the taste space

Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Soup with Sizzling Mint

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 14, 2013

Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Soup with Sizzling Mint

When I photographed this, I was worried it may look eerily similar to the Red Lentil and Spinach Curry (Vegan Tikka Masala). Red lentils + tomato + spinach… This one has carrots, isn’t as red and is more soup-like than the curry, though. I think they look reasonably different, so trust me I am not recycling photos! No lost photos for this dish…

In truth, it was the success of the tikka masala that had me throwing bountiful fists of spinach into yet another red lentil dish.

Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Soup with Sizzling Mint

I have made the traditional Turkish red lentil and bulgur soup before, having learned it while travelling in Turkey. A humble, yet decidedly filling and nutritious soup, it was one of our favourite meals on our trip, especially when we learned how to cook it ourselves. This version, courtesy of Turquoise, is billed as a humble peasant soup. The lentils must make it peasant-like because there is nothing bland about this. I love the addition of two different kinds of smoked paprika and cumin (I did not stifle the full amount of smoked paprika and it was ok!).  I added in the spinach, because, well, I had tons of it and it is easy to incorporate into thick soups. However, the best part of this soup, is the finishing spiced oil. I am used to this in Indian dishes, which is called a tarka, when spices like cumin, coriander, garlic and ginger can infuse oil that is added at the end of the cooking. This isn’t an Indian dish, so dried mint and smoked sweet paprika are fried at the end to permeate the oil. It was actually very pretty when drizzled over the soup. Sorry, you guys got photos of leftovers! Have no fear, the leftovers tasted as good with the tarka already stirred into the soup. :)

Do you use the tarka method for your cooking? Outside Indian foods?

Turkish Red Lentil Peasant Soup with Sizzling Mint

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Smoky One Pot Beans and Bulgur with Kale

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on February 3, 2013

This year, I have traded my cookbooks for textbooks.

One of the textbooks I need to know like the back of my hand can be a tad dry. All 1464 pages. I can only read about molecular pathways or the causes of cardiomyopathy for so long before I need a break.

But then, as I was reading the nutrition chapter, I swear, this is what it said (I quote):

Even lowly garlic has been touted to protect against heart disease (and also against, devils, werewolves, vampires, and, alas, kisses), although research has yet to prove this effect unequivocally. Of these, the effect on kisses is the best established!

I wonder whether I can bring up devils, werewolves and vampires on my oral exam for full marks? Or just kisses since they have more evidence against them? They didn’t cite their source, though…

Thank goodness, my love of garlic hasn’t kept away kisses from Rob.

My love of garlic has a long history. My love of raw garlic began with Tess. My love of Rob fits in between these two.. In length, but surpasses them all by quantity and quality, of course. ;)

Raw garlic isn’t as scary as it seems. Chili lime noodles, 15-minute zippy garlic-basil marinara, lemon asparagus quinoa toss, and many other dishes that add garlic at the end of cooking instead of at the beginning. It adds a brightness to any dish.

This is another garlicky dish from Tess. A quickie dish that I can make after work. Easily modifiable to your pantry surpluses.  Tess uses rice and beans, but bulgur and cooked beans make this an even simpler dish. It has been a while since I’ve gushed over bulgur, but sometimes I forget until I unearth it again from my pantry.  Smokey from liquid smoke, creamy from a touch of oil, snappy with some nearly raw garlic and wholesome with some shredded greens. Beans + grains + greens, a force to be reckoned with.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, now hosted by Lisa.

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Bulgur Pilaf Salad with Pomegranate, Dried Apricots, Pistachios and Swiss Chard

Posted in Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on May 17, 2012

Not only can I get in trouble at grocery stores, I can also get in trouble at garden centres.

It makes sense, because it is like a grocery store with such promise for the future.

Originally, we had planned to keep things relatively simple. We tried out a few plants last year, and knew that our best results were with our herbs in planters. We were also able to harvest beans (snow peas, snap peas and flat beans), lettuce, Swiss chard and kale, although at much lower yields. Carrots – nada! Kohlrabi – nope. Beets- only the chioggia beets grew and they were way too small.. Zucchini- to be fair, we grew it in a very shady part of the garden and it died. Our rhubarb died a horrible death, too.

