the taste space

Blueberry, Lentil and Walnut Spinach Salad with a Blueberry Tarragon Dressing

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on August 24, 2012

Rob and I like to name rename things. People. Animals. You name it, and we’ll rename it.

The previous tenant in the basement had a cat. A big, fluffy black cat that would watch us whenever we were in the backyard. It took us a while to figure out his name. By that time we had christened him with a new name: Muffin.

A dog followed us for a few days while on our jungle trek in Colombia. Rob named him Danger Dog.

After our recent Colombian adventures, our new home also has been christened with a Spanish name: Casa Tarragona.

Thankfully a late summer purchase was a new tarragon plant.

I first tried tarragon last year and since discovered it is an easy-to-grow perennial. Tarragon has a subtle anise flavour that I like, even though I don’t like licorice. Here, I pair it with blueberries in a delicious dressing sweetened by dates. Coconut-sauteed onions make this a luscious dressing with a hint of citrus from the lemon.

Wanting a hearty main-course salad, I paired it with French du Puy lentils and spinach. Toasted walnuts add a satisfactory crunch and fresh blueberries provide bursts of sweetness.

Definitely one of my favourite salads, to date, I feel like this is definitely the summer of salads!

What are your favourite ways to use tarragon?

This is my submission to this month’s Herbs on Saturdays, to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Lemon Mediterranean Lentil Salad

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on July 23, 2012

How often do you second guess a recipe? Something just doesn’t seem right… an odd ingredient, a different preparation technique…. what do you do? Try something new or resort to your old habits?

Even a small change in herbs or ingredients can change a meal, and a new technique can have great results. But sometimes, it doesn’t make sense.

Dreena Burton’s recipe for this Lemon Mediterranean Lentil Salad had me scratching my head. Cook my lentils in lemon juice? With oil? Had I not learned my lesson with the Green Mango Curry? Acid makes for firm beans. Even dry-toasting makes beans keep their shape. I want my beans to cook! Heck, I already know that the secret to great lentil salads is to use French du Puy lentils. Quick cooking, they also keep their shape and hold up well to salads.

So, I forged ahead… ignoring the plea to simmer the lentils in lemon juice. Forgoing the suggestion to toast them beforehand.

My mistake: The original recipe didn’t say to drain the lentils. So I didn’t. I should have. The glory of this salad comes from the simmering finale of the herbs and tomatoes with the cooked lentils. The olives, capers and lemon zest add a delicious mix of flavours that permeate the lentils in a great way. Except, because I had omitted the lemon juice and toasting, they kept cooking. They became mushy. Still uber delicious, but not as firm as I prefer for my lentil salads. Not as photogenic as I would like, but this recipe was too delicious not to share pronto. I know I will be remaking this, during the perpetual season of summer potluck gatherings, but I did not want you to be deprived of such a great dish… although may I suggest actually following the recipe? ;) Let me know how it goes!

Here are some other great Mediterranean bean salad recipes:

Warm Mediterranean Chickpea and Spinach Salad
Warm Chickpea and Artichoke Salad
Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Salad

This is my submission to this week’s Summer Salad Sundays, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with Spinach and Caramelized Onions (aka Dal Bhat Meets Mujaddara)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on June 11, 2012

Sentences. Finally.

I mean, I can finally express myself in sentences!

Sorry for the blog auto-pilot for the last 3 weeks… After 2 glorious weeks in Colombia, it was back to the grind, off to work, sifting through oodles of emails, comments and catching up with my favourite blogs.

My second language is French and let’s just say three weeks ago, I knew zero Spanish.

We made sure we had the basics though:

Vegetariana estricta               Vegan

But that might not mean anything, so we had to explain:

Sin carne   

Without meat

Sin pollo

Without chicken

Sin pescado

Without fish

Sin huevos

Without eggs (Really?)

Sin leche

Without milk (I usually had a funny look at this point)

Sin mantequilla

Without butter

We usually stopped there, but I also knew how to say:

Sin pan

Without bread

We got better at explaining what I wanted:

Frutas (fruit!), verdura (vegetables), beans (frijoles), papas (potatoes) and arroz (rice).

other than baños (bathroom), another useful word was aqui (here)

As we learned more about Colombia (Que?), we became a bit more sophisticated and tried to make actual sentences.

