the taste space

Raw Italian Stuffed Peppers with Sausage Pate (& Raw Italian Pate Collard Wraps)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 23, 2014

So, it is late August. We moved back to Toronto at the beginning of August. Our stuff from Houston arrived, and our stuff we squirrelled away in my brother’s basement will be arriving this weekend. Unfortunately, one key link remains broken: the internet. We have been waiting for our internet to be installed for 3 weeks now.

I have internet through my cellphone but otherwise, our tap into the internet is dry. As such, I am *still* relying on oldie-but-goodie recipes I photographed earlier, lurking in my drafts, waiting for the right moment to share.

This was a delicious nut pate I made when I had access to fresh herbs in my garden. While I am not a fan of raw pates, I will concede that I wasn’t trying to make a pate with this meal. That is what happens when you over-process nut meat! I was aiming for nut-based Italian sausage crumbles, but with a few too many whirls with the food processor, it turned into a delicious, chunky spread instead.

This is no bland pate, though. First of all, I wanted to lighten up the nut meat by adding some mushrooms.  I used oyster mushrooms because they have a very mild flavour and I dare say you couldn’t taste them anyhow. I pulsed the nuts (pecans and Brazil nuts) with a handful of fresh herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme and sage. It was the last-minute addition of sun-dried tomatoes that added not only a great burst of flavour, but also turned my sausage crumbles into a pate.

There are countless ways to enjoy this spread and I originally ate it solo, stuffed into a bell pepper. For leftovers, I smeared it into a collard wrap topped with assorted spiralized or thinly sliced vegetables (zucchini, beet, carrot, cabbage) and a beautiful sprout garnish. I almost didn’t photograph the haphazard (leftover) collard wraps, but Rob urged me to reconsider. They were definitely pretty, too, and mighty tasty.

Enjoy!

I am sharing this with Shaheen’s Mellow Yellow challenge and Simple and In Season.

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Lentil Marinara Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M 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, Pasta Please, Simple and in Season and Cooking with Herbs.

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Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomatoes and Capers (& Eating Cauliflower Greens)

Posted in Sides by Janet M on October 22, 2013

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomatoes and Capers

Lest you think this blog is only made up of Asian and Southeast Asian/Indian, or ridiculously easy treats, sometimes it is nice to branch out a bit. Branch out into fancy foods, even if Rob is away.

The joke is on you. This may look impressive, but it is still very easy to make.

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is finally getting its time in the limelight. Is cauliflower the new kale? Roasted, riced, pureed, mashed, curried, I have done it all. The last one on my hit-list was to make cauliflower steaks.

Basically, you roast or bake thick slabs of cauliflower and season them in any combination of flavours. I think it was Denis Cotter, in For The Love of Food, who admitted he could only ever get 2 steaks from one head of cauliflower.  He is correct. Try carefully cutting cauliflower and you will still end up with cauliflower carnage. But at least I procured two cauliflower steaks along with some bigger chunks.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomatoes and Capers

For this version of cauliflower steaks, I opted to pan-roast the cauliflower, creating a lovely layer of caramelization. It is flavoured simply, with tomatoes, capers, garlic, chile flakes and salt and pepper (do not skimp on the seasoning). And the neatest part of this recipe? I used the whole head of cauliflower, leaves and all. (I used the leftover cauliflower crumbles in the raw caramel apple). Gosh only knows why I always used to discard cauliflower leaves, but it is an edible green. Like bok choy, the stems are thick and crunchy and the bitty leaves are like baby greens. It all went into the dish.

In truth, I served this with a healthy blob of hummus on the side. After which, I reminded myself of Susan’s hummus-crusted cauliflower steak recipe I had bookmarked. Next time, for sure. :)

Have you ever eaten cauliflower greens?

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Tomatoes and Capers

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Graziana, and Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

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Tomato-Basil Zucchini Noodle Salad

Posted in Salads by Janet M on August 7, 2013

Tomato-Basil Zucchini Noodle Salad

You don’t know how good you had it until you leave.

