Sorry for keeping you all in suspense about Iceland.
I haven’t even gone through all (6000!) photos Rob and I took while we were away. Suffice it to say, we absolutely adored our trip and a week wasn’t nearly enough time to do everything. We packed it all in though.
We went horseback riding with Icelandic horses into the countryside, were mesmerized by numerous waterfalls, eagerly awaited the next spurt from the geyser, hiked between the separating North American-European tectonic plates, attempted to hike up a volcano (yes, THAT volcano) but instead ended up in a magical land possibly filled with elves. We hiked up other hills, treated by natural hot springs at the top. We touched a glacier and then had fun watching where icebergs merged together before heading out to sea. We visited a lava tube, more lava fields and even a pseudo crater. The windy south-west peninsula brought us to steep black cliffs, isolated lighthouses and beaches.
Everyone is amazed that I managed to keep up with my vegan eats while in Iceland. It was actually quite easy, since our hotel had a fabulous breakfast buffet and it was right next to a glorious restaurant, Glo. Each day, Glo has 3 main meals: one raw, one vegan/vegetarian and one meat. You get to pick another 3 salads to complete your meal… along with as much hummus as you want.
Suffice it to say, Rob and I ate a lot of hummus while we were away. Not only because their hummus was incredible, but also because we brought our own. Security made us check it into our luggage (apparently hummus = paste and cannot go through security), but it makes for a very portable snack while travelling.
I made two batches of hummus before we left. This was Rob’s favourite. Adapted from Rebar (also posted here), it adds a unique twist to traditional hummus, using cashews and chickpeas as a creamy base, spiced with ginger, cumin, coriander, cilantro, mint and lime. Use it as a dip for fresh veggies, or roll into into your next Swiss chard wrap.
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. That meant I had 2 more meals from my salad when I returned to Toronto… not too bad, if you ask me!
Rob can be a bit predictable with his kitchen tastes. I am just like any other girl: confusing, to say the least.
I am constantly switching up what I make in the kitchen, focusing on a different new ingredient that I love, until I rediscover a new favourite food. I prance around, stocking my cupboards with ingredients that I love (or once loved).
What kind of recipe screams Janet-style?
First of all, it has to be free of animal products and refined flours/sugars. I try to keep added oils to a minimum. I enjoy more tart and acidic ingredients as opposed to creamy and rich. And it must be filled with beans and vegetables.
You might have to try to pin me down to figure out what my new ingredient du jour is, though…. And then again the following week for a more up-to-date answer….
Statistically, the blog tells me that I love almonds, red peppers and lemon. I should really put in a general bean/legume tag because then that will dwarf all other ingredients when they are amassed together. To be fair, I enjoy most vegetables and perfectly content with heaps of greens on my plate. My favourite cuisines are Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and lately Caribbean.
But today.. what am I enjoying today?
These days, my favourite ingredients are split yellow peas, butternut squash as well as fruit in savoury dishes.
Next month? Only time will tell….
This soup is probably the epitome of my current cooking adventures. A Mediterranean chickpea soup heaping with vegetables including butternut squash, green beans, carrots and silky tomatoes in a saffron- and paprika-spiced broth. And pears, oh pears, which is what my piqued my interest to make a second version of Spanish bean soup. This time, with help from Anya and The New Spanish Table (an adapted recipe can be found here). I know the ingredients seem a little hodgepodge, which is why Anya has dubbed this a Spanish Gypsy Pot, a nod to the seemingly eclectic ingredients.
Anya’s recipe is definitely more complex than the first Spanish Green Bean and Lima Bean Stew. It has a lot of the similar flavours, but it is so much more than the first soup. Yes, you dirty more pots but it is worth it. You simmer the tomatoes and onions separately. You fry some garlic and puree it with a handful of almonds. Only then does it get added to the long-simmered broth filled with chickpeas, squash, green beans and carrots. The pears add a lovely sweetness and the saffron and sweet paprika meld wonderfully with the stew. The vinegar and mint added at the end are a perfect conclusion to a sweet and savoury soup.
I am probably as eclectic as this soup, which is why I loved it so much. I encourage you to try it as well!
One of the reasons I have a lot more recipes to share these days is that Rob eats more than me. Boys need their food. That means that when we cook for each other, I need to make enough that will last us both in the leftover department.
