the taste space

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on November 6, 2014

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Even for me, this recipe seems a bit long and bothersome. However, I implore to try it out.

Let’s break this recipe down so it is not too daunting. Thankfully, even the sweet potato coconut mash topping could stand-alone on a Thanksgiving spread.

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

First, start with roasting your sweet potatoes. I honestly would have double next time. I would not judge you if the potatoes never made it to the shepherd’s pie.

I started with my favourite recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Low and Slow) which coaxes and highlights their natural sweetness. I made them the night before so this recipe would work fabulously with leftover roasted sweet potatoes, too. Despite roasting 3 big potatoes, I wanted more volume. I ran out of drinkable non-dairy milks so I grabbed a can of lite coconut milk. Just a touch whipped into the spuds created a silky sweet puree. Inspired by Candle Cafe’s Paradise Casserole’s mash, I added some miso as well. You could stop right here with a delicious side.

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

Let’s pretend you still want to make the whole shepherd’s pie, though. I used a mix of beans, which along with carrot, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes had a nice texture. Balsamic vinegar and nutritional yeast added a nice depth and if you have red wine, that would work well here, too. I used a pressure cooker for my lentils, overcooking them slightly, but this was a great way to use them. I also slightly overcooked my butter beans (pressure cooker equilibration issues) but the butter beans were a fantastic counterfoil to the smaller bits. They don’t call them butter beans for nothing. Rancho Gordo’s Florida butter beans were silky smooth, almost like butter! :P

I tried to have a good sweet potato-mash to filling ratio, with a decent height with the mash. I chose a smaller but high casserole dish, as opposed to a 9×13″ pan. I think it worked out really well. The sweet potato mash makes this a less traditional shepherd’s pie but since it is vegan, can I really claim any authenticity?

Sweet Potato Vegan Shepherd's Pie with Coconut Whipped Sweet Potatoes

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes and My Legume Love Affair.

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Strawberry Balsamic Vanilla Steel Cut Oats

Posted in Breakfasts by janet @ the taste space on June 17, 2014

Strawberry Vanilla Steel Cut Oats with Mosto Cotto

Thank you so much for your positive response to my cookbook. You can see Johanna’s review of it here.

I have been debating whether to go on a complete blog hiatus during the summer or work on some pre-written posts. I am leaning towards a blog vacation simply because my absence will be too long for me to mask or simply dwindle down to a post once a week.

When deciding what to share this week (while I was on vacation last week), I had to see what was lurking in my archives. (Note: I should have added one more tip for food bloggers: have draft posts and lots of them). As such, I have been hunting through my archives of not-yet-published posts. You know – the half-written posts, the posts without any photos uploaded and the worst – the ones without a recipe.  As soon as I discovered these photos, I knew I wanted to share them.

The glowing strawberries are oh-so-ripe and the drizzle of balsamic layered nicely around the oats. I would love a bowl of this right now.

Strawberry Vanilla Steel Cut Oats with Mosto Cotto

Truthfully, I don’t remember making this but my photo time stamp tells me it was 2011. Obviously around strawberry season. Perfect timing because Ontario strawberries are just starting to appear, as we found out this weekend.

This dish was from a time when I used to toast my steel cut oats as I waited for the water to boil. Now I don’t bother.

It was before I started adding protein powder to my oats. My current concoction is a murky green stew but I am not sure if that is any better than my previous (chocolate) brown variety with berries. I used to share a lot of my morning eats but with my morning monotony there is not as much day-to-day novelty. I already shared a Balsamic Lemon-Blueberry Steel Cut Oats which was likely my inspiration 3 years ago.

Be it resolved to change my morning oats this week? Absolutely!

How about you? Do you have a similar breakfast every day?

Any preferences for my blog sabbatical? I am toying with the idea of a few summary posts (like the best vegan restaurants in Houston and Toronto).

Strawberry Vanilla Steel Cut Oats with Mosto Cotto

PS. I am sharing this with Four Seasons Food for Red, Shop Local, and Simple and In Season.

