Lentils for breakfast- welcome

Here is your invitation to sample beautiful recipes that are good for you, good for the planet and good to eat. They mainly feature plants, because that's what I try to eat the most. I am not a fancy cook, but I believe that food is one of our greatest pleasures and deserves to be celebrated. Real food, whole food, kind food. Welcome to the feast!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lunch to take to work: summer honey pumpkin salad

That's 2 hours work, sitting on my kitchen bench. I'll be glad for the effort at lunchtime tomorrow.

My daughter tagged this recipe (old school, with a Post-It on the page of a book).  It's from Wholefood by Jude Blereu, my go-to cookbook.

My daughter became a fully fledged vegetarian the night we went to see the hypnotic Jonathan Safran Foer talk about his book, Eating Animals, at the Sydney Opera House. Totally predictable.

Anyway, I fret about her protein intake, and the quality of her diet in general (when she's not at home, of course). So, she went through Wholefood and flagged the recipes that most appealed to her. The idea is she cooks them herself, introduces new recipes into the family repertoire and takes full responsibility for her vegetarianism.

But I can't wait for that and decided to try this one today.

Most salads taste best freshly made with fresh ingredients, which makes them tricky as make-ahead, lunch-in-the-office options. So, I've prepared the various components and will assemble them in the morning, and add the fragrant dressing at lunch time.

It's really promising at this pre-construction stage. Sweet and rich, with a clean splash from lime and a hint of danger from fresh chilli. Vegan, grain-free, nourishing and slow-carb. And, most of all, delicious.

But it took me a good couple of hours to make. Set aside some time and play some good music!

half a pumpkin, cut into chunks
1 tbs oil
2 tps honey
1 red pepper
I tbs oil
half a block of tempeh, sliced

1/4 cup sesame oil
3 tsp brown rice vinegar
3 tsp lime juice
1 tsp grated ginger (was flagging a bit by the peeling and grating ginger stage!)
generous handful coriander (leaves from about 10 sprigs)
1.5 tbs pear or apple juice concentrate
8 small mint leaves
1 small chilli

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix the pumpkin in a bowl with the oil (I used olive) and honey, then throw into a roasting tray and bake until soft. I tossed in some Dutch carrots because I had some left, and thought they would take well to the honey.

Heat the oil (I used sesame) in a fry-pan and fry the tempeh until lightly brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Dice into small cubes.

Grill the red pepper until the skin is black.

(I do this by laying some tin foil on the grilling tray and placing the pepper in quarters on top and sliding under the grill. Then, when the pepper is nicely charred, I wrap it up (carefully, with tongs) in the foil. Once the pieces are cool enough to handle, I peel off the skin. There are dozens of ways of doing this, so ignore me if you have your own method. Particularly if it's more efficient.)

Mix the dressing ingredients together until well combined and smelling divine. Pour into a glass jar for storage.

Jude makes this salad with avocado, rocket and marinated artichoke quarters. I'll add those ingredients on Monday morning when I put everything together in a container. Except the rocket. I couldn't find any, so I've steamed a huge bunch of cavalo nero to use instead.

And Jude suggests adding 1 tsp of roasted sesame oil and 3 kaffir lime leaves to the dressing. That sounds lovely, but I didn't want to buy some expensive ingredients that I don't usually use this time.

I love tempeh and eat it several times a week. I prefer it to tofu because it has a more hearty texture courtesy of whole soya beans. As they are retained (unlike tofu, which is more processed) tempeh contains all their nutrients. And that characteristic taste comes from the fact those beans are fermented.

We don't generally eat many fermented foods, but they are excellent for gut health as they introduce probiotics into the large intestine. This subject is worthy of an entire blog, so if you're interested I suggest you read what the ever-intelligent Mark from The Daily Apple has to say. He follows a Paleo diet and is highly respected within that community, but it does mean he offers a . . . particular perspective. Just saying.

 I doubt he approves of tempeh, but I think it's a handy, versatile and tasty source of plant protein. Jude suggests marinating it and then baking it to fully develop the flavour. I've tried this, but found it made it too rich for my taste. It can be overwhelming, but in this salad it's likely to be nutty and satisfying.

Yummy lunch tomorrow!

Tuna, chickpeas and broccoli salad with yoghurt dressing

The other salad I am going to enjoy at my desk this week is this beauty from Martha Rose Shulman at the NY Times. Sigh. Deeply envious of the food photography.

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