Archive for Vegetarian

Rock your BBQ with these bowls of magic…

So we’re about to smack straight into the celebration season. Possibly you’re like me, with a list of weekends ahead that hold the promise of bubbles, nurofen and oodles of food.

Whether you’re hosting or being a guest, there’s no better way to get into the party vibe than with food that looks a bit more fancy and special than usual. So why serve a boring run-of-the-mill green salad when you can shift to colourful and fun dishes like this one.

Fregola is a cute little Sardinian pasta, similar looking to cous cous but more of a hot-cousin version that has been down the gym for a serious work out. Usually it’s toasted and has a slight nutty flavour. If your local shop doesn’t stock it, substitute with wimpy, regular cous cous.

This dish gets more pink as it gets tossed about, which is PERFECT, because, you know… PARTY.

Colourful, festive, impressive AND super tasty.

Colourful, festive, impressive AND super tasty.

Roast vegie & fregola salad

Serve this dish warm or cold. It’s fancy enough to be great with roast meats or a nice change from your usual array of BBQ sides. Crumbled feta is also delicious on top.

1 1/4 cups dried fregola (toasted if you can find it – I get mine at the local posh greengrocer)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp orange juice (about half an orange)

5-6 baby beetroot
4 carrots, peeled, cut into 4-5 cylinders
Olive oil (to drizzle)
1 red onion, cut into thick wedges
1 baby fennel, cut into thick wedges
1/2 punnet small tomatoes (any type will do)
1 red capsicum, cut into large squares
salt & pepper
Juice & zest 1/2 lemon

Cook the fregola according to packet directions. Drain, pop into a salad bowl and toss through the combined oil, vinegar & orange juice. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Wrap the beets in foil. Pop them in the oven for about 45-50 minutes until you can easily pierce them with a skewer. Set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile (use a second shelf in the oven), chuck the carrots in a small roasting tray. Pour over some olive oil and salt & pepper and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and mix in the onion wedges and fennel (add oil if looking dry). Return for 20 minutes then add in the tomatoes and capsicum and bake for another 20 minutes.

Peel the beetroot (kitchen gloves are a good idea). Cut into easy-to eat size pieces and add to the fregola. Also tip in the veggies and mix everything through including the parsley and lemon juice.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish.


Other salads that will do the schmancy party trick….

Asian noodle salad

Asian noodle salad

Pumpkin & haloumi salad.

Pumpkin & haloumi salad.

vegie smugglers panzanella

So delicious, the kids might just join in for this one.

There’s a bunch more salad & side recipes in the ‘Entertaining’ section of Vegie Smuggler’s Kitchen Collection. And if you use code ‘xmas2015’ you can buy it right now for 10% off. Valid until Nov 31, 2015.


Comments (1) »

This dinner WINS nutrition (and the kids love it)

Walnuts are generally considered to be a pretty fantastic nutritional addition to the modern diet (unless, you know, you’re like anaphylactically allergic to them, in which case they’re a deady-bones type addition and worth avoiding). They’re full of awesome quantities of most stuff that’s good for you including omega 3 fatty acids and a range of minerals.

General consensus seems to be that introducing nuts to non-allergic kids is safe from 12 months. Serving kid-friendly pasta like this recipe is a good way to reap the health benefits without choking your little loves on whole kernels.

Also, this dish is like ‘Where’s Wally?’, except in a ‘Where’s zucchini?’ kind of way. If you have one of those fancy contraptions that will turn vegies into pasta twists then feel free to swap out all the pasta in this recipe. However my kids do love the tooth feel of a bit of traditional pasta and I find the zucchini just melts through effortlessly.

As is, this recipe is a total win-win-win at my place, but as always, I won’t take offence if you change it up to suit your household.

Herbs and capers 'adult' this dish up to schmancy levels.

Herbs and capers ‘adult’ this dish up to schmancy levels.

Broccoli & zucchini pasta with walnut sauce

This is adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe.