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Quickie Balsamic Miso Chickpeas and Baby Bok Choy

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 10, 2014

Quickie Balsamic Miso Chickpeas and Baby Bok Choy

Guys, I am loving ALL your ideas for quickie meals – both your suggestions for your easiest cooked and raw meals.

Are some recipes too simple to share?

How about stir fries? Rob’s go-to stirfry is tofu and broccoli (precut frozen veggies work well for those who don’t want to chop veggies), smothered in sweet chili sauce. Easy peasy.

But sometimes, simple wins. I don’t need lots of colourful veggies. One will do. I don’t need lots of spices. Simple can work too and it does not need to be bland.

Quickie Balsamic Miso Chickpeas and Baby Bok Choy

I originally spotted this recipe in High Protein Vegan (see my review earlier) but it had me scurrying to a new-to-me blog The Stone Soup. Jules focuses on meals with minimal ingredients and minimal prep. While the blog is not vegan, Jules nearly always includes ways to make each meal vegan-friendly with lots of possible substitutions.

This recipe stems from Jules’ quickie method of cooking vegetables: shallow steam cooking in a frypan along with balsamic vinegar and miso. Do I know how to steam veggies in a frypan? Yes! But I never would have thought to combine it with a simple dressing of balsamic vinegar and miso. I really liked the idea of pairing the dressing with baby bok choy and chickpeas, so I went with it.

I didn’t sear my veggies as Jules’ recommended in her video, but I do not feel like it detracted from my version as the dressing pulled it all in together nicely. Sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar juxtaposed against the salty miso and earthy beans and greens. I preferred this fresh but only because my leftovers were quite watery. I have been more likely to eat more beans instead of making an additional side of grains, but grains are nice to sop up delicious juices.

Quickie Balsamic Miso Chickpeas and Baby Bok Choy

Do you think some recipes are just too simple to share?

PS. I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.

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Lentil Marinara Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on February 15, 2014

Lentil Marinara Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

Did you have a good Valentine’s Day? I don’t think I have been told to celebrate Valentine’s Day more than yesterday (and I forgot to call my parents, OOPS!). It almost felt like a national holiday, with everyone at work asking about the evening plans, rushing to finish early for the weekend. Is it because Texans are just so friendly? Or because Americans love holidays?

Rob and I have never been big fan of V-Day, enjoying each other’s company more than anything else. Rare gifts and certainly no cards, this year was the most low-key ever. A nice dinner with friends. True to his word, Rob and Matt had a feast ready for me just as I stepped (pedalled) home: Holy Moley Veggie and Rice Soup and corn tortillas followed by Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls. Actually, the order was reversed, we ate the dessert as an appetizer while we waited for the veggies to cook. I had offered to make dessert but Rob saved the day.

Rob also registered us for Cycle Oregon. Tent porter, and all: we’re committed. Lucky (or unlucky) for me, cycling is easier on me than walking.

After a few weeks of rest and recovery, I resumed my daily cycling commute this week. I also swapped my HIIT classes at the gym for weights. No impact and no balance required. Mostly upper body. My knees may be resting but I am certainly still keeping active. I don’t think my arms have ever worked so hard. Although while it would be nice to have a goal to do an unassisted pull-up (NOT happening anytime soon), I think a more realistic goal will be to be able to refill the water cooler at work without too much difficulty. I am a bad employee right now. If it is empty, I do not refill it. I can do it. I mean, I did it once, but it wasn’t pretty. More awkward than anything else but instead of potentially making a giant puddle, I am acknowledging and working within my limitations. ;)

Now about the food. For anyone looking for a fun twist on spaghetti, this is a delicious marinara sauce. A heartier, cooked version of my 15-minute garlic basil marinara sauce, I fortified the sauce with red lentils. The finishing raw garlic and basil made the sauce truly special. I swapped the raw zucchini noodles for winter’s veggie noodle: spaghetti squash. While those expecting a noodle replica will be disappointed, those looking for a fun veggie side will be thrilled. A new texture and a fun way to slurp up all the delicious sauce.