Our new home has a much smaller garden, but receives a lot more light. I am hopeful we will be able to grow some tasty delights this year. To keep things simple, the herbs would be a definite go, especially since I overwintered them in my kitchen and only had a few casualties (basil, thyme and even the Vietnamese coriander, boo, the last two both perennials). I was going to try my hand at kale again, both with the transplanted kale and with seedlings. After Rob’s mom’s success with dinosaur kale (lacinato kale) from a seedling (and plenty of sun), I was adamant I wanted to try kale from seedlings. I know kale grows easily from seeds, but I figured this could help get the plant bigger and me eating it sooner!

Locating kale seedlings is easier said than done. Not only did I not want the standard kale, I wanted heirloom kale. Home Depot? No. Canadian Tire? No. A local independent grocer had the normal curly kale, though. I decided to check in with the closest garden centre: Caledonia Garden Centre. Turns out they had just picked up some kale to sell. Lacinato kale and the normal curly kale. Perfect!

With my best intentions, I swear, I headed off to buy some lacinato kale. I perused their collection… next to the lacinato kale, they had redbor kale. I picked up both. They also had a curly kale and bought it just for fun. Then I spotted the collard section. The regular collards were only a $1; in it went… and then I perused the section a bit more…. they had heirloom collards! Vates collards, which are a bit more compact with an earlier maturation date. And Portuguese collards (couve). Never even heard of it but they looked a bit more frilly and white in their mugshot on the label. I was excited just to find lacinato kale but now I was ecstatic!! New veggies to explore!  I resisted the Swiss chard since I had seeds at home to plant. Then I moseyed through the rest of the veggies…. and while I had no plans to buy squash, when I saw they had KABOCHA (!) squash seedlings, I impulsively threw them in my now overflowing tray of seedlings. At only $1.25 for 4 plants, it was an experiment I was willing to try. ;)

When I got home, I had to investigate how to grow collards and kabocha squash! Where would they fit in my garden?

Thankfully squash can be grown in containers, so that’s where I put my squash. I am not sure where the 20 foot vines will go but if they make it that far, I will deal with it then!

The collards and kale have all been interspersed in the front garden, amongst the perennial flowers. I am hoping they become balmy ornamental greens throughout the summer. Hopefully the sun cooperates and we can feed them properly. Cross your fingers for a summer of green overload!

Looking for a way to use some greens? This is a bulgur pilaf salad with some Swiss chard sneaked in.. while it may call for a bunch of Swiss chard, it wilts down and makes you wonder why you didn’t add more. ;)

Courtesy of Melissa Clark, I tweaked her Bulgur Pilaf with Dried Apricots from Cook This Now. Like my Middle Eastern-Inspired Olive Oil Granola, this bulgur salad is flavoured with cinnamon, dried apricots and pistachios. With a nod to my favourite bulgur salad, a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and pomegranate arils make this salad more interesting with their tangy crunch. This is actually a template for a great salad: mix and match with what you have in store. Don’t have apricots and pistachios? Use dried cranberries and almonds instead… or try raisins and walnuts.. Salads need not be stressful! :)

This is my submission to this month‘s Simple and in Season, to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness and to Cookbooks Sundays.

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Sushi Roll Edamame Collard Wrap with Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette

Posted in Appetizers, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 4, 2012

The point of making a sushi rice bowl salad is that it is easier than rolling numerous sushi rolls. I know, I’ve done it before.

So why would I bastardize a perfectly nice sushi salad by turning it into a wrap?

A collard wrap, of all things, instead of a sushi roll.

As you probably figured out, I like wraps, especially when wrapped with a green leaf like Swiss chard, kale, collard or even Romaine lettuce. Hearty greens don’t go soggy. My leaves are usually small enough for bite-size snacks, rolling up a few for tasty meal. While I also like salads, I preferred this as a wrap. With a wrap, you make sure every component of the salad hits your palate at the same time.

