Spring into fresh seasonal food


The food we eat fuels our bodies. Eating a balanced diet that focuses on fresh seasonal produce is the easiest way to get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients to feel our best. Spring is such a beautiful season for cooking and eating, inspiring delicious and nutritious meal ideas that will keep you healthy and happy.

Jodie Blight from clever cooking website Hello Table is always excited to get into the kitchen, and as new seasons begin she looks forward to making some changes to her family menu.

“I love all the seasons as they roll around and it’s nice to have a change in produce, especially fresh vegetables,” Jodie says.

Guided by seasonal produce, fresh greens like spinach, silverbeet, fennel, sugarsnap peas and snowpeas are high on Jodie’s list for spring.

Sticking with the seasons avoids boredom in our kitchen, but it’s also a more considered way to cook. It’s cheaper, fresher, supports local and has less impact on the environment.

Hello Table was born off the back of Jodie’s mission to make food healthy and interesting for her young family while living in the Netherlands. Living in a small village with restricted shopping hours meant she had to think outside the basket for ways to make ingredients go further. One cookbook and the fantastic recipeezi app later (that allows you to input ingredients in your pantry and suggests what you can cook with them) she’s back in Melbourne, continuing to make healthy cooking easy and delicious.

A rainbow of delicious ingredients


Quick and easy is the spring cooking mantra for Jodie, who is looking forward to getting back outside to the barbecue for easy spring lunches and dinners that the whole family can help with - and enjoy.

Barbecues and salads are so easy; you can have a meal on the table in ten minutes. One night you might have grilled salmon and a fennel and orange salad, and chicken and a Greek salad the next. You can change it up easily and give it a completely different feel,” she says.

A healthy diet is one that includes everything in moderation and Jodie doesn’t support excluding things from your diet, unless there’s an allergy. Including all kinds of fresh, healthy food brings many benefits and your body will love you for eating them.

Jodie from HelloTable

Jodie Blight from Hello TABLE & recipeezi

One of things that I love to include are avocados. Full of good fats, fibre and vitamin C and E, they are literally one of the healthiest foods on the planet - and so versatile. I also love nuts and seeds because they are a great source of vitamins, minerals and protein but they add that extra bit of yum,” she says.

Jodie suggests toasting pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, slivered almonds or cashews and sprinkling on top of a salad or curry to add an extra tasty dimension to your meals.

Eggs are another favourite of mine. They are an excellent all-rounder for breakfast, lunch and dinner offering high-quality protein plus lots of vitamins, folate and iron. And there are so many different ways to include them in your diet and meals.

She also hails the health benefits of ginger and garlic, which feature in most of her meals. If you find your ginger going soft or mouldy, Jodie suggests chopping it into smaller pieces and freezing, then grating it into dishes as needed.

Another easy tip is including lots of colour in your meals. When you’ve got lots of different colours you know you are you ticking all those important vitamin and mineral boxes, and it just looks more appealing. We definitely eat with our eyes too!

Going organic


The trend to buy and eat organic food has gained popularity in recent years, but why? Most people buy organically grown food products because they are concerned about pesticides, additives, antibiotics or other chemical residues. Other reasons include concerns with the impact of conventional farming on biodiversity and the environment, and the ethical treatment of livestock.

The use of the word ‘organic’ is not regulated in Australia, so if you’re after truly organic products make sure it comes from certified growers and producers. Look for an organic logo from one of six approved organisations.

Many major supermarkets and green grocers stock fresh and packaged organic foods, and you can find them at local farmers markets. Because organic farming generally operates on a smaller scale than conventional farming, organic food can be more expensive. But another great alternative is growing organic at home! You can find organic, chemical-free seedlings at speciality nurseries and things like herbs, lettuce and cherry tomatoes are easy enough to grow in pots. There’s nothing better than picking something fresh from your own garden and serving it to family and friends.

Spring recipe to try!


Jodie said asking to pick her favourite recipe is like picking a favourite child – she loves them all!

A few sprung to mind which are quick, easy and delicious:

Vietnamese salad

Vietnamese Salad


Prep time:
10 minutes | Cook time: 0 minutes | Total time: 10 minutes | Serves: 4

Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Gluten Free option

Ingredients:

  • ¼ Chinese cabbage, shredded
  • ¼ purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, ribbons
  • 1 carrot, ribbons or grated
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced
  • 3 handfuls bean sprouts
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 handful coriander, chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, chopped (optional)

Dressing:

  • 6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped (optional)

Method:

  1. Combine cabbage, cucumber, carrot, capsicum, bean sprouts, spring onion, mint and coriander leaves in a salad bowl and gently toss to combine.

  2. To make dressing, shake ingredients in a jar until combined. Taste and adjust to your liking. Pour over salad and toss together.

  3. Sprinkle with chilli and serve.

*GLUTEN FREE OPTION – ensure soy sauce is gluten free.

