Wherever you sit on the superfood scale, the food we associate with comfort and good things and people we love, will always make us feel better. We can all agree that a diet full of good, fresh food will help put us in the best possible position to ward off all that ails. Food full of colour and in-(flu)season – the likes of vitamin C-packed citrus, pumpkin plus ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli and soothing honey.
Roasted lemon chicken and burghul hot yoghurt soup with chilli oil
Warming and sustaining, chicken soup has been slurped the world over since day dot in times of ailment. In addition to a hefty dose of lemon and garlic, the comfort factor has been upped by toasting the burghul to add a lovely nutty flavour. I also acknowledge that you might be making this because you feel unwell, so feel free to skip the chicken-roasting shenanigans and sub-in some store-bought barbecued or poached chook.
1 large chicken breast on the bone, skin on (or a skinless, boneless chicken breast)
½ tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint
½ lemon, sliced into thin rounds (save the remaining half for the garnish)
2 tbsp olive oil
300g coarse burghul, rinsed
zest of 1 lemon
chicken stock to cover (about 2 cups)
½ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cup cooked basmati rice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli sauce/hot sauce
1½ cups chicken stock
4 cups Greek-style yoghurt
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tsp dried mint
thin strips of lemon peel, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a roasting tray with baking paper.
Place the chicken breast on the tray, rub in the olive oil and mint, and drape a few lemon slices on top. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked (insert a skewer into the thickest part of the breast and check that the liquid runs clear; if using a regular chicken breast reduce the cooking time by five minutes and check regularly). Using a few forks, shred the meat, skin and lemon into a bowl. Set aside while you prepare the soup.
Pour the stock into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, add two tablespoons of olive oil to a frypan over medium heat. Add the burghul and lemon zest to the frypan and cook, stirring regularly, until the burghul begins to colour and has a nutty aroma.
Ladle the hot stock over the burghul (you want to just cover the grains) and cook for five to 10 minutes or until the grain is soft and the liquid has been absorbed (you may need to add more stock depending on how quickly the stock evaporates). Add the burghul to the bowl of shredded chicken, then add the cooked rice, garlic and parsley. Season generously and stir to combine.
To make the chilli oil, combine the hot sauce and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.
Add the stock and yoghurt to a large saucepan over low heat. Bring the heat up very slowly so that the yoghurt doesn't split and curdle. Cook, stirring regularly, for five minutes or until the soup is hot. Crack in the egg and sift over the cornflour, stirring continuously until fully incorporated. Once the soup has thickened slightly, it is ready. Stir through the dried mint and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the chicken and burghul mixture between bowls. Carefully ladle the soup mixture and spoon over some of the chilli oil. Add the strips of lemon peel and serve immediately.
Serves 4 generously
Roasted pumpkin packed with goodness. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Ginger, turmeric, kale and wild rice-stuffed pumpkin with chilli
There are things that (supposedly) define what sort of person you are. Toilet paper – crunched or folded. Roasted pumpkin – skin on or off. I firmly fall in the 'on' camp, I love the break in texture, the deep earthy taste, and in this case, the job it does holding the slow-roasted pumpkin flesh in place. If you can't think of anything worse, gently remove the skin after you have roasted the pumpkin and serve as a loose salad instead.
2 small or 1 large butternut pumpkin (about 1 kg total)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 ½ cups black rice, rinsed thoroughly
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup kale leaves, ribs removed, coarsely torn
2 tbsp flaked almonds
½ -1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
½ cup salted pepitas
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
½ cup Persian-style feta
Ginger turmeric and lemon dressing
¼ cup lemon juice
1 x 4cm knob of ginger, finely grated
2 tsp ground turmeric
½ tbsp maple syrup
5 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Cut the pumpkin/s widthways into 10cm thick slices. Place the pumpkin rounds flat-side down on the tray and drizzle over the oil and maple syrup. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Roast for about 40 minutes or until the skin darkens and the flesh is soft, but not so soft the pieces collapse.
While the pumpkin is roasting, add the rice and stock to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked – it should still have a slightly chewy, nutty texture. Strain and add to a large bowl.
Once the pumpkin is cooked remove from the oven, and using a spoon, carefully scoop out about a quarter to half of the pumpkin flesh and seeds and add to the bowl of rice (if you don't like the seeds you can discard them).
Add the remaining topping ingredients to the bowl and gently toss together – you don't want it turning to mush.
To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the rice mixture.
To serve, carefully scoop the rice mixture back into the centres of the roasted pumpkin rounds. Season generously and serve immediately.
Cheat's pho with lemongrass beef. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Lemongrass, ginger and garlic beef pho
I've circumvented the slow-cooking of beef shin or oxtail in favour of quality store-bought master and beef stocks. I feel the shun of purists, but it means midweek magic if you are willing to overlook the short cuts.You could give the marinated meat a flash fry to crust around the edges and heighten the lemongrass hit.
3 stalks lemongrass, bruised, white parts only, finely chopped
1 x 5cm knob ginger, peeled, chopped
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 red onion, roughly chopped
350g eye fillet, very thinly sliced
500ml beef stock
700ml master stock
3 cups fresh rice noodles
2 cups bean sprouts, washed thoroughly
½ red chilli, sliced
½ cup Thai basil leaves, coarsely torn
½ cup Vietnamese mint leaves, coarsely torn
Add the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, chilli and red onion to a blender and blitz to combine. You still want some texture but it should be smooth enough so you're not choking on the woody lemongrass fibres.
Add half the lemongrass paste to a bowl with the steak and toss to coat, massaging some of the lemongrass mix into the beef slices. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Add the remaining lemongrass paste to a saucepan with the stocks and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into a clean saucepan if you like a clear broth or just leave as is and add the noodles to warm through until tender. Bring back up to a rolling boil then ladle into serving bowls. Top with the thinly sliced beef (it will begin to cook in the residual heat of the broth), sprouts, chilli and herbs and serve.
This colourful savoury (or sweet) fruit salad is packed with Vitamin C. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Kefir, citrus and fruit salad with cumin, honey, ginger and lemon dressing
This has all the vitamin C flu-busting of citrus, the soothing benefits of manuka honey and gut flourishing kefir.
If you fall into the no-fruit-in-savoury category a la pineapple on pizza, look away. Or just remove the onion and replace the cumin with vanilla bean paste to push this salad into 'sweet' territory.
To ensure your yoghurt-kefir mix isn't too runny, it is important to use a really thick Greek-style yoghurt for the base. I also deliberately left my slices of grapefruit and orange nice and thick, so they take on all the dressing flavours.
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp Manuka honey
zest and juice of ½ a lemon
1 cup Greek-style yoghurt
¼ cup milk kefir
2 mandarins, peeled, pith removed, segmented
2 gold kiwifruit, peeled and sliced into 3-5mm-thick rounds
1 green kiwifruit, peeled and sliced into 3-5mm-thick rounds
1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled, pith removed, sliced into 1cm-thick rounds
1 Valencia orange, peeled, pith removed, sliced into 1cm-thick rounds
½ red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp finger lime pearls (optional)
arils of ¼ pomegranate
For the dressing, combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl, whisk briefly to combine and set aside.
Combine the yoghurt and kefir in a bowl. Season generously and scoop onto a large serving plate. Top with slices of the fruit and scatter over the red onion, finger lime pearls and pomegranate arils.
Spoon over the dressing and serve.
Serves 4 as a side salad