So, please tell me: how was your Valentine’s Day? Do you refill the water cooler?? :)

Lentil Marinara Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

This is my submission to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch, Extra Veg, Vegan Linky PotluckPasta Please, Simple and in Season and Cooking with Herbs.

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Roasted Onion Flowers (Easy!)

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 28, 2013

Roasted Onion Flowers

Happy Thanksgiving for those celebrating it today.

Part of the reason I have not fallen victim to “what will I make for Thanksgiving?” thinking is that Rob and I are travelling for the weekend. I have been invited to no less than 3 separate Thanksgiving feasts, but instead we’re leaving America.

Roasted Onion Flowers

And yes, I realize today is Thanksgiving, which may be a bit late to share such a fun dish for Thanksgiving… although, I implore you to consider it for your next fancy dinner. It is ridiculously easy. Have some onions? Oil? Balsamic vinegar? Salt? I thought so!

I have been meaning to make these ever since Natalie shared them last year, but really they are roasted onions, cut whole and roasted such that they open like flowers. The pink ones are more pretty but I tried it with Peruvian sweet onions as well.

Roasted Onion Flowers

I packed them into a pan/skillet and roasted away. I actually forgot to remove the tin foil for the last 10 minutes, so they should be a bit more charred should you actually follow the directions. ;)

One onion obviously makes a lot of onion. So feel free to split them in half (or more) when serving. Although, I love onions, especially roasted onions, so I could easily eat the whole onion in one go.

What were your favourite dishes for Thanksgiving this year?

Roasted Onion Flowers

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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White Bean Paprikash with Soy Curls

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on October 24, 2013

Bean Goulash with Soy Curls

I couldn’t let Rob be the only one having fun with soy curls. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make, but once Rob showed how easy it was to add to a dish, I kept thinking of new ways to use them. It is all about the play of textures, since any saucy dish will lend well to adding flavour to the soy curls.

While the original recipe called this goulash, I think it is more similar to paprikash. Paprikash and goulash are both Hungarian stews, but I have gathered that goulash usually includes more vegetables (carrots, parsnips, potato, peppers, etc). Of course, my favourite part of paprikash were the dumplings. I have no idea how to spell it, but we called them “nokola”. My google kung-fu has brought me to this recipe for Hungarian nokedli, which looks similar, although they are smaller. My “nokola” are basically oversized spaetzle.

This was a fun, delicious paprikash stew. Smoked paprika with total tomato goodness (canned tomatoes, paste AND sun-dried tomatoes) create a luscious base. I had no red wine, and I thought Marmite would have been a good substitute since I loved it in my Beefy Mushroom and Cranberry Stew. However, with no Marmite here, I devised a fun substitute: miso and nutritional yeast. I figured it was that umami we were after and it worked! A touch of balsamic vinegar added a sweet-sour-acid thing. The soy curls were akin to thicker meat strands, but there were also white beans and thicker slabs of red pepper. This really brought me back to eating paprikash and dumplings as a child.

I found my inspiration for this dish from Mouthwatering Vegan. Lets just say the original recipe seemed a tad too complex. Unnecessarily complex, for my liking. Have I become a cantankerous kitchen curmudgeon? I don’t think so… I kept this as a one burner, one pot dish (along with something to soak the soy curls). Miriam says it is quick and easy to prepare, but I cut out the hour baking time. I am sure sauteeing the red peppers separately would be nice, too, but I streamlined that step, too. I imagine one could even rehydrate the soy curls in the stew, but I am not as familiar with them to know how that would work.

Are you one to make changes to speed up making your meals, too? And do I have any European dumpling experts that know what I am talking about??

Bean Goulash with Soy Curls

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s VegCookBook Club for Mouthwatering Vegan. Next month’s VegCookBook Club is all about Isa Does It. Feel free to share your eats from the cookbook and enter here for your chance to win your own copy of Isa Does It! (more…)

Hempy Peach Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Salads by janet @ the taste space on August 9, 2013

Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

Going to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches… Millions of peaches, peaches for me. {sing along here}

I swear, I wasn’t planning to share so many salads.

