If Donna Hay's latest cookbook proves one thing, it's that nutritious recipes do not have to compromise on flavour or convenience.
The bestselling author's most recent compilation is a no-fuss approach to classic, healthy cooking, with a few smart quick-fixes and kitchen cheats thrown in.
"I love to create smarter, faster, better-for-you ... meals using everyday ingredients and making them shine," she says.
"With simple flavour twists and clever ingredient tweaks you can take everyday classics to new levels of deliciousness."
From quick kale-packed low-carb gnocchi to a fresh spin on cauliflower cheese, here is a taste of Hay's new book Everyday Fresh.
Oven-baked kale gnocchi with balsamic tomatoes
- 3 x 400g cans cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 basil stalks
- 2 cups (500ml) chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- finely grated parmesan and basil leaves, to serve
- 4 cups (120g) finely shredded kale leaves, blanched, well drained
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
- 1 cup (80g) finely grated parmesan
- 2 cups (480g) fresh ricotta
- 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ⅔ cup (100g) brown rice flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
- Preheat oven to 220C.
- Place the tomatoes, balsamic, garlic, basil stalks, stock, salt and pepper in a large deep-sided roasting tray. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is simmering.
- To make the gnocchi, place the kale, lemon rind, parmesan, ricotta, parsley, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine (this mixture should be a little sticky).
- Divide the gnocchi mixture into 4 pieces and press out each on a lightly floured board into a 30cm log. Cut each log into 4cm pieces, gently pressing into shape and set aside.
- Add the gnocchi to the simmering balsamic tomatoes, drizzle with the oil and bake, uncovered, for a further 15 minutes or until the gnocchi are cooked through.
- To serve, ladle gnocchi and tomatoes into bowls and sprinkle with parmesan and basil leaves.
Cauliflower cheese meets lasagne. Photo: Con Poulos
Free-form lasagne with minted spinach
- 6 fresh lasagne sheets, blanched
- ¼ cup (20g) finely grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
Cauliflower cheese sauce
- 1kg cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 cups (500ml) milk
- ¾ cup (60g) finely grated parmesan
- 500g baby spinach leaves
- ¼ cup (4g) chopped mint leaves
- ¼ cup (4g) finely chopped chives
- Preheat oven to 220C.
- To make the cauliflower cheese sauce, place the cauliflower and milk in a large saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for 8-10 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Allow to cool slightly. Using a hand-held stick blender, blend until smooth. Add parmesan, salt and pepper and stir through.
- To make the minted spinach, place the spinach into a bowl and pour over boiling water. Set aside for 30 seconds, then drain. Press the spinach between paper towel to remove any excess liquid. Shred the spinach and place into a bowl with the mint, chives, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
- To assemble lasagnes, place 1 lasagne sheet into the bases of two lightly greased 16-18cm ovenproof dishes or frying pans. Top each sheet with ¾-cupful of cauliflower cheese sauce, then ¼ of the minted spinach. Repeat layering with remaining lasagne sheets, cauliflower cheese sauce and minted spinach, finishing with the remaining cauliflower cheese sauce. Top with the parmesan and place dishes on a baking tray. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve sprinkled with the extra parmesan.
One-pan perfect tray bake. Photo: Con Poulos
Lemon, olive and butter bean chicken
For a dish that is filled with punchy flavours and textures, this chicken dish takes surprisingly little effort to make. The lemon, garlic, salty olives, creamy beans and crispy cavolo nero do all the heavy lifting. It's what I call one-pan perfect!
- ¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons, thickly sliced
- 8 cloves garlic, skin on, crushed
- ¾ cup (45g) green Sicilian olives
- 12 sprigs oregano or marjoram
- 4 x 150g chicken breast fillets (4 small), trimmed
- 400g can butter beans (lima beans), drained, rinsed
- 12 small stalks cavolo nero (Tuscan kale), stems removed
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Place the oil, lemon, garlic, olives, oregano, salt and pepper in a large roasting pan lined with non-stick baking paper. Toss to combine. Bake for 10 minutes then add the chicken and butter beans. Coat the chicken in the pan juices and bake for 10 minutes. Add the cavolo nero to the pan and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the cavolo nero is crisp and the chicken is cooked through.
- To serve, slice the chicken into thick slices and place onto serving plates with the crispy cavolo nero, beans, olives and pan juices.
This is an edited extract from Everyday Fresh by Donna Hay, RRP $45. Photography: Con Poulos. Available at all good bookstores and donnahay.com.au