A celebration of abundance

Kale and white miso pesto. Photos: Linda Robertson
Kale and white miso pesto. Photos: Linda Robertson
Autumn is harvest time, and what better way to celebrate the abundance of our fertile earth, than through sharing meals, savouring natural flavours and textures of locally grown vegetables, herbs, fruit and nuts? Hagar Ozri provides some suggestions.

Either your own garden or the farmers market will be full of produce at this time of the year: zucchinis, garlic, capsicums, tomatoes, cucumbers, spring onions, berries, new season apples, plums, apricots and more. Because there is so much fresh local produce to work with, it is easy to add lots of fresh food to your diet and create nutritious plant-based meals.

Remembering that our health is in our hands, we can make a huge difference to our wellness through the choice of meals we cook. The more fresh produce in your daily diet the better, it has plenty of natural fibre, vitamins and minerals, it is also easy to digest, leaving you feeling light and energetic!

Cooking plant-based meals is easy, we are not concerned about the perfect "instagram" image here.

Super healthy plant-based meals can be simple and quick, delicious, nutritious, filling and satisfying.

For example:

Steaming or sautéing; lightly cook a bunch of veges for a stir fry, onion, carrot sticks, zucchini, broccoli florets, garlic, ginger, a drizzle of sesame oil and tamari and serve with brown rice or quinoa.

Add chopped leafy greens to every meal; to roast vegetables while still hot, to pasta or rice dishes right at the end of cooking so they are just wilted.

Steamed vegetables; simple is best — just steam and eat as a quick dinner on a busy week night, we don’t need elaborate cooking.

Prepare a salad of greens; such as lettuce, mizuna, spinach leaves, carrot tops, young kale and beet leaves, then add sliced tomatoes, capsicum, radish, cucumber and spring onion with chopped fresh herbs — mint and coriander — add sprouts of lentils, chick peas or mung beans, toss with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt and serve. And enjoy!

Here are two traditional dishes with a health boost — a pesto and a jam recipe, made more healthy.

Kale and white miso pesto

Adding miso and kale to pesto is a great way to integrate these two health-food ingredients into your diet.

Makes 200ml jar

2 cups raw kale

2 cups basil

½ cup toasted walnuts

2 Tbsp white miso paste

½ tsp salt

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Toast the walnuts at 100degC for 10 minutes, let cool.

Add kale, basil, toasted walnuts, miso paste, and salt to a food processor and process.

As the machine is running, pour olive oil and blend until smooth.

Pour pesto into a clean jar and store in the fridge.

Chia-berry jam 

Jam without sugar! This recipe for chia-berry jam has no sugar and uses chia as the thickener, for its gel-like consistency.

Makes about 1 cup

500g of your choice of fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) finely diced.

2 Tbsp chia seeds

2 tsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup, optional (depending on sweetness of berries).

1. Place berries into a small pot with a lid. Cook over high heat until strawberries release their liquid and start to boil rapidly. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 5 minutes with the lid slightly cracked, stirring occasionally. Do not walk away—it will boil over.

2. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and sweetener, if using. Stir in chia seeds. Transfer to a small jar to cool and thicken for at least 10 minutes. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Serves 4

Roast vegetable salad

This is a simple dish that is filling, satisfying and colourful, using mainly root vegetables. Feel free to use other vegetables of your choice. Serve hot or cold with dips or with a hot dinner.

4 carrots

2 beetroot

1 kumara

1 parsnip

4 medium potatoes

½ cauliflower (optional)

1 broccoli (optional)

Onion

8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 capsicums

A large bunch of a mix of fresh herbs such as parsley, mint, coriander, chives.

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Heat the oven to 200degC.

Prepare three roasting trays lined with baking paper.

Scrub clean the vegetables of your choice and cut them to uniform bite size.

Place the vegetables in a medium bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, toss to coat them well.

Spread each type on a separate oven tray.

Place in the hot oven and roast for 30 minutes, check for readiness (the vegetables should be soft with a golden colour) and keep in the oven longer if needed. Repeat with the non-root vegetables, but roast for 10 minutes only

Cut the capsicum, garlic and onion into 1cm pieces, and roast for 10 minutes.

Place all the roasted

vegetables in a large mixing bowl, add chopped herbs, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, toss and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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