Interview With Karen Martini

Chef & My Kitchen Rules Judge Karen Martini

Following on from my Kellogg’s Special K Nourish post on Monday, I have an interview with Karen Martini, Chef and judge on TV show My Kitchen Rules who has partnered with Special K on their latest breakfast cereal. She’s created six home cooked recipes inspired by some of the individual ingredients in Special K Nourish.  On Monday I included two of these recipes and today wanted to share another one for Pink Lady Waldorf Salad with Chicken and Toasted Walnuts.  A healthy salad adults and children will love.

I’m always interested in how Chef’s create and develop recipes and where they shop.  Read on to find out how Karen approaches it and what inspires her.

1.  What’s your process for developing recipes?
My process is really about developing an idea. I gain inspiration from a number of sources:
– Visiting markets and providores in order to follow seasonal produce.
– Keeping up with reading blogs, books and magazines provides an endless amount of direction and inspiration.
– Keeping up to date with fellow chefs and eating at their restaurants where I can.
– Travel and holidays give one exposure to tastes and ideas that seem (funnily enough) foreign to me!
– Meeting friends and hearing about their likes and dislikes always gives insightful advice.
– Reinventing a classic, adding my own interpretation on a standard dish.

2.  What advice would you give to anyone who’d like to start developing their own recipes?
Experimenting! Making mistakes and then amending the recipe keeps your mind working and thinking through a recipe. I suggest cooking a recipe from scratch that you haven’t tried before, then once consuming it you should try it a second time; altering aspects to suit your preference.

3.  Where’s your favourite place to shop for healthy food ingredients?
I always try to shop locally, be it farmers markets, fresh food markets or providores. Having access to seasonal produce and knowledge keeps you in the know and eating what is meant to be eaten at any certain time.

4.  What ingredients would you recommend readers always have to hand in their fridge/pantry?
I have a staple pantry of:
A variety of rices; arborio, basmati, brown.
Grains & pulses; quinoa, freekah and lentils.
Good quality nuts; almonds, Brazil nuts, pepitas.
Chilli pastes and sauces.
Canned tomatoes, chickpeas.
And a quality selection of herbs and spices; smoked paprika, cinnamon, cumin just to name a few.
By having a strong base of stored ingredients; it leaves you able to buy fresh ingredients to change up your meals.

5.  What’s your families favourite weeknight meal?
Surprisingly enough, it is spaghetti bolognese. My girls request it at least once a fortnight. Sometimes it gets transformed into lasagne also. Although if I had it my way we’d be eating baked fish with a fresh salad!

Thank you so much Karen for your insights into how you approach creating recipes, where you shop, what inspires you and taking the time for my interview.  I’m sure it will inspire my readers and myself to buy seasonal produce and experiment in the kitchen creating our own recipes and flavour combinations.  In the meantime here’s another one of Karen’s recipes she created for Kellogg’s Special K Nourish.  Thank you again Karen.

karen martini kellogg's nourish cereal inspired recipesPhotographs provided by Liquid Ideas

Pink Lady Waldorf Salad with Chicken and Toasted Walnuts

With the sweetness from the pink lady apples and a delightful crunch from the toasted walnuts, this salad makes for a gorgeous refreshing meal that’s perfect for warmer weather.  The new Special K Nourish Blackcurrant, Apple & Pepita has inspired this recipe.

2 cooked chicken breast, shredded (see my post on a foolproof way to poach chicken breasts), 4 medium stalks of celery, 1/2 cm dice with the yellow coloured leaves torn to go into the salad, 1 witlof, trimmed leaves left whole, 2 pink lady apples, julienned into matchstick thickeness with the skin on, 1 handful dried apples chopped over 1/2cm size, 24 walnuts, 2 spring onions finely sliced, 4 sprigs parsley coarsely chopped, 1/4 lemon, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 2 tbsp plain yoghurt, 1 medium firm iceberg lettuce, olive oil, salt & pepper.

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.  Spread the walnuts on a tray and bake for 15 minutes.  Toss the warm nuts in a little olive oil and season; shop half of the walnuts while leaving the other half whole.

2. Trim 3cm from the bottom of the iceberg lettuce to remove the core and trim the edges of the leaves so that they are even.  Soak the whole lettuce cut side down into a bowl of iced water.

3. Mix together the mayonnaise and plain yoghurt for the dressing and season.

4. Combine witlof, celery and celery leaves, spring onion, pink lady apple, dried apple and parsley with the mayo/yoghurt dressing.  Add the shredded chicken and squeeze lemon over the mixture.  Stir to combine.

5. Remove the lettuce from the iced water and drain on a cloth.

6. To serve, separate the leaves carefully and fill with a couple of tablespoons of the mixture.  Scatter the seasoned toasted walnuts over the lettuce cups generously.


Catherine x



  1. Mel

    A great interview Catherine! I’ve cooked a lot of Karen Martini’s recipes, my sister is her biggest fan and introduced me to them years ago, they’re always so interesting have a unique twist. I really enjoyed reading about creating her own recipes, I think that’s something that I’d like to experiment with, I have the everyday pasta sauces and stir fries that I throw together but I’d like to step up in this regard. Mel xx

    1. Catherine

      Thanks Mel, glad you enjoyed the interview. I’ve been collecting her recipes for years and always enjoy them. Her Roman Pork Sausage Ragu is a favourite of mine. It’s always great to experiment in the kitchen, it’s surprising what you tasty dishes you can come up with. xx

  2. tina @ colourliving

    Lovely interview. I am not familiar with Karen Martini but all her suggestions are good.

    Loving the Pink Lady Waldorf salad:-)
    Btw, never told you I got Oz off deserts… so I no longer make your great recipes:-(
    Still love them though…. really the best!!!

    Hope you’re well xx

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