Just falafs

[Recipe 1] ROAST EGGPLANT, FARRO and CHICKPEA LAYERED SALAD with TAHINI SAUCE transforms into
[Recipe 2] FALAFEL with FARRO and CHICKPEAS

Happy New Year! We’ve popped out the other side of the silly season feeling pretty darn relaxed, having recently returned from a cracker of a holiday in beautiful Apollo Bay with friends.
How’s the weather?! My heart goes out to Northern hemisphere relatives and readers, suffering through their bone-chilling cold snap. Melbourne is facing the opposite extreme, with the mercury hovering around 43°C (109°F) all week. YUK! We’re on school holidays and have been hitting the local beach daily, straight after breakfast, to loll in the water for an hour or two before heading home for crafting, movies and reading with the curtains drawn.
Dinner for us during a heat-wave is a no-brainer – salad! I whipped up this Roast eggplant (aubergine), farro and chickpea layered salad to take to a potluck dinner a while ago. The top layer is the classic Middle Eastern combination of roast eggplant, fresh cherry tomatoes, parsley and creamy tahini sauce; nestled on a bed of chickpeas and nutty faro. Delicious! Loving farro at the moment. We’re bored with quinoa; and have been alternating between farro and freekeh. Both are absolutely bursting with nutrients. Farro (AKA emmer, the Hebrew word for mother) is an ancient variety of wheat, not dissimilar in flavour to barley, with more protein than brown rice. My salad features cracked farro as it’s easier to cook and less chewy than full-grain.
Regular readers will know that this blog is about preparing two meals from one; so half the farro salad (minus the top vegetable layer) is set aside to be put to use in falafel. I’ve always added grain to my falafel, usually burghul (bulger) and most recently freekeh; and farro is equally delicious. By making use of the reserved salad components, the falafel groundwork is done; namely the chickpea and farro preparation, onion slicing and parsley chopping. The mixture is simply tipped into your food processor with 4 extra ingredients, rolled into balls, fried, and voila! Lovely moist falafel with a crispy coating; on your table in no time.
Notes: I bought a falafel scoop recently and was all set to extol the virtues of it in this post, but on my second test and tweak of these recipes I hand-rolled the falafel and have decided I prefer less-uniform, homely little balls, as do my boys.
Pickled turnips are a must with falafel. They cut through the creaminess of the tahini sauce adding a lovely burst of zing. Michelle’s recipe is great (I posted a picture of mine, using Michelle’s recipe, here); but you can buy them at your local Middle Eastern takeaway if you’re pushed for time.
Footnote: So thrilled to have this salad shared on thekitchn as part of their farro feature post! Thanks so much.

Farro, eggplant and chickpea saladFarro and chickpea salad with tahini sauce[Recipe 1] Roast eggplant, farro and chickpea layered salad with tahini sauce

Ingredients (serves 8 people for 2 meals; ie salad for 8 plus falafel for 8):
250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos), soaked overnight (or canned, see notes)
2½ cups (500g) cracked farro

1 large red (purple/Spanish) onion, quartered and very thinly sliced
3 cups chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for scattering
Note: you’ll be reserving half of the above ingredients for the falafel

1 lemon, juiced (approx. ¼ cup juice) 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly-cracked black pepper
2 medium eggplants (aubergines), thickly sliced
Salt, extra, for sprinkling on eggplant

2 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing on eggplant
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Double quantity tahini sauce (you’ll be reserving a portion to serve with the falafel)

Drain soaked chickpeas, place into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–50 minutes until just tender. Take care not to overcook them as they should retain a bit of bite. Drain again and place in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, place the farro in a large saucepan of water, bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Drain, rinse and drain again; pushing down with the back of a fork to extract excess water. Spread cooked farro out on a tray to dry for ten minutes. Add to the chickpeas. Allow to cool, then stir through the red onion and parsley.
♦ Reserve ½ of the undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley (about 6 cups) for the Falafel with farro and chickpeas.
Place lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt in a screw-top jar and shake well until combined. Drizzle over the remaining chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley; add pepper, and toss gently. Arrange on a large platter.
To prepare eggplant, preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Season eggplant slices with the extra salt. Set aside for ten minutes. Rinse slices with water, pat dry with a clean tea towel and brush with olive oil. Place on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 30 minutes. Chop roughly and arrange on top of the dressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley; followed by the chopped tomatoes. Drizzle with tahini sauce, and scatter with extra parsley.
♦ Return any unused tahini sauce to the fridge for serving with the the Falafel with farro and chickpeas.

  • Components for salad can be prepared a day ahead. Farro, chickpeas, red onion and parsley can be mixed together (remember to decant half this mixture and set aside for the falafel). Lemon dressing, tahini sauce and roasted eggplants should be stored in separate containers in the fridge. A couple of hours before serving the salad, stir through lemon dressing and arrange eggplant chunks and halved tomatoes on top. Drizzle tahini sauce and scatter extra parsley over the salad at the table.
  • 250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos) yields approximately 3 cups cooked chickpeas. You can replace the cooked chickpeas in this recipe with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed.
    Note: 1 x 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, yields 1½ cups cooked chickpeas.
  • Cracked farro is available in specialty food stores, Mediterranean grocers and health food stores. In Australia, it can be purchased online from Mount Zero and Oasis. If unavailable, replace with pearled farro and increase cooking time to 30 minutes.
  • Reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley (for falafel) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Leftover salad is great for lunch!

Falafel with farro and chickpeas

[Recipe 2] Falafel with farro and chickpeas

Ingredients (serves 6–8):
♦ 
6 cups reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

½ cup besan flour
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
To serve:
♦ Reserved tahini sauce
Pickled turnip, store-bought (or try Michelle’s easy recipe)
Tomato and cucumber salad
4 pita or lavash breads, store-bought (or try Sawsan’s fabulous pita recipe)

♦ Place reserved undressed chickpeas, farro, red onion and parsley into food processor. Add garlic, cumin, salt and flour. Process until mixture starts to round over, forming a ball. Add a little more flour if mixture appears too wet. Take care not to over-mix; a bit of texture is good.
If your processor is too small to handle the full quantity of mixture; process in 2 batches with 3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ cup besan flour in each. Refrigerate mixture for at least 1 hour, then use your hands to roll approximately 48 walnut-sized balls.
Pour oil into a deep-sided frying pan, to a height of about 1cm and heat. Test whether the oil is ready by dropping a few breadcrumbs in the pan. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the oil. Cook falafel in batches, for 3 minutes each side, until dark golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Spread each pita or lavash bread with tahini sauce, scatter with pickled turnip and follow with tomato and cucumber salad. Top with 4 or 5 falafel. Roll up and enjoy!

