Seven-minute​ recipe: carrot, lentil and mint salad

Carrot, lentil and mint salad

This yummy salad is easily made within my seven-minute time frame. In fact, tonight when I was making it so I could take the photos in this post, it only took 6 minutes and 15 seconds. Win!

Why seven-minute meals?

Seven minutes timeframe for these recipes was a length of time I picked at random, based on the amount of time it took to defrost the sort of microwave lasagne I was living on at the time.
The 7-minute timeframe gave me both a target and a release. Aiming to cook 7-minute meals gave me more freedom to experiment, if I stuffed up I would only have wasted 7 minutes and I could still order takeaway. Basing it on the time it took to microwave a frozen dinner helped set my expectations too. I want a meal that’s tastier than a frozen dinner, but I’m not aiming for cordon bleu. The great thing about cooking with fresh ingredients and whole foods is that I have found I often don’t need a tonne of fancy spices or elaborate preparations to make food taste great.

Continue reading “Seven-minute​ recipe: carrot, lentil and mint salad”

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Instantly marinate tofu with this easy hack for the lazy cook

Instantly marinated tofu triangles

Tofu is one of my staples.  But often when I am trying to cook quickly I don’t have time to properly press and marinate the tofu and it can ends up being really tasteless.

I’m rarely organised enough to prepare ahead of time or patient enough to wait an hour while my tofu marinates.  When you skip this step the tofu doesn’t have time to soak up the flavour of the marinade and so it can easily become tasteless.

Instead I slice the tofu thinly and spread marinade inside sandwiches of tofu. This sandwich traps the marinade into the tofu, so need for it to soak. Cooking on a sandwich press is not only quick, it also further squishes the flavour into the tofu.  Continue reading “Instantly marinate tofu with this easy hack for the lazy cook”

Perfect poached eggs in just 1 minute

One minute in the microwave is enough to make perfectly poached eggs, with oozy gooey yolks #yolkporn.

That could pretty much be this entire blog post.

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I have been messing about with quick cooking meals for nearly a year now and this is a revelation. A friend who works in a cafe told me that when they were rushed they used a shortcut to poach eggs. Some internet research tells me this is not a secret, there was a post about this on the kitchn back in 2010 and on bonappetit.com, but it’s new to me.

Every morning this week I have been having poached eggs for breakfast. Poached eggs + Sriracha sauce = ❤️. It’s fabulous and so quick that the slowest element of my breakfast was making a proper cup of tea.   Continue reading “Perfect poached eggs in just 1 minute”

Seven minute recipe: Beetroot and feta salad

Beetroot and feta salad

IMG_0482Winter is coming!

Daylight savings ended on Sunday and oh how I miss it.  I don’t mind getting up in the dark, but I miss having light in the evenings.  Today I had to spend ages fiddling around with the lights in the kitchen to take the photographs, because food under fluorescent light looks sad and unappetising. When I trialled this recipe it took just over 5 minutes, but today it took me nearly 8 because I spent so much time trying to position food under the LED lights not the fluros.

With daylight savings ending this weekend and rain today, it definitely felt like the seasons were changing.  A beetroot salad feels like a perfect autumn meal, root vegetables are a winter thing while salads are a summer thing.

I love beetroot and a beautiful roast beetroot salad is one of my favourite things to order at my local Mediterranean cafe. But I’ve never found the time to make something similar at home. I wanted a way to work the classic beetroot/feta combo into my life in a quick way.  Canned beetroot to the rescue.

Grilling the canned beetroot isn’t quite as tasty as roast beetroot, but it does add a caramelized taste which works well with the creamy feta.  As with all canned vegetables, it is essential to rise the beetroot well before grilling to get rid of the yucky juice they come in.  Canned beetroot also tends to be overly sweet, so don’t skimp on the salt, which is needed to balance the sweet.

Once again I used my sandwich press griller, George Foreman to the rescue. This could be done on the stovetop, but the ancient oven in my apartment would take 7 minutes just to get the grill plate hot.

