Salsa verde


This green sauce is perfect with grilled or roast vegetables, or some chicken, salmon, or steak. 

INGREDIENTS
1 large bunch of fresh herbs, such as a mix of parsley, mint, basil, coriander, chives (about a cup)
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 a lemon or 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of French mustard (such as Dijon)
1 teaspoon of capers (optional)
1/2 green chilli (optional)

CHOP, MIX…
Chop the herbs, discarding the stalks. Peel and mince the garlic. Chop the capers and chilli if using. Mix all the ingredients together. Add more or less oil to suit the consistency you want. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

salasa2

Vegetables with tahini dressing


Ottolenghi is one of my biggest inspirations for making vegetables taste great. Adding a little dressing, or topping with a sprinkling of mint or sesame seeds can make all the difference. His Jerusalem cookbook is one of my favourites, which is where I’ve adapted this recipe from. Tahini dressing goes well with a variety of vegetables – I like grilled or roasted broccolini, carrots, cauliflower, aubergine, pumpkin or sweet potato. It makes a good dip with roasted veggie sticks. Tahini paste is essentially ground up sesame seeds, and is used a lot in Middle Eastern, Turkish, Lebanese and Moroccan cuisines. It’s the secret ingredient in hummus. You can add a little honey to the dressing for sweetness, but to stay low carb I steer away from adding it.

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons of tahini paste
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Pinch of sea salt and a grinding of black pepper
3 tablespoons of cold tap water
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

PLACE, ADD, STIR, TASTE, SERVE…
Place the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice (making sure you remove any pips) and add a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir with a fork or spoon. Gradually add in the cold water while stirring to combine, until your desired consistency. Stir in the parsley if using. Serve with vegetables of your choice.

tahini dressing
Here are some variations of vegetables you can drizzle this over.

BROCCOLI
Take a head of broccoli and cut it into florets, or a couple of handfuls of broccolini, take the ends off and cut them in half diagonally. Blanch the broccoli in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. You don’t want them to be cooked through, so they should still be a little crunchy. Coat the broccoli or broccolini in a tablespoon of olive oil and season with freshly ground salt and pepper. Grill on the pan for a few minutes until slightly char-grilled. Alternatively, throw them on the barbecue for a few minutes, or place in a hot oven on a tray for 5-10 minutes. Drizzle the tahini dressing on top, with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

CAULIFLOWER
Heat an oven to 200 degrees celcius. Cut a head of cauliflower into florets. Sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and cumin powder, and a dash of oil. Place in a baking dish and in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking the tray occassionally to cook evenly. Plate up and drizzle the dressing on top with a sprinkling of seeds such as sunflower or pumpkin.

CARROTS
Chop up some carrots and place them in an oven tray with a sprinkling of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes until browned and cooked through. Drizzle the dressing and scatter some fresh chopped parsley on top.

SWEET POTATO, SQUASH OR PUMPKIN
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees celcius. Chop up your sweet potato, squash or pumpkin into chunks or slices (I usually leave the skin on but you can peel it off if you like) and place in a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper, and add a little thyme or rosemary if you like. Drizzle with olive oil and shake the tray to evenly coat. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and golden. Plate up and drizzle with the tahini dressing. Top with some pine nuts, or serve as it is.

EGGPLANT (AUBERGINE)
Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices. Generously salt and set aside for 10 minutes. The salt draws out the moisture and bitterness. Rinse well under cold water. Heat a pan with olive oil and grill for a few minutes on each side until soft and golden. You can also do this on a barbecue or roast them in an oven with some olive oil. Serve with the dressing and top with some fresh mint.

veg5
veg4

veg1

Ratatouille

This French Provincial meal is easy, cheap, and keeps well. Ratatouille is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner – alongside some soft poached eggs, or with some grilled chicken, a steak, or some beans. 

INGREDIENTS
1 red capsicum (pepper)
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 zucchini
1 eggplant
A cup of mushrooms
2 tomatoes
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
A pinch of salt
A crack of black pepper
A splash of olive oil

Peel and dice the onion into chunks. Peel and crush the garlic. Cut the capsicum, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and tomatoes into chunks.

Heat a pan with the oil and add the onion. Saute for a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic, paprika, chilli, salt and pepper, and fry for a couple more minutes. Add the tomatoes and saute for a few minutes. Add the capsicum, zucchini and mushroom and cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked through. Taste for seasoning. Serve as it is, or with some poached eggs for breakfast, or tossed through some zucchini noodles, or on the side of some meat or chicken.

ratatouille3

Simple tomato sauce

So versatile, this is a really good base for all tomato-based pasta dishes, lasagne, parmigiana and pizza sauce. Add some fresh basil at the end for some extra freshness and flavour. It is also incredibly easy to make, and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for a month or so. 

INGREDIENTS
2 cloves of garlic
2 tins of tomatoes
Splash of olive oil
Generous pinch of salt
Crack of black pepper
Sprinkling of chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

PEEL, CRUSH, HEAT, ADD, SIMMER…
Peel and crush the garlic. Add a splash of olive oil and the garlic in a saucepan over medium heat, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the tinned tomatoes, salt, pepper, chilli and oregano. Let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for salt, pepper and chilli according to your taste. It’s as simple as that!

tomato2

Bolognese sauce

Serve this versatile sauce with some zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for a low carb pasta, or turn this into a low carb lasagne with roast vegetables. 

