Every Wednesday, I receive my farm share of organic fruit and vegetables delivered to me from the Wairarapa Eco Farm. I mostly adore all of the seasonal fresh produce however, there always seems to be a surprise or two in the form of uncommon vegetables that require thinking. To be honest, I don’t always know what to do with these vegetables and often I let them sit quietly in the bottom of the veggie bin awaiting their fate to turn into liquid goo. But lately, I have decided that I need to work smarter in the kitchen to reduce food waste and so I have challenged myself to use everything in my farm delivery each week.
This week I had a plethora of baby micro carrots, colorful baby turnips, baby leeks, baby parsnips (and a leftover bit of cauliflower from the back of the fridge). Roasting vegetables, to me, is such a kiwi thing. I don’t think I ever had a roast vegetable salad in my life until I moved to Wellington. The roasting brings out the sweet caramel flavors and create such an earthy intense flavor. Whenever I can I like cooking with delicious anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, corriander and cumin not only because I love the flavors but because they are real medicine working to combat inflammation-related disease in my body. Combine these intense spices with fresh herbs and nutty brown rice (quinoa would work nicely too), a little tangy lemon vinaigrette and YES, this will make great lunches for a few days.
I will be sharing my new recipes with you all summer season and hopefully come up with some easy new ways to include all of the uncommon veggies that arrive on my door step. Hope you enjoy this flavorful rice salad!
- 3 Tb Olive oil
- 1 cup Organic Brown Rice (or cauliflower rice or quinoa)
- 6 cups of baby vegetables - this could be carrots, red onions, leeks, parsnips, turnips, cauliflower florets, fennel etc. Larger pieces cut in half lenghthwise.
- 1 cup fresh coriander leaves - chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves - chopped
- 1/4 cup dried currants
- 1/2 fresh red chili sliced
- 1 tsp ground Turmeric
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp Kashmiri chili or cayenne (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt plus more for seasoning
- 1tsp Honey
- 1 Lemon - juiced
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 180 and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Prepare the baby vegetables by washing and slicing any that seem too large. Spread the veggies on the baking tray along with the fresh chili. Add spices and 1tb of oil and toss to coat the veggies with your hands. Spread the vegetables out in a single layer and place the tray in preheated oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until beginning to brown at edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool down.
- Meanwhile add 1 cup brown rice to a saucepan and rinse with several washes of water. Drain and add 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp sea salt to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer and turn heat down very low. Stir, place a lid on and allow to simmer for 30-40 mins. After this time, remove pot from heat and leave the lid on for another 10 minutes. Next, take the lid off and allow rice to cool.
- Next, in a small bowl, make dressing combining 2 Tbl Olive oil, 1 tsp honey (or more to taste) and juice of one lemon. Wisk to combine with a fork.
- Assemble salad once everything has cooled down a bit. The ingredients do not need to be cold just not hot enough to wilt the fresh herbs. In a serving bowl, add cooked rice, roasted veg, fresh herbs, currants and pumpkin seeds and drizzle dressing over the top. Toss the salad together and add more fresh coriander leaves to the top.
A few weeks ago I was invited to teach healthy cooking with a group of Columbian refuge women who are part of the Refugee Trauma Recovery programme here in Wellington.
When I was thinking about what we could cook together, I suppose comfort food was on the top of my mind. This group of Columbian women and their families have been through horrible trauma, torture and the stress of not knowing what happened to their loved ones who have disappeared and are feared dead. It was very humbling to spend time with these ladies and hear about their struggles. These women are the fortunate of the unfortunate who have a new home in New Zealand but still, they are left with a great deal of post traumatic stress and worry for loved ones left behind. Their healing has only just begun and nothing about it is easy.
But what does food have to do with healing from trauma? Food has the power to heal us in so many ways! Familiar tastes can revive old memories and can make us feel safe and warm. We use food to express love and we in turn feel loved when someone cooks us a home made meal. Food nourishes our bodies and helps us recover from illness. Food from our culture or homeland can be especially meaningful and we can feel very homesick when we move far away and can no longer enjoy these familiar tastes.
I think it is very well known that one of the best healing foods is soup. In fact recent studies have confirmed that soup has probably been a part of traditional human diets dating back 20,000 years! And for good reason.
Every culture has a version of healing soup because people have long known that soup made using the joints and bones of animals has a very special nutrient profile: it is a incredibly healing food because of the breakdown of minerals in the bones as well as cartilage, marrow and skin. These highly absorbable nutrients help fight infections, reduce inflammation, reduce joint pain, regulate hormones, and is easy to digest for people with illness and digestive issues. More recently evidence has shown that it “heals and seals” the broken gut lining in people with permeable gut. Soups made with this “bone broth” are packed full of nutrition as well as being very inexpensive to make and highly comforting.
With this in mind, I thought we could recreate a well known Columbian chicken soup called Ajiaco using produce that is locally available, donated or foraged from around our area in the middle of winter.
The good people at Kaibosh food rescue donate several boxes of food to the refugee group each week and along with some foraged bay leaves, rosemary, a lemon and a few leaves of kale from my home garden we had the makings of a simple soup using a whole chicken. Because we only had a short time to work together, we used this quick cooking soup method which makes a light flavored chicken broth. In order to make a true bone broth, you would remove the breast and leg meat after one hour and return the bones to the soup and simmer for longer to extract all the nutrients. I will be sure to post more about bone broth soon.
We had a lovely afternoon making this simple soup together and enjoying learning about seasonal New Zealand produce and herbs and ways to incorporate them into their traditional Colombian recipes.
- 1 small Organic Chicken or several thighs and legs with bone and skin
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 4 garlic cloves finely diced
- 1 onion peeled and finely diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1T chopped rosemary
- 4 medium size potatoes (any variety) peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 t sea salt plus more to taste
- Fresh black pepper
- 4 cups finely shredded seasonal greens such as kale or silverbeet
- 1 cup loosely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 fresh lemon juiced
- Olive oil for serving
- Add chicken, carrots, celery, garlic, onion, herbs and salt and pepper into a stock pot and cover with filtered water (about 2 litres).
- Bring to a gentle boil and skim any foam that may rise to the surface. After 15 minutes skim off any bits of foam that are on the surface. This makes for a clear broth and the foam can make the soup taste bitter.
- Next, partially cover and gently simmer for 45 min to 1hr on low.
- Carefully remove chicken and set aside, allow to cool down a bit while the soup continues to simmer. Break up large potato chunks with a spoon or potato masher leaving some large pieces.
- When chicken cool enough to work with, remove meat from the bone and cut into bite size pieces. (I sometimes save half the chicken meat for another use). Return chicken meat to stockpot with greens and parsley. Gently simmer for 15 min. Taste for salt and pepper and serve in bowls with a drizzle of fruity olive oil.
- Save any large chicken bones in the freezer for making your next batch of chicken bone broth.