the taste space

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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Chickpea Piccata

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

While I typically bring food when I eat out, when I went home for Christmas, my Mom didn’t want me to cook. She wanted this to be a relaxing visit and thought that if I was cooking in the kitchen, I wouldn’t be on vacation. Trust me, I relish cooking, but it was wonderful to know that my Mom had already prepared some meals for me to enjoy.

Prior to arriving, at her request, I suggested a few possible meals. Some dishes that I had already made myself, but mostly dishes that I had bookmarked for a special occasion. My mom was so awesome that she went out of her way to make I didn’t feel left out: when everyone had her delicious quiche for brunch, she made my Mediterranean Crustless Chickpea Flour Quiche for me. For Christmas Eve, she made beef bourguignon for the gang and beans bourguignon for me.

For Christmas dinner, I had Chickpea Piccata on the menu. My recent meal at Candle 79 in New York City was a definite highlight with their delicious Seitan Piccata and I was itching to try something similar at home. But with much less work!

With a simple mise-en-place, this Chickpea Piccata from Appetite for Reduction, was easy for me to whip together as my Mom tended to the spaetzle to go with the rouladen.

Thankfully, this Chickpea Piccata did not disappoint. It had the perfect blend of flavours, with a not-too-tart lemon-caper-shallot sauce overtop braised chickpeas. I served it over spinach with a side of mashed parsnips. To be honest, for such a healthy meal, there is no need to reserve this solely for a special occasion. This definitely gets filed in the “You Can Make this For Me Anytime” category.


This is being submitted to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this month’s citrus love blog hop and to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Tarragon Green Bean and White Bean Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on October 17, 2011

As far as I know, my Dad is still alive. You see, he threw a surprise party for my mom.

This was a real surprise for her because well, it wasn’t her birthday. No date in the calendar that would tip her off that 35 of her closest family and friends would gather in Ottawa for her.

In fact, she thought she was going to to be driving down to Toronto for the weekend. Did I have any plans? she asked. Of course not! I knew that while I wouldn’t meet her in my kitchen, I would be sharing breakfast with her that weekend. In Ottawa, instead of Toronto.

For months, my Dad had plotted and schemed.

He kind of needed that long because he was down to one working hand. After a broken wrist, and slicing through a handful of fingers, my Dad had to be a master to make chicken skewers without my Mom figuring things out… nevermind the 3 cakes and couscous salad he also made.

My brother and sister-in-law were in charge of appetizers, whereas I was the Salad and Dip Queen.

I tried to follow my mom’s salad party suggestions: 1 leafy green salad and 1 bean or grain salad. However, since we were feeding 35 people, my Dad asked me to diversify with more salads rather than fewer salads.

I mixed up both new and old recipes, and all but one was a hit, so I thought I would share them this week since I had a few requests for the recipes.

For the leafy green salad, I kind of went along with what my Dad had lying around at home… Romaine was thrown together with strawberries, almonds and a maple-based vinaigrette. It was gone before I even made it to the buffet line. Someone had actually already removed the bowl before I was there, it was finito.

For the heartier salads, I had a no-brainer up my sleeve: the 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants. I have made it so often, and now that my family has tried it, I can’t think of anyone who has not sampled it. It will have to be retired for a bit… at least until potluck season picks up again next summer.

Since Sarah’s lentil salad was such a hit, I thought it would be great to try another one of her salads for the party. She had a lovely tarragon string bean salad that caught my eye. I hesitated about bringing another bean salad to the party, especially with tarragon, but once I tasted it I knew it would be alright. Green beans aren’t so scary, are they?

This salad was simple. Lightly steamed green beans were paired with Great Northern white beans in a light tarragon vinaigrette. Like most of Sarah’s recipes, I decreased the oil, and in the hubbub of the party, I forgot to add the toasted hazelnuts. No worries, though, because the salad was gobbled up.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Suma.

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Warm Carrot and Flageolet Bean Salad with Dill

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on September 23, 2011


Thank you for all your suggestions on how you bookmark your recipes on my last post. For some reason, Google Reader doesn’t always search every post, so sometimes I resort to searching through the archives of my favourite blogs.

We all know the heavy hitters in the food blogging circles. We could argue about our top 3 blogs, but I enjoy Heidi’s blog at 101 Cookbooks and have had success with many of her creations. Even after 3 cookbooks to her name, she continues to post recipes that feature fresh and natural ingredients. One of the benefits of having a blog, instead of her cookbooks, is that it is quickly and easily searchable. When I wanted to know what to do with some leftover dill, I looked through her archives for inspiration.

I eventually settled on this seemingly simple white bean and carrot salad. It is simple to make but the flavours work really well together. This is definitely where food synergy is at play. I added my own spins to the dish, adding more carrots, using less oil and no sugar. Instead, I opted to caramelize the shallots and carrots to capitalize on their natural sweetness. Slivered almonds confer a satisfying crunch.

I froze extra flageolet beans from my last flageolet bean salad, so this was easy to whip together. The broth-infused creamy white beans were the definitive star of the salad. If you can’t find flageolets, any white bean could work like great Northern or pinto (Heidi used alubias, a kind of pinto bean). In a pinch, tinned beans could work as well but they don’t brown up as well as home-cooked beans (be mindful that they don’t turn to mush).

This salad tastes great fresh from the stovetop but also works wonderfully after a few days when the flavours have melded together even longer.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Wellness Weekends, and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Cathy.

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Thai Tropical Fruit and Tofu Salad

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on April 8, 2011


It is always good to eat more fruits and veggies. Personally, I don’t have a problem eating fruit, but always looking for ways to eat more vegetables.

Fruit is a perfect snack food. Take an apple: Wash and eat. It satisfies a need for something crisp, quenching with a touch of sweetness. It is also a lot more filling then processed snacks. There are so many different kinds of apples, you can mix up the texture and flavour each time. Lately, I have been happily exploring new apple varieties: Cameo, Pinata (also called Pinova), Jonagold, Fuji and Braeburn apples, which have all been great for snacking.

The apple is my standard fruit. I usually eat one or two a day and have yet to grow tired of it.

Berries and tropical fruit make me giddy, though. If they weren’t so expensive, I’d be eating them all day long (score for when they are all on sale at the same time!). Most often, like apples, they are great untouched. They are so sweet, you don’t need enhance their unblemished taste at all. Certainly you don’t need to do anything, but yes, it can get better. I dare you to make this salad.

Adapted from my favourite cookbook Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, this is a Thai salad with a multitude of tropical fruit (I used pineapple, mango, kiwi) with lime-tamari tofu. It is tossed with a sweet and zingy sesame-lime dressing. Served overtop of a bed of baby spinach and topped with a sprinkling of dried coconut and crushed cashews, this is a very tasty main-course salad. You do not need dessert with a main dish as succulent as this. :)


This is my submission to this month’s Veggie/Fruit a Month, featuring mango, to Healing Foods featuring pineapple, to E.A.T. World for Thailand, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for pineapple and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Wild Mushroom and Barley Soup

Posted in Soups by janet @ the taste space on December 12, 2010


The snow has fallen, the salt is out and my bike has been stowed away for the winter.

My winter jacket, mitts and hat are now in the front of my closet.

I cleaned the dust off my winter boots.

Winter is here.

And what else does snow make me do?

Snow simply screams, “Soup!”.

I will happily succumb.

Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Eat Well Cookbook, this is a hearty and creamy wild mushroom soup (sans creme) with barley and thyme.  Something great to warm up with this winter.

It is for serious mushroom lovers, with both dried shiitake and fresh cremini mushrooms. Tomato paste adds a deeper body to the soup, and the sherry adds a special flavour. Thyme, a perfect pair to the mushrooms, is a nice accent, along with the lemon juice. Nowhere have I mentioned cream, but this is a substantial soup with the pearl barley. The trick is to puree a portion of the soup for the creaminess.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Almond Broccoli Crunch Salad

Posted in Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on September 22, 2010

There are many recipes for broccoli salad. It usually includes chopped red onion, raisins, sunflowers seeds, crumbled bacon and a mayonnaise dressing laced with sugar and vinegar. It is delicious.  I even asked for the recipe after I ate it a few summers ago. But I haven’t made it yet. I find I get turned off of recipes when I know exactly what goes inside. Bacon and mayo are delicious, but I just don’t cook with them that often.

This is why I perked up when I saw a mayo- and bacon-less broccoli salad on 101 Cookbooks. There are many different crunchy aspects to the salad; tender-crisp broccoli, crisp apple pieces and toasted almonds. The magic ingredient was probably the crispy onion. They were crunchy and added a unique flavour. I cheated and used store-bought crispy onions that I found in Kensington Market a while back but I included the directions to pan-fry your own shallots, if you choose to do so.  The dressing was a bit on the thick side for me, which was probably due to my almond butter. It spread out more than I thought once it dressed the salad. It certainly is not a mayo-dressing, but a decent alternative.

This is my submission to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring apples and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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