Tender-stem Broccoli and Roasted Walnut Salad

My partner and I work within a two minutes' walk of one another, so I love to have lunch together. He'll usually walk to the art gallery I work at, and I will cook us something delicious, as it helps enormously to avoid extra costs and the temptation of eating unhealthy fast food for lunch every day. When I'm not working at the gallery, as I don't have a permanent post, I make food at home and we eat lunch at the Johannesburg Zoo Lake on a bench. It's the most wonderful endeavour, and I love getting to a park for lunch!

Today I just grabbed a few things that were in the fridge. I really try to buy organic food as far as is possible, and local produce would be ideal, but some of the produce from around the world is often tempting. Today's meal consisted mostly of organic food, but also some spices and sauces that were in the kitchen at work. But definitely healthy and delicious!

My vegetables have been freezing in the new fridge we’ve kept them in of late, including my beautiful lettuce, which highly upsets me. I’ve resolved to just use the food as quickly as is possible. I managed to use a whole lot of my greens today, and even though they had frozen, everything was still crisp and delicious.

Sweet Cinnamon Shiitake Mushrooms

Sweet Indonesian Soya Sauce to taste
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Punnet of Shiitake Mushrooms

Heat the oil in a pan, toss in the mushrooms, pour over your desired amount of sweet soya dressing, I recommend about a tablespoon to 12 mushrooms. Toss them around in the pan, adding your salt and cinnamon, then cover the pan with a lid, stirring every so often. You don’t want to overcook the mushrooms though, because Shiitake mushrooms easily become quite mushy or sloppy. You want them to retain some spring. Keep the dirty pan aside for roasting the walnuts in later.

Tender-stem Broccoli and Roasted Walnut Salad

I don’t often measure the ingredients I cook with, so please bear with me on the portions of vegetable stock, or balsamic vinegar. Everybody has different tastes and requirements when it comes to cooking, so please follow it according to your own desires. My recipes are portioned for two, including a portion of leftovers for later pickings, unless stated otherwise.
10 stalks of tenderstem broccoli
A handful of raw walnuts
Mixed lettuce
Wild rocket
Sweet Indonesian soya dressing from mushroom pan
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Vegan Nature's Choice Mock Parmesan
Vegetable stock power (tsp probably)

You need a shallow frying pan with a lid, bring about 2 cm of water to the boil and add the veggie stock. Add the broccoli to the pan and place the lid on top, steaming for a few minutes so they just cook a little bit, absorbing the flavour of the stock. I add a little salt and a generous amount of pepper too. Once blanched, remove from the pan and toss into your salad bowl to cool. Don’t throw the water out of the pan, because you’re going to use it for the asparagus on the side.
To roast the walnuts, toss them in the still hot pan you used for the Shiitake mushrooms. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper to the pan and roast until the nuts are fragrant. It’s quite clear when they’re done, and it only takes about two minutes, if that long.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and feast!

Olive oil and Lemon Pan-fried Asparagus

8 stalks of fresh asparagus (never canned!)
Juice of one lemon (fresh – always!)
Leftover stock from broccoli
Splash of olive oil.
Using the pan you blanched the broccoli in, bring to a boil, do not add any extra water, add the juice of one lemon and a splash of olive oil. Add the asparagus and cover to steam. The liquid will reduce to a tart lemon dressing to pour over your asparagus once it has been steamed. As with the broccoli and mushrooms, you want to cook for a very short period of time so the asparagus is still crunchy and fresh.
I made everything separately, intending to eat everything separately, but it all went so well together that I put it all in the salad and licked my plate clean.

For dessert I finished off with a grapefruit and some fresh cranberry juice!

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