Healthy, simple and special

THE BOOK: Everyday Fresh, by Donna Hay, published by HarperCollins, RRP$50.
THE BOOK: Everyday Fresh, by Donna Hay, published by HarperCollins, RRP$50.
There are days when it feels as though there's barely time to eat dinner, let alone prepare it.

Australian food writer Donna Hay’s latest book, Everyday Fresh, is for those situations.

While people might wonder if she still cooks at home, Hay is quick to say yes she does.

"Absolutely. I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to make a classic easier, quicker and better for you - as long as it still tastes amazingly good."

Hay’s mantra over the years has always been "simple made special", and her recipes are no different.

These days she is also on the lookout for ways make something easier, healthier, quicker or a little more on-trend - and she also loves a cheat, a quick-fix or anything that can be made in one bowl, so long as it still tastes great.

"If I can create a dish that makes someone feel better because it's mouth-wateringly delicious, packed with nourishing vegetables, or helps them bring a little more balance to their life - that's success."

Her book starts out with one-pan dinners - she freely admits that the only thing she likes more than an effortless dinner is an effortless cleanup.

Hay also has a series of "base" recipes, which start out with a flavour profile or ingredient such as miso or chickepeas, and allows the cook to change it up to suit their family’s likes and dislikes.

She has also dived into the "meal in a bowl" trend with vegetable-heavy dishes that look amazing.

In her quick-fix section, she gives recipes for those days when people are "under the pump" and need quick and easy solutions.

And then there is the ultimate quick solution - grabbing a pre-made meal out of the freezer - so she had dedicated a chapter to batch cooking that can be used in various ways to create meals in minutes.

Hay finishes with a sweets section that highlights her evolving approach to sugar: reduce the added sugar without reducing the satisfaction.

My favourite new way to make cauliflower rice is to simply grate it on a trusty box grater. No need to drag out the food processor every time. It’s one of those things I wish I’d discovered sooner. It’s so easy that I now make it much more often.

PHOTOS: CON POULOS/STYLING:  DONNA HAY
PHOTOS: CON POULOS/STYLING: DONNA HAY

Serves 4

Cauliflower rice bowls

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced

2 Tbsp oregano leaves

1kg cauliflower, grated

sea salt and cracked black pepper

200g baby spinach leaves

Crispy chilli eggs

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 large red chillies, chopped

1 green onion (scallion), chopped

4 eggs

Method

To make the cauliflower rice bowls

Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, garlic and oregano and cook for 1 minute. Add the cauliflower, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until cauliflower is soft. Stir through baby spinach.

To make the crispy chilli eggs

Heat a medium frying pan over high heat.

Add the oil, chilli and onion and cook for 1 minute. Break the eggs into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Reduce temperature to low and cover pan. Cook for 2 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

To serve

Place the cauliflower rice mixture into bowls and top with a chilli egg.

Oil and coconut chocolate cookie sandwiches 

These biscuits remind me of a favourite from my childhood ... only way better. Caramelly, crispy oat cookies sandwiched with a smooth chocolate filling. It’s hard to stop at just one!

Makes 14 cookie sandwiches

½ cup (45g) rolled oats

½ cup (40g) desiccated coconut

¾ cup (185g) almond butter

¼ cup (30g) almond meal (ground

almonds)

½ cup (75g) coconut sugar

¼ cup (60ml) pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate ganache filling

100g dark (70% cocoa) chocolate,

chopped

¼ cup (60g) almond butter

Method

Heat oven to 160degC .

Combine oats, coconut, almond butter, almond meal, coconut sugar, maple and vanilla in a bowl and mix well to combine. Roll heaped teaspoons of mixture into balls and place, about 3cm apart, on a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Flatten slightly.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on tray.

While biscuits are cooking, make the chocolate ganache filling. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, stir through the almond butter. Chill for 10 minutes or until it becomes a spreadable consistency.

Sandwich the cooled biscuits together with the ganache and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Sticky soy chicken with sesame noodles

Serves 4

1 Tbsp light-flavoured extra virgin olive oil

150g dried soba noodles, cooked

2 zucchini (courgettes), shredded using a

julienne peeler

2 Tbsp white or black sesame seeds

To serve

coriander (cilantro) leaves

Chicken meatballs

600g chicken mince

¼ cup (50g) white chia seeds

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 Tbsp finely grated ginger

2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

1 large green chilli, finely chopped

2 green onions (scallions), finely

chopped

Sticky soy sauce

½ cup (125ml) soy sauce

1 Tbsp white miso paste (shiro)

¾ cup (180ml) mirin (Japanese

rice wine)

1 Tbsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

¼ cup (90g) honey

Method

Heat oven to 220°C .

To make the chicken meatballs

Place the chicken, chia seeds, garlic, ginger, hoisin, chilli and onion in a bowl and mix to combine. Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into balls, place on a tray lined with baking paper and set aside.

Pour the oil on to a large deep-sided baking tray. Bake for 5 minutes or until hot. Add the meatballs to the tray and bake for 5 minutes.

To make the sticky soy sauce

Whisk together the soy, miso, mirin, sesame oil, vinegar and honey. Remove the meatballs from the oven and carefully pour the soy mixture over the meatballs. Return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the pan sauce is thickened.

To serve

Place noodles and zucchini in serving bowls and sprinkle with sesame. Top with meatballs, sticky soy sauce and coriander.

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