As we come towards the end of summer and head into shorter days and longer evenings, we naturally start to draw inwards – nurturing, nourishing, cherishing, and preserving. And as we get ready and prepare, both on a physical and mental level, to head into the colder months, so too does our cooking become a much more meditative and contemplative process, with quick and simple thrown together salads and chilled smoothies, being replaced with hearty, wholesome, uber nutritious, slow-cooked culinary fare. So now as the allure of spending days and nights outside in the summer sun begins to wane, more time can be spent on leisurely gathering ingredients, planning, preparing, and cooking.

Here are some of my favourite nourishing, slow-cooked recipes, using an array of nutritious, health promoting ingredients, including herbal teas, herbs, spices, and earthy fruit and veg.

 

Coconut chia porridge (serves 2)

  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (Biona Organic is my fav brands
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dairy free milk
  • 1 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans/walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1 apple, grated

Add the coconut milk, milk, coconut oil, chia seeds and cinnamon to a saucepan.

Heat very low and slow until hot but not bubbling – stirring continuously to thicken.

Then take off the heat and add to two bowls, and add the grated apple, nuts and coconut flakes (if using). Leave to sit for one minute to allow chia seeds to thicken up.

 

Green tea and shiitake miso soup
Adapted from Jennifer Iserloh
(serves 6)

  • 2 litres vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp white miso paste
  • 4 green tea bags, tags and strings removed
  • 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 2 cups kale, chopped
  • 6 spring onions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp Asian sesame oil
  • 6 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Put broth, vinegar, and miso paste into a slow cooker and whisk to combine. Place tea bags into the broth mixture. Add the mushrooms, kale, spring onions, and garlic, then toss with tongs until vegetables are coated in the broth. Cover slow cooker and cook on low until mushrooms and kale are tender, 2–2½ hours. Discard tea bags.

Spoon soup into bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tbsp of coriander. Serve immediately.

This recipe works great as a starter or a snack, but to make it into more of a filling, hearty main meal, simply cook and add your favourite noodles.

 

Pasta e ceci
A classic Italian recipe adapted from Rachel Roddy
(serves 4)

  • 250g dried chickpeas
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 anchovies packed in oil (optional)
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 200g short pasta, such as tubetti or ditalini (I use gluten-free macaroni and it works wonderfully!)
  • Salt and black pepper

Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water for 12 hours or overnight, changing the water twice if you can. Drain the soaked chickpeas and add to a saucepan, cover with 2 litres of fresh water, add a clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary. Bring the pan to the boil over a medium heat, and simmer for 1½ hours or until the chickpeas are tender. Start tasting after one hour. Keep in mind you want 1.2 litres of cooking liquid, so top up with more water if necessary.

In a large heavy-based pan or casserole dish, heat the olive oil and add the anchovies (if using), the remaining clove of garlic (peeled and gently crushed with the back of a knife), and the other sprig of rosemary. Fry gently until the anchovies dissolve into the oil and the garlic and rosemary are fragrant. Add the tomatoes, and break them up with a wooden spoon. Cook for another few minutes.

Use a slatted spoon to add the chickpeas, and then add the chickpea broth, making sure there is 1.2 litres – make it up with hot water if there isn’t – and a pinch of salt. Increase the heat to bring the soup to the boil.

Add the pasta and cook until tender, stirring, tasting and adding more broth to keep it a nice soupy consistency. Serve with a grinding of black pepper and a little more olive oil poured over the top.

 

Hibiscus-infused raspberry poached pears
Adapted from Jennifer Iserloh
(serves 8)

  • 4 pears, halved and cored, stems intact
  • 2 cups raspberries or cranberries, frozen or fresh
  • 2 hibiscus tea bags, tags and strings removed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom (or 6 green cardamom pods)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp stevia (make sure the brand you are using has no added sugars, preservatives, or flavourings)
  • 2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt or coconut yoghurt

Place pears skin side down in a slow cooker. Add raspberries, tea bags, 2 cups water, vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, and stevia. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high until pears are tender and berries form a sauce, approximately 3 hours, but keep checking. Once done, discard the tea bags.

Use a large spoon to place each pear-half on a plate with a few tablespoons of the berry sauce and ¼ cup yogurt. Serve immediately.