I was recently asked to take a plate to share at a lakeside lunch. I was amazed at the array of enticing offerings: crusty chicken pieces, vegetable kebabs, meat loaves, French bread and pâté, submarines and salads galore. Three things they all had in common: they were healthy, colourful and tasty.
Quinoa was popular. Pronounced keen wa — it is gluten-free, an excellent source of protein as well as B vitamins and is considered to be one of the ‘trendy’ superfoods. Regarded as a sacred food by the South American Incas, quinoa makes a great substitute for rice and a versatile base for salads. Just add a variety of chopped raw veggies, fresh herbs and a good dressing.
Although the popularity of kale is on the wane it is still considered to be a superfood due to its abundance of vitamins A, B6, C and K. It’s also high in calcium. Kale needs to be young and tender to eat raw and enjoy in salads. When it’s older it can become tough and is best stir-fried or tossed in olive oil and baked in the oven, until crisp.
There are a couple of important rules to follow when eating outdoors. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Ensure your chilly bin has ice below and above your food to keep it in prime condition. Hot foods should travel in vacuum flasks.
QUINOA & STRAWBERRY SALAD
I used a mix of white and red quinoa.
Dressing: 3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon mild honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Salad: 1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
250g strawberries, hulled and halved
4 cups baby rocket or thinly sliced young kale
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Whisk the lemon juice, honey, mustard and thyme until smooth. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season.
Rinse the quinoa in a sieve. Place in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 15 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and the water absorbed. Place in a large bowl and stir in the dressing. Cool.
Place the almonds on a microwave-proof plate. Microwave on high power for 1-2 minutes, until the almonds are toasted.
When the quinoa is cool, add the almonds and remaining ingredients. Serves 6.
CHERRY CRUMBLE SLICE
Canned apples could replace the fruit compote.
150g butter, softened
3/4 cup icing sugar
1 3/4cups plain flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
400g Barkers Black Cherry & Vanilla with Apple Fruit Compote
1 cup fruit muesli
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20cm square cake pan. Line the base and sides with baking paper ensuring the paper is higher than the edges of the pan.
Cream the butter and icing sugar — preferably with an electric beater — until light. Add the flour and almonds, mixing until a crumble forms.
Reserve 1 cup of the crumble then press the remainder evenly and firmly into the pan. Spread it with the cherry mixture. Combine the reserved crumble with the muesli and spread over the top.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Cool in the pan. Cut into squares. Great served with plain yoghurt or whipped cream. Serves 6-8.
VEGETARIAN SCOTCH EGGS
Hard-boiled eggs are encased in a falafel-type mixture.
Coating: 1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon each: olive oil, ground cumin, coriander
390g can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1 1/4 cups fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs (about 3 slices)
3 tablespoons plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 fresh egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Eggs: 4 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
canola oil, for frying
Gently sauté the onion in the olive oil in a frying pan, until softened. Add the spices and fry for a few seconds. Place in a food processor and whizz to a paste Add the chickpeas and coriander leaves. Pulse until finely chopped but not smooth. Stir in the wholemeal breadcrumbs, flour and the fresh egg. Season.
Divide the mixture into 4. Roll 1 hard-boiled egg in a little flour, shake to remove the excess, then wrap one portion of the chickpea mixture around the egg to completely cover it. Pinch the joins to seal. Repeat with the remaining mixture and eggs. Roll each egg in the dried breadcrumbs to coat. Chill.
Pan-fry the eggs in shallow oil until golden on all sides. Alternatively, the eggs can be deep-fried. Cool. Cut in half to serve. Makes 4.
1/2 French baguette
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup watercress or baby rocket
100g thinly sliced salami
1/2 cup thinly sliced dill pickles
75g brie, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
Cut the baguette in half lengthwise from the top almost through to the base.
Spread each cut half with the mayo. Fill with the watercress or rocket, twists of the salami, the pickles and brie. Sprinkle with the walnuts.
Sandwich together. Cut into four to serve. Serves 2-4.