In the lead-up to spring, we have enlisted celebrated chef, restaurateur and food writer Karen Martini to chat about just some of her favourite dishes of the season. Lighter meals such as soups, salads and beans are a must since they won’t weigh you down but still keep you feeling full and satisfied. Keep reading for our exclusive interview with Karen Martini, and to find out her number one ingredient for most meals.
What are some of your favourite meals to prepare in the lead-up to spring?
A soup a week at the moment! Usually one with a chicken base broth-style. My latest soup recipe is a lima bean, ham hock and leek, which is quite nice for winter. I accentuate the flavours using smoked paprika. Traditional Minestrone never goes astray too!
Everyone wants a quick and healthy dinner recipe. What meal would you recommend if someone doesn’t have much time?
Apart from the obvious stir-fry; which is not a go to for me, I think quick grilled lamb cutlets and a salad are my favourite. Spaghetti with chilli, garlic, lemon and spinach is always speedy (available in my new cookbook KM Home).
Could you describe some of your favourite lunch and dinner recipes?
Truthfully… my next book is all my favourite dishes; it was shot off my kitchen bench! I am big on salad and vegetables, mixing it up with new herbs, grains and spices. A whole baked fish with bay and lemon is a favourite, and grilled whole fish if you can get your head around it.
What is one essential ingredient that people can use in every single meal?
Let’s just say my kitchen bench is never without a good salt, a good olive oil, lemons and garlic.
With spring just around the corner, what are some light and healthy meals we should be eating?
With spring around the corner, a substantial breakfast is a must. Start the day off right with super foods and supplements. Special K Nourish is perfect for this – full of nutritious ingredients such as quinoa, pepitas, almonds and cranberries. Another favourite is mine is poached eggs, avocado and feta on toast. Throw nuts and pepitas in there for texture and flavour.
Chef Massimo Mele has drawn on the flavours he experienced while growing up in Naples when putting together the menu at La Scala on Jersey, a restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Woolahra. Massimo joins the team as executive chef and has delivered a modern take on the original as well as his own traditional Italian dishes.
Massimo aims to bring to life his ethos of “tutti a tavola” – meaning “everyone to the table” to share food and wine with friends and family, for a casual dinner or a celebration. He shares one of his signature dishes with SheSaid:
Angel hair Pasta with Fresh Tuna, Chili, Rocket and Capers
500g angel hair pasta
400g tuna loin, cut into 5cm pieces and sliced ½ cm thick
2 chillies, deseeded, thinly sliced
120ml lemon juice
100g rocket (2 large handfuls)
¼ cup parsley, chopped
½ cup/150mls extra virgin olive oil
40ml chilli oil
1 clove garlic, finely crushed
3 tbsp baby capers
3 tbsp finely grated parmesan
1. To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, chili oil, crushed garlic, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the angel hair pasta and cook until al dente. Strain.
3. Meanwhile, place the tuna, sliced chilli, capers, grated parmesan, parsley and rocket in a bowl ready for the cooked pasta to be tossed through. Once the pasta is ready, toss the pasta in with the tuna salad mix and pour over the dressing. Gently mix the pasta until combined.
4. Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges.