Tag Archives: South American

mango quinoa salad

Mango Quinoa Salad

Serves 2 as a big main course, or 4 if you serve something with it

I don’t have much to say about this dish other than that it is delicious, refreshing, healthy and satisfying. I created this salad on the first scorching hot day of mango season last year, when I got excited about summer and went out and bought a huge bag. It really hit the spot, and I have made it over and over. I found myself craving it a few days ago and thought it was time I shared the recipe here. I often hesitate at sharing such simple things, but then sometimes the simple things are the best.

This salad doesn’t need a dressing, as the acidity from the lime juice, the saltiness from the quinoa and the juice from the mango makes it a ‘self-dressing’ salad. It’s high protein, oil-free and once the quinoa is cooked can be thrown together in five minutes. It makes a wonderful lunch or weeknight dinner, or a fantastic pot-luck or BBQ contribution. To make a serious meal out of it, some grilled chilli tofu on the side would go down a treat.

Just a note – if your salad looks different from mine, that would be because I didn’t have any jicama on hand this time, and only had one carrot. It was still very delicious, but not as nice to look at.


1 cup mixed quinoa

1 tsp salt

1 3/4 cup water

2 med-large sweet mangoes (out of season you can use 5 frozen mango cheeks, just defrost them first)

1 avocado, diced

2 large tomatoes, diced

2 medium carrots, grated

1 small jicama, peeled and julienned (optional, totally not necessary if you can’t find it, but deliciously crunchy if you can)

1/2 cup currants

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

Zest of 1 lime

Handful fresh mint, cut chiffonade

A few good handfuls baby spinach, sliced

Black pepper, to taste


1. Thoroughly rinse the quinoa and place into a saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to the boil, and reduce to a simmer until the water has been absorbed and little tails are peeking out of the quinoa. Turn off the heat, place a piece of paper towel over the quinoa and cover with a lid. Allow to sit 15 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork. You should have perfectly cooked quinoa with a delightful pop and slightly chewy texture. Leave to cool

2. Meanwhile, cut the cheeks off the mangoes and dice. Cut the skin off the flesh around the pips and squeeze it all off into the bowl, the more juicy and squished up the better. Combined the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and give a good mix.  Set aside (in the fridge if it’s a hot day) until the quinoa is ready. Once the quinoa is cool, mix it in. Done. How easy was that?




magic sauce

Magic Sauce

Do you ever have those weeks where you don’t feel like cooking at all? Despite the fact that I love cooking, I have them quite often, and this is one of those weeks. I started off with the best of intentions and a fridge full of veggies, but have found myself lacking inspiration and motivation. It is times like these where I make a jar of some kind of sauce, and eat it over vegetables, salad and rice all week. Enter the Magic Sauce.

Why is this sauce magic, you ask? Well, firstly it goes with so many things, over salads, in tacos and arepas, over rice and beans and even as a dipping sauce for corn chips or fried things. I can basically cook some rice, top it with tinned black beans and a super quick slaw and drown it with this stuff and call it dinner. Bam. The next day I can throw some avocado and grilled oyster mushrooms into an arepa or taco, and bam, another dinner. Day 3, salad, and so on. A jar of sauce turns a sad pile of vegetables into a meal.  Secondly, it’s the only way I can eat coriander.

Yes, that’s right, I’m one of those. A non-coriander eater. That fresh green herb that people like to throw on everything, ruining otherwise perfectly good meals, is the bane of my existence. It’s everywhere, and unavoidable. People tell me how great it is, how important it is to so many dishes, how perfectly it finishes off this or that, and I am jealous, because I taste nothing but soap. Until this sauce. There’s something about this combination that hides the soap taste. Like magic.

Now, you might wonder why a coriander hater like me would even bother trying to hide the taste so I can put it into food. Why not just leave it out? Well, 99.99% of the time I do, but I’m trying to build up a tolerance for those unfortunate mouthfuls of pho where coriander stems are masked as julienned spring onion, and I also acknowledge that the unique, fresh taste of coriander is sometimes, although very rarely, irreplaceable. Particularly in latin cuisine, tangy, herby flavours are so important, and my go-to combo of parsley, mint and oregano doesn’t always cut it. And so, I created this sauce, originally inspired by the fiery green sauce at Zambrero’s, but far less spicy so it can be used in abundance. It’s also much creamier, because yum.

And so, here it is. The next lazy week, I’ll share my dragon sauce recipe, and we can all eat dragon bowls until the urge to make a four course dinner overwhelms us.


