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Tag Archives: vegetables

Back to School with Smash Lunch Boxes + a Recipe for Easy Lunchbox Pasta Stir Fry

I think life has become a series of shopping lists, one after the other. Still getting over the effects of the Christmas list and it’s time already for the ‘back to school’ list. Sigh!

But in all fairness, life must go on and so does the shopping list. And one of the top spots in the back to school list is always reserved for a new lunch box.

Now we all agree that the lunch box is such an integral part of the school life. Apart from the fact that it is a source of nourishment and good health for our little ones, it is also an integral part of school memories. I can recollect so many fond memories when it comes to school lunches and so will all of you.

So presenting to you my favourite brand of lunch boxes from Smash. I discovered this brand two years back and haven’t looked back ever since. In fact, I even wrote a blog post about it last year; there is also another easy lunch box recipe so do check it out.

Back to school with Smash - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash is an Australian brand so that means they totally understand our needs and requirements better. All the products are BPA free and extremely durable and reliable. In fact, all the lunch boxes, drink bottles from last year are still in great condition and the only reason I would change is because I received these samples to test out. (The old ones will be donated to the local Red Cross, and I strongly urge you to do so too if your old ones are in reasonably good condition)

The new designs out this year are so bright and colourful making it real fun for the kids. Our favourite happens to be this one shown below…of course it has to be blue because Adi is in that phase where ‘pink is for girls’. I like how the compartments are divided in this model and also the fact that there is an outer insulated case (removable) which also has the new Blue IQ antibacterial lining. The wipe-clean formula helps to keep the case clean devoid of any sort of mould or mildew, smells fresh and also protects the life of the lunchbox.

Smash lunchbox and outercase with Blue IQ antibacterial lining - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash has an extensive collection so there are plenty of choices for all sorts of lunch requirements. I love the add-on containers in various sizes, shapes and colours which mean that the food can be kept divided. The yoghurt container is so cool; it keeps it chilled and my son absolutely loves his during summer. The tube shaped box for wraps and rolls are so cool too.

Back to school with Smash lunch boxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Back to school with Smash lunch boxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Back to school with Smash lunchboxes - thespiceadventuress.com

Smash has a good collection for the grownups too especially taking into account the male/female preferences. I remember my hubby cribbing about the lack of ‘male’ colours till we started using Smash. Now he has his favourite blue and brown case which I must admit is really cool.

I also love the ‘Soup, Salad, Smoothie’ containers that were launched this year. Extremely thoughtful designs; for eg: the salad container has a separate portion for the dressing which means goodbye to soggy salads for lunch. I have been using these containers a lot while travelling too. Sturdy and great for road trips.

Smash products are available easily at many department stores and leading supermarkets like Coles, Woolworths, Officeworks, Target, Kmart and David Jones.

Smash office lunchbox collection - thespiceadventuress.com

Now that we have chosen the perfect lunch box, let’s go ahead with the perfect lunch too – a delicious easy to make Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables.

For those who are new to Mortadella, it is basically an Italian sausage or luncheon meat that can be purchased from a deli. Often had as a cold cut like ham or salami in a sandwich, but I am going to lightly stir fry it for this recipe. If you do not have Mortadella, you can substitute it with ham, salami, sausages or any other kind of meat. Or even skip it all together if you want a vegetarian version. The only thing to remember while purchasing from a deli is to ask the staff to cut it into a thick chunk instead of thin slices.

Apart from the fact that this dish is ready in less than 30 minutes, I also like the fact that there is no sauce involved which makes it a great lunch box option; tastes great even when it has gone a bit cold. I usually prepare this pasta stir fry for dinner which doubles up for the next day’s lunch for all of us. One dish for everyone in the family…..

