Recipe: Salmon with roasted Brussel sprouts, fennel and pesto

This is an easy recipe that combines some of my favourite things: crispy skin salmon, Brussel sprouts and pesto. This is a meal packed with healthy fats, including omega-3 from the salmon and monounsaturated fats from the extra-virgin olive oil. This dish is gluten-free and low in carbs. Feel free to swap the vegetables for your favourite ones or whatever you have available.

I used Pecorino cheese (made from sheep’s milk) instead of Parmigiano Reggiano because I prefer its sharp taste, but you can use regular Parmesan. I also left out the garlic – I prefer using roasted garlic instead of raw in sauces but wanted to keep this recipe as simple as possible. You will have leftover pesto to enjoy with your morning eggs.

Salmon with roasted Brussel sprouts, fennel and pesto

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Salmon and vegetables

  • 3 salmon fillets
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 600 gr Brussel sprouts
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pesto

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 30g grated Pecorino cheese
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  2. Trim and halve Brussel sprouts, trim and slice fennel. Place vegetables on a tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  3. While the vegetables cook, place washed basil leaves, pine nuts, cheese, lemon juice and olive oil in a food processor. Process to desired texture. Check seasoning, add salt if needed and several grinds of black pepper.
  4. Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a pan. Place the salmon fillets skin side down, season flesh with salt and pepper. Let cook for 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness.
  5. Flip fillets using a spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness.
  6. Serve fillets skin side up to preserve crispness or skin side down with a dollop of pesto on top for colour contrast. Serve roasted vegetables on the side, seasoned with salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Recipe: Supercharged Bolognese

This Supercharged Bolognese might look like a regular Bolognese but it’s got a secret ingredient to make it extra nutritious: Feather and Bone’s organic beef mince with organs. You can use your own mince + organ meat blend, of course.

Flavour comes, mostly, from the speck (also from Feather and Bone – you can use bacon instead), classic soffritto veggies (onion, garlic, celery and carrot) and red wine (you can use beef broth instead). The other flavour booster most Bolognese recipes don’t include is dried porcini, which adds to the umaminess of the dish. In Perú, ragú-style dishes are always made with dried mushrooms because they are included by default in the bay leaves bags that can be found at the herbs & spices section of the supermarket (this is called hongos y laurel). Finding dried mushrooms can be a bit more challenging in Australia but not impossible! – they’re available in most superkmarkets (and certainly specialty food stores), you just need to be patient to find them.

Most people serve Bolognese with spaghetti, but I prefer to serve it with vegetables for extra nutrition. I served them on top of sautéed Russian kale.

Supercharged Bolognese

Other suggestions include:

  • Higher carb:
    • roasted root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swedes, celeriac, pumpkin
    • vegetable “noodles” made from parsnip, celeriac, sweet potato, pumpkin
    • mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, parsnips, celeriac, swedes or a combination
    • polenta
    • rice, quinoa or a combination (pro tip: add lupin flakes for extra fibre and protein)
  • Lower carb:
    • roasted or steamed broccoli and/or cauliflower
    • sautéed kale or cabbage
    • roasted Brussel sprouts
    • roasted zucchini, eggplant and capsicum
    • vegetable “noodles” made from zucchini
    • kelp or shirataki noodles

Finally, I prefer using Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan (or Parmigiano Reggiano) but you can use whichever hard cheese you prefer.

Supercharged Bolognese

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bolognese

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500gr beef mince with organs
  • 200gr speck or bacon, cut in stripes
  • 10gr dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, white part finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine or beef broth
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • small handful of basil leaves, thinly sliced

To serve

  • your choice of vegetables or regular pasta substitute (see suggestions above)
  • freshly grated Pecorino Romano or other hard cheese

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pot or pan. Brown mince and speck/bacon.
  2. While meat cooks, place mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with hot water. When soft (5-8 minutes), drain but don’t discard the water. Chop mushrooms finely.
  3. Once meat is cooked, add onion, garlic, carrot, celery and leek. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add wine/broth and stir until almost fully evaporated.
  5. Add mushrooms and their water, tomatoes, bay leaf, season with 1 tsp salt and greshly ground pepper. Lower heat and cover cooking vessel. Cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat, check seasoning and stir in basil.
  7. Serve sauce over vegetables with freshly grated cheese on top.

Recipe: Arctic thyme lamb meatballs with roasted swede mash

I made these lamb meatballs using one of the wonderful Icelandic sea salts I reviewed recently. This artisanal salt is made by mixing Saltverk flaky sea salt with Wild Icelandic Arctic thyme, a plant that grows on gravel soils and in dry heath lands. According to the manufacturer, it pairs well with meat, especially Icelandic lamb.