The idea of this wrap came from Appetite for Reduction, after Ashley posted her version. In my wrap, you get your zing from the green onions, the crunch from the carrots and cucumber, the salty earthiness from the shredded nori with a savoury note from sesame seeds all firmed up with a background from coarse bulgur and slippery edamame. The collard leaf keeps it all together. The green onion miso dressing is great within the wrap, and you can always add more if you use it as a dipping sauce. As a salad, the Asian ingredients seem a bit disjointed, but in the wrap, they work so well together.. because you can experience it all in every bite. :)

If you are tired of eating delicate leafy green-based salads, consider turning it into a green wrap. Where your greenery is just presented in a different form.

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

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Warm Lentil, Bulgur and Vegetable Skillet with a Lemon-Tahini Sauce

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on October 27, 2011

I follow a lot of food blogs. When I started to use Google Reader, maybe only 6 months ago or so, somehow I effortlessly started reading more and more food blogs. My last count was 232 subscriptions (eek!).

I read blogs for many different reasons: to be inspired by the recipes or techniques; to learn more about ingredients or different ethnic cuisines; and lately to open my culinary repertoire into vegan (and raw) cooking.

Some blogs post tried-and-true recipes, and maybe it is just my poor luck, but sometimes I get lackluster results from other bloggers. It might seem like I have been ragging on her alot recently, I actually adore Angela’s positive message on Oh She Glows.  I just haven’t had too much luck with her recipes.  I find her overnight oats a bit too liquidy for me, her split pea and spinach soup and white bean pesto dip underflavoured and more recently, her tahini-avocado chickpea salad also lacked spunk. Nothing that I couldn’t fix myself, but you just know you will have to continually assess the dish at every step.

Like a mouse drawn blindly to cheese, I am still tempted by her recipes. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, because I know we share some similar tastes. While I haven’t tried her version, I also adore the Creamy Broccoli Dal from Vegan Yum Yum. I just have to do a lot of tweaking to follow her recipes.

With this in mind, I assessed her Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl with caution, despite the many positive reviews in the comments. It looked like a wonderful clean-your-fridge recipe, but I knew I wanted to load it up with vegetables. I scaled back the lentils and swapped the spelt berries for bulgur. I doubled the vegetables, used leek instead of onion, added in 2 red bell peppers, some snow peas, tomato and spinach.  Because I adore lemon, I increased the lemon flavour by adding in the zest from the lemons as well. With less grains and beans, but more vegetables, I kept the same amount of dressing. Finally, an adapted OSG’s recipe worthy to share!

Here, a zippy creamy sauce is simmered with the vegetable medley that is speckled with lentils. The black lentils hold their shape well, as do the French du Puy lentils, which would also work great here. Green lentils would also work ok. I was lucky to have a leftover leek waiting in the fridge, but onions or shallots could also be used.  For the vegetables, pick your favourites but I liked that the fresh tomatoes, with their juices, deglazed the pan nicely.  Serve with your choice of grain, mixed into the skillet or served on the side.


This is my submission to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday.
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Bulgur and Cantaloupe Salad with Hazelnuts and Mint

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on July 15, 2011


Rob has the privilege of having a nice breakfast supplied at work.  Each morning, the offerings vary from pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausages, croissants, danishes, muffins, oatmeal, muesli, yogurt, fruit salad, dried fruit and nuts. He complains about the breakfast, though, and shuns most of the menu.  Sub-par baked goods and homemade oatmeal that tastes better, he usually opts for the fruit salad with yogurt and dried fruits and nuts. But even then, he complains about the fruit salad. Too much filler, like honeydew and cantaloupe, where is mango? He wants more pineapple, strawberries and blueberries. Add some papaya, while you’re at it. Apple and pear, too. He wants ginger.

Yes, I am typing this up verbatim as he tells me all his breakfast fruit salad desires.

He has been dubbed a food snob by his co-workers. Rightfully so, if I may add.

To be honest, I felt quite liberated when I stopped eating from the (rare) free lunches provided at work. But if fresh fruit or a nice salad is available, I will gladly snack on that.

Melons don’t tend to get the respect they deserve. After biking, sometimes all I wanted was a big piece of watermelon. And while Rob prefers cantaloupe over honeydew (both “filler” fruit), I prefer the reverse.  On the fruit echelon, berries rank high for me, but variety is important as well.

