the taste space

Tess’ Ultimate Peanut Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 11, 2012

I’ve told you my weekly menus now revolve around a new dressing.

Now that veggies may not necessarily be at their peak, a good dressing is key to eating raw salads.

Or, once you make this dressing, you may just decide to drink it instead. Forgetting the veggies altogether.

It took me a long, long while to finally make Tess’ peanut sauce.  Her recipe was daunting with the coconut milk, peanut butter and heavy use of agave. Tess’ last coconut-based sauce (the creamy Thai cilantro ginger sauce) was heavenly so I knew I should try it out. Eventually.

However, I was guarding the last of our molasses for the recipe. With my pantry purge and gusto of tackling old bookmarked recipes from October, I finally took the plunge. With less sweetener, less sodium AND using coconut beverage, we have a winner. A drinkable winner. The twist from the other peanut dressings comes from the bite from molasses and umami from the fermented black bean sauce. Use it to coat anything. Veggies, grains, beans, you name it. Here, I paired it with sliced carrots, thinly sliced sugar snap peas, julienned baby bok choy, kelp noodles and pea shoots.

I suppose this is a good time to let you all in on a challenge I started this month. A sweetener-free challenge. For 8 weeks along with Gabby and Megan. Leanne is also doing a 2-week sugar-free cleanse which is a bit too extreme for me. While I have already cut out refined sugars, I am going to limit my intake of other sweeteners, including dried fruit, maple syrup, agave and stevia. I decided to keep eating fruit that isn’t sweet (cranberries, green papaya, tamarind, etc) since they are more sour than sweet.  As I work through some of my recent recipe successes, a few may still contain sweeteners which is good for those of you still using them. :)

This is my submission to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth (the last one!) and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Wild Rice and Edamame Salad with a Lemon-Miso Dressing

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on April 9, 2012

Thanks for all the encouragement about my long cycling commute. Last week was a short week, but I thought I’d update you on my commute. I am still working on the optimal way of combining gym + cycling commute, but later in the week, I cut down on my distance by going to the gym closer to home. Instead of 37km, I biked 25km each day. I am also biking at a moderately leisure pace instead of racing to work. My instinct is always to push as hard as I can, but I told myself I was focusing on endurance this week. One of my favourite downhills in the city always used to have me trying to go faster than 50 km/h. This time, I didn’t ride like a madwoman and still maxed out at 47 km/h. I thought I would be super sore by the end of the week, but it has actually gone very well. :)

Part of the problem on Mondays is that I really like Steve, the spinning instructor who teaches downtown on Monday mornings.  Sadly, the gym next to my home has poor programming Monday mornings but I stuck closer to home for the other days. The route uptown from home is also safer, nearly 80% on the Don Valley bicycle path, so I am away from cars and traffic lights.

So is the commute downtown worth it for the spinning class? I think so. I am drawn to positive instructors. A group exercise instructor does a lot more than lead a routine. It is about inspiring the class (“the team”) to push themselves further than what they would do otherwise. Steve’s classes always seem to push me. He explains the intensities of the exercises at a level that is very easy to grasp (challenging but comfortable, pick a resistance that you can only sustain for 5 minutes, etc) and makes it easier for me to challenge myself. He is also great at using inspirational messages. In normal life, I know it sounds so dorky, but when you are pushing yourself to the limit, his messages keep me going longer. For a while he was reminding us never to say I can’t do this. It is just something you haven’t done yet.

If you love inspirational messages, check out a few more gems here:

Know your limits, then defy them

If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.

Yesterday you said tomorrow.

Nothing hurts more than sitting on a couch.

Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right. (Henry Ford)

No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everybody on the couch.

Now about this salad. It is another salad bursting with whole foods and boasts a higher protein content. Wild rice is not rice at all, instead it is a seed. Higher in protein, with a lower glycemic index, it is a great gluten-free option for hearty salads. Coupled with edamame and tofu, loaded with carrots, sprinkled with greens and doused in a sesame-lemon-miso dressing, you have an unassuming salad that will make you anticipate lunch time.

