Category Archives: Salads

Haloumi Pecan Salad

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One of the best things about having the Christmas holiday season during the summer heat is that after a day or two of serious indulgence you start to yearn for a big cool crunchy salad. I haven’t decided whether this compensates for the lack of snow, but it does make it a bit easier to curb that excess!

Haloumi Pecan Salad

This salad is great as a side dish or a main meal.  I only use bacon in it when it is the main, but it is an optional extra.

Recipe

  • 150g peppery rocket / baby spinach mix
  • 1/2 small red onion very finely sliced
  • 75g pecans, roughly chopped
  • seeds from half a pomegranate
  • 100g haloumi
  • 2 rashers bacon, chopped (optional)

Dressing

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t honey
  • 1 t seeded mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place the greens into a large flat bowl.  Fry bacon until just crisp and spread over the greens with the onion. Cut pomegranate in half.  Pull the outer  skin away and gently tease the seeds away from the inside pith. Layer seeds and pecans over the salad, reserving some for garnish.

Mix dressing ingredients together and set aside until needed.

Once all other ingredients are prepared, it is time to prepare the haloumi.  I have found a new brand of haloumi that I love. This is saltier than other brands that I know but it has a lovely flavour and texture. As with any haloumi, you need to serve it as soon as it’s cooked or it will toughen (although if you do find it has toughened up before you are ready to serve, you can zap it quickly in the microwave to soften it up again).

Haloumi Alambra

Cut the haloumi into 1/2cm thick slices.  Fry in dry non-stick frypan on medium high heat until beginning to brown. Flip over and cook until the second side begins to brown.  The second side will cook more quickly.  Remove from heat immediately and cut into 1cm wide strips. Add to salad.

Give the salad a quick toss with just enough dressing to moisten, garnish with pecans and pomegranate, and serve immediately. For a main meal I serve with lebanese bread that has been lightly oiled, sprinkled with herbs and crisped in the oven. Delish!

Haloumi Pecan Salad2

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Roast Pumpkin and Rocket Salad

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Rocket is my favourite salad green.  So many things taste good with rocket.  I add it to green salads that might otherwise be bland, and it is a great topping for a range of foods from risotto to casseroles to soups. Rocket is also fabulous as the basis for a salad with nuts, seeds, and an assortment of vegetables.

A salad like the one below works as a main meal for lunch, or as an excellent accompaniment for a simple barbecue.

Recipe

  • 200 g peppery rocket
  • 750 g Kent or Butternut pumpkin
  • 1 lg clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced finely
  • 100 g pecans, cut in half
  • 100 g reduced fat crumbly feta
  • 2 T good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 4 T macadamia oil
  • salt, pepper to taste

Cut pumpkin into 1.5 cm squares. Place on oven tray with garlic and 2 T macadamia oil.  Roast until soft. Set aside to cool.

Wash and drain rocket and place in a shallow salad bowl.  Add pecans and onion to salad bowl. Crumble feta into salad. Add pumpkin and mix salad carefully.

Drizzle with vinegar and remaining oil, and season.

Optional extras

  • 2 rashers bacon rinely chopped and cooked until crispy
  • 3 T toasted pine nuts and/or pumpkin seeds and/or sunflower seeds

Pumpkin Pasta Salad

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This is a lovely salad for a late lunch on a warm afternoon. It is light and fresh while still satisfying the kids’ passion for pasta.

Recipe

  • 1/2 butternut pumpkin
  • 300 g dried vermicelli pasta
  • 2 rashers bacon (optional)
  • 2 T macadamia oil
  • 400 g can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

De-seed and peel pumpkin, and chop into 1.5 cm cubes. Steam until just soft. If using bacon, chop into small pieces and fry. Chop asparagus into 2 cm lenths and team until just soft.

Cook vermicelli in water or vegetable stock (I prefer stock if not using bacon) until al dente.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and serve.

Pepperoni and Potato Salad

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Potato salad: the age old stand by for casual parties, barbecues, family dinners.  A bad one is bland and dull and very uninspiring. A good one though can be a fabulous addition to a menu.

I love this one because it has a bit of spice, some un-potato-salad-like flavours, and the homemade aoli is gorgeous. It is worth the effort to make your own – and it really is easy.

Recipe

  • 1.5 kg baby potatoes
  • 125 g pepperoni
  • 2/3 c well drained sun dried tomatoes
  • 4 T pine nuts, toasted

Boil the potatoes until just cooked and cut into large chunks. Cut pepperoni into thin slivers and dice the tomatoes. Gently mix all ingredients together.

Basil Aoli

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely crushed
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 c grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 c finely chopped fresh basil.

Beat egg yolks, garlic and juice in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in the oil, initially a few drops at a time.  Once you’ve added about 1/3 of the oil, you can add the remainder in a fine stream as you beat the mixture. Stir in the basil.

Adapted from Salads / Australian Women’s Weekly. Sydney: AWW Home Library, 1992.

 

Cooking class with Kylie Kwong

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Yesterday was a day for cooking inspiration. A small group of lucky foodies were treated to a cooking lesson from Kylie Kwong, courtesy of the Harris Farm Market at Boronia Park.  Kylie Kwong is one of Australia’s most successful and most loved chefs.  For those not familiar with Kylie Kwong, she has a restaurant called Billy Kwong in Sydney, a cooking show on TV, and many cookbooks to her name. Kylie is of Cantonese heritage, and bases her recipes on traditional Cantonese food, as well as asian twists on foods from elsewhere around the world.