Beetroot and feta salad

  • Servings: 2 people
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Ingredients

  • 1 small can of beetroot wedges
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 200gm feta
  • 1 small bag mixed salad leaves
  • 1/2 cup smoked almonds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • balsamic vinegar
  • lemon juice

Method

  1. Rise the beetroot wedges well and toss with salt, then add to grill
  2. Chop the broccoli into bite size florets and microwave for 3 minutes
  3. Crumble the feta
  4. Once the broccoli florets are done, remove the beetroot from the grill, add all ingredients to a salad bowl and toss together
  5. Dress with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a good squeeze of lemon.

Seven minute recipe: spicy mango salad

Summer is well and truly here in Australia and Melbourne in particular seems to being having more than its fair share of heat waves so soon into the start of 2016.  There is nothing worse than having to spend time in the kitchen on a hot day.  So to celebrate the season I am sharing a salad which can be made in minutes, today, even including time taking photos, I pulled it together in just over 6 minutes.

The inspiration for this recipe came while I was on a holiday in Sri Lanka in 2013.  At the beach in Colombo there were street stalls selling paper cups of sliced fresh fruit, which is one of those things that you are absolutely not supposed to eat while you are traveling, to avoid food poisoning.  However we got talking to one of the hawkers and he agreed to cut up a whole mango for us at the stall.  He was going to all this additional effort to make sure our fruit was clean and chatting away to us and I didn’t feel I could stop him when he started sprinkling chilli flakes and pepper onto our sliced mango.  Up to that point I had eaten mango chutney, but they mainly use green mangos, it never occurred to me that chilli would go with raw mango.  Of course it was delicious and when I got home I started adding spicy mango to more and more of my salads. The cruciferous vegetable taste and crunch of broccolini goes well with the sweet, juicy and spicy mango.

My family always cube mangoes the same way, chopping off the sides, scoring them and inverting the mango half.  I’m not actually convinced this method gives you the largest amount of mango cubes in the salad, but it does leave the beautiful flesh around the pip for dessert. And the inverted mango halves do look pretty

Spicy mango salad

  • Servings: side for 2
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Ingredients

  • 1 mango – well ripened
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • mixed salad greens
  • 1 desert spoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • caramelized balsamic dressing

 

Method

  • Chop the broccolini into 2 inch lengths and microwave for 3 minutes
  • Cut the mango into cubes, place in a bowl with the spices and toss together
  • Get the broccolini out of the microwave and allow to cool for 1 minute
  • Arrange everything on a salad plate and dress with additional chilli flakes and balsamic vinegar to taste.

A final note, I know I mentioned that I was going to make January healthy dessert month and there are yet to be any posts about desserts.  I haven’t given up.  I have been experimenting with lots of sweet treats but I still want to keep testing before I share anything.  I figure the world does not need another slightly modified avocado mousse recipe or instructions to make a slightly soggy microwave peach cobbler.  My trials and many errors have taught me a lot and I will share soon.

 

January is Healthy Dessert Month

I hope all those who celebrate had a happy Christmas and those who are vegetarian or vegan did not get too frustrated by relatives asking if they were sure they didn’t want any of the Christmas ham.

The new year is rapidly approaching and it’s always a good time to take stock of progress from the year before and what can be improved for the coming year.  I achieved my 2015 goal of becoming a better cook and bringing more fresh food into my eating and moving towards a plant based diet.  The recipes on this blog have been part of my journey working to fit healthy eating into a busy lifestyle.  I have found sharing them to be helpful for me and hopefully have been useful to those of you reading.

However I have missed making my weight loss goal for 2015 by a significant margin.  I have lost weight and the changes in my diet have left me with more energy and feeling healthier.  But I’m still significantly heavier than I should be and my weight loss has slowed right down.