 

 

Pumpkin and Spinach Frittata


Prep time:
5 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes | Serves: 4

Vegetarian, Gluten Free

Ingredients:

  • 10 eggs
  • ½ cup milk or cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 200g cooked butternut pumpkin pieces
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 100g feta or goat’s cheese

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a 20 cm × 20 cm baking dish or loaf tin. Lightly whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl or jug and put aside.

  2. Combine pumpkin, onion and spinach in the prepared dish making sure the spinach winds in and around the pumpkin. Pour egg mixture over the top, crumble with cheese and cook in oven for 30 minutes. To check if it is ready, give it a wobble or touch the top in the centre of the dish. If not set, give it another 5 minutes and check again.

  3. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

 

 

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters


Prep time:
10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4

Vegetarian, Gluten free, Dairy free

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 300g creamed corn (1 tin)
  • 1½ cups plain flour (or gluten-free plain flour)*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ bunch coriander, leaves and stalks (washed well)
  • pepper to taste
  • 420g corn kernels, drained (1 tin)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Smashed Avo:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (½ lime)
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • ½ bunch coriander leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 long red chilli, finely diced (optional)

Method:

  1. Add onion, egg, creamed corn, flour, baking powder, coriander leaves and coriander stalks, salt and pepper in a food processor bowl and process until it forms a batter. Add the drained corn and pulse a few times, just until the corn kernels are mixed through. Set aside for a few minutes while you smash the avo.

  2. Mash the avocado in a small bowl, make it as smooth or as chunky as you like. Mix in lime juice, spring onions, coriander leaves, salt and pepper.

  3. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, and when hot, drop large tablespoons of mixture into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes each side, until golden. When cooked drain on paper towel while you continue cooking the remaining mixture.

  4. Serve fritters topped with smashed avocado and sprinkled with chilli.

  5. Optional: great with Capsicum Relish

* GLUTEN FREE OPTION – ensure flour and baking powder are gluten free

Tip: On the weekend, I prefer to cook these on the BBQ as I can cook the whole batch at the same time.

 

 

Vegetarian Pad Thai

Vegetarian Pad Thai


Prep time:
10 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes | Serves: 4

Vegetarian, Dairy Free, Gluten Free option

Ingredients:

  • 250g flat rice noodles (Pad Thai)
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250g tofu, 1 cm cubes
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • ¼ Chinese cabbage (wombok), shredded
  • 150g sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut on diagonal
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped peanuts

Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons tamarind puree
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1½ tablespoon soy sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons (¼ cup) chicken stock or water

Method:

  1. Place noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to soften for 5 minutes, then rinse with cold water and drain thoroughly. You want the noodles to still have some bite. Set aside.

  2. Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small bowl or jug and set aside.

  3. Add sesame oil to the wok and over high heat, cook beaten eggs for 20–30 seconds. Swish the egg around the wok so you end up with a thin omelette, then roll it up and remove. Slice thinly and set aside.

  4. Heat ½ tablespoon of coconut oil in wok over medium-high heat, cook tofu cubes for 5 minutes or until brown. Remove and set aside.

  5. Add remaining coconut oil to wok and cook chilli, garlic, capsicum, carrot and cabbage until wilted, then add sauce mixture with noodles to the wok and toss together so the sauce is evenly distributed throughout the noodles and vegetables. Add snap peas and stir for a further 2 minutes.

  6. Finally return the egg, tofu and prawns to the wok together with spring onions and sprouts. Toss for a minute to heat through then remove from heat.

  7. Serve in individual bowls with a lime wedge and sprinkled with nuts.

*GLUTEN FREE OPTION – make sure the noodles, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce are gluten free

Tip: Tamarind is sour and I think has similar taste in cooking as lime. Tamarind puree is a very sticky dark brown paste, it comes in a jar and can be found in most supermarkets (usually the international and Asian aisle).

 

 

Sesame Crusted Tuna

Sesame Crusted Tuna


Prep time:
13 minutes | Cook time: 2 minutes | Total time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4

Dairy Free, Gluten Free option

Ingredients:

  • 4 tuna steaks (600g)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced/shaven
  • 4 spring onions, sliced on diagonal
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Dipping Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ bunch chives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Method:

  1. Toss tuna with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce in a bowl. Leave to soak while preparing salad.

  2. In a bowl, stir sugar and rice wine vinegar until sugar is dissolved. Then add cucumber and leave to pickle (for as long as you can, but the longer the better). Toss occasionally.

  3. Combine all dipping sauce ingredients in a jug and stir to combine. Set aside.

  4. Mix white and black sesames seeds on a dinner plate, and coat each piece of tuna in the seeds. Press down to make sure they stick.

  5. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Cook tuna for 1 minute on each side or until cooked to your liking. Remove tuna from frying pan and slice.

