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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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”

Ten minute snack: egg in a hole grilled cheese

IMG_0394I was talking with a friend recently about this blog and she wasn’t sure that there were healthy meals that would be faster to make than her go to lazy meal: grilled cheese.  Grilled cheese sounds so easy while something like a Mediterranean zucchini ribbon salad sounds complicated and like it would take a while to make.

I decided to time making my favourite grilled cheese, egg in a hole grilled cheese.  It took over ten minutes for me to pull together this sandwich.  So I hope this goes some way to proving my point that if you have time to make grilled cheese you have time to make a healthy meal.

So much of what we think about food and cooking is determined by culture.  Culturally grilled cheese is a quick meal for lazy days and so it feels like it will be easy and quick to cook.  In fact, making this sandwich took longer and included more steps than many of the recipes I have posted before.  For example my Cucumber salad with tahini dressing only 5 steps and can easily made in 7 minutes.   *end rant*

This recipe is not really in keeping with the spirit of this blog, it takes ten minutes to cook and it contains no vegetables.  However I used to make this all the time and it took me a while to perfect the timings for each step.  None of the recipes I found online had the perfect timing to produce a runny yolk, with a properly cooked egg white and nicely melted cheese, so I thought this would be worth sharing with you.

I use rye bread because it’s a little more substantial and the taste goes so well with melted cheesy goodness.

Egg in a hole grilled cheese

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Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 2 slices cheese
  • Salsa to taste
  • 2 teaspoons butter or margarine

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a small frying pan
  2. Place a slice of rye bread on a chopping board and press into it with a small glass, cutting a hole from the center of the slice
  3. Once the butter is melted add the bread to the fry pan
  4. After 30 seconds or so of the bread toasting, crack the egg into the hole in the bread.
  5. Let the egg fry for 2 minutes
  6. Cover the egg with a slice of cheese
  7. Spread salsa over the slice of cheese and cover with a second slice of bread
  8. After another 1 minute flip the sandwich, leaving the whole slice of bread on the bottom.
  9. Top with another slice of cheese.  Once the slice of cheese on top is just melted the sandwich is done

 

 

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.

Seven minute recipe: Fennel and sweet potato salad with lemon

IMG_0187I am still trying to find my way around my new kitchen and I am blaming the kitchen for the fact I ran almost a minute and a half over the seven minute timeframe today.  Really it’s my own fault, one of the tricks to cooking quickly is to be prepared. I usually have everything I am going to need to cook the meal sitting out on the bench top before I begin. Instead today I was scrambling about for a chopping board and a grater part way thought cooking.

Additionally, I chopped my sweet potato way too thick, so it took longer to cook.  Some of the pieces where almost 1cm thick when they should have been a third of that.  Quick cooking like this on the sandwich press not only requires all the pieces to be thin, but also largely the same size.  Using one of those fancy mandolin slicers would be ideal, but additional kitchen equipment is not in the budget until I have recovered from the move.

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The sweet starchy flavour of sweet potatoes also balances out the fennel in this salad, so I have not included a dressing, just a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.   As a kid the aniseed-y taste of fennel really put me off, but I have since learned that taste can be great if its not too overpowering, fennel grilled and with lemon fennel tastes delicious.

Fennel and sweet potato salad with lemon

  • Servings: meal for one or side for two
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Ingredients

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 2 inches of sweet potato
  • Lemon (1/2 teaspoon zest and for juice)
  • Mixed salad greens
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Chop off the green stalks of the fennel and the base, then slice into sections approximately 1/2 cm thick and place on one half of the sandwich press to grill
  2. Chop the sweet potato into thin slices (1/3 cm ideally) keeping the slices as even as possible, add to the other half of the sandwich press to grill.
  3. Put mixed salad greens on a serving platter and zest a lemon over the top
  4. Squeeze half the lemon over the fennel on the sandwich press
  5. After 4 minutes or so,  the veggies should be looking nicely grilled and should be soft when poked with a fork.  Once there done, grab them off the grill and add to the platter.
  6. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and the juice of the other half of the lemon

I make a lot of meals using the sandwich press to grill food quickly, for example check out my Warm chickpea and tomato salad or follow this blog to get emailed more tasty meals to cook in seven minutes.

