Easy Vegetable Tart Recipe

Delicious vegetable tart - with fresh basil, roasted capsicum (bell pepper), feta and marinated baby figs

Vegetable tart – with fresh basil, roasted capsicum (bell pepper), feta and marinated baby figs

“The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, all on a summer’s day; the Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts, and took them clean away. The King of Hearts called for the tarts, and beat the Knave full sore; the Knave of Hearts brought back the tarts, and vowed he’d steal no more.” ~ Traditional

A vegetable tart makes a perfect lunch, works well for picnics, or can be served for a light and tasty dinner. I made this one yesterday, inspired by what I harvested in the garden and what was lurking in the fridge.

My friend Sally was coming to lunch so that we could talk about trees, writing and art – and with such an important agenda, having some appetizing offerings was paramount.

Our menu ended up being vegetable tart and green salad with miso-ginger dressing, followed by little mulberry and apple pies with a splodge of cream and lashings of French Earl Grey tea.

It was the perfect accompaniment to discussing our many projects and setting the wheels in motion for some fine collaboration.

I want you to have confidence when baking this tart. As long as you have a few basic flavours you can vary this to your heart’s content. It’s a very hard recipe to stuff up.

The basket of garden harvest which inspired our lunch menu

The basket of garden harvest which inspired our lunch menu

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 sheets of frozen ready-rolled shortcrust pastry, 1/2 a small red salad onion, 1 large red capsicum (bell pepper or sweet pepper), 6 to 8 large fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup of grated tasty cheese, 1/2 cup of feta cheese, 1/3 cup of marinated baby figs or a similar preserved sweet/savoury fruit such as Italian Mustard Fruits ( Mostarda di frutta), 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons of cream, cracked black pepper.

*Hint – If you can’t source any preserved fruits, take some dried figs, prunes, apricots or pears, cut into small pieces and soak in a little boiling water with a dash of port, rum, brandy or other sweet spirit and a little fresh herb or cinnamon until soft and syrupy. You could also substitute onion jam or a good chutney to same effect. Just dollop little bits around your tart.

Method:

Preheat oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit). Find a suitable tin to bake your Tart. I used a 36cm x 12 cm (14 inch x 5 inch) non-stick rectangular quiche tin with removable base, but you could use any small spring form or quiche dish. A removable base makes removing the tart easier, but it will still work in a conventional pie tin. Just grease it well!

*Hint – If you’re in a hurry you can use a pre-baked savoury pastry case.

Charred red capsicum (with the remains of my breakfats coffee in the background)

Charred red capsicum (with the remains of my breakfast coffee in the background)

Slice your capsicums in half and place under a very hot grill. (Alternatively, place on hot barbeque or use tongs and hold over a gas flame.) Allow the skin to blacken and char. Remove from heat and cool slightly, then slide your thumbnail up under the skin and peel it away. Discard the skins, seeds and membrane, and slice thinly. This sweetens the capsicums and gives them a slight smoky flavour.

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Now take your partially defrosted pastry. Don’t let it get too warm or it becomes difficult to handle. Grease your tin, and then lay the pastry into it, pressing an overlap of about a centimetre (half inch) at any joins.

Line tin with pastry and cut away surplus.

Line tin with pastry and cut away surplus.

Use a sharp knife to trim away any overhanging pastry, and neaten the edges with your fingers. Then use the tines of a fork to make some small pricks in the pastry. This helps steam escape so that the pastry stays flat while cooking.

Prick base of pastry with the tines of a fork.

Prick base of pastry with the tines of a fork.

We’re going to start by baking the tart case blind. Baking blind means we line the raw pastry with some baking paper and pour in some rice, beans or other pastry weights before we put it into the oven. This helps ensure crisp flat pastry for our finished tart.

Bake for ten minutes, then remove. Carefully take the paper and weights away and then return the shell to the oven for another ten minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Baking blind using rice and baking paper

Baking blind using rice and baking paper

Now layer some red capsicum into the bottom of the tart, giving a good even coverage. Tear your basil leaves and arrange them over the top. Add in some finely sliced red salad onion and scatter the tasty cheese.

