Mediterranean prawn mussel soup with herb polenta

If you are allergic to shellfish, then this soup is just as delicious made with a firm white fish such as blue eye or snapper instead of prawns and mussels. This Spanish-style soup uses almonds as a thickener, which also gives the soup a bit more body and at the same time adds wonderful texture and flavour.

To make Herb Polenta, bring 800 ml water to the boil, add salt to taste, reduce heat and add polenta in thin stream, then stir well. Reduce heat to very low, cover and cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all the lumps are gone and polenta thickens and comes away from side of pan. Stir in cayenne and herbs, remove from heat, spoon onto a baking paper lined tray and shape into a 16 x 21 cm rectangle. When cold, cut into fingers and place on an oven tray. Set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a frying pan and cook almonds, garlic and chilli over medium heat until almonds are golden. Combine almond mixture, half the tomatoes and half the capsicum in a food processor and process until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan and cook onion over low heat until soft. Add tomato mixture, remaining finely chopped tomato and capsicum, stock and saffron and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add mussels, cover and simmer, about 5 minutes or until mussels have opened. Add prawns and simmer, uncovered, until prawns are just cooked, then season to taste.

Meanwhile brush polenta lightly with oil and grill on both sides until heated through. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with Herb Polenta.

SERVES 4

Polenta can be prepared a day ahead. Will keep, covered, in refrigerator.

olive oil

50 g blanched almonds 2 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened 1 small fresh red chilli 6 egg (Roma) tomatoes, peeled and seeded

1 Roasted Capsicum (page 163)

1 onion, chopped

2 L (8 cups) Fish or Chicken stock (pages 159 & 160)

pinch saffron, to taste 500 g mussels, scrubbed and bearded 500 g medium green prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact

HERB POLENTA 150 g polenta (yellow cornmeal) pinch cayenne, to taste V4 cup mixed chopped fresh herbs including basil, coriander, flat-leaf parsley olive oil mushroom & chickpea soup with eggplant puree

This is a full bodied and earthy soup and we love the addition of a drizzle of truffle oil at the end — it feels quite decadent and makes it a special occasion dish.

1 small (about 275 g) eggplant

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp plain soy yoghurt

1 tbsp lemon juice

100 g C/2 cup) dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp olive oil

2 small leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise

1.5 L (6 cups) Chicken or Vegetable Stock (page 159)

500 g Swiss brown mushrooms, coarsely chopped

350 g silverbeet (stems discarded), shredded truffle oil, to serve (optional)

Place eggplant on an oven tray and roast at 200°C for 30 minutes or until eggplant is very soft. Cool, then remove skin. Puree eggplant in a food processor with garlic, yoghurt and lemon juice until smooth, then season to taste.

Cook drained chickpeas, uncovered, in simmering water with bay leaves about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and discard bay leaves.

Heat oil in a large saucepan and cook leeks over low heat until soft, adding a little stock if leeks are sticking to pan. Add stock, bring to the boil, then add mushrooms and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and simmer another 10 minutes, then stir in silverbeet, cook until just wilted and season to taste.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve topped with eggplant puree and a drizzle of truffle oil, if using.

SERVES 4-6

Eggplant puree can be made a day ahead. Will keep, covered, in refrigerator.

asian-styLe duck salad

Duck breasts are very fatty and while that fat is delicious (according to Kathy), it's best removed when you are detoxing (so Jan says). You can toss calamari or roasted quail through this salad instead of duck and if you want to make it even more substantial, add some rice noodles.

2 large duck breasts (about 500 g), skin removed 1 carrot, peeled and cut into julienne 100 g snowpeas, trimmed and cut into julienne 100 g sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 large fresh red chilli, seeded and cut into julienne

200 g Chinese cabbage, finely shredded 100 g bean sprouts, trimmed

2 green (spring) onions, trimmed, halved and cut into julienne

1 cup firmly packed fresh coriander leaves

20 g C/4 cup) flaked almonds, toasted extra coriander sprigs, to serve

DRESSING

1 tsp grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 60 ml C/4 cup) lime juice

1 tsp sesame oil 1 tbsp wheat-free tamari sauce V4 tsp honey

To make dressing, combine all ingredients and check seasoning.

Heat a non-stick frying pan and cook duck breasts over medium heat about 3 minutes each side, depending on thickness, until golden (this will give you pink duck). Remove from pan, cover loosely with foil and stand for 10 minutes before thinly slicing crosswise.

Combine carrot, snowpeas, sugar snap peas and chilli in a bowl and pour boiling water over. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Return to bowl, add cabbage, bean sprouts, green onion, coriander, almonds and duck, and toss to combine. Toss half the dressing with salad and place in shallow bowls. Top with extra coriander sprigs, then drizzle with remaining dressing.

SERVES 4 FOR LUNCH OR 6 AS AN ENTREE

Dressing can be made 3 hours ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature. Salad best made just before serving.

roasted quail with quinoa salad & grilled figs

If you haven't tried quinoa before you are in for a treat. It's a high-protein ancient grain that is excellent served both hot or cold. It has a chewy texture and a lovely nutty flavour, but benefits from the addition of herbs or being cooked in stock. You will find it in health food stores. If fresh figs are not available, use sliced ripe pears. This dish is pictured on the cover.

4 large quails extra virgin olive oil

190 g (1 cup) quinoa

500 ml (2 cups) Chicken Stock

(page 159) 6 green (spring) onions, chopped

1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted 2 tbsp currants

1 tsp grated lemon rind 1 tbsp lemon juice 4 figs, halved

Brush quails with a little oil and cook over high heat in a non-stick frying pan until golden all over, then place on an oven tray. Roast at 200°C for 10 minutes until tender. Rest in a warm place for 10 minutes, then cut each quail into 4 pieces.

Meanwhile, combine quinoa and chicken stock in a saucepan, add salt to taste and bring to the boil, then simmer, covered, over medium heat about 15 minutes or until most of the stock is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove lid and stir over heat until all stock is evaporated. Remove from heat and cool.

Add green onions, parsley, pinenuts, currants, lemon rind and juice and 1 tablespoon oil to cooled quinoa, season to taste and stir to combine.

Brush figs lightly with oil and chargrill or grill until golden.

Serve quartered quail on a bed of quinoa salad with chargrilled figs to one side.

SERVES 4

Best made just before serving.

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