But to combat salad ennuis, I kept mixing up new dressings. I didn’t think it would be so spectacular, but I loved it. And then snapped away some quickie photos for you to enjoy the sights of my salad, too.

Fresh, flavourful ingredients are important for a salad; but like pasta is to sauce, salad can be a vector for dressing.

A simple go-to dressing. With hummus on hand, this is so easy to put together. Hummus, balsamic and mustard. I always taste-test the dressing, but this one was hard to read. As I said, I didn’t really think I’d like it; it seemed too tart. Drizzled next to the sweet peaches, though, it all balanced out.

And to finish off my meal? Carrots with the hummus that didn’t make it into the dressing. ;)

Peach and Hemp Salad with a Creamy Balsamic Hummus Dressing

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and this month’s No Croutons Required for seasonal.
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Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on June 11, 2013

Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

Rob and I have been good about eating through the freezer and pantry. While I no longer have a white board with the freezer inventory (it was such a good idea but we lost track), we generally pick up a container, look at the label, pick our favourite of the day and chow down.

Trust me, I am very diligent about labelling freezer meals.

I am not sure why I don’t do the same with my fridge foods. I don’t store too many things in the fridge but sometimes I forget about salad dressings or marinades pushed to the back. My rationale is probably: Well, this is fresh food. I’ll remember what it is before it grows mold.

Not true.

Some fridge finds are still happy in my fridge for months. Possibly years, although I can’t say for sure. Since now I can’t remember what it was and when I made it.

Mystery ingredients.

My mystery concoction looked like roasted and ground nuts. Likely with some spices. It passed the sniff test. Not entirely sure what it is, I have two options: almonzano (unlikely because it doesn’t taste similar) or dukkah. Or something I just don’t remember making, which is also a possibility. Dukkah is an Egyptian nut and spice mix with cumin, coriander and sesame seeds but there are many variations. The New York Times recently shared recipes for dukkah with peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chickpea flour and even an herbal variation with mint and fennel. While I have included a link to my favourite dukkah recipe that includes coconut, I am fairly confident this was a different variation. I *think* this is the hazelnut dukkah from Vegan Eats World, which is more nut-heavy than spice-heavy. I prefer more spices than nuts, so that the flavours really pop, but the lack of spices did not hold back here.

This salad started off a bit ho-hum, with a simple favour profile: cucumbers, chickpeas, quinoa, lemon and balsamic. It was nice, but not something to rave about… I wanted to add some chopped almonds but instead sprinkled the mystery nut blend overtop and it definitely brought this to a wow dish. The lemon really accents and highlights the spices. It tastes great and yet I still cannot confirm what is in this mix. :)

So for now, let’s assume it is dukkah and enjoy it for all it is worth. :)

How do you keep track of your food? Do you subscribe to “if I can’t remember what I made, then I probably shouldn’t be eating it?” rule?

Here are other recipes with dukkah:

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Dukkah
Maple and Dukkah Roasted Sweet Potatoes from Olive Magazine
Roasted Carrot Soup with Dukkah from Bon Appetit
Bulgur Bowl With Spinach, Mushrooms and Middle Eastern Nut and Spice Seasoning from New York Times
Dukkah-Spiced Green Beans and Mushrooms from Anja’s Food For Thought
Roasted Squash with Tahini and Dukkah at Lisa’s Kitchen

Lemony Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Dukkah

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays. (more…)

Holy Shiitake Lentil Soup

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on April 11, 2013

Holy Shiitake Lentil Soup

This blog is definitely a labour of love.

More than sharing recipes and my experiences in the kitchen, it has morphed into a sort of journal, chronically my adventures with cycling, gardening and whatever life throws at me. Some blogs cater to their readers’ wants…. me, I share what I like and most likely if you are reading, you will like it, too. :) Or, if I muck things up, I hope to pass on my wisdom. (PS, I loved hearing your confessions about your own kitchen bloopers after my last post)

Another benefit of writing this all out? I can learn from my old mistakes, too.

Rob and I recently connected with one of our neighbours and we started chatting about our garden. Did we have any tips?  I couldn’t think of any tips other than a) beans can be grown easily from seeds; and b) kale and collards from seedlings gave us better results. She also asked for some pictures. As I dug up some of my garden updates, I re-read my posts and uncovered other golden nuggets: tomato cages for the beans! get rid of those bugs from the kale ASAP! my preferred basil plant..

I should listen to myself more often. I dug up another old post, when I first started my cycling commute in the spring last year. Talk about deja vu. I was complaining about a long commute after a winter hiatus and here I am complaining again. I thought I was easing myself into my old cycling groove by foregoing the gym, but a long commute needs to be warmed into. I cycled to work (no gym) on Friday: 25km. The ride back was brutal with fierce winds all the way home. I almost decided to give up my cycling commute altogether and stick with the subway. On Sunday, I ended up cycling to the gym and really enjoyed the ride.

With a rainy forecast this week, I decided to capitalize on another day to try to cycle to work (no gym) on Monday. Mondays have me travelling all over the city, so I ended up clocking 36km. It doesn’t sound like that much… but coming from zero biking and a 2-week gym hiatus, I was wiped out when I came home. (Let’s not forget to mention I cycled home IN THE RAIN). Physically pooped, cold and wet, the last thing I wanted was a salad for dinner. I didn’t want to wait for a soup to defrost from the freezer, either. Instead I made a smoothie. Simple and nothing to document as I just whizzed together a frozen banana, frozen raspberries, maca, vanilla, flax seeds and unflavoured Sunwarrior protein powder. Oh, and some water. I am normally never satisfied with a smoothie as a meal, but this worked… after a warm bath and canning my oatmeal for the week, I slid into bed, exhausted.

I need to find more balance.

Still needing to eat, I really should plan my meals based on the weather forecast. The rest of the week has a rainy forecast and possible snow/hail today and/or tomorrow. No more cycling, that’s for sure… warm comforting meals may be in order, though. As such, I took this soup out from the freezer for some meals later this week.

I love unearthing gems from the freezer. I should do it more often. I often get wooed by fresh produce but I need to remind myself to keep things stress-free by eating from the freezer. This is a soup I have made a few times, too, and was lucky to have garden kale when I made this in the fall. I have used both shiitakes and oyster mushrooms with great results. Combining mushrooms and lentils, the earthy flavours mix well with the tangy vinegar and zippy garlic. It is during these dreary days that warm, comforting bowls of my favourite soups really help.

Do you keep a journal? If you do (or have a blog), do you ever re-read it?

Holy Shiitake Lentil Soup

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s No Croutons Required for mushrooms.

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Braised Portobello Steaks and Spinach with a Balsamic Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 7, 2013

Braised Portobello Steaks and Spinach with a Balsamic Sauce

I wasn’t expecting this week to be all about tried-and-true favourites, but I don’t think you mind?

Last night, we celebrated my brother’s 30th birthday. Just as when I tipped into my thirties, my Mom was adamant about hosting a party for close family. Like last time, she transported everything from Ottawa and did last-minute prepping and baking in my brother’s kitchen. Moving before we hit 30 seems to be a theme in our family, as she navigated a new kitchen.

I offered to bring something. I was flat-out refused. I even asked if she had reconsidered a few days earlier. No. Although she leaked the menu to me: lentil salad and portobello mushrooms for me. (YES!) While I initially agreed that simple fruit would an ample dessert, she asked if I would like the Almost Guiltless Chocolate Mousse Pie instead. Obviously, I thought it was a fantastic idea. All of my favourite recipes!

Of course my Mom went all out. Roasted red pepper hummus and raw veggies as early nibblers along with spanakopita from my brother’s in-laws. Three salads: a leafy green with a balsamic dressing, my favourite 11-Spice Lentil Salad with apples and arugula (aka the Best Lentil Salad Ever) and a bacon-broccoli salad. Roasted balsamic portobello mushrooms were baked, instead of grilled, along with the salmon. A magnificent zuccotto dome cake and my Almost Guiltless cake for dessert. I loved how my healthy eats were interspersed among the options and enjoyed by everyone, including my brother’s in-laws who were still inquiring as to what vegan means. It was fun to see them  guess what exactly was in the dessert that had no flour, no grains, no eggs, no cream, no dairy, and no sugar and still taste delicious. We forgot to tell them the filling was no-bake, too (my Mom experimented with baking the almond-date crust this time).

