Fresh and Light

Fresh and LightBarely a skerrick of pasta or butter in sight. That was my first impression of Donna Hay’s newie, the aptly titled Fresh and Light. This concept alone almost made me put it back on the shelf. Almost. However, my undying faith in Ms Hay combined with the fresh and, er, light flavour of this cookbook prompted me to try techniques and play with ingredients I may never have thought of – all with incredibly tasty endings.

Open sesame and enter kale, quinoa, tofu and agave, who all make regular appearances throughout the book. The kale slaw (see what she did there?) featuring – you guessed it – kale, fennel, rocket, herbs, pine nuts and a lemony buttermilk dressing is crunchy fresh deliciousness. Served alongside the goat’s cheese and lemon chicken, it’s perfection on a plate.

Next victim is a polenta-crusted tart encasing roasted tomatoes snuggled into a creamy ricotta filling, which is devoured before Manu Feildel could purr, “Melt in ze mouth”. Following this success, I moved on to trial condiments for hubby’s lunchbox, and discovered a controversial soy mayonnaise. Let’s just say we’re going to stick with the regular eggy kind from now on.

The final treat attempted for now is an icy granita. I pick coconut and lime, as there are a range of flavour combo variations to choose from. Snowy and coconutty and limey in a powdery mouthful, it’s actually how you would imagine clouds to taste like. Yes, clouds over Thailand. I can’t get enough of it, and secretly I know it’s because I indulged my inner tart and added extra lime juice.

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The exquisite food styling and photography in Fresh and Light are reminiscent of Ms Hay at her best – everything is flawless. The result is a collection of pure, clean, simple recipes that not only charm your health conscience but are big on taste, little on effort. Despite issues with the soy mayonnaise, it’s a winner. But now, time for some pasta…

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