Sunday, November 28

Salad days, crafty ways............and a big hole in the ground

I have not posted for over a week, and now I have so much to share I shall have to do it in episodes, I don't want you feeling overwhelmed............or bored to tears. I had a great cooking class the other night, Salads for Supper, and want to share some of the recipes.

After a gray start the sun is shining today and I cant see a cloud out the window. If I listen carefully I can actually hear my zucchini growing, chuckling quietly to themselves "she loves us now, but wait a few weeks when we have grown like a triffid and worn her down....." to which of course I chuckle to myself and utter the immortal words "stuffed zucchini flowers". But we are not quite there yet.

Back to the salads, first up is a variation on quinoa and rice (remember, "keen-wa", not key-no-ah") I came up with last week and am rather pleased with. It uses two of my fav things, Pomegranate Molasses and eggplant (for another recipe using both of these see here ). It is really delicious, easy to make, and given how cheap eggplant are at the moment, really economical. If you live somewhere where eggplant are juts  dream right now, can I suggest pumpkin or sweet potato (kumara in this neck of the woods) as an alternative?

Quinoa and brown rice salad with eggplant, cucumber and walnuts

Ok I know it sounds a bit worthy, but it does taste yummy, honest. And it is super good for you. The hint of chilli on the eggplant, and the pomegranate molasses spark everything up nicely, and it looks pretty on the plate. This is lovely with the feta cheese, and also works really well with lamb fillet, dusted with cumin and salt then blasted on the grill or BBQ until crusty outside and pink within...

This makes enough for 4-6

1 cup quinoa (either red or white is fine)
1 cup brown rice
1 onion, sliced into crescents
1 large eggplant
½ tsp each of ground cumin, salt and chilli powder
Splash of olive oil
1 Lebanese cucumber sliced
Handful of cherry tomatoes
½ cup walnuts, toasted
Handful of chopped mint
Handful of chopped parsley
100 grams crumbled feta cheese


½ cup EV olive oil
2 tsp pomegranate molasses (or use honey and a squeeze of lemon)
1 tsp white vinegar (cider vinegar is nice here)
Salt and fresh black pepper

Bring two saucepans of salted water to the boil, and add the rice to one and the quinoa to the other. Boil until cooked but not mushy, the rice will take about 20 mins, the quinoa about 15 mins.

Drain both (no need to rinse) and spread out on a tray to cool. While they are cooking fry your onion in a little bit of oil until golden but not burnt. Set aside.
Add the oil to the cumin, salt and chilli and stir to combine. Chop the eggplant into bite size chunks, then mix with the spice and oil. Fry or grill the aubergine over a medium heat until cooked and golden, this will take about 10 mins.
Make your dressing by whisking all your ingredients together. Taste for seasoning. It should be sharp but with a hint of sweetness.

Tip your cooled rice and quinoa into a large bowl and add the cooked onion. Stir though the eggplant, cucumber, tomatoes, walnuts and herbs. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Check again for seasoning.
Tip onto a platter and sprinkle with the crumbled feta and more mint leaves.

This is just a base recipe, feel free to add or subtract ingredients as you wish. Some dried fruits such as apricots or figs could be added, maybe substituting the walnuts for pistachios.

This is a great salad to take to make in advance and take to a BBQ as it is robust and actually improves with sitting. If you do refrigerate make sure you take it out and bring to room temp before serving. Nothing tastes of much ice cold...........ok, except maybe champagne

The next salad I would like you to run immediately to the kitchen and make is courtesy of Nigella, and it is a fav in our house. Watermelon, feta, olives, lime..............what is not to love, and it can be thrown together in about 5 minutes. This is my go to salad when it gets really warm. With apologies to those of you ready somewhere chilly. If it is any consolation I already have a red nose (how festive!) and the bits of me that are not opaque white are turning pink or freckled .Thanks Dad, that red hair white freckled skin combo you shared with us is such a winner in the NZ sunshine.........

Watermelon and feta salad

1 red onion, peeled and cut into crescents (half moons)
2-4 limes, depending on juiciness
1 watermelon
100 grams Feta cheese
Handful of flat-leaf parsley
Handful of mint
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Handful of pitted black olives
Black pepper

Put the onion into a small bowl, and squeeze over the juice of the limes.
Remove the rind from the watermelon, and cut into bite sized chunks. Don’t be too precious about this, it is fine a bit rough. Tear the feta into smaller sized pieces and put them both into a large, wide shallow platter.
Tear off sprigs of parsley so that it is used like a salad leaf, rather than a garnish, and add to the bowl along with the mint.

Pour onions, along with their juices over the salad in a bowl, add the oil and olives, then using your hands toss the salad so that the feta and melon don’t fall apart. Add a grinding of black pepper and taste to see whether the dressing needs more lime.

I have also made this sprinkled with fresh red chilli, also very yummy if you like a little heat

In between cooking adventures I have also got my crafty hat on. I got up this morning to watch the All Blacks, I don't normally surface on a Sunday at 6am ( with apologies again, I am guessing those of you with kids reading this are used to getting up at 6am EVERY morning.......?) Anyway it is amazing how much more a girl can get done with extra hours in her weekend. I made an advent calender for two of my nephews while the footie was on, I think it is kind of cute

I got the idea from the December issue of Your Home and Garden, it is a goodie.

The little sandwich bags are filled with treats for the family . It started off with just the two boys, then I felt so bad about the sweets and chocolates (more accurately the EFFECT of the sweets and chocolate) that I included little bits & bobs for the whole whaneau.........the little pegs and ribbon are from Kikki-K , also a great spot for diaries and pens. Its like the first day of the new school year every time I walk in, stationery heaven....

If any of you were wondering how the garden/pizza oven/deck/massive hole in the ground is getting on (don't worry, I don't actually expect you have been pondering this...) here is an update. Pru is wondering what on earth we are doing to her outdoor WC, the neighbours are wondering if we are secretly putting in a pool, the kids down the back are desperately HOPING we are putting in a pool............and I am wondering how much of our hard earned dosh is disappearing into that hole. Will keep you posted.

In the meantime this is the evil eye I got this morning. How inscrutable are cats?


  1. The salads look perfect, I had quinoa salad last night with a bit of hapuka wrapped with parsley
    Pesto and pancetta with a good helping of gewurtz!

  2. Welcome back... thanks for the reminder about that watermelon salad. Perfect for a day like this... heaven!

  3. Yum! Was a fantastic cooking class. Must get round to giving the quinoa a go. Did do the the zucchini muffins today for brunch & mini ones for BBQ,,,they went down a treat.

  4. I love the envelope idea! I could see myself trying your quinoa salad. Where in the heck do you find pomegranate molassas?! I've never heard of such a thing.

  5. I really like the look of that quinoa salad. It's the type of thing you can have in the fridge and keep tucking into.

  6. Excellent salads - just wish we had some salad weather to go with them!!!

    Went to see the All Blacks last week - they are really fantastic footballers.

  7. Evil Dr Pru is simply thinking that she will now be using the zucchini patch as her new WC seen as you destroyed her old one. Mwa hahahahahah....

  8. Thanks for your comments everyone:)
    Merut Pom. Molasses is like a thick sweet/tart syrup,the best bet to find it would be a middle eastern store, or try using a mix of honey and maybe lemon/lime? Or Tamarind paste, which would also give that sourness, my local Indian shop sells that.
    Yep, Pru left a lovely fur ball/cat biscuit throw up on the duvet yesterday, EVIL indeed......

  9. I made your quinoa and brown rice salad tonight and had it with some grilled salmon - yuuuuuuuuuuuumm! I have some leftover for lunch tomorrow but I am njot sure if it will last that long ! I am new to your blog and loving it ! Great to get some new every day (but glam !)type recipes to try


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