Tara Nash is as sweet as they come, sweeter still when she hands me a giant tub of her dad’s homemade honey.
“I thought you might like some to use in your cooking!” she beams. I’m taken aback by her welcoming nature.
Tara, who works in corporate communications, spends her Sundays in the kitchen, doing what she loves most: creating recipes, cooking for friends and styling food photography for her hit food blog Date with a Plate.
The carefully curated blog and Instagram account reflect her homely style and bubbly personality, with approachable, easy-to-follow recipes and striking photography.
“So much about blogging is visual,” she explains. “Beautiful photos can really make a blog”.
Her collection of styling props is impressive and ranges from enamel crockery, antique spoons, tiles to use as backgrounds in shoots and pottery made at the hand of her mother. It’s clear that to be a food blogger in this day and age you have to be both crafty and a master at op-shopping!
Travelling with her partner of nine years, Olly, has opened Tara’s eyes and palate up to the culinary inspirations around the globe; from Pho in Vietnam to the best Mexican in San Diego and even waiting in line for 3.5 hours for a BBQ in Texas.
“Food is the best part about travelling!”
After a recent road trip to the United States, she says New Orleans is her favourite city, food-wise.
“The Creole food is amazing”. BBQ prawns, poached in butter, Po Boys crammed with catfish and crawfish and beignets, which are essentially pastry covered in icing sugar.
To some it may sound like a heart attack waiting to happen. But when Tara describes this food her eyes light up: she reminisces over drinking $2.50 Bloody Marys at 8.30am before going to see her NFL team, the New Orleans Saints, in action.
As we bond over our love of chowder and San Francisco (“love is an understatement”), she works away making the tahini dressing to complement the cauliflower and chickpeas roasting in the oven.
She hands me a spoon to taste. Delicious – light but creamy, sweet but tangy with a nutty after taste.
As the oven does its job, we go outside to continue our chat. My eye is drawn to a large plastic crate with giant bunches of kale growing out the top. It’s an aquaponics system made by Tara’s dad, and Olly. Growing in the top is kale, rhubarb and snap peas. I spot a fish in the tank below. Apparently they’re delicious.
The foodie technology doesn’t stop there. They’ve just made a curing chamber for meats and have a large smoker in the backyard. The plan is homemade sausages and salamis, then trout from their aquaponics tank. Everything this girl does revolves around her love of food.
When I ask about where she gets her inspiration, she just laughs and says, “Everywhere”.
Hopefully this deliciously simple, flavorful salad gives you some spring inspiration in the kitchen. Make it on a lazy Sunday, invite some friends over and have a feast.
It’s perfect with spiced lamb, roasted chicken or even by itself. Tara shares her recipe.
Spiced Roast Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad
½ head of cauliflower, broken into florets roughly the same size
1 can chickpeas, drained and washed thoroughly
1 handful each of mint and flat leaf parsley
½ red onion, quartered lengthways
½ cup red quinoa
3 tsp paprika
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground garlic
½ tsp chilli flakes (use more if you like it hot)
Salt and pepper
¾ cup Greek yoghurt
2 Tbs tahini
1 Tbs maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 200°C
- Cook quinoa according to packet instructions
- Put chickpeas and cauliflower onto separate large baking trays with a lip. Divide spice mixture between the trays, season both with salt and pepper and a good glug of oil (roughly 3Tbs each) and mix well until coated. Cook in oven for 20 -25 minutes, or until cauliflower is soft and chickpeas are slightly crunchy (shake trays once during cooking time)
- Roast onion in a separate baking dish for 20 – 25 minutes, or until soft – don’t worry if the ends burn slightly
- Roll up the parsley and mint into a ball and, using a sharp knife, carefully shred the herbs
- For the dressing, combine yoghurt, tahini, maple syrup and lemon juice in a bowl and mix well
- Once everything is cooked, combine quinoa, chickpeas, cauliflower, onion and herbs in a bowl and dollop dressing on top. Serve war