Cut the figs or other marinated/syrup fruits into small pieces. Sprinkle them over the vegetables so that you have an even coverage. Their sweet and savoury flavour really enhances the cheese and capsicums.

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Arranging the vegetables into the tart shell

Crumble your feta cheese over the tart, using your fingers. Don’t worry if the filling sits a little higher than the pastry. Now beat two of the eggs gently with two tablespoons of cream until well combined. Pour slowly into your tart shell, making sure the mixture fills to the sides and edges but does not come up over the top of the pastry. If you need a little more, use the last egg and cream. Use your finger or a fork to poke the vegetables so that the egg mix goes right to the bottom. Crack some black pepper over the top and then carefully place into the oven.

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Crumble the cheese and pour the egg mixture over

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until firm and golden on top. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before taking out of the tin. Serve with a salad and some good bread.

Delicious basil, feta, roasted capsicum (bell pepper) and marinated fig vegetable tart.

Delicious basil, feta, roasted capsicum (bell pepper) and marinated fig vegetable tart.

Here’s a picture of the interior of the tart. I can vouch for the fact that it was delicious!

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Figgy, cheesy vegetable-y goodness.

Stir Fried Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Broccoli Recipe

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“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

 

Food isn’t just food.  Food is also a healing tool.  A spiritual tool. A way to give love and care to self and others.

If you want to think about this recipe as just food then this is what you need to know:

This is a handy recipe – it works well for a vegan or vegetarian main course, or as a tasty side to accompany fish, chicken or meat.  It is equally good served cold as a salad, and is delicious when folded into the centre of an omelette.  The dish is also paleo compliant, as well as being dairy and gluten free.  Needless to say, I recommend you make up enough to enjoy some leftovers!

If you want to think of it as more than just food, this simple recipe provides instant grounding for those times when you feel frazzled, disconnected, stressed and not quite in your body. It works to soothe, nourish and centre your Solar Plexus, Heart and Crown Chakras. It’s anti-inflammatory, and nurturing for those of us with exhaustion issues and adrenal fatigue.

Ingredients for 2 as a main, or 4 as a side dish:

2 cups of sliced mushrooms, 2 cups of cubed golden sweet potato, 4 garlic cloves crushed or finely chopped, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of tumeric, 2 tablespoons wheat-free Tamari Sauce, 1 cup of water, 2 cups of broccoli florets, 1 sliced red capsicum (bell pepper), 1/2 cup of raw walnuts

*Note – leave the mushrooms in thicker slices or chunks for a more satisfying texture.

Method:

Place 1/4 of the water and the coconut oil in a large heavy-bottomed frypan or pot over medium heat.  Toss in your sliced mushrooms, stir well and leave to cook for a minute until they begin to soften slightly.  Then add your cubed sweet potato and another 1/4 cup of water. Stir to combine, lower heat and cook five minutes until sweet potato is becoming soft.

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Increase heat again, add in the garlic, tumeric and tamari and stir well.  Then dump in the broccoli and another 1/4 cup of water. Stir fry for one minute, and then add the sliced capsicum. Continue to cook over high heat, stirring frequently and adding the final 1/4 cup of water if required. Add the walnuts, stir through, and remove from heat.

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Your easy meal is now ready to enjoy, and is packed full of good things to help you nourish and heal yourself. The flavours are simple and clean, and the food is easy to digest. Great for those with chronic fatigue, and for anyone recovering from illness. It grounds us, energetically soothes us and helps us to sleep better.

But if you don’t tell people any of that, they’ll just eat it ‘cos it tastes good!

Green Porridge – A Healthy Breakfast Recipe

green-eggs-ham1 Green anything for breakfast sounds a little odd.  But just as Sam-I-Am finally discovered that he liked Green Eggs and Ham, you might be persuaded that my Green Porridge recipe is just as delicious. When you imagine porridge, most people think of a creamy bowl of oats topped prettily with fruit… Maca porridge My offering today may not look so appealing, but I promise it packs a nutritional punch, and will get your day off to a great start.  Green porridge is a super-food concoction of body-supporting nutrients that are gentle on the digestive system and that will nurture and heal you.

