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.

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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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  • 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


  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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  • 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



  • 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.


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

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spicy tofu lettuce cups

  • Servings: 5 lettuce cups
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  • 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


  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.

Seven minute recipe: Mediterranean zucchini ribbon salad

  I’m not sure this recipe deserves the 7 minute tag line, because it took me nearly 8 minutes to make tonight and last time it was at least that. My downfall is the pomegranate. I love them, but they’re so awkward to use. I spent a least a minute and a half tonight trying to seperate pomegranate seeds from the bitter pith stuff they are surrounded by. In the prep for this recipe I Googled how to peel a pomegranate, I couldn’t make this method work. Does anyone else know one that does? 

One of my favourite memories of my time in Croatia and Greece was being able to pick pomegranates from the trees. So when I saw beautiful pomegranates in my local fruit shop this week, I knew I need to make another Mediterranean salad. Couscous is. Mediterranean staple as is zucchini and the pine nuts add some healthy fats. 

Now I’m off to scub pomegranate juice spray off my kitchen tiles. 

Mediterranean zucchini ribbon salad



  • 1/2 pomegranate 
  • 1 zucchini 
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1/2 lemon to juice
  • 100gm pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • A pinch of veggie stock powder
  • A pinch of sea salt


  1. Pop the kettle on to boil with a small amount of water (no more than 2 cups, remember the more water the longer it takes to boil) 
  2. Put the pine nuts in a dry frypan on a medium heat. You will need to remember to shake them occasionally, so I recommend doing the following steps somewhere close by if possible. 
  3. Once the kettle has boiled add the couscous and the veggie stocks to a heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water, 1cm deeper than the couscous. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to one side. 
  4. Using a veggie peeler, slice the zucchini into ribbons, leaving the seedy-core bit (this is the most time consuming bit, but don’t forget to keep an eye on your pine nuts.)  
  5. Add the ribbons, salt and the juice of 1/2 a lemon to the bowl.
  6. Chop the spring onions
  7. Slice open the pomegranate and extract the seeds
  8. Toss everything together in a salad bowl

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


  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: 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.

FullSizeRender 2

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


  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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  • 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


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


  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


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.