  • Yield: If hand-rolling, you’ll end up with 48 walnut-sized balls. With a falafel scoop, mixture will yield 24 flat falafal. 
  • Fussy kid tip: Children may prefer shredded lettuce, plain Greek yogurt and grated carrot with their falafel. Kid-friendly hummus and Beetroot hummus are also lovely accompaniments.
  • Pickled turnip is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores. You may find your local Middle Eastern takeaway will sell you a small container (thanks Manakish)! 
  • Besan flour (or gram flour) is made from ground chickpeas (garbanzos) and is available at Middle Eastern grocery stores, Indian and Pakistani grocers and select health food stores. It can be used in veggie burgers, rice balls and pakoras; is gluten-free, high in protein and much tastier than plain flour.
  • Leftover falafel can be eaten cold the next day, or lightly warmed in a hot oven, covered with foil. Don’t be tempted to microwave them as they’ll very unattractively fall apart!

Beet this

[Recipe 1] ROASTED BEETROOT, BABY CARROT and MACADAMIA SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] BEETROOT and PINE NUT HUMMUS

Happy Father’s Day for yesterday daddy readers! We had a delightful weekend, starting with the Nicholas Building Open House on Friday night (one of Melbourne’s most lovely buildings, and a microcosm of small artist’s studios and tiny specialty shops); followed by a perfect coffee in the sun and a spot of art admiration at Commonfolk on Saturday; and culminating in a magnificent manly dinner – Amelia’s Bangers and mash with beer and onion gravy.
I plucked some big fat grass-fed beef bangers from my freezer, having bought them a couple of weeks ago at East Bentleigh Farmers Market, one of our favourites as it has a zero-waste policy, and always has everything I need, including custard tarts and home-made dim sims. I had a lovely morning there with my 6-year old, and we came home with the aforementioned snags, gorgeous baby coloured carrots, and a few bunches of beetroot including striped Chioggia. I set to work roasting the lot for a salad.
The weather has turned decidedly Spring-like over the past two weeks, and this salad, full of flavour and texture with a light scattering of roasted macadamias; made a perfect light dinner.
I reserved a cup of the roasted beetroot and whipped up a fab beetroot hummus the next day, basically my usual hummus with beetroot added and a handful of pinenuts. Delicious! The husband and I polished off a ridiculous amount, and took the rest to work for lunch on sourdough with roast beef and rocket. I made a second batch to test its freezability and it freezes really well. Who knew one could freeze hummus? Not I, and I’m pretty rapt as it’s a great way to avoid gorging.
Oh, right down the bottom of this post I’ve shared my favourite tea towel. A girlfriend gave it to me for my birthday last year (thanks Eileesh)! I used it as the tablecloth for this post but felt it needed to be seen in its entirety. Isn’t it a ripper!
Footnote: The coloured carrots came from the Greens Organic Farm stall. They also deliver to Melbourne’s south/bayside suburbs. The beetroot was purchased at the Peninsula Fresh stall; and my sausages came from Sage Beef. The beautiful bread pictured in my dip photo was from Rustica. These sellers are all regulars at East Bentleigh Farmer’s Market.

Coloured baby carrotsRoast beetroot, baby carrot and macadamia salad[Recipe 1] Roasted beetroot, baby carrot and macadamia salad

Ingredients (serves 4, plus extra beetroot for recipe 2):
3 bunches beetroot, about 1½ kilo (3 lb) total
3 bunches baby carrots, about 500g (1 lb) total
2 tablespoons macadamia oil (or olive oil), plus extra for brushing carrots
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
150g (5 oz) wild rocket (arugula) or radicchio (Italian chicory) leaves
60g (2 oz) macadamia nuts, roasted and chopped
Orange dressing:
⅓ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (from 1 large orange)
2 tablespoons macadamia oil (or extra-virgin olive oil), extra
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, warmed slightly

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Prepare dressing by placing all ingredients in a screw-top jar. Shake until combined. Refrigerate until required.
Wash the beetroot and carrots well. Trim the stems leaving about 1cm (½”) intact. If using large and medium beetroots, they can be halved.
Place the prepared beetroot onto a large sheet of foil. Drizzle with oil and wrap them up like a parcel. Place into a heavy baking pan and roast for 40 minutes.
Brush the prepared carrots with a little oil. Remove baking pan from the oven, and place the carrots next to the parcel of beetroot. You can use a small separate baking pan if there isn’t enough room, or lay another tray on top of your roasting pan.
Place everything into the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes until vegetables are just tender.
Macadamias can be placed in the oven for the last 5 minutes to roast.
Remove baking pan from the oven. Wearing gloves, slip the skins off the beetroot with a vegetable peeler or your fingers.
Reserve approximately 200g (7 oz) roasted beetroot for the Roast beetroot and pine nut humus.
Place the remaining roasted vegetables in a large bowl. Add rocket leaves and drizzle with the prepared dressing. Toss lightly until combined. Divide salad amongst four serving plates, and scatter with macadamias.

  • Small, young beetroot leaves can be used in your salad in place of the rocket leaves.
  • Fussy kid tip: Kids will love the roast baby carrots, but may turn their noses up at the beetroot. Roast a couple of sliced potatoes and pumpkin chunks for them at the same time.
  • This salad can be served with sliced oven-baked pork fillets (tenderloins); which require 20 minutes roasting time and can be placed in the oven at the same time as the carrots. Brush them lightly with oil and scatter with cumin. To serve, brush a little of the orange dressing on top!

Beetroot and pine nut hummus

[Recipe 2] Beetroot and pine nut hummus

Ingredients (makes 2 cups):
400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed; or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
200g (7 oz) reserved roasted beetroot, peeled, tops trimmed
1 tablespoon hulled tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
¼ cup (40g) pine nuts
1½ teaspoons dried cumin powder
Salt

Process all ingredients until smooth. Add a splash of water if it seems too thick. Season to taste. If using canned chickpeas, you may not need additional salt.
Serve with crusty bread and/or vegetable crudités.