Except I already knew how great Toronto was… Sure, it had its quirks but it has been my favourite city to live in.

This weekend, Rob and I watched a movie that epitomized why I adore Toronto, and then some. Take This Waltz unashamedly showcases the beauty of Toronto. The colourful palate of Parkdale, the quirkiness of Kensington Market (although, to be fair, I have never seen a picnic bench outside Essence of Life) and the touristy rickety rickshaws. Despite living in Toronto for 5 years, both of us discovered more fun things about Toronto. There is an indoor scrambler at Centreville, complete with dance music and lights.  Even I think that sounds awesome!

Despite Hannah’s latest ode to Toronto, complete with Kensington jenga and mung bean ice cream, my heart tugs only gently.

In the meantime, while I am accumulating more ideas for things to see and do when I return, I am focusing on where I am now. Because, you know what – Houston is pretty awesome, too! My time here will be short, so I better capitalize on these evenings which are a balmy 25C. Perfect when relaxing/napping on a hilltop while next to an outdoor Shakespeare performance.

And that mung bean ice cream? I bet it can’t compare to Ripe’s (vegan, homemade) coconut-almond peanut butter ice cream with chocolate chips and date caramel. (SOOO good!)

Anyways, it is salad week. Here is a simple zucchini noodle salad with a bruschetta-like topping with tomatoes, basil and garlic. Late summer in a bowl. A salad in another form, without leafy greens, but with long zucchini noodles. The next time I made this, I added chopped almonds for a bit more crunch. Delicious!

Tomato-Basil Zucchini Noodle Salad

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

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Zucchini “Meatballs” and Tomato-Curry Sauce with Almond Parmesan (aka Vegan Indian Spaghetti and ‘Meatballs’)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on June 18, 2013


I used to wonder if my Indian dishes were up to snuff. It has been so long since I had been to an Indian restaurant, that I have nothing for a comparison. I usually rely on Rob’s opinion, who eats out more than I do. While on my many travels last year, I stumbled upon a highly rated Indian resto that had quite a few vegan options. I helped myself to the vegetarian platter and while I ate it, the only thing I could of was that I could make better Indian food at home. Not that the food was bad; only my curries are much better, if I may say so myself. Rob has taught me well. Furthermore, I can control the level of spiciness and the amount of added oil (no deep-fried belly aches), making dishes that are truly perfect for me.

Another advantage of cooking Indian at home is that you can go totally crazy, too.  Crazy in the foodie-sense, of course.  Have you ever seen an Indian dish with noodles? Italian meets Indian. Sounds like a perfect description of Joanne, who shared the lovely recipe.

Here, we have spiced zucchini and chickpea meatballs (aka kofta) that are baked, not fried. They are served overtop a tomato-curry sauce. The next question was what to serve this with. You could go with rice to return to the Indian base, but Joanne served it with polenta. I wanted to continue with the Indian spaghetti theme. Therefore, I used zucchini noodles and made a raw almond parmesan topping. Cooked meets raw. Zucchini on zucchini. Craziness, pure craziness,  I tell you… but all in a good way. :)

If you think I am just tooting my own horn, I urge you to try our favourite Indian dishes and decide yourself:

Nepalese Mountain Lentil Curry (Dal Bhat)
Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime

Indian Lentils with Spinach (Dal Palak)
Plantain, Cabbage and Coconut Curry with Split Pigeon Peas (Indian Cabbage and Plantain Kootu)

Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango (Mango Curry with Toor Dal)
Indian Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Chickpeas (Baingan Bharta with Chickpeas)
Indian Eggplant and Lentil Curry (Dal Bhat Meets Baingan Bharta)
Butternut Squash, Coconut, and Lentil Stew (Aarti’s Indian Summer Stew)
Cauliflower, Spinach and Chickpea Balti
Tamarind Lentils
Indian Chickpea and Collard Roulade with a Tomato-Mustard Sauce
Malai Koftas with Chaat Masala
Baked Lemon Cilantro Pakoras

This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please for nuts and to this month’s Pantry Party for cheese.

