Risotto Style Pearl Couscous with Roasted Vegetables

I randomly bought pearl couscous on a whim about 6 months ago. Guess what was still sitting in my pantry unopened today?

It wasn’t because I didn’t have any ideas about what to cook with it, it’s just that I seldom cook with pearl couscous and last time I made it I wasn’t too happy with how it turned out so needed to get motivated to try cook with it again.

Alas, I have taken a risotto style approach for preparing the couscous instead. What I ended up with a huge burst of flavour within a filling and healthy meal. Perfect!

I was hesitant to include the word risotto in this recipe at all because quite frankly it’s not a risotto. But it is similar to the style of cooking I used to prepare the couscous today. Grains absorbing the cooking liquid and leaving them al dente with additional ingredients mixed in. Works for me.

This recipe is conveniently vegetarian.

Pearl Couscous – Risotto Style (serves 2-3)

What you’re going to need

3/4 cup pearl couscous

1 400 ml bottle passata (or 1 tin tomatoes, pureed using a stick blender)

1 clove garlic, minced or grated with a microplane

1/2 zucchini, sliced into thick matchsticks

1/2 eggplant, sliced lengthways into rectangular pieces

3 small vine ripened tomatoes, kept whole

50 g haloumi, processed into a rough crumb

small handful basil leaves, roughly chopped

olive oil

salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. On a lined baking tray, add the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake until soft and browned (~20 minutes)
  2. Using a saucepan that has a lid, heat up a small drizzle of olive oil on a medium heat. Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the Passata and mix well.
  3. Add the pearl couscous, mix and allow to get to a simmer. Place the lid on whilst cooking and stir every 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste. Cook until pearl couscous is al dente and tomatoes are still saucy. (Note: if you’re finding it too thick, add small amounts of water). Mix in chopped basil.
  4. In a small fry pan, quickly pan fry the haloumi for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Once couscous, eggplant and zucchini are ready, mix together in the saucepan with the haloumi. Serve hot with the roast tomato in the centre.

Pearl couscous with roast vegetables

 

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Eggplant, Kale and Feta Lasagne

So this one will be a polarising recipe! People tend to love or hate eggplant so if you’re one of the haters, this one isn’t for you sorry!

For the lovers, there is plenty of eggplant goodness! Layered up with lasagne sheets, crushed tomatoes, kale and feta this is perfect for dinner or in my case, work lunches!

This one is so easy I’m going to jump straight into it! Recipe conveniently vegetarian for those interested!

Eggplant, Kale and Feta Lasagne (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

1 medium eggplant, sliced thinly into circles (5mm)

1 cup kale, roughly chopped into small pieces

100 g Danish feta

6 lasagne sheets (I used San Remo)

1 tin tomatoes (whole, peeled Italian tomatoes)

tasty/cheddar cheese, grated

salt and cracked black pepper to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius
  2. In a large measuring jug, add the tin tomatoes. Crush using a stick blender until it becomes a chunky liquid. Add the kale, mix through and set aside.
  3. In a large square baking dish, start with 2 lasagne sheets on the bottom. Next, add a layer of eggplant and pour half of the tomato and kale mixture over the top. Spread evenly. Crumble feta evenly across the top then season with salt and pepper. Repeat. For the third layer (the top), place the last two lasagne sheets and then add the grated cheese evenly.
  4. Place in the oven with dish covered in foil for 45 minutes. When there is 10 minutes to go, remove the foil to get crispy golden cheese on the top.
  5. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely before storing for work lunches.*

*This recipe is freezer friendly.

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg

Want to up the veg but are craving carbs big time and you want more variety than just more baked potatoes?

To make this dish a quick one (~25 mins), you need to choose vegetables that cook quickly in a fry pan. My new favourite kitchen technique for cooking things quickly is ribboning your vegetables! It almost feels like you get more yield per individual vegetable as opposed to slicing them up. Easy as, all you need to do is peel your veggie of choice (usually carrot, eggplant or in this case zucchini) and peel and peel and peel to get long thin slices that will cook in about 2-3 minutes. Amazing!

Next, to pump up the veg even more i threw in some cherry tomatoes and chopped green beans! I added in chicken as well to satisfy the family taste buds but for work lunches i’d probably omit it for cost and longevity in the fridge reasons. This dish is also conveniently dairy free.

Anyway, let’s get into the recipe!