  • Beetroot and pine nut hummus can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

Uncle Albert's vintage tea towel

Lambtastic

[Recipe 1] SPICED ROAST LEG OF LAMB with CAULIFLOWER and LENTILS
transforms into
[Recipe 2] QUICK LAMB and VEGETABLE BIRYANI 
……………..

I’ve been making variations of these two recipes for years but have never written up a proper recipe. Until now! We’ve enjoyed them three times over the past few weeks, whilst I’ve tweaked and tested, and may I boastfully say GOD they’re SO good. Both my boys love them, as do the husband and I. I’d classify them as the perfect planned-over pair – an easy weekend dinner of spiced leg of lamb on a bed of roasted vegetables; followed up to 3 nights later by a super-fast Indian-style rice biryani.
The lamb is coated in a zingy home-made spice paste which chars the top of the lamb beautifully, and trickles down into the roasted veggies. Half the spice paste is reserved as a flavour base for the biryani, along with a portion of the roast lamb and vegetables. Throw everything into a deep frying pan with stock, basmati rice and a handful of baby spinach and your weeknight dinner is sorted.
A traditional biryani takes hours to prepare, but by using good old planned-overs you can have it on the table in 20 minutes!

Spiced roast lamb[Recipe 1] Spiced roast leg of lamb with cauliflower and lentils

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
2¼ kilo (4½ lb) leg of lamb, bone in
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans lentils, drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see notes below recipe)
4 large carrots (approx. 650g/1½ lb), cut into thick 1cm (½”) slices
Coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
Spice paste (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2½cm (1”) piece ginger, finely chopped (about 1½ tablespoons)
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Prepare the spice paste by processing the dry spices, garlic, ginger, salt, oil and lemon juice with a stick blender or food processor, until combined. Add the lemon zest and mix well.
♦ Reserve half the spice paste (¼ cup/60g) for the lamb biryani.
Make shallow incisions in the lamb and brush thickly all over with the remaining spice paste. Cover loosely and allow lamb to sit at room temperature for an hour, before roasting. (Note: lamb can also be coated in the spice mix, covered, and stored in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Bring it to room temperature for an hour before roasting).
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Place the spiced lamb into a lightly-oiled shallow baking dish. Add one cup of water. Roast for 1 hour.
Turn heat down to 180°C (350ºF). Add carrot slices to the pan and lightly toss to coat in the pan juices. Baste lamb. Roast lamb and carrots for a further 30 minutes.
Add cauliflower pieces to the pan and lightly toss to coat in the pan juices. Roast lamb, carrots and cauliflower pieces for a further 30 minutes.
Remove the lamb from the pan, cover lightly with foil, and rest for 20 minutes.
Total cooking time for 2¼ kilo (4½ lb) leg of lamb = 2 hours + 20 minutes resting time.
Meanwhile, add lentils to the pan and toss with the carrot and cauliflower pieces. Pop veggies back in the oven for a further 10 minutes, while the lamb is resting.
Slice meat from the bone.
♦ Reserve 1½–2 cups sliced roast lamb for the lamb biryani.
♦ Reserve 1½–2 cups cooked carrot, cauliflower and lentils for the lamb biryani.
Serve remaining sliced lamb with the remaining roasted carrots, cauliflower and lentils. Scatter with coriander.

  • Planned-overs (reserved cooked lamb, cauliflower, carrots and lentils) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • Spice paste will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Don’t worry too much about reserving the exact specified amount of lamb and vegetables for the biryani. The biryani is a pretty forgiving recipe and will easily cope with more or less meat or veggies. Unused leftover lamb and roasted vegetables are delicious in a sandwich or wrap with tahini sauce and baby spinach leaves.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.
  • If you fancy baked potatoes with your roast, place two or three large quartered, peeled potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for 10–15 minutes, until almost tender. Drain and return potatoes to the dry pan. Place the lid on, and shake the pan over a medium heat to roughen and dry them. Add a splash of vegetable oil and toss to coat. Place prepared potato wedges into the pan at the same time as the carrots – they should be laid on top of the carrots so they crisp nicely. They can be cooked in a separate pan or on a small baking-paper lined tray, if your roasting pan is too full. 

Lamb biryani

[Recipe 2] Quick lamb and vegetable biryani

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown or red (purple/Spanish) onion, chopped
♦ 
¼ cup/60g reserved spice paste
♦ 1½–2 cups reserved sliced roast lamb, chopped
♦ 1½–2 cups reserved roast cauliflower, carrot and lentils, (carrot chopped into small pieces)
1¼ cups (275g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed and drained
3 cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
75g (3 oz) baby spinach leaves, chopped
Cracked black pepper
65g (2¼ oz) slivered almonds, toasted
Greek yogurt, to serve

Heat oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes, until soft.
♦ Add reserved spice paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until aromatic.
♦ Add reserved lamb and vegetables and mix well. Add rice and stock, stir well to combine, and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add baby spinach and cook, uncovered, for a further 2–3 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir occasionally. Season with pepper.
Divide biryani amongst four bowls. Scatter with toasted slivered almonds and a large plop of Greek yogurt.

Great balls of fire

[Recipe 1] LAMB, PUMPKIN and LEMON KÖFTES transform into
[Recipe 2] SPICED LAMB MEATBALL and LENTIL TAGINE 
……………..
Hi all. Hope you had an excellent weekend. We went to a garage sale, attended two Christmas gatherings and set up the Christmas tree; so ours was full and fun.
I’m sitting here, wine in hand, feeling pretty great actually. We have a system in place (us old people like routines), where one night a week the husband heads back to the studio (ie. the place where we work) and gets out his easel and canvases for a painting session, while I sit here blogging to my heart’s content. I LOVE it. I write my weekly blog post, sort out recipes and fuel my Pinterest addiction; and he releases his creative juices. Bliss.
So… onto this week’s recipes… these two have been stuffed in my bulging recipe file for ages, and I was inspired to finally share them after reading Ali’s fab post recently. We had friends over for a simple BBQ a couple of weekends ago and lamb köftes (Middle Eastern football-shaped meatballs) were our glamorous replacement for hamburgers. They go down beautifully with adults and kids too. I like mine with pumpkin added and a dash of lemon rind for zing. You can plug them with almost any vegies though – I’ve made them in the past with grated carrot and even beetroot!
The accompanying tahini sauce takes seconds to make – the perfect task for young helpers. The 5-minute lentil and tomato salad is also a breeze to whip up. The harissa is optional, but I’m a harissa junkie, so I use it whenever I can. We recently discovered pilpel harissa in our local supermarket and it’s fantastic. Super spicy and intense.
The bonus with this köfte recipe is that you’ll end up with enough mixture to serve up a fantastic spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine later. The meatballs freeze beautifully, so you can whip them out for a quick mid-week meal.
PS. The origin of the word köfte is the Persian word کوفته  (kufteh) meaning ‘mashed’. Just thought you’d like to know.