Cuánto cuesta? How much does it cost?

Quero jugos naturales en agua sin azucar: I want freshly squeezed juice in water without added sugar!

By the end of our trip, a guide was teaching us the difference between Mucho bueno and Muy bien depending on the context of the sentence. And to greet other friendly men with Compa! and friendly women with Coma!

In any case, I loved my culinary adventures in Colombia, and we planned it so that I could stay vegan throughout the trip.  I had to make a few compromises, and that was by eating white rice (brown rice and quinoa are essentially non-existent in Colombia) and I had more fried foods than I had in the last 3 years (fried plantains and yucca mainly if nothing else was available). But it was ok. That’s what vacations are for.

Now that I am back in my own kitchen, I can return to normal. Pull out some freezer meals. Forge ahead with some comforting pantry-friendly meals.  Rob repeats recipes and sometimes I do, too. This is one of those dishes. Uber comforting.  While I describe this as Dal Bhat meets Mujaddara, this would likely scare off a bunch of people… Too many foreign words thrown in there… But if I call it Fragrant Lentil Rice Soup with Spinach and Crispy Onions, it is much more approachable, and still true to its name.

This comforting dish comes from Melissa Clark’s cookbook, Cook This Now. Savoury spices like cinnamon, cumin, allspice and ginger are combined with creamy red lentils and brown rice (aka dal bhat). Since the spices are aromatized at the beginning of the soup, they don’t pop with as much oomph as dal  bhat, instead they are more mellow. This is a thick soup, with both lentils and rice simmered together, creating an utterly creamy consistency. In mujaddara, the rice and (green) lentils absorb all the water so they are dry, but still fragrant depending on the spices you use. However, the crowning glory of mujaddara are the caramelized onions. Here, onions are caramelized in parallel so that after an hour, you have dark and deeply sweet onions to go with your just finished lentil rice soup. Thus, simple fusion at its finest. Familiar, yet just a subtle twist to both recipes to keep you interested and excited… and a dish I know I can eat again and again.

And it is just so nice to be able to tell you all this in complete sentences. Freedom! :)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays , to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness and to Cookbooks Sundays.

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Creamy Broccoli Dal

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on June 4, 2012

There are many reasons why I love Rob, but one of them is that he is really laid back.  He doesn’t stress out when the fridge is already full and I come home with even more veggies or when I buy, um, another cookbook, or two… I also love the way he approaches cooking: a few staple recipes interspersed with new recipes.

Recently, he’s been culling meals from our favourites. Rob’s Repeater Recipes as I have tagged them on the site: Dal Bhat, Besan Chilla, Tamarind Lentils and this Creamy Broccoli Dal from Vegan Yum Yum. Why mess with success? They fall under “you can make these dishes for me anytime” category. Definitely comfort food.  I have mentioned this delightful dal a few times, but have yet to share the recipe because we didn’t have any photos. Since we usually make this whenever we have a surplus of broccoli, I knew we would eventually capture it at a photogenic angle. I tried… there is something about a slurry of a soup that makes it hard to look as great as it tastes.

This is one of our go-to recipes because it is so packed with flavours. Indian-inspired flavours like cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric, chile flakes and garam masala really make this pop. The red lentils cook away into a creamy background interspersed with bits of broccoli (we use both the florets and stem). If you are anti-bits, just use the stems. If you are anti-broccoli (gasp!), just use the stems, because only the florets give it away that veggies are hidden in here. The almond milk helps to add an extra level of creaminess.

As written, the recipe serves 2-3 people. We’ve realized that doubling it makes the most sense since we like it so much. :)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness  and to Cookbooks Sundays.

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Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Lime

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on May 30, 2012

For the seasoned bloggers and blog-readers out there, when reading recipes, how often to you think to yourself: Oh yeah, I’ve made something similar to that before… move on…

I rarely repeat recipes, and sometimes even shy away from ones that look similar to ones I’ve made before. It is all about variety! The more, the merrier!