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Creamy Mushroom Tomato Pasta

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on June 2, 2013

Creamy Mushroom Tomato Pasta

What is the most underrated herb?

Some herbs get all the love: basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano and mint were easy picks when I started my herb garden a few years ago. I also planted sage last year since it was easy to grow, while still mostly unfamiliar. I also really enjoy lemon verbena, although I only ever used it as a tisane (it would make delicious ice cream, though).

Sadly, most of my herbs died over the winter, despite living in the warm comfort of our kitchen. One plant was hardy enough to survive our kitchen winter and popped its head out again: chives. And despite growing them for 3 summers, I rarely used them in my cooking.

While I caved and bought some new plants last month (it was Red Russian kale! and basil!) at my local grocer, my basil has not yet grown enough for a harvest just yet. So, I improvised for this recipe. A chunky yet creamy tomato mushroom sauce. Yes, fresh basil would be delightful. I compromised. Instead, I used dried basil and added fresh chives. (I thought perhaps some pesto could substitute for the fresh basil but my Mom suggested going with the chives instead).

My Mom did not lead me astray: it was very good.  This is a quick-and-easy chunky tomato sauce, with big chunks of tomato, chopped mushrooms and giant corona beans that I snuck in at the last moment. Just like when I made The World’s Healthiest Bolognese Sauce, nutritional yeast added creaminess with a hint of cheesiness. The dried herbs worked well and the chives gave a different twist to the sauce.  Next time, though, I may try the tomato-pesto sauce, too – it isn’t a novel idea.

Although I wanted to serve this with soba noodles, the sauce was too chunky for such delicate pasta. Instead, I pulled out a chunky noodle. We have tried a few bean-based pastas, but this was a different brand and a different bean. Made with chickpeas but still fusilli, though. A fun shape and it worked well with the sauce.

Creamy Mushroom Tomato Pasta

This is my submission this month‘s Simple and In Season and to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday.

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Naked Oats with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Crumbled Tempeh

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on May 30, 2013

Can oats taste like rice?

The folks who sell Cavena Nuda seem to think so.

I disagree.

Cavena Nuda is a Canadian innovation: a new hull-less form of oats. The oat grows with the hull, but it falls off much more easily than standard oats. Regular oats need to be heated and milled until they can be de-hulled. As such, they are more environmentally sound and nutritionally superior to regular oats. After Angela tried them, it took me a while to find them but I eventually located it at Ambrosia and later at Bulk Barn.

They don’t taste like oats, though. Cavena nuda is the complete oat kernel, so while they are in the shape of rice, they remind me more of farro or oblong wheat berries than rice per se.

That didn’t stop me from trying to cook it into a risotto-style dish, though. Lacking rice and cheese, I am hard pressed to call this a risotto but it is a nice meal. Since it has a few components, this is a dish that will dirty up a few pots but it is delicious and worth the effort. To simplify the recipe, you could skip the tempeh as it was good even without it, although it adds a flavourful protein component.

Here, you cook up the cavena nuda (or farro, or rice, or even orzo as Isa suggests), which is added to some cooked onions, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Spinach is wilted at the end. The topping is a crumbled tempeh spiced with fennel and coriander. It is a nice addition but certainly not necessary if you are short on time, or short on tempeh. ;)

Other dishes with farro I’ve spotted:

Scarlet Rosemary Chickpea Farrotto from Keepin It Kind
Farrotto with Tomato and Artichokes
from Eating Well
Farrotto with Shiitake Mushrooms and Beets from TasteFood
Spiced sprouting broccoli with roast parsnip farrotto and citrus-rosemary butter from For the Love of Food
Purple sprouting broccoli with leek and shallot farrotto from Denis Cotter at BBC
Risotto-Style Farro with Caramelized Onions, Squash, and Kale from Cate’s World Kitchen
Baked Coconut Kale Salad with Farro from Super Natural Every Day
Farro and Millet Risotto from 101 Cookbooks

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lucia, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday and to and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Rosemary Mushroom Risotto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on March 24, 2013

Do you ever reminisce about the glory days?