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 300 gms pasta curls
  2. 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  3. 200 gms Mortadella (cut into a single thick chunk); diced
  4. 2-3 garlic cloves; chopped
  5. 1 large red onion; diced
  6. 1 cup mushrooms; diced
  7. 1 red bell pepper; diced
  8. 1 zucchini; diced
  9. 1 ½ tsp chilli flakes (adjust to preference)
  10. 1 tbsp mixed dried Italian herbs (a mix of oregano, thyme, rosemary)
  11. Salt, to season
  12. Freshly milled black pepper; to season

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions in salted boiling water and keep aside; reserve a little pasta water too.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan and add the chopped garlic; sauté on low heat for a few seconds and then add the diced Mortadella; stir fry on high for a minute.
  3. Next add the onions and mushrooms; continue to stir fry for another 30 seconds. Finally add the zucchini and bell peppers; mix well to combine and season with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and Italian herbs. Reduce heat and cook for a few seconds.
  4. Add the cooked pasta with ½ cup past water and mix well to combine.
  5. Remove from heat and enjoy; or ensure it’s cooled well before packing into lunch boxes.

Pasta stir fry with Mortadella and an assortment of vegetables - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post has been brought to you in collaboration with Smash Enterprises but the opinions expressed and recipe are entirely mine.

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Tempered Cauliflower Rice

I have finally jumped on the ‘cauliflower rice’ bandwagon!

The rise of the ‘raw food’ trend has been momentous in the recent times, especially given the current focus on health and natural living.

Cauliflower, perhaps, is one of the first ingredients that began to be used in its raw form as a substitute for grains. If you haven’t got the concept, cauliflower florets are blitzed to a finely grated form to mimic rice. A couple of brilliant cooks and chefs began to come up with delicious and unique ideas of using cauliflower beyond its traditional form. And today, it has a cult following around the globe.

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Though I have come across quite a few recipes using cauliflower in this new avatar, I really didn’t intend to make it. And I almost certainly wouldn’t have if not for the editor of the community magazine where I freelance. ‘R’ has been asking me for an Indian inspired cauliflower rice for months now and I kept putting her off. But finally, here I am with the simplest ‘cauliflower rice’ dish.

So this tempered cauliflower rice is a simple, non fussy dish drawing inspiration from the rice dishes of South India.

A no-brainer really! All that I did is borrow the idea of ‘cauliflower rice’ and the South Indian style of tempering rice and merged it together. Easy peasy, just as Adi would say.

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There are so many ways you can use this tempered cauliflower rice. Have it as the main dish (like I did) with a side of pickle, pappads and salad or you could make a Buddha bowl with chickpeas and an assortment of veggies. It is great as a filling for burritos replacing the lime rice or a nice accompaniment to your steaks (hugely cuts down the guilt factor!).

Before we get down to the recipe, if the idea of ‘cauliflower rice’ has tickled your fancy, here’s another delicious dish I would totally recommend. Sneh is a brilliant cook and she has come up with the perfect pot of cauliflower rice biryani salad!!

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Ingredients:

Note – Make sure that you only buy really fresh and good quality cauliflower, especially when you are using it as a raw food.

1. 1 whole cauliflower; separated into large florets
2. 2 tsp ghee/clarified butter
3. 1 tbsp sesame oil
4. 1 tbsp raw cashewnuts
5. 1 tbsp raw peanuts
6. 1 tsp mustard seeds
7. 2 sprigs curry leaves
8. 3 dry red chilli
9. 1 green chilli, slit in half
10. ½ tsp turmeric powder
11. Asafoetida/hing, a pinch
12. Juice of 1 lemon
13. Salt, to season

Method:

• Wash the florets well and dry completely.
• In a food processor, blitz the florets to get the grainy, rice like texture. If you do not have a processor, then finely great the cauliflower.
• Heat ghee and oil in a large deep pan; roast the cashewnuts and peanuts separately and keep aside.
• In the same oil, crackle mustard seeds and then add curry leaves and dry red chilli.
• Reduce heat and add green chilli, turmeric powder, asafoetida and the blitzed cauliflower along with the roasted nuts.
• Season with salt and add juice of ½ lemon. Mix well and toss on high heat for a minute or two and then remove from heat.
• Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
• Serve warm with a dollop of love!

