% carbs