Bite into spring

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While it’s officially springtime, it’s still cool enough to cosy up with a hot meal. CW food writer Fiona Williams shares fresh new seasonal flavours with a warming bowl of aromatic laksa and delicious pumpkin salad.

Fragrant laksa

Recipe courtesy of Australian Asparagus Council [asparagus.com.au]

Serves: 4

Cook: 10-12 mins

  • 2 bunches thick asparagus spears, woody ends removed
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp laksa paste
  • 1 litre well flavoured fish or chicken stock
  • 6 Kaffir lime leaves, shredded finely
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 400g can coconut cream
  • 12 large green prawns, shelled
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt, pepper, sugar to taste
  • 200g rice vermicelli noodles, blanched
  • 1 cup bean shoots
  • 200g poached chicken, shredded
  • 4 eggs, hardboiled and halved
  • 3 spring onions, sliced diagonally

Crispy fried shallots, Vietnamese mint leaves, coriander leaves, lime wedges and sliced chillies to serve

Cut asparagus spears into 6cm lengths. Bring a saucepan of water to boil and cook asparagus until just tender and still bright green, about two minutes. Remove asparagus immediately from water and set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry onion and garlic for two minutes. Add laksa paste and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add stock, lime leaves and fish sauce. Bring to boil and simmer for five minutes. Stir in coconut cream and bring to a gentle simmer.

Add prawns and allow to cook for one minute. Remove prawns from broth and set aside.

Season broth with fish sauce, lime juice, salt, pepper and sugar.

To serve, divide cooked noodles between four warmed serving bowls. Arrange bean shoots, chicken, asparagus and prawns in bowl. Ladle hot broth into bowl and top with halved eggs, spring onions, crispy shallots, mint, coriander and lime wedges. Serve immediately.


Pumpkin, kale and black bean salad

Recipe courtesy of Rachael Finch; find more recipes on bodybyfinch.com

Serves: 2

Prep & cook: 20 mins

  • 220g butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 250g tinned black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp ginger knob (6g), grated
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli (optional)
  • 3/4 bunch kale leaves stripped
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 60g goat’s cheese

Preheat oven to 200˚C and line a roasting dish with baking paper, place pumpkin into dish, drizzle with one teaspoon oil and season. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until cooked.

Heat a fry pan over medium heat, add pepitas and toast for a few minutes, remove from pan and set aside. Heat remaining oil in fry pan, add beans, garlic and spices and cook for 3-4 minutes, continuously stirring so to make sure spice coats the beans, set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, place kale and lemon juice. Massage the lemon juice and mustard into the kale until kale starts to soften. Add beans and pumpkin to kale and toss together.

Divide salad between two bowls, top with goat’s cheese and pepitas to serve.

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