1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked a few hours, rinsed and drained

1/4 -1/3 cup lime juice (to taste)

1/4 to 1/2 cup water (depending on how thick you want it)

Scant 1/4 cup neutral tasting oil

1 tbsp plus 1tsp apple cider vinegar

2 -3 tsp agave nectar (to taste)

1 large clove garlic, peeled

1/2 white onion, peeled

1 tsp sea salt

1 jalapeño chilli from a jar (or more if you want a really spicy sauce)

1/2 cup packed fresh parsley, plus a little extra

1/4 cup fresh coriander

1 sprig fresh mint (leaves only)


1. Place all ingredients except for the herbs into a high powered blender and blend until totally smooth. Taste and add a little more lime juice, salt or water if required. Remember that once it gets cold, the flavours will be half as strong.

2. Add the herbs and pulse or blend for a short burst until the sauce is green but lots of little flecks of herbs are still visible. Don’t blend it so long that it turns into an homogenous green, because unless it’s for halloween it’s not appealing. Pour into a jar and refrigerate until chilled. It is now ready to use and will keep at least 5 days.

Mexican Coleslaw

Refreshing Mexican Coleslaw

A veritable Mexican feast wouldn’t be complete without a fresh, crunchy slaw to balance out the rich and spicy courses. This salad is so simple, but tastes amazing. It’s one of my favourite slaws and I make it all the time.

Don’t feel like you can only serve it with Mexican food, this is an all the time salad that you can put in a sandwich, serve with grilled marinated tofu or eat on its own.


Approx 3 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage

Approx 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

1 large carrot, julienned

4 spring onions, julienned

1 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

Zest of 1 lime

2tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste

3/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste


Throw everything into a large bowl and mix it up with your hands. Ideally let it sit at least 20 minutes before eating for optimum flavour mingling, but if you don’t have time, don’t worry about it.





black bean enchiladas

Black Bean and Vegetable Enchiladas

Makes 12 large enchiladas

Time:  Let’s be honest, these take a while

Who doesn’t love enchiladas? I basically love everything that involves rolling filling up in some kind of carbohydrate, smothering it with cheese and baking it. These enchiladas involve making a scrumptious, spicy black bean filling, rolling it up in large corn tortillas, spreading with delicious home made smoky-chocolatey-spicy enchilada sauce, piling on gooey, stretchy cashew cheese melt and then topping with fresh herbs and jalapeños. Does it get any better?

I know there is quite a bit of work involved in these the first time you make them, but the recipe for my enchilada sauce makes a ton, which you can freeze in smaller portions for future use. The filling also makes enough for several meals,  so you can store half of that in the freezer for quick weeknight enchiladas another day.

I serve these with my arroz verde and some refreshing Mexican slaw for an outstanding meal.


1 large brown onion, finely chopped

5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 zucchini (on the larger size), diced into 1cm cubes

1 red capsicum

1 green capsicum

600g (approx) sweet potato, diced into 2cm cubes

1 400g tin diced tomatoes

4 tins black beans, drained and rinsed

2 dried ancho chillies

1 dried pasilla chilli

2 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce

1 cup vegetable sauce

1 tsp ground cumin

Salt to taste

Olive oil for cooking

1/2 to 3/4 cup enchilada sauce

12 large soft corn tortillas

2 1/2 cups cashew cheese melt (or more, put as much as you like, I’m not the cheese police)

To Garnish

Handful fresh parsley or coriander, chopped

A few jarred jalapeño chillies


1. Remove the stems from the ancho and pasilla chillies. Shake as many seeds out as you can. Place into a bowl and cover with boiling water for 30 minutes until soft. Drain and chop finely

2. Wash the red and green capsicums and remove the stems and seeds. Flatten them out and place on some foil under a hot grill/broiler, skin side up,  until the skins are blacked. Set aside

3. Place the sweet potato onto a baking dish with a drizzle of olive oil (around a teaspoon) and bake at 200C for around 30 minutes, until soft

4. Meanwhile, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until starting to brown. Add the zucchini and cook until browned. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the beans, tomatoes, chipotle chillies, pasilla and ancho chillies, cumin and stock and mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring often to avoid sticking, until thick, approx 15-20 minutes (see photo below).

enchilada filling

5. Peel the capsicums and slice thinly. Stir the capsicums and sweet potatoes through the black bean mixture.

6. Place around half a cup of filling down the middle of each tortilla. The filling should not be wider than a third of the tortilla, so adjust the quantity if your tortillas are larger or smaller. Roll up the tortillas and place into a large rectangular baking dish side by side, seam side down. You will need two large baking dishes if you are making all 12 (my photo only has 4 enchiladas in it). Spread with the enchilada sauce and top with the cashew cheese. Bake in a 180C oven for 20 mins, until hot and the cheese is bubbling and slightly browned.