While I have made some really delicious red lentil soups, mostly with lemon (lemon+cumin+cilantro=fantastic), I was still intrigued by Deborah Madison’s Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Lime from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Both soups have similarities: red lentils, cumin, cilantro, onion and citrus.

The differences: tomato paste vs yellow mustard. Spinach, too. (The original recipe also called for yogurt and rice, both of which I omitted)

This soup just goes to show you how a simple change in seasoning can drastically alter a dish. Both equally delicious, yet completely different.

In this soup, you have a savoury red lentil soup flavoured primarily by mustard, oh yes mustard, with a hint cumin, sweetened by the spinach, then livened by the cilantro and fresh lime juice. They work so well together. And yes, this time my yellow mustard seeds did not disappoint! I am positively smitten by mustard. What are your favourite recipes with mustard?


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

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Root Vegetable Mulligatawny

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on April 16, 2012

I know you raised an eyebrow when I posted the recipe for Banana Naan. Bread flour, what?!

Let me assure you that for my Indian Easter, I continued with the clean out my kitchen mantra and no-more-buying things for the pantry moratorium with the Janet-friendly part of the meal.

I had been eyeing Sarah’s Mulligatawny Soup ever since she posted it in January. My Mom told me not to stress about the meals, so I scoped out recipes that I could make with the produce I already had (we happened to be fortunate that cauliflower was on sale for $1/head for our pakoras). Almost everything else had been squirreled away in my freezer, or living without a purpose in my fridge (I was looking at half a celeriac and half a kabocha squash!). While Sarah also provided the recipe for the Celeriac and Pumpkin Curry, they don’t taste remotely similar.

Mulligatawny is a British Indian curry-flavoured soup and literally means “pepper water”. However, recipes seem to be so varied that anything goes. Tess‘ version of mulligatawny is primarily red lentils, lemon and cilantro, whereas this is a creamy, tomato-spiked vegetable curry-soup brightened with tamarind. The leftovers were definitely more of a curry consistency.

Preparing a huge batch of soup in advance is a great way to relieve the stressful prep before a large meal. However, I didn’t fully appreciate how much soup I would be making. Sarah suggested it would serve a crowd, and she didn’t lie. We definitely already had enough food to feed an army along with the pakoras, 2 other curries [Malai Koftas, and a Spinach Chana Dal curry], a couscous pilaf salad and dessert. Oh, and we bought naan, too. Those recipes are still forthcoming, no worries!

Why did we make such a feast? 1) To make sure there was something for everyone to enjoy; and 2) No cooking required for the rest of the weekend since we’d be eating the leftovers.

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Sunday Night Soup Night and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Celeriac and Pumpkin Curry

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on March 19, 2012

Celeriac. Pumpkin. Could I be sharing any more autumn-like produce?

As I am munching away through my freezer before our next move, I am rediscovering meals that I should have blogged about but for some reason, I haven’t!

I am a long-standing proponent of leftovers but oddly enough, when I stash leftovers in the freezer, they kind of sit there for a while. Freshly made meals are always my go-to choice, but I have some real gems being unearthed these days.

I have  become a bit more accustomed to the tamer curries that are made with curry powder, red lentils and an assortment of veggies. I really liked the Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal and since celeriac was my favourite veggie this winter, I was eager to try my hand at a similar stewy curry from Sarah. Typically, potatoes are used in Indian cooking but here, celeriac adds a different dimension which complements the sweetness from the pumpkin.  I also loved the addition of the spinach thrown in for good green measure. I usually don’t freeze meals that use greens, but these leftovers are ok from the freezer.