Lamb koftes with tahini sauce[Recipe 1] Lamb, pumpkin and lemon köftes

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, very finely chopped
3 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 kilo (2 lb) minced (ground) lamb
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
200g (7 oz) butternut pumpkin (butternut squash), grated and chopped
4 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
Harissa, to serve (optional)

Store-bought pita breads, to serve (or try Sawsan’s fab recipe)
Tahini sauce, to serve
5-minute lentil and tomato salad, to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add the ground spices and cook for 1–2 minutes until aromatic. Allow to cool slightly.
Add cooled spiced onion to the minced lamb in a large bowl; along with the lemon rind, pumpkin, eggs, parsley and breadcrumbs. Moosh thoroughly with your hands.
♦ Reserve half the spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture (850g/1¾ lb or 3 tightly-packed cups) for the Spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine.
Prepare your köftes. Divide the mixture into 14 portions and shape each into a football-shaped log. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the köftes and cook, turning occasionally, for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Köftes can also be cooked, over a low heat, on the BBQ.
Place koftes on a large platter and serve with harissa (if using), pita breads, tahini sauce, and 5-minute lentil and tomato salad.

  • It’s very important that your onion and pumpkin are chopped as finely as possible, or your köftes and meatballs will be crumbly.
  • You can of course use the köfte mixture to make a double quantity of köftes, or double quantity of meatballs, as preferred.
  • Harissa is a North African hot chilli sauce, available at specialty food stores, Middle Eastern grocers and select supermarkets.
  • Uncooked lamb and pumpkin köftes and meatballs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months.

Lamb meatball tagine with couscous

[Recipe 2] Spiced lamb meatball and lentil tagine

Ingredients (serves 4):
♦ 850g/1¾ lb (3 tightly-packed cups) reserved spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture

1 tablespoon olive oil for frying
2 teaspoons tomato paste/concentrate
700ml (24 fl oz) tomato passata (tomato puree)
400g (14 oz) can lentils, drained and rinsed (or 1 cup cooked lentils – see notes below recipe)
1 cinnamon stick
⅛ teaspoon ground chilli powder (or more – to taste)
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
Half a preserved lemon (skin only), rinsed and finely chopped (optional)
Greek-style natural yogurt, to serve
1¼ cups instant couscous

♦ Roll the reserved spiced lamb and pumpkin mixture into approximately 26 small meatballs (use 1 tablespoon of mixture for each ball).
Refrigerate for half an hour if time permits. 
Heat oil in a large non-stick saucepan over medium heat, and fry meatballs in two batches, until browned all over, about 3 minutes. Remove meatballs, and place on kitchen paper.
Place ½ cup water, tomato paste, passata, lentils, cinnamon and chilli into a large heavy-based saucepan and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir occasionally. Add meatballs to the sauce and simmer for ten minutes, covered, until cooked through. Remove and discard cinnamon stick. 
Season to taste.
Meanwhile, prepare couscous. Bring 2 cups of water to the boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes, until water is absorbed. Fluff up with a fork.
Serve meatball tagine over couscous, scattered with parsley and preserved lemon (if using), with a good blob of yogurt on the side.

  • Left-over tomato paste can be frozen in teaspoon or tablespoon lumps, individually-wrapped in cling film; ready to plop into your next pasta dish.
  • Freeze leftover parsley stalks, and use in sweet tomato pasta sauce or home-made chicken stock.
  • 400g (14 oz) can lentils, drained, will yield 1 heaped cup cooked lentils. For 1 heaped cup cooked lentils, cook ½ cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

The bird is the word

[Recipe 1] SPICED ROAST CHICKEN with CHICKPEAS and CAULIFLOWER
transforms into
[Recipe 2] CHICKEN, CHICKPEA and SILVERBEET PILAF with PRESERVED LEMON
……………..
First up this week is Spiced roast chicken with chickpeas (garbanzos) and cauliflower. Roast chicken is the ultimate satisfying Winter dinner, don’t you think? We like ours spiced with a cheat’s chermoula – a simple mixture of dried spices and olive oil. The chicken is succulent, golden and crispy; and served on a bed of roasted cauliflower, potatoes, pumpkin and chickpeas.
I love roasting pieces of chicken instead of a whole bird. You can buy individual Maryland pieces if you’re not up to hacking into a raw chicken. With pieces, the baking time is less, and there is no need to turn the chook half-way through cooking. The vegetables and chickpeas soak up some of the juices from the chicken and taste amazing. I often roast this chicken dish on a Sunday, knowing there is a mid-week meal (mostly) taken care of as well.
By reserving half the chickpeas, roast cauliflower and chicken pieces; you can conjure up a fantastic Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet (Swiss chard) pilaf with preserved lemon, later in the week. My neighbour presented us with a jar of beautiful home-made preserved lemons (thanks Tracey), and they were such a fab, zesty addition to the pilaf.
Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for suggestions on how many planned-overs to prepare for the pilaf. I haven’t included Fussy Kid Tips, as both my boys love these meals, even the 5-year old (although he peels off the ‘yukky’ chicken skin – his loss). Enjoy.