Rob cooks for me as well, and sometimes I not-so-casually suggest recipes that we might both enjoy. A few key ingredients make Rob’s belly rumble…. tamarind, coconut, broccoli (not raw), tempeh, mango and pineapple, to name a few… If it is anything Indian or Thai, Rob will also most likely enjoy it.
I had initially bookmarked this minty-tamarind chickpea dal when I spotted it on Joanne’s blog because I was looking for Indian food for those who don’t like curries. It is originally from World Vegetarian, with the original recipe posted here. With our bountiful herbs, including a few gigantic mint plants, I figured this would a great recipe to try, especially since I had chana dal. However, split yellow peas could also be used.
But instead of making it myself, I suggested Rob give it a go since he felt out of the kitchen loop this week. It had been on my menu for a few weeks, but it had gotten the shaft to non-Indian meals instead. I knew Rob wouldn’t shun it that long.
The delightful part, though, is that Rob made this for himself. He doesn’t like mint in savoury dishes, so he only used half a cup of fresh mint. I would have used the whole cup. He also used 3 (deseeded) volcanic peppers from our garden. I would have substituted Aleppo chili flakes. Rob halved the oil, which I would have done, too (youpee!).
I came home after a long car ride from Ottawa, famished, and this was cooling on the stove. I dug in before Rob had even tasted it. I was warned about the chili peppers, but I plunged in anyhow. It was love at first bite.
This was a creamy, sweet/tart, slightly zippy chickpea dish. You could barely taste the mint but it was lovely with the tanginess from the tamarind.
And those chilis? Without the seeds, there was a zip but it wasn’t overtly spicy. It was a cleaner spice, more penetrant. Aleppo is usually more smoky and sultry. I could handle it. Now I know I can am not such a chili wimp after all.
Sometimes my friends know me better than myself.
What did I want for my birthday, I was asked.
Nothing! Your company is all that I ask for… honestly!
My friends rarely listen to me, though.
They are some spicy shoots, let me tell you! Pea shoots are sweet and mild, but these are feisty. They taste like radish, which to me, is spicy. While you could throw them into any salad, I somehow stumbled upon a recipe that highlighted their spiciness in all the right ways.
Found in Plenty, I modified Ottolenghi’s Soba Noodles with Wakame, to try out kelp noodles. While it is brimming with a long ingredient list, including such isoteric items like wakame (and now kelp noodles), the pack-rat that I am, I had everything I needed. Except a second cucumber because two cucumbers seemed like a bit of cucumber overload. However, after the cucumber rested, wilted, and lost its moisture, it condensed to a small mass. I compensated by adding shredded kohlrabi. The mint and cilantro were courtesy of my garden.
Just as Rob became cranky as he prepared The New Best Salad Ever, I gradually became cranky as I made this… because I had to destem my wakame! This was such a tedious process, and since I used the entire bag of alaria (a common wakame substitute), I had a lot of destemming to do! Part of my uneasiness was that I was using such uncommon, wacky ingredients that I had no clue how this would turn out. Was it worth the half hour of wakame destemming?
By golly geeze, a resounding yes! This salad had me giggling all night with its sheer deliciousness. It was light and bright from the lime, sweet but now overpoweringly so, sea-like with saltiness from the wakame, yet with an undertone of spiciness from the chili flakes and radish shoots. The cucumber and kohlrabi meld well with the slightly crunchy kelp noodles to highlight the sauce.
Sometimes I wonder if my palate is changing, definitely less mainstream meat and potatoes, but this recipe from Ottolenghi is a keeper. Soba noodles would be wonderful here as well, as he originally suggested.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends, to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Tandy of Lavender & Lime and to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring Scintillating Salads.
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.
I may have lamented about the explosion of condiments, but I am positive Rob was perplexed by my fascination of his hot sauce collection. Coming from me, the Queen of Non Spicy.
Before we moved in, I kept interrogating Rob.
Do you have sweet chili sauce? Yes. Followed by, I put it on anything! It is my favourite condiment!
The next day…
Do you have sriracha? Is that the rooster sauce? Then, yes! But I think that’s too spicy for you…
Do you have sambal oelek? No! That stuff is too spicy even for me!
The next week…
Do you have harissa? What’s that?
By this time, I had my heart set on making this lentil stew with roasted carrots, harissa and mint from Love Soup. My usual go-to substitution of all things chili is my beloved Aleppo chili flakes that I bought in Turkey, more flavourful than spicy.
Then I investigated harissa, a Tunisian pepper paste, and found that it seemed more savoury than spicy with roasted red pepper combined with coriander, cumin, cinnamon and caraway. While you can purchase harissa, the bonus, of course, of making it yourself, is that you can change the recipe to your own palate. While a mixture of hot and mild chilies, like Ancho and New Mexican chilies, are suggested for harissa, I based my version on Bon Appetit‘s recipe since it focused on chili flakes, not whole Ancho chilis. In fact, while modifying the recipe, I was quite bold as I doubled the Aleppo chili flakes, as they are known to not be too spicy. I also substituted cumin for the caraway, added a dash of cinnamon and omitted the sugar. All the spices were toasted and freshly ground. Since I was a bit hesitant how I would handle it, I only made a 1/4 of the recipe the first time.
But I did not need to worry: this zingy but savoury red pepper blend is delicious. It works really well with this soup and while you could make the soup without the harissa, I think you would be missing out on its complexity.
So about the soup…. caramelized, roasted carrots and onions are combined to create a silky sweet soup with lentils. That alone would be a nice soup, but the twist comes from the lemon and mint, and of course the harissa. With my mild-mannered harissa, the soup easily handled 2 tbsp but add with caution because harissa can vary from mild to incredibly spicy! Sweet, sour and spicy… we know this is a winning combination.
And that is how I contributed to the spicy condiments in the new house.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s Veggie/Fruit A Month with carrots, to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring hot peppers, to E.A.T. World for Tunisia, to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for this week’s Magazine Mondays, to this month’s Simple and in Season and to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends.
While travelling in Morocco, one of my favourite meals was from Al Fassia in Marrakech. Even during the low tourist season, we made reservations before we arrived in Morocco. It is deservedly that popular, and they had to continually turn people away who wandered in from the street. We shared a delicious vegetarian harira, a hearty tomato-based lentil and split chickpea soup topped with dates and lime; followed by a pigeon bastilla, where pigeon meat is cooked, topped with ground almonds and pistachios, wrapped in warka, a thin phyllo-type dough and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar; a slow-roasted lamb shoulder dish whose name escapes me right now, but I cannot explain the sheer volume of the entire shoulder; and somehow still (not really) had room for the traditional Moroccan Orange Salad for dessert.
The Moroccan Orange Salad is prevalent around Morocco and incredibly delicious despite seemingly so simple. Personally, it is so much more than oranges and cinnamon, and if you are in Morocco and they don’t include orange blossom water, then consider it inferior, truly. But if you are elsewhere, and don’t have it, just delve into the simplicity of oranges and cinnamon. They complement each other, with the sweetness of the orange, the sweet earthiness of the cinnamon and the addition of orange blossom water gives it that subtle edge, that curiosity if you are not familiar with it.
One of my most memorable experiences during travelling is participating in a cooking class. During this trip, we opted to eschew the multitude of cooking classes, and signed up for a class at a nearby riad, where the reviews of the cooking were very positive. Best to learn the local cuisine from a local where we know the food tastes great, eh?
The cooking class was a great experience, because not only did we learn how to make delicious meals, but we also went to the market to gather ingredients for our feast. This is also how I scored an earthenware tagine for $2. I have no idea what the cost would have been for a tourist, but that’s the local’s price.
During the cooking class, we learned how to make 3 Moroccan salads. Although salads in Morocco typically means dip and not what you might think a salad is in North America with greens. We made zaalouk, a fried eggplant dip; tomato jam (confit de tomates), a savoury tomato spread; and zucchini stuffed with tomato and cilantro. For the main dish, we were able to pick which tagine we wanted to learn (chicken with preserved lemons tagine, lamb with dates and almonds, or veal with apricots tagine). We opted for the veal tagine, and since I was so smitten with bastilla, I asked to learn how to make that instead. For dessert, we learned how to make milk bastilla, a piece of fried warka dough is topped with custard and strawberries. Our teacher was also generous with her knowledge of Moroccan food culture and even other recipes we were curious about! I had really enjoyed a traditional Moroccan cookie, coconut ghoriba (Moroccan macaroons) and this orange salad. I frantically scribbled the recipes down as she rattled the recipes off the top of her head.
I was lucky to be travelling in Morocco during clementine season, but this salad can be enjoyed whenever you have juicy oranges available. I am partial to Navel oranges, but feel free to substitute your favourite. You could also add some slivers of almond, mint and/or dates for extra oomph.
This is a light, sweet-savoury salad that is perfect any time of year. It would quench your thirst during the summer and bring you back to the tropics while you are combating the harshness of winter.