Oats are a fantastic food – full of soluble and insoluble fibre, magnesium and low-glycemic carbs. They fill you up, give you consistent energy and also make the perfect delivery system for any number of nutritional add-ins.

Ingredients for one serve: You can start with smaller quantities of all of the add-ins if you prefer, or be brave and dive right in!

  • 1/2 cup of organic rolled oats (don’t use quick oats!) and 1 cup of water.  Using this ratio  you can adjust your quantities as necessary
  • a pinch of Celtic or Himalayan salt
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of LSA (Linseed, Sunflower Seed and Almond Mix – pre-ground).  If you can’t buy this locally, here’s a simple recipe so you can make some and keep it to hand: LSA Recipe  LSA is high in protein and is helpful for detoxing and supporting your liver.  I use it daily, and it makes a great addition to smoothies, salads, and even sprinkled over your steamed vegetables.
  • 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil or Udo’s Oil (my favourite!). These essential fatty acids support your hormones, brain, skin and hair, immune system, digestive system and metabolism.
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of spirulina. This superfood’s benefits include: high in protein, a strong detoxer, anti-candida supplement, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, boosts immune system.
  • 1 dessertspoon of blackstrap molasses. This under-appreciated sugar byproduct is chock full of iron and B group vitamins.
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of your favourite yogurt (cow, sheep, goat, soy or coconut!)

Optional add-ins:

  • 1 heaped teaspoon of your favourite greens powder. I’m currently in love with Udo’s Beyond Greens
  • An extra sprinkle of a pro-biotic powder if you are taking antibiotics or have gut health issues
  • A teaspoon of Maca powder to help support your adrenals, endocrine system and libido

Method: Add the oats, pinch of salt and the cold water to a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Stir often to prevent sticking.  The mixture will thicken in about five minutes. Tip the porridge into a large bowl and then start adding your toppings:

Naked Oatmeal...

Naked Oatmeal…

LSA mix and molasses

LSA mix and molasses

Green powder and spirulina

Green powder and spirulina

And a dollop of your favourite yogurt!

Tip in your oil, and a dollop of your favourite yogurt!

Mix it all together and you get… Green Porridge.  Enjoy!

Not pretty but yummy!

Not pretty but yummy!

Tasty Fried Rice Recipe – Easy!

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It’s that time of year. Lots of Christmas leftovers, or maybe you just don’t feel like going to any trouble in the kitchen but you still want something tasty.

Fried rice is one of my go-to comfort foods – endlessly able to be varied, and can be made to suit vegans, vegetarians and omnivores. Eat it on its own, or as a simple side.

Ingredients:

All of this will be based on guess-timation.  That’s the joy of this dish.  You work with what you have to hand. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and for the recipe to taste different each time you make it!

Must haves

  • cold cooked rice – at least one cup per person. Use your favourite here – brown, basmati, jasmine, white – it’s all good! (if you have only just cooked the rice, spread it out on a lightly greased tray and place in a moderate oven for ten minutes to dry it out so your rice won’t be gluggy)
  • soy sauce (you could also use tamari, which is gluten-free, or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
  • sesame oil
  • a non-stick frypan, lightly sprayed with cooking oil, or a well-oiled heavy bottom frypan

Throw In’s

I like to work with a ratio of about 1 cup rice and 1 and 1/2 cups throw ins. You can add more throw ins if you are in the mood for lots of herbs and vegetables etc.  Choose your additions based on your dietary preferences, and what’s in your fridge, pantry or garden. Obviously if you are vegan you won’t be throwing the leftover Christmas ham in! Suggestions include any of the following:

