the taste space

Quinoa Protein Bowl & Healthy Lunch Box Ideas

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on August 17, 2014

Gena's Quinoa Protein Bowl

Lately my meals have been a lot of random foods. I am holding out. I knew I had some staples waiting to be unpacked but quickly replenished my perishable staples (tahini, peanut butter, maple syrup, etc). As such, the last few weeks have had me cooking without spices, relying on strong-flavoured ingredients and let’s be honest, I bought some pre-made soups and added some beans to make it a complete meal.

I promise to share some of my fun meals once my home is back to normal. Until then, I will continue to unearth some oldies-but-goodies from my backlog. I chose to share this one because it is actually pretty similar to what I am eating these days: cooked quinoa, random vegetables, beans, topped with a creamy sauce.

Please head over to Sunny’s site for the recipe for the Quinoa Protein Bowl (35g protein/serving) which I am sharing for her (gluten-free and dairy-free) Healthy Lunchbox Ideas 2014.

What is your template for healthy lunches?

Gena's Quinoa Protein BowlI am sharing this with the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with a Peanut-Miso-Sesame Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on May 2, 2013

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with a Peanut-Miso Sauce

Are you familiar with The Dish column in the Toronto Star?

They routinely give the nutritional stats of local eats based on laboratory analysis. Not surprisingly, most meals get a failing grade.

Salad King’s Chicken Pad Thai: 1114 calories and 3479mg of sodium

Burrito Boyz’s Steak Burrito: 1000 calories and 1452mg of sodium

Veggie options are not usually any better:

Gandhi’s Spinach and Paneer Roti: 1482 calories and 3360mg of sodium

a1 Sweet’s Indian veggie thali: 1690 calories and 2134mg of sodium

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with a Peanut-Miso Sauce

And what about vegan eats? Not any better.

Urban Herbivore’s sweet potato date muffin (just one! one muffin!) is 986 calories and 689 mg of sodium.

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with a Peanut-Miso Sauce

And supposedly “healthy” restos? Depends on what you order:

Fresh’s Buddha Bowl (brown rice bowl with peanut sauce, tofu cucumber, tomato, cilantro, bean sprouts and peanuts) is 1168 calories and 1076mg of sodium

And Fresh’s Green Goddess Bowl (steamed bok choy, kale, swiss chard and broccoli with grilled tempeh, pickled ginger, toasted sunflower seeds, tahini sauce, toasted nori and ginger tamari sauce) is only 687 calories with 647mg of sodium.

Moral of the story? If you are eating out, be mindful of your portion sizes and the amount of non-veggies…. and preferably, only eat half your meal.

The portion sizes are so huge at my beloved Hot Beans that it is equally wise to share a meal there, too.

This always encourages me to try my hand at making the food at home, more in tune to my regular portion sizes. The culprits for the giant calorie counts are mostly due to the sheer amount of food, including heaping portions of rice and rich sauces. Fresh’s Green Goddess Bowl is lighter because it is filled with less caloric dense green veggies.

And yes, because I still couldn’t get Hot Bean’s peanut miso sauce out of my head, I made another version.

Last time, it was just chickpeas and broccoli but this time I went more extravagant by adding spaghetti squash, shallots and sesame seeds to the chickpeas and broccoli. I also wanted to test my theory of a thicker sauce by using some toasted sesame oil with the peanut butter and miso dressing.

Compared to my last attempt, this dressing was thicker, coating the veggies nicely. This version also had a more pronounced sesame flavour from the toasted sesame oil. In fact, a little of the sauce goes a long way. Big bold flavours means you don’t need to use as much. If you like it to cover everything, thin it or make a double batch. Both dressings were good, though. Side-by-side, I preferred the first dressing (I like dressings a bit more tart) whereas Rob preferred this one, but it was close.

Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with a Peanut-Miso Sauce

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Elena, and to Cate for Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian legume dishes.

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Roasted Balsamic Curry Fall Vegetables and Cranberries with Kamut

Posted in Favourites, Salads, Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 20, 2012

Earlier this year, my cousin’s wife was trying to track down kamut, an ancient wheat. She explained to me that kamut contained less gluten, perfect for her gluten-free adventures.  She searched high and low and could not find whole grain kamut. Kamut flakes and puffed kamut, yes, but not regular old kamut.  Since she was hoping to get rid of gluten, I suggested not trying to track down such a hard-to-find ingredient, especially since it still contains gluten, even if it is a smaller amount.