Back when I could juggle everything. Back when I didn’t have to crack down on studying?

I never seem to have enough time these days. I can’t study the way I used to. It is harder now.

I feel more liberated in the kitchen, though, with help from Rob and a wealth of favourite recipes. A choice of dressing and 1 or 2 other dishes makes my weekly cooking complete.

While I have moved my herbs indoors over the winter (and most of them died, boo), I never really felt like I had enough thyme this summer, either. My grilled portobello mushrooms with garlic and thyme were a common sighting at barbecues and many of my dishes use thyme (lemon-kissed tomato barley risotto, tomato-pomegranate vinaigrette, etc). My piddly thyme plant was nearly always being scavenged.

I thought I planned for success in the rosemary department, because I have 3 plants. But I never seem to have enough rosemary, either! One batch of Rosemary Pistachio Hummus, and my plants are wiped clean.   A month later, I may try again. Thankfully this week, I had enough to make this rosemary mushroom risotto. Another great dish from Tess.

An uber simple dish, this is a creamy brown rice side speckled with oyster mushrooms focusing on a strong garlic-rosemary flavour. How easy is this? Toss everything into a pot. Don’t worry about the mushrooms if they aren’t pre-sliced, add them in 10 minutes later, no problem. While the rice is boiling, pluck your rosemary and have it ready for when the rice is finished. {Or if you are like me, you can make a whole other quickie-meal while waiting for the brown rice to cook!}

Cooking the rice in almond milk makes this creamy but using the seasoning makes this still taste like it was boiled in a flavourful vegetable broth. I didn’t feel like it needed more than 1 tbsp of oil, but Tess suggests adding more. This isn’t your typical risotto, as the rice still had a bit of bite (which I enjoyed for texture), but certainly a heck of a lot easier and a lot healthier without any cheese or butter.

This is my submission to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday.

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Roasted Vegetable Ribollita

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on March 5, 2013

I am loving the conversations from the last post about the evidence surrounding eating a Mediterranean diet. The New York Times wrote a follow-up article that summarizes my feelings pretty closely: there is a surprising lack of evidence for nutritional recommendations. While in medical school, I remember being taught that the only thing shown to keep weight loss on long-term was bariatric surgery. Perhaps that is because the proper studies have not be done. To be fair, I learned the DASH diet with was better than any single medication to reduce high blood pressure. Hopefully, the flurry of interest from this past study will propel researchers to investigate plant-based whole foods eats. The New York Times suggested a vegan diet is not a long-term option, but I disagree.

Onwards with another Mediterranean meal? Vegan AND delicious? :)

I love it when I know it is going to be a good week. By Sunday, after I do my batch cooking and a bit of taste testing, I have a good idea how my meals will be for the week. Flops or wins? I never seem to know with these Random Recipes.

This one was a big win!

Dom pushed us to randomly pick a recipe from our (physical) recipe pile. I still like to print out my recipes for the week and sometimes throw in bonus recipes if there is empty space on my page. While cleaning the kitchen table, I decided to tackle one of my recent but neglected clipped out recipes.

Sometimes I am blown away by the simplicity of good food. I wasn’t expecting this to taste so good as it did, so I was pleased to have such great tasting lunches all week.

This recipe was for a ribollita, an Italian peasant soup featuring vegetable soup with day-old bread.  Most versions use leftover vegetable soup, but here we create a complex soup simply from roasted vegetables. Roasted fennel was new to me, but I really liked the medley from roasted red peppers, zucchinis, carrots, mushrooms and onions. White beans add bulk and the giant corona white beans were a perfect match to the chunky vegetables. Sliced cabbage added an almost noodle-like feel with some structure to the vegetable soup. I added both tomato paste and red pepper paste to the broth simply because I was too lazy to open a new can of tomato paste. I really liked the deep flavours from both pastes, but feel free to use only tomato paste if that is what you have on hand. I omitted the bread completely, so I doubt this is still a ribollita proper, but it sounds like a wonderful addition for this hearty soup.

