Category Archives: Vegetables


Courgette and Tomato Cheese Bake

3 medium courgettes
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4–5 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
200 g mozzarella, sliced
3 medium vine-ripened or truss tomatoes
freshly chopped basil, to taste
1 cup mixed herb Coating, tossed in 1–2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 175 °C.

Trim both ends of each courgette. Cut them in half; then shave lengthwise into thin flat strips using a potato peeler.

Place in a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside for 10–15 minutes. Press with dry towels to extract some of the moisture.

In a 25-cm pie pan (or gratin pan or baking dish), layer the courgette strips in an overlapping pattern. Season with pepper and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and layer with mozzarella. Slice the tomatoes and place on top of the mozzarella. Season the tomatoes with sea salt, pepper and fresh basil.

Top with the mixed herb coating. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the courgette is fork-tender and the topping is golden brown. Set aside for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Herb crumb: 1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs and 2 tsp of my italian herb mix
(add 1 tbsp each of dried marjoram, thyme, basil, oregano and rosemary to a jar, then seal and shake well to blend the herbs together).

My Green Kitchen

my-green-kitchen-1My Green Kitchen by  Neena Truscott and Belinda Macdonald

Free worldwide shipping
My-Green-Kitchen by Neena-Truscott-Belinda-Macdonald – NZ$39

My lovely friends have just released a wonderful book that is full of inspirational recipes integrating the healing power of foods in easy-to-make family recipes. These recipes have a focus on restoring gut health, utilising leftovers and seasonal abundance and foraging for superfoods.

Also included are herbal recipes for stimulating vibrant health and innovative ideas for meals which feature ancient grains, and how to indulge in sweet treats without the ‘nasties’. The book features an article on ‘ancestral eating’ from Ben Warren of BePure, one of NZ’s leading nutrition and holistic health experts.

Written by the winners of the first My Kitchen Rules NZ, Neena Truscott and Belinda Macdonalnd I love their work. This book reflects their love and comitment to good, healthy foods and take you on a journey in your own kitchen.

 Two Thumbs Up, well worth getting.

YMCA Roasted Vegetable Green Salad

YMCA-salad-webServes two as a main or four as a side

I have to dedicate this recipe to my mother, #1 lady and more with a look that stopped several politicians in their tracks when she wanted to say something to them.

I would come home from school as a kid, and yes, I would ask “MUM, what’s for dinner”. Often her answer was “YMCA” “Yesterday’s Muck (meal) Cooked Again” usually served with meat cold cuts and homemade relishes and cheese.

Leftover roasted vegetables served on a bed of fresh seasonal greens, dressed with a nutty oil, lemon juice and a nice sweet balsamic is an everyday winner for me.


3 cups diced leftover roasted vegetables. Sweet potato and pumpkin are my choices

1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges

1 medium brown onion, cut into 8 wedges

1 red bell, green or yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks

4 tbsp Brookfarm Macadamia oil or extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 tsp sea salt, divided

1 tsp pepper, divided

2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

2 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar

2 to 3 tbsp honey

180g (6 oz) loosely packed mixed seasonal fresh salad greens


Preheat oven to 200C (400F)

In a large bowl toss the onions and bell pepper with 3 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.

Spread them over a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender, about 20 minutes, turning over halfway through the baking time. Add the 3 cups roasted vegetables on the top of them to warm for the last 10 minutes and sprinkle the walnuts over to top.

While this finishing whisk together 1 tbsp of oil, vinegar, honey and the remaining 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper.

Toss the greens in a large bowl with half of the dressing. Divide among 4 plates.


Let the vegetables cool for about 5 minutes then transfer to the large bowl and toss with the remaining dressing. Spoon over the greens and serve warm.


Serve as a side with cold cuts, YMCA roasted meats or hot BBQ’d meats.