Seven minute recipe: tomato couscous salad with chia seeds

This photo shows about 80% of the bench space in my new kitchen
This photo shows about 80% of the bench space in my new kitchen

I’m mid-unpacking at my new house.  The good news is that all my furniture and boxes made it here and nothing appears to be broken.  The bad news is my new kitchen has hardly any bench space.  When I inspected the place before, the people who lived here before me had a sideboard bench or something to create more useful surface space and now all that’s left is lots of floor space and about 60cm of useful bench space.  I will have to buy a table or something to go in this space, but for now I am going to be cooking recipes which require minimal bench space.

Today I am sharing a super quick tomato salad I pulled together while I was unpacking.  I added chia seeds for extra protein and because I like the crunch with couscous.

The critical thing when using tomatoes like this is to make sure to drain the tomato liquid out.  Chefs and cooks with lots of time deseed tomatoes when making bruschetta and salads like this.  I don’t have the time or the patience for that, but I want to share a technique to drain as much of the liquid out as possible. I place my diced tomatoes in a colander with some salt.  Then I leave the colander over the sink to drain for a few minutes before giving the tomatoes a good toss, trying to leave any seed-y liquid-y tomato bits behind in the colander.

Tomato couscous salad with chia seeds

  • Servings: 1 person
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Ingredients

  • 2 large vine ripened tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons couscous
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • mixed salad greens
  • a handful of basil
  • sea-salt
  • a pinch of powered vegetable stock

Method

  1. Boil water (remember the kettle will boil quicker if you fill the kettle to the minimum possible level, for my kettle this is about 1.5 to 2 cups, which is plenty of water for this recipe)
  2. Add the vegetable stock powder, the couscous and the chia seeds to a bowl and cover with water, covering the dry ingredients with 1cm of water, then cover the bowl with a plate to trap the steam from the water
  3. Roughly chop the tomatoes
  4. Place the tomatoes and half a teaspoon of salt in a colander and stir well, sit over the sink to drain
  5. Chop the basil and add to the tomatoes
  6. Check that all of the water has been absorbed by the couscous mixture, stir in a drizzle of olive oil.
  7. Serve with the mixed salad greens and a drizzle of red wine vinegar or salad dressing of your choice

Edit: an earlier version of this post included the unmodified quantities for making a family size serving of couscous, I’ve now corrected the quantities for a single serve salad.

Seven minute recipe: Cucumber salad with tahini dressing

This is one of the fastest meals I know how to cook, as well as being both tasty and healthy.  I have trialled making a video, which was super awkward.  As you will see, if you watch the video, when I say it’s a seven minute recipe that includes time for forgetting where I put something and my somewhat awkward chopping techniques, so seven minutes for the ordinary cook rather than a professional (prepared) chef.

Cucumber salad with tahini dressing

  • Servings: 1 - 2 people
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Ingredients

  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • kale
  • 1 desert spoon tahini
  • 2 desert spoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 can chickpeas

Method

  1. Slice cucumber
  2. Roughly chop kale
  3. In a bowl mix tahini, lemon juice and garlic, then add a desert spoon or so of warm water.  If the dressing is still sticky add more warm water until it is a suitable consistency.
  4. Open a can of chickpeas and rinse in cold water
  5. Add all ingredients to bowl, toss and drizzle with dressing

Video

This is my first video and I’m really adding it as proof of how easy and quick this recipe is to make.   There are no techniques that need to be demonstrated, as tricky as it gets is stirring things in a bowl, so it’s certainly not essential watching.

Seven minute recipe: Broccoli with blue cheese sauce

Making white sauce from scratch may not sound like the sort of thing that belongs in a seven minute recipe, but it really is almost as easy as warming up sauce in a jar.  This cheesy sauce isn’t a health food, but a small amount over veggies makes for a yummy and balanced meal.  This recipe uses the sauce in a broccoli salad, it also goes great with cauliflower or you could use substitute any veggies you want.