Cantaloupe very rarely gets paired with anything… a loner, or sometimes with honeydew. Hidden within a fruit salad, it can go unnoticed. Or shunned when it takes centre stage. I enjoy combining fruit into savoury dishes, and my curiosity was piqued when some friends recommended the bulgur and cantaloupe salad in Supermarket Vegan.

Here, we have a seemingly simple salad but the citrus-spiked bulgur salad works incredibly well with the cantaloupe. As with any salad, quality ingredients make this jump to the next level.

First the cantaloupe. I increased the ratio of cantaloupe-to-bulgur ratio, opting to use an entire small cantaloupe for the salad. Choose a firm not overripe cantaloupe for best results.  Next, fresh orange juice is key and I squished 2 Navel oranges to reconstitute the little nuts of bulgur goodness. The original recipe suggested a fine-grain bulgur but I used medium-grain which was perfect. I swapped the herbs around, opting for more fresh mint than parsley, and felt that both had a roll in the flavourful salad. For my nut of choice, I went with hazelnuts that I had unearthed during our move. Again, who would have thought it would work so well? I ended up adding cooked chickpeas to the leftover salad to turn it into a main meal and it was equally delicious.

Heck, who would have thought this whole salad would taste so good? Cantaloupe, you are definitely an unsung hero.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, and to this month’s Healing Foods featuring whole grains, to this month’s Simple and in Season and to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends.

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Vegetarian Bulgur Chili (aka Moosewood’s Chili Fest Chili, adapted)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on January 26, 2011

One of my friends has a sulphite allergy. In short, she could have an anaphylaxis reaction (ie, really bad difficulties breathing) if she consumes sulphites. Sulphites are a commonly used preservative and found in a whole host of foods (processed food, beer, wine, dried fruit, etc). Canada is very good at making food producers label their products with any sulphites used, so I always check labels when I know my friend will be over.

In reality, though, I don’t make many things from processed foods, so I should be ok, right? Well, as it turns out, I have been cooking with a few sulphite-laden ingredients – vegetable broth (not homemade), coconut milk and even dried fruit were among the many culprits I have found in my recent dishes.

So when we needed an emergency girls night in, and when it was -28C outside (with the wind), I scoured for recipes I could make without venturing to the grocery store AND that had no sulphites AND that would taste best the next day as leftovers (since I wasn’t going to cook after work). A pretty onerous task, if I may say so myself!

I narrowed my choices to two options: The New Spanish Table‘s Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Roasted Garlic OR the Chili Fest Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. The chili was rife with savoury flavours like cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano. Oh, and molasses! Considering it was so cold outside, the chili won out instantly.

I modified the original recipe by increasing the onions, red bell peppers and carrots while omitting the celery. I used the sweet paprika and Aleppo chili flakes for the heat (and omitted the chipotles in adobo sauce). I mixed up the bean variety by using both red kidney beans and black beans. But, the best addition, the secret ingredient, was bulgur! (I realize that my title gave it away….)

The result was a hearty chili with the mix of savoury flavours. Not my favourite chili, as something was a bit off and I prefer my chili with a bit more robust tomato flavour. Next time I might add some tomato paste. The bulgur, though, was excellent and a healthy way to get the mouth-feel of ground meat, without any meat at all. Other grains – millet, spelt, etc – could also be used. TVP is also an option. In any case, this is a nice way to warm up during the winter. Pair it with a leafy salad, some crusty bread, or just eat the chili plain. The original recipe called for a yogurt-cilantro topping to help with the heat. Personally, mine wasn’t a spicy chili but that’s because I didn’t put in the chipotle peppers!

I will have to find some more red peppers to make that lentil and squash stew, though… :)


This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted byAstrid from Paulchens FoodBlog.

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Syrian Vegetarian Bulgur Patties (Kibbeh)

Posted in Appetizers, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on December 9, 2010


While I have had a few flops, most of the recipes I try are very good. It helps that I know which ingredients I am more likely to enjoy, and I also try to choose tried-and-true recipes that others have praised as well. Am I the only one that scoots down to the bottom of the comments to see if anyone else actually made the same recipe? It is the first place I go, and another reason why I love browsing people’s recipe archives. :)

Aromas of Aleppo is a gorgeous cookbook featuring recipes from the Jews that formerly lived in Syria. But gorgeous photos does make a great recipe. One of the recipes I was immediately drawn to was the vegetarian kibbeh recipe, which are bulgur patties with red lentils, minced tomato, bell peppers, scallions and seasoned with cumin and chili flakes. This recipe had everything going for it except one thing – the amount of oil. Kibbeh is common in the Middle East, and can be baked, grilled, fried or as in the this case, none of the above. After the bulgur and red lentils are cooked, they are chilled and then eaten as-is.

