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Location: Byron Bay
Vocation: Chef & Cellist

Hi! I'm Tara-Lee

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Thai Noodle Nirvana

Salads

I grew up in Ireland with daily meat and three veg dinners which, when I was eleven and turned vegetarian became just three veg dinners. My taste buds never really expected much or had to work that hard. No offense Mom, you still make the best colcannon on the planet.

When I started dating a rather worldly Irish chap he introduced me to the culinary world of Asian cuisine, something my tastebuds will be eternally grateful for. I remember the mingling of flavours of my first Thai meal. I felt like Violet eating an Everlasting Gobstopper, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty all in one mouthful. I must admit this was pre-umami days. Umami for those new to the flavour-balancing partay, is the inherent savoury notes (cue Costas’ raised eyebrows) present in soy sauce, mushrooms, miso, aged cheeses, seaweed, and fermented foods.

It’s super important to achieve a balance between all elements in this dish. We need the sweetness of the raw honey/maple syrup which cuts down on the heat of the chili and balances the sourness of the apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar lifts the dish and counteracts the sweetness of the honey and heat of the chili. The saltiness of the Himalayan pink salt balances any bitterness and most importantly enhances the sweetness! It really is a science and I want your tastebuds to identify and experience each element with every mouthful.

This salad can be served alone or used as a filling for Vietnamese rice paper rolls with slices of ginger-teriyaki tofu. I generally only keep it for an extra day in the fridge.

Thai Noodle Nirvana

Takes 15 minutes. Makes 4 servings

25ml maple syrup / raw honey ( I have yet to try brown rice syrup)

50ml raw apple cider vinegar unpasteurised with the Momma (I always use Braggs)

1 tsp finely crushed garlic

1 tsp dried chilli flakes (if you prefer less heat, hold back a little on the flakes)

1 tsp Himalayan pink salt

1 pack vermicelli rice noodles

4 carrots, thinly grated

1 red bell pepper, very thinly sliced

½ cup toasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped

½ cup fresh coriander leaves only, loosley chopped

Gomasio to garnish (toasted sesame seeds & toasted Himalayan salt mixed together)

Bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil and drop in the vermicelli noodles. Cook for approx 6 minutes until soft and translucent. Strain and rinse immediately under cold water and set aside. I always add a generous swig of olive or sesame oil and stir to avoid the noodles from sticking together.

Next, whisk all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Tumble in the noodles, grated carrots, and sliced red peppers and stir well. Sprinkle and stir through chopped coriander and cashew nuts just before serving. Finally, dust generously with gomasio. It’s that simple.

TARA-LEE’S TOP TIP

Gomasio is a flavour game-changer. It elevates the most boring of dishes especially depressed salads and comatose-flavour curries. Toast 1/2 cup of white sesame seeds over a medium-heat constantly stirring/moving the seeds so they don’t burn. They are ready when they turn golden brown and look shiny like they are sweating. Take them off the heat immediately. Next pop 1 tsp of Himalayan pink salt in the same pan and toast. Stir occasionally otherwise it will clump together. You will need to watch this like a hawk. It is ready just as it starts to turn a shade of grey. Stop thinking of Jamie Dornan if you can and turn off the heat. Add to the toasted sesame seeds and leave them to cool. Some folks like to grind this mixture into a coarse blend. I prefer to leave it as-is for extra texture and visual appeal. Pop in a glass jar and store in the cupboard for up to a month. It is delicious sprinkled on eggs, avocado, ripe tomatoes, any salad greens, soups, and curries.

BONUS TOP TIP

Gomasio is fabulous for aiding travel sickness, an upset stomach, and morning sickness. I always keep a mini jar in my bag for long drives and meals with lovely friends who are somewhat culinary challenged.

📸 Andrea Lucy

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