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.

xxx,
Inge

It’s Saturday and I have the day off :). So I planned to spend more time in the kitchen and cook something more fancy that requires longer time to prepare. The dish I chose is a vegetarian dish by Anna Gare from The Best in Australia. I was thinking this dish would be perfect for a warm night as it is such a light and refreshing meal. It turned out it was pouring rain in Melbourne. It was not that cold; but we had a very heavy down pour and also hail storms!! So lucky we stayed home tonight!

The dish is Dukkah eggplant with roasted tomato and chickpea salad. It’s not only a healthy vegetarian dish, but also very tasty :). The crunchy dukkah has a gorgeous texture and matches well with the delicate eggplant. The roasted tomato and onions are caramelised and that really brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes and onions. The chickpea is a nice addition to the dish and the coriander really brings out the freshness to the dish. The yoghurt gives the acidity to the dish and balances the sweetness from the tomato salad.

I am very happy with how the dish turned out. I will definitely make this again 🙂

Dukkah eggplant with roasted tomato & chickpea salad

(adapted from recipe by Anna Gare, The Best in Australia)

(serves 4)

Dukkah

  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 60 gr hazelnuts
  • 60 gr almonds
  • salt

Dukkah eggplant

  • 2 medium eggplants sliced in ½cm rounds
  • Dukkah spice mix (above)

Roasted tomato and chickpea salad

  • 8 roma tomatoes, each cut into quarters
  • 2 medium red onions cut into 8’s
  • 2 cloves sliced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 400 gr canned chick peas, drained
  • 1 cup freshly chopped coriander

Dressing

  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • juice from 1 lemon

Step 1. Roasted tomato and chickpea salad. Cut tomatoes, onions & garlic and place on baking tray. Sprinkle sugar, salt, balsamic & oil over and bake in slow 140°C oven for 1½ hours. Remove from oven and toss through fresh coriander & chickpeas.

Step 2. Dukkah. While the tomatoes are cooking, dry fry all spices separately in a heavy based pan. Roast nuts all together on a tray in the oven. Crush the nuts and spices in mortar & pestle and add salt to taste.

Step 3. Dukkah Eggplant. Slice eggplants thin. Fry on hot pan or grill (with olive oil) until brown & just cooked. Remove from pan and whilst still warm coat each side of eggplant with dukkah spice. Reheat in oven when ready to serve.

Step 4. Dressing. Prepare the dressing by mixing the yogurt and lemon juice.

Step 5. To serve, cover base of platter or plate with spiced eggplant slices and top with warm salad & drizzle with dressing.

Dukkah eggplant with roasted tomato and chickpea salad

xxx,
Inge

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.

Croutons

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

xxx,
Inge

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

xxx,
Inge

It’s pizza night tonight 🙂
In the magazine Oct/Nov 2009 issue, Donna Hay showcased a section about making pizza from scratch. There is one recipe for the basic pizza dough and a variety of creative pizzas are presented.  They all are so mouth-watering..! This shows that we can be creative and inventive with the pizza; top the pizza with your favourite combinations.

Basic pizza dough

(from Donna Hay magazine, Oct/Nov 2009 issue 47)

(serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water
  • 2½ cup (375 gr) OO flour (superfine flour)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Basic pizza dough ingredients

Step 1. Place the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface. This means the yeast has been activated.

Yeast mixture

Step 2. Place the flour, salt and olive oil in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and mix together with well-floured hands to form a dough.

Step 3. Kneed dough on a lightly floured surface for 3 – 4 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into equal-size balls as necessary.

Pizza can be made in different shapes and sizes as desired. This recipe will make two 30cm round pizzas or up to twelve 15cm round mini pizzas. Divide the dough into equal-size balls and roll out to your desired shape.

Step 4. Place the dough balls on a lightly floured bowl and cover with a clean damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until the balls have doubled in size.

Step 5. Press each dough ball into a round and roll out on a lightly floured surface to the desired size.

Top the pizza base with your favourite toppings :). For the sauce, you can opt for the classic tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, harissa, etc. Then for the topping, the options are endless; chicken, beef, salami, pancetta, smoked fish, mushrooms, zucchini, pumpkin, onion, capsicum, olives, anchovies, etc… And then, cheese is a must! Mozzarella is normally used for pizza, but other cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan, goat cheese, ricotta are great.

Tonight, I used what I could find in the vegetable drawer in the fridge. I thought eggplant and capsicum will make a good combination. I simply used a store-bought tomato sauce (in a jar) for the sauce. You can, of course, make your own tomato sauce from fresh or canned tomato with your favourite herbs.
I also added anchovies, because I love them :). The cheese I used was tasty cheddar cheese.

Vegetable and anchovies pizza

(serves 4)

  • 1 quantity basic pizza dough (the above recipe)
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced about 5 mm thick
  • 1 green capsicum, sliced
  • 12 salted anchovy fillets
  • 1 cup store-bought tomato sauce
  • 100 gr tasty cheese, grated

Step 1. Prepare 1 quantity basic pizza dough. I divided the dough into 4 balls. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the eggplant and capsicum in a baking tray and roast for about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Step 2. Preheat oven to 220ºC. Place 2 trays in the oven to heat for 5 – 10 minutes. Roll out the dough balls into the desired thickness and shape. Brush the tray with olive oil and top with the dough.

Step 3. Top with the tomato sauce, eggplant slices, capsicum, anchovies and then grated cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the topping is golden and the base is crispy. Cut 1 pizza into 4 wedges and serve.

Homemade pizza

xxx,
Inge

It’s the time to revisit my favourite ‘Heart Food’ book (Heart Food, the Healthy Heart Cookbook by Veronika Cruskelly and Nicole Senior, 2008). Another favourite dish from the book is chicken and leek pie. It’s full of vegetable goodness, and when you have it with garden salad, each serving contains 6 serves of vegetables. How good is that 😀

You can be assured that the taste is not compromised. It’s so yummy and tasty, it’s the ultimate comfort food 🙂

Chicken and leek pie

(from Heart Food, the Healthy Heart Cookbook by Veronika Cruskelly and Nicole Senior, 2008)

(serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 x leeks (white part only), finely sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 250 gr frozen corn kernels
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1½ tablespoons corn flour, blended with 3 tablespoons water
  • garden salad to serve
  • 400 gr chicken breast fillets, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock

Chicken and leek pie ingredients

Pumpkin mash (you can substitute with potato mash or sweet potato mash):

  • 1 kg pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 25 gr parmesan cheese, grated

Step 1. To make the pumpkin mash, peel, seed and dice the pumpkin. Place the pumpkin in a saucepan with cold water and heat over medium heat. Bring to boil and cook for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain well. Mash the pumpkin until smooth and add the parsley. Set aside.

Pumpkin mash

Step 2. Heat oil in a large wok over low heat. Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring frequently without letting them colour, until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add carrot and cook for another minute. Add chicken and stock, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the chicken is done.

Add leeks and garlic

Add carrots

Add chicken and stock, then cover

Step 3. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Stir the corn kernel, zucchini and blended corn flour into the chicken mixture. Stir until thickened, about 3 minutes.

Chicken mixture after 15 minutes

Add zucchini, corn and blended cornflour

Step 4. Place the chicken mixture into a 7-cup (1¾ litre) capacity ovenproof dish. (What I used: 2 x 600 ml round casserole dish and 1 x 1.1 l oval casserole dish). Spoon over the pumpkin mash to cover the chicken and top with the parmesan cheese.

Place chicken mixture into ovenproof dish and top with the mash

Top with grated parmesan cheese

Step 5. Bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken mixture is bubbling and the cheese is pale golden. Serve with garden salad.

After 15 mins in the oven

Chicken and leek pie served with garden salad

xxx,
Inge

I dedicated my first post to a healthy drink that my husband and I have enjoyed almost every day. Thanks to my mom who showed me and made this every day when I spent my last visit in Indonesia (May 2009)  – We love you, MOM :).  Now we have this first thing in the morning during weekends, and in weekdays we normally have it after work or badminton.

We can be creative with the ingredients. We can use celery, tomato, cucumber, apple, orange, kiwi, pear, blueberries, rapsberries, etc. For the berries, I use the frozen ones. Not only that I can always keep them in the freezer, but they will also make the juice cold, there is no need for ice cubes. I normally use more vege than the fruit as I try to increase the vegetable intake in daily basis. Remember, it’s 5 serves of vege and 2 serve of fruits every day.

Here are the ingredients for the healthy juice I made this morning.

Healthy juice

(serves 2)

  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 handfull of frozen mixed berries
  • 3/4 cup of apple juice (store-bought)

Chop the celery and tomato, put them in the blender together with frozen berries and apple juice. Blend them for about 30 seconds and enjoy!!

Healthy juice ingredients Ready to blend Healthy juice ready - Enjoy!!

xxx,

Inge