I celebrated my birthday this weekend just gone and because hubby was working away I took it upon myself to sort a few presents out, you know... for myself, which really is not as sad as it sounds! Typically for me, all I wanted was a couple of new cookbooks, so I picked up one from the shops and have another coming in the post next week. The one I have in my hot little hands right now is Simon Bryant's much anticipated cookbook Vegies and I have to say it's quickly become one of my all time favourites.
Simon is a man after my own heart, a man who's food philosophy's and ethos mirror mine to a T. Real fresh local food, eaten with the seasons and prepared simply. The book is vegetarian although Simon is hesitant to call is such, and instead refers to it as simply just really good food. Exactly how I see the food we eat. No need for labels. If it's good, who cares what's in it and what's not.
The book is set out by seasons and it was while flicking through Spring, that I came across his beautiful looking dish simply named Lavender + orange with cous cous. Now I've never been a fan of lavender in cooking, savoury or sweet but after reading through the ingredients list I thought it was worth a try.
What also got me was the perfect timing of it all, Simon uses a head of bolting broccoli (home grown and going to seed in case you have no idea what that means) and what-do-ya-know, out in our garden there are many broccoli shoots doing just that 🙂 I used a mish-mash of broccoli bits, some of the side shoots that grow after the main head of broccoli is picked, some of the bolting shoots, flowers and all, and a little bit of a broccoflower that I had tucked away in the fridge.
Instead of serving the raw broccoli salad on cous cous, I've opted here to serve it on protein rich quinoa for a nutritious gluten-free option. I've also just used his recipe as the starting point, tasting and adjusted it all as I went along. I suggest you do the same, if you are a little unsure about adding the lavender, just go for the 1/2 teaspoon, taste, then add more if you like what you're tasting. If you feel like you want a little bit more dressing, add more orange juice and extra virgin olive oil. I have to say that the little hint of lavender really does add something special to the dish, along with the zip of orange, the freshness of all those herbs and the crunch of broccoli it really is a lovely simple spring dish.
One last note. I've been sitting on this news since the start of this year... one of my recipes is featured in the latest update of the ABC Foodi app for ipad! I feel pretty honoured to be sitting alongside some of Australia's cooking royalty like Bill Granger, Maggie Beer, Simon Bryant, Matt Moran and Poh Ling Yeow! And a huge congrats to my fellow bloggers who have had their recipes featured also; One Small Kitchen, The Hungry Australian, Lemonpi and Souvlaki for the Soul. I don't own a ipad but if you do the app is free to download 🙂
lavender + orange broccoli with quinoa
I added all the raw broccoli salad ingredients to my taste instead of sticking firmly to Simon's recipe and I suggest you do the same. Add 1/2 teaspoon lavender and taste, then add more if you like. I just used the picked little petals from 1 head of lavender that had been drying on the windowsill for 2 days. I used a combination of broccoli shoots from the garden, some that had gone to seed, and some broccoflower that I had hanging out in the fridge, in total I used around 2-2 1/2 cups of finely shaved and chopped broccoli bits. Use the stems for another use; add to soup, steam or peel and eat raw.
Serves 3-4 or more as a side
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups (325ml) water
lavender + orange broccoli
1/2 head broccoli, ends shaved finely + stalks reserved for another use. (I ended up with around 2-2 1/2 cups once finely chopped)
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1/2 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/2-1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
zest 1/2 orange
juice 1 orange
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + extra to drizzle
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To cook the quinoa bring the water to the boil, rinse the quinoa well (to remove the saponin, a bitter protective coating) and drain. The easiest way to do this is to put the raw grain into a fine mesh sieve and rinse under running water, set aside to drain while the waters coming up to the boil. Add rinsed quinoa to the boiling water, cover, turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-12 mins until all the water has been absorbed, the grains are tender. Remove from the heat and stir through with a fork to fluff up. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Mix all ingredients for the broccoli in a medium bowl, season well to taste and serve on top of the quinoa. Drizzle the lot with some more extra virgin olive oil and serve.