20 September 2016

ACT election candidate bake-off: Rebecca Vassarotti

| Charlotte
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Rebecca Vassarotti

Greens candidate for Kurrajong Rebecca Vassarotti signed up for the RiotACT’s candidate challenge with some trepidation, given it’s her partner who does most of the cooking around the house. The community sector consultant briefly contemplated doing something simple, like pancakes, before deciding to brave the baking.

Her ‘Connected community cake’ is made with eggs, olive oil and ricotta and decorated with mascarpone, candied lemons, pistachios and flowers. I’m not normally into citrus peel but this was utterly scrumptious, particularly in combination with the other elements.

Ms Vassarotti has lived for 5 years with her family on a leafy block in her party’s inner north heartland, in the suburb of Dickson. They lived in Downer for the 14 years before that.

As well as working for herself as a consultant, the relatively recent recruit to the Greens is a community member of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal. She was previously Deputy CEO at Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and before that Executive Director of the YWCA of Canberra.

Issues of concern to Ms Vassarotti include gender equity, the difficulty of accessing bulk-billing doctors, a lack of crisis accommodation, affordable housing and homelessness.

“We’ve got the second highest rate of homelessness in Australia, and I just think in a community like this, that’s just not acceptable,” Ms Vassarotti says.

She recognises how lucky she is to own property in an inner Canberra suburb.

“I live in this beautiful, beautiful house, in this beautiful place. It’s only because I was very, very lucky about when I bought a house,” she says.

“My kids, there’s just no way. They’re not going to be able to afford to live in the suburb I live in.”

Ms Vassarotti joined the Greens two years ago despite knowing that in doing so, she was making a statement that could impact on her career. Having taken that step, it seemed to make sense to take the further leap (and follow her own advice to other women about stepping up) to become a candidate, though she recognises that it’s a long shot.

The mother-of-three is running in Kurrajong because it’s her local area, but she is up against a strong field in the seat that includes Mr Rattenbury, Chief Minister Andrew Barr, Opposition education spokesman Steve Doszpot and active Liberal campaigner Elizabeth Lee.

“In this election, you never know what will happen, and we’re certainly hoping that we get Shane [Rattenbury] some friends in the Assembly,” she says.

“He’s done an incredible job and I think it’s been really tough being the only Greens person in there.”

Citing the parliamentary agreement between Labor and the Greens and the inclusion of Mr Rattenbury as a Minister, she says this Assembly has demonstrated “a really sophisticated model of how we do collaborative government”.

“This is the age of collaboration, it’s the only way we’re going to get things done,” Ms Vassarotti says.

The social justice advocate describes Mr Rattenbury as a real role model.

“I think that the way he does politics is really difference and decent,” she says.

“It’s about doing things differently, the Greens do that, and I think that we’re really lucky to have him as the parliamentary leader.”

Ms Vassarotti is also inspired by the potential that activism through the Greens offers to make a difference.

“One of the distinctive factors about the Greens is that the politics is not the end game, the politics is the mechanism to change the world,” she says.

Connected community cake of ricotta, lemon and olive oil

3 eggs
200g caster sugar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
170g fresh full-cream ricotta, well drained
210g self-raising flour, sifted
70g almond meal
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract (or half a freshly scraped vanilla bean)
1 tbsp amaretto (optional, see note)
icing sugar, for dusting
mascarpone or honeyed ricotta, to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170°C (150°C fan-forced). Butter and flour a Bundt tin.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the olive oil and ricotta and mix until smooth. Gently fold in the flour and almond meal, then add the lemon zest and juice, vanilla and amaretto (if using).

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for about 35–40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the tin before turning out onto a plate. Dust with icing sugar and serve as it is or with a dollop of mascarpone or honeyed ricotta.

Note: Give the amaretto a miss for an alcohol-free option.

This recipe is from SBS TV’s Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca.

Are you running for the ACT Legislative Assembly and keen to participate in the RiotACT’s candidate challenge? We want to hear from you! The details are here.

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