Which soups are warming your belly this winter?

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s Random Recipe.

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Nut-Free Raw Lasagna

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 30, 2012

The summer is winding down and this will be the last of my Raw Thursdays. Not because I won’t be cooking, or uncooking raw foods. Because I feel I like be concentrating a bit more on work and three posts a week seems better for now.

One reason why I started adding an extra raw recipe each week was because I wanted to highlight how easy and tasty they can be. Indeed, I have posted raw recipes even when it hasn’t been a Thursday post. Summer just brings out the best raw cuisine.

However, I know not everyone likes raw. I feel bad for my buddies in Vancouver. Whenever I visit, I drag them to yet another raw restaurant. My experiences seem to be better than theirs, despite being at the same restaurant. The first time, my friend was sick afterwards…. Me? I went back a second time and enjoyed my meal again! The next time I visited, we tried another raw restaurant. I liked my meal. My friends, not as much, even though they picked cooked options. My friend confided to me that she finds raw cooking pretty bland.

Honestly, I find raw cuisine to be the complete opposite. This is why I keep hoping to convince them otherwise. I love how inventive and flavourful raw cuisine can be. However, I know that is not always the case.  I try not to order veggie burgers, pates, hummus or falafels because I am usually disappointed. Sometimes the flavours can be muddled. Instead, I gravitate to hearty salads, Mexican dishes like tacos, or Italian meals like vegetable lasagna. However, in restos, these can be quite heavy and filling meals from the use of nuts. At home, I can make it my way!

No stranger to zucchini used as pasta, I finally decided to make a raw lasagna when I found one nearly entirely made from veggies. No nuts. A bit of seeds. After preparing a couple of sauces, this was a simple dinner to put together. Instead of making a huge tray of lasagna (remember the Mexican zucchini lasagna?), I opted to make individual servings instead.

Layers of thinly sliced zucchini are alternated with a cauliflower-based creamy cheese sauce and a flavourful tomato marinara sauce. A basil pesto works well to tie this into an Italian masterpiece.

A common complaint is when raw lasagnas are served chilled, so feel free to throw it into a dehydrator for 30 minutes to warm it up. Delicious!

This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth, to Raw Food Thursdays, to Healthy Vegan Fridays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and to My Kitchen, My World for Italy.

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Lemon-Kissed Tomato Barley Risotto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on August 20, 2012

I was all ready to share with you some tasty zucchini-centric meals this week.

However, my zucchinis  were side-lined in the fridge once I went on a mission to find tomatoes. It is easy to find red imposters. You know, the things that look like tomatoes but don’t taste like tomatoes… but I wanted summer fresh tomatoes. My quest brought me to my closest farmer’s market where I quickly scurried from stall to stall, sniffing their tomatoes. Sniffing out the imposters.

Sadly, unlike the Jean Talon market in Montreal, there are limited samples so I had to resort to my nose to find the best tomatoes.

All of a sudden, it hit me. Tomato. I smelled it. I found my winning tomatoes. Bright red smallish heirloom tomatoes that looked lumpy and stout.  The flavour did not disappoint. I brought home 2 pints to make this risotto I had bookmarked last year, waiting for this summer’s tomato bounty.

Super simple to make, I can’t believe it has been so long since I’ve made a risotto. Dump all the ingredients into a pot, let it simmer until the barley is tender. Towards the end, I kept adding more and more stock until a creamy, yet chewy barley risotto was attained. Positively drenched in silky tomatoes, speckled with chunks of garlic, with a hint of lemon and thyme and a depthness from smoked paprika, this made a delicious end-of-summer meal.

Sadly, now that I have re-discovered barley risottos, I have very little barley left. I don’t plan on replenishing it, either. I suppose I will have to try out spelt berries risottos, instead!

Of course the real quandary is whether to buy a HUGE bushel crate of San Marzano tomatoes. A Portuguese grocer near my home is selling them for $19. I bet they would be wonderful all roasted and I could try my hand at canning. But could I eat my way through all of the tomatoes?

Here are some other whole grain risottos I have my eye on:

Rustic Rebel Risotto from Radiance 4 Life
Red Beet Risotto with Walnuts from Big Vegan
Easy Creamy Tomato Barley Risotto from Vegan Yum Yum
Creamy Barley Risotto with Thyme and Star Anise from Let Them Eat Vegan
Tempeh Orzilla from Post Punk Kitchen
Pesto Risotto with Roasted Zucchini from Post Punk Kitchen
Saffron Speltotto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes from River Cottage

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this week’s Eat Make Grow, and to My Kitchen, My World for Italy.

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Pizza Bella (Raw Portobello Pizza)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 9, 2012

Are you tired of wraps and salads but still want to pack in your veggies?

Enter Pizza Bella: a raw portobello mushroom pizza.

Since our move, Rob and I have lost easy access to a barbecue but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying portobello mushrooms. I still adore grilled portobello bliss but variety is the spice of life. With my leftover cocktail sauce from the Raw King Oyster “Calamari”, I knew I wanted to use it towards pizza on a fungi.

In fact, my idea for this came from my visit to Houston, where I had a similar meal from Pat Greer’s Kitchen (see Ashley’s Pizza Bella review here). Everyone keeps reminding me that Houston is America’s fattest city and they only eat meat. I protest, you can find healthy take-away foods, even in Houston: you just need to know where to look. When I had my interview in Houston, I wasn’t able to visit the store front of Pat Greer’s Kitchen, but with advance ordering, she was able to deliver her foods to a nearby My Fit Foods store.  With a few fresh, raw meals now packed in my hotel mini-fridge, I was all set to bring my A game for my marathon of interviews.

Pat’s Pizza Bella: made with breath, love, and portabella mushroom, and organic: sunflower seeds, cashews, carrots, zucchini, wild kalamata olives, local tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, dried basil, dried oregano, tahini, garlic powder, and sea salt

What I was most impressed at was that the mushroom seemed to be raw. I wasn’t even sure it was marinaded, but as a raw mushroom, it kept its shape well while holding a nice tomato sauce, a sunflower-cashew cheese, topped with spiralized zucchini, olives and carrots.

For my version, I opted to marinate the mushroom in a touch of apple cider vinegar to soften it slightly as I prepped my sauces. My tomato sauce was ready-to-go but now I had to decide on a cheese flavour. In the end, I went with Gena’s Italian cashew cheese flavoured with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil. I made it with my food processor, instead of my Vitamix, hoping to get a more cheese-like consistency, but it still was no match to real ricotta cheese. It still tasted great, though, and worked really well with the contrast from the lemon-tomato sauce.  I like the shredded zucchini and olives from Pat’s version, so I included that, along with a mound of sprouts as toppings.

I ran out of mushrooms, so I ended up freezing the extra cashew cheese in ice cube trays, so I can pop them out whenever I want a single serving of pizza cheese (thanks for the tip, Zoa!). This set of ingredients would also work well in a collard wrap, or overtop zucchini noodles.

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Susan, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for mushrooms, and to this week’s Raw Thursdays.

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Chickpea Piccata

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 9, 2012

While I typically bring food when I eat out, when I went home for Christmas, my Mom didn’t want me to cook. She wanted this to be a relaxing visit and thought that if I was cooking in the kitchen, I wouldn’t be on vacation. Trust me, I relish cooking, but it was wonderful to know that my Mom had already prepared some meals for me to enjoy.

Prior to arriving, at her request, I suggested a few possible meals. Some dishes that I had already made myself, but mostly dishes that I had bookmarked for a special occasion. My mom was so awesome that she went out of her way to make I didn’t feel left out: when everyone had her delicious quiche for brunch, she made my Mediterranean Crustless Chickpea Flour Quiche for me. For Christmas Eve, she made beef bourguignon for the gang and beans bourguignon for me.

