Former MasterChef contestant, Christina Batista, is a modern day mum with fifties-inspired tastes. She sees cooking as a kind of therapy and is an ambassador for A Taste of Harmony, the annual event that celebrates Australia’s multicultural diversity through cuisine sharing.
How will you be celebrating A Taste of Harmony week?
This year I will be embracing the true spirit of A Taste of Harmony by incorporating as many different cuisines as I can into the week, especially cuisines that I am unfamiliar with. I am very lucky to have a very multicultural group of friends, so at the end of the week I will be holding a dinner party where everyone will bring their national dish.
What cuisine influences your cooking the most?
Portuguese food. All those beautiful flavours of garlic, smoked paprika, olive oil and parsley that make their way through savoury dishes is what draws me back to Portuguese food. And let’s not forget all those custard-based desserts that are always the perfect end to a meal.
What do you love most about cooking?
The thing I love most about cooking is how much it feeds my soul. Cooking for loved ones is my way of expressing my love for them. I am also a huge believer in every problem can be solved over an amazing meal (and a glass of wine).
If you could invite anyone in the world over for dinner, whom would you invite?
This is a no brainer for me; I would have my older sister Susana over for dinner every single time! She lives and works in the Congo and I only get to see her in person one to two times a year, which is nowhere near enough. My sister is my best friend and whenever she comes home it’s like she hasn’t been gone at all. I know that having her over for dinner I am going to have an amazing night filled with good wine, great food and side splitting laughter.
For more information visit www.tasteofharmony.org.au.
Chorizo and chickpea salad
1 chorizo (diced)
1 tblsp of smoked paprika
2 cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed well)
1 cup of green beans (cut into 4cm pieces)
1 cup of baby spinach
3 Roma tomatoes (cut into quarters)
½ a cup of char grilled capsicum (diced into 3cm cubes)
1 small Spanish onion (cut into wedges)
120g of goats cheese
4 tblsp of olive oil
1 tbslp of white balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place tomatoes on a roasting tray, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil then sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of smoked paprika, a pinch of salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
2. In the meantime place the chorizo in a large cold pan with the rest of the paprika, turn on your stove top to a medium heat (this will help draw out the fat) and cook for 10 minutes or until your chorizo is starting to colour.
3. Next add your onion, chickpeas and beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. You want your onions and beans to stay crisp.
4. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool slightly. When your tomatoes are ready add them to your salad along with the baby spinach and half the goats cheese and gently toss (spinach will wilt slightly from the heat from the salad).
5. When you’re ready to serve, whisk together the rest of the olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Pour the dressing over your salad and mix, making sure the salad is well coated.
6. Lastly, place your salad on a serving tray and scatter over the rest of the goats cheese then season with salt and pepper. Remember the secret to the perfect dish is to cook with love (and a little va va voom).