Braised Portobello Steaks and Spinach with a Balsamic Sauce

While I am hesitant to call vegetables “steaks”, the baked mushrooms were compared to steaks last night. Since I used to enjoy my steak on the blue side (when I ate meat), I can see some parallels (moreso than if you like your steak well done), but these mushrooms are a pale comparison for anyone expecting steak. However, they are still one of my favourite meals.

Rob and I have been without a barbecue for a while now, but I have been experimenting with a different way to enjoy roasted balsamic mushrooms. Now I know baking works, too, but in the days of the hot summer, I know I can also make them on the stovetop as well. Not as good as the barbecue, but I am not complaining. :)

Balsamic mushrooms are marinaded in an herbed sherry-balsamic broth and then braised in the same sauce. The sauce is then reduced, used to wilt spinach and lastly drizzled overtop quinoa. I normally don’t make separate sides, but this was simple despite its multiple components.

Do you eat more one-pot dishes or tend to make lots of simple sides instead?

Braised Portobello Steaks and Spinach with a Balsamic Sauce

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cristina.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 28, 2013

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Another batch of lost photos. Although the “lost” photos from that previous post were found (!!), months after I repeated the recipe (HA!).

This time, I am not sure where the photos went, but I have an ample substitute.

Pardon my faux pas.

One of my favourite vegetables this winter (if you could not guess) were Brussels sprouts.

I roasted them, roasted them, and roasted them again. I added them to soups, stirfries and skillets.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Creamy Balsamic Miso Dressing

Recently had a hankering for a creamy, balsamic dressing. Something tangy, something sweet but creamy, too. Then I remembered I had already made such a thing: Tess’ Miso Healthy Dressing. When I went looking for my photos of my creamy balsamic miso dressing, I looked at my notes from the recipe: tossed with brown rice, roasted Brussels sprouts and white beans. No photos to be found, but I did find photos of another creamy dressing with roasted Brussels sprouts. (Yes, there were lots of roasted Brussels sprouts around here).

Brown rice and white beans are left to your imagination. However, I included them in my recipe because that’s how you assemble a meal. :)

In any case, do not limit this dressing to roasted Brussels sprouts. With the change in seasons, make it more spring-friendly. Take your favourite leafy green, add some chopped veggies, chickpeas or quinoa, and smother it in the dressing. Or grab yourself some Brussels sprouts and get thee roasting. :)

roasted brussels sprouts and a creamy balsamic miso dressing

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Haalo, and my dressing is submitted to this week’s Raw Food Thursday.

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Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 12, 2013

Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli

So Rob is gone and I am out to play!

A few years ago, I read What We Eat When We Eat Alone by husband and wife team Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. I was so fascinated by their stories that I wrote my own series about eating for 1. At the time, I had been living by myself for over 6 years (plus another 4 years I lived with roommates). I was fascinated by what people ate when not with their significant other. Truthfully, I don’t really modify my habits too much when Rob is away. I try to stay on track.

However, I emailed Rob about being influenced by the Bad Idea Bears (bonus points if you have any clue what I am referring to). After going to the gym, I was so energized post-shred that I went grocery shopping. My email to Rob:

The bad idea bears helped me reason out why I should buy 8 lbs of chickpeas for $5, spinach (3/$2), baby bok choy (79c/lb), lots of bananas (29c/lb), grapefruit (4/$1) among other things. I bought you some rolled oats, too. :-) oh, and some yogurt (it expires in April so you are still good post-SXSW).

I know my Mom is shaking her head. I thought about it, too. I reasoned it out. Our chickpea stash was getting low!! I am on a chickpea phase! The other beans will not suffice! They are on sale! They will keep. I will eat them. I want my chickpeas!

