Pot-luck dinner

Dinners like this are great as they are informal and a great way to catch up over the holiday season, writes Alison Lambert.

Keeping the food casual and simple is the secret. I have included a mixed bag of recipes which will assist nicely for any time of the day or night!

Photos: Simon Lambert
Photos: Simon Lambert
Leftover pie

The idea behind this pie is to use up leftover roast veges, salad bits and bobs, etc.

Serves 8-10


4½ cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting
¾ cup olive oil, more for greasing
½ tsp salt

3 cups leftover roast vegetables (potatoes, kumara, pumpkin, carrots etc), roughly chopped
1 cup leftover cooked greens (broccoli, spinach, kale, asparagus)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red and yellow capsicum, seeded and cut into medium strips
2 onions, thinly sliced
20 olives, pitted olives
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
100g feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

Begin by making the pastry, by combing the flour with 1½ tsp salt.

Pour in the oil and mix with your hands, slowly add approximately ⅔ cup of cold water. Only add 1-2 tablespoon water at a time as you may not need it all. You are wanting a dough that is pliable, stretchy and soft, not crumbly!

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180degC.

Cut the leftover roast vegetables into bite-sized pieces.

Roughly cut up any greens and add to the bowl.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan and saute off the onion, garlic and capsicums and cook for 5 minutes.

Add to the roast vegetable mixture.

Add the olives, thyme, parsley and feta cheese, season with salt and cracked pepper. Stir to combine.

Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Roll dough into a 40-by-30cm rectangle. With long side facing you, spread vegetable mixture evenly over right half of dough.

Dab edges of dough with water. Fold left half over filling and pinch edges firmly to seal. Using knife, cut a slit in center of crust, pulling back edges slightly over the top layer and seal tightly.

Transfer crust to baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.

Cool for 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Pot-luck prawns

Prawns are always a bit of treat for us over here but they do make an easy and refreshing option for a pot-luck dinner. These prawns are best made the day before so they really get to marinate.

Serves 6

2 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp sugar
2 fresh bay leaves
24 raw prawns, shelled
1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
¼ tsp fennel seeds
3 lemons, juice and 1 lemon, zested
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
¾ cup olive oil
sea salt flakes and cracked pepper

In a large bowl, add the chopped spring onions, fennel seeds, chilli flakes, lemon juice, zest and olive oil.

Bring 1 litre of water to the boil with the salt and sugar.

Add the prawns, turn off the heat, cover and let the prawns sit for 3 minutes. Drain and add to the oil mixture, season with a little salt and cracked pepper. Let cool completely.

Store in the fridge in non-reactive container and ensure the prawns are completely submerged in the oil. Best to let them marinate for at least 8 hours before eating.

To serve these prawns you are best to eat them straight from the marinade and mop up the juices with good bread.

Will last, if submerged, for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.


Cashew cheese with garden veges

Keeping it light and fresh with a simple go-to snack plate. Regarding the vegetables, this is up to you as you may have your favourites. Crackers and bread can be added to spread this delicious cashew mixture on.

Serves 6-10


Cashew cheese
2 cups cashew nuts, soaked in cold water 4-6 hrs
2 cloves organic garlic
½ cup filtered water
2-4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, extra for drizzling
sea salt to taste

6 spring onions, trimmed
6 stalks celery, cut into long lengths
10 radishes, cut in half if large
12 baby carrots, 1 cucumber, cut into rounds

Begin by making the cashew cheese.

Drain and rinse the cashew nuts.

Put all ingredients into blender and blend well, scrape down the sides and continue to blend, as you want a creamy, light texture.

Put into desired bowl, cover and chill until required.

Prepare the vegetables by washing them, peeling, cutting or whatever you may need to do to make them edible.

Arrange the vegetables on a large plate.

Drizzle over a little more olive oil and a pinch of sea salt flakes on top of the cashew cheese. Serve alongside the crunchy, seasonal vegetables.


Fresh summer strawberry cake

Cakes are always a welcome addition to any dinner party and whilst the strawberries are sweet and in abundance make the most of them. This cake is simple to prepare and always goes down a treat.

Serves 10-12

2 large eggs
200g sugar
230g sour cream
100ml light olive oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g white flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
500g strawberries, hulled, cut thick rounds/slices

Grease a 20cm springform cake tin lightly with butter and line with baking paper.

Preheat the oven 180degC.

Prepare the strawberries, by removing the green part and slice them thickly, some in half and some in rounds and set aside.

Add the eggs and sugar to the bowl of a mixer and mix on high until thick and pale.

Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat well to combine.

Keeping the beater going, slowly drizzle in the oil until well incorporated.

Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix gently until just combined.

Remove from the mixer and gently mix a few times with a spatula.

Spread half the cake mix into your prepared tin and scatter over half the strawberries. Spread over the remaining mix and finish with remaining strawberries.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin.

Fabulous with freshly whipped cream.

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