By the way, does anyone know what kind of pumpkin is sold in stores that are cut into large wedges? They are labelled as Ontario pumpkins, but I have no clue what kind they are… I don’t cook with the jack-o-lantern pumpkins, but this was definitely a pumpkin for cooking. :)

This is being submitted to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Roasted Celeriac and Lentils with Hazelnuts and Mint

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 8, 2012

I loved hearing how you decide to share your blog with your friends and co-workers after my last post. As Joanne said, sometimes there are clues that a blog may be lurking in the background, or at least a true love of cooking. Rarely repeated lunches, guilty as charged. Beyond that, I try not to share my profound love of beans with just anyone.  I don’t want to be perceived as preachy once I start talking about my food choices (no meat, dairy, fish, refined flours, refined sugars, white rice and potatoes, etc). You know you are my friend when I discuss the virtues of lentils over chickpeas. Although walking into my kitchen, with its rows of dried beans are a quick giveaway. If you make it up into my study, then my collection of cookbooks is a dead giveaway that I love to cook.

I have a lot of cookbooks. A lot. Recently, I won a subscription to Eat Your Books, a website that indexes cookbook recipes for easier searching. Sadly, my most loved cookbooks (namely my vegan faves) have not yet been indexed (the scourge of Tess’ cookbooks being not-so-mainstream). However, this allows me to check out some of my other cookbooks, that I would not have pulled off the shelf simply because they are not vegan. The best recipes are those that are accidentally vegan. They aren’t trying to be something meaty.

I recently made a delicious celeriac and white bean puree from Terry’s new cookbook. I know her cookbook will get lambasted for using the most isoteric ingredients, but I love it because my kitchen is stocked with all things isoteric and I have bought even more pantry items! I also push myself to try new vegetables. Despite hating celery, I scoped out celeriac, also known as celery root. Sunny’s for the win, after the St Lawrence Market was out that week. And yes, it is now my newest favourite root vegetable. An underdog if you ever looked at it; it is a white/grey/dirty thing all gnarled up in roots. But as a non-starchy vegetable root (not part of the cruciferous gang, sadly), it tastes like a cross between a potato and has the nice parts of celery: a sweet, yet subtle earthy celery taste. It tastes a bit nutty with hints of lemon, too.

So, when I was left with half a celeriac, I turned to Eat Your Books. I found an intriguing celeriac schnitzel in my German cookbook (here‘s Bittman’s version), lots of mashes, a lot of soups, some slaws and salads. I will have to get more celeriac to try all the recipes! However, this time I was drawn to a vegan-friendly lentil salad with celeriac from Ottlenghi’s Plenty (similar recipe here).

Of course, I adapted the recipe. Instead of boiling the celeriac, I opted to roast it. I also decreased the dressing, making it less oily and I tried to play up the hazelnut flavour by pairing the hazelnut oil with a mild rice vinegar (it would be interesting to try this with a balsamic, me thinks). However, the majority of the hazelnut taste came from the roasted hazelnuts, instead. I liked the juxtaposition of warming hazelnut with the roasted celeriac, earthy lentils and bright mint. It is a nice, unassuming salad and a great way to introduce someone to celeriac.

This is being submitted to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring Heart Healthy Meals.

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Spiced Red Lentil Pancakes

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on February 6, 2012

Most food bloggers have non-foodie day jobs. Tell me, do you share your blog with your co-workers, with your supervisors? Would you include it on your CV?

I work in the medical field. I am a doctor, although still in training during my residency.

Suffice it to say, I work in a very conservative field.

I recently applied for a fellowship after I graduate. In about 16 months. My applications went in 21 months before the position started (I think it is just as ludicrous as you). I polished off my CV, highlighting my clinical and research experience. Thankfully I didn’t have to follow a resume template, so I debated whether to include my “other interests”. One of my mentors told me casual hobbies/interests like “cooking”, “cycling”, etc should be excluded unless you earn medals. Telling me you love to cook, tells me you love to eat, he said. And what is special about that?

In the end, I decided to highlight extracurricular achievements. I highlighted that my recipes had been included in Canadian Living; I currently maintain this blog promoting healthy recipes; and I listed the supported cycling trips that I have done over 300 km.

While I tend to keep my blog on the down-low from my supervisors, I have shared it with other residents.

Including this information wouldn’t hurt me as an applicant (right?) and if anything it would give them something to talk about, other than my very interesting research.

At one hospital, I was interviewed consecutively by 10 people. As you are probably thinking, this could be pretty intimidating! However, the group was really approachable and open, and they relished talking about my research and non-research interests. More than one had my blog on their computer screen!