Serve with arroz verde.


enchilada sauce 2

Home Made Enchilada Sauce

I mostly use this sauce for enchiladas, but it is actually an all purpose chilli sauce. Use it for tacos, nachos, burritos, quesadillas or anything you like.

Traditionally this sauce is made with New Mexico chillies, but I love the chocolatey and fruity flavours of Mulato and Pasilla chillies, so to hell with tradition. Mexican red chilli sauce is also usually thickened with flour, but that inconveniently renders an otherwise gluten-free meal unsuitable for coeliacs, so I developed a version that doesn’t need thickening at all.

I wouldn’t be without this in my fridge (or freezer).


4 dried mulato chillies

2 dried pasilla chillies

4 dried arbol chillies

2 cups boiling water

2 cups good vegetable stock

1/2 brown onion, roughly diced

4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt, or to taste


1. Heat the oven to 180C. Remove the stems and most of the seeds from the chillies. Place onto a baking tray into the oven and roast for around 4 or 5 minutes until they just release their aroma. Keep a close eye on them: If they burn even slightly they will be bitter and horrible and nothing will mask the burned taste of your sauce.

2. Place all the ingredients, including the chillies, into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer 30 minutes, until soft. Leave to cool with the lid on around 20 minutes

3. Place the contents of the sauce into a powerful blender. Blend until smooth – this could take a few minutes. If you need to add a bit more water to get it to blend smoothly, do so 1/4 cup at a time. You want a sauce that is thick enough to cling to the back of a spoon, like a thick gravy.

4. Push the sauce through a fine sieve to remove the bitter skins. Store in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks or in the freezer for up to a year.

arroz verde 2

Quick and Easy Arroz Verde

Serves: 12

Time: 35 minutes 

This is a really simple rice dish that tastes like it isn’t simple. It’s delicious, quick and easy and as an added benefit adds some sneaky greens to your meal.

Arroz verde is a versatile side that is a perfect addition to any Mexican feast. I always serve it alongside my Black Bean and Vegetable Enchiladas. Most versions require making a salsa verde and adding milk or cream, but it really doesn’t need it, so I came up with this quick version that you can whip up in no time.

This is always a hit, flavoursome enough to eat on its own, but not too flavoursome to accompany rich and spicy main courses.


3 cups basmati rice

1 small white onion, very finely chopped

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1 fresh jalapeño, minced

4 tbsp vegan butter, or olive oil

2 cups good quality vegetable stock

2 1/2 cups water

3 cups baby spinach (a couple of good handfuls)

A large handful fresh parsley

1 tsp sea salt


1. Place the stock, water, salt, spinach and parsley into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside

2. Heat the butter/oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, jalapeño and rice and cook, stirring constantly until the edges of the rice go clear.

2. Add the contents of the blender to the pan and give a good stir. Bring to the boil, stir and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until the rice is soft (keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil dry). Add a little more water if you need it. Remove from the heat and cover with a lid for 10 minutes.

3. Adjust salt to taste, fluff with a fork and serve hot.


Baja tacos-1

Baja Tempeh Tacos

Serves 4-8

I have made these a few times now, and every time I forget to measure things. I finally did it tonight (well, mostly), and I am very happy to be able to share the recipe.

I always break these out on taco night, alongside a number of healthier fillings. I have fearlessly fed these to people who are not accustomed to eating things such as tempeh. Simmering the tempeh really changes its flavour, and, well, what doesn’t taste good covered in crispy batter?

You could serve this battered seaweed tempeh with chips instead of course, but I love tacos, and I’m too lazy to fry chips at home.

I put coriander on these for everyone else. I hate it, so I have mine without. While it enhances them if it doesn’t taste like soap to you, it certainly isn’t necessary.