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Punjabi style Green Beans Fry

Today, I am going to take you all on a short trip to my childhood….

I have never been a fussy eater at all but I am a slow eater…..a terribly slow eater! And I can only eat very less quantities at a given time. This has been the case since childhood which has irritated and frustrated my poor mom as long as I can remember.

Coupled with the irritation of having to deal with the ranting from others, ‘Oh this child is so thin, doesn’t she eat anything?’ and the frustration of getting me to finish my meal, she decided that feeding me herself was the only solution.

And thus began the saga of getting fed by hand – every meal from morning to night except my school break would be fed by my mom. And I relished it! To the extent that the practice continued till I was in Grade 9. Then we made the shift from Dubai to India, and all hell broke loose.

Shocking! A teenage girl who had to be fed by her mom’s hand everyday…..I was mercilessly teased and made fun of. But I couldn’t bother a bit…I continued to enjoy getting fed. And believe me…in her hands, even the most basic dish would taste delicious. But don’t worry, it didn’t last even for a month. India has a strange way of knocking sense into you and teaching you the facts of life. I learnt to feed myself…..quite well actually though, I am still a bit slow. But now that I am a food blogger….I would call it relishing the flavours in each mouthful!

Now the reason for oversharing this rather embarrassing part of my childhood is this; even when I used to be fed by my mom, if there was anything that I was particularly fond of on the plate, I wouldn’t wait for her to give it. I will eat that on my own. And green beans always used to be one of the veggies…..

I love green beans, all varieties and in all forms. Stir fried with spices and grated coconut, steamed with garlic and butter, sautéed with spices and caramelized onions, blanched..there are a million ways to cook with beans and I love all of them.

Today’s style was a new one I learnt from the book, ‘The Vegetarian Table’ by renowned food writer, Yamuna Devi.

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This Punjabi style green beans fry is simple, robust but so moreish and full of flavours. A thick batter of chickpea flour is also added to the dish and cooked in such a way that it forms nuggets of goodness to be mixed through the dish. Makes it high on the protein quotient too.

These beans are just perfect to be combined with an enriching yet comforting meal of steamed rice and dal. Simple yet nourishing….just as food is meant to be.

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Ingredients:

1. 600 gms fresh green beans (I used French beans); cut into one inch pieces
2. ½ cup chickpea flour/besan
3. 2 tsp Punjabi garam masala
4. 2 tbs ghee/clarified butter
5. ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
6. ¼ tsp ajwain/carrom seeds
7. ½ tsp red chilli flakes (adjust to heat preferences)
8. 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
9. Salt, to season

To make Punjabi garam masala:

1. ¼ cup cumin seeds
2. 1/3 cup coriander seeds
3. ½ tbsp green cardamom seeds
4. ½ tbsp black peppercorns
5. 15 cloves
6. 2 inch cinnamon

Method:

To make the garam masala:

• Dry roast all the spices over low heat till fragrant. Cool well and powder. Store in an airtight container.

To make the dish:

1. Heat ghee in a pan; crackle mustard seeds and add the carrom seeds and red chilli flakes. Mix and add the green beans and fry on low to medium heat. Season with salt.
2. In a bowl, add the chickpea flour, garam masala and a pinch of salt. Add a few spoonfuls of water to make a thick batter; you must be able to pour it but still thick.
3. When the beans are half done, turn to high heat and move the beans to the centre of the pan using the ladle and pour the chickpea batter along the edges in a single motion around the pan. Do not mix.
4. Lower the heat and cook undisturbed for two minutes.
5. Using the ladle, break up the batter lightly; it would have firmed up a bit so break it up into little nuggets.
6. Continue to cook on low heat for another 2 minutes and then mix the beans into these. Season with salt, if necessary and cook till the nuggets are browned well and the beans are done.
7. Garnish with coriander leaves

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