the taste space

Coconut Quinoa and Kale Salad with a Tropical Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on February 23, 2013

I am loving your enthusiasm for ChefTap. Turns out I am a week early harping its awesomeness. It isn’t a new app. In fact it has been out for over 2 years. Kate, one of its developers (and such a sweetie), told me they will be releasing their newest version in a week which promises to be smoother and faster with a new facelift, so definitely stay tuned.

For those of you still in a deep winter freeze, I hear your plight.

The winter blahs. When you are already tired of the root veggies and dreaming of what it would be like in a warmer climate. Thinking any excuse to head to Texas seems like a good idea. Except I should be studying instead of travelling. There is no excuse to stop cooking, though. What better way to merry my longing for the tropics than to bring it back into my kitchen? Here is a recipe from Belize.

With a new-found craving for pesto, I was excited about trying this non-traditional pesto filled with toasted cashews, cilantro and a hefty dose of garlic. I brought it to a recent gathering and was thrilled that I decided to make a double batch of the pesto. A first lick of the pesto had me swooning. I first served it smeared into a quinoa and kale salad topped with toasted coconut. The zest of the pesto was lost as it was diluted in the salad but the main flavours were present. Less bold, more tame. More for the masses. Adding dollops of even more pesto to the salad helped highly the pesto’s prowess. Later in the week, I added the pesto to zucchini noodles along with some white beans for a delicious tropical spin on alternative spaghetti.

Have a favourite pesto? Here are other ones I have enjoyed:

Lemon Basil Almond Pesto
Hazelnut-Sage Pesto
White Bean Basil Pesto

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Terry, and to this month‘s Herbs on Saturday.

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Hazelnut-Roasted Delicata Squash with Hazelnut-Sage Pesto

Posted in Favourites, Salads by Janet M on December 6, 2012

While I planted basil this summer, I didn’t use very much of it. It bolted before I knew what I wanted to do with it. My Pesto Perpetuo basil, a non-bolting basil, from two years ago was a basil warehouse. I had access to basil year-round as it survived the trip back into the house during winter. However, it died when I put it back outside this year. I suppose annuals have to die at some point. Given my lack of basil this summer, I feel that it is worth scoping it out next year.

Of course, it makes sense that once the summer is mere a distant memory, the days are cold and the rides back home in the night even colder, all I want is pesto. One of my proliferative herbs this summer was sage (if only the thyme and rosemary could have taken some advice). It may be synonymous with Thanksgiving stuffing, but one can definitely look beyond that.

You actually don’t need cups of sage to make this pesto. Instead sage is buffered with mild baby spinach to create a garlicky spread. Instead of pine nuts, I used toasted hazelnuts and hazelnut oil to flavour this winter pesto. The nutritional yeast adds the traditional cheesy taste but feel free to omit it. I chose to serve it with hazelnut-roasted delicata squash rings. Served on more greens, you have a very flavourful salad. Add white beans to make this a main meal. I didn’t use too much oil so my pesto was more thick than oily. Loaded with flavour.  Later in the week, I liked it smeared inside a green wrap (with a nod to my simple hazelnut-roasted squash, avocado and cucumber wrap).

Do you like pesto in the winter?

This is my submission to this month’s Herbs on Saturdays and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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White Bean Basil Pesto

Posted in Appetizers by Janet M on October 20, 2011


This was the flop of the party.

I am sharing it with you so that you learn from my mistakes.

A High Protein and Oil-Free Basil Pesto sounded delicious to me. The creaminess and protein came from a whipped white bean puree packed with loads of basil. Like the last bland dish from Angela, I ended up adding even more nutritional yeast and miso to up its appeal. Creamy, salty and full of basil.

Not everyone agreed with me. They didn’t even try the dip, since it looked like green frank-o-monster goop… and ended up oxidizing to an unappealing brown over the course of the afternoon.

My parents and I ended up polishing it off after all the guests had disappeared. I think it would work better as a sandwich spread than a dip with veggies anyways. Not only because the colour wouldn’t matter but that’s the way pesto works best. Slather it onto some crackers topped with roasted veggies. Crostini may be better next time.. but then I would have had to be in charge of appetizers for the party. ;) Now we’re talking.

Thankfully, I made sure the hummus was in tip-top shape so we didn’t have too many naked veggies.


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

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Asparagus, Nectarine and Baby Lima Bean Lettuce Wraps with Pesto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on August 15, 2011

Peach season is here!

So is nectarine season!

They are so similar, both so sweet and juicy when ripe, that I wondered how different they really are…

It turns out that the only genetic difference is a single recessive gene that removes the fuzz of a peach, giving nectarines a smooth shiny skin. So basically, they are the same with a different exterior. Fuzz vs no fuzz.

My google research suggests that nectarines may have higher concentrations of vitamins A & C as well as potassium, but it certainly varies with the variety of peach and nectarine.

Regardless, I love both nectarines and peaches. Substitute between the two for any recipe. My only gripe about these stone fruits is that they are highly perishable when ripe. You need to eat them pronto!

My Peachy Keen Vanilla Smoothie is a delicious way to treat yourself to wonderful peach bliss, and I have also used them to make other desserts like blueberry-peach brown butter muffins, blueberry-peach-raspberry crumbles, and an utterly delicious peach tea cake. Peach is also wonderful in a salsa, and I have paired it with a maple-chili grilled tofu previously.