1 1/4 cups whole walnuts (toast them in a dry frying pan if you have a few minutes, but don’t fret if you can’t be bothered)
1-2 cloves garlic (depending on how stinky you like to be)
1 slice bread (no crusts) – soaked in 1 cup milk
1/3 cup olive oil
250g dry linguine or spaghetti
1 head broccoli – cut into dainty florets
2 zucchinis – use a peeler or mandolin to slice them thinly lengthwise then use a knife to cut them into long strips that are a similar size to your pasta.
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Add the walnuts, garlic, soggy bread, milk and oil into a food processor (my little mini one just manages to fit everything). Season well and blitz to form a smooth sauce. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, cook the pasta according to packet instructions. BUT – add in the broccoli 4 minutes before the end of cooking and then add the zucchini 2 minutes before the end of cooking.

Drain the pasta & veggies. Return to the cooking pot and tip over the walnut sauce. Mix through well. Season super well (this dish really does need tonnes of salt & pepper).

Mix through the parmesan. Serve the kids as is – adults might like to add some torn basil, parsley, anchovies or capers.

Serves 2 adults & 2-3 kids (this portion size is dainty as the dish is rich – serve with a side salad).

Needing a helpful & unique Christmas gift? How about a copy of my latest gorgeous cookbook? It has 125+ recipes that cover all aspects of the family food year including lunchbox solutions, basics, dinners, recipes to feed a crowd and special event cooking! Buy it soon so you can use the Christmas recipes! As an added bonus, use code xmas2015 and receive 10% off, storewide, until November 30. CLICK TO VISIT THE SHOP & SEE ALL MY PRODUCTS…

Happy shopping!

Ohh! It's called "Kitchen Collection"

Ohh! It’s called “Kitchen Collection”

There's a section on basics, then a chapter for snacks and lunchbox items...

There’s a section on basics, then a chapter for snacks and lunchbox items…

Then it's the serious business of DINNER, since that happens tediously often...

Then it’s the serious business of DINNER, since that happens tediously often…

I've converted a bunch of recipes so that there's oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions...

I’ve converted a bunch of recipes so that there’s oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions…

Next chapter is full of ways to feed friends and family....

Next chapter is full of ways to feed friends and family….

And I finish off with celebrations with recipes for all kinds of dietary needs.

And I finish off with celebrations with recipes for all kinds of dietary needs.


Leave a comment »

The sauce of all knowledge….

Every now and then I post a perfect recipe… I know, I’m blowing smoke up my own arse (a favourite phrase of mine that I’ve just discovered derives from the 1700s when doctors did actually blow smoke up people’s arses)… but if there’s one recipe that should really be in your repertoire then I’m pretty sure it’s this tomato sauce. It’s so simple to make, using all fresh ingredients. You can prepare it as you need it, have it in the fridge ready to go or make a triple batch and freeze some for a night that’s not going so well. It’s a prime example of how easy it is to choose fabulousness over supermarket blah. It suits babies, toddlers right up to oldies and even the most annoying food snobs. The secret is all in the presentation.

Whip up the base sauce. Serve it mixed through pasta for the kids – top it with just cheese or add some ham. A bit of grated carrot is good, and also some chopped grape tomatoes are a nice addition. Adults can add in a bunch of basil and parsley, extra pepper, olives, capers and some posh-as-you-like prosciutto.

Really, how good is a basic dish that will please everyone. It’s a rare and completely wonderful thing.


Summer pasta sauce

2 red capsicums
3 large tomatoes, halved horizontally
3 cloves garlic – leave whole and in their skins
3 tbsp olive oil (the better, the better)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (use white wine vinegar if that’s all you have)
Pepper & salt to taste

Preheat oven to 200C

Slice the cheeks off the capsicums and place under the grill. Leave them to completely blacken (this lifts the skin off so it’s super easy to remove the skin). Leave to cool, remove the skin.

Place the tomatoes and garlic in an oven tray. Pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes or so until the garlic is squishy and the tomatoes have softened considerably.

Tear the capsicum up and pop it into a mini food processor or blender. Squeeze in the centre of the garlic and the tomatoes (peel off the skins as you tip them in).

Add everything else and blitz. Done.

Serve mixed through pasta of your choice with whatever toppings suit your family. My suggestions are parmesan, fresh herbs, prosciutto (yes, I’m one of them annoying food snobs), olives and capers.

Recipe makes enough to top a meal for 2 adults and 2 kids – it also makes a great pizza sauce.


Leave a comment »

Pea, potato & haloumi frittatas

It’s a deadset crappy day outside today – which seems to happen a lot during school holidays! So we’re making the most of it by doing bugger-all. Miss F is reading on the couch. Mr M&P is fluffing about – a bit of reading, a bit of drawing evils guys with crossbows and a little bit of doing a lovely portrait of mummy.

