Slaving over a hot stove is so last season... treat the family to these quick, easy recipes bursting with the goodness of spring produce
Sichuan chicken salad
500ml (2 cups) chicken stock
6 spring onions, white parts thinly sliced, green tops reserved
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 long red chilli, split
2 thin slices ginger
2 chicken breasts (about
180g soba noodles
1½ tsp sesame oil
150g podded frozen edamame 1 Tbsp each roasted black sesame seeds and white sesame seeds
2 Lebanese cucumbers, seeds removed, cut into long, thin julienne
1 cup coriander, coarsely chopped
BLACK VINEGAR DRESSING
2 Tbsp black vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
½ Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and crushed
2 tsp caster sugar
1 Combine stock, spring onion tops, garlic, chilli, ginger and 500ml water in a saucepan just large enough to hold chicken snugly.
Bring to a simmer, add chicken, and simmer for 5 minutes, then cover, remove from heat and leave to continue cooking for 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool, then shred meat.
2 Meanwhile, cook soba noodles in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (2-3 minutes), stirring so noodles don’t stick together. Drain, refresh in iced water, drain again and toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil and set aside.
3 Blanch edamame in a saucepan of boiling salted water until bright green (30 seconds to 1 minute). Refresh in iced water, drain and toss with remaining sesame oil.
4 For dressing, combine ingredients in a small bowl.
5 Toss chicken with sesame seeds and a little of the dressing, and combine in bowls with noodles, edamame, cucumber, coriander and sliced spring onion, and serve drizzled with remaining dressing. SERVES 4
Chorizo and asparagus salad with chimichurri
4 fresh chorizo, halved lengthways
Olive oil, for drizzling 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
2 thick slices sourdough
1 garlic clove, halved
100g piquillo peppers or char-grilled red capsicum, torn (see note)
¼ small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 cup (loosely packed) rocket ¼ cup (loosely packed) oregano
½ cup (loosely packed) flatleaf parsley, coarsely chopped
¼ cup (loosely packed) coriander, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp (loosely packed) oregano, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 salad onion, coarsely chopped
½ jalapeño pepper, coarsely chopped
125ml (½ cup) olive oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 For chimichurri, process herbs, garlic, onion and jalapeño in a small food processor until blended, then add oil and process until smooth. Add vinegar, season generously to taste and process to combine.
2 Heat a char-grill or barbecue to medium-high. Drizzle chorizo with olive oil and grill, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through (3-4 minutes). Drizzle asparagus and bread with olive oil and grill, turning occasionally, until asparagus is just cooked and bread is toasted (1-2 minutes). Rub bread with cut side of garlic, then tear into pieces. Combine chorizo, asparagus, bread, piquillo peppers and onion in a bowl, drizzle with a little chimichurri and toss to combine. Arrange on serving plates, scatter with rocket and oregano and serve drizzled with extra chimichurri. SERVES 4
An even quicker option is to use ready bought roasted red peppers in a jar, available in supermarkets.
Courgette, ricotta and feta quesadillas
This is a really simple vegetarian dinner that will satisfy everyone.
60ml (¼ cup) apple cider vinegar
2 tsp caster sugar
½ Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 long green chilli or jalapeño, thinly sliced
250g full-cream ricotta
100g hard mozzarella, coarsely grated
80g feta, crumbled
3-4 splashes Tabasco, or to taste
4 courgettes (about
80g each), thinly sliced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
8 medium flour tortillas
1 cup (loosely packed) basil
¼ cup (loosely packed) oregano
4 courgette flowers, torn
1 Stir sugar into vinegar in a bowl until dissolved. Add onion and chilli, stir to combine, season to taste and set aside to soften
2 Combine ricotta, mozzarella, feta and Tabasco in a bowl, season to taste and set aside.
3 Heat a char-grill pan over medium-high heat. Combine courgette and olive oil in a bowl. Season to taste and grill half the courgette, turning occasionally, until golden (1-2 minutes).
Set aside. Add lemon rind and juice to remaining courgette and drizzle with extra olive oil.
4 Spread tortillas with ricotta mixture, top 4 with grilled courgette, scatter with half the basil and oregano and sandwich with remaining tortillas. Grill in batches over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until charred and cheese is melted
(3-4 minutes). Serve hot topped with onion mixture, remaining courgette, basil and oregano, and courgette flowers.
Grilled prawns with tamarind, coconut rice and watermelon
Salty, sweet and sour, these prawns make a perfect match for the juicy watermelon.
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
20 uncooked prawns, cleaned, tails intact
4 red shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lemongrass stalk (white part only), finely chopped
2 Tbsp finely grated palm sugar 1½ Tbsp fish sauce
1½ Tbsp tamarind paste
1 cup (loosely packed) coriander, plus extra to serve 2 Tbsp chopped garlic chives 100g watermelon, cut into small dice
½ cup (loosely packed)
Fried shallots and lime wedges, to serve
400g jasmine rice, rinsed 400ml coconut milk
1 (10g) pandan leaf (optional) 2cm piece of ginger
1 For coconut rice, combine ingredients, 200ml water and ¾ tsp sea salt in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, then, without uncovering, leave to steam for 5 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat, add prawns, shallot, garlic and lemongrass and stir-fry until prawns start to colour (about 1 minute). Combine sugar, fish sauce, tamarind paste and 125ml water. Taste and adjust so mixture is a balance of sweet, sour and salty. Add to wok and stir-fry to reduce sauce a little (2-3 minutes). Stir in coriander and garlic chives, serve on coconut rice and top with watermelon, Thai basil, extra coriander, fried shallots and lime wedges.
Pandan leaves are available frozen in Asian supermarkets.
125ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp dried Greek oregano
6 anchovy fillets
4-6 thin slices brown or rye sourdough bread
3 vine-ripened or heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 Lebanese cucumber, thinly sliced
½ cup mint, torn
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, torn ½ cup dill, torn
1 salad onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp baby capers in brine, rinsed
2 Tbsp oregano
40g kefalotyri or pecorino cheese, grated or shaved
1 Preheat oven to 200oC. Whisk together 60ml olive oil, lemon rind and juice, garlic, oregano and 1 finely chopped anchovy, and season to taste.
2 Brush bread with remaining olive oil and season well.
Place bread on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Bake until golden and crisp (6-7 minutes), then cool.
3 Combine remaining ingredients except cheese in a bowl, drizzle with half the dressing, season to taste and toss to combine. Arrange toasted bread on a platter, top with salad, scatter with cheese, drizzle with remaining dressing and serve. SERVES 4
Blueberry and lemon yoghurt fool
These fruit fools, lightened up with yoghurt and blueberries, can be made ahead – cover and refrigerate them for up to six hours before serving.
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons and 1 tsp lemon juice
55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
300g thick Greek-style yoghurt 80ml (1/3 cup) thickened cream 2 Tbsp icing sugar, sieved Scraped seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 Combine blueberries, half the lemon rind and 1 Tbsp caster sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, lightly crush berries with the back of a fork and stir until thick
(2-3 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and freeze until chilled (5 minutes).
2 Combine remaining lemon rind and caster sugar in a bowl. 3 Whisk yoghurt, cream, icing sugar, vanilla seeds and lemon juice until soft peaks form. Alternate layers of yoghurt mixture and blueberries in four
200ml glasses, finishing with blueberries.
This dish is great cooked
on the barbecue for a light lunch/