Plus, my Mom gave me a nice balsamic vinegar for Christmas, so I need chickpeas and greens to eat through that! ;)

(I am thinking about depleting my pantry…)

Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli

So now I have lots of chickpeas and lots of greens. Which is better than a case of beer, right? (Rob thought so, too).

You may have noticed I am posting more and more simple recipes. This is possibly one of my easiest recipes (the broccoli was an afterthought, so the hardest part is chopping the broccoli). In a saucepan, put all your ingredients and make a balsamic reduction with a touch of tomato, garlic and lemon. Within a few minutes, it glazes the chickpeas with a sweet-tart sauce. The original recipe called for ketchup, which I replaced with tomato paste and sweetener. The quality of your balsamic vinegar will dictate how tart it will become and how much sweetener to add. Taste as you go. You could just make the chickpeas, but I found the broccoli to be a perfect match, sweet and crunchy, to balance the strong balsamic reduction. Next time, to make this even easier, I may just whip out my mosto cotto instead.

Lemon-Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas and Broccoli

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Wellness, this month’s My Legume Love Affair.

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Beefy Portobello Mushroom and Cranberry Stew

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on January 24, 2013

I have been searching for a hearty, meaty (yet vegan), filling stew.

I had early success with mushroom bourguignon, but wanted something lighter, with less oil and flour. I tried recipe after recipe, without avail. Beet bourguignon did not satisfy. Beans bourguignon from 1000 Vegan Recipes was ok but not quite up to my high standards. Seitan-less Burgundy Stew with Parsnips from Big Vegan was not my favourite either. I almost gave up…

And then this treat popped out of nowhere.

After my success with baked (fresh) cranberries in the stuffed carnival squashes and roasted balsamic curry fall vegetables, I began exploring other savoury ideas for fresh (or frozen) cranberries. I stumbled upon Bryanna’s Mushroom and Cranberry Stew and was immediately intrigued. I don’t normally cook with TVP but had picked up some large chunk TVP at some point. Might as well use it and clear out the pantry, I mused.

I hadn’t really thought this was a bourguignon. However, it has a lot of similar flavours: red wine and sherry, carrots, thyme, mushrooms. No tomatoes, though and no need to use a thickener. TVP was used as a meat mimicker, texture only. I think a large bean could substitute if you are averse to TVP. The real beefy flavour came from Marmite. A yeasty, salty spread that Kiwis adore. The lovely twist in this recipe came from the fresh cranberries. Pleasantly tart, not sweet, but complemented the beefy stew incredibly well.

I will happily curl up with a bowl of this over the winter months.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Simple and in Season.

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Roasted Balsamic Curry Fall Vegetables and Cranberries with Kamut

Posted in Favourites, Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 20, 2012

Earlier this year, my cousin’s wife was trying to track down kamut, an ancient wheat. She explained to me that kamut contained less gluten, perfect for her gluten-free adventures.  She searched high and low and could not find whole grain kamut. Kamut flakes and puffed kamut, yes, but not regular old kamut.  Since she was hoping to get rid of gluten, I suggested not trying to track down such a hard-to-find ingredient, especially since it still contains gluten, even if it is a smaller amount.

A few days later, when I decided to reorganize my whole grains, I discovered I had kamut. Turns out I had forgotten all about it. I bought a small amount while in Calgary, since I had never seen it before. Unfortunately, while Community Natural Foods has an online store, I don’t see kamut for sale.  With my curiosity piqued, I decided it was time to try out the kamut.

Nothing fancy, I opted to add it to a bowlful of roasted fall vegetables. More veggies, less grain, please.

The verdict?

First, the kamut. I will admit that it was nice. Similar to wheat berries, they were pleasantly plump yet their shape made it more akin to orzo. A plumpy, chewy orzo. Milder than wheat berries, I rather enjoyed them.  If I had easy access to kamut, I would likely choose it over wheat berries, but since I don’t know where to replenish it in Toronto, I will just have to finish my spelt berries first. Although, I am already on a whittling of the pantry plan, where nothing is being replenished except for my easy-to-find favourites: quinoa, red lentils and chickpeas.

