Soba Noodle Summer Salad

This salad is inspired by one of my amazing friends who always cooks the best aubergine dishes. Being from Morocco, she never fails to inspire me with her delicious and exotic combinations. And this one is no exception! The combination of grilled aubergine, mango + fresh coriander is wildly delicious and perfect for summer.

This recipe features soba noodles, which is one of my pantry staples. Originally from Japa, soba noodles are made from 100% buckwheat. Naturally gluten free, these noodles are earthy in taste and have a low GI (minimal impact on blood sugar), as well as a lower calorie and carbohydrate count compared to regular spaghetti, making it a delicious and healthy alternative to refined wheat varieties. They are rich in plant based protein, fibre, and amazing for the digestive system as they are full of prebiotic benefits, encouraging a healthy gut flora. Be mindful when purchasing buckwheat noodles though, and always read the ingredient list, as you’ll find that lots of brands claiming to be “buckwheat noodles” use primarily wheat (corn or rice) with only a small percentage of actual buckwheat! So look for soba noodles made from 100% buckwheat for the healthiest option.

Soba Noodle Summer Salad
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Recipe type: Main
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Serves: serves 2
Ingredients
  • 150 gm (5 oz) soba noodles
  • generous handful fresh coriander
  • handful fresh mint leaves
  • handful rocket leaves
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 small mango, cut into pieces
  • 1 aubergine, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F)
  2. Cut aubergine into medium sized pieces, brush with olive oil and place on a roasting tray. Bake until golden brown and soft (approximately 15 mins)
  3. Rinse soba noodles infold water and place in a pot with boiling water. Boil for about 5 minutes until soft. (do not salt the water as this can make the noodles more sticky). Once done, rinse the noodles in cool water and set aside in s strainer.
  4. Chop the herbs and mango and combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Once the aubergines are done, leave to cool for a few minutes before adding. Add the buckwheat noodles and dress the finished salad with fresh lime juice and salt + pepper before serving.

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Vegan Mexican Bonanza

Vegan Mexican Bonanza

This plant based “Mexican” meal is a family favourite in our house. I say “Mexican” because I really don’t know how to cook proper Mexican, but this is me trying, hoping the flavours are at least close to deserving of the title. Ha! More importantly, this is a meal packed full of nutritious vegetables + flavourful spices, and literally takes only minutes to prepare and make. It’s great served for family dinners where everyone sits down together and assemble their own wraps and dig into the toppings. And even for casual evenings, this is always a great last minute meal idea that is both easy and healthy.

We love using lettuce leaves in place of wraps. However, the filling is also great used in tortilla wraps, topped with salsa and then baked for a vegan fajita-like meal. But the beauty of it is that you can serve it however you prefer, and top off with your personal favourite toppings. For the kids, I usually serve it in bowls mixed with brown rice, which is a great way to ‘hide’ the guacamole. They don’t normally like the look of avocado, so whatever works, right?! I love seeing them eat avocado, and always feel super smug when I manage to sneak it into their dinner without them knowing. And a couple of crushed corn chips on top always helps too.

Vegan Mexican Bonanza

Vegan Mexican Bonanza
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Recipe type: Main
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Serves: serves 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 3 bell peppers cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 cup corn (I used frozen)
  • large handful fresh coriander
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed + drained
  • Romaine lettuce leaves (in place of wraps)
Topping suggestions
  • Avocado or guacamole
  • Tomato salsa
  • Green salad
  • Brown/black rice
  • Fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. On a hot pan, sauté onions in the oil for a few minutes until soft and translucent. Add garlic and give it a quick stir.
  2. Add chopped bell peppers + all the spices and leave to cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes or so until the bell peppers soften.
  3. Add corn + black beans and stir. After a couple of minutes, and once the beans are hot, add coriander and any extra spices, if needed. Give it thorough stir and remove from the stove.
  4. Serve the filling warm in either in romaine lettuce "wraps" (or wrap of your choice) and top with your favourite toppings, such as guacamole, rice, salsa & leafy greens.

 

Vegan Mexican Bonanza

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Exotic Curry Quinoa Salad

Exotic Curry Quinoa Salad

When in doubt, quinoa salad! A big fresh bowl of chopped veggies mixed with fluffy quinoa and a good dressing is, as all my friends can testify, one of my favourite to-go dishes for entertaining, potlucks, picnics & barbeques. You just can’t go wrong. It is filling, completely plant based and bursting with amazing nutrition. And if you’re not a fan of quinoa, you can easily substitute it for other grains, such as couscous, millet, buckwheat or brown/black rice. My preference for quinoa stems from the fact that it, compared to other grains, has a higher protein content (8 gm per cup) while also packing a good amount of fibre, and it’s gluten free. And I love the taste and texture – but cooking it right to get it perfectly fluffy is essential! (see instructions below!).

The curry powder and sweet raisins give this salad a great middle eastern twist and reminds me of exotic holidays. The best thing is that you can ‘dress it up’ by adding pomegranate seeds, hummus, falafels & tahini dressing…  or whatever strikes your fancy!

Exotic Curry Quinoa Salad

Exotic Curry Quinoa Salad
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Recipe type: salad
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Serves: serves 2-3
Ingredients
Quinoa
  • 240 ml (1 cup) uncooked quinoa, rinsed + drained
  • 480 ml (2 cups) water
  • small handful (about ¼ cup) raisins
  • ½ large butternut squash (sweet potato works as well)
  • large handful fresh coriander, chopped (25 gm)
  • small handful fresh mint, chopped (10 gm)
  • 2 tsp curry powder (I used a medium spicy one. If you have very spicy, use less)
  • salt + pepper
Tahini Dressing
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) fresh lemon juice
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) water - or more, depending on how thin you like it
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • salt + pepper to taste
Toppings: toasted walnuts, pomegranate seeds, hummus, falafel, tahini dressing, rocket leaves
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 170C
  2. Bring water to a boil in a pot. Once boiling, add uncooked quinoa and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat and set a timer for 10 minutes.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, peel and cut the butternut squash into pieces, drizzle with a bit of oil, salt + pepper and roast in the oven until soft (about 10-15 mins depending on how large the pieces are).
  4. After 10 minutes of cooking your quinoa, most of the water should be close to gone and the quinoa beginning to soften. Once the water is gone (but not sticking to the bottom of the pot), turn off the heat, add curry powder and raisins, give it a quick stir, and put a lid on the pot. Leave the pot to sit and steam for 15-20 mins while you prep the rest of the salad.
  5. Whisk together all dressing ingredients and add more lemon or salt + pepper if needed.
  6. Once the butternut squash is done, remove from oven and leave to cool while you chop the fresh herbs.
  7. lift the lid off the quinoa and as you stir with a spoon you should have a light and fluffy, perfectly cooked quinoa.
  8. Add the quinoa, roasted squash + fresh herbs to a large bowl and combine well.
  9. Serve on a bed of rocket/spinach and top with pomegranates, walnuts and tahini dressing or your toppings of choice.

 

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