Sharing your blog with co-workers can be such a nerve-wracking experience. I absolutely adore the food blogging community I have joined, but I know that my food preferences are in the minority. Especially in Texas. In fact, being someone who blogs about said food seems even more ludicrous, eh? I would have thought the same thing three years ago, but really, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

Food blogging is something special. A place for me to express myself, both through writing, photography and culinary creativity. It also exposes my vulnerability, hence my shyness with co-workers.

But please do share with me how you share your blog.

And… so about these pancakes. I bookmarked them after seeing them on Joanne’s blog, but she kindly she reminded me of them after I posted about Besan Chilla.

Sometimes I find vegetable-based dishes that scream “I need some protein!”. Instead of adding a bean or grain to the dish, this time I opted for a side of beans in pancake form. ;)

These pancakes have a similar texture to the potato pancakes I ate as a child due to the shredded carrot. However, the flavour is anything but bland as they are spiced with ginger, garlic, onion and garam masala. Other than veganizing the recipe by substituting the chia for egg, I also decreased the garam masala from Joanne’s original recipe and found them great as-is. They could be eaten as a simple pancake with a side of chutney, or a nice salad, or with a mild curry.

Rob and I ate them with the Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Eggplant and Pineapple to beef up the meal. We found that when we smothered them with the curry sauce, it almost tasted like schnitzel. Texture-wise. I know, so weird, but true.


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Astrid.

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Warm Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions and Brussels Sprouts

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on December 28, 2011

When we asked my kitchen-challenged friend if we could pick up anything from the grocery store for her, she asked for Brussels sprouts.

WHAT?!

Of all things, she wanted Brussels sprouts.

Nothing in her fridge and freezer other than drinks and some frozen dinners, and she asks for Brussels sprouts?!

She explained that she loves to microwave them and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Delicious, she assured us.

My curiosity was piqued. I will confess, I have never had Brussels sprouts. My mom doesn’t like them so she never served them. Thus, I have never eaten them.

Then, I start seeing recipes for them all over the place! Here I am, seeing recipe after recipe involving the sproutsBloggers adore them.

Some people may be tempted by elaborate cakes and cookies, whereas I am in a tizzy by new vegetables. There are so many (cruciferous) vegetables I have yet to try. Today is the the day to try something new.

I noticed a trend: people like their sprouts caramelized either through roasting or pan-frying. They like to be off-set with something sweet – caramelized onions or shallots, or even dried fruit, then finished with nuts for crunch. Usually served as a side, I wanted to beef them up as a main-course salad. Enter the lentils.

I based this dish off of my Mujaddara, which is a Middle Eastern dish lentil and rice dish with caramelized onions. I replaced the rice with caramelized roasted Brussels sprouts, omitted the cinnamon from the simmering lentils and added some toasted pecans. A simple warm salad that is more than the sum of its parts. The earthy lentils lend a base of the sweet yet earthy sprouts, contrasted by the sweet caramelized onions with a crunch from toasted pecans. And the Brussels sprouts? They taste like little dense cabbage. Sweet, after the roasting. I think I’ve found a new veggie friend. :)


This is my submission to My Kitchen, My World for Belgium, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on December 12, 2011

(Sorry, let me sneak in one fabulous main dish this week before we get the cookie bonanza)

On the love-like scale, I gave this a love. Rob gave it a low like. A 5/10 is definitely a fail in my regards. While testing recipes for Terry’s new book, more and more recipes fell in the “Rob loves this more than Janet” category. Not Rob loves the food more than me, but he loved the food more than I loved the food… kapiche? ;)