  • Freshly diced ginger and garlic – or you can use bottled or tubed if that’s all you have.  Use as little or as much as you like. It adds a beautiful dimension to this dish, but you can do without it at a pinch, so I’ve listed it as optional.
  • Diced ham, bacon, turkey, or other cold roast meats
  • Peeled prawns (shrimp!), crabmeat or other cooked seafood
  • Shredded omelette (whisk a few eggs with some salt and pepper and a dash of water, tip into your hot greased frypan and allow to set into a thin cake.  Slide out onto a board or plate to cool -roll up and chop into slices)
  • Tofu or tempeh
  • Raw cashews or other nuts of your choice
  • Diced raw capsicum (peppers)
  • Seeded red chilli
  • Green shallots
  • Fresh coriander or parsley (save some to garnish)
  • Fresh or tinned sweetcorn
  • Mushrooms – fresh or tinned
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Finely sliced raw onion, raw carrot
  • Snow peas (mange tout)
  • Frozen or fresh peas or sliced green beans
  • Broccoli, cauliflower or broccolini in small pieces
  • Pineapple – tinned or fresh

Method:

Heat up your big frypan with a little oil, toss in the garlic and ginger (and chilli if you like it spicy) and cook until aromatic. If you are using ham, bacon or tofu/tempeh add this in next and let it cook for a few minutes.

Add in the vegetables that take more cooking time, as well as any other meats. Keep tossing around. Then add in your smaller vegetables and dump in your rice. Break up any lumps and keep stirring until it is well heated through.

Add a few tablespoons of soy sauce and a good slug of sesame oil. Stir well  to coat the rice and then add in the cooked egg and fresh herbs, stirring to combine.

Dump into bowls and add a flourish of fresh herbs over the top.  Eat and enjoy!

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Vegan Broccoli, Cashew and Lime Soup Recipe – Virtual Vegan Potluck 2012

Today’s post is part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck – where you can find 100 fabulous new plant-based recipes to try at home! Thanks to the awesome Annie, who made this Blogfest possible.  Her Blog is well worth a visit: An Unrefined Vegan.

For the last Potluck I made a Creamy Satay Hotpot Recipe. My offering this time is soup.

I found inspiration for this soup after a trip to a local farmers’ market. It celebrates all things green and good, and is one of the most delicious combinations I’ve tried in ages.  It’s so tasty that non-vegans will happily slurp it up in all its green goodness. And it uses one of my favourite vegetables – BROCCOLI.

Ingredients for 4 big serves: 4 heaped cups of broccoli, 4 cups of silverbeet leaves (or spinach), 2 cloves of garlic, 1 large potato, 2 sticks of celery, 1 cup of raw cashews soaked in water, 3 cups of good vegetable stock, zest and juice of one lime, salt and pepper to taste

*Note on cashews:  Cashews give a lovely creamy texture to this soup without the use of dairy.  They are also magically good for you.  The secret is to soak your cashews a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight.  More info on soaking nuts here.

Method:

Chop broccoli into smallish pieces and add to a large cauldron.  Then peel your potato, cut into small cubes and add to the pot.

Slice your celery and then peel and chop your garlic cloves roughly, and place them in the pot with the three cups of stock.

Lastly, cut the white rib out of the silverbeet leaves, chop the green section coarsely and stuff this into the pot as well.  Don’t be alarmed if your pot is brim-full.  The vegies will shrink down dramatically as they cook.

Cover with a lid, turn heat to high, and cook for ten minutes, before turning the heat to low.  Continue cooking until the broccoli and potato are soft (this could take five to ten minutes, depending on your stove heat and how big your vegetable pieces are).

While the soup cooks, zest your lime, and then extract the juice.  The lime gives a lovely freshness to this dish, and lifts the flavour superbly.

When the soup is ready, add the lime zest and juice and the soaked cashew nuts. Blend with a stick blender or cool slightly and use a food processor.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Thin your soup with a little extra stock if necessary.

Serve with some crusty bread, and a good salad, although it’s perfectly delicious on its own.  It’s also good cold the next day, if you can’t be bothered reheating it!

To enjoy the rest of the Virtual Vegan Potluck recipes, click on the navigation buttons below.

Clicking go back takes you to the inspiring Cocina de Nihacc – a vegan delight, where today’s offering is Roasted Tomato and Pepper (Capsicum) Soup.

