asparagus with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked garlic (gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, paleo)

The deliciousness of this dish is simply insurmountable. It’s astounding to me that a recipe so simple and quick to make could end up with so many complex flavours and dimensions. Slightly crisp asparagus imbued with deliciously tangy sun-dried tomatoes and the deep intensity of smoked French garlic really does create an amazing plate of food.

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It’s not just the flavours that work together brilliantly; I love the bright colours as well. The contrast between the mysterious green and the slightly muted fiery red of the tomatoes paints a gorgeous picture.

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To me, asparagus is one of the most under-rated vegetables out there. It has quite a basic flavour, but it really pops when paired with strong flavours which would probably be overwhelming on their own. It acts as a canvas for the fiery flavours of sun-dried tomato and smoked garlic –  a great one at that.

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Did I mention that there are only four ingredients and it’ll be ready in about fifteen minutes?

Asparagus with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked garlic

by Alessandra Peters

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 300g asparagus
  • 5 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves smoked French garlic (normal garlic would work, too)
  • 300ml vegetable stock

Instructions

1. Trim the asparagus and chop the tomatoes.

2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add a teaspoon of oil and heat it up. Saute the garlic in the oil until fragrant, then add the trimmed asparagus and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, then cover everything with the vegetable stock.

3. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the asparagus is just a tiny bit crisp.

4. Serve and enjoy!

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mint lemonade (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, paleo, egg-free, grain-free)

Mint and lemon is one of the most wonderful food combinations that ever occurred – in my opinion, at least. The sweet, fresh taste of homemade lemonade filled with a myriad of little sacs of juicy beads mixed with the crisp, slightly sharp bite of mint is just the ideal summery beverage.

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Fresh peppermint must be the easiest plant you could ever grow. I haven’t killed it (yet), and that says a lot! It makes the house smell wonderfully fresh and it’ll enable you to make an unlimited amount of homemade mint lemonade. Heaven? Why, definitely.

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Memories of hours spent in the scorching sun from my third-culture-kid childhood fled into my brain as I took a sip. I remember the Syrian fruit monger who slipped me the juiciest fresh peaches every time I visited, resulting in gloriously sticky hands and fragrant rivers of juice running down my chin. The quaint Qatari cafe in which I would always, always order the mint lemonade, and received it with a smile which became a language in a matter of seconds; he didn’t speak English and I not enough Arabic to converse, but a smile said it all.

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Bursts of acidic lemon juice interspersed within the otherwise sweet, refreshing nectar. Can you tell I love it?

Mint Lemonade

by Alessandra Peters

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (1.2 litres)

  • 150 grams granulated sugar
  • juice of 5 lemons
  • 250ml water
  • 30 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 litre cold water
  • ice, to serve

Instructions

1. Place the sugar and 250ml water into a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved into the water, about 10 minutes.

2. Add in the fresh lemon juice, then dilute with the additional 1 litre of cold water.

3. Refrigerate for at least two hours or until completely cool.

4. Place your mint leaves and homemade lemonade in a blender, then blend for 20 seconds.

5. Strain the mint lemonade using a very fine sieve to get rid of any bits of mint leaf.

6. Pour the mint lemonade in to tall glasses and top up with ice.

7. Enjoy!

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rhubarb in the garden

After a short wander in my garden today, I made the capricious decision to pull out a stalk of rhubarb and see how it was getting along.

Mistake. Big mistake. It was perfectly ripe. I pulled it all out and am now left with about two kilos of perfectly red and juicy rhubarb. How could I not?!

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I love rhubarb. It’s acidic, slightly sweet, yet deliciously tangy, and if you get the perfect balance of fresh rhubarb on a sweet summer’s day, it’s simply wonderful.

So, what did I do with my abundance of rhubarb? Well. I kitted up in all my old clothes (rhubarb stains, as in really, really stains) and being the organisational perfectionist that I am, I set up a rhubarb-preparing station. Yes, really.

Wash, peel, chop. Yum. Half of it went straight into a big pot dedicated to rhubeena and passion fruit rhubarb popsicles, and the other half was popped in to the freezer for later use – oh yes, I’m serious. Expect many more (possibly a slightly ridiculous amount) recipes using the herbaceous perennials very soon. It’s a date.

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chocolate pecan cookies (grain-free, paleo, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free)

Stop what you’re doing right now. Yes, it’s one of those recipes. One of those get-in-to-your-kitchen-right-now-and-bake-these recipes.

The sweet rays of summer are finally beginning to light up the days. Gorgeous, fiery red-crested birds hop contently around the garden in which hundreds of shades of green flourish amongst flowers in all sorts of colours. Everyone’s face looks joyous, bright, happy; it takes me a moment to snap out of my summer daze every time I look outside. The cows outside my kitchen window graze, their movements slow and in control, and life goes on.

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Fudgy yet crispy, dark yet light, rich yet airy. Reminiscent of dreamy days consisting of early morning baking, serene walks in the woods, and laughter so precious that it will forever remain in our memories, these cookies really are the essence of summer to me – simple, spontaneous, and imperfect.

By the way, your mixture should be mixed by now, yes? Definitely yes.

There’s a reason the recipe makes thirty-six cookies. The nutrition bumf? 83 calories, 7g of fat per cookie with the pretty pecan half, 56 calories, 4g fat without it. It’s a complete bargain, trust me. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Pecan Cookies

by Alessandra Peters

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Keywords: gluten-free soy-free vegan sugar-free paleo dairy-free grain-free egg-free

Ingredients (36 cookies)

  • 200g almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 125ml pure maple syrup
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 36 pecan halves

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Arrange the pecan halves on a baking sheet, then toast for 10 minutes until golden.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Add in the maple syrup and oil, then stir until everything is very well combined.

3. Using a small ice cream scoop, melon baller, or teaspoon, drop teaspoonfuls of the mixture on to lined baking sheets. Press a pecan half on to each cookie.

4. Bake for 7-8 minutes, let cool slightly, and enjoy!

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