I have adapted the original recipe. First I halved it because the recipe made a TON of food. Second, decreased the oil. The original (doubled) recipe called for 2 cups of oil, which is outrageous. I almost put it all in, as I wasn’t really thinking straightly at the time. Must. Not. Follow. Recipes. Blindly. My version still had too much oil, so I plead with you not the make the same mistake I did. You can definitely work with less, but feel free to experiment with the amount of oil to get a texture you prefer.

These are very flavourful patties, but I will admit to only forming the torpedos for the photos. Otherwise, I just used a spoon to scoop out the mixture. Serve with tamarind concentrate, tahini, or alongside other appetizers.

This is my submission to Tobias’ 14th Mediterranean Cooking Event, featuring dishes from Syria.

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Turkish Cranberry Beans and Tomatoes Simmered in Olive Oil (Barbunya Pilaki)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 26, 2010


I could be described as quirky. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

One thing that still baffles most people is that I don’t own a cell phone. I have a landline, but refuse to convert to a cell phone until the reception and reliability have improved. For now, I am content with my landline.

I definitely see advantages to having one of those ‘do everything’ phones. Like when you want to check the ingredients of a recipe you hadn’t planned on making. (You can tell what is important for me, ha!)

When I serendipitously stumbled upon fresh cranberry beans the other week, I couldn’t remember how many I needed. 1 cup? 2 cups? Well, I bought 4 cups just to make sure I wasn’t short. Suffice it to say, the cranberry bean mole with roasted butternut squash only needed 2 cups of beans.

So I searched out other ways to use my creamy fresh cranberry beans. It turns out they are also common in Turkish cuisine, which is one of my favourites. Beans simmered in tomato sauce may sound bland, but I knew it would be anything but if it were a Turkish recipe. I worked with Esra’s recipe at Carte du Jour and modified it slightly to use less oil and added more garlic. Her recipe is fantastic because it includes a lot of possible substitutions.


A plate of beans may not sound that exciting, but I enjoyed them. This was a lighter dish, and while other recipes don’t necessarily add the water during the simmering, it made it a bit more saucy which I enjoyed. It would be nice to try this again without the extra water and without the sugar. Keeping with the Turkish theme, I paired the beans with fine bulgur for a complete meal. I have talked about the nutritional superiority of bulgur compared to brown rice before, and it is incredibly easy to make as well (7 minutes to “cook” in boiling water).  Mixed all together, the sauciness coated the bulgur nicely for a light yet hearty meal.

This is my submission to this round of Blog Bites 9, holiday buffet, potluck-style!

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Bulgur and Grape Salad with Nuts and Cranberries

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on October 22, 2010

Some doctors treat patients, and others go into research. The insane do both. I don’t know where I want to fit in just yet.

A positive point for research is that a discovery can help thousands or millions of people, whereas as a solo practitioner, you help one patient at a time.

It is kind of analogous to food blogging.

I can cook something at home and share it with friends and family. I have affected only a handful of people. But when I blog about it, it can reach to the furthest depths of the interspace. People from around the globe can read and try the dish to their own tastes.

While I love reading reader comments, I also really enjoy that instant gratification from sharing food with friends. Especially when it is new for them. Considering how little I repeat recipes, it is likely new for me too! A bit of Russian roulette.

Case in point: this salad. I shared it not once, but twice, with friends from out-of-town. It was fun to introduce my summer salad sensation, coarse bulgur. However, they misheard me the first time and thought I said “Booger salad”. Yes, my friends, I am serving you booger salad. From my childhood cookbook, which also included recipes for barbecued worms and muddy caterpillar hotdogs (I am not making this up, that’s what I did as a kid).

