the taste space

Spanish Chickpea and Squash Stew with Pears (Olla Gitana)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by Janet M on October 12, 2011


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!

Drink up!

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

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Butternut Squash Soup with Pear, Apple Cider and Vanilla

Posted in Soups by Janet M on October 4, 2011

How much is half a bushel?

Technically, it is 4 pecks or 8 gallons.

After this weekend, to me, it means 26.6 lbs of apples.

Or 66 apples!

And a bargain at $15.75 (60c/lb!)

(our bushel was slightly rounded, hehe)

Last weekend, Rob and I travelled to Birtch Farms for some DIY apple picking. We were expecting to come home with Cortland and Empire, but were tickled pink when we found out that Mutsu (aka Crispin), Jonagold and Ida Red were also ripe for picking!

Rob had never had Mutsu before, and thankfully we were encouraged to sample the apples first to figure out which we preferred. Mutsu was the clear winner for a snacking apple, followed by the Ida Red. While the Jonagold is a cross between a Jonathan and Golden Delicious, I thought it tasted too much like a Gala for me to enjoy it. Sadly, we missed the Honeycrisp picking season, and I don’t think they grow Ambrosia out here, which are my 2 favourite snacking apples. Mutsu will be my go-to apple for the next month or so, though!

Rob also picked up some fresh apple cider for the road and when we returned I made this delicious soup.

A butternut squash soup with pear, apple cider and vanilla from Orangette.

Who says vanilla is only for sweet desserts?

Add it to your savoury dishes, as well.

Sometimes you can go too sweet with squash but here, everything was balanced nicely. The pear and cider are sweet, but the vanilla calms it down. It was smooth and creamy from the squash and milk. A delightful light, creamy soup.

Perfect for your next Thanksgiving meal. Or any day you want a delicious heart-warming soup.


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Chris from Mele Cotte.

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Quinoa Porridge with Sautéed Pears

Posted in Breakfasts by Janet M on November 29, 2010


There are a lot of benefits from eating whole grains, but for some it is hard to incorporate into their daily routine.

I used to eat the same thing for breakfast, but now I look at breakfast like any other meal. I still try to keep things no-fuss to save time in the morning, but I can be equally creative as I am for lunch and dinner.

This revelation came when I realized I could enjoy breakfast leftovers, where I might make something a bit more ornate in the evening and chow down the following few mornings. Granola is a prime example of this. Baked oatmeal is delicious but even stovetop oatmeal can be easily reheated the following day.

But why limit yourself to oats?


Last year, I made a breakfast couscous with almonds, coconut and honey and here is a creamy breakfast porridge with quinoa.

Quick and tasty, this milky quinoa porridge is topped with ripe, soft pears sautéed in a touch of olive oil. Depending on how sweet your pears are, you may not need to add any additional sweetener. You will have to warm your stove to make this breakfast, but it is delicious.


This recipe was adapted from Bon Eats, who adapted it from Feasts and Fotos and is my submission to this round of Blog Bites 9, holiday buffet, potluck-style!

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Quinoa and Butternut Squash Spinach Salad with Cranberry and Pear

Posted in Salads by Janet M on May 4, 2010


Alas, I was getting ready to write my post about my love of Alphonso mangoes, but figured I should shed my winter meals first before jumping headfirst into spring and summer dishes. With a balmy 15C this morning on my way to work on my bike, I am happy as a peach.. sweet as a mango?

One of my favourite things to eat in the winter is butternut squash. Or buttercup squash. Any squash, really. When roasted, they are incredibly sweet and work well with many sweet and savoury flavours.

For this dish, adapted from Lou Seibert Pappas’ A Harvest of Pumpkin and Squash, the savoury side of a butternut squash is combined with cinnamon- and sesame-laced quinoa mixed with cranberries and pear. This is laid on a bed of welcoming spinach and topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.

It was a weird and interesting combination of flavours. If I were to remake it, I think I would omit the soy sauce and sesame oil, to keep the flavour palate more simple, highlighting the cinnamon and allspice. Otherwise, the flavours are my typical fall favourites: cranberry, squash and cinnamon. Not that it will stop you from making it during other seasons…. although I agree you may get distracted by the mangoes. :)

This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s SOS Kitchen Challenge, featuring sweet or savoury natural vegan cooking highlighting spinach this month.

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