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December 10, 2012

the moment is now | bare-cupboard salad

I've been away and it's been fantastic. I travelled up the country over land by car, train, and ferry, and spent time along the way catching up with family and friends I haven't seen for a while. The final three days were spent in Auckland, attending Power Shift, a youth summit focussing on climate change and action we need to take. It was intense and inspiring, and I'm still processing my thoughts and ideas and plans ... There are many more things to say but I will save them for another day. The top picture shows the train we travelled on, passing by the coast in between Kaikoura and Blenheim in the South Island.

We (unfortunately) had to fly back last night - and after the scariest experience I've ever had on a plane caused a delay of a couple of hours, we got home close to midnight. The plane was halfway through taking off - accelerating down the runway - when the brakes were suddenly applied and the take off was aborted. After sitting in the plane while the pilots and engineers chatted, it was decided to change planes for our journey - much to everyone's relief.

When I got home this afternoon I realised I had completely forgotten to stop by Taste Nature on my way home. Our lovely friends had stopped by and left milk bottles in our fridge and a loaf of beautiful bread on our bench, as well as completely spring cleaning the kitchen, and leaving a worm farm by our front door! However, a worm farm won't help you produce vegetables in time for dinner ... but your garden will.

I felt much more inspired after collecting arugula, coriander, kale, chard and nasturtiums from the garden. I put some red and white quinoa on to boil and this simple, bare-cupboard salad was born.

bare-cupboard salad

1 cup quinoa
1 onion
a few leaves of chard
a few leaves of kale
arugula (or mesclun/spinach)
pumpkin seeds
raw nuts - I used peanuts
chia seeds (optional)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
sea salt
cracked pepper

Wash the quinoa and put it on to boil with plenty of water. While this is cooking, chop the kale leaves into small pieces, avoiding the "ribs" (the stem/stalk part). Put the chopped kale in a bowl, add a little olive oil and a good amount of salt, and massage it with your fingers. It might sound strange, but massaging helps break down the fibre and starches in the kale that can make it quite bitter. You will notice that after about two minutes of massaging, the leaves are now softer, darker, and silkier. The amount will probably appear to halve in size too. Taste it - it tastes different now!

Slice the onion and chard and sauté these briefly. At the same time, dry roast the nuts and seeds. I just do this in a fry pan without adding oil. Make sure to move the nuts around a bit during this process, either by stirring or shaking the pan. You will know they are ready because the pumpkin seeds will start popping.

The quinoa will most likely be done by now - you'll see that the circles have popped open and released a little worm shape - this will make sense if you've cooked with quinoa before! Quinoa is such a versatile food - you can substitute it for rice or pasta - or you can eat it colder as in this recipe. It's good for you as it's a complete protein - meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. An essential amino acid is one that cannot be synthesised by our bodies, so it's important to ensure our diets contain adequate amounts of these amino acids.

Drain the quinoa and rinse cold water through it to end the cooking process. Assemble all the previously prepared ingredients together, mix to distribute evenly. Chop the coriander and add this too. I made a simple dressing for this with equal amounts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and a little salt and pepper - but as I made a much larger salad to take for lunch tomorrow, I kept this on the side.

I ate this with a plain piece of toast - and I felt pretty pleased I managed to pull this together from a rather bare cupboard, and motivate my tired body to make some dinner when it was just me at home.  If you needed a reason to start a vegetable garden, hopefully this post will help convince you! Our garden is currently producing so much coriander - it always amazes me at what a transformation it is, big tall plants from tiny, delicate seedlings we planted two months ago. Our neighbours left/gifted their blender to us while we were away so I think that pesto might be in order .. 


day 5/365
today I'm grateful for inspiring individuals and the chance to connect with passionate people over the weekend. A quote from the weekend "we are unstoppable: another world is possible." - which ties in nicely with the 100% possible campaign that was just launched - check it out! 


title from macklemore ft ryan lewis - ten thousand hours (love the malcolm gladwell mention)


  1. That does sound like a fascinating conference, and what a stunning landscape. This salad looks so fresh and lovely, perfect food!

    xox Lilly

  2. Oh my word - that looks so good though on the plane situation 'phew' - so glad they changed the plane.

    Nina x

  3. Bare cupboard salad - what a wonderful idea!
    I'm also glad you got home safely, and everything worked out okay. Planes scare me, and something like that would've made my tummy do flip flops, I'm sure.
    Ronnie xo

  4. oh yum! i want that salad right now! the landscape looks so peaceful, what a lovely place it seems!

    lindsey louise

  5. Oh my that first landscape photo takes my breath away - you live in such a beautiful country. And I did a little gasp when I saw your nasturtiums for the salad - lovely x