Two vegetarians are joined us for Christmas dinner and I was delighted. Serving a selection of jazzy vegetable dishes is probably more satisfying for the cook than roasting a leg of lamb.

Black garlic (Garlic Noir) is a great source of curiosity and comment. It’s white garlic that has been given a low-heat treatment in a confined enclosure for 60 days. During that time the sugar levels increase to 60 brix (the sugar level in an aqueous solution), the garlic ‘ferments’ and becomes black. The texture is soft and smooth and the flavour a cross between balsamic vinegar and liquorice. It is available from many supermarkets and delis.

Black garlic can be roasted for a short time, or pan-fried, added to pasta sauces, sliced into salads, used as a garnish or even dipped in chocolate to serve as a coffee accompaniment. It provides umami (the fifth taste) to a mash!

I’m using Kiwi Quinoa in a lip-smacking Mexican salad to serve as a vegetarian main or a side for our festive meats. The quinoa hails from Taihape where New Zealand’s first growers have been experimenting for five years. Kiwi Quinoa is wholegrain, unprocessed, spray-free and not polished which preserves its high nutritional value. It also has a delicious mild nutty flavour, is gluten-free and high in protein.


Something delicious on the side. I used Garlic Noir from Marlborough Garlic.

400g each: mashing potatoes, parsnips, peeled
1 teaspoon salt 
50g butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup black garlic cloves, chopped
Garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
50-100g feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
2 cloves black garlic, diced

Place the potatoes and parsnips in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil, add the salt and cover and cook until soft.

Meanwhile, gently heat the butter, milk and black garlic together for 5 minutes. Do not boil. Purée with a stick blender until smooth.

Drain the potato/parsnip mixture and mash until smooth. Strain the hot liquid into the mash. Mix until smooth and light. Place in a serving dish. Top with the chopped parsley, feta cheese and diced black garlic. Serves 6-8.


Want a really spicy dish? Don't seed the chillies. 

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 long chillies, seeded and diced, 
1 cup each: quinoa, vegetable stock, corn kernels 
400g can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
400g can cherry tomatoes, drained
Topping: 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
juice 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chillies and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Rinse the quinoa under cold water. Stir into the pan with the stock, corn, beans, cumin, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes. Add a little more stock if too dry. Add the tomatoes and heat through gently. 

Top with the avocado, lime juice and coriander just before serving. Serves 3-4 as a main or 6 as a side.


I used 8cm x 14cm sheets of gluten-free no-boil lasagne. 

1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup parsley leaves, chopped
400g broccoli florets, blanched 
250g ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
finely grated rind 1 lemon
200g fresh mozzarella, crumbled
2 cups passata
9 sheets no-boil lasagne

Gently sauté the onion in the oil, until softened. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for 1 minute.
Place the crisp, cold broccoli and ricotta in a food processor. Mix until smooth. Combine in a bowl with the onion mixture, parmesan, lemon rind and 1/2 the mozzarella.

Lightly grease a 26cm x 18cm baking dish. Spread a 1/2 cup of passata on the base. 

Top with 3 lasagne sheets. Top with 1/3 of the remaining passata. Spread with 1/2 the broccoli/onion mixture. Repeat. Top with the remaining lasagne and passata and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. The dish can be covered and refrigerated overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 220°C. 

Place the room-temperature dish on a rimmed baking tray. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until the top is golden. Rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6 as a main.


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