Bringing a “plate” to my friend’s BBQ.

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My friend Kim hosted the second BBQ of the season on Sunday. She’s always a great host but has no confidence in the kitchen and can barely work her own oven, let alone sharpen a knife. Bearing this in mind, I was all too happy to bring a couple of salads along when she asked and took the opportunity to cook things that might be a bit higher in fat than I’d usually make. I made myself feel better about this with the knowledge that they were going to be shared around so, Alex and I wouldn’t be finishing them by ourselves.

Mixed Grain Salad
100g red quinoa, rinsed
100g white quinoa, rinsed
100g French green lentils, rinsed
100g pearl barley, rinsed
30g butter
2 cloves garlic. crusned
2 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
25g pumpkin seeds
25g sunflower seeds
25g chopped almonds
1/4 bunch mint
1/4 bunch parlsey
2 spring onions, sliced
Sherry dressing
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
120ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

For the mixed grain salad, place red and white quinoa in separate saucepans, cover with cold water to come about 1cm over quinoa. Cover and bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook lentils in a saucepan of water for 15 – 20 minutes until tender, then drain. Toast pearl barley in a dry frying pan until golden, then transfer to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until tender, then drain.

Melt butter in a small saucepan and when foaming add garlic, thyme, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds and cook until toasted. Remove from heat and cool. Coarsely chop mint and parsley. Combine grains, seeds and almonds in a bowl with chopped herbs.

For dressing, combine vinegar, sugar and oil in a small bowl and whisk well. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine. Garnish with spring onions.

Serves 6

Dinner

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Dinner

Along with the chicken I served Stuffed Eggplant with Black Bean Sauce and some steamed greens on the side. The eggplant is another Neil Perry recipe and absolutely stunning. I adjusted things a bit as they only had large eggplants at the supermarket and I can’t bring myself to deep-fry things while I’m trying to lose weight. I also omitted the cornflour which it didn’t really need.

I ended up roasting my larger stuffed eggplants for an hour at 180ºC under foil and then at 230ºC with no foil for 20 minutes to crisp up the meat a little. This was so delicious, much better than I ever expected. I strongly advise you to click on the pic for the recipe.

Dinner

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Dinner

Marinated Chicken Breast with Spicy Tomato Sauce. I adapted this from a Neil Perry recipe for barbequed wings as they had none at the supermarket and rain put a stop to my BBQ plans. Instead I marinated the breasts, seared them and put them in the oven. Still pretty tasty. As usual, I left out all the oil and only used a spray in the pan first. Click the pic for Neil’s recipe.

Saturday Brunch

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Saturday Brunch

I caught up with my friend Lwindi this morning for a spot of yoga followed by a bite to eat at the Little Bird Unbakery. It’s a new, completely raw, vegan and organic café in Ponsonby. Totally fab. My sprouted falafels were delicious as was my “Relax” tea. Can’t wait to go back and try more of their great menu.

Dinner

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Dinner

Frank Camorra’s Roast Carrot and Quinoa Salad. This was just what I needed last night. I absolutely loved it. As usual, I cut down on the fat by not dressing the rocket and only used a spray of extra virgin olive oil to dress the quinoa and roast the carrots and onion. Click the photo if you’d like the recipe. There’s also another nice salad using freekeh on the same page though it’s probably too high in fat for the diet I’m on.

Dinner

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Dinner

Tabouleh
140g bulgar
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed and diced
6 spring onions, chopped
1/2 big bunch parsley, stems and leaves chopped
1 small handful mint leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon depending on your taste
salt, pepper
spray of olive oil

Soak the bulgar in a bowl with enough water to cover for at least 1 hour. Squeeze out the excess water and add all the other ingredients, mixing well.

Serves 4

I served this with marinated chicken and it was really yum. A nice marinade could be a combo of chillies, thyme, garlic, crushed coriander seeds, crushed cumin seeds, crushed peppercorns, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Char-grilled lamb is also a good combo and you could marinate that for some extra flavour too.

Next time I might include a red or green chili in the tabouleh and maybe add some feta too. It’s also nice to serve with Greek yoghurt mixed with garlic, cucumber, salt, pepper, mint, parsley, dill and maybe a green chili in there too if you’re feeling up to it.

Dinner

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Dinner

Stavroula’s Stuffed Red Capsicums from Kylie Kwong’s book “It Tastes Better”. These tasted great, the filling was super yummy and tasted fab on its own. The tops get a little charred during the roasting process but the capsicums are juicy and really sweet. I used 1/2 cup brown rice instead of what she recommended to lessen the carbs and I don’t think the dish really needed all the rice she used anyway. As usual, a spray of olive oil was all I used on the peppers and filling to hold back on the fat.

I paired the capsicums with a rocket, mint, parsley, spring onion, cucumber, cherry tomato and feta (30g) salad with a few marjoram sprigs and a grind of pepper. It went really well.

Lunch

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Lunch

Late lunch today but it was really tasty. I made Karen Martini’s Spring Minestrone with Rocket and Basil Pesto. I had to modify the pesto quite a bit to reduce the fat. I used 50g basil, 50g rocket, 30g parsley, 30g pine nuts, 10g parmesan, 1 clove garlic, salt flakes, pepper and 2tbsp olive oil and then just a brief spray of olive oil in the pot before adding the veges. My trainer would kill me if I didn’t do this as I’m trying to lose a few kgs before summer. Click the photo for Karen’s recipe.

Lunch

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Lunch

A 15 minute run plus a Pump Class followed by Neil Perry’s Seared Salmon with Cucumber and Mint Salsa. I only used a couple of tbsp of olive oil for the salsa instead of the 100ml he suggested. I know it’s a good fat but there’s no need to go crazy. Click on the photo if you’d like the recipe.