Clicking go forward will land you at Emmy Cooks – one of my favourite cooking blogs.  Emmy’s meals are simple, delicious and made with an emphasis on practical living and joyful celebration of good ingredients.  I even named the sweetest little calf on our farm after Emmy (that story here). Emmy will show you how to make Creamy Roasted Celery Soup.

Thanks for visiting, and enjoy the rest of the Potluck! xx

Orange, Walnut and Fennel Salad Recipe

The orchard at our farm is laden with citrus at this time of year, so whipping up a tasty salad is easier than ever.  This salad is perfect with crusty bread, and can be a vegetarian meal on its own (vegan if we omit the feta) or a perfect side for a barbeque or roast. It goes beautifully with grilled fish or chicken.

Ingredients to serve four generously:

4 cups of salad leaves (using rocket, mustard greens, radish tops or other leaves with a little bite to them contrasts well with the oranges), a fennel bulb or two, a bunch of fresh chard if available (or add in two cups of baby spinach), one small red onion, two large oranges cut into segments (if you’re mad on oranges feel free to add another one!), a generous handful of walnuts, 1/2 a cup of olives, optional – 1 cup of feta cheese chunks.

Method:

Clean and wash your salad greens, and tear leaves into smaller pieces if desired. Finely chop the fennel. Slice your onion into thin rings or pieces and arrange in the serving bowl.

Arrange the leaves, fennel and onion in your serving bowl

Now chop your chard, cutting the stalks into small pieces and roughly shredding the leaves.  Add these in and toss well with your hands to combine the ingredients.

Isn’t this chard the most heavenly colour!

Segment your oranges over a bowl, keeping back the excess juice to use in the dressing.  If you don’t know how to segment oranges, watch this video:

Arrange your orange segments, walnuts and olives on the top of the salad.  If you’re using feta cheese, chuck that on too. Just before serving, pour on the dressing.

I find it important for the chef to taste some of the orange segments and olives to make sure it’s all up to standard…

Dressing:

1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon-style prepared mustard, 1 to 2 teaspoons honey, a grind or two of cracked pepper and a pinch of salt.  Put all the ingredients in a small jar, add lid and shake vigorously to combine.  This is an oil-free dressing that is light and flavorsome.

Salad Variations:

Add cooked, sliced chicken breast for a complete meal.

Sliced cooked lamb fillet is wonderful for a warm salad.

Substitute cherry tomatoes for feta, and add fresh peeled prawns (shrimp) – this is one of my favourite salads!

Enjoy! ♥ xx

Roast Carrot and Pine Nut Salad

This is a delicious salad that can fill you up on its own, or that makes a beautiful side for other dishes.  I’ve made this with baked carrots, but you could also use baked parsnip or sweet potato for equally tasty results.

Hint:  If you are prone to nibbling on the baked vegetables prior to serving, double the quantity – or at least cook a few extra as chef snacks…

Salad Ingredients:

4 cups of mixed leaves (today I’ve used rocket, mustard greens and baby spinach because that’s what was in my garden), a handful of chopped spring onion/green shallots, 2 large tomatoes chopped into wedges (or use a handful or two of cherry tomatoes), 1/2 a red salad onion sliced into fine rings, 6 to 8 largish carrots , 2 heaped tablespoons of pinenuts

Chop the carrots into batons or wedges, coat lightly with olive or coconut oil and bake in a moderate oven for around 30 mins or until cooked to your liking.

Toast the pinenuts in a dry frypan over medium heat for one to two minutes until they are light to golden brown.  Watch them carefully as they can burn easily!

Lemon Dressing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup virgin cold pressed olive oil, generous pinch of salt, generous pinch of raw sugar, 1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger or 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root.  Place in jar, add  lid and shake like crazy until emulsified.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Pour over salad just before serving.

If you’re looking for a higher protein content, add some fetta cheese, or some grilled haloumi (my absolute favourite with this salad!)

The salad can be served warm, with the carrots straight out of the oven, or as a cold dish once your baked vegetables have cooled.  This transports really well for picnics and other adventures too.  Enjoy!