Post-QLD detox

You may have gathered from my last post that most of the food I was eating in QLD was not very healthy (excluding the mangoes). It is actually very difficult to find healthy vegetarian food in rural Far North QLD. So since I have been back I have been on a bit of a healthy eating bender. Last night we had a Moroccan carrot salad with silverbeet-kale fritters (see below). Coming soon in the next few days: sumer vegetable hash with roasted cherry tomato chipotle sauce, home-made peanut butter-date-maple granola bars, and some details about the menu for my Christmas party.

IMG_0917

Silverbeet-kale fritters (makes 8 – serving 4-8 people but I think they will freeze well once cooked and they reheated nicely for my lunch today)

  • Four big handfuls of mixed greens (I used a combination of silverbeet and kale), washed and thinly sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • Approx 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 handfuls grated haloumi
  • 1 leek, sauteed
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Vegetable oil – 4 tablespoons

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. If you can make (very) loose patties, there is enough flour, otherwise add some more so there is a slightly paste-like quality to it. Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan on medium-high and gently place loosely formed handfuls of mixture in the oil (my pan fit about four patties in one go). You can squish and flatten the patties a bit to help them keep their shape but I found the egg held them together fairly well. When the bottom is golden, flip over and cook until golden on the other side. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with a wedge of lemon and the carrot salad (or in a burger as I will be trying next week!).

Moroccan carrot salad – only slightly adapted from Deb Perleman’s smittenkitchen.com http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/05/carrot-salad-with-harissa-feta-and-mint/

My only changes were that I used multicoloured carrots (which looked beautiful) and grated them finely in the food processor. I also doubled the dressing but had only1.5x the carrot and it was a fantastic level of spice and heat. Fantastic recipe that I will definitely be making again.

Update

So this post is not all that food-related but a bit of an update about what I’ve been doing up in Far North QLD plus some notable food experiences.

–       I went to a bull and bike show (kind of like a rodeo) and had a deliciously naughty sandwich. White bread, thickly buttered, stuffed with thick rich coleslaw and perfect chips. Plus a Coke. Not the healthiest dinner but it was fantastic. Image

–       I did well in my exams (first class honours), which I was really happy with! Had dinner out at a local pub which was tasty but at least 4 times what I actually could eat in one sitting.

–       I have been eating mangoes by the truckload. Mangoes are everywhere, especially on the ground. For someone from Melbourne who has paid $4 per mango it is amazing to see the volume of wasted fruit.

Image

–       I have eaten some wonderful egg salad sandwiches with freshly laid eggs (i.e. still warm from the chicken!)

–       The clinic I am at has been busy and I have gotten to do a lot – I have been doing heaps of procedures (suturing, injections, wound care, removal of stitches etc) and have been working quite independently in consultations.

–       This weekend I am making a tropical trifle with mango and pineapple for the clinic Christmas party; if it’s good I’ll post it up!

Spaghetti and Lentil-Eggplant-Ricotta “Meatballs”

IMG_0432

This recipe was inspired by Sara Forte’s (sproutedkitchen.com) Lentil ‘Meatballs’ with lemon pesto, which, while delicious, are quite hearty, and I was looking for something light that I could throw in with spaghetti. I find pasta is such an easy go-to meal on days I get home late from the hospital, but wanted to find a way to add a bit more (vegetarian) protein. This recipe takes a bit of time but makes a big batch which freezes well so you have heaps of ‘meatballs’ on hand that reheat easily in a bit of tomato sauce.

Lentil-Eggplant-Ricotta “Meatballs”

2.5 cups cooked lentils (I like Puy, but plain brown lentils would work here too)

1 large eggplant

1 small zucchini, grated

3 cloves garlic, diced

Pinch of dried chilli and dried oregano

250g ricotta cheese

3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

A couple of basil leaves, torn

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Cut the eggplant in half lengthways and score it in a criss-cross pattern deeply (but not piercing the skin). Rub with a generous amount of olive oil. Bake in the oven until the flesh is soft, around 45 mins. Scoop out the flesh and smash to a chunky paste.

Saute the grated zucchini with the garlic, a little olive oil and the dried chilli and oregano until the zucchini has softened.

Puree the lentils in a food processor (or mash by hand) leaving some a bit chunky.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season. Roll into balls about the size of a tablespoon. The mixture should be quite wet, but if it won’t form balls at all add some more breadcrumbs. Brush the tops of the balls with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until they have some colour.

When they have cooled use them in the dish below or freeze in snap locks for later use in spaghetti, meatball subs etc.

Spaghetti with Lentil-Eggplant-Ricotta ‘Meatballs’

This is not really a recipe but anyway:

Make a basic tomato sauce with garlic, dried oregano, passata and a splash of red wine vinegar; set aside. Cook spaghetti according to packet instructions. When nearly ready place your ‘meatballs’ in the tomato sauce to let them soak up some tomatoey goodness. Top the spaghetti with a couple of ‘meatballs’, as much sauce as you like and a generous grating of parmesan or pecorino. Add a couple of fresh basil leaves and a good sprinkle of black pepper to finish it off.

A not-so-veggie roast

I’m a vegetarian, but I live with a non-veggie so I like to cook meaty things for him every now and again. One Sunday a few weeks ago I did a big roast dinner to celebrate finishing exams that was good for vegos and meat eaters alike so I thought I would share it:

– Roast pork scotch fillet: simple roast pork with fennel seeds stuffed into slices in the crackling; cooked on high (220˚C) for 30 mins and then down low (around 160˚C) until cooked through (approx 1.5 hrs)

– The Best Kale Salad Ever from Smitten Kitchen. Make this, it will change your life. Raw Kale and delicious are not words that often go together, but this salad is truly something special. It is also delicious thrown in a pan with butter and leftover roast vegetables the next day as a bubble and squeak fry up. Make sure you make all the toppings.  http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/08/kale-salad-with-pecorino-and-walnuts/

– Fried potatoes and sweet potatoes. Cut into big chunks and parboil until nearly tender, then fry in vegetable oil until brown and crispy (be careful – the sugar in the sweet potato makes them brown very quickly). Sprinkle with celery salt if you have it.

– Homemade apple sauce – chuck a scored apple or two in with the pork in the last 45 mins- hour of cooking, then mash it up with some pork dripping at the end for an impromptu apple sauce.

– Other things: sauteed red cabbage, baby carrots roasted in foil with butter and thyme, and a little gravy

In other news, I finished my end of year exams for Medicine and will find out soon whether I did well or not. After all the months of studying it will be very disappointing if I don’t. I’m heading to QLD this weekend as part of a scholarship program to help out in a rural GP clinic which should be a blast (cannot wait for some better weather – Melbourne is horrid at the moment!)

IMG_2218 IMG_2219 IMG_2220 IMG_2221