I did not have access to Icelandic lamb but I figured grass-fed Australian lamb would make a fair substitute. I kept the recipe simple to highlight the flavour of the Arctic thyme sea salt. I chose swedes for the mash as this is one of the few vegetables traditionally used in Icelandic cuisine. The dish does take a bit of time to make if you roast the swedes like I did, but you can shorten the cooking time by steaming them instead.

Arctic thyme lamb meatballs with roasted swede mash

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Meatballs


Mash

  • 4 large swedes
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp sea salt

To serve

  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh parsley or chives, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  2. Peel and cut swedes in large cubes. Place on a baking tray with 1 tbsp unsalted butter. Bake until tender, about 1 hour (stir the butter once it has melted).
  3. While the swedes cook, mix meatball ingredients and form golf-sized balls. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper or foil.
  4. When the swedes are cooked, remove from oven and rise temperature to 200°C (180°C fan-forced).
  5. Place meatballs in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. While the meatballs cook, place swedes in food processor with the rest of the butter and salt. Process until smooth.
  7. Serve meatballs and mash with wilted greens, garnish with parsley or chives.

Recipe: Sudado de pescado (Peruvian steamed fish)

Sudado de pescado can be considered a soup or a stew. I guess it depends on how you serve it: with boiled cassava or with boiled cassava and rice. The verb sudar means “to sweat”… in this context, it means the fish is steamed on top of a bed of onions and tomatoes with a delicious broth.

One of the broth ingredients is chicha de jora, a fermented beverage made from malted maize (corn), commonly used in Peruvian cuisine. It is also served as a drink in many towns in the highlands to children and adults, despite its alcoholic content. Back in the day, the fermentation was kickstarted by chewing the corn kernels and spitting them in a bucket. Thankfully, these days it’s made through a more modern and hygienic process. Taste-wise, it’s similar to apple cider vinegar and plain kombucha. You can buy it from Latin food shops such as Tienda Latina in Ashfield.

Chicha de jora

Sudado de pescado was one of dad’s favourite dishes. I didn’t appreciate it until mum started making it with scallops. The addition of seafood elevates the dish to another level. I asked her for the recipe and she wrote down a paragraph with instructions but no quantities (for a change!). I think I got my version pretty close; dad would have approved.

As you can see below, sudado de pescado is a very simple and healthy dish to make, provided you have the ingredients at hand. I have indicated substitutions and ingredients that can be omitted.

Sudado de pescado

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 white fish fillets
  • 12 scallops (optional)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red onion in thick slices
  • 2 tomatoes in thick slices
  • 1 tbsp ají panca paste (or other red chilli paste, preferably smoked)
  • 1 tbsp ají amarillo paste (or other yellow chilli paste)
  • 3/4 cup chicha de jora (or plain kombucha or a combination of apple cider vinegar and white wine)
  • 1/4 cup fish stock
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) pisco (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 500g frozen cassava, to serve
  • rice or cauliflower rice, to serve (optional)
  • fresh chilli, to serve
  • coriander leaves, to serve

Directions

  1. Boil cassava until tender (25-30 minutes).
  2. While the cassava is cooking, heat oil in a large saucepan at medium heat. Add garlic, onion, tomatoes, ají panca and ají amarillo. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add chicha de jora, stock and pisco (if using) to the saucepan. Place fish on top of vegetables and scallops on top of fish. Season with salt and pepper. Turn down heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Drain cassava.
  5. Serve sudado with boiled cassava and rice/cauliflower rice (if desired). Garnish with fresh chilli and coriander.

Recipe: Peruvian spiced chicken

I would love to say this is a recipe for pollo a la brasa but that would be a terrible lie. First, I did not use charcoal to cook it and second, traditional pollo a la brasa can be made with no other seasoning than salt and pepper. That’s why I’m calling it Peruvian spiced chicken instead.

A couple of notes about ingredients:

  1. Peruvian dark beer (a.k.a. “malta”) is a bit sweeter than most dark beers here in Australia. I used O’Brien brown ale, which is not only delicious and gluten-free but also similar in taste to Peruvian malta. Feel free to use any dark beer you like.
  2. Ají panca is a dried red Peruvian chilli. In Perú you can buy it whole, ground or in paste. In Australia is more common to find the paste, which can be purchased online or in stores such as Fiji Market in Newtown and Tierras Latinas in Ashfield. I like the brand I bring from home every time I visit, which unfortunately is not available here (pictured below). If you can’t find it (or can’t be bothered), use any chilli paste you like… but don’t call it Peruvian chicken ;).

Finally, Peruvians would typically serve this chicken with chips and “salad” (maybe some iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato). I recommend serving it with your favourite vegetables or a nice salad, for example, this one.