Vegetable Tagine


2 large onions, peeled
400g carrot, peeled
2 turnips, peeled
500g firm potatoes, peeled
400g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled
200g green beans, ends chopped
200g cherry tomatoes
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground seeds
1 handful flat parsley, finely chopped
1 handful coriander seeds, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Harissa to taste
5 tsp olive oil
¾ cup water 


Chop the onions in thick slices. Cut the carrot, potatoes, pumpkin and turnips into large chunks. Halve the beans.


In a medium sized bowl add the garlic, cumin and coriander seeds, herbs, salt and the rest of the spices and mix into a thick paste. Add some Harissa if using any (I used a teaspoon). Add the olive oil and water and mix to combine. 

Grease a tagine or alternatively a large deep bottom pan with lid with 1 tsp olive oil. 

Layer the vegetables in the tagine/pan, first the onions, then the potatoes, etc. finish with the beans and tomatoes. Season with ground pepper between each layer. 

Pour a bit of the spice mixture in between each vegetable layer making sure to keep at least a third to pour on top. 

Put the tagine/pan on top of a stove top heat diffuser on medium heat and leave to heat up covered for 10 to 15 minutes until the veggies start to steam. Then lower the heat and leave to cook covered for about 1 hour or until the vegetables are cooked through. 

Oven option. Place the tagine in a cold oven and turn temp to 170C and once up to temp cook for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until the vegetables are cooked through.

Summer Fresh Roast Vegetable Salad

roast-veg-salad-webThis recipe can be served as a side with cooked meats. Its also a great dish if you are having someone over that is a vegetarian. Leave out the feta to make this vegan. 


3 medium medium beetroots

2 medium carrots

2 parsnips, woody core removed

2 courgettes

1 cauliflower, florets only

6 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 tsp salt

½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

5 garlic cloves, bruised with the flat edge of a chopping knife

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp smoked paprika

100g feta cheese, crumbled for serving. I use Over The Moon feta
Small bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped for serving 


Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F) 

Wash and roughly chop the beetroots, carrots, parsnips and courgettes. Roughly chopped gives the dish a rustic look. 

In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower florets and veggies with 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to season, garlic and thyme, leaves removed from stem of one sprig. 

Drizzle base of an oven proof roasting dish with the rest of the olive oil and position the remaining 2 sprigs of thyme on the base. Arrange vegetables in the dish so that they’re roughly evened out across it. 

Roast in the middle on the oven until carrots and beetroot are just fork tender, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool. Once cool, serve on platter with generous sprinkling of smoked paprika, crumbled feta cheese and fresh mint. 

Serve as is or with leftover cold cuts as a summer fresh brunch or dinner.

Eggplant Rollatine

eggplant-rollup-webThis is a very taste dish that is great as a side.

Serves 2


1 500g (1.1 lb) eggplant
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup fine gluten free bread crumbs
olive oil
500ml (2 cups) Sicilian tomato sauce
2 tsp honey

1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 cup ricotta


Cut eggplant ¼ inch thick, lengthwise. Combine and beat milk and egg. Dip eggplant in milk then dip and cover in bread crumbs. Place on a flat baking tray oiled with olive oil and grill on both sides for 5-6 minutes.

Combine ricotta, pepper, honey, and oregano. Put 1-2 tbsp of cheese mixture on each slice of eggplant, spread and then roll up. Pour some of the tomato sauce into a baking dish. Place eggplants, seam side down, into the pan. Top with remaining sauce and bake at 160C for 30 minutes. 

Juicy Cheery Tomato Bites

Classic-Tomato-webI have mentioned many times before that Italian and Sicilian food is based in simple flavours that work well together and don’t need any complication with unnecessary additions just to bulk dishes as we see in so many western countries. 

This side is a classic that has not changed in generations and can be made in a few minutes. Resting in the fridge will allow this wonderful tomato dish develop its full depth of flavour. 

There are two main flavour tastes that I cover in this recipe. 

As a side for 4-6 


600g (20oz) Cheery tomatoes

1 tbsp fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stalks

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped

Balsamic vinegar to drizzle

Olive oil to drizzle

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste 


Slice the cheery tomatoes in half and place them in a medium sized bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the tomatoes with fresh thyme leaves and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Mix together, cover and rest in the fridge for 1 hour for added flavour. 