Pesto Chicken Pasta with Extra Veg (serves 4)

What you’re going to need

3 cups spiral/fusilli pasta (I use Barilla)

1 small chicken breast, sliced into strips

1 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons with peeler

handful fresh green beans, chopped into even pieces

handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways

Pesto

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup baby spinach

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I use Cobram Estate)

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 clove garlic, grated with microplane/crushed

zest of 1/2 lemon, grated with microplane

salt to season

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook based on packet instructions.
  2. In a pulse blender, add all the pesto ingredients and blitz until at the desired consistency (not a paste but not too chunky). Set aside
  3. In a lightly oiled fry pan on a medium heat, cook the chicken until 90% cooked. Remove from pan and place in a bowl.
  4. Add the beans and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini ribbons, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the chicken and pesto. Stir well ensuring the pesto coats all ingredients.
  6. Strain cooked pasta and add to the fry pan of ingredients. Mix well to coat pasta in pesto. Serve immediately.*

Chicken Pesto Pasta

*Can be served cold. Will keep in the fridge for ~3 days (with chicken) and ~5 days (without chicken).

 

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Spinach Fritters

Firstly, I’d like to say I hope you all had a lovely holiday season! I had a very relaxing three weeks off work where I ventured off to New Zealand for the first time and fell in love with the exquisite landscapes and sense of adventure. Now it’s back to work, routine and most importantly, cooking!

It has been a little while since I’ve shared a recipe and this tends to happen when I get really comfortable with things I have already shared so I end up making mostly the same types of meals. Alas, new year and time for something different!

As usual, I was really keen to leverage on ingredients I had at home with only minimal additional purchases required. I go through phases where I enjoy eating certain types of food and then go off them for a while and in this instance, it’s quinoa. I had half a packet of perfectly good quinoa ready to go but wasn’t feeling a salad or adding it to my granola so went with this recipe today!

For any type of patty or fritter (if you want to keep it vego), potato works as the glue to keep it all together so I used sweet potato to give it some solid flavour!

This recipe is will take approximately 30 minutes as the sweet potato and quinoa require cooking first before making the patties.

Sweet Potato, Quinoa and Spinach Fritters (yields 6)

What you’re going to need

1 medium sized sweet potato (mine weight approximately 600 grams), roughly chopped into small pieces

1-1 1/2 cups quinoa, cook according to packet instructions

generous handful baby spinach

zest of 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, crushed

salt and pepper to season

olive oil for baking

Method

  1. Bake the sweet potato at 200 degrees Celcius on a lined tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle of salt. At the same time, cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Both of these should take 20 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, add all the ingredients. Pulse blend on medium until well combined but not too smooth. (You don’t want a paste, more of a chunky mixture that can be moulded in your hands)
  3. Using gloves or clean hands, grab a handful of mixture and shape into a ball then flatten with your palm until approximately 1cm thick. Repeat until all mixture has been used.
  4. In a non stick/lightly oiled fry pan that is on a medium heat, add the patties and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. (Note: the mixture is already cooked, this is mainly to add the crispy outside)
  5. Serve with sweet chilli sauce or a simple yoghurt sauce*

Sweet Potato Quinoa and Spinach Fritters


*Simple yoghurt sauce

What you’re going to need

2 heaped tablespoons Natural Yoghurt

juice from ~1/2 a lemon

sea salt

pinch mixed herbs

extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. In a small bowl, add all ingredients at desired quantities. Serve cold.

Sausage Pasta Bake

Even though the weather is getting warmer, I am still persistent on baking most of my meals! Especially coming towards the end of the year with my first accounting exam and last colour belt grading for martial arts, I am willing to do just about anything to make the cooking process more efficient. I would love to spend hours in the kitchen but at the moment, I just can’t. Alas, I still want to create tasty meals for my family and keep up with my Sunday family dinner routine.

If you trawl back through some of my older posts, you’ll see I have already shared a few pasta bake recipes however this is my first tomato based one. I kept it simple and whipped up the sauce and ingredients all in one pan! (separate saucepan for boiling pasta though). If you’re super hungry and want to eat it quicker, you can skip the baking step! However if you’re all about the gooey cheese factor, then would strongly recommend finishing it off in the oven. It also makes it easier to portion for leftovers (which I accidentally catered for 6 people instead of 4 so now I have enough for lunches, yay!)

Sausage Pasta Bake (serves 4-6)

What you’re going to need

300 grams large spiral pasta (I used San Remo)

6 medium sized beef sausages

1 400g bottle Passata

1/2 zucchini, finely grated

1/2 carrot, finely grated

1 clove garlic, grated with Microplane or minced

4 small cup mushrooms, thinly sliced

handful basil leaves

salt and pepper to season

olive oil for frying

grated cheese for topping

Method

  1. Boil a large pot of water with salt and cook pasta until just under al dente (still a bit firm as it will further cook in the oven). Set aside.
  2. In a large fry pan, heat up the olive oil on a medium heat. Brown the sausages in the pan for 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside on a chopping board.
  3. Reduce the heat in the pan to low, add a bit more olive oil and then add the carrot, zucchini and garlic. Stir and leave to become fragrant. Whilst this is happening, go back to the sausages and cut them into 2 cm sliced chunks.
  4. Once pan is fragrant, add the Passata, sausages and mushrooms. Mix well and season. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. Whilst simmering, turn on your oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  5. Once the Passata has reduced, add the cooked pasta and basil. Stir well to ensure all pasta is adequately coated in the sauce.
  6. In a large baking dish, carefully spoon all the pasta mix into the dish and spread evenly. Top with a generous helping of grated cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve hot. *

Sausage Pasta Bake

*Recipe is freezer friendly if there are leftovers.

