This vegetarian dish is so fulfilling and perfect for winter. It’s hearty, flavoursome and full of goodness from the vegetables; and the colour is gorgeous too! I used sweet potatoes, onion, asparagus and leeks; but other vegetables such as pumpkin, potato, zucchini, carrot can also be used.

Combined with pasta, it makes a complete dish for dinner. The cheese sauce is very delicate and does not overpower the vegetables. The vegetables when roasted give a nice caramelisation; the sweetness from the vegetables really match the cheese sauce.

The dish is very easy to make and you can keep the leftover in the fridge for the next day. Just need to heat it up in the microwave for the next day’s meal. It’s so great! 🙂

Roasted vegetable and pasta bake

(recipe from ‘Cook smart for a healthy heart’, Reader’s Digest, 2004)

(serve 4 – 6)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 5 cm cubes
  • 2 red onions, cut into large chunks. I used 1 red and 1 brown onion.
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 large leeks, thickly sliced
  • 170 gr asparagus spears, cut across in half
  • 300 gr rigatoni

Cheese sauce

  • 600 ml low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornflour
  • 70 gr cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • pepper to taste

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place the sweet potato and onions in a roasting pan and scatter oven the garlic. Drizzle with the oil and season with pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables with the oil, then place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Step 2. Remove the pan from the oven and add the leeks and asparagus. Toss gently to mix with the other vegetables, then return to the oven. Roast for a further 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender and beginning to brown.

Step 3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 – 12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions.

Step 4. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, measure 4 tablespoons milk into a jug, add the cornflour and stir to make a smooth paste. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan until almost boiling. Stir the hot milk into the cornflour mixture, then return to the saucepan and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and add two-thirds of the cheese and the mustard. Season with pepper.

Step 5. Remove the vegetables from the oven. Drain the pasta well then tip over the vegetables and stir to combine. Stir in the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve hot.



I came across this recipe while browsing through the recipes in TasteSpotting. I love fish and I try to cook fish dishes at least twice in a week. When you don’t have time to prepare a fresh fish dish, look no other than the good old canned tuna. I usually buy the canned tuna when they are on special (they can be $1 each (95 gr can) when they are on special – sweet!) and store them in my pantry.

This recipe is a no-fuss tuna dish and can be enjoyed in a record time! The canned tuna is combined with other cooked or fresh ingredients. Here, it is combined with kalamata olives and capers. Other alternative is to combine the tuna with sweet corn, chopped spring onion, chopped carrot, or chopped celery, etc… You can be creative to decide the combination 🙂

Then, spread the mixture on top of bread, top with tomato slices and cheese slices. Put the breads in the oven to grill for 5 minutes, and voila… the cheese is melted, golden and bubbly over the tuna and tomato on a crispy bread. Truly inviting and satisfying speedy meal 🙂

Tuna melts

(adapted from the recipe by Janice in her blog ‘Have recipes – Will cook’)

(serves 2)

  • 2 x 95 gr canned tuna. I used Sirena’s dill infused oil.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 focaccia breads, halved length wise. Other type of bread can be used.
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced (12 slices)
  • 8 slices of cheddar cheese

Step 1. Preheat the grill (I used the grill in the oven). Mix well the tuna, olives, capers, mayo, lemon juice and pepper.

Step 2. Arrange the bread halves on a baking tray lined with a baking paper. Spread the tuna mixture on the breads evenly. Top with 3 tomato slices and 2 cheese slices on each bread. Grill the breads for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbly. Serve with garden salad.

It’s too easy…!

Tuna melts served with chopped fresh carrot and cucumber


Butternut pumpkin was in the fruit and veggie box from Aussie Farmers Direct last week :). It’s been a while since we had pumpkin, so I was excited that I got it and straight away thinking how I should cook it this time. Comes in the fruit and veggie box was a note from AFD, listing the content of the box and also 1 recipe for a quick and easy butternut pumpkin risotto. I read all the ingredients and great… I have all the ingredients so I will just use that recipe 😀

I adapted the recipe slightly. In the original recipe, the pumpkin is cooked together with onion and then rice. Instead, I roasted the pumpkin first to make them crunchy, before adding them to the rice. Also, roasting them makes the pumpkin release its sweetness and caramelise the sugar in the pumpkin. They will taste so much better 🙂

I also omitted the butter from the original recipe and used olive oil instead.

Butternut pumpkin risotto

(adapted from the recipe from Aussie Farmers Direct)

(serves 4 – 5)

  • 1 butternut pumpkin, peeled, chopped into 1cm – cubes
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock (I used chicken stock cubes dissolved in hot water)
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • extra grated parmesan cheese to serve

Step 1. Heat the oven to 200°C. Toss the diced pumpkin with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them onto a baking tray lined with foil and roast for about 20 minutes in the oven until they are golden and cooked.