INGREDIENTS
1 large onion (brown or red)
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots
2 celery sticks
500 grams mince beef
2 rashers of bacon or pancetta (optional)
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Generous pinch of salt
Good crack of black pepper
Sprinkling of chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup wine (white or red)
A splash of olive oil

Peel and finely dice the onion, peel and finely crush the garlic, peel and finely dice the carrot, and take the ends of the celery and finely dice.

In a large saucepan, heat a splash of olive oil and saute the onion, celery and carrot together for a few minutes. Add the mince and diced bacon/pancetta with the garlic, salt, pepper, chilli, oregano. Allow to brown for a few minutes, using the wooden spoon to break up the mince. Add in the wine and saute for another minute. Add the tinned tomatoes and bay leaves, stir, and let it simmer on low heat for up to an hour. Taste for seasoning and add salt/pepper/chilli according to your taste.

bolognese3

bolognese2

Cheesy sauce

This makes a good dip with veggies and cauliflower poppers. It’s also a great sauce for cauliflower cheese and a good a bechamel sauce substitute for low carb lasagne and moussaka. 

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of cream cheese, marscapone or feta
2 tablespoons cream
A crack of black pepper
A dash of nutmeg (optional)
A dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

MIX, HEAT, SEASON…
Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Stir together for 5 minutes or until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and a little nutmeg and cayenne pepper for some added flavour.

Mayonnaise & aioli


It’s very easy to make your own mayonnaise with just a few ingredients, but you’ve got to give it a try. Once you’ve mastered it, it will be very easy for you to whip this up. I took me 3 attempts to get this right – the first was too thick and I used a virgin olive oil which was much too strong. The second attempt was nice and light in colour but I added too much vinegar. The third attempt was perfectly light and creamy with the right balance of flavours.

Adding a little garlic will turn your simple mayonnaise into aioli – which is seen everywhere on pub menus thesedays, usually served with fries, in a burger, or alongside some fish and chips. But you don’t need to limit this to typical pub grub. Aioli and mayonnaise is so versatile and is great with baked salmon, boiled eggs, zucchini fries, crumbed seafood, ham and salad, or vegetable crudites. You can also add a little harissa paste to make an amazing spicy harissa mayonnaise, or chop up some fresh parsley or dill for an awesome take on tartare or herb mayonnaise, perfect with fish.

A couple of tips: don’t skip on the vinegar and mustard as it helps the egg and oil to emulsify, but remember you can always add more towards the end. Use a light tasting oil otherwise the flavour will be too overpowering. If you want to make a big batch of mayonnaise to store in the fridge, simply multiply the quantities. But remember it is made with raw egg, so you don’t want to leave it lying around in the fridge uneaten for longer than 1 or 2 weeks. It’s best eaten fresh.

INGREDIENTS
1 large egg yolk
1/2-1 teaspoon French mustard (such as Dijon)
1/2-1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 cup light tasting oil (more or less, depending how thick you want it)
A little sea salt to taste

MIX, WHISK, ADD, STIR…
Mix the egg yolk, mustard and vinegar in a bowl with a whisk. Whisk in the oil slowly, whisking for a few minutes. You may not use all the oil, so stop when you reach the desired consistency.

VARIATIONS
Aioli
Mix in a small clove (or a half clove) of finely crushed garlic.

Harissa mayonnaise
Stir in a teaspoon of harissa paste at the end.

Tartare
Add a teaspoon of fresh chopped dill.

Herb mayonnaise
Add a teaspoon of fresh chopped parsley.

NOTE
If you don’t like the idea of raw egg (or you can’t eat it because you’re pregnant), set a heatproof metal bowl over a saucepan of hot boiled water and do the same thing as above.

Egg bites

These are great on-the-go breakfasts made the night before, or a snack during the day.

MAKES 6 LARGE OR 9 SMALL MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS
3 cups fresh spinach
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1-2 spring onions
2 tablespoons butter
A little salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 tablespoon cream (or a splash of milk)

SLICE, SAUTE, ADD, WHISK, BAKE…
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease a muffin tin with a little butter or oil.

Finely slice the spring onion. Melt the butter in a saucepan and saute the spring onion for a few minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Turn the heat off and add the cheese and a little salt and pepper. Whisk the eggs and cream together and mix in the spinach and cheese mix.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through a golden on top. Enjoy for breakfast, as a snack, or with a salad for a light lunch.

cheesebites3

cheesebites2

Roast vegetables

I will never have enough of roast veggies. They go so well with any meat or chicken dish, and make a great salad with a few added leaves. Feel free to add in or take away any vegetables you like to mix it up. 

INGREDIENTS
1 red capsicum (pepper)
1 red onion
1 eggplant
1 zucchini
Bunch of asparagus
Splash of olive oil
Generous grinding of salt
Grinding of black pepper
Sprinkling of chilli
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves of garlic
A sprinkling of fresh or dried rosemary and thyme

SALT, PEEL, DICE, CUT, SEASON, COMBINE, ROAST…
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Cut the eggplant into thick slices. Sprinkle with salt and leave aside for 10 minutes to draw out the bitter moisture. After the 10 minutes, rinse off the salt and any excess water, and cut into chunks.

Peel and dice the onion into chunks. Peel and crush the garlic. Dice the zucchini and capsicum. Cut the ends of the asparagus and cut in half.

Combine all the veggies together in a large roasting pan and add a good splash of olive oil, a grinding of salt and pepper, a sprinkling of chilli flakes, a sprinkling of rosemary and thyme (fresh or dried), the paprika, and the garlic. Mix well to combine.

Roast for 30 minutes, or until the veggies are cooked well.