Just in time for the warmer months Good Food's Karen Martini has released a new book dedicated to vegetables and salads; perfect barbecue, al fresco fare. Salads & Vegetables draws on the chef's genius in teaming fresh, seasonal produce with cheese, pastry, legumes, herbs, nuts and spices to make exciting and nourishing vegetable-led dishes. First stop? We couldn't go past her bright and tasty ramen noodle salad.
Broccoli and ramen noodle salad with ponzu and sesame dressing
This is a bit of a go-to at lunchtime for my daughters. I tend to often have all these ingredients in the fridge or pantry, and it's super quick to pull together. They love the Japanese flavourings and hardly even notice that it's got quite a bit of broccoli in it. Sometimes I serve it as below, as a bright and zippy salad, or I'll keep the noodles and broccoli warm and add a cup of miso to the serving bowls, or serve it just on the side.
180g ramen noodles
2 heads of broccoli, cut into small florets
extra-virgin olive oil
4 spring onions, white and most of the green parts, finely sliced
2 handfuls of coriander leaves
2 tablespoons hijiki, goma wakame (seaweed salad) or finely shredded nori, to serve
toasted sesame seeds, to serve
For ponzu, sesame and ginger dressing
100 ml ponzu
2½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons lightly toasted sesame seeds
10-cm piece of ginger, finely diced or grated
1. Cook the noodles in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the broccoli and cook for a further 3 minutes. Drain and refresh briefly under cold water. Drain again and coat lightly with oil.
2. Combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add the noodles, broccoli, spring onion and coriander and toss to combine.
3. Pile the salad into shallow bowls, top with the seaweed and sesame seeds and serve immediately.
Black bean and corn salsa fresca. Photo: Plum Publishing
Corn and black bean salsa fresca
This is a very simple Mexican-style salad that can just be eaten as is with some smashed avocado, sour cream and a squeeze of lime, or add it to soft tortillas with pulled pork, grilled fish or whatever else takes your fancy.
3 corn cobs
400g can black turtle beans, drained and well rinsed
1 red capsicum, cut into 5mm dice
1 poblano chilli, very finely diced
1 large oxheart tomato, cut into 5mm dice
1 red onion, cut into 5mm dice
seeds of ½ pomegranate
1 handful of mint leaves, torn
1 handful of coriander leaves, chopped
80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
juice of ½ pomegranate
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano* (optional)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, finely grated
lime wedges, coriander leaves, sour cream soft tortillas to serve
*Mexican oregano is actually from a different family to the oregano found in Europe, with the former being from the verbena family and the latter from the expansive mint group. Though from a different family, Mexican oregano does have minty notes, along with touches of citrus, anise and white pepper. It is distinctly different to Mediterranean oregano and is really worth seeking out if you're into making Mexican-inspired dishes.
1. Cook the corn in a hot griddle pan or on the barbecue until tender and nicely charred. Cool and then slice the kernels off.
2. For the dressing, combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Add the corn to a bowl with the remaining ingredients, pour over the dressing and combine well.
3. Serve with lime wedges, coriander leaves, sour cream and soft tortillas.
Red lentil and sweet potato braise. Photo: Plum Publishing
Middle Eastern red lentil and sweet potato braise
My daughters really love traditional dhal (and so do I), but they've also become particularly fond of this digression that is subtly spiced in a Middle Eastern direction. You can keep this a little more liquid and serve it more like a soup, or let it thicken and serve it with some buttered rice and a good dollop of yoghurt. Just be sure to add the sumac right at the end, as it will lose its freshness and vibrancy if you cook it out. Additionally, add a little more when serving if you're reheating this.
3 sweet potatoes, skin on, pricked randomly with a knife
80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
300g red football lentils
2.5 litres vegetable stock or water
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
½ tablespoon rice flour
1 tablespoon sumac, plus extra to serve
juice of ½ lemon
thick natural yoghurt, to serve
coriander leaves, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced.
2. Bake the sweet potatoes for about 45 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, add the oil to a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until softened.
3. Add the allspice and cumin and stir through briefly until fragrant. Add the lentils, stir through to coat and pour in the stock.
4. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Pull the skins off the sweet potatoes and break the flesh into chunks. Add to the pan and stir through.
5. Add the rice flour, stir through and cook for 15 minutes. Once the lentils are tender, add the sumac and lemon juice off the heat and adjust the seasoning.
6. Serve with yoghurt, coriander and a little extra sumac.
Recipes extracted from Salads & Vegetables by Karen Martini. Available November 2016, Plum, RRP $39.99.