Step 2. Prepare the chicken stock in a saucepan and keep it warm over low heat.

Step 3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium fire, add onion and cook until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice to the pan and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Add wine, cook and stir constantly until wine has been absorbed by the rice.

Step 4. Add a few ladles of stock, just enough to barely cover rice. Cook until stock has been absorbed. Continue cooking and stirring the rice, adding a little bit of stock at a time, cooking and stirring until the stock is absorbed, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes.

Step 5. Add the diced pumpkin to the rice and mix well. Then add the cheese and chives. Mix well. At this point, the rice should have a creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the risotto with extra parmesan cheese on top.

It’s a super yummy vegetarian dish 🙂

Butternut pumpkin risotto


I think I got a few recipes for caesar salad in the cookbooks I have. I like this particular one that I found in the Epicure tabloid from The Age newspaper. The dressing is a lighter and healthier version than the classic caesar dressing, as it is made from yoghurt rather than mayonnaise. The anchovy fillets give a hint of saltiness, you will hardly notice it is from anchovy. I suggest not to use more than 1 garlic clove (and not too big one either), as the garlic is really strong and hot. Also, do make sure you crush the garlic well. I used mortar and pestle to crush the garlic, and also the anchovy so it is easier to combine the ingredients to  make the dressing.

This salad makes a complete meal with the roast chicken, croutons, eggs, bacon and crisp cos lettuce leaves. I used chicken maryland fillets; do trim the fillets and remove the fat.

Chicken caesar salad

(recipe by Jill Dupleix, published in Epicure The Age, Tuesday 26 Jan 2010)

(serves 4)

  • 4 x chicken maryland fillet, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 thick slices bread. I used 1 burger bun.
  • 6 slices lean bacon
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, quatered
  • 2 x baby cos lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan

Baby cos lettuce

Caesar dressing

  • 2 tablespoons yoghurt
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Step 1. To make the dressing, whisk the yoghurt with the crushed garlic, anchovy fillets, mustard, honey, lemon juice, parmesan, salt and pepper until smooth. While whisking, gradually add the olive oil until runny. Lighten with water if required.

Step 2. Heat oven to 180ºC. Drizzle the chicken fillets with 1 tablespoon olive oil and lemon juice, season well and bake for 25 minutes until cooked. And then set the oven to grill and grill the chicken for 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Place the chicken to a plate to rest.

Step 3. Cut bread into big bite-sized croutons and toss in the remaining oil. Grill the croutons and the bacon for 5 minutes or until crisp, tossing once or twice. I used the same baking tray I used for the chicken. Chop the bacon into small pieces.


Step 4. Cut the lettuce into big bite-sized pieces. Gently toss with the croutons and half the dressing and arrange on the serving bowls. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and scatter on top. Add the quartered eggs and bacon pieces, drizzle with the remaining dressing and scatter the grated parmesan.

Chicken caesar salad


I love this salmon chowder recipe. It’s full of goodness of salmon and a lot of vegetables. It’s very easy and quick to cook (well, you do need time to chop all the ingredients :P) and it’s flavoursome. It’s a pretty thick soup and very satisfying. Nothing else but praises from me for this recipe 🙂

Salmon chowder

(adapted from recipe by Diana Rattray)

(serves 4 – 5)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced carrot
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1¾ cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups diced potato
  • 600 gr diced fresh salmon
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper

Ingredients for salmon chowder

Diced veggies and salmon

Step 1. Heat butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add celery, carrot and onion, stirring for 5 -7 minutes until celery is tender.

Step 2. Stir in flour until well blended. Stir in chicken stock and potatoes. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently for 10 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Step 3. Add salmon and zucchini, cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add milk and cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and the soup just begins to bubble. Taste and add salt and pepper. Add parsley right before serving.

Salmon chowder


Halloween may be over but I’d love to have pumpkin all year round. I can roast, steam, fry them, make pies, soups, scones, cakes, and so on.

One of my favourite pumpkin dishes is roast pumpkin mixed with ricotta, then stuffed in conchiglione (seashell-shaped pasta, stuffable) then baked with tomato pasta sauce and cheese. I have made this a number of times and absolutely adored them every time.

The dish is actually a pretty simple dish to make, but requires around 45 minutes to prepare and 45 + 30 minutes in the oven. So I normally make this in the weekend. Sometimes I make the roast pumpkin mash the night before (that’s just simply cut the pumpkin and chuck them into the oven and then mash them) – see tips below. For the tomato sauce, I simply use the store-bought tomato pasta sauce. Alternatively, you can make them from fresh or canned tomatoes; cooked with garlic, dry white wine or your favourite herbs to make the tomato pasta sauce.