Thankfully there is no mud and no insects were harmed in creating this bulgur, I mean booger, salad. It is a light and bright salad, with lots of vegetables (spinach, bell peppers, broccoli), satisfying nutty pan-fried chickpeas with a crunch from both the almonds and sunflower seeds. A special sweet crunch comes from the red grapes. The balsamic-lemon dressing pulls everything together along with the base of coarse bulgur.

I adapted the recipe from Unsweetened Cocoa, who was inspired by Fine Cooking.

This is my submission to Blog Bites 8, featuring one-dish meals.

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Bulgur Salad with Cranberries, Lemon and Almonds

Posted in Favourites, Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on September 26, 2010


This has been a week of salads – and I have more to come (I can’t wait to share my Japanese caprese salad!)

You don’t win friends with salad. Well, I think my friends could be won over by a tasty salad. Nothing says ‘I love you‘ better than a healthy, tasty meal, right? Or is it just me? While I do enjoy desserts, I am more likely to fawn over mangoes, raspberries, pomegranate molasses, baked eggs, marinaded tempeh and let’s not forget the best salad ever. Bulgur has also been a summer obsession and when I was invited to bring a salad to a BBQ gathering with friends, I thought this would be a perfect side salad for the tasty grillings.

This salad was adapted from Delicious Days, who called this “The Salad You Must Make”. I was very tempted. My winning salad was also made with bulgur, and I really like almonds, cranberries and lemon (yes, I cook with them a lot). I knew I had a great combination despite the seemingly simple ingredients, so I brought it along for BBQ bliss.

I really liked the salad, albeit a side salad. Truth be told, I wouldn’t normally make it for myself as I prefer one-dish meals. I was worried it would be dry (where is the dressing?) but it worked well together. The coarse bulgur was slightly creamy. The cranberries were sweet and the lemon zest a bit zippy with the nutty almond crunch. And the grande finale came from the sauteed green onions. They melted down and added that extra dimension (creamy? tasty? buttery? it was great anyhow). I think leeks could work as well, but green onions are cheaper so kudos to that!


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Pomegranate Tabbouleh Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on August 26, 2010

It is hard to compete with perfection.

I made a delightful bulgur salad with pomegranate, almonds, oven charred tomatoes and chickpeas earlier this month and was looking to expand my horizons with a new twist on the bulgur and pomegranate flavours. When I spotted a pomegranate tabbouleh salad at Closet Cooking, I knew what I wanted to try next. It seemed perfect for the summer with fresh crisp cucumber, fresh local tomatoes, soft feta and keeping my salad staples like toasted almonds. The pomegranate flavour came from the vinaigrette with pomegranate molasses and pomegranate seeds.

And while it seemed like a reasonable salad, it just didn’t compare. I was left thinking, This is ok, but not the best salad everThe best salad ever will forever torment me as its counterparts will fall short. My memory will probably hype up the salad even further in its absence – oh my!

But instead of commiserating for all of the rest of the salads, why not rejoice in figuring out what made for such a terrific salad?  And this is what I have been thinking about…

As a main course salad, I like a lot of substance within the salad. More stuff than bulgur or leaves. Both salads had that, but the winning salad also had more sustenance with chickpeas. Both vinaigrettes had pomegranate molasses, but the winning salad had a more pronounced tartness from the pomegranate molasses since I mistakenly read the recipe without diluting the molasses. So perhaps the mind-blowing pomegranate flavour was missing. The winning salad also had Aleppo chili flakes which brings anything from ordinary to extraordinary, and this tabbouleh had none. Not that I think tabbouleh warrants chili flakes, but the mantra of balancing sweet, sour, spicy and bitter is making more and more sense. It has been a winning combo for my recent dishes, including the winning salad.

To be fair to the tabbouleh, it was enjoyed by others. But they had not yet tasted the winning salad ever. ;) For me, there were too many similarities between the salads for me not to do the comparison and feel like it came out short. Perhaps I will have to modify the tabbouleh with these changes in mind when I score another deal on pomegranates.


This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring mint, to PJ for this month’s Healing Foods featuring tomatoes, to Jayasri for this month’s Cooking with Seeds featuring pomegranate seeds and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Turkish Bulgur, Pomegranate and Almond Salad

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on August 11, 2010


I love when I discover new healthy ingredients. (I have totally fallen in love with pomegranate molasses now, but I am not talking about that infatuation.)

