Bean and pork stew

Serves: 4

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I’d type up this recipe.

But it seriously grows on you and the next day, Nat and I simultaneously messaged each other in disbelief at how good the stew was for lunch.

There is no question that as far as recipes I’d cook for a work lunch, this is one I would do again and again. And if you have followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that I try to put a bit of effort into workday lunches and often cook dishes especially for the weekday lunch run.

It is super healthy, it’s full of those beans we don’t get enough of and it would easily double and freeze.

It started life like a calf finding its feet for the first time, though once we had our head around this stew, it was all on!


2 tbsp olive oil
125gm mild salami, chopped
2 x 350gm pork fillets, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
1 carrot, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
6 thyme sprigs, leaves chopped
2 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 ½ cups (375ml) chicken stock
250gm baby roma tomatoes, halved
2 x 400g cans butter beans
400g can red kidney beans
100g baby spinach leaves
Ciabatta to serve


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a casserole dish over a high heat. Cook salami, stirring for 2 – 3 minutes until crisp, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Do not drain oil from pan.
  2. Season pork. In two batches, cook, turning for 2 – 3 minutes until golden.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until softened. Add garlic, thyme and sage and cook for 2 – 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the stock, tomatoes and beans, bring to the simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until flavours have infused. Return the pork to the pan and cook for a few more minutes, until the pork is cooked and the stew thickened. Stir through the spinach and remove from the heat.
  4. Scatter with the crisp salami and serve with toasted ciabatta.


Serves 6 – 8

I saw this incredible Italian sandwich being made by the always talented Giada De Laurentiis on her TV show a few years ago.

I prepared it for a date night with Nat – moonlight cinema – and prior, there was quite a bit of running around; for focaccia, once the hero bread of every café and sandwich, has largely disappeared from pretty much everywhere in Sydney.

I must have gone to half a dozen stores in Leichardt, all of whom said that they sold out early, every morning, mainly to nonnas who came in at dawn.

Given that each bite of this sandwich is like eating an antipasti platter, perhaps the elimination of the oily focaccia was a good thing, though I reckon it would have rounded out what is otherwise an extraordinary sandwich, if not one that is slightly daunting.

The traditional round bread I used was great however, though pull back a bit on the oil. After a night in the fridge compacting, you want to ensure that the bread doesn’t disintegrate as you try to work out how on earth you are going to get on a bite on your muffuletta.

This is your next adult picnic sorted.


¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
10 large pitted green olives, chopped
1/3 cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives
¼ cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (500gm) round bread loaf (about 18cm in diameter and 8cm high)
125gm thinly sliced ham
125gm thinly sliced mortadella
125gm thinly sliced salami
125gm sliced provolone
½ red onion, thinly sliced
Handful of rocket leaves


  1. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, garlic and oregano together and then gradually blend in the oil. Stir in the olives and roasted peppers. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  2. Cut the top 2.5cm of the bread loaf. Set the top aside. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread. Spread some of the olive and roasted pepper mix over the bread bottom and cut side of the bread top. Layer the meats and cheeses in the bread bottom. Top with the onions, then the rocket. Spread the remaining olive and roasted pepper mix on top of the sandwich and carefully cover with the bread top.
  3. You can serve the sandwich immediately or you can wrap the entire sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator a day before serving; if you can, place something on top of the muffuletta to weigh it down and further compact the ingredients.
  4. Cut the sandwich into wedges and serve.
  5. Go for a long run.