For those of you who go to exercise classes, do you feel drawn to your instructors? Do you feel guilty when you skip their classes?

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

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Sesame, Edamame and Pea Shoot Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on April 22, 2011


Can you taste spring?

I can and it tastes like this salad. It is light, fresh and filled with green vegetables bursting with flavour.

It may have been snowing this week, but I felt the the need to bring spring back into my cooking.

Unfortunately, my own pea shoots are still too small to harvest, so I went back to T&T to pick up some more pea shoots for an instant boost of spring.

Inspired by Gourmet (June 1994), the base of this salad comes from pea shoots, which are sweet like peas with a nice body from the stems and delicate leaves.  I topped it with fresh sweet sugar snap peas, edamame and carrots and coated it in a subtle sesame dressing. The star of this dish are the veggies, not the dressing.

The thing I love about this salad, though, besides its mouthful of spring, is that it is a very satisfying salad. Deceivingly so, it fills you up.  The edamame really helps to increase the fat and protein levels. While each serving of this salad has only 180 calories, it also boasts 11g of protein, 22g of carbohydrates (7g fiber) and 7g of fat. That is something everyone could use from a salad!


This is my submission to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for this week’s Magazine Mondays, to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, as well as to April in the Raw (substituting some of the toasted elements, and not cooking the edamame).

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Moroccan Barley and Pea Shoot Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on April 1, 2011

I can do mad damage if I am in the right store.

Not a clothing store, not an electronic store, not even a bicycle store…. Food-related? Yuppers!

Penzeys, yup.

Teavana, indeed.

Kalustyan’s, oh yes.

Sometimes it isn’t as bad for local stores, since I tell myself I can always go back next week. That’s my inner monologue trying to talk some sense into me. Sometimes it works. Other times not.

Last week, I went to T&T. I hadn’t been in a while, since it isn’t close by and I am not (currently) biking (snow! grr!).
Watercress, 2 bunches for 88 cents. That was the plan. Maybe some mushrooms.

I came back with watercress, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms (love them! on sale!), snow peas (love them!), soy milk (new kind to try!), mango nectar (I have plans!) and a new, mystery ingredient: pea shoots or dou miao (unlike Chinatown, T&T actually labels its produce, hehe).

They were so fresh, and even though I had never heard of them, I figured a new green in my life couldn’t hurt.

In fact, I think the pea shoots were a wonderful discovery: my new favourite green. They are sweet, just like baby spinach (it has been usurped as my previous favourite green), with a hint of sweet pea taste. The leaves/tendrils are soft and silky yet the crunch comes from the stalks. I love that body. A welcome taste of spring amongst this never-ending winter. (Aside, before spring pea season comes pea shoot season!!)

I tossed the pea shoots into this Moroccan Barley Salad, inspired from the Moroccan Barley-Spinach Toss in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth (Tess has posted a version with quinoa here).  In my version, barley is toasted, then cooked and mixed with a light, fresh dressing made of fresh orange and lime juices, cinnamon, cumin and green onions. I also topped it with sprouted buckwheat. The barley salad is cinnamon-heavy with a lightness brought from the citrus juices. It isn’t that sweet with the agave because I used currants (not raisins). The sweetness comes from your greens.  In my case, pea shoots! For leftovers (not photographed, sorry!), I added even more pea shoots, so this was more of a pea shoots and barley salad, and I was in heaven.

Pea shoots, as it turns out, are the young leaves from the sprouting pea plant. The early shoots and tendrils can be harvested numerous times (it will eventually become bitter as it ages) until the plant produces peas. While they are uber pricey at places like Toronto Sprouts at the St Lawrence Market (over $4 for 125g), I thought they were reasonably priced at T&T ($11/kg or $2 for a large container).

However, it would be even cheaper to grow your own (I hope! In my garden to be!) and I picked up some dried green peas from Rube’s Rice ($0.95/lb) to see if I could grow them at home (I am really encouraged by Shauna’s post!).

In short, scour your Asian grocery stores for this delicacy! Or grow it yourself!

This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Susan from The Well-Seasoned Cook.

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