A few days later, when I decided to reorganize my whole grains, I discovered I had kamut. Turns out I had forgotten all about it. I bought a small amount while in Calgary, since I had never seen it before. Unfortunately, while Community Natural Foods has an online store, I don’t see kamut for sale.  With my curiosity piqued, I decided it was time to try out the kamut.

Nothing fancy, I opted to add it to a bowlful of roasted fall vegetables. More veggies, less grain, please.

The verdict?

First, the kamut. I will admit that it was nice. Similar to wheat berries, they were pleasantly plump yet their shape made it more akin to orzo. A plumpy, chewy orzo. Milder than wheat berries, I rather enjoyed them.  If I had easy access to kamut, I would likely choose it over wheat berries, but since I don’t know where to replenish it in Toronto, I will just have to finish my spelt berries first. Although, I am already on a whittling of the pantry plan, where nothing is being replenished except for my easy-to-find favourites: quinoa, red lentils and chickpeas.

Next, the veggies. Delicious right from the oven, I had a hard time holding back from gobbling everything down. I loved combining the different roasted vegetables for different complementary flavours. The Brussels sprouts were earthy and crispy, contrasting the soft and sweet squash, next to the tart and juicy cranberries. The balsamic-curry dressing was not overpowering, and allowed the natural flavours to shine.

Don’t have kamut? No worries. Simply omit it or add your favourite whole grain or bean. I am thinking chickpeas or white beans would be great here.

If you do have kamut, and live in the GTA, please tell me where you found it. :)

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Brii.

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Moroccan Chana Dal Stew with Green Olives and Preserved Lemon

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on November 1, 2012

With less free time, I have had to trim my bloglist. I can’t seem to fit everything into a day, so I am focusing my blog reading in the morning.

However, all bets are off if I can’t sleep at night.

I recently discovered this incredibly hilarious blog. Maybe you’ve run into her blog already? Jenny, The Bloggess?

Just read these two posts and I guarantee you will be laughing:

Post 1. Post 2.

I don’t want to give away any of the punch lines, but it makes me look tame. Crazy Janet buying 10 squashes is nothing compared to this!

Crazy Janet buying 10 squashes means more squash recipes for you, though!

This is a recipe I bookmarked years ago when Deb first posted it: Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew.

I stashed away a preserved lemon and green olives a bit too long, just for this recipe.

Turns out that while I had the squash and green beans, too, I didn’t have any chickpeas. My freezer collection had been depleted. Undeterred, I pulled out the next best thing: chana dal, or split chickpeas. Except they aren’t typical chickpeas, they are black desi chickpeas. A tad smaller, a bit firmer, they have a thick shell which makes them look black. However, chana dal splits them in half and removes the tough outer shell. I figured they would cook up faster than unsoaked chickpeas, too. Have no chana dal? Try split yellow peas instead (soaked would be best)… or used cooked chickpeas like in the original. :)

While my stew looks nothing like Deb’s original version, I am sure mine was equally as delicious. I liked the creamy nature of the chana dal as a back drop for the stew along with cinnamon and cumin. The buttercup squash was sweet and complemented the grassiness of the green beans (yes, my plants were very prolific this year). For further depth, green Cerignola olives and preserved lemon make this an exotic twist of flavours.

I was trying to tackle bookmarked recipes last month and I wonder if I should keep this one bookmarked so I can try the original version? I still have half a preserved lemon left!

While I still have many more bookmarked recipes courtesy of a great vegan mofo, I still tackled many of my dog-eared bookmarks and depleted my pantry items. Thank goodness most of the recipes were successes!

What have you bookmarked recently?

What are your favourite non-food blogs?

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

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Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Chickpeas, Leeks and Fennel

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on October 11, 2012

Last year, two of my culinary discoveries was my love of fennel and kabocha squash (celeriac, too). Not a fan of licorice, but I appreciate a subtle anise flavour from cooked fennel.

Back then, I spotted this tantalizing soupy stew from Denis Cotter with squash, chickpeas and fennel and I knew I wanted to try it. I bookmarked it last year, and now that I have an abundance of squash and these vegetables are back in season, it was time to make it!

Whenever you make a Cotter recipe, be prepared to dirty a bunch of pots and pans. I stream-lined the process slightly by omitting the croutons, but still oven-roasted my squash for the soup. I have become smitten with eating squashes I don’t have to peel (kabocha and delicata) but roasting makes peeling squash a heck of a lot easier. I have my tricks for tackling butternut squash, though. I pierce the squash a few times with a fork, then microwave it for 5 minutes before peeling it. I also usually peel the tubular and bulbous parts separately.

This soