I love this time of year. The crisp air of autumn has arrived bringing with it snugly mornings, clear blue skies and the distinct need to cook nourishing cosy foods every day. I’m not sure what I adore more, the changing of seasons or the rituals that surround them. When the temperature starts to drop and the market is full of apples, pears and oranges I love to signal the seasonal change by pulling out the cashmere throws, retrieving my mighty pots and pans ready for some braising and slow cooking and dotting the house with vanilla cinnamon spiced candles.
With the instinctual desire to cook nourishing meals I get back to the starchy basics I equate with the cooler months, quinoa being one of my staples. I adore this ancient grain rich in protein with its wonderfully nutty flavour. I add it to roasted vegetables & freshly picked baby spinach for a simple yet satisfying lunch or mix it through a simple batter with grated carrots for a delicious fritter.
Today, I decided to create a simple salad of a few of my favourites. I cooked the quinoa with vegetable stock then added some barely blanched bright green peas and beautifully crunchy broccoli. To add some herby zest I created a punchy pesto of almonds, a handful of basil, mint, parsley and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil as well as the zest and juice of a lemon. To finish the pesto I added some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The zesty freshness of the pesto really works beautifully with the quinoa, when added to the warm quinoa the grain soaks up all of the beautifully fragrant pesto that takes a sometimes bland basic to zesty salad super-stardom.
To add yet a little more green I scooped out spoonful rounds of creamy avocado and adorned the salad with a handful of crunchy full of goodness pepitas. I also crumbled a slab of lemon caper marinated creamy Danish feta through the salad which for me completed the salad perfectly.
Another autumnal ritual that I adore partaking in, just as my mother did, is roasting a chicken. I don't think there is any smell more welcoming or homely than a chicken roasting in the oven, nestled on a bed of garlic, lemon and herbs and surrounded with crunchy roasted potatoes . With Grace loving plenty of playtime my time spent in the kitchen is a lot more limited so roasting is by far the most simple cooking method for me. I love that I can pile my roasting dish with chicken, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, a few sprigs of thyme and a drizzle of garlic infused olive oil, pop into the oven and dinner is done needing no further help or assistance from me.
Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken Drumsticks
6 chicken drumsticks
sea salt and black pepper
garlic infused extra virgin olive oil
6 sprigs thyme
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place chicken drumsticks on baking tray, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Zest the lemon over the chicken, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle sprigs of thyme over chicken. Bake for 40 minutes. Enjoy x
Quinoa with Greens and Almond Pesto
150 grams quinoa
400ml vegetable stock
1 big bunch of broccolini
150 grams frozen peas
1 avocado, flesh scooped out with a teaspoon
100 grams of feta (I used lemon caper marinated danish feta but you can use any you like)
1 big handful of pepitas
100 grams almonds
3/4 cup mixed herbs (I used basil, mint, parsley but you can use whatever takes your fancy)
zest and juice of a lemon
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the quinoa and vegetable stock in a saucepan, bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes until all of the stock is absorbed and the quinoa is soft with a little bit of bite. If the stock is absorbed before the quinoa is cooked simply add a little water.
Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the peas and broccolini and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
For the pesto...whiz all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender to a smooth paste.
Place the blanched greens and quinoa in a bowl, add a good heaped tablespoon or two of the pesto and mix to combine. Add the avocado, feta and pumpkin seeds and toss to combine. Enjoy x