the taste space

Spanish Lentil and Squash Stew with Roasted Garlic

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 13, 2011


Who likes garlic? I mean, really likes garlic? I probably shouldn’t scare the garlic-shy from this recipe, because it was really tasty. And didn’t leave me with garlic breath, so it couldn’t have been that potent with 14 cloves of garlic.

Ten of those garlic cloves are roasted, so they don’t really count towards the scary garlic count. Although, I almost had second thoughts as I dumped in 4 cloves of raw garlic at the end of making this stew. I shouldn’t have doubted Anya’s genius, though.

This recipe comes from The New Spanish Table, and I had been eyeing this recipe for months (I first mentioned it on my list of things to make with butternut squash back in November and again in January!). Honestly, I waited too long.  This is a lovely, hearty stew that is both savoury but still slightly sweet.  Lentils fill the stew as its base, and the butternut squash and red peppers add colour and sweetness. A head of roasted garlic brings a mellow sweetness as well. The peppers are both boiled and pan-fried for a contrast in flavour and texture (but I feel like this step could be skipped if you are pressed for time). And while I stated I don’t want to muck with Anya’s genius, I made a slight modification to her recipe, that I think lent to its prowess. Instead of adding in two fresh tomatoes (nothing with a fresh taste is around during the winter!), I added 1 cup of passata (strained tomatoes) at the end. This is where you get a silky tomato base for the stew that complements the squash, bell pepper and lentils so well.

I love it when I am surprised by a dish; but I shouldn’t have been. :)


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Jaya at Desi Soccer Mom, and E.A.T. World for Spain. (more…)

Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Stew (and Giveaway Winner)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on December 23, 2010

Tomorrow I am heading home for the holidays.  It will be spent with great family, food and friends.

And as I wonder what dishes I could make when I am home, I remind myself that no one likes mushrooms!

WHAT?! Can it be true?

I wasn’t really introduced to the foods my parents don’t like.

Mushrooms.

Coconut.

Brussels sprouts.

Anchovies.

Oysters.

Tofu.

Sushi.

Boiled beef (my Mom loves it, though – I have no interest in ever trying it!).

Fair enough, my kids will never have to suffer through eating celery.

Myself, I was a late bloomer towards mushrooms. I started with an affinity for shiitakes, and then fell in love when I tried enoki mushrooms. Shimeji are a nice woodsy, hearty mushroom, as well. Portobellos were always a nice meaty, treat. Then there’s the oyster mushroom, which tasted like seafood in the barley risotto. (Fair enough, I discovered my love for these wild mushrooms at the same time I found T&T!). I still shun the typical button mushrooms, especially if raw, but recently wanted to try yet another mushroom: cremini.

Truth be told, cremini mushrooms are the same as portobello mushrooms. They are baby portobellos. Once they reach 4-6″, they have graduated to portobello heaven. They are similar to button mushrooms in shape, but taste-wise they are meatier – they are more dense with a deeper flavour.

I was intrigued by Michael’s recipe for a Spanish Lentil and Mushroom Stew on Herbivoracious. He chose to use thick, quartered cremini mushrooms, that were browned. Because the mushrooms were thick, they kept their chewiness but were still slightly crispy on the outside. These flavourful mushrooms were paired with lentils with a hint of smoked paprika and a sherry vinaigrette, and topped with a light, sour tomato-basil salad.

I enjoyed the combination of flavours, of textures and of temperatures. The lentils were smokey with the paprika but the vinaigrette and tomatoes were sour; the lentils were smooth, the mushrooms chewy and the tomatoes crisp; the lentils and mushrooms were warm, the tomatoes cold. You look at the ingredient list and notice how deceiving it looks. It worked really well.

And now onto the winner of my first giveaway from csn stores. Congratulations to Janice who likes to make a noodle and vegetable soup. It sounds delicious. Let me know if you don’t get my email, Janice.

This is my submission to this round of Blog Bites 9, holiday buffet, potluck-style!

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Roasted Tomato and Lentil Salad with a Caramelized Sherry Vinaigrette

Posted in Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on October 7, 2010

Not all lentils are created equal. There are a multitude of lentils, ranging from ivory white, yellow to black. I have cooked with brown, green and red lentils, but I only recently tried the French green (du Puy) lentils. With this salad, in fact.  All the hype is true: they are great for salads. They are smaller then the typical green lentil and hold their shape once cooked. A lovely textural play for your tongue.

Guess where lentils are grown.  Not France. India is the largest producer and the next is Canada! We actually export the most in the world.  Saskatchewan produces most of our supply although I am still on the look-out for NuPak (ie. No Name) Saskatchewan Du Puy lentils in my local Loblaws. For now, I picked up a handful for this salad from the bulk section at Essence of Life in Kensington Market.

Adapted from A Crafty Lass, this is a delicious lentil salad with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and a caramelized sherry vinaigrette. For texture, raisins add some chewiness and toasted almonds add crunch. The basil ties everything together nicely. It is a sweet salad, so be gentle with the dressing. I halved the original recipe and then halved the dressing recipe again. Add to taste.

Some other lentil recipes that have caught my eye:

Turkish Eggplant, Tomato and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate from The Taste Space
Spicy Red Lentils and Spinach from The Taste Space
Lentil-Red Pepper Salad from Food52
French Lentil and Portobello Stew from Fat Free Vegan
Green Lentils with Wine-glazed Vegetables from Cook Simple
Salmon with Lentils and Mustard-Herb Butter from Gourmet
Stewed Lentils & Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen
French Lentils With Cashews from The New York Times
Lentil Salad with Capers from My New Roots
Arab Table Lentil and Chard Stew from Cate’s World Kitchen
Lentil Salad with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes from Avocado & Bravado

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

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Japanese Tomato Tofu Caprese Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on October 4, 2010


I was waiting patiently all summer. My heirloom tomato plants were late bloomers, you see. I ate a few tomatoes here and there when I noticed them earlier in the season, but nothing that I could harvest as a meal. Now my plants have a lot of tomatoes for the picking.


I would feel guilty using my heirloom cherry tomatoes in anything but a salad and I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them first: Momofuku‘s Tomato Tofu Caprese Salad (spotted via Belm Blog).

This is fusion cuisine at its best, where the classic Italian flavours from the caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic vinegar) are infused with Japanese flair.


First, a portion of small cherry tomatoes are poached, lightly cooked and skinned. The remainder remain raw and are halved. The textural contrast, with the skinned poached tomatoes and the raw crisp tomatoes was wonderful. Heirloom tomatoes, with their varying colours and tastes work really well with the mix (my green zebra tomatoes were the most sweet of all!).

Next, the traditional buffalo mozzarella is replaced with silken tofu. I realize this is sacrilegious to the purists. My brother ate caprese salad every day throughout this honeymoon in Italy, it was that good. Buffalo mozzarella can be a difficult find, and to be honest,  I really liked the silken tofu as it sopped up the extra dressing. It was light, tasty and incredibly filling. This was a main meal salad, especially when I added the baby arugula.

The typical basil is replaced with shiso, which is a Japanese herb that tastes similar to mint. I decided to pluck basil from my balcony instead of searching out shiso.

The dressing was changed from a heavier balsamic to a light sherry vinaigrette with deep tones from the sesame oil and soy sauce. Now I knew this was a definitely a Japanese interpretation.

This is a tad more work than a standard salad, but trust me when I say the poaching of the tomatoes are worth it. The variety of both flavours and textures are remarkable. Together, we have a delicious salad.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to My Kitchen, My World, featuring Japanese dishes this month, to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Dil Se, and to Ricki and Kim’s vegan SOS challenge featuring sesame.

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