• Words: Kate Neilson / Recipes: Jude Blereau

A tasty trio from 'Wholefood From The Ground Up'

Twenty-Somethings, it's time we took a good, hard look at ourselves and stopped eating anything that is prefaced with the word 'instant'. Our bodies deserve better than something that comes in a powdered form and then turns into a roast chicken when paired with boiling water. We're adults now (or so we're told) and it's time we started acting like it.

Jude Blereau's latest cook book 'Wholefood From The Ground Up' proves to us that delicious, wholesome food isn't necessarily out of our reach. The book is jam packed full of nourishing recipes that will make your tastebuds proud and keep your stomach happy. So next time the family is coming around for dinner, ditch those take away menus and whip up this magnificent trio of treats. We guarantee you won't regret it.

Green lentils, caramelised pear and pedro ximénez salad

A blog post from one of my favourites, The Yellow House, by Sarah Searle, discussed the phenomenon of what she calls ‘The Wedding Salad’: basically greens, sweet fruit (usually dried cherries or cranberries), nuts, a dressing and perhaps some goat’s cheese or feta, which you would usually find a version of at a wedding. You don’t need a million recipes, it’s a basic format. Here is my version, and honestly it is delicious.

Dietary info Gluten free | dairy free | vegan | egg free Serves 4 as a light meal

2 pears (I like the sturdy Beurré Bosc variety)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

60 ml (2 fl oz/1⁄4 cup) Pedro Ximénez 12 month-old sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons Pedro Ximénez sherry

50 g (1¾ oz) rocket (arugula) leaves or mustard greens (or both, as I’ve used here)

1 quantity cooked French Green Lentils (page 60), drained

40–75 g (1½–2½ oz/¼–½ cup) hazelnuts, roasted, skins rubbed off, roughly chopped

hazelnut oil for drizzling, optional

Cut the pears into eighths, and remove and discard the cores.

Place the olive oil, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar and the sherry in a small frying pan no larger than 20 cm (8 in). This size pan will give more depth of liquid (and thus more flavour) to the pears, and contribute to less evaporation. Toss the pears through the liquid, place over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 15–20 minutes, turning the pears every now and then. At the end of this time, there should be about 2 tablespoons of liquid left in the pan. If it looks like there is more, increase the heat slightly and continue to cook until it has reduced. Remove the pears and set aside on a plate. Add the remaining tablespoon of sherry vinegar to the pan and stir – this is now your dressing. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

To put the salad together, arrange the rocket leaves on a serving platter and spoon the cooked lentils over the top. Using your fingers, gently toss together. Place the cooked pears over the lentils and scatter over the hazelnuts. Gently pour the cooled dressing over the salad and drizzle with a little hazelnut oil, if using.

Kitchen Note

A good goat’s cheese would be a nice addition to offset any sweetness. Crumble a little over the top of the salad once assembled.

If you have access to fresh and artisanal hazelnut oil, this would be the perfect finish for this salad.

You could use chicken stock to give greater depth to the dish, and make the lentils easier to digest.

Use the best-quality Pedro Ximénez sherry for this salad – ideally one that is fruity and sweet. If yours is slightly acidic, add a teaspoon of rapadura sugar to balance the flavour.

Barley, rainbow chard and lemon risotto

You can make this with vegetable stock, however a bone stock, such as chicken, will make the dish far more nourishing and delicious. Dietary info Low Gluten | vegetarian | vegan option | egg free Serves 4-6 You will need to begin this recipe the day before 100 g (3½ oz/½ cup) pearl barley 2 tablespoons green lentils 3 teaspoons whey or choice of acid or dairy-free options (page 59) 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling 1 medium leek, whites thinly sliced and rinsed (reserve the green tops for stock) (or 1 onion, finely chopped) 3–4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary 2 cm (¾ in) piece kombu 2 bay leaves 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) chicken or vegetable stock 1 teaspoon ghee (or extra virgin olive oil, if vegan) 1 2 small–medium rainbow chardor silverbeet (Swiss chard) leaves (about 160 g/5¾ oz), well rinsed, leaves and tender stems cut into wide strips sea salt and freshly ground blackpepper, to taste 1–2 tablespoons lemon juice 25–50 g (1–13⁄4 oz/¼–½ cup) grated parmesan or pecorino cheese 40 g (1½ oz/¼ cup) toasted pine nuts The night before, place the barley and lentils in separate bowls and add enough water to cover by 2 cm (¾ in). Stir 2 teaspoons whey into the barley and 1 teaspoon into the lentils. Set aside at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight.