My boobs aren't looking so great, but at least I'm smiling.

My boobs aren’t looking so great, but at least I’m smiling.

Thankfully my kids are pretty calm little people. They can handle a day of doing nothing – they relish it as much as I do. I’ve always thought that a bit of nothing time is essential for the spirit. Creative juices get to flow about, minds can wander over and around all sorts of random topics. Often we end these times recharged and ready for life. But I guess it is a chicken or egg thing – are my kids calm because I give them lots of calm times, or are we able to have calm times because they’re calm people? I can’t decide.

I can decide that these little frittatas have been a massive hit around VSHQ lately. Peas (my favourite vegie of ALL TIME) with haloumi flavour bombs, all padded out with potato making them almost Spanish omelette-like.

Back to my book.


Pea, potato & haloumi frittatas

These gluten-free little tasties are great hot, but also delicious cold, making them a great lunchbox item, too.

2 large potatoes, peeled, cubed into 1cm cubes
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
225g block haloumi cheese, in 5mm cubes
1 small carrot, peeled, grated
7 eggs, lightly whisked
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff)
3 tbsp fresh herbs (any combo of chives, mint, parsley is good), finely chopped
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a 12 hole muffin tin or line with paper cases.

Par cook the potato cubes by either steaming or microwaving them until barely tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine everything (complicated recipe, I know).

Divide between your muffin holes. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and puffy.

Serves with salad.

Makes 12.


Comments (2) »

Living in a cheese-lover’s paradise

For some reason I’ve had ‘Gangsta’s Paradise‘ stuck in my head all week. And boy, doesn’t accidentally singing that out loud in Woolies make you look cool! Especially when you’re a white Australian woman on the elegant side of 40. SO authentic – I mean, the things I know about livin’ in da hood!

Possibly in another 15 years I’ll be up-to-date enough to be humming a bit of Kanye on my way into hospital when I’m arriving for my hip replacement.

All I do know is that even the toughest gansta would love a bite of this ultimate macaroni cheese, since it contains not one, but FOUR types of cheese. It’d be good for them too, since it’s packed full of white vegies, making it the most versatile colour-gang food, especially designed for particularly fussy eaters.

Word to your mother. Homies.

vegie smugglers four cheese macaroni cheese pasta bake

Macaroni cheese times four!

4 cheese pasta bake

250-350g macaroni (depending on how many you’re feeding)
50g butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 1/2 cups milk (warm the milk up in the microwave for a bit)
1 small head cauliflower
1 zucchini, grated
1 parsnip, peeled, grated
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered stuff!)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Baby bocconcinis

Cook the pasta according to packet directions. Drain & set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a lasagne dish with spray oil and set aside.

Chop the cauliflower into small florets. Par cook, by steaming or microwave for a couple of minutes. I then pop it onto a large chopping board and hack away at it with my kitchen knife until it’s all in tiny pieces (you can also grate it).

Pop a large saucepan onto medium heat. Melt the butter then tip in the flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir it for a minute or so until it turns fragrant (it will start to smell like cooking biscuits). Gradually tip in the milk – really slowly at first and stir well the entire time. Initially it will form into a paste, but keep adding milk and stirring and it will loosen back out into a lovely thick sauce. For the best result, take your time and give your tuck-shop-lady arm muscles a bit of a work out. :)

Turn the heat off. Add the cheddar and parmesan. Use the residual heat to melt it through. Mix in the vegies and ricotta. Combine well and tip into your oven dish.
Smooth the surface. Press bocconcinis into the top.

Bake for 30 minutes or so until bubbling and the top is golden.

Serves 2 adults & 4 kids


Leave a comment »

The messiest child wins a prize!

A while back it came to my mother’s attention that my children did not necessarily have the world’s best table manners. And possibly, I have to admit that she was right – training them up on the finer points of silver service mealtime hadn’t been my priority. While my kids could use a knife and fork correctly, they were a long way from being sophisticated cutlery-champions. And when I stopped to think about it, basic table manners are pretty nice and worth pursuing (surely one day they’ll want to have the skills to impress potential partners in restaurants).