Individual roast chicken pieces with cauliflower

[Recipe 1] Spiced roast chicken with chickpeas and cauliflower

Ingredients (serves 4 for 2 meals):
¼ cup olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 8 wedges
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
Approx. 350g (12 oz) pumpkin, cut into chunks
250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos), soaked overnight (or canned, see notes)
2 whole chickens (about 1¼ kilo/2½ lb each), cut into quarters
Lemon wedges, to serve
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve
Spice mix:
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon sweet dried paprika
Salt
½ cup olive oil, extra

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Wash and dry the chicken pieces.
Drain soaked chickpeas and place into a large saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–50 minutes until just tender. Drain again.
Reserve half the cooked chickpeas, about 1½ cups; for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Boil potato wedges for 10 minutes. Drain. Return to the hot saucepan and shake until dry.
Arrange par-boiled potatoes, cauliflower and pumpkin over base of large, oiled roasting pan. Toss to coat with the oil. Place chicken pieces on top.
Prepare the spice mix. Mix dry spices, salt and extra olive oil together in a small bowl. Brush over the chicken pieces, and drizzle the remaining spice mix over the vegetables.
Roast for 40 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Remove chicken pieces and set aside, covered with foil.
Scatter tonight’s chickpeas over the roasted vegetables and gently toss to coat with the pan juices. Return pan to the oven for a further 5–10 minutes.
Reserve 4 roast chicken pieces for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Reserve about 1 cup of roasted cauliflower pieces for the Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf.
Place remaining chicken and roasted vegetables on serving plates. Serve with lemon wedges on the side, scattered with coriander.

  • Planned-overs (reserved cooked chickpeas, chicken and cauliflower) can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  • 250g (9 oz) dried chickpeas (garbanzos) yields approximately 3 cups cooked chickpeas. You can replace the cooked chickpeas in this recipe with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed. You’ll need 1 can for the roast chicken, and 1 can for the pilaf. 
  • Note: 1 x 400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, yields 1½ cups cooked chickpeas. 

Chicken pilaf

[Recipe 2] Chicken, chickpea and silverbeet pilaf with preserved lemon

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1¼ cups (250g) medium grain white rice, rinsed and drained
4 reserved roast chicken pieces, chopped (discard bones and skin) – about 2 cups chopped chicken
1 cup reserved roast cauliflower pieces, chopped
3 cups (100g) silverbeet (Swiss chard) leaves, green parts only, chopped
3½ cups chicken stock, store-bought or home-made
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
♦ 1½ cups reserved cooked chickpeas (or 1 x 400g/15 oz can, drained)
(65g/2¼ oz) slivered almonds, toasted
Half a preserved lemon (skin only), rinsed and finely chopped

Heat oil in a heavy-based, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion for 5 minutes, until soft.
Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add spices and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add rice, chicken, cauliflower pieces, silverbeet and stock. Season. Stir and bring to the boil. Turn down heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and cook, uncovered, for a further 8–10 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Add a splash more water or stock if necessary. Stir occasionally.
Serve pilaf scattered with toasted slivered almonds and preserved lemon.

  • For a quick mid-week dinner, you can also make this pilaf with a chopped up store-bought roast chicken. Replace the roasted cauliflower with a couple of grated carrots; and toss in a 400g (15 oz) can of chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have an abundance of lemons, you can preserve them easily – I love Greg Malouf’s recipe from Arabesque. Preserved lemons are also available from specialist food stores and Middle-Eastern grocers (such as Gourmet Grocer, A1-bakerySimon Johnson, Essential Ingredient or Oasis bakery). You can buy Greg Malouf’s amazing preserved lemons with honey online too.

It’s chapati and I’ll fry if I want to

[Recipe 1] KEEMA MATTAR (Indian spiced minced lamb and peas)
transforms into

[Recipe 2] BAKED FILO PASTRY SAMOSAS
……………..
This week’s recipes are Indian. First up is Keema mattar. Keema is hindi for any type of ground meat and mattar are green peas. My version of Keema mattar contains carrot and cauliflower and is so flavoursome. It’s a fairly dry curry so it’s lovely served with yoghurt raita, and scooped up with home-made chapati (flatbread). You can whip up home-made chapati in a naan-o-second (sorry, can’t resist a bad pun) but you can of course use store-bought naan or chapati if you’re really pushed for time.
The Keema mattar recipe yields two large freezeable meals, each plenty for 4 people; plus an extra portion to be used as filling for delicious Baked filo pastry samosas, perfect for a weekend lunch or party nibbles. Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for instructions on how much Keema mattar to set aside for the samosas.
Keema matter is a fab meal to take with you on holidays (even easier than bolognaise) as you need only bring a packet of chapati or roti to have with it. No need to muck around with rice or pasta. We’re off on our annual pilgrimage to the Apollo Bay Music Festival this weekend and I have a vat of Keema mattar in the freezer, ready to go. 
FOOTNOTE:
The lovely Michelle of formandreform blogged beautifully about cooking this meal. Check out her blog – she is one clever girl.

Keema mattar (Indian spiced mince lamb and peas). One Equals Two.

[Recipe 1] Keema mattar (Indian spiced mince lamb and peas)

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 red (purple/Spanish) onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1½ heaped tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 heaped tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaped tablespoon garam masala
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
3 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, crushed with a mortar and pestle
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 kilos (4 lb) minced (ground) lamb
1 long green chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped
2 large carrots, grated
1 small head cauliflower (or ½ large head), cut into very small florets
7 tablespoons (140g tub) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1 cup (250ml) water, plus extra if required
4 bay leaves
2 x 400g (15 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzos), drained, rinsed (or 2 cups cooked chickpeas – see tips below recipe)
2 cups (500g/1 lb) frozen peas
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chapati (flatbread), store-bought, or home-made, to serve
Basic cucumber raita, to serve
Fresh coriander (cilantro), to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, garam masala, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and cloves, and cook for 3 minutes, until aromatic. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again.
Add chilli, carrot, cauliflower, tomato paste, water, bay leaves and chickpeas and simmer, covered, over a medium heat for 25–30 minutes, until liquid has evaporated. Add more water if it starts to dry out too quickly. Toss peas into the pot for the last 5–10 minutes cooking time. Remove bay leaves. Season to taste.
Serve Keema mattar on top of chapati, scattered with coriander (cilantro), with raita on the side.
Divide the remainder of the Keema mattar into plastic containers (see storage tips below).
Reserve 3 cups (600g) Keema mattar for the Baked filo pastry samosas.

