Tag Archives: 20 Minute Meals

Cheesy Zucchini & Mint Risotto

Happy Christmas everyone!!  I hope you indulged in both rest and merry-making. My Christmas was relaxed and peaceful, with a BIG northern hemisphere style feast, including turkey, Christmas ham, roasted veg and potatoes, yorkshire puddings, stuffing, prosciutto and figs, salami and smoked salmon.  I’m salivating just thinking of it again!

If you’d like something a little different from holiday fare, but still with a little indulgence, I would suggest this beautiful risotto recipe:



  •  1 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint, roughly chopped, stalks reserved
  • 125 grams mozzarella or bocconcini
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 1 celery stick, minced
  • 1 cup risotto rice
  • 400ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 100ml hard cider or white wine
  • 1/2 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 50g parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Chop all of your vegetables as instructed in the ingredients list.  Put a large saucepan onto medium-low heat and add butter, a splash of olive oil, a splash of water, celery and onion.  Cook for around 5-6 minutes until softened and translucent.  In a separate plan, bring the stock to a boil, then turn down the heat, add the mint stalks and let it simmer.  Once the vegetables are just soft, add the rice to the pan.  Stir fry the rice with the veg for around 2 minutes to let it absorb the flavours.  The rice should turn a bit translucent, and at this point add the cider/wine.  Keep stirring until the cider has been absorbed by the rice.  Stirring constantly, add the stock (avoiding the mint stalks) a ladle at a time, and allowing each ladle-full to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next.  When you have about 1/3 stock left, throw in the zucchini cubes to allow them to just cook.  Keep adding stock, and finally the zucchini, to your risotto until it is oozing.  Remove from heat.  Tear up your mozzarella or bocconcini into the risotto and stir it through along with the chopped mint leaves.  Stir through half the parmesan, season with salt and pepper and adjust seasoning to your taste.  Serve up with plenty of mint, parmesan and chilli sprinkled on top, and a good lug of olive oil.


This recipe was adapted from and inspired by Jamie Oliver’s 20 Minute Meals app for iPhone.


Swedish Mushrooms & Humble Buttermilk Salad

I’ll admit it: I’m a little bit of a Jamie Oliver fanboy.  It’s probably the rustic appeal, the simplicity of the flavours, but also his ethos of healthy cooking and using fresh ingredients that makes me love his recipes.  And you know those nights when you’re craving something fresh and light, yet homely and delicious? That’s when I pull out one of these..

When I went to Jamie’s Italian in Sydney, I fell completely in love with this wonderful little salad of lettuce, mint and buttermilk.  It feels like summer and will impress any of your friends.  It’s light because of the lemon and creamy like ranch or caesar from the buttermilk, but with a fraction of the fat, sodium and sugar.


  • baby cos (romaine) lettuce
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves
  • buttermilk
  • one lemon
  • fresh parmesan cheese

Wash the lettuce and mint leaves and tear into more fork-manageable chunks and place in a large bowl.  Drizzle over the buttermilk until the leaves are very lightly dressed.  Squeeze over some lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Adjust with more lemon or buttermilk as needed.  Plate up and grate plenty of parmesan cheese over the salad.

These creamy yet light mushrooms are beautiful as a main with your humble salad — and you’ll be amazed at how easy this dish is, especially when the oozy shrooms melt on your tastebuds…


  • 350 grams mixed mushrooms, sliced (try button, swiss, portobello, whatever is available)
  • 150ml light cream
  • one small red onion, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 30 grams butter
  • olive oil
  • 100ml dry or sweet cider (strongbow, etc.)
  • one lemon
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper


Place a large fry pan on medium heat and add butter and a lug of olive oil.  Once it starts to sizzle add the mushrooms and onion and cook for around 10 minutes, until everything gets really golden, tender and fragrant.  Try and not stir it too much to allow the mushrooms to colour.  When all is perfect, add the cider and deglaze the pan.  Then add the cream and bring it to a light bubbling simmer.  Give a squeeze of lemon juice all over, season with sea salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.  Serve with warm, crusty bread and the humble salad.

Recipes inspired by and adapted from the Jamie Oliver 20 Minute Meals App for iPhone and jamieoliver.com

Warm Lentil Salad w/ Sausages & Tomatoes (3 of 3)

Hey, how is everyone?  I’ve been away from twitter & blogging — last week I did photography for an event at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, then promptly fell sick.  Sooo, I’ve been recovering from a terrible cold.  So much for my resolve to keep this blog updated!

Here is the final variation I did on the Warm Lentil Salad w/ Bacon & Crispy Croutons.  Similar to what HeNeedsFood.com posted a while back; and you can use any sausage you like.  I picked up some organic chicken & herb sausages that were on special.

Follow the recipe for the warm lentil salad up until it’s time to toss it all in with the greens.  At the same time, brown your sausages in another pan.
When the lentils are prepped and the sausages are golden, put it all in a casserole together along with some halved cherry or grape tomatoes.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or so at 200c.
Serve over herby greens like rocket (spinach would work too), sausages on top and juices drizzled over.  

Lamb Cutlets & Warm Lentil, Bacon & Crouton Salad (2 of 3)

My last post gave you a little recipe for a delicious warm salad…

You could have it by itself.

But what if it was like this?

Simply follow the recipe  for the salad, and grill/pan fry some frenched lamby cutlets to crown the lentils.  If you’re organized, the whole recipe takes 20-30 minutes, so it’s great for a simple weeknight or lazy weekend meal.


Heat a fry pan over medium-high heat and drizzle in some olive oil.  Season the cutlets with fresh cracked salt & pepper and sear in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes per side for a nice, juicy-pink centre.  In the last 30-40 seconds, you can add in a tablespoon of butter to sizzle and caramalize on the cutlets (butter makes everything better!)

Arrange neatly on top of the salad & devour.

Warm Lentil Salad w/ Bacon & Croutons, (1 of 3)

Ingredients: (serves 2) 
– a tin of lentils
–  4 rashers free range bacon
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
– 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
– 4 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves garlic, sliced
– baguette or ciabatta, torn apart into bite-size chunks
– rocket, or other herby greens

Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crispy.  Meanwhile, drain and rinse the tin of lentils & wash the rocket.  When crisp, remove the bacon from the pan and set aside to drain & dry.  Toast the bite-sized pieces of baguette either in a) the bacon fat, b) a little olive oil, or c) under the grill until golden and crunchy.  Whisk together the balsamic and olive oil & some cracked salt and pepper in a small bowl, taste to see proportions are correct, and set aside.
Drizzle some olive oil in a saucepan and place on medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and translucent — just before golden.  Toss in the lentils and give them a stir, then add the red wine vinegar.  Season to taste with salt & pepper, place a lid on the pan and remove from heat.
Heat up another pan and pour in the balsamic vinaigrette — let it bubble and sizzle, then pull from heat.
To assemble the salad, get a large bowl and throw in your rocket or greens, bacon, croutons and lentil mixture.  Pour over the bubbling balsamic, toss with tongs and serve on warmed bowls, plates or a platter to share.

This salad serves as an excellent base for meats and fish — variations soon to come…