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How to Simplify a Recipe

Spiced Roast Cauli with Labneh-2

Back in November I shared my 2 best tips for how to simplify any recipe.

This is a skill I really see as one of my ‘super powers’. After all, you can’t write a blog about simple recipes with only 5 ingredients unless you’re a little obsessed with keeping it simple.

But want to know the good news?

It’s also a skill you can easily develop. You just need some guidelines and some practice…

I had quite a few requests for more examples. So here we go!

2 Easy Ways to Simplify Any Recipe

1. Combine like ingredients.
This is always my starting point. Look for any ingredients that are providing the same function and instead choose one. You’ll need to adjust the quantities accordingly. The example below is the best way to illustrate what I mean.

2. Don’t be afraid to outsource.
There are no prizes for making every single part of every meal you eat from scratch. So ‘cheat’ when you feel like it. My favourite examples are to use commercial spice blends or commercial sauces such as hummus, mayo, pesto or curry pastes.

AN EXAMPLE:
Mike’s Spiced Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad with Labneh

24 ingredients 7 steps
50g dried chickpeas
pinch bicarbonate soda
50g salt
100mL extra virgin olive oil
1 cauliflower
2 red onions
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup raisins soaked in 1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted & cracked
1 bunch coriander, leaves picked
1 bunch mint, leaves picked
50g baby spinach
100g labneh
1 tablespoon coconut vinegar

Stonesoup Spiced Cauliflower Salad with Labneh

6 ingredients 4 steps
1/2 cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons rice or wine vinegar
1 bag baby spinach
2 handfuls Labneh or thick yoghurt

What have I done?

1. Replaced the spices with a good quality curry powder. This took us from 11 spices to just 1. I always find it funny when chefs call for curry powder then also add extra of many of the spices that are already in the powder. If your curry powder is tasty enough you’re not likely to miss the added nuance of the additional ingredients.

2. Replaced all the herbs with just baby spinach. From 3 leafy ingredients to 1. This gives the greenness and freshness without needing to buy mint and coriander (cilantro) or needing to pick the leaves! 

3. Ditched the raisins and hazelnuts… Another 2 ingredients gone! Sure they add sweetness and crunch but trust me there’s enough of a party going on in your mouth that you won’t miss them!

4. Skipped the chickpeas. Just because I was serving as a side salad to some BBQ lamb cutlets. For a main course salad I’d leave them in.

Want more simplicity?

If you’re interested in learning how to simplify not just recipes, but the whole of your life, then I recommend checking out A Simple Year.

It’s a 12 month program which focuses on simplifying different areas of your life each month. If you join us I’ll show you even more ways to simplify not only recipes but your kitchen and your approach to healthy eating.

For more details, go to:
www.simpleyear.co/course

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NOTE: Registration closes June 23rd 2016.

Spiced Roast Cauli with Labneh-3

Spiced Cauliflower Salad with Labneh

Inspired by the brilliant Mike McEarnehy formerly chef at Kitchen by Mike and now at No1. Bent St Sydney. Love his fresh produce-driven approach to food and am dying to eat at his new restaurant. In the mean time I’m making do with cooking from his book, ‘Kitchen by Mike’.

And I should mention I’ve made this 3 times in the last two week. Something unheard of around these parts. Definitely one for you to try!

enough for: 2 as a side
takes: 30 minutes

1/2 cauliflower, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons rice or wine vinegar
1 bag baby spinach
2 handfuls labneh or thick yoghurt

1. Preheat your oven to 250C (480F). Toss cauli, onion, curry powder and about 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a roasting pan.

2. Roast spiced cauli for 15-20 minutes or until well browned and tender.

3. Allow cauli to cool a little while you make the dressing. Mix vinegar with another 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Season well.

4. Toss dressing and baby spinach in the pan with the cauli. Serve with dollops of labneh on top.

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Variations

main meal / more substantial – toss in a drained can of chickpeas or lentils (or use home cooked) when the cauli comes out of the oven. Or serve as a side to BBQ lamb cutlets or roast chicken.

different greens – replace baby spinach with cooked kale, flat leaf parsley, mint, coriander (cilantro), salad leaves or a combo of any of the above.

dairy-free / vegan / paleo – replace Labneh with roasted hazelnuts, almonds or chunks of avocado.

carnivore – serve as a side to BBQ lamb cutlets or roast chicken. Or toss some raw chopped chicken thighs to roast with the cauli (make sure it’s cooked through – might take a little longer).

more substantial / carb lovers – toss in cooked brown rice, quinoa or pasta. Might need a little more olive oil.

different spices – try mixing it up with other spice blends. Garam masala is great or try a Moroccan spice blend like ras el hamout or the Lebanese blend baharat.

to make your own labneh – just line a sieve with clean cheesecloth or a tea towel. Place yoghurt in the lined sieve and leave it over a bowl or jug in the fridge for the water to drain off. As little as an hour can make a difference but some people leave it for two days. The longer the thicker. Use the whey (liquid) in smoothies or just drink it like I do.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Registration for Simple Year closes June 23rd.

Normally we don’t allow new members during the year but this time we thought we’d have a little ‘end of financial year’ experiment.

So if you’d like some help to simplify your recipes, cooking, kitchen, pantry and your approach to healthy eating. As well as simplifying other areas of your life from decluttering to mindfulness to your relationships.

Then check out ‘A Simple Year’ over at:
www.simpleyear.co/course

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{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Rita 10 June, 2016, 8:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing this simplifying tip. I have pile Jamie Oliver’s lovely books at home and I never have used the recepies because I find them exhausting even to read through. I’ll see if I can now simplify something…

    • jules 15 June, 2016, 2:26 pm

      I find Jamie’s new recipes a bit too complicated too Rita! But they’re easy to make more manageable if you use these guidelines :)

  • Gina 10 June, 2016, 9:36 pm

    I like the look of this recipe as I do like cauliflower and I will try it soon. I would like to see you do a video of this recipe. I’d like to see if you stick your hand in the yoghurt jar or lebneh jar to get a handful out. I don’t think my hand would fit into my yoghurt jar. Even if it did, I will use a spoon.

    I’ve been thinking recently about recipes with many ingredients and how I could simplify them and this blog entry is just what I need. I love reading your recipes, even the ones that contain ingredients I never use, like capsicum.

    • jules 15 June, 2016, 2:28 pm

      Sorry Gina.. It’s a bit tricky for me to video at the moment with a new baby in the house. I do use a spoon for my yoghurt & Labneh Jx

  • Cass 14 June, 2016, 8:17 am

    Hi Jules,
    I love this kind of simplication! You explain it very well, thank you..
    Cass

  • Anna Wright 17 February, 2017, 2:52 pm

    Hi Jules,
    I really liked this recipe. Added my twist and tweaked just a little. I will be revisiting this one often. Thanks for sharing

  • Ash 9 May, 2017, 11:31 am

    Hi Jules, thanks for the tips! Is there a particular brand/s you recommend for a curry powder? Also, what is a substitute for the vinegar, something a bit lighter in flavour?
    Ash

    • jules 10 May, 2017, 3:25 pm

      Hi Ash!
      I make my own curry powder – so don’t really have a brand to recommend. And lemon juice is probably the best vinegar substitute

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