Testing recipes has been a nice adventure for us to learn more about our cooking and eating preferences. Rob loved the Curry Laksa with Oyster Mushrooms, whereas I wasn’t as smitten. The spicy fastlane cabbage kimchi was way too spicy for me (1/2 cup of Korean pepper flakes!), but Rob loved it in small amounts. I adored the mild ginger kimchi option, though. Likewise, the jigae (kimchi, tofu and eggplant stew) was too spicy for me again, but Rob enjoyed it. In Rob’s quest to make an authentic Massaman curry, he found a winner here, but I wasn’t as sold. Meanwhile, I found my mojo with the Middle Eastern dishes in the book like the Sweet Autumn Toasted Pita and Kale Salad (a Fattoush knock-off), the Moroccan Vegetable Couscous, the Ethiopian Yellow Split Peas with Chard and Tomatoes and the delicious French-inspired White Bean and Celery Root Puree. We both loved the Venezuelan-style Tofu Sofrito Scramble, though. :)

This Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal came from Appetite for Reduction (recipe here) and I thought Rob would like it- a red lentil curry, complete with ginger, curry powder, coriander, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon, complemented with a host of root vegetables: carrot, parsnip and turnip (did you spot the cruciferous vegetable?). A quick and healthy recipe, it was also up my alley. Turns out the word curry threw Rob off – he found it to be blander than anticipated. Meanwhile, I adored it! This time, I snatched the leftovers! The vegetables make this a sweet curry and I thought this complemented the savoury spices well. For the curry novices out there, there was no hint of curry powder taste… unless you decide to add more! I found this perfecto as written.

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

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Indian Eggplant and Lentil Curry (Dal Bhat Meets Baingan Bharta)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on November 11, 2011


There is always something fun going on in our kitchen….

As Rob likes to say, if something hasn’t been dropped while he’s cooked, then he hasn’t really cooked.

My nemesis in the kitchen is having my water boil over while I make steel-cut oats. I swear, it happens nearly every week. Mostly because after I get my oats simmering, I usually wander away to do other things… load/unload the dishwasher, get dressed, etc… and then I hear sputtering and I’m back in an instant to calm the oats.

I am pretty good about not burning things, though.

So, when I roasted some eggplants over the gas flame on the oven, Rob was alarmed when he smelled smoke from his upstairs office. Everything alright? he asked. He peered at my neat pile of 7 Asian eggplants, on fire on the stovetop.

I am roasting eggplants! They are supposed to turn catch on fire and turn black. Honestly! This fire is under control!

While in Turkey, I learned how to roast an eggplant to get that smokey flavour for the eggplant in Sultan’s delight. You need to do it over an open flame. Apparently the big fat eggplants here have a much tougher skin, so they suggested getting an Asian or European variety with a thinner skin. After you have charred the eggplant, carefully remove the skin while retaining all the juice. The smaller eggplants, though, turn this into a very tedious chore. But, yes, it was worth the efforts. You can’t duplicate that flavour without the fire.

I have been meaning to make the Indian roasted eggplant dish, Baingan Bharta, for the longest time. However, as it is vegetable-based side dish, I have found it harder to incorporate into my weekly meals. I don’t usually do the two-dish dinners. So when I spotted this Eggplant and Lentil Curry at The Kathmanduo, I knew I had a great combination.

Essentially, you are combining dal bhat (or just dal since there is no rice) with baingan bharta. The dal, alone, was superb. The fenugreek adds a more savoury note that is tempered by the typical Indian culprits of cumin, ginger and coriander. You could stop right there, throw in some rice and have an excellent meal.

Please keep going, though.

With the roasted eggplant, you create a smokey, sultry savoury mush. It wasn’t what I was expecting from a bharta, as I wanted something with more tomato presence. The smokiness from the eggplant was unbeatable, though. Now throw it into your dal. Mix the two together. Bliss, sheer bliss. And a complete meal: veggies and beans. Add your favourite grain if you are still so inclined.

Sadly, as much as I adored this dish, this will be the last time I will be able to roast anything on an open flame in the kitchen.

Not because it was a fire hazard, or that I had a lot of cleaning to do afterwards…

But rather, we discovered that the smoke really irritates Rob’s allergies. The house smelled like smoke for 2 days and for weeks, Rob had unresolved sniffles. It took us a while to pinpoint the culprit but I’ve conceded the eggplant roasting for now. Even though Rob agreed this was the best eggplant dish he had ever had. Not willing to risk anyone’s health, it will have to stay locked in our memories forever. :)


This is being submitted to Lisa’s Celebration of Indian Food, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona.