I recently visited Shelburne Farms, a working farm estate using sustainable farming and environmental practices, in Shelburne, Vermont.  We had a fabulous dinner at their Inn, but snuck in a tasty salad from their Farm Barn for lunch. It was an incredibly delicious balsamic bulgur salad with fresh produce from their organic gardens. I have cooked with fine bulgur before, but this salad used coarse bulgur. It was delicious, creamy and plump at the same time. It was a lovely play of textures for my tongue, in addition to the fresh flavours from their garden. When I returned home, I picked up some coarse bulgur to make my own salad (I used Bob’s Red Mill Cracked Bulgur).**

This is definitely one superb salad. Absolutely delicious!  Dare I suggest the best salad ever?  Oh yes!

This is a Turkish recipe, based on kisir, a bulgur salad with tomato.  Mine was adapted from Desert Candy, who adapted it from Food & Wine (January 2004).  The creamy bulgur is mixed with soft charred cherry tomatoes, crunchy toasted almonds and nutty, creamy chickpeas. Pomegranate seeds add flavour and pop. The dressing wraps everything together – sweet and tart from the pomegranate molasses, tart from the lemon juice and a bit of a kick from the Aleppo chili flakes. I loved it!  The bulgur can absorb a lot of the dressing, so I dressed the salad just before serving.

I wanted to highlight how wonderful the salad was before anyone got turned off by the health benefits of bulgur.  In a 1/4 cup (raw), there are only 140 calories but also 7g of fibre and 5g of protein. It has less calories and more nutritious than brown rice, with more iron and calcium and less fat. But most importantly, it tastes great. I love the paradoxical creaminess. It is completely different than fine bulgur. Some say that fine bulgur is best for salads and kibbeh (meatballs), and coarse bulgur is better for pilafs and main dishes. But here, I loved the coarse bulgur as a salad.

Run, do not walk, to make this incredibly tasty and healthy salad.


I plan on investigating more salads with coarse bulgur, and here are others that have caught my eye:

Basil and Bulgur Salad (aka Pesto Tabouli) by Fat Free Vegan
Bulgur Salad with Cranberries by Delicious Days
Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas and Red Peppers by Smitten Kitchen
Bulgur Salad with Feta, Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes by Feelgood Eats
Chickpea & Bulgur Salad with Soft Boiled Egg & Breadcrumbs by Bitchin Camero
Chickpea Hot Pot by 101 Cookbooks
Beautiful Bulgar and Spinach Pilaf with Labneh and Chili Roast Tomatoes by 101 Cookbooks
Herbed and Honeyed Bulgur Wheat Nut Salad by Not Quite Nigella
Bulgur Salad with Oranges, Cashews & Fresh Herbs by Enlightened Cooking
Balsamic Roasted Onions with Bulgur, Cinnamon & Pine Nuts by Made by Frances
Broccoli Rabe with Bulgur and Walnuts by Bon Appetit
Bulgur and Grape Salad with Walnuts and Currants by Fine Cooking

**Remember how I ventured across town to buy pomegranate molasses for muhammara? Well, when I found coarse bulgur at No Frills (Eglinton/Victoria Park), they had pomegranate molasses as well! Along with orange blossom water and rose water (on sale, to boot!). It astounds me what I can find in grocery stores in Toronto if you look in the right neighbourhood. So there you have it, you can find pomegranate molasses at No Frills in Toronto. I even updated my post for other local seekers of pomegranate molasses.