Peruvian spiced chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/4 cup dark beer (O’Brien gluten-free dark ale recommended)
  • 2 tbsp ají panca paste (or other red chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or other gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/5 tsp rosemary salt (or 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp dried rosemary)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

  1. Mix all marinade ingredients and spread on and in chicken. Let marinate in the fridge for 3-12 hours.
  2. Take chicken out of the fridge and preheat oven to 215°C (185-195°C fan-forced).
  3. Place chicken in cast iron pot or roasting pan and roast for 70-90 minutes. Time will vary depending on the actual temperature of your oven and size of the chicken. Use a brush to baste chicken with the cooking juices approximately at the 45-50 minute mark
  4. Turn off oven and leave chicken inside for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve with vegetables.

Recipe: Mum’s burgers

Last time I went home I asked mum for recipes of meals I really miss. Her burgers, a simple weeknight meal, were on the list. She used to serve them with rice (otherwise it’s not a meal, according to many Peruvians) and occasionally a little salad. I used to pour tomato sauce all over the rice; these days I prefer serving the burgers with salad (coleslaw is my personal fave) and some good mustard.

Mum's burgers

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 tbsp minced onion
  • 2 tbsp minced tomato
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp ghee/oil in a pan at low-medium heat, cook onion, tomato and garlic until soft.
  2. In a bowl, mix beef mince, onion, tomato and garlic, egg and parsley. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. Form patties, heat 1 tbsp ghee/oil, cook patties 3-5 minutes per side.
  4. Serve with salad.

Recipe: Ground beef and cabbage

Here’s an simple nutritious recipe you can make on a week night using ingredients that are easy to come by.

Ground beef and cabbage

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • 1/2 small red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
  • 6 green onions, cut in long segments
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lime

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pan, brown beef.
  2. Add garlic and ginger, mix well until beef has finished cooking.
  3. Add cabbage, stir until cooked through.
  4. Add green onions, stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Turn off heat, add tamari, fish sauce and lime juice, stir and serve.

Recipe: Ground beef and green beans

Here’s an simple nutritious recipe you can make on a week night using ingredients that are easy to come by.

Ground beef and green beans

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced
  • a couple of handfuls of green beans
  • 6 green onions, cut in long segments
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • sesame seeds, to serve

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pan, brown beef.
  2. Add garlic and ginger, mix well until beef has finished cooking.
  3. Add green beans, stir until cooked through.
  4. Add green onions, stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Turn off heat, add tamari, oyster sauce and vinegar, stir and serve.

Recipe: Low-carb ají de gallina (Peruvian chicken stew)

Peruvian food is delicious but can be very carb-heavy. Ají de gallina, for instance, is a chicken stew made with bread, evaporated milk and served with rice and/or potatoes. Made the traditional way, this is not a dish for those with gluten or lactose intolerance, nor for people watching their carb intake.

Note that this particular recipe is not lactose-free (you can use coconut cream instead of double cream, but it will change the taste of the dish). Serve with a simple salad on the side and enjoy!

Low-carb ají de gallina

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

  • 1 kg chicken breast
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chilli) paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric (optional)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup pecans (or walnuts), chopped
  • 1/2 cup double cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • To serve
  • cauliflower rice
  • 1-2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 6 olives

Directions

  1. Place chicken and broth in a pot and simmer until cooked through (20-30 minutes).
  2. Reserve broth and shred chicken with the help of tongs or forks.
  3. Heat oil in a pot or saucepan on low heat. Add onion, garlic and ají amarillo and cook until soft (~10 minutes).
  4. Add chicken, broth, Parmesan and pecans. Mix well, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Turn off heat, add cream and stir well. Serve with cauliflower rice, a slice of hard-boiled egg and an olive.

Recipe: Dry-brined pork chops with roasted asparagus, fennel and radishes

Dry brining is an alternative to traditional brining (i.e. submerging a piece of meat in salty water) with the goal of keeping the meat moist via osmosis. Dry brining involves covering the meat directly with salt (and optional spices), which initially draws water out of the meat. However, given enough time, the water is reabsorbed by the meat, which tenderises in the process and remains moist. This works better with thicker chops (steaks, etc.).

Dry-brined pork chops with roasted asparagus, fennel and radishes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • 4 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp coconut or olive oil
  • Vegetables:
  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 bunch of radishes
  • handful of rocket
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • drizzle of caramelised balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Season both sides of the pork chops with paprika, oregano and salt. Place chops on a rimmed baking sheet and leave in the fridge uncovered at least overnight and up to 24 hours.
  2. Take chops out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature.
  3. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  4. Snap hard ends of asparagus stalks and cut them in 2-3 pieces.
  5. Wash and chop fennel in large chunks.
  6. Place asparagus, fennel and radishes in a baking sheet, drizzle with coconut oil. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  7. While vegetables are roasting, heat oil in a pan. Shake excess salt off chops and cook 6-8 minutes per side, until completely cooked through.
  8. Serve chops alongside vegetables drizzled with caramelised balsamic.