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”

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: 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: 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.