Pre-heat oven to 200 C (400 F). 

On a lined flat baking tray place the tomatoes flesh side up. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven for 5-8 minutes to soften them. Do not over cook. 

Remove from the oven and place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the diced basil leaves. Serve warm or cool.

Baked Eggplant Snacks

Eggplant-Snacks-webIn Sicily eggplant is one of the most eaten vegetables. Match it with some cheese and other topping and you have wonderful yummy snacks. 

In the south of Italy pizza topping are kept to just a few ingredients so the individual flavours can be experienced and this recipe is an example of this. 

If you want longer versions cut the eggplant long ways and follow the same process detailed below. 


1 large eggplant
1/2 tbsp coarse salt
1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 400g (16 oz) fresh tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes, juice removed (for canned tomatoes)
100g (4oz) about 5 spring onions (green onions), white parts only
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh oregano 
1 tsp smoked paprika
100g (4 oz) fresh mozzarella
a few shavings parmesan
a few sliced olives
Fresh chopped basil leaves 


Slice the eggplant into 7mm (1/4-inch) thick slices. Place them on a flat surface and sprinkle with coarse salt. This will draw out some of the moisture that is in the eggplant. Let sit for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 190 C (400 F). Pat the slices dry on both sides with paper towel, place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until tender on the inside, but still holding together. 

In the meantime, make the tomato sauce: chop the onions and garlic separately. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs, season with salt, pepper and the paprika, and simmer for 15 -20 minutes, until it has thickened. 

When you are ready to top the eggplant preheat oven to 190 C (400 F). Slice the mozzarella and olives into very thin slivers. Spread 1 tbsp tomato sauce on top of each eggplant slice, add a sliver of mozzarella, a few parmesan shavings, a few olive slices, and freshly cracked pepper. Bake 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden. 

Top, garnish with some fresh chopped basil and serve warm.


Avocado Dessert Smoothie

avo-smothie-2-webA rich and refreshing blend of fresh avocado and coconut milk makes this a great finish to a meal or as a yummy snack by itself.

Makes 2 large or 4 small servings. 


1 large, just ripened avocado

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup whole Greek vanilla yogurt

6 tbsp honey, you can adjust depending on your desired sweetness

1½ cups unsweetened coconut milk

1 cup baby spinach leaves

½ – ¾ cup crushed ice, optional 


Combine all ingredients except ice in blender and then blend until its nice and smooth.   

If desired, add crushed ice and blend until desired smoothness is achieved.  Serve immediately or chill to serve later.   

If serving later, place cling wrap directly over surface of smoothie to prevent any possible colour change from the avocado being exposed to air.

No Bread or Grain Open Sandwich Recipes

Eggplant-open-sandwichEasy Gluten free and paleo options coming during the next month.

Over the next month I will be taking you through many simple but very tasty options for bread/grain free open sandwiches. These recipes will be family friendly and easy to adapt to cater to the differing taste choices that people have in your home and when entertaining. They will include dairy and nut free options and all will be soy free as well.

An open sandwich usually consists of a slice of fresh bread with different spreads and toppings such as butter, pâté, cheese spreads, relishes, cold cuts such as roast beef, turkey, chicken, ham, bacon, salami, cheese slices or sausages like beerwurst and vegetables like bell peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, radish, spring onions (scallion), grated carrot and cucumber to name a few.

When living a Gluten-free life an open sandwich is a great option for a fun snack or meal and you can get the kids making their own. We can use GF breads but I prefer to use other things for the base such as large flat mushrooms, lightly grilled bell peppers (halved), egg plant slices (grilled on both sides), cucumber, large tomato slices to name a few.

ingredients-1As a brunch or an after school snack an open sandwich can be made by each person to their desired choices, this makes it ideal at gatherings of family and friends. It is also a great way to use leftovers from a large meal the day before. I use the grill a lot when I am making open sandwiches to melt in cheeses on the toppings and add some warmth when needed.