For the tempeh

1 300g packet tempeh

2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce

2 tsp sugar

3 cups water

5 sheets of nori

3/4 cup plain flour, plus more as needed

1/2 to 3/4 cup cold soda water OR a mild tasting beer, as needed

1 large pinch chilli powder

1 large pinch salt

Sunflower or canola oil, for deep frying

 For the Slaw

3 cups shredded cabbage (purple preferred)

2 carrots, grated

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

pinch salt, or to taste

For the Sauce

1 ripe avocado

1 tbsp lime juice, or to taste

1/4 cup water, plus more as needed

salt to taste

1 tsp sugar

1 chipotle chilli in adobo sauce

1 clove garlic

To Assemble

16 soft corn tortillas, warm

Fresh coriander, unless you hate it

Fresh lime wedges


1. Mix the slaw ingredients together in a bowl. Place in the fridge while you do everything else.

2. Cut the tempeh along the shorter edge into slices 5mm thick. You should get around 16 pieces. Slice these in half lengthwise to create long, thin strips. Place the water, vegetarian oyster sauce and sugar into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the tempeh and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cut the sheets of nori into eight even rectangles using a pair of scissors. One at a time, wrap each piece of tempeh up in the seaweed, as shown below. Place each piece seam-down onto a flat surface – the moisture from the tempeh will seal the seaweed.

tempeh seaweed

4. Place the sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add a little more water if necessary. Adjust lime juice and seasonings to taste and set aside.

5. Place the soda water, chilli and salt into a mixing bowl. Whisk in the flour until you have a batter just very slightly thinner than pancake batter. If you prefer a thicker batter than the one shown, add more flour.

6. Heat  three inches of oil in a wok (or whatever you use to deep fry) over high heat. You want the oil to be very hot, but not smoking. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop in a tiny bit of batter. It should bubble up immediately. Reduce heat a little to maintain temperature. Dip the tempeh into the batter and gently drop into the oil. Fry four pieces at a time until lightly golden, turning half way through. Remove from the oil and place onto a towel lined tray. Keep the tray in the oven to keep everything nice and crispy while you fry the remainder of the tempeh.

7. To assemble the tacos, spread a tablespoon or two of the sauce onto each tortilla, and top with two pieces of tempeh and some coleslaw. Or stuff more in, who am I to tell you how much to put in your taco. Sprinkle with coriander if using, and serve extra sauce and lime wedges on the side. Eat immediately.

Quinoa Soup for blog

Peruvian Style Quinoa Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 35-40 minutes

Serves 4

I’ve never been a fan of a big pile of quinoa on a plate as a substitute for rice or cous cous, so I’m always looking for tastier and more interesting ways to use it. Since it comes from South America, and given that I am obsessed with latin-american cuisine lately, Peruvian quinoa soup seemed like a winning option.

Traditionally made with lard, chicken stock, potatoes and onions, but highly adaptable, you can really put anything you like in it, so it’s very easy to veganise. My version uses corn for the sweetness and texture, and includes tomatoes for a more rounded flavour. I had actually intended to stir in some baby spinach and parsley at the end of cooking, but we were so hungry I completely forgot about it until we had almost finished. I think it would have worked really well though, so I would encourage this adaption. One ingredient that you really cannot change though, is the aji amarillo paste. It gives the soup most of its flavour, and is served with just about everything in Peru. It is a fairly mild chilli, but wonderfully fruity. It is available from South American grocers or online if you don’t have one near you.

This is a filling and satisfying soup and hearty enough for a main course. If you are planning on keeping leftovers for the next day, note that the quinoa will absorb all of the liquid overnight and you will end up with something more like quinoa risotto than soup. Just as delicious, but if you would like to avoid this you can cook the quinoa separately  and combine them when you are ready to serve. I prefer to do it all in the one pot because the quinoa absorbs more flavour, and because it saves on time, dishes and effort.

While it may not be the prettiest meal, I assure you that what it lacks in looks it makes up for in flavour (and nutrition). This is a favourite staple in our house.


2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup quinoa (I always used mixed)

3 cups Nicola or Desire potatoes, cut into 3cm cubes

kernels from 2 cobs corn

4 medium tomatoes, diced

1 large brown onion, finely diced

3 large cloves garlic, minced

4 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

4 tsp aji amarillo

1 tsp mushroom seasoning (optional)

 salt and pepper to taste

For garnish

2 avocados, sliced

2 tomatoes, diced

extra aji amarillo paste

wedges of lime

fresh chopped parsley or coriander (optional)

salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and cook until browned. A bit of char is good for extra flavour

2. Add the corn and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the corn is bright yellow, approx two minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir to deglaze the pot

3. Add the potatoes, 4 cups of the vegetable stock, oregano and paprika. Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer until the potatoes are just tender, 15-20 minutes

4. Add the quinoa and the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Bring back up to the boil and reduce to a rapid simmer until the quinoa is cooked (it is cooked when it releases a ‘tail’ and is soft, but not mushy). Remove from the heat and stir through the aji amarillo paste, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve and top each bowl with 1/2 an avocado, some diced tomato, a good squeeze of lime juice, salt, pepper and a dollop of aji amarillo.