My sweet tooth is the culprit here.  I love chocolate, I love cake and it’s not that rare for me to end up eating two slices of cake a day, or a brownie for afternoon tea and a bar of chocolate on the train home. Completely avoiding sugar works for a little while, until I get frustrated and end up eating an entire packet of Cadbury’s dairy milk.

Summer fruits are out in full force here in Australia, which has inspired me to set a healthy dessert challenge.  Every week in January I am going to be sharing my progress finding healthy desserts that can be made in 7 minutes.

Fruit

Not so much with the healthy, but here are some dessert ideas that can be made in under 7 minutes:

Do you have a go-to healthy dessert to satisfy sweet tooth cravings?

 

Seven minute tofu lettuce cups

I was going to make a video of this recipe, but the time I got home from work it was late and the sun was setting.  Without natural light in the kitchen, I had to turn on the fluorescent lights, which make the food look awful.  So no video today.

This is a fun dish to make and to eat. Plus it’s super tasty.  Sometimes, like tonight, I make it as a main meal.  But it’s also great as an entree, tasty, pretty looking and you eat it with your hands.  I have a few end of year get togethers planned and this is one of the dishes that I know I can pull together quickly and give myself more time with my guest and less in the kitchen.

#plantbased #lettucewraps with lettuce #frommygarden in my #sevenminutemeal tonigh

A post shared by Emma (@sevenminutevegetarian) on

spicy tofu lettuce cups

  • Servings: 5 lettuce cups
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Ingredients

  • 125 grams (4.5 ounces) firm tofu
  • 1 cup bean shoots
  • baby cos lettuce
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of vegetable stock
  • 1 clove garlic

Method

  1. Slice the tofu into 1cm thick slices and place into fry pan with a splash of oil
  2. Once the tofu is warm mash with a potato masher into mince size pieces
  3. Add a heaped teaspoon of veggie stock to the tofu and cook until it browns slightly, which should take 2 or 3 minutes.
  4. While the tofu is cooking chop the chilli into small pieces and add to the tofu
  5. Crush the garlic clove and add to the tofu
  6. Add the bean shoots and cook until warm
  7. Wash the lettuce leaves, pick 5 cup-shaped leaves and arrange on a serving plate
  8. Scoop the tofu mix into the lettuce cups and serve.

Experiments with gnocchi in 7 minutes

I had been wanting to see if I can make a 7 minute gnocchi recipe for ages.  I love gnocchi and it’s normally quick to make.  I have made Amuse Your Bouche’s toasted gnocchi salad a few times and it only takes 15 minutes to pull together.

The I discovered mini gnocchi at my local supermarket.  When trying to cook quickly, small is good.  I was sure that I could use these to make a gnocchi dish in 7 minutes.  Today I am sharing the trial and error process that goes into making a 7 minute recipe.

My experiments confirmed that toasted gnocchi salad in 7 minutes was not to be.  My stove top is electric and really slow to heat up, which did not help.  But even when I excluded the time spent waiting for the pan to warm up it still took longer than 7 minutes.  Melting butter and then toasting gnocchi takes at least 7 to 10 minutes.  There is no rushing that toasty goodness.

 

My next step was to trial making gnocchi in the microwave, the go to appliance for quick cooking.  I started off based on some of the recipes I had seen on the internet microwaving the mini gnocchi for 2 or 3 minutes. This was way too long for mini gnocchi.  I made a lot of batches of gluggy unappealing gnocchi.

Four batches later I think I have finally determined the best procedure for microwaving mini gnocchi.

  1. Put 1/2 a cup of water in the microwave and heat until boiling.  This takes 45 seconds in my microwave.
  2. Add a cup of dried mini gnocchi to the water and microwave for 40 seconds
  3. Remove and add straight to pasta sauce.  If you leave them sitting for any length of time they will become cold and gluey.

 

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The perfect microwave mini gnocchi

Unfortunately I used up all the mini gnocchi in testing, so I did not end up cooking a sauce to go with them.  Dinner tonight was trial batches of gnocchi with feta cheese and rocket.