This is another one of my favourite vegetarian meals.

Conchiglione stuffed with roast pumpkin and ricotta

(from ‘Pasta’ Murdoch Books Test Kitchen, 2008)

(serves 4)

  • 1 kg pumpkin, cut into large wedges. I used Jap pumpkin
  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • 10 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • 500 gr ricotta cheese
  • 20 gr finely shredded flat-leaf parsley. Or you can use basil.
  • 750 ml bottled tomato pasta sauce
  • 56 conchiglione or 32 giant conchiglione. I used the giant ones.
  • 100 gr grated parmesan cheese

Ingredients for the stuffed seashell pasta

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Place the pumpkin on a baking paper on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake for 30 minutes, then add the garlic and bake for 15 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool slightly.

Pumpkin wedges ready to roast

Pumpkin and garlic after roasting

Step 2. Peel and mash the pumpkin and garlic. Mix with ricotta and half the parsley and season to taste.

The roast pumpkin and garlic mash can be prepared a day ahead and place them in the fridge (let the mash cool first). Mix with the ricotta and parsley when you are about to cook them.

Pumpkin and garlic mash

Pumpkin and garlic mash mixed with ricotta and parsley

Step 3. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain well. Lay out on a tea towel to dry, then fill with the pumpkin mixture. Spread any remaining filling in a large ovenproof dish, top with shells and pour on the sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan.

After this, you can bake straight away or you can cover the dish with plastic wrap and keep the dish in the fridge (for up to 2 days). Bake the dish when you want to serve them.

Stuffing the seashell pasta with pumpkin mixture

Arrange the shells in a baking dish, topped with the tomato sauce and cheese

Step 4. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 200ºC oven (or 30 minutes for the giant shells).  Serve with greens.

Pasta dish after baking

Conchiglione stuffed with roast pumpkin and ricotta



When I got my first copy of Donna Hay magazine (Oct/Nov 2008 issue 41 – 1 year ago :P), I was mesmerised by the variety of posh and fancy burgers presented in the magazine. They all look so mouth-watering… It also showed that we can be creative in using the ingredients; chicken, beef, lamb, fish, haloumi, vegetables, relishes, chutneys, sauces; layer after layer to create your own burger.

The magazine also listed recipes for different kind of relishes, pesto and other dressings. The good thing is we can make these once and keep them in the fridge, to be used later when we feel like making another burger. Last weekend, I  made the caramelised red onions (see recipe below) to accompany my burger.

The burger I made tonight was a simple grilled chicken and mozzarella burger. It’s very easy to throw in together, it’s tasty and it looks as posh as the picture in the magazine (I would like to think so, anyway :P).

Caramelised Red Onions

(from Donna Hay magazine Oct/Nov 2008 issue 41 –

(makes 1.5 cups)

  • 4 red onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • olive oil

Step 1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat.

Step 2. Add the onions and cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft.

Step 3. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until caramelised.

Step 4. Set aside to cool. Goes with beef, lamb, pork, chicken and haloumi.

Caramelised red onions

Grilled chicken and mozzarella burger

(adapted from Donna Hay magazine Oct/Nov 2008 issue 41 –

(makes 4 burgers)

  • 4 x free range skinless chicken breast fillets, trimmed.
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 burger buns, halved. I used the wholemeal dinner rolls from the bakery.
  • store-bought beetroot and orange relish
  • caramelised red onions
  • 4 mozzarella cheese slices (about 5 mm thick)
  • salad leaves to serve

Step 1. Flatten the chicken using a cooking roller in between cling wraps so the fillet has equal thickness (about 1 cm). Place the chicken, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a non-metalic dish and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate for 5 minutes.

Step 2. Brush the bun halves with oil and place on a baking tray. Grill under a preheated hot grill for 1 minute or until golden. Set aside.

Step 3. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Grill the chicken for 2 minutes each side or until cooked through.

Step 4. Spread the relish on the bottom-half buns, top with chicken and mozzarella. Put under the grill for 1 minute until the cheese melts.

Step 5. Top the bottom-halves with caramelised onions, salad leaves and then the top-half buns.

Flatten the chicken fillet

Cheese, salad leaves, caramelised onions and relish

Grilling the chicken fillets

Put under the grill until the cheese melts

Grilled chicken and mozzarella burger

Okay… the photo didn’t come out very good, but trust me, the burger tastes much much better than the look!