Sunshine, soup and some laughter.

This week I am greatly grateful to the loved ones in my life. Friends, family, the other half, clients and gorgeous puppies alike have made a rather frustrating, pain filled week one full of laughter, hugs, home cooked meals and spontaneous dancing. I am so grateful for the strength you have given me. Its a long time lesson I have learnt to let down barriers and let people in. What a gift I have given myself to have learnt that lesson. For those of you out there that also struggle with this .. I encourage you to let the sunshine in.

Now a little bit less ‘hippy heavy’… with spring (and sunshine !) now here my mind just keeps wondering to one thing … summer tomatoes. As a gardener and plant-based loving foodie they are literally the highlight of my year … Not to mention the health benefits. Tomatoes are full of vitamins like B6, C, K,and potassium. They even have some muscle loving magnesium too ! The phytonutrients in tomatoes have been linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancer. So definitely a perfect fruit/veg to enjoy.

Sadly, these days I cannot eat tomatoes everyday … my poor tummy and joints don’t allow that much nightshade in my diet (much to my reluctant realisation). Yet of course they are my favourite. Nothing beats a home grown summer tomato … honestly my living in Italy has spoilt me for life !

Here in Australia though we are lucky .. even in the spring you can get a decent tomato … all be it a little more pricey .. and yes it pays to be picky. I always keep them on the window sill to ripen even further in the sun … and whether in my mind or not, I am sure they taste better for it. This soup though has been born from a favourite in possibly the most used cookbook I own (Green Kitchen Stories), a lot of experimentation and a very desperate me to put the taste of summer in a still hearty spring soup !

The real key this spring soup is to have those early tomatoes nice and ripe ( I go for the smaller ones and organic where possible) , paired with the best of late winters’ cauliflowers and you are still meeting your seasonal needs … !! I think this one would also work well in early autumn to use up that last load of less than pretty tomatoes and early season cauliflower. Either way it is delicious, easy and relatively budget friendly. Whilst being gluten free, dairy free and vegan and having a decent hit of protein. Who said eating well had to be boring ?!

Spring Roasted Tomato, Chickpea and Cauliflower Soup

Tomato, cauliflower and chickpea soup

Ingredients

1 kg ripe tomatoes, halved
1/2 cauliflower, cut in to small florets
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 heaped tsp of smoked paprika
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with a knife
2 tbsp olive oil
5 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves picked
Large Handful of Basil, Leaves picked and stalks chopped
1 tbsp and apsv 1/2 lemon juiced
1 can of cherry/roma tomatoes (best quality you can afford )
Chilli infused  olive oil (optional)
2-3 cups of water.
Himalayan Salt and Pepper.

Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (400 Fahrenheit/gas mark 6)
Add cauliflower, tomatoes, chickpeas, garlic, basil stalks, oregano and garlic. Season and toss well with olive oil.
Pop in oven for an hour or until tomatoes and cauliflower are blistered.
Add can of tomatoes, apsv and then blitz in food processor until smooth. Add in water until desired consistency.
Freeze, refrigerate or gently heat with half the reserved basil. Taste and Season.
Serve with reserved basil, chilli oil and sourdough smeared in a good butter or smashed avocado. Yum !

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Early Spring Curry Bowl

Oh gosh it is Spring here … I literally did a little dance when I woke up on the 1st of September. The nights are already lighter, the few degree temperature drop is a blessing, and things are blossoming everywhere. It is time to really get in to the garden too .. and literally nothing makes me happier or more excited ( ok except for maybe being in the kitchen .. ) !

This following recipe is a result of harvesting almost the last of my winter vegetables … and quite honestly I am very proud of my amazing Kale and Cauliflower crop this year. Totally Pesticide free ( planted it with garlic and hand picked any of those hungry caterpillars ) and just beautiful looking too. Not to mention they taste amazing too ! There is nothing quite like eating your own homegrown veggies. Of Course buying from your local farmers market, wholesale store or organic place will result in an equally nutritious meal .. but I encourage you to get in to the garden this spring. There is nothing more satisfying than cooking and eating your own produce ! Why not check out the Little Veggie Patch site ? Their books and monthly newsletter have certainly have caused my love for the garden to blossom .. couldn’t help the pun !

So, back to the food ! I’ve been experimenting a lot with some fantastic homemade curries this winter. Most of them have been made from scratch, with home ground spices and hours over the stove top in the warm kitchen … perfect for winter afternoons. Whilst I am definitely not new to Indian flavours the experience from making these delicious nourishing dahl and curries has almost been as healing as the finished product. My desire to travel through India and Sri Lanka, it is safe to say, has tripled. Top that with my experimenting in Aruyvedic diets and treatments ( and getting some success in them too ) and I am an advocate for cooking in ghee and adding fresh ginger and turmeric to everything in site ! Not only is it delicious but I’ve been cold and flu free all season.

This particular curry bowl is a  definite transition in to spring, a little lighter and perfect for those still chilly nights. A  antastic homemade vegan curry, that is not only super easy and will freeze like a dream, but is loaded with alkalising, potassium rich and digestive friendly vegetables and spices.  Paired with some delicious sautéed ginger greens, brown rice and some homemade raita .. your body will thank you for it .. and so will your wallet. Thats right this is one uses super budget friendly superfoods and pantry/fridge staples !!

Early Spring Curry Bowl

As always with this recipe I have went homemade and organic where possible and most affordable. I recommend making the curry on a Sunday ( or your food prep day ) and enjoying with the extras through out the week. As with almost any curry it improves with time ! See notes at the bottom for extra protein variations and if you want to keep it entirely vegan.

Pumpkin, Kale and Cauliflower Curry
( Serves 6-8 … plenty for freezing !! )

600gm Pumpkin, cut in to bite size pieces
500gm Cauliflower, cut in to florets
1 Bunch Kale, stem removed and chopped
2 Carrots, cut in to bite size pieces
2 Onions, halved and thinly sliced.
1 cup Frozen Peas

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp fresh grated turmeric (or 2 tbsp
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp good quality curry powder/mix ( or use your own fav mix )

1 can 400gm chopped tomatoes
2 chopped fresh tomatoes
270ml Coconut milk ( must be full fat )
1 cup vegetable stock with 1 tbsp asv added
Himalayan Salt
Bunch of Coriander, leaves picked ( freeze the roots for use in curry pastes )

Heat oil and ghee in a large pot and add onions and a little salt. Sauté on a medium heat until golden and translucent. Add ginger and turmeric and sauté for a further 3-5 minutes. Add curry powder and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. don’t burn those spices !

Add all chopped pumpkin, cauliflower and carrot and give a good stir. Add in chopped and tinned tomatoes, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, adding kale 20 minutes in.

Add peas and cook for a further 10 minutes. Take off heat and miix in coriander leaves, reserving a few for serving.

Sautéed Ginger Greens

2 Handfuls of green beans
1 packed cup of baby spinach
1 tbsp ghee
2 inch pice of ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lemon, half zest grated and juice
Himalayan Salt and Pepper

Place green beans in a bowl and fill with boiled water. Cover and leave.
Add ghee to pan, once melted add garlic, ginger and lemon zest. Allow to gently cook for 1-2 minutes.
Drain green beans and add to pan. Once warmed and cooked but still crisp add spinach. Stir and take off heat.
Add lemon Juice, salt and pepper.

Serve Curry with ginger greens, steamed brown rice, coriander leaves and homemade raita/chutneys either in a big comfortable bowl or as a fun Indian platter.

Variations

For a higher protein meal add red lentils with pumpkin and carrot.
To keep it entirely vegan make a vegan raita with shredded cucumber, shredded coconut, mint, lemon, a good drizzle of olive oil and salt an pepper.

Spring Envy and Seafood Cravings.

Autumn has truly arrived in Adelaide … and despite my normally loving this time of year, I am not ready for it ! The clocks went back one week ago and I am not in to the dark nights; the weather has been broody … and half of Adelaide with it ! A late Easter isn’t helping me in get in to the cooler weather either; despite having spent many of my years now in the Southern Hemisphere I long to see buds on trees, lambs in the fields and hoards of roadside daffodils at this time of year. Besides that, Sam and I have spent the last two Easters in the Northern Hemisphere .. so it just all feels a little odd ! I have a serious case of Spring envy … thanks Pinterest ! Just a few more sunny alfresco Sundays Adelaide and then I promise to dust of the knitting needles, pop on the slow cooker and settle down with a nice cup of Chai !

So it is the 12th April today .. and not only does that mean we are finally getting our Irish on in the way of seeing Mrs Brown’s Boys tonight ( it has only been an 11 month wait ! ), it also means we are more than half way through our vegetarian challenge. Thus far I have not slipped … though I cannot stop thinking about my pan roasted Salmon, or tuna salad … or stir fried prawns (you get the idea! Sam has had one set back in the way of lamb skewers at a friends b’day bash last week  … but he managed to say no to his Mum’s roast lamb and gobble up the quinoa salad instead .. so I’m pretty proud ! I am all over the fritter bandwagon and will shortly do a post on just that .. but we have some exciting soups, like GK Stories Roast Tomato and chickpea ( add some chilli flakes and fennel to the mix – you will thank me ), baked mushrooms with spicy fries, quinoa salads … and seriously a large jar of Broccoli pesto made a solid 5 days of meals that more special. This week is going to be all about the veg curries .. and boy am I looking forward to it ! Recipes to come !

Two stand out things I have learnt … vegetarians need to be super organised if they want to not consist on a diet of cheese and eggs … and surprisingly Adelaide does not have an abundance of vegetarian restaurants ! Sure we have a few vego friendly … but if you want to find something more inspiring than the filo filled pastry or pasta dish you have to look hard .. I highly suspect it could get rather boring. It being date night last night Sam and I thus happened on our old-time fave GoodLife on Hutt St.. where their kale, porcini and taleggio special made my eyes light up .. as did their roast veg. Despite it being a bit of a wheat and dairy overload for me the all organic produce seems to even the playing field. YUM 🙂  Seriously though if Adelaide’s full-time vegetarians want a bit of excitement and not survive on pizza and pasta it seems they need to head for the central markets in the way of Bliss Cafe or Let them Eat … or Sam’s lunchtime saviour Veggie Velo.  A lot more clean eating friendly just not very romantic however …

Thus next few days will be gardening .. gotta get that garlic in. Scouring my new Darling Lemon Thyme book and venturing to the Farmer’s Market to get some veg for the coming week. Hope to get a few more photos and recipes up here in the coming week also. Till then …

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside that is greater than any obstacle.” Christian D Larson