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A lasagne dish and an Asian salad

A slightly bemused courier was standing on my doorstep when I answered the doorbell.

“Errr. Are you Pat? Yes? These are for you.”

He handed over a beribboned box stuffed with florists’ paper and…

It was the “and” that had him bemused. No roses, no carnations, no flowers of any sort – just two bunches of carrots.

broccoflowerI think he was the fellow who delivered the posy of broccoflower (right) a couple of weeks earlier. He must have been wondering what sort of friends I have.

To put the record straight, I am not being stalked by a vegetarian or wooed by a greengrocer. Perfection Fresh has been sharing with me some of the specialised lines being grown by fruit and vegetable producers across Australia.

The carrots came in two colours – the familiar orange and the more recently introduced purple variety.

Purple carrots, however, aren’t exactly new, as the origin of the cultivated carrot was a purple variety that came from the Afghanistan region. A mutant yellow variety later appeared around the 10th century. According to my research at the World Carrot Museum orange carrots likely came from mutations of yellow forms, probably in the Netherlands.

I like the story that the Dutch developed them in the 17th century as a tribute to William of Orange. While there doesn’t appear to be any evidence to support this, we do know our modern orange carrot was developed and stabilised by Dutch growers.

The humble carrot is a star in the cook’s armoury. It provides a colourful contrast when served with green and white vegetables. It’s a core ingredient in many recipes from stocks and soups to casseroles and mashes. It pops up in stirfries and lends crunch and colour to salads. It's even used in cakes and muffins.

My carrot “arrangement” ended up on the plate with roast chicken and bright lime green broccoflower, both simply steamed  and both retaining their colour. I left the carrots whole and unpeeled, just giving them a quick scrub. But I also like showing up the cololurs by slicing them, not too thinly, on the diagonal.

Here’s an interesting recipe for the carrots created by Andrew Mirosch, executive chef, Sirromet Winery, Brisbane. And there's one for a broccoflower salad, both courtesy of Perfection Fresh. You'll find more on their website.

open lasagne

Dutch carrot open lasagne

Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

4 x 100g slices ricotta, cut into 12cm rounds
12 orange Dutch carrots, peeled, tops on but trimmed
12 purple Dutch carrots, peeled, tops on but trimmed
1 sheet fresh lasagne, cut into 12 x 12cm rounds
 Fresh picked herbs 

Honey, Mustard and Lime Dressing Ingredients
1-2 limes 
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp grain mustard
1 tsp Dijon mustard
50ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp warm honey 

Combine all dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Place ricotta on a baking sheet and bake at 180°C for 5 minutes till warmed through.

Cook carrots in boiling salted water until just tender about 3 minutes. Remove from water, drain. Pour over dressing.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook until tender, drain and season.

Place four pasta rounds on four plates. Top with three carrots each, then a ricotta slice.

Add another pasta round and top with remaining carrots. Add last pasta round and drizzle with any remaining dressing.

Garnish with picked herbs.


asian broccoflower salad

Asian broccoflower salad

Serves 4-6.
Prep Time: 25 minutes.
Cooking Time: 20 minutes.

1 broccoflower, cut into florets
250g baby red capsicums
100g green snow pea sprouts
100g yellow snow pea sprouts
1/2 bunch mint, round-leaf variety
1/2 bunch coriander
150ml Asian dressing

Toasted sesame seeds and fried shallots to garnish

Blanch broccoflower and refresh in ice water. When cold drain well.

Cut baby red capsicums in half, remove seeds and slice thinly. Pick coriander and mint leaves from stems. Cut yellow and green snow pea sprouts into halves.

Place broccoflower and remaining ingredients into a large bowl (excluding dressing). Add dressing while slowly mixing ingredients.

Serve, garnished with toasted sesame seeds and fried shallots.

Asian Dressing
Using a bar blender, blend together 50ml Chinese sweet vinegar; 2 long red chillis, sliced with seeds removed; 2 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar; 1 clove garlic; 100ml water; 50ml lime juice, 20ml fish sauce.


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