Next, the veggies. Delicious right from the oven, I had a hard time holding back from gobbling everything down. I loved combining the different roasted vegetables for different complementary flavours. The Brussels sprouts were earthy and crispy, contrasting the soft and sweet squash, next to the tart and juicy cranberries. The balsamic-curry dressing was not overpowering, and allowed the natural flavours to shine.

Don’t have kamut? No worries. Simply omit it or add your favourite whole grain or bean. I am thinking chickpeas or white beans would be great here.

If you do have kamut, and live in the GTA, please tell me where you found it. :)

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Brii.

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Warm Balsamic Rosemary Cabbage Salad

Posted in Favourites, Salads by janet @ the taste space on November 15, 2012

You know you are a food blogger if…

According to this list, I am not a very good blogger. I can only relate to:

3. You’ve made kale chips. And there is a recipe for it on your blog.
I’ve made kale chips but it is not on my blog. Or does my kale chip pizza count?

6. You take the same photos of the produce at the farmer’s market that you did last year, but you can’t help it. The rainbow chard is so pretty!
I don’t recall actually doing this but I could see myself doing and saying this.

7. You really are confused as to why granola is so expensive at the grocery store.
Uh yeah, especially when it is so easy to make at home.

8. You go shopping with your significant other, and at some point, while looking for a specific item on your grocery list, you turn to him/her and say “We need to shop at a white person grocery store.”
Sounds like something I could say but I don’t think I have. In my defense, ethnic grocery stores don’t carry nutritional yeast!

9. When dining out, no one is allowed to eat the food until you have whipped out your camera/iPhone/Android and taken a shot of it first.
Rob and I both do this!

11. You scope out restaurant tables at lunch with proximity to windows to provide natural lighting for your Rob’s photographs.
If the light isn’t right, I don’t even try taking a photo.

19. You have run out of room for your cookbooks. Yet you still buy more.
Guilty, as charged.

21. You think Pinterest is a godsend as well as the devil’s work.
Absolutely.

27. You start to get nervous when you are down to only one pound of butter, one bag of flour, one head of garlic, or one onion.
But is that really because I am a food blogger or just a meticulous cook that likes garlic and onions?

9/40. I fail. ;)

I have others suggestions: You know are a food blogger when you can’t NOT make a new recipe, when you make meals during the day to help take photographs in natural light, or you have a special spot dedicated for food photography.

I never really thought much about blogging and my life, 3 years – has it really been that long?, until I tried to stop blogging.

I recently went to a party and planned to keep things low stress. I would make a repeater recipe: My Crunchy Cabbage Salad with an Orange-Tahini Dressing. However, I knew I could eat half of it, so I decided to double the recipe. After I cut all that cabbage, it seemed like a heck of a lot. Even if there would be 12 people at the party. So I reverted back to my die-hard blogger instincts and made a second salad instead of doubling the original salad.

This is the second salad. Which I photographed before the party and repackaged. Because who would share a cake with a piece missing at a party? (#24) Only if it is my own party! And really, I just claim the first piece. :)

While cabbage haters would likely not be pleased with 2 salads, both featuring cabbage, I was glad that I brought both (just like kale salads, cabbage salads keep well as leftovers). The Orange-Tahini Cilantro Cabbage Salad is bright and flavourful but this second salad was warm and earthy. Onions and garlic are pan-fried along with cabbage that is gently cooked to remove some of its bite. Granny Smith apples add tartness and sweetness along with raisins. Tossed with rosemary and balsamic vinegar, you have a simple salad that is more than the sum of its parts. I used green cabbage which became a bit muddled from the balsamic vinegar. My suggestion would be to use white balsamic if you have it or use purple cabbage instead.

The salads had mixed reviews. Personally, I preferred the new salad but the guests seemed to prefer my old stand-by.

How do you know that you are a food blogger?

This is my submission to this month’s No Croutons Required for special salads for guests, to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lynne, to this month‘s Herbs on Saturdays and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays

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