Continuing with our quasi superfood theme, now is the time for quinoa to shine. Also hailing originally from South America (so was amaranth), quinoa was called the mother of all grains by the Incas. Technically it is not a whole grain, rather the seed from the goosefoot plant.
It has gained notoreity as an excellent plant-source of complete protein. Wheat and rice are low in lysine, which is why they need to be paired with beans to get the complete set of amino acids to form protein. It is also high in fibre, B vitamins, gluten-free and supposedly easy to digest.
I have cooked with quinoa before, but I had had issues with it in my pre-blogging days. You need to wash it thoroughly before you cook it to remove the soapy/bitter-tasting saponins that are naturally present in the seed. Most of the time, this has already been removed during its processing, but I am convinced I had a bad batch once (I blame Bulk Barn!) and I shunned quinoa for quite some time. Now that I buy organic quinoa through Bob’s Red Mill, I haven’t had any problems.
It is easy to substitute quinoa anywhere you’d use rice and just as easy to prepare (2:1 boiling water:quinoa and simmer for 12-15 minutes). You can even make it in a rice cooker.
Here, I made a Mexican quinoa salad bursting with flavour from tomatoes, green onions and black beans with a minty-lime vinaigrette. The flavour depends entirely on the flavour of your fresh tomatoes. The dressing is a bit subtle, but a nice supporting cast. The salad is deceivingly filling, so I ate it as a main course salad.
Now I know I just told you how easy it is to boil your quinoa, but the directions for this salad were courtesy of Gourmet (July 2007). First, you partially simmer your quinoa and finish the cooking process with steaming. This made the most fluffy quinoa I have ever had. If you have the time, this is the ultimate way to prepare quinoa.
This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen, to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring quinoa, to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Mondays, to Torview’s food palette series featuring red and white dishes, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, and to this month’s Cooking with Whole Foods, featuring quinoa.
This weekend, I might die. Hopefully, not literally. But I am nuts. I hope I can still stand on Monday.
All summer, I have been training to cycle between Ottawa and Cornwall and back again. A double imperial century, or 320km. A double metric century, 240km, if we chicken out. Either path will be difficult.
A few of my latest training runs have been cancelled due to rain, so I am hoping that the weather will be nice (no rain, no wind) this weekend. Last I checked, everything was good to go, but nothing matters except the weather on the day. Heck, on Monday it wasn’t supposed to rain either, but at 9am, after 3km, it started to rain. We took shelter for an hour to re-evaluate. It continued to rain. We watched another episode of Dexter. By this time, we decided to forego my last 120km training ride and hit the pool instead.
While loading up on carbohydrates hasn’t been proven to work as well in women, I have been scouting out high carb meals this week. Oatmeal sprinkled with pomegranate molasses, is a new favourite for breakfast. Welcoming pasta back into the mix, including this Japanese-inspired noodle dish I found at 101 Cookbooks.
It was a simple dish with subtle flavours. I thought the ginger would overpower the dish, but it blended seemlessly with the noodles and broccoli. The mint and basil worked well together with the chili flakes in this Japanese dish.
If I was truly carb-loading, I would omit the tofu (72% carbs) but I think tofu adds a certain filling factor, so I kept it in. Good thing I am a woman!
This is my submission to Regional Recipes, featuring dishes from Japan, this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Susan at The Well-Seasoned Cook, to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Abby of eat the right stuff and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.
The summer lends well to cooking Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Local, fresh produce is at the heart of many of their dishes. Eggplants, tomatoes, and zucchinis abound in grocery stores and my cookbooks simultaneously.
When I spotted this Turkish casserole stew, also known as mualle, I knew I had a great summer dish. I don’t immediately think of stew as a summer dish, but here, layers of eggplant, tomatoes and lentils are slowly braised with mint and pomegranate molasses to create a melt-in-your-mouth dish. Aleppo chili flakes add a nice burst of heat. Sweet, salty, sour, spicy, it has all the components of a great dish. I didn’t even need to turn on my oven, to boot!
After the long stove-top braise, I allowed the stew to return to room temperature. Leftovers were phenomenal. This stew was delicious served with a toasted baguette. By the end of the week, my bread was more stale, but I plopped it in with the stew for a few hours before lunch, and it was great. I can finally start to see the appeal of a bread salad like panzanella. Others have recommended serving it with rice and garlic-spiked yogurt, which is more authentic.