  • The Keema mattar recipe will yield three portions; ie. two serves of about 6 cups (1¼ kilos) each (1¼ kilos will serve four) plus a 3 cup (600g) portion to be used for the Baked filo pastry samosas.
  • Keema mattar can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Serve the Keema mattar with steamed basmati rice instead of naan, for a change.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans chickpeas (garbanzos), drained, will yield approximately 3 cups chickpeas. For 3 cups cooked chickpeas, soak 250g (9 oz) dry chickpeas overnight. Drain and cook in boiling water for 45–50 minutes, until just tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of chickpeas, and freeze them in 1 cup portions to use when required.

Baked filo pastry samosas. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Baked filo pastry samosas

Ingredients (makes 20):
1 tablespoon corn flour (cornstarch)
4 tablespoons warm water

♦ 3 cups (600g) reserved Keema mattar

½ cup (50g) dessicated coconut
1 x 375g (12½ oz) packet (20 sheets) frozen filo (phyllo) pastry, defrosted in fridge overnight
Vegetable oil for brushing
Easy spiced tomato chutney, or store-bought chutney, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Mix corn flour and water together. Place into a small pan.
Add reserved Keema mattar to pan.
Add coconut and stir well.
Bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer until mixture thickens, about 2–3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Cut though all 20 sheets of filo pastry at once, with a sharp knife, into 3 long strips each measuring about 8½cm (3-inch) in width.
You’ll need three strips of pastry per samosa, making a total of about 20 samosas.
Place 1 tablespoon of the Keema mattar filling at the top end of a pastry strip and pull the left corner of the sheet diagonally to the right so that it forms the first little triangle. Keep folding the samosa over and over in the same way maintaining the triangle shape. After every third fold, brush a little oil on the pastry.
Repeat the procedure until all the samosas are ready, popping each on an oiled tray (with the last fold underneath), covered with a clean tea towel as you go.
Lightly brush the top of each samosa with vegetable oil.
Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until golden. Serve hot with Easy spiced tomato chutney.

  • Work quickly with the filo pastry, so it doesn’t dry out. Keep unused pastry portions covered with a clean tea towel as you work.
  • If using refrigerated Keema mattar (not frozen) this recipe is suitable to freeze. Freeze cooked samosas, for up to 3 months. Place baking paper between the layers. When serving, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. Reheat in a hot oven, covered with foil, for 5–10 minutes.

Pasta la vista

[Recipe 1] FULL-OF-VEGGIES BOLOGNAISE transforms into
[Recipe 2] LASAGNA with RICOTTA and SPINACH
……………..
A recipe for bolognaise? Meh, I hear you uttering. I’m guessing you probably have a container or two of sauce tucked in your freezer prepared with your own fail-safe recipe. Thought I’d share my Full-of-veggies bolognaise recipe though, as it’s, well, full of veggies strangely enough; including lentils. It’s pretty delicious and my boys inhale it.
Instead of serving up spag bol over spaghetti week after week, I always set aside a portion for an ace Lasagna with ricotta and spinach (look for the orange diamonds in the recipe for instructions on how much sauce to reserve). I love a good lasagna, but wouldn’t dream of preparing one from scratch. With the sauce already made, it’s a cinch to throw this lasagna in the oven within half an hour. So, anyway, my secret bolognaise ingredient is lentils – what kooky ingredients feature in your spag bol?

Full-of-veggies bolognaise

[Recipe 1] Full-of-veggies bolognaise

Ingredients (serves 4 for 4+ meals):
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 brown onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 kilos (4 lb) minced (ground) beef (not too lean)
4 x 400g (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
280g (10 oz) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1 cup (250ml) water
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 large carrots, grated
2 zucchinis (courgettes), grated
1 x 400g (15 oz) can lentils, drained, rinsed (or 1 cup cooked brown or green lentils)
1 cup chopped parsley (to taste), plus extra to serve
1 heaped tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g (14 oz) dried spaghetti (or as required for 4 serves)
Grated parmesan cheese to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, bay leaves and oregano and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 30 minutes. Add carrot and zucchini and continue cooking, covered, for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove lid and simmer for a further 8–10 minutes, or until thick. Remove and discard bay leaves.
At this stage I like to give the bolognaise 2 whizzes (no more) with a stick blender to help it come together – this is optional of course. Stir through parsley, lentils and brown sugar. Season to taste.
Reserve 4 cups (1 kilo/2 lb) Full-of-veggies bolognaise for the Lasagna with ricotta and spinach.
Divide the remainder of the Full-of-veggies bolognaise into labeled plastic containers (see storage tips below).
Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling water until al dente. Drain. Serve warm Full-of-veggies bolognaise over spaghetti, scattered with grated parmesan and extra parsley.

  • The Full-of-veggies bolognaise recipe will yield four serves of about 1 kilo (2 lb) each (1 kilo will serve four) and a couple of single portions too. I love making a massive vat of spag bol, but if you don’t have the freezer space, it’s easy to halve the ingredients.
  • Full-of-veggies bolognaise can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Besides B vitamins, lentils are high in protein, fibre and a variety of minerals. It’s so easy to plop them in bolognaise sauce. They take on the flavour of the other ingredients and are virtually imperceptible. You can add lots of other vegetables to this recipe – try adding small cubes of eggplant or sliced button mushrooms with the onions. You can also throw in chopped baby spinach with the lentils.
  • I love Australian garlic. The taste is superior to Chinese garlic; and imported garlic is fumigated with methyl bromide and often bleached too. Blech. Interesting article here.
  • Baby tip: while you’re making the spag bol, you can make a small baby-friendly portion in a little saucepan. Use similar ingredients, but omit the canned tomatoes, canned lentils and tomato paste (canned foods are generally too salty for babies). Replace with peeled and de-seeded fresh tomatoes, and water. For a burst of iron, throw in a chopped organic beef liver. Puree until smooth and freeze in ice-cube trays until required.