 

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad

Long time no see! I have been cheating on my kitchen with my credit card lately and it is now time to put a stop to that! I feel like my latest obsession is cheese (well it’s been a long running thing but it’s definitely concentrated at the moment). Last week, a couple of friends and i ventured out to Carriageworks for Bon Fromage a cheese festival which were giving out free samples of a diverse spread of European cheeses! It was actually heaven and unlike most places that offer freebies, this was a table absolutely filled with all you can eat cheese. It was the place of dreams.

Alas, stemming from that, i have eating a lot of haloumi lately because a) it’s delicious b) it serves as a filling sub in for meat c) it cooks in less than 2 minutes! The only downside to haloumi is that it doesn’t travel well. It is best eaten straight off the pan. So for my Sunday lunch where I am at home, it works a treat.

Grocery day today means I had minimal supplies in the fridge which is perfect for me since I find I am the most creative when I have a  limited number of ingredients. (very Masterchef mystery box type of thing).

If haloumi and sweet potato are sounding good to you so far, keep on reading and you can whip this salad up for yourself!

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad (serves 1)

What you’re going to need

1 small sweet potato (~ 100 grams), sliced small and evenly

75 grams haloumi, sliced evenly

4 perino tomatoes, sliced in half lengthways (cherry tomatoes would work here too)

handful mixed green leaves

1 tablespoon walnuts, roughly chopped

extra virgin olive oil for baking + additional for drizzle

salt and pepper, to season

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius.
  2. On a lined baking tray add the sweet potato and tomatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil and bake for ~ 10 minutes (baking time will vary depending on how big you cut your potato!)
  3. With two minutes to go, cook the haloumi in a non stick fry pan on a medium heat. (Haloumi burns easily so don’t take your eyes off it)
  4. Once the haloumi is cooked, plate up everything and finish off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

Haloumi and Sweet Potato Salad

 

Chicken Stir Fry with Hokkien Noodles

This is my 100th post on The Economic Foodie! Just wanted to start off by saying thank you to everyone who follows my blog and has tried out some of my recipes! I really appreciate your support and thoroughly enjoy engaging with the food blogging community. 

If you have been following me for a bit, you will know from my previous posts that I cook family dinner every Sunday. This is a great chance for me to refine my cooking skills as well as learn new ones. Surprisingly, I have never really cooked stir fry until the last week! It’s not because I don’t enjoy them or think they are overly difficult, it’s just one that slipped down the to do list until now.

I have now started study again and I am incredibly time poor. I still hope to keep my passionate hobby of cooking alive during this time and Sundays will be a standing reservation for me in my kitchen. However I will now be trying out recipes and experimenting with dishes that I can make in less than an hour and with the least amount of washing up as possible (since Sundays are also my dishes night at home).

Alas, stir fry! I have based this on the way my mum prepares hers but with a few minor tweaks. There is loads of veg and very minimal prep involved. It is also an easy recipe to make extra serves which works perfectly for work lunch the next day!

Alright, enough story telling. Time for noodles!

Chicken Stir Fry with Hokkien Noodles (serves 5)

What you’re going to need 

500 g chicken thighs, sliced into strips

400 g hokkien noodles

bunch brocollini, stems trimmed

100-200 g asian mushrooms (I used Enoki but you can use shiitake or oyster if you prefer)

1 bunch bok choy

8 baby corns, chopped in half

small handful snowpeas

1/4 cup oyster sauce

3 tablespoons light soy sauce

peanut oil for frying

Method

  1. In a wok on a high heat, heat up around 2 tablespoons of peanut oil. Once hot, cook the chicken until cooked through (~5 minutes). Remove from wok and set aside.
  2. Heat up one tablespoon of peanut oil.. Once hot, add all the veggies and cook for 2-3 minutes until they have shrunk and are almost cooked through.
  3. Add back in the chicken as well as the sauces. Mix well.
  4. Lastly stir through the noodles (I used noodles that do not require pre cooking). Mix well until sauce coats the noodles and everything is evenly mixed.
  5. Serve hot!

Chicken Stir Fry