the taste space

Sweet and Sour Lentils with Carrot and Bell Pepper over Arugula

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


If last year was the year of Aleppo chili flakes, pomegranate molasses and bulgur, I already know what 2011 will be: year of the beans (and pea shoots!). Yes, I will be full (of beans) this year.

Chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans, lentils (of many colourful varieties), cranberry/Borlotti beans, lima beans, adzuki beans and edamame. If my recent trip to Kalustyan’s is any indication, I will also begin cooking with Anasazi beans, Appaloosa beans, Calypso beans, Christmas Lima beans, Jackson Wonder beans, Jumbo Lupini, Macedonian Tetovac, Rattlesnake beans, Scarlet Runner beans, Spanish Tolosana (Prince beans), Tepari beans, and my favourite (purely by name at this point) Tongues of Fire beans!

Just as Aleppo chili flakes revolutionized my cooking, cooking dry beans from scratch has also been eye-opening. They taste better. They have a better texture. You can flavour them as they cook, or leave them as a blank canvas. They are healthier. They are cheaper. And I bet you, Tongues of Fire beans cannot be found canned. (Aside, any clue where to buy dried heirloom beans in Toronto/Canada? I am envious of Americans and their Rancho Gordo heirloom bean supply)

Canned beans are definitely more convenient, and I do not poo-poo the canned variety in the slightest; canned beans are better than no beans at all. I even have canned beans stashed away for my emergency bean needs. ;)

For the less bean-savvy, lentils are great because they cook up quickly. They don’t require any pre-soaking, so everything can come together once the beans are finished cooking in 20-30 minutes.

I went with an orange theme for these sweet-and-sour lentils. Adapted from Mama’s Minutia, who in turn, adapted it from the More-with-Less Cookbook, these lentils have a sweet tang with a sour acidity.  For my veggies, I pulled out the orange in my fridge: carrots and an orange bell pepper. It tasted good with a pinch of cloves, but then I added a heavy dusting of Vietnamese cinnamon, and this was sublime. Paired with arugula for a touch of greenery and its peppery bite, this was a great meal. Full of beans, yet again. :)


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Anh from A Food Lover’s Journey.

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Brazilian Black Bean Soup

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on April 4, 2011


While I adore winter soups and stews, and some of my favourite produce is abundant during the winter (butternut squash, sweet potatoes, kale), sometimes the local produce gets to me by the end of the season.  One way to beat the winter blahs, is to incorporate fruit into my meals.  This time of the year, citrus is abundant, which is a good way to liven any dish. One of my favourite soups this winter was the Spinach, Orange, Yam Soup, due to the lightness from the fresh orange juice. This week, I hope to highlights different ways of including tropical fruit into your meals.

Beans are a good way to add heartiness to a soup, and this is a hearty, healthy and tasty black bean soup. I first spotted this recipe for Brazilian Black Bean Soup on Joanne’s blog Eats Well With Others, and was amused because I also have The Tropical Vegan Kitchen but had skimmed over the recipe (oh so many recipes on my hit-list).  I loved Joanne’s modifications, where she substituted mango juice for the orange juice, increased the vegetables and omitted the rice. I substituted the tomato with 1/3 cup of pureed tomatoes, removed additional stock and used red pepper instead of green. This would constitute all the components for a delicious soup, but the spices brought this soup to the next level: it includes cinnamon, cloves and thyme. Seemingly so different, but a wonderful merriment of content. This soup is like a Brazilian party on your tongue. :)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Jaya at Desi Soccer Mom, E.A.T. World for Brazil and this month’s No Croutons Required featuring legumes (since I was born in June).

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Black Bean, Cilantro and Apricot Salad

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on February 3, 2011


I am not very mainstream.

I can’t remember the last time I watched my TV.  I only went to the movie theaters during Hot Docs and the Toronto International Film Festival. Not to catch the blockbuster that will be out next week, rather the international movies that I would not be able to watch otherwise. My favourite movie is Life is Beautiful, but The Diving Bell and The Butterfly comes close.

But when I look for recipes, I am drawn to tried-and-true recipes, from reputable chefs like Claudia Roden, the Moosewood Collective or from sites like Epicurious. I don’t have any cookbooks from Rachael Ray, although I have tried her penne alla vodka recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

However, move over guys, I have a new favourite cookbook: Radiant Health, Inner Wealth by Quintessence Challis. An indie cookbook if I have ever seen one, and I was drawn to it by its high praises in the cookbook review section on vegweb. Comments from each recipe are compiled (and continue to be added) and nearly every one was positive. I cringed at it being plugged as a weight loss cookbook on its website, but bought it anyways since the recipes intrigued me. I am all about the tasty, healthy recipes, right?

The first recipe I tried was a black bean, cilantro and apricot salad. I adapted it slightly since I did not use corn and increased the carrot. I started with freshly cooked black beans, and then added sweet, chopped dried apricots and crunchy carrots. A little bit of zing came from the green onion and ginger, and more subtle sweetness came from the mango nectar. A bit of acidity from lemon juice, and this was golden.

The next day, when I tasted it, I was floored. This was an “Oh my gosh, this salad is SO GOOD” moment (it really needs the overnight marinade, by the way).  There was enough extra marinade that it was used as the dressing once the spinach was added. I never would have thought to pair all these ingredients together, but the spinach was the perfect accent. It was a great lunch for work, since I packed the spinach separately. Filling, tasty and healthy – what else could you want?

I am thrilled to have found this cookbook, but sad that I didn’t get Tess’ second cookbook at the same time (only $5 more). I thought it was all about planning meals (heck, I can do that!) but it also has 80 recipes. Next time! :D


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

Updated to add: I prefer this with more beans, so I have updated the recipe to use 2×14 oz cans of beans. It is also lovely with freshly squeezed orange juice instead of the mango juice.

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