The next day, make the risotto. Place the olive oil, leek, garlic and rosemary in a heavy-based 20 cm (8 in) cast-iron pan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, until translucent. Drain the barley and lentils, then add to the pan with the kombu and bay leaves, and stir through. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over low heat for 40–50 minutes, until the barley and lentils are cooked and tender to the bite; there should still be plenty of liquid left. Next, heat the ghee in a medium-size frying pan over low heat. Add the chard stems and cook gently, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Toss in the leaves and cook for another 10 minutes, until they are well wilted. Increase the heat to reduce the liquid. When the barley and lentils are ready, stir in the chard and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. The barley will continue to absorb liquid as it sits. If it looks a little dry, add a little more stock or water to loosen. Season generously with sea salt and pepper (this is a dish that loves pepper), then stir in the lemon juice and parmesan cheese to taste. Scatter with the pine nuts, then drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve.

Click here for extra information on preparing the lentils and beans. Kitchen Note

Rosemary, olive oil and lemon teacake

Most likely my favourite teacake in the book, this is delicious and rustic. It is best enjoyed in cooler weather and thanks to the syrup, keeps exceptionally moist.

Dietary info vegetarian | Wheat Free | low gluten Serves 8-10

130 g (4½ oz/1 cup) white spelt flour

110 g (3¾ oz/1 cup) barley flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

finely grated zest of 1 medium–large lemon

115 g (4 oz/¾ cup) rapadura sugar or raw sugar

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 eggs

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) extra virgin olive oil

185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) Cultured Buttermilk (page 50)

Lemon syrup

185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) strained lemon juice

75 g (2½ oz/½ cup) rapadura sugar or 70 g (2½ oz/⅓ cup) raw sugar, plus extra as needed

4–5 rosemary sprigs, about 2–3 cm (¾–1¼ in) long

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease and line a 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cup) capacity loaf (bar) tin with baking paper. Don’t cut the corners of the baking paper to fit – fold them instead. This will allow you to pour the lemon syrup onto the cake when it is cooked without it seeping onto the tin.

Place the flours, baking powder, rosemary, lemon zest, sugar, a few grinds of pepper and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Place the eggs, vanilla, olive oil and buttermilk in another bowl and whisk together. Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir gently to combine. Transfer to the lined tin and bake for 60–70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

About 10 minutes before the cake is ready, start making the lemon syrup. Place the lemon juice, rapadura sugar and the rosemary sprigs in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, then taste and add extra sweetness as desired (see Kitchen Note). Continue to simmer until it has reduced by one-third and has a syrupy consistency.

Remove the cake from the oven and, while still hot, use a cake skewer to pierce the cake right to the bottom in 12 places. Pour the hot syrup over the top, making sure it flows into any cracks. Leave to cool briefly before serving. Store for up to 4 days in an airtight container, in a cool dark place.

Kitchen Note

Although the amount of sugar in the syrup may seem excessive, lemons vary enormously in their acidity, and rapadura sugar is only about 75 per cent sucrose. Add what works for you, to your taste. You may prefer to add a bit of rapadura and bring it to a syrup consistency, then add some honey to the mix.

Recipes and images from Wholefood From the Ground Up by Jude Blereau (Murdoch Books) photography by Cath Muscat RRP: $39.99

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