  6. Toss spring onions and bean sprouts with cucumber

  7. Serve tuna with the pickled cucumber salad and dipping sauce on the side. Sprinkle the cucumber salad with additional teaspoon of sesame oil.

*GLUTEN FREE OPTION: ensure the soy sauce is gluten free.

For more spring recipe ideas download the recipeezi App on the Apple Store or Google Play Store. It's free!

 

 

Vietnamese Pork Rice Paper Rolls

Vietnamese Pork Rice Paper Rolls


Prep time:
15 minutes | Cook time: 0 minutes | Total time: 15 minutes | Serves: 4 (5 per person)

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegetarian option

Ingredients:

  • 100g vermicelli rice noodles
  • 200g cooked pork, shredded
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced
  • 1 carrot, julienned or grated
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, julienned
  • 2 spring onions, julienned
  • 2 handfuls bean sprouts
  • 1 handful Vietnamese mint leaves
  • 1 handful coriander, chopped
  • 20 rice paper wrappers

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1–2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Method:

  1. Place noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to soften for 3–5 minutes, rinse with cold water then drain thoroughly.

  2. To make the dipping sauce, place sugar and hot water into a jar and shake until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool a little, then add fish sauce, garlic and chilli, and when cool add lime juice. Shake again to combine.

  3. Chop all ingredients and have them lined up in front of you so you can operate an assembly line and don’t forget to add anything. When you are ready to assemble the rolls, lay a damp cloth on the bench (this helps stop the wrappers from sticking).

  4. Fill a shallow dish with warm water. Dip rice paper wrappers one at a time into the water for 15–30 seconds, holding a small part of the wrapper. When soft, place on the damp cloth. Place some pork along the middle of the wrapper. Top with a pinch of softened noodles, and a few slices of capsicum, carrot, cucumber, spring onion and bean sprouts. Add a mint leaf and coriander.

  5. Fold end in and roll up firmly to enclose filling. Repeat with the remaining rice paper wrappers. Serve with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce.

  6. These are best made just before you serve them. You can make them ahead of time, but to avoid them drying out cover with a damp tea towel and then wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Variation: replace pork with cooked chicken, cooked prawns or ramp up the veg to go vegetarian.

 

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Sweet Potato Gnocchi


Prep time:
10 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes | Serves: 4

Vegetarian, Gluten Free

Ingredients:

  • 200g goat’s cheese (or ricotta cheese), drained
  • 500g sweet potato, peeled
  • 100g parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pepper
  • 1-2 cups plain flour (or gluten free plain flour)*

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 800g crushed tomatoes (2 tins)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 handful basil leaves

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.

  2. Cut the sweet potato into wedges and roast on a lined oven tray for 30 minutes until soft and cooked through.

  3. While waiting for the sweet potato to bake, make the tomato sauce. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium–high heat and add onion, cooking for a few minutes until softened, then add garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10–15 minutes until sauce thickens. Stir through basil and remove from heat.

  4. When the sweet potato has cooked and cooled a little, mash it with a fork or in a food processor and add to a large bowl, together with goats cheese, parmesan cheese, salt and nutmeg. Stir to combine.

  5. Slowly add ½ a cup of flour at a time until you have a soft dough. You may not need all of the flour or you may need more, it depends on the consistency of the sweet potato mix. It should be light, firm and not sticky. When you have the correct consistency, tip the dough out onto a floured board and divide the mixture into 8 portions.

  6. Take one portion at a time and roll it between your palms and the board until you have a snake about 2cm in diameter. Sprinkle with more flour if needed, then using a knife, cut the snake into gnocchi size pieces about 2cm each. After a few, this process will become quite quick - cut and flick, cut and flick… If you want to be fancy, you can roll each piece over the tines of a fork.

  7. Bring a large pot of water to boil with a teaspoon of salt. Working in batches, boil gnocchi until tender. It’s ready when they stop bobbing around in the middle and hang on the surface around the sides, about 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the surface of the water and transfer to a lined baking tray.

  8. Toss gnocchi with tomato sauce and serve with an extra sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Tip: If you wish to fry off the gnocchi, allow it to cool completely, before frying in butter or oil over a medium-high heat for a few minutes. Delicious but extra time and pans are needed.

Tip: If you want to use leftover sweet potato mash, just pop it on a tray and in the oven for 20 minutes or so. The mixture needs to have as little liquid as possible. The more liquid, the more flour and the heavier the gnocchi will be.

Tip: I prefer to use goat’s cheese but it does have a strong flavour, so use ricotta if you prefer a more subtle flavour. Just be sure to drain it thoroughly - place ricotta in a sieve lined with paper towel over a large bowl and drain for an hour or so to remove as much liquid as possible. This is not necessary if using goat’s cheese.

 

For more spring recipe ideas visit the website, buy the book or download the recipeezi App on the Apple Store or Google Play Store. It's free!