Lasagna with ricotta and spinach

[Recipe 2] Lasagna with ricotta and spinach

Ingredients (serves 6):
1⅓ cups (350ml) tomato passata (tomato puree)

♦ 4 cups (1 kilo/2 lb) reserved full-of-veggies bolognaise

3 eggs
2 heaped cups (600g) fresh ricotta
¼ cup (60ml) milk
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (100g) grated parmesan cheese
250g/10 oz packet frozen spinach, thawed, excess liquid completely squeezed out
375g (13 oz) fresh lasagna sheets
1 cup (100g) grated mozzarella

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Place tomato passata in a large bowl.
Stir in reserved full-of-veggies bolognaise.
Set aside.
Place eggs, ricotta, milk and salt into a food processor, and process until creamy. Add parmesan and pulse to just combine. Stir in spinach. Set aside.
Lightly grease a 6cm deep, 32cm x 22cm (12½-inch x 8½-inch) oven proof dish. Spoon half the bolognaise/passata mixture over the base. Top with a layer of lasagna sheets, trimming extra sheets to fit if necessary. Spoon over half the spinach/ricotta mixture. Add one more layer of lasagna sheets. Spoon over the remaining bolognaise/passata mixture. Top with another layer of lasagna sheets, then the remaining spinach/ricotta mixture. Scatter with mozzarella. You should have 8 layers in total:
LAYER 1 (bottom): Bolognaise, LAYER 2: Lasagna sheets, LAYER 3: Ricotta, LAYER 4: Lasagna sheets, LAYER 5: Bolognaise, LAYER 6: Lasagna sheets, LAYER 7: Ricotta, LAYER 8 (top): Mozarella.
Cover with a layer of baking paper, followed by a layer of foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove baking paper and foil and bake for a further 15–20 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes (this will help it hold its shape). Serve with a simple green salad.

  • If you purchase a 700ml bottle of tomato passata, you can freeze half in a labelled plastic container for next time; for up to 3 months.

  • Grated parmesan and mozzarella (in 1 cup/100g lots) can be frozen in ziplock bags for up to 3 months.
  • Unused lasagna sheets can be frozen in a ziplock bag for up to 2 months.
  • Leftover lasagna can be warmed in a low oven, covered in foil.

Miso hungry

[Recipe 1] ROASTED PUMPKIN and MIXED SEED SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED PUMPKIN and CASHEW PATTIES
……………..
This Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad was inspired by a dish my cousin Katja (hi Kat!) brought over on Christmas Day. Katja’s gorgeous salad was dressed with wholegrain mustard and balsamic vinegar. I’ve made mine a tad Japanese, with a gingery miso dressing.
I love roasted pumpkin salads. They’re great on the day they’re made though, but often a bit mushy the next day, and not so appetising. I transformed this salad into Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties a couple of days later and it took on a whole new life. Look for theorange diamonds within the recipe, for instructions on how much salad you’ll need to reserve for the patties.
Oh, and if you’re hosting a BBQ and need to cater for vegetarians, the salad and patties can be made at once. Lightly fry the patties on the flat section of the BBQ. Cold leftover patties are beautiful served for lunch, in a salad-stuffed roll. Yummmmm.

Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad

[Recipe 1] Roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for 2 meals):
2 kilos (4 lb) butternut pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded, cut into
2–3cm thick pieces
2 tablespoons peanut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons pepitas (hulled pumpkin kernels), toasted
2 tablespoons sunflower kernels, toasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, toasted
1 cup chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra for serving
Miso dressing:
¼ cup (60g) white miso paste
2 tablespoons (30g) honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Small piece ginger, grated and chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon (15ml) water
1 tablespoon (15ml) Japanese rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Toss pumpkin and oil in a large bowl, until well-coated.
Place pumpkin on two baking trays lined with baking paper. Season. Roast pumpkin, turning once, for 20–30 minutes or until tender and light golden brown. Swap trays half-way through cooking if using two oven shelves. Set pumpkin aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make miso dressing. Place miso paste, honey, soy sauce, ginger and water in a small saucepan and warm, over a low heat, stirring, until miso and honey are dissolved (about 1–2 minutes). Stir in rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Set aside to cool.
Place roasted pumpkin in a large bowl, add toasted seeds, coriander and dressing and toss gently to coat.
Reserve 3 cups (about 550–600g) roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad for the Spiced pumpkin patties.
Scatter salad with extra with coriander.

  • You can turn this salad into a main meal by serving it with brown rice or fresh tuna (preferably Skipjack tuna, as it’s more sustainable than Yellowfin). You’ll need a 120g (4 oz) tuna fillet per person. Brush the tops of the tuna with some of the miso dressing, and bake in a 200°C (390ºF) oven for about 20 minutes, until just cooked. You can cook these in your already-heated oven while the pumpkin is cooling.
  • Miso paste is found in Asian Grocers and health food shops. Store miso paste in a sealed container in the fridge. It has a very long storage life, but over time the flavour will deteriorate, so use it up within a couple of months. Mix a tablespoon of miso into a cup of hot water and sprinkle with chopped chives for an individual, super-easy, serve of soup.
  • Japanese rice wine vinegar is readily available from large Supermarkets and Asian food stores.
  • Fussy kid tip: For children who won’t touch pumpkin, roast some potato chunks and thick carrot slices for them at the same time as the pumpkin. Serve with tuna fillets (see tip above).

Spiced pumpkin, chickpea and cashew patties

[Recipe 2] Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties

Ingredients (serves 4–6):
400g (15 oz) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed; or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
½ cup (75g) unsalted cashews, toasted, and roughly chopped
3 spring onions (scallions), green parts only, chopped
1 egg, lightly whisked
1½ cups (185g) dried breadcrumbs, plus extra if required
2 tablespoons (30ml) sweet chilli sauce, plus extra to serve
3 cups (about 550–600g) reserved roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad
2 tablespoons peanut oil
To serve with patties:
Sweet chilli sauce
Asian mixed leaf salad (pictured), or simple green salad

Place chickpeas, cashews, spring onions, egg, breadcrumbs and chilli sauce in a large bowl.
Add reserved roasted pumpkin and mixed seed salad.
Mix and mash it all together well with your hands, adding more bread crumbs if the mixture feels too wet.

Shape mixture into twelve patties. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry Pumpkin and cashew patties until golden brown, about 4 minutes each side. Drain on kitchen paper.
Serve Spiced pumpkin and cashew patties with a simple green salad or Asian mixed leaf salad; and sweet chilli sauce on the side.

  • Leftover ginger can be grated and frozen in 1-tablespoon blobs, wrapped in cling film; ready to use when required.
  • Fussy kid tip: Moosh up 2 or 3 of the patties and add a small 95g (3 oz) can of drained tuna. Mix well and re-shape into patties. Prepare as above. You’ll be surprised how these patties will be inhaled by even the fussiest of children!

Porktastic

[Recipe 1] PORK, PINE NUT and PANCETTA MINI MEATLOAVES transform into
[Recipe 2] FUSILLI with PORK SAUSAGE and LENTILS
……………..
Welcome folks. For my inaugural post I figured we’d start with some pork on our forks! The first recipe is for scrumptious (even if I do say so myself) Pork, pine nut and pancetta mini meatloaves. We call them, ahem, PPP Loaves. They’re kid-friendly as they’re quite sausagey, but the fennel flavour is sophisticated enough for adult palates too. My boys just love them.
The meatloaf recipe allows for a good stash of planned-overs (look for the orange diamonds); in this case a flavoursome pork and pine nut mixture to be set aside for two further meals of Fusilli with pork sausage and lentils. This is a super-quick dish (no chopping up or frying of onions required) and you can prepare it while the pasta is cooking. Delicious!
PS. If you’re feeling energetic you could make the pasta sauce while the meatloaves are baking. There’s nothing more satisfying than a bulk cook-up, and the resulting well-stocked fridge or freezer.
You could also choose to use the mixture for a double quantity of meatloaves (they freeze really well cooked, and are excellent sliced in sandwiches); in which case you’d double all the meatloaf ingredients from the breadcrumbs down.

Pork, pancetta and pinenut mini meatloaves

[Recipe 1] Pork, pine nut and pancetta mini meatloaves

Ingredients (serves 4 for 3 meals; ie. 1 serve meatloaves, 2 serves pasta sauce):
2 tablespoons olive oil

2 leeks, white parts only, sliced lengthwise, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 kilo (2 lb) minced (ground) pork
500g (1 lb) good-quality sausage meat
(see notes)
1 cup (70g) fresh breadcrumbs (2 slices day-old sourdough, processed)
1 medium carrot, finely grated on zester holes
½ cup (60g) pine nuts, toasted

2 eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8–12 large thinly-sliced pancetta pieces (approx. 150g/5 oz)
To serve:
Easy spiced tomato chutney (or store-bought tomato relish)
Green beans with toasted pinenuts

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the leek for 6–8 minutes, until soft. Add fennel seeds and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes until aromatic. Allow to cool in a large bowl. Add the pork mince, sausage meat, breadcrumbs, carrot, toasted pine nuts and eggs. Mix well with your hands until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper and mix lightly.
This mixture will yield 2 kilos (4 lb) of pork and pine nut mixture. 1 kilo (2 lb) is required for the pork, pine nut and pancetta mini meatloaves.
Reserve the remaining 1 kilo (2 lb) of pork and pine nut mixture for the Fusilli with pork sausage and lentils (yields enough sauce to serve 8).

Grease eight ⅔ cup (160ml) capacity mini loaf pans (or friand, muffin or cupcake pans). Line each pan with pancetta, allowing the sides to overhang.
Divide 1 kilo (2 lb) of the pork and pine nut mixture among the prepared pans, pressing mixture down firmly. Fold pancetta over to enclose the filling.
Bake meatloaves for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.
Drain any juices from the pan and carefully run a knife around each loaf to loosen.
Serve sliced, with easy spiced tomato chutney and green beans with toasted pine nuts. You can toast the pine nuts for the meatloaves and the green beans at the same time.
Makes 8 mini meatloaves.

  • For good-quality sausage meat, slit open free-range pork sausages and squeeze meat from the casings.
  • Pancetta is cured Italian bacon made of pork belly meat, and is available at delicatessens. Replace with very-thinly sliced bacon or prosciutto if unavailable.
  • Refrigerate and use Recipe 1 planned-overs (uncooked pork and pine nut mixture) within 3 days. Uncooked mixture can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Meatloaf leftovers are excellent for lunch. Serve sliced in a sandwich with tomato chutney and cos (romaine) lettuce. Yum!
  • You can use any type of bread to make fresh breadcrumbs: white, rye, wholemeal (wholewheat) or – my preference – sourdough. Save scraps of leftover bread and freeze for up to 3 months, removing large pieces of crust before processing.
  • Dark green leek offcuts can be used in stock.

Fusilli with pork sausage and lentils

[Recipe 2] Fusilli (spiral pasta) with pork sausage and lentils

Ingredients (serves 8):
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, grated

♦ 1 kilo (2 lb) reserved pork and pine nut mixture
2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste/concentrate
2 x 400g (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked lentils – see notes)
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for serving

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g (14 oz) dried fusilli (spiral pasta) per 4 people

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, and add grated carrot.
Add reserved pork and pine nut mixture.
Cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Break up large lumps with a spoon, retaining a few mini meatball-sized chunks for texture.
Add tomato paste, tomatoes, lentils, cinnamon sticks and ⅔ cup of water and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 15–20 minutes, until thickened. Stir occasionally. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Stir through parsley and season with salt and pepper.
If serving four people, divide sauce into two portions of 1 kilo (2 lb) each. The remaining 1 kilo batch of pasta sauce can be refrigerated or frozen for another meal (see notes).
Meanwhile, cook fusilli in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
Stir pork and lentil sauce through fusilli. Serve, scattered with extra parsley.

  • Left-over tomato paste can be frozen in 1 or 2 tablespoon lumps, individually-wrapped in cling film; ready to plop into your next pasta dish.
  • 2 x 400g (14 oz) cans lentils, drained, will yield 2 heaped cups cooked lentils. For 2 heaped cups cooked lentils, cook 1 cup dry lentils in boiling water for 45 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse. I often cook up a load of lentils, and freeze them in 1 or 2 cup portions to use when required.
  • Although this sauce is lovely served as is, feel free to add extra veggies such as grated zucchini (courgette), baby spinach leaves or chopped silverbeet (Swiss chard).
  • Freeze leftover parsley stalks, and use in sweet tomato pasta sauce or home-made chicken stock.
  • Reserved pasta sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Note: if you’ve used frozen planned-overs of pork and pinenut mixture, pasta sauce should not be frozen.