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Mixed Lentil and Tomato Stew

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on October 31, 2011


When I made the Chickpea and Chana Dal Curry with the Tamarind-Mint Sauce, I really liked how the chickpeas were still relatively intact but the chana dal melted into a creamy sauce.  It got me thinking: I don’t tend to mix my beans that often.  Although there was that Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad, but those beans came mixed in a can!

I have so many beans that Rob thinks it would be really funny if I put them all in one big bean salad. But they all cook at different times, Rob… Why not just save a 1/4 cup of cooked beans each time and then freeze them for the salad? Totally right on the money there!

But until I cook more of my heirloom beans, that salad will have to wait.

To culminate the end of my month of vegan recipes, and 3 weeks of daily beans, I figured I would share a dish that mixes up a few beans (count all 4 beans!). Gosh, what have I been missing?

I originally spotted this recipe on The Wednesday Chef, as a Two Lentil Stew that she adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors when I was looking for more recipes with chana dal. In the comment section, though, it turned out it was actually a Five Lentil Stew that she had modified… and I had 4/5 of the beans: red lentil, chana dal, mung dal and toor dal. Not too shabby if you ask me, with only urad dal as the missing ingredient. And since they are all split beans, this stew cooks up quickly.

The mixture of beans in this stew creates a glorious effect. Some turn to mush, others keep their shape, more are half-way in between. The texture is unbeatable.

Only have two of the beans? Find a ratio that works for you. My ingredient amounts are a bit wonky because I wanted a total of 1.25 cups of beans. Any combination will still work, because the flavours of the stew are nice and soothing. Almost like a little hug for a cold and wet day. Or a nice warm oasis while slurping this up at work for lunch. This is a comforting tomato-laden stew with your warming Indian spices: cumin, garlic and garam masala. Add heat to taste, but with my mild tastes, I kept the chili flakes to a minimum.

And with that, we have an easy month of beans. They are so versatile, that I encourage you to continue to see how you can add them to your meals. Cathy wrote a wicked awesome round-up earlier this month with even more ways to incorporate beans that I encourage you to read. She even has ideas for beans in your breakfast and dessert, too!

Who knows, maybe next year for VeganMoFo I will plan ahead to do 31 days of DIFFERENT beans.. Not sure whether I have that many, but it would be close! ;)


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M 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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Roasted Golden Beet and Lentil Salad with Mint and Cilantro

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


If you need a spooktacularly healthy salad, filled with Hallowe’en colours to boot, look no further. ;)

For family gatherings, I find it less stressful for everyone if I bring my own food.

On one hand, I get to eat what I want, and on the other hand, I don’t have to worry about rattling off my long list of things I won’t eat and having someone else stress about what to feed me. For me, it comes naturally. For others, it isn’t as easy and can be quite a challenge to think beyond the meat and potatoes.

Rob and I ended up in Woodstock twice this month, and this is what I brought to the BBQ. I tried to keep my salad on the tamer side, with familiar ingredients and flavours, all the while introducing something new for the crowd, like black beluga lentils. Turns out golden beets were new, too.

Beets can be controversial. Love them or hate them. Personally, I like beets and really enjoy them after they’ve been roasted. Golden beets have a more mild, sweeter flavour, so I jumped with glee when I found them on sale (2 large bunches for $1.50! Surprisingly, no, this wasn’t at Sunny’s, just at a local grocer up the street.).  I figured the only place I could safely bring a beet salad would be to a Polish crowd.

Adapted from Whole Living, this salad is quite simple. Lentils and beets. Ginger, mint, coriander and cilantro. OK, the ingredient list sounds long but it all worked seamlessly together. Nothing was overpowering. Everything worked well.

While nearly all the salads were polished off at my Mom’s party (trust me, I was not-so-secretly cheering that more meat was leftover than salads!), I can’t say the same for the Polish crowd. They love their meats and sweets. :P That meant I had 2 more meals from my salad when I returned to Toronto… not too bad, if you ask me!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for this week’s Magazine Mondays.

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