A Neighbourly Christmas

neighbourhood-2

neighbourhood-2Neighbourhood  is a cookbook full of hearty salads, delicious sweet treats and charming stories about food, family and friendships.

Hetty MckInnon who wrote it used to run a very popular community kitchen called Arthur St in Surry, a Sydney suburb, where she  delivered her salads to the locals on her bicycle.

She recently relocated to New York with her family and, inspired by her travels, is now creating salads with more international flavours. She sees food as the best way to bring neighbours together and build healthy communities.

Her salads are inventive, generous and made to share. The desserts and sweet treats such as the olive oil and sea salt molten brownies, the lemon curd and coconut slice and the almost instant raspberry mousse are irresistible.

These recipes may well inspire you to invite some of your neighbours over to share a meal with you during the festive season. Especially those who live on their own and might be feeling a little lonely would be really appreciative,

Or cook up a batch of this delicious eggplant and tomato relish .A jar of this, tied with a red ribbon and with a pretty handmade label, would be the nicest way to thank them for always being there to collect your mail and feed your cat when you go on holiday.

SPICED EGGPLANT AND TOMATO RELISH

This spiced eggplant and tomato relish is my Christmas gifting staple. Packed into pretty jars, this is the most delicious edible gift, to be enjoyed over the holidays with cheese and crackers. When not gifting, pair this relish with sweet roasted butternut pumpkin and chickpeas for a hearty, vegetable-packed salad. This dish definitely exudes a fancy festive attitude. It is VG and GF and serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

80 ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil

2 eggplants (about 800 g), peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes

1 onion, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

2.5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated

1 long green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground cumin

3 whole cloves

2 teaspoons paprika

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

400 g diced tomatoes (about 1 can)

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

115 g (½ cup) caster sugar sea salt

To make the relish, heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan over a high heat. Add half the eggplant to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender and golden, then remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes until soft, then add the mustard seeds and cook for about 2 minutes, until the seeds start to pop. Add the ginger, chilli, garlic, cumin, cloves, paprika, turmeric and a large pinch of salt and cook for a further 2 minutes. Return the eggplant to the pan along with the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and 125 ml (½ cup) of water. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes until the mixture thickens and the

eggplant is very soft.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT PUMPKIN AND CHICKPEAS WITH SPICED EGGPLANT AND TOMATO RELISH

Ingredients:

1 butternut pumpkin (about 1.4 kg), peeled and cut into 2 cm cubes.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

500 g cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans), drained

2 cups baby spinach leaves

½ cup mint leaves

½ cup coriander leaves

3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

sea salt and black pepper,

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Place the butternut pumpkin on a large baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 20–25 minutes until golden.

Combine the pumpkin, chickpeas and baby spinach and spoon over the relish. Mix everything together well, then scatter over herbs and slivered almonds to serve.

Substitutes:

butternut pumpkin: any variety of pumpkin, sweet potato, cauliflower chickpeas: butterbeans, lentils

This recipe is reprinted with permission from Neighbourhood, by Hetty McKinnon. Published by McMillan RRP $39.99

By Lyn Potter. Read more here.