Good food and great vibes abound at Gather & Feast, Ashley Alexander's home for wholesome recipes. The self-taught cook makes nourishing yourself look easy (and delicious), so we asked her some essential questions. Scroll to the end for a new, crowd-pleasing weeknight meal, too.
What is the Gather & Feast mission, and how did it come to be?
The idea behind Gather & Feast was inspired by the multifaceted meanings of the words gather and feast. The gathering together of beautiful food, and also the gathering together of friends and loved ones.
My hope is to encourage people to gather and feast with the ones they love in a fun and stress free way, and enable them to enjoy food that is visually pleasing as well as delicious and nutritious.
My aim through the website is to share delicious food, simple wholesome recipes and the occasional sweet treat - using natural ingredients and fresh in-season produce.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I actually love to browse the grocery stores and fruit and veg markets to draw inspiration for recipes. Taking note of what produce is in season really helps dictate flavour combinations.
It's also one of my favourite things to do while travelling. I love Danish design and culture. Copenhagen is one of my favourite cities - I just love the food, clothing styles, home design and homewares.
What is your go-to look when in the kitchen?
What are your top three pantry essentials?
Good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Good quality salt - fine sea salt for cooking and a good flaky finishing salt.
And the three things we will always find in your fridge?
A block of parmigiano reggiano.
Jars of various nuts and seeds - I like to store them in the fridge for max freshness.
Talk us through a nourishing feast you might serve to friends and family.
My go-to nourishing meal this past winter when entertaining has been a cauliflower and potato puree with slow-cooked beef cheeks topped with a fresh and zesty salsa verde with parsley, basil, lemon, anchovies and capers. Along with a salad of rocket and radicchio with a simple olive oil dressing. Feels a bit special while still nourishing and comforting.
What are your secrets for building a healthy yet hearty meal?
One of my favourite ways to create a hearty healthy salad is to add whole grains and toasted nuts and seeds to make it more filling and interesting. Currently, my go-to's are farro and quinoa, toasted flaked almonds, toasted walnuts or olive oil toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
I love to make lush and flavoursome salad dressings by blending a heap of herbs, like basil or parsley, with a little garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. I always have a jar of this on hand in the fridge along with pre-cooked grains for easy put-together salads for our lunches during the week.
Currently, our salads are filled with things like rocket, fennel, radicchio, orange, avocado, cucumber, farro or quinoa, toasted almonds, and eggs, topped with the green herby dressing.
Simple Roasted Tomato & Smokey Chilli Spaghetti
Time: 45 minutes
- 500g spaghetti
- 4 punnets cherry tomatoes
- 4 large cloves garlic, thickly sliced
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (add more if you like it spicy)
- 1 1/2 tbs smokey paprika
- Sea salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
- Freshly grated parmesan (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 200C/390F (fan forced).
- Place the tomatoes, garlic, chilli flakes, smokey paprika, a large pinch of salt, and a generous glug of olive oil onto a paper-lined baking tray.
- Place in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes.
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and squash them with a fork ensuring the garlic pieces get squashed into the tomatoes.
- Add the fresh basil then set aside.
- Cook the spaghetti as per packet instructions.
- Toss the spaghetti through the tomato sauce and serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan, cracked black pepper, fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
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