Since it is just a skill to learn, we did deliberately start off on a bit of a utensil-mastery-mission. We began with pancakes on Sunday mornings. Unlike dinnertime, we were all fresh and could handle the mess with humour. Pancakes proved to be the perfect practice food, too. Once we mastered them, we moved onto sausages and chips and worked our way to the point where they can use a steak knife and manage their way through most meals.

But it’s taken time and in our defence, most of the dinners we eat are fork or spoon affairs – we’re not much of a meat-and-three-veg family.

Graceful-soup-eating however is still a bit elusive. We have soup spoons and we’ve tried to teach the kids the whole dipping-at-the-back-of-the-bowl trick, but to no avail. Especially if they’re hungry and the soup is yummy, like this one.

In a moment that made me feel like I was living “The Castle”, my husband had one sip of this and declared, “Darl, I’d be bloody happy if I was served this in a restaurant.” Because it’s THAT good apparently.

It’s perfect too, for kids who only like white food.

Dairy-free creamy cauliflower soup

Dairy-free creamy cauliflower soup

Lactose-free, cream of cauliflower & potato soup

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garam masala
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp garlic, crushed
1 tsp grated ginger
1 potato, peeled, roughly diced
1 litre vegetable stock
270ml coconut milk
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Pop the cauliflower onto a baking tray. Scatter over 2 tbsp of the olive oil and garam masala. Toss well then bake for 20-25 minutes until tender (you can push a fork through).

Meanwhile, heat the last tbsp of oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in the onion, and cook, stirring frequently for 6-8 minutes until golden. Tip in the garlic, ginger and potato. Fry this off for a minute or two before adding in the cooked cauliflower and veggie stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so until the potato and cauliflower is all really soft.

Remove from the heat. Use a stick blender to blitz everything up until smooth. Pour in the coconut milk and blitz further to combine. Season well, to taste (I like a lot).

Serve with coriander, a slurp of coconut milk on top and bread.

Serve 2 adults and 2-3 kids



****** WIN! ********

Got a kid who eats by osmosis? Then you’ll be after one of these dinner smocks from Bree at Little Chomps. I’ve got four to give away (each valued at $24.95). To win, show us the pic of your kid, in all of their messy post-dinner glory! Either post it over on Facebook or email it to Entries close Friday 7th at 6pm). Congrats to our winners: Claire Maree, Emma Brear, Kate Douglas & Kylye Rowe. Email me if you’ve not got my message yet ladies –



Comments (2) »

Where to shove a bunch of silverbeet

I’m always on the look out for healthy snacks for the kids. Since silverbeet is currently in season ($3 or less for a good bunch), it seemed like a good idea to see what I could whip up with it.

As with all my recipes, I’m keen to incorporate the vegetables with as little manipulating as possible, so rather than blanching the leaves, I chop them finely instead, give them a light saute with oil and soy sauce, then I mix through the eggs and it’s ready for a quick bake. The result is like a crustless quiche – gluten free and vegetarian.

The first time I made this recipe it seemed entirely UNLIKELY that the kids would have anything to do with this ugly, green thing. BUT I was wrong. Feeding it to them as a starter (cashing in on their pre-dinner hunger), they gave this a happy thumbs up and came back for more.

Just goes to show that it’s always worth giving things a go – you never can 100% predict what the kids will & won’t like.


Silverbeet eggy bites (gluten free)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch silver beet. Washed well.
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce (use a GF soy sauce if you need)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 eggs
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
8-10 baby bocconcini

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Set aside.

Use a large knife to trim the silver beet leaves off the stalks. Discard the stalks, stack the leaves and start hacking away until it is all finely shredded/chopped.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil then carefully place in the silver beet. It will sizzle and shrink. Use tongs to gently turn it over it so that it wilts evenly for a few minutes before sprinkling over the soy sauce. Stir through for another minute then set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk the mustard and eggs. Stir through the grated cheese and mix in the cooked spinach. Transfer contents into your tin. Spread evenly and push the bocconcinis into the mixture so the tops are just poking out.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Serves 2 adults & 2 kids as lunch or part of a larger meal (it’s nice with salad & bread – although that kind of kills the GF vibe, doesn’t it!).


Other ways to cook with spinach or silver beet?

Try out my vegetarian lasagne, or these cute little filo cheese & spinach sticks.



Comments (4) »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,484 other followers