For Christmas dinner, I had Chickpea Piccata on the menu. My recent meal at Candle 79 in New York City was a definite highlight with their delicious Seitan Piccata and I was itching to try something similar at home. But with much less work!

With a simple mise-en-place, this Chickpea Piccata from Appetite for Reduction, was easy for me to whip together as my Mom tended to the spaetzle to go with the rouladen.

Thankfully, this Chickpea Piccata did not disappoint. It had the perfect blend of flavours, with a not-too-tart lemon-caper-shallot sauce overtop braised chickpeas. I served it over spinach with a side of mashed parsnips. To be honest, for such a healthy meal, there is no need to reserve this solely for a special occasion. This definitely gets filed in the “You Can Make this For Me Anytime” category.


This is being submitted to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this month’s citrus love blog hop and to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Italian Stew with Winter Squash and Chickpeas

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 21, 2011

When I posted my favourite recipes from 2010, I found it amusing that phoo-d astutely pointed out that I love chickpeas. I knew I liked them, but it wasn’t until I noticed that 4 recipes had chickpeas, that some of my most memorable meals have involved these nutty gems. As I delve into more meals that focus on vegetables, beans and whole grains, chickpeas and other beans have become more prominent in my kitchen. I have also been trying to integrate more nutrient-packed foods into my meals, spurred mainly by these vegetable ratings.

I was obviously tickled pink when I found this spin on Italian minestrone with chickpeas, butternut squash, kale, red pepper and tomatoes in Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. Oh, and carrots, too. A rainbow for the soul: every ingredient is chock-full of nutrients. Adapted, slightly, from this recipe, this is a mix of superfoods simmered in a basil-thyme broth. A splash of red wine vinegar at the end is an important part to lighten the dish.  The flavours worked really well together, creating a light, healthy and hearty stew.  I didn’t even serve it with a grain, it was that filling. This was a cheery, warm hug during a dreary winter.

This is my submission for this month’s My Kitchen, My World, featuring Italian cuisine, and E.A.T. World for Italy.

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Thyme Lentils over Polenta

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 7, 2011

I was apprehensive about making this recipe on a weeknight. However, when I told Rob about my top three options for dinner, he encouraged me to try the Rosemary Lentils over Polenta from Supermarket Vegan.

You see, I have made polenta before – a creamy, smooth, polenta with a roasted red pepper coulis – and it was delicious. However, it took me (well, technically, my brother who was over that day) 45 minutes to get the polenta to the right consistency. I didn’t really feel like stirring polenta over the stovetop after I came home from work. But I decided to forge ahead anyhow…

Low and behold, instead of grabbing the coarse cornmeal, I took out the fine cornmeal.  And if there ever was instant polenta, this would be it! Within minutes, it had firmed up and was ready to set. Granted, this polenta was not nearly as creamy as last time (that recipe had used milk and a smidgen of cheese, but I am sure the coarse cornmeal had something to do with it). But in this case, I didn’t really mind. The firm, garlicky polenta contrasted nicely with the soupy herb-infused lentils. Just like the texture contrast in the Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Stew, the play of textures worked very well together. It wasn’t mush on mush, it was soup on firm. ;)

However, there was one casualty when I cooked mid-week. I thought I was making Rosemary Lentils. A few days later, I realized I had made Thyme Lentils, instead, as I grabbed the wrong herb and my brain didn’t say ‘stop! this isn’t rosemary!’. This also might explain why the flavour was a lot more subtle than I had anticipated. However, it was exactly what I wanted. This was not a flavour explosion; sometimes I need the quiet, too.

This meal is great post-holiday indulgences. The lentils are light and fresh and the polenta is hearty and offers a nice balance.  The leftovers were great with a little zap in the microwave, although the lentil stew was less soupy.


This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything.

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