Here, I wanted to go savoury with the nectarine. I was immediately drawn to PPK’s Portland Porch Lettuce Wraps, which featured pan-seared asparagus, nectarine and white beans with pesto in a lettuce wrap. I had been distracted from the asparagus, but vowed to get some more to make this. I wasn’t disappointed.

I modified Isa’s recipe slightly as I ran out of shallots, and I substituted with a mix of white and red onion. I chose baby lima beans as my white bean of choice. She provided a recipe for an edamame pesto, but I opted to use some pesto that I had made earlier and froze in some cute heart-shaped ice cube trays. How cute are they??

So, this dish was a wonderful merriment of sweet, succulent and juicy nectarines with crisp asparagus and creamy white beans with a nice backdrop of caramelized onions.  This is delicious, as is, with a side of lettuce, or even something like brown rice or quinoa.

The pesto is not mandatory, as this is great without it, but it is nice with it as well. Basically, don’t hesitate to make this if you are without pesto.


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

Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad with Lemon Basil Almond Pesto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on August 3, 2010

So now that I made pesto, I had to figure out what to do with it.  Pesto works well with a pasta salad, so I made a tasty pasta salad that used the summer’s bounty of vegetables.  The unifying taste comes from the pesto and since I used a nice, light lemony pesto, with a splash of red wine vinegar, it was a lovely summer salad indeed. My dad commented that he wished it had more pasta, compared to vegetables, so proceed with a ratio you prefer.

This simplistic recipe is from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley which also had the recipe for the lemon basil almond pesto.

Here are a few other ideas for using pesto:

Pesto Rice Salad from Eats Well With Others
Heather’s Quinoa Salad (with Cherry Tomatoes, Corn, Kale and Pesto) from 101 Cookbooks
Arugula Pesto Wheat Berry Salad from 101 Cookbooks
Wheat Berries with Roasted Vegetables and Red Pesto from Anja’s Food 4 Thought
Foil-Baked Salmon with Pesto and Tomato from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pesto Palmiers from Eating Out Loud
Romaine Pesto and Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen
White Bean Salad with Pesto from the New York Times

This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please for pesto, this month’s No Croutons Required featuring carrots and to Presto Past Nights, hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Lemon Basil Almond Pesto

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on August 2, 2010


With an abundance of basil on my balcony, I immediately thought of making a pesto sauce.  I always thought pesto meant basil, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese but I was wrong.  There are so many kinds of pestos, with so many variations on the herbs, nuts, added vegetables and fruit!  I looked through many recipes and was intrigued to try a basil-almond pesto from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley because I love almonds and it didn’t call for cheese.  No pine nuts either, which can be a bit pricey.

With so many variations, what exactly is a pesto? It is a made with mixed herbs and David Lebovitz explains that pesto is derived from the Italian meaning ‘to be pounded’, and to be authentic, must be pounded with a mortar and pestle. Phish, I have a new (for me, it is from the 1970′s!) food processor and it makes a wonderful whipped basil spread. :)

I liked this pesto, as it had a bite from the lemon and the almonds were a bit sweeter than pine nuts. The hardest part is now to decide what to do with it!

Other different kinds of pestos:

Rucola Pesto and Sun-dried Tomato Pesto from Chocolate & Zucchini
Strawberry Balsamic Pesto from Eats Well With Others
Kale Almond Pesto from Elana’s Pantry
Roasted Eggplant Pesto from Fat Free Vegan
Basil-Peanut Pesto from Steamy Kitchen
Asparagus Pesto from Simply Recipes
Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Pesto from Cookin’ Canuck
Green Olive Pesto from Gourmet
Pea and Mint Pesto from Closet Cooking

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Lynne at Cafe Lynnlu and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Garlic Pesto Tuna (What I Eat When I Eat Alone, Part 1)

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Fish) by Janet M on May 21, 2010


I recently read What We Eat When We Eat Alone by husband and wife team Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin. If you haven’t heard about it, definitely watch this youtube video promo here.  The premise of the book was to figure out what people eat when they only have to cook for themselves – they may be single or rather when their usual partner(s) in crime are away.

It was an interesting glimpse into how people indulge while treating themselves, or rather how they don’t treat themselves while alone. Some forage through the fridge and whip up a simple dish and others scout out foods their partners usually do not like. Others spend that extra mile to make a dish they know they will love. Everyone has a different relationship with food.

There are recipes sprinkled throughout the book, as people shared their solo suppers, and I thought it would be fun to share some of my own guilty pleasures that I love to eat when dining solo.  I was surprised at the responses in the book, but mine are equally as varied, depending on my mood, energy and taste.


I suppose my guiltiest pleasures were cultivated while in university, when I really had to learn how to cook for myself. The best recipes stood the test of time and this one is a keeper. Originally found as a sandwich recipe on Allrecipes.com, I have converted it to a dip. It is a savoury tuna salad sandwich deconstructed, with tuna, mustard, pesto and garlic. I serve it with cucumbers, carrots, pita wedges, etc, or if no one is watching, I may just eat it with a spoon. :)

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