This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring mint, this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona at Briciole, to PJ for this month’s Healing Foods featuring tomatoes, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Nithu for this month’s Cooking with Whole Foods featuring chickpeas, to Blog Bites #6, potluck-style, hosted by One Hot Stove, to Torview’s food palette series featuring red dishes, to Jayasri for this month’s Cooking with Seeds featuring pomegranate seeds, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays and finally, to AWED, featuring Turkish cuisine this month, hosted by me. (This recipe was meant to be shared!) :)

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Turkish Spicy Lentil and Bulgur Soup with Dried Mint and Red Pepper (Ezogelin Çorbası)

Posted in Soups by janet @ the taste space on June 27, 2010


While travelling in Turkey, one of my highlights was a cooking course in Istanbul through Cooking Alaturka. The class was a great introduction to both Turkish cuisine and culture. Run by Chef Eveline Zoutendijk, an expatriate Dutch who trained at Cordon Bleu in Paris, as well as Feyzi Yildirim, a Turkish chef, a group of 10 helped to prepare 5 traditional Turkish dishes: Spicy Lentil and bulgur soup with dried mint and red pepper (Ezogelin Çorbası), Green beans in olive oil (Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye), Zucchini patties with herbs and cheese (Kabak Mücveri), Lamb stew in tomato sauce on smoky eggplant puree (Hünkar beğendili kuzu) and Walnut-stuffed figs in syrup (İncir Tatlısı).

The venue was perfect for our class. In fact, Chef Eveline designed the kitchen specifically for cooking classes when creating her own restaurant. Chef Eveline leads the majority of the instructions but Chef Feyzi teaches us more hands-on techniques. Both have made this a fun, yet informative cooking class. Chef Eveline’s culinary school background was evident in her teaching – this wasn’t just thrown together for tourists.

This was a hands-on cooking class. However, we didn’t each create every single dish. We shared in the prep work and then came together to create the main meals. My task was to chop red peppers for the lamb stew, which look surprisingly like chili peppers, but that’s what they look like in Turkey: slim, in all their glory. Chef Feyzi showed me how to chop the perfect pepper, with a slight diagonal.

Afterwards, I used a huge zirh, the Turkish equivalent of a mezzaluna, to chop herbs for the zucchini fritters. Armed with the lid from the pot, I became a kitchen warrior!  Later, I mixed everything together and grilled the fritters on the stovetop. Chef Feyzi watched very intently – “too small!”, “too much oil!” he proclaimed, yet they all turned out delicious. Others helped to blanch tomatoes or chop the green beans for other dishes. We each peeled our own charred eggplant and stuffed our own figs with walnuts, ready to be poached for dessert.

Each dish was fabulous. My father thought this was the best meal we had during our entire trip in Turkey. He really enjoyed the Spicy Lentil and Bulgur Soup, which was more spicy than what we had elsewhere. Chef Eveline explained that the recipe originates from southeast Turkey, where they like a bit more heat with their dishes. This soup has a very nice textural component, with cooked lentils perked with bulgur, in a spicy broth flavoured with tomato, red pepper and a dash of mint. Delicious and easy to make.

Chef Eveline told us to pick up some red pepper paste at the Spice Bazaar before we left Turkey, but I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule. I looked at other grocery stores throughout my trip, with no luck. I determined it was an ingredient found mainly around Istanbul.  After I found red pepper paste at Marche Istanbul, I knew I had to recreate the soup at home.  Even if you can’t find red pepper paste, you can substitute more tomato paste instead. You can also make your own.

This is my submission to this week’s  Blogger Secret Ingredient event, featuring bulgur, hosted by Healthy Exposures, and I am also sending this to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Hearty Grain-Filled Peppers

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 15, 2010

Sometimes healthy recipes may not appeal to everyone.  They may not be filling, not flavourful, not satisfying, yada yada.  I recently discovered The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook which is filled with healthy recipes that highlight using fruits and vegetables while not overloading on salt and fats. So far the recipes have turned out well, and this is the first one I am going to share. However, I felt that this one needed some tinkering to give it that extra oomph.

First of all, this is a simple dish of stuffed red peppers with a bulgur filling. I loved the sweetness from the red peppers as they were roasted with the filling. However, there was a lot of filling, so you need more peppers than the recipe called for.. unless, I just happened to use small peppers. Otherwise, the filling was good but not incredibly flavourful. I added in extra ingredients to soup up the flavour – some chili powder, fresh basil and oregano. Now we’re talking.  Sometimes I skimp on the garnishes, but I felt that the yogurt and seeds definitely added a textural contrast to the dish that lifted it to the next level.

I hope you enjoy this tasty, healthy and filling dish. I am submitting it to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Yasmeen from Healthnut.

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