As a chef, Kylie is very appealing.  Her focus is on fresh quality ingredients, with an emphasis on organic and fair trade products.  She is a strong advocate of sustainable food and ethical eating. At Billy Kwong she uses locally grown organic and biodynamic produce. She has been an Australian ambassador for Fair Trade for six years.

Kylie does eat meat, but not a great deal.  She identifies with a vegetarian diet and has many gorgeous recipes in her repertoire for vegetarians. Her mastery of tofu is amazing! She has a very light touch in her cooking – her food isn’t heavy or gluggy, and it never has that “same dish, different meat” thing that average Chinese restaurants so often offer.  She demonstrates how very broad real Chinese cuisine is.

Kylie is also very appealing as a person.  Her cooking shows are fabulous, partly due to her great food, but also because of who she is.   She exudes warmth, and friendliness.  She tells many stories about her life and her family.  Her mum makes frequent appearances on the show.  You just feel good listening to her chat about life in general while she cooks up a storm!

Yesterday was part of a promotional tour for Kylie’s latest cookbook – which of course I HAD to buy (it is gorgeous!).  Kylie  cooked 4 dishes. As she cooked she talked – about all sorts of things: the benefits of freshness and quality in the ingredients, stories about dishes she has enjoyed in China, the role and importance of family in her life, the passing on of cooking traditions through the generations, and of course, things to think about when cooking each dish. She talked a lot about Chinese food being easy to cook, as long as you focus on the balance between sweet, sour, salt and acidity. She also talked about the importance of tasting as you cook. Clearly a sensitive palate is a big part of knowing when you have a dish just right!

Wal wanted a barbecue last night, so I marinated pork chops in sweet soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, shallots and ginger, and made the salad that Kylie made,  The two surprise ingredients for me in this salad were the raw bok choy (I am pretty sure I have only ever seen recipes for it cooked) and tomatoes (which I just never associate with Chinese cuisine).  This salad is as delicious and refreshing as it is healthy.

Recipe

  • 270 g Chinese cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 spring onions, cut into fine julienne strips
  • 1 bok choy, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 small bulb fennel
  • 1/2 bunch of mint
  • 1/2 red capsicum,  cut into fine julienne strips
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, seeded,  cut into fine julienne strips
  • pinch salt and pepper (Kylie uses Sichuan Pepper)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Toss with dressing immediately before serving.

Tomato Dressing

  • 2 T light soy sauce
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 grapeseed oil
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, finely diced

Combine soy sauce, brown sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved.  Continue whisking as you slowly drizzle in the oil until it is all incorporated.  Add tomatoes and stir to combine.

Recipe adapted from Kylie Kwong / Simple Chinese Cooking Class. Sydney : Lantern, 2012.

Pecan and Green Leaf Salad

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This salad has a lovely combination of both flavour and texture.  In summer I would serve this as the main meal with a slice of fresh crusty bread on the side.  In winter I use it as a generous sized side dish with some poached or sauteed chicken and toasted sourdough bread.

The portions in this recipe are for a winter side dish.

Recipe

  • 100 g fresh mixed spinach and rocket leaves
  • 1 bunch broccolini, steamed until just cooked
  • 1/2 sm red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 roasted capsicum, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 3 lg pieces sun-dried tomato, finely diced
  • 3 T toasted pepitas
  • handful of pecans, chopped
  • 50 g parmesan cheese, shaved

Mix all ingredients together.  Add salad dressing just before serving. Use just enough dressing to lightly coat the salad.

Salad Dressing

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t honey
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • salt, pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well.

Chicken and Rice Salad

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When the weather cools down, and especially at night, salads tend to lose their appeal in favour of more hearty warm dishes. The thought of crisp light cold lettuce just doesn’t grab you like it did on a hot summer night in January (or June depending on which hemisphere you are living in!).

This salad is a great blend of light and crisp, with warm and hearty mixed in.  This recipe serves 4.

Recipe

  • 300 g poached chicken breast, sliced thinly *
  • 3/4 red capsicum, roasted **
  • 4 c freshly cooked brown rice (works best if still warm)
  • 1 carrot, julienned and steamed til just cooked
  • handful snowpeas, blanched
  • handful continental parsley
  • 3 T good quality egg mayonnaise
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 10-12 pecans, cut into 3 lengthways
  • 3 T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 sm lettuce, torn

Divide lettuce amongst the plates to create a bed. Combine rice, capsicum, carrot, snow peas, mayonnaise, balsamic, parsley (reserving some for garnish) and basil in a bowl.  Divide rice mixture over the lettuce beds. Place chicken slices over the rice. Sprinkle pecans and pumpkin seeds over, and top with remaining parsley.

* Poaching brew

I poach about a 3/4 to 1 kg of chicken breasts as a time, so I can use for multiple meals.

  • 1 litre chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 t tumeric
  • 4-5 leaves fresh basil
  • 1/3 fresh red capsicum
  • 10-12 peppercorns

Place stock mixture over high heat.  Add chicken once it is close to a boil, turn heat down to simmer.  Cook until just cooked.  Chicken breasts are easily overcooked.  Leave in liquid until ready to use.  Can be poached a day ahead.  If doing so, slice chicken and then very gently reheat in a bit of the stock. Strain before adding to salad.

** Roasting capsicums

I do about 3 capsicums at a time.  Thinly coat roasting tray with olive oil.  Slice 3 cloves of garlic and spread over tray.  De-seed capsicum and cut each one lengthways into about 10-12 lengths. Roast on high heat until soft. If desired, remove skin once cool.