Vegetable Lasagna

250g wholemeal lasagna sheets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 capsicum (any colour)
1 punnet of white button mushrooms
2 small eggplants
handful of fresh spinach
small broccoli head
(all veggies chopped medium to small)
400g can all-natural diced tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
750g smooth ricotta cheese
3 free-range eggs
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Vegetable sauce:
Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.

Add capsicum, mushroom, eggplant, spinach and broccoli, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste, cook for 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

Mix ricotta, eggs and basil, season with salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C

Pour 1/2 cup of vegetables sauce into a lightly greased baking dish then alternate layers of lasagna, vegetable sauce and ricotta, ending with ricotta layer (allow for 4 layers).

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes (25 if using white lasagna sheets).

Let stand for  5 minutes before serving.

TIP: the trick to delicious lasagna is AMPLE SAUCE and that the lasagna sheets, are completely covered with/in it. So for extra yum-factor, make sure your lasagna retains a high level of moisture.

So you want to throw a dinner party?

I love throwing dinner parties. Lurve it. I think whatever problems you’re having can almost always be forgotten for an hour or two when you’re surrounded by good food, family and friends. Unless the family and friends ARE the problem in which case, abort mission!

Here are my top tips for hosting a dinner party:

Provide bread:
Two thing always worry me. One, and perhaps the most obvious worry, if my guests will like what i’m serving, if it will be tasty. And two, if there will be enough of it. Bread solves both problems. Everybody loves bread and not just any bread but artisan bread. For me, Olivier’s is it, it has become my good luck charm and if all goes to shit, I know my guests can fill up on it. As the great Mr. Saavedra once said, “all sorrows are less with bread”.

Make salad:
Oi! I heard that! “Salad shmalad”. Be quiet! It’s important. It’s needed and it’s not just for the dieters. It brings freshness and balance. Just do it, okay? No dinner table is complete without a BIG bowl of salad. Throw in some fresh fruit (the fancier the better: strawberry, watermelon, pineapple, peach, pomegranate) and some nuts and/or seeds, and voila! Your salad is officially pimped. Just make sure not to over do it.
Tip: dry roast your nuts and seeds in a pan or toaster oven for extra flavour.

Colour me in:
Apparently Ed Sheeran sings “cover me up, cuddle me in” but I’ve been singing “cover me up, colour me in” for the past year, or for however long he’s been singing it. My ex used to find it cute when I messed up the lyrics but now, it’s just pathetic. Anyways, colour is important – another reason to prepare salad. Put some thought into your menu so you don’t end up serving everything red, yellow or orange.
Note: this can be as simple as adding some greenry (parsley, basil etc) to the top of your soup or pasta.

Where is the sauce?
Remember Manu, from My Kitchen Rules’ catch phrase? Don’t serve dry food. Make sure your pasta, curry or stir-fry has enough sauce, that your salad is served with dressing, your bread with butter, your meat with gravy and your basmati rice with yoghurt.

Tonights recipes:
Lettuce, diced roasted sweet potato, pomegranate seeds and dry roasted walnuts
dressed with: lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper

White bean dip:
in a food processor, blitz together: 1 can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed), 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup olive oil, zest of one lemon,  juice of half a lemon, bunch of fresh parsley, salt and pepper.

Pretty self explanatory, you can use pretty much anything for these…various cheeses, meats, vegetables (artichokes, peppers, olives etc) and pastas, too (tortellini and gnocchi rubbed in pesto are excellent).

Fettuccine, sliced button mushrooms, spring onion, canned tomato and cream – das it.



“What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?”

Have I told you how much I love Anthony Bourdain? (Except for his views on vegans and vegetarians.) But as he says so himself, “I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you”, Mr Bourdain.

Wish I could make him breakfast…
but for now, here are 10 of my favourite quotes from him:

1.“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

2.“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”

3.“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

4.“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”

5.“Garlic is divine. Few food items can taste so many distinct ways, handled correctly. Misuse of garlic is a crime…Please, treat your garlic with respect…Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”

6.“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.”

7.“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”

8.“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.”

9.“An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins,”

And last but not least…

10.“But I do think the idea that basic cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill, should become as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”