A fantastic vegetarian dinner option, zucchini and haloumi fritters with mint and dill.
Remember the time-consuming but delicious zucchini gratin? Jasper has been requesting it with increasing desperation over the last few weeks but I just didn’t have the emotional fortitude or stamina to go there. I’m blaming the relentless heat and humidity over these past months.
So when I saw a Neil Perry recipe for zucchini fritters on the SMH website I hoped I’d struck a middle ground. I’ve added some mint to my recipe and would encourage you to do the same.
These were an absolute sensation, heading straight to the pool room of family dinner winners. You could even make smaller ones as a finger food option. Don’t think the yoghurt sauce is optional – as is always the case when there’s a sauce on the side it lifts the meal from yum to YUM!
A salad of spiced roasted sweet potatoes, lentils and honey roasted walnuts
So it turns out you can makes friends with salad.
This comes from Hetty McKinnon‘s book Community: salad recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen which I cannot recommend highly enough. It was the second one I cooked and there’s about ten others I’ve tagged. (Sidenote: she is now based in Brooklyn, NYC. Blackbird, get onto it.)
They are all designed as meals which I strongly endorse. That said, I have made them also cooked a protein on the side as while the boys are now pretty good (read: great) at eating/trying everything it’s quite confronting for them to think the salad is “it”.
My main tip for this recipe is don’t think the honey-roasted walnuts are optional. They lift the salad from salad to SALAD!. BUT – when cooking them watch them like a hawk, as in every 2 minutes, tossing them every time so the ones cooking more quickly on the edge get rotated with the ones in the middle. They will burn in an instant so be vigilant. BUT – totally worth it. I also followed Hettie’s suggestion to make double so you have leftovers to snack on. A brilliant idea indeed.
And as I say with so many of my posts, make it your own:
Don’t like rocket, use English spinach.
Use herbs you love or mix it up each time to create what feels like a whole new dish.
Don’t even be that exacting with the measurements for the spices, just scatter them over and go for it. I’m actually not the hugest fan of cumin (stinky sports socks anyone?) so upped the cinnamon and dialed down the cumin.
Don’t have any sweet potato in the house? Potatoes and/or pumpkin would work a treat.
This would also be fantastic with some diced streaky bacon or pancetta that you throw in with the roasting sweet potato for the last 10 minutes or so.
Combine potatoes with spices and olive oil and season well
Roast for 20-30 minutes
For the vinaigrette
Combine everything in a jar and give a good shake
For the walnuts
Combine the honey and spices and add some water to make a thick paste (I made this in the height of a Sydney summer so the honey was very runny and I found I didn't really need to add the water.)
Toss the walnuts with the mix then spread on a baking tray lined with baking paper (less mess)
Roast for 15 minutes or until the walnuts are crunchy and almost dry (Keep your eye on them and keep turn them every two minutes or so the ensure they cook evenly and don't burn. I basically work on the principal that once they had good colour they were done.)
To bring together
(Because McKinnon's recipe cooks the lentils (rather than using tinned) I poured lentils, liquid and all into a bowl and cooked for a minute in the microwave to heat them up.) Then:
Combine the vinaigrette with the lentils
Combine the sweet potatoes, lentils (and therefore vinaigrette), half the herbs and rocket
Scatter over the walnuts, remaining herbs and parmesan
What’s your favourite brekkie if you go out? For me it’s corn fritters, ideally with avocado, maybe sour cream and a chilli jam or roasted tomato to round it out. I also prefer the fritter to be more corn than batter and some diced capsicum is a welcome addition, as you can see from the recipe below. You can easily use tinned corn but I prefer fresh because it has that satisfying crunch.
We are hurtling officially towards summer down here (ie tomorrow) and to be frank I am not pleased. I do not do hot weather and even moreso, humidity. I was truly born in the wrong country although Tasmania would probably do quite nicely. Beautiful countryside, lower temps, less humidity and a great food culture. Let’s sit with that for a moment shall we?
The only redeeming feature for me in these hotter months, apart from washing drying on the line in an hour rather than a day, is the food. Stone fruits, mangos, papaya, crisp Asian salads loaded with lime, mint, coriander and chilli and cooking outside.
Actually Sydney’s climate means I could/should use the BBQ year round but I always tend to forget it’s there once the heater is in action. The main reason I like cooking outside is I don’t have to clean down the cooktop. Yes, I am that lazy.
This dessert is fairly and squarely placed in my summer repertoire and all the boys love it. Along with the black sticky rice it sits in relatively high rotation, topped with mango or other summer fruits, drizzled with a palm sugar syrup, extra coconut cream and lime to give it zing.
Some people call it sago, some call it tapioca, we call it frogs eggs. There are myriad recipes for its use but this is my go-to.
So I made these a year ago and then promptly forgot I had ever done such a thing. Bizarrely last week Felix said, remember when you made spring rolls, and I was all, NEVER! Then, serendipitously I fell upon the very post where I talked about them.
These are easily vegetarian – just omit the chicken mince (derr) – or turned into a pork version by using pork instead of chicken mince (double derr).
Yes, rolling 40 spring rolls is painful but this is where having 100 kids becomes useful. Sure they might not look perfect (there are spring roll perfectionists who insist they must be tighly and very evenly rolled – no hanging over the edges – so they don’t absorb too much oil) but I only shallow fry them and they sure turned out a treat.