Broccoli with blue cheese sauce

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Ingredients

  • 1 heaped teaspoon butter
  • 1 desert spoon plain flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 100 grams blue cheese
  • 1 head broccoli
  • mixed salad greens

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a small frypan
  2. While you are waiting for the butter to melt, chop the broccoli into small florets and place in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  3. Once the butter is completely melted, add the flour and stir into a paste, proceed immediately to step 3 (the goal is not to let the butter paste cook for too long).
  4. Add 1/3 cup of the milk a small amount at a time stirring continuously into the butter paste.
  5. Once the sauce begins to thicken add the remaining milk slowly while stirring continuously
  6. Chop the rind off the blue cheese, chop into small chunks and add to the white sauce.  If you like a stronger blue flavour you can leave more of the rind, although your sauce may be a little chunky.
  7. Stir the blue cheese though the white sauce
  8. Remove the broccoli from the microwave container and pat dry
  9. Place the salad greens and broccoli in a bowl and top with the cheese sauce
  10. Add pepper to taste.

Seven minute recipe: grilled carrot salad with sweet potato and kale

This recipe is another meal which features cooking in a sandwich press, which I love because it’s so much quicker and easier to clean than a grill.  The carrots in this recipe are unpeeled because I like the taste and of course it’s quicker.  You could of course peel the carrots, but you miss out on all nutrients near the surface of the carrot and the recipe will probably take longer than 7 minutes unless you are a ninja with a veggie peeler.

Grilled carrot salad with sweet potato and kale

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Ingredients

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 inches or so from a medium sized sweet potato
  • Curley kale
  • 1/3rd of a cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 desert spoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 desert spoon honey
  • 1 desert spoon chilli flakes
  • sea-salt to taste
  • cooking oil spray

Method

  1. To chop the carrots, first cut off the top and bottom, then cut a thin (1/8 inch) slice off one side.  Place the carrot with side you just cut facing down and chop the rest of the carrot into 1/8 inch widths.
  2. Spray some cooking oil on the sandwich press then add the carrots, top with another spray of oil and a sprinkle of sea-salt then close the press.
  3. Peel the sweet potato, cut into 1/8 inch slices and add to the sandwich press with the carrots.
  4. Chop the kale and put in a serving bowl.
  5. In a jar add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and chilli flakes and shake well
  6. After 4 minutes your carrots should have developed nice grill marks and be nice and soft, pull off the sandwich press and add to the serving bowl and top with the dressing.
  7.  Top with a good sprinkle of sea-salt and serve.

Clean Up

This recipe gets four stars for ease of clean up, you have to wipe down the sandwich press, but there is just the serving bowl and the chopping board to wash.

Warm chickpea and tomato salad

A healthy salad in under 7 minutes
A healthy salad in under 7 minutes

This recipe is one of my go to meals, it’s really tasty and easily made well within the 7 minute timeframe.  There is something about a warm salad that is much more satisfying than a cold version and being packed full of veggies and protein from the chickpeas this salad is plenty filling.  The directions below will make one large salad or two smaller lunch size serves.
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I use a sandwich press to grill the cherry tomatoes because in my experience it’s quicker, but that’s partly because my cooktop takes forever to heat up, feel free to use a grill pan on the cooktop if that’s what’s easier.

Warm chickpea and tomato salad

  • Servings: 1-2
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Ingredients

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 carton cherry tomatoes
  • 300g can of chickpeas
  • 1 lemon
  • garlic infused olive oil

Method

  1. Place the cherry tomatoes on a sandwich press and set to grill
  2. Cut the broccoli into small florets and place in a microwave safe container with the lemon zest and a small splash of water.  Microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds
  3. Open the can of chickpeas and rinse under running water until all of the bubbles disappear
  4. Drain the broccoli and add the chickpeas, a splash of olive oil and a good pinch of salt.  Microwave for 1 additional minute.
  5. Get the tomatoes off the sandwich press and rest while the other ingredients finish cooking (I hate biting into a boiling hot grilled tomato and getting an explosion of hot liquid in my mouth).
  6. Mix everything together and top with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Clean-up

This recipe only gets two stars for ease of clean up, because you have to clean the sandwich press.