I love it when my meat-eating friends ask me for my favourite vegetarian recipes. Recently I’ve had more requests than usual, which I’m assuming is a sign of the movement towards people doing their bit to save the planet by cutting down on meat consumption.
My favourite go-to recipes over winter have been comforting classics like lentil burgers, nachos and lasagne. Now it’s spring, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite spring recipes, which add colour, freshness and an air of celebration as we head towards summer.
I’m going to start by revealing my favourite secret recipe – raw beetroot salad. People are often surprised when I serve raw beetroot. In turn, I’m surprised it’s not more common.
I suppose in the past in New Zealand we’ve been used to finding our beetroot cooked and in a can! Beetroot is so easy to grow and I like to pick it from the garden and eat it raw while it’s still small. Don’t forget the leaves are edible, too.
Colourful Raw Beetroot Salad
Grate 2 cups of beetroot, 2 cups of carrots, chop a red onion, add sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chopped mint leaves and chopped baby beetroot leaves.
Add the juice of 1 orange, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, ¼ tsp salt and black pepper to taste. Give it all a light toss and remember to wash your hands and utensils so you don’t get red beetroot juice everywhere!
Another favourite of mine is quinoa. It’s so easy to prepare, tasty and healthy. In our house we use it for everything from breakfast cereal to dessert and lots of meals in between. My favourite quinoa dinner is a Mexican one, where you throw everything into a pan or wok and serve warm, outdoors, on a spring evening. Here it is:
One-Pan Mexican Quinoa
Heat some oil in a large wok or pan and sauté one small red onion for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes translucent. Add three cloves of crushed garlic, two capsicums (red and orange) and cook for another 2 minutes. Add one cup of uncooked quinoa 1 ½ cups vegetable stock, 3 cups canned diced tomatoes, one can of black beans (drained and rinsed) two cups of frozen corn, 1 tbsp paprika powder and ½ tbsp cumin.
Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes on medium heat. Stir occasionally to make sure the quinoa is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the juice of one lime, two spring onions and a cup of chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve with avocado.
As far as desserts go, I know I’m way behind on this but I’ve only just learned to like chia seeds. I’ve tried them a couple of times before and couldn’t get my head around the texture. Recently someone made a chia seed dessert for me and I finally understood how good they can be. It’s all about the ratio of chia seeds to liquid. It seems four tablespoons of seeds to one cup of liquid is about right for me. It’s great I’ve got it now because chia seed pudding is incredibly easy to make and ridiculously good for you, including being high in Omega-3. Who doesn’t love a brainfood dessert?
Here’s how to make chia seed pudding: Stir together chia seeds and the liquid of your choice in a bowl, jar or glass. Once it’s well combined, let it sit for five minutes, give it another stir or shake to break up any clumps, cover and put the mixture in the fridge to set for 1-2 hours or overnight. If you find the pudding is too liquid, just add another tablespoon of seeds, let sit for 30 minutes and see how it is then. Chia seeds don’t have much flavour of their own, they just take on whatever flavour is in the liquid so the options are endless.
I hope you enjoy these spring recipe ideas and share them with your friends, as I have. See you in the summer!