This recipe was adapted from Almost Turkish Recipes, who adapted it from Food & Wine (July 2004). I will decrease the olive oil a lot next time (2 tbsp may even be sufficient), as can be found in a very similar recipe by Paula Wolfert in Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking.
This is my third dish in a string of salads with pomegranate molasses. No bulgur here, so my brain didn’t do the auto-compare with The Best Salad Ever.
This is a salad filled with green beans, roasted eggplant and roasted red peppers. I liked the Spanish paprika, cinnamon and cumin with the roasted eggplant, so there was a savoury twist I wasn’t expecting. I may remove the cumin next time, though. The green beans added a nice crunch, and a lovely colour to boot. I also enjoyed the creaminess from the feta, but it is completely optional. The mild pomegranate dressing worked well to not overshadow the savoury flavours in the salad. I preferred this salad to the tabbouleh, despite it being less of a complete meal. Serve it with some crusty bread or wrap it in a pita as a portable lunch.
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 ever. The 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.
I have been on such a chickpea kick, adding them to my recent salads, that I am starting to wonder whether I should try to make them from dry. I am all for dry beans, as they are infinitely cheaper and probably taste better, too. Lentils are a no brainer as they cook up quickly and don’t need an overnight soak. That overnight soak, ie. advance preparation, is usually not that onerous since I routinely plan my meals days in advance. However, I have not had good luck with cooking dry chickpeas nor black beans, incidentally my two favourite beans – they just don’t seem to work. I remember having a pool of black soup with hard beans when I cooked black beans the first time. Does anyone have suggestions? Other than buy beans from a high-turnover bean store? (Bestwin definitely fits the bill here).
The good news is that canned beans work just as well for this dish!
I highly recommend roasting your own red peppers, though. I know you can buy them in a can, but freshly roasted peppers are infinitely juicier, tastier and healthier since they aren’t packed in oil.
When you have a simple salad, such as this one, each ingredient counts. And this salad is delicious: the sweet roasted red peppers are paired with the creamy, nutty pan-fried chickpeas, and they are dressed with a minty red wine vinegar vinaigrette with a sour note from capers. Lovely for picnics as a side salad, or even a main meal as the beans are quite filling. Traditionally this is served as a tapa, or appetizer, in Spanish cuisine.
I originally found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I found that there was a fair bit of oily dressing left over, so I modified the recipe to increase the red peppers and chickpeas. I also pan-fried the chickpeas in some of the oil, since pan-fried chickpeas taste a lot better than chickpeas straight from a can (the lesson I learned while making the utterly delicious warm chickpea and artichoke salad).
Allow the salad to mingle its flavours a few hours before serving and serve at room temperature. Leftovers are equally good, if not better.
This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring mint, to Nithu for this month’s Cooking with Whole Foods featuring chickpeas, to this week’s Wellness Weekend,to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Simona at Briciole, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays (which also includes salads).
During the summer, grocery stores overflow with local ripe fruit and vegetables. It would be a shame not to catch some fresh Niagara peaches, fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, or cash in on cheap, overflowing zucchini during their seasonal peak. There is nothing better than fresh produce.
Right now, peaches from Niagara are tricking into stores. They arrived earlier than previous years due to the hot weather, and I am embracing their early arrival. Sweet, juicy peaches are incredible but sadly don’t last very long. Last summer, I made a succulent peach tea cake, when I bought a few 3L containers of peaches. I have restrained myself so far, and only bought a handful of peaches. But I did buy a big clamshell of blueberries, so expect to see a few more blueberry dishes here.
I spotted a lovely summer savoury dish on Fat Free Vegan, with maple-chili grilled tofu steaks with a blueberry-peach salsa. I adapted the recipe to suit my own tastes, substituting Aleppo chili flakes for the heat, increasing the peach to blueberry ratio, and swapping lime juice for the lemon juice (I am slowing going through the 18 limes I picked up for $1 at Bestwin). I also don’t like parsley so I used mint instead, which was a great choice.
The salsa was the highlight of the dish: peaches and blueberries work surprisingly well together, especially when mixed in a slightly spicy and sweet-tart dressing. The maple-chili tofu was good, too, but can’t compete with the perfect allspice-marinated tofu in my tofu in a zesty rhubarb sauce. I don’t think the salsa would mix well though with that tofu, unfortunately, so this is the next best thing.
This is a wonderful way to play with the flavours of the summer. Enjoy!