What is it about grey cloud, steady rainfall and the prospect of endless cuddles with a woolly blanket? These are a few of my favourite things, completely at odds with some other favourite things of mine, like a warm balmy evening, sand between my toes and the feeling of being wrapped in a salty, damp beach towel.
Melbourne weather at the minute is much like a angst-ridden teenager, unsure of itself and somewhat unpredictable. When I first moved here in 2011 it didn’t take me long to realise that the shared joke about Melbourne’s unpredictable weather was in fact not a joke, and that I was inappropriately dressed. I’ve conveniently misplaced my only pair of sandals for years now. I spent most of the last Australian summer overseas amidst a snowy winter in South Korea, and the USA. I’m disgruntled, a bit tired of the cold and SO READY for some summer lovin’.
For me, summer in this part of the world means fresh seafood, a face covered in sticky mango juice and making friends with salad. You can pair almost any salad combination with a cold glass of good sauvignon blanc, don’t ya know?
Having grown up beach-side in sunny Sydney, where summers are spent perpetually sunburnt and hungry, one quickly learns the art of inventing something edible for dinner, ASAP. I then got to hone these skills in my early days of being a time-poor uni student in a new city, with a feather-light wallet and an appetite for interesting (see; expensive) ingredients. At one point I’m sure I uttered “For the love of chickpeas and tinned tuna, no more legumes or baby spinach!”. I love to cook, but when I’m busy with other things, there’s nothing like a good last minute throw down. Below I’ve listed 10 of my favourite go-to meals, perfect for a disorganized kitchen making use of whatever ingredients are on hand.
1. This cheeky recipe for Slut’s Spaghetti by Nigella Lawson has seen me through many solo dinners, with extra chilli every time.
2. I love Fasoulada. It’s nourishing, affordable and super tasty. You can’t beat it on a chilly night.
3. If you haven’t tried cauliflower rice, this simple, yummy recipe is the perfect start.
4. I’m a big fan of the humble toastie. Ruth Bruten from Gourmet Girlfriend has got it right with this combination of roast chicken, pickles and capsicum relish. Mustard is also a good alternative to relish.
5. I love this zesty Caesar salad dressing and I like to cook any leftover sourdough bread in the oven, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and garlic powder to make croutons.
6. These Salmon and Parsley Fishcakes by Jamie Oliver are quick to whip up and great the next day for lunch.
7. This gorgeous recipe for Pumpkin and Spinach Daal is super yummy. It’s really economic, hearty and freezes well. Serve it with coconut rice for extra tastiness.
8. Initially I was quite skeptical about how creamy this Cauliflower Soup would turn out without using any cream, milk or butter. But it’s perfect, and I’ve been making it for years. The sneaky addition of Vegemite works really well.
9. This is another ready-in-a-flash meal by Jamie Oliver, and the tuna, apple and natural yogurt combination is a good one. If feeling cheeky, swap the yogurt for quality mayonnaise and substitute the green apple with a sweeter, pink variety.
10. Hands down the best recipe for an impromptu pancake breakfast ever.