the taste space

Foodie Gift Ideas, Part 2 (aka My Favourite Ingredients in the Kitchen)

Posted in Favourites by Janet M on February 25, 2012

I started writing this before Christmas after I wrote my Gift Guide with my Favourite Kitchen Gadgets but never got around to finishing it. I have had quite a few people ask me where to buy Aleppo chili flakes recently, so I thought it would be nice to highlight some of my favourite ingredients in the kitchen.

One of my favourite things to give or receive are new ingredients.  I enjoy having a cupboard filled with isoteric ingredients, although it sucks when you will be moving as often as myself. For gifts, though, I have one main caveat: they must be non-perishable (at least until opened) because fridge space is prime real estate in my kitchen. Furthermore, for all those ingredients, I have to know what to do with it!  Part of my pleasure is a massive search to find the new best recipe, but if you are sharing an ingredient that you already love, gift it along with your favourite recipe. (more…)

Asparagus Ribbon Salad with Mosto Cotto and Almonds

Posted in Appetizers, Salads by Janet M on July 23, 2011


Indeed, I am really enjoying my spiralizer. But in my life BTS (before the spiralizer), I was still able to make interesting textures from my vegetables.

Usually my Santoku knife got the job done (tedious, but can julienne just fine). Sometimes I would use my mandoline to help with thin, even slices.

Then there were times where my vegetable peeler was the best thing around.

Like for this ribbon salad.

You can make ribbon salads from a variety of vegetables – zucchini, carrot, and cucumber, to name a few.

I am still relishing in local asparagus, and after ogling many shaved asparagus salads, I finally jumped on the bandwagon when I spotted a recipe for a shaved asparagus salad with a balsamic reduction and almonds.

I never knew how diverse asparagus could be. Yes, asparagus can be eaten raw and it is lovely eaten as ribbons.

Ribboning asparagus can be a tedious process, so this is when you actually want to buy the big, fat asparagus (usually I aim for the thinnest stalks possible since they tend to be sweeter). It is easier to grasp the plump spears and lay them flat as you peel away each layer.

Highlight your peeling efforts with a remarkably simple, yet sophisticated dressing.  You can never go wrong with mosto cotto, an aged condensed balsamic vinegar, and here it is complemented by the sweet earthiness of asparagus and the sweet crunch from the almonds.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this month’s Simple and in Season, and to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends.

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15-Minute Zippy Garlic-Basil Marinara with Zucchini Noodles

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on July 22, 2011


Please pardon my oven use during the heat wave. The Greek Baked Beans were worth it, though. Delicious lunch-friendly leftovers.

I should be absolved of my wrong doings with this meal. No oven. No stove top. Not even a blender.

Instead, I christened my new spiralizer (thanks Rob!) by making zucchini noodles. I have done julienning by hand, and this is infinitely easier, consistent and pretty! Just look at these long strands of zucchini! In 30 seconds tops, you have your noodles!


Of course, whenever you have a pasta dish, the meal is all about the sauce.

I went for a quick, super easy raw tomato sauce. 15 minutes, tops. I told you, no cooking or blender required.

A love of garlic, a must, though.


Adapted from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth (the original recipe was posted here by Tess), this is a zippy, rich tomato sauce. The raw ingredients really make this sauce pop. All you do is mix together crushed tomatoes, raw garlic, fresh basil, fresh oregano, a bit of olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and you’re done!

You’ll be laughing at how simple and healthy this recipe is… but then afraid to bring the leftovers to eat at work, with all that raw garlic. :P

Now, if you don’t have a spiralizer, this sauce would be equally delicious over linguine or spaghetti, but then you’d have to boil some water for that!

What’s your favourite sauce for zucchini noodles? Or your favourite pasta dish?


This is my submission to this week’s Presto Past Nights, hosted by Anu of Truth Personified, to this month’s Simple and in Season, and to Ricki’s new Summer Wellness Weekends.

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Asparagus, Strawberry and Basil Salad with Mosto Cotto

Posted in Favourites, Salads by Janet M on May 14, 2011


I held out for Ontario asparagus. It also announced its entry by being on sale (wahoo!).

I did not hold out for Ontario strawberries. The Californian ones were on sale, too, and perfectly ripe after I left them on my counter for a few days.

Right now, after chowing down on this salad, I don’t care that I didn’t eat local. This was springtime in a bowl, with a dash of summer from the strawberries.

I was inspired by Joanne after I saw her Goat Cheese, Strawberry and Basil Salad. I trotted off to buy some cheap asparagus to go with my ripe strawberries, and was pleased how everything came into place at the grocery store (my new favourite grocery store, better than Bestwin!).


Ontario asparagus was $1.99 a pound, and wasn’t even advertised. I picked the bunch with the thinnest stalks. I had mint at home, so I had planned to forgo basil. However, they had the biggest bunches of basil that I ever did see. Complete with roots, they were that fresh. It tipped my scales at 290g for $1.50 (again, not advertised).  I scored a 1-lb clamshell of baby spring mix for $1.99. They have random containers marked down, but it looked fresh and with an expiry date a week away, I saw no reason not to buy it. I had my juicy strawberries already, so I was all set!

At home, I quickly assembled my salad for one. Steamed my asparagus, quickly blanched some edamame (frozen beans are great for small amounts), thrown overtop the baby greens and basil and drizzled it with mosto cotto. Yes, I christened my Eatalian mosto cotto with this salad. It was divine. Simplicity at its finest.


Mosto cotto (also known as saba), is a a condensed balsamic vinegar made with reduced Concord grapes and then aged for at least 12 years. I was introduced to mosto cotto when Chef Gentile from Buca was at Tastes of Tomorrow. He used it as a finish for a red wine, cinnamon, clove-marinated beef heart salad with grilled radicchio di Treviso, balsamic braised chipling onions, Tallegio cheese, crispy sage, dandelion greens and pickled fig, lightly drizzled with olive oil and mosto cotto.  It was delicious.

He highlighted that certain ingredients are worth their weight in gold. Mosto cotto is an expensive balasmic vinegar, but still considered a poor man’s balsamic vinegar. Compared to the traditional balsamic vinegar it doesn’t compare: it is a thicker syrup with a deep, complex and sweet flavour. I have been wooed to the dark side and recommend searching it out (Amazon.com sells it, and should be found in specialty Italian grocers – I bought mine at Eataly while in New York City).  In this recipe, you could substitute a balsamic syrup by boiling down some balsamic vinegar, or just use a good quality balsamic vinegar.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday, to this week’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for strawberries, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine, this month’s No Croutons Required featuring asparagus and to this month’s Simple and in Season for May.

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