I will go shopping again and buy more mini gnocchi to cook up and share in a full recipe.   I am thinking maybe with a cheese sauce like in Broccoli with cheese sauce recipe I shared recently.

Seven minute recipe: Kale tabouli

I'm going to call this 7 minutes
I’m going to call this 7 minutes

Here in Australia the weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer.  Which means there are more and more opportunities for picnics.   My new house in Melbourne is right next to a park and there are always people sitting outside enjoying the sunshine or playing cricket.  My walk to the train I walk past the Brunswick Mallet Sports Club, and this morning there were a group of women playing a game of crocket.  I really want to join this club, based on the group I saw this morning I would be 25 to 30 years younger than the youngest member, but it looks like so much fun.

I’m off to a picnic barbecue this afternoon and I wanted a salad that was quick to make and tasty to share with vegan, veggie and omnivore friends alike.  Kale tabouli ticks all the boxes, it’s a great side to go with veggie sausages and it’s filling enough that you don’t need a tonne of other things.

Kale tabouli

  • Servings: side for 4 people
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FullSizeRender 3Ingredients

  • 4 leaves of curly kale
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur

Method

  1. Boil water
  2. Put 1/2 cup bulgur in a heatproof bowl, add 3/4 cup boiling water and cover with a plate
  3. Remove the stems from the kale, chop and add to bowl
  4. Dice the tomato, sprinkle with salt and leave on chopping board to drain
  5. Add the juice from half the lemon to the kale
  6. Zest the lemon to create 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and add to kale
  7. Scoop the tomatoes up in your hands, leaving as much of the juice and seeds behind as possible, and add to the kale
  8. Add the bulgur and toss everything together

This recipe only uses about half a bunch of kale.  Kale will keep in the fridge for almost a week so pop it in a bag and save it for another meal.  If you are looking for inspiration for how to use that kale, check out the other seven minute recipes where I used kale:

Seven minute recipe: Mashed butter beans with asparagus and tomato salad

Tonights timing for this recipie
Tonights timing for this recipie

Wow, 2015 seems to be disappearing in a flash.  November is nearly here and with it comes NaNoWriMo, the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I have participated in NaNo every year since 2009 although I have only ‘won’ twice.  Mostly I do it for fun and I have made many great friends in this madcap writing community. It’s a great chance to stretch my creativity muscle and really focus on one project for a month.

That said, November is a particularly busy time of year for me and I always fall a little off the rails with basically everything that is not writing.  I will have to rely more than usual on my seven minute recipe collection.  I hope I can continue to add more recipes to this blog over November and share them with others who will be similarly strapped for time as the end of the year approaches.

IMG_0200I am about 80% settled into the new house, there are a few boxes of books and other odds and ends that remain packed in boxes, but everything I need day-to-day is now accessible.   I also found a beautiful fresh organic produce shop just 10 minutes walk away, which is where I bought the asparagus for this recipe.  Asparagus is really in season here at the moment and beautifully flavorful. The creamy butter bean mash is a great complement and I’ve added tomatoes to round out the fruit/veggie servings.  Butter-bean mash is one of my go-to sources of protein and because it can be made without the butter or milk you would add to mashed potatoes, this meal is vegan friendly.

Mashed butter beans with asparagus and tomato salad

  • Servings: 1 person
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 can butter beansFullSizeRender 2
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 desert spoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 chilli
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Drain the can of butter beans, rinse under the sink and add to a small frypan with the olive oil
  2. Crush the clove of garlic into the fry pan and stir into the beans
  3. Chop the asparagus lengths in half and put on the sandwich press to grill
  4. Remove the seeds from the chilli and chop
  5. Dice the tomato, then pop into a bowl with the chilli and a sprinkle of salt
  6. With a potato masher, mash the butter beans ( I like to leave mine a little rough and ‘country style’ but you can mash as smooth as you like)
  7. Spoon the mash into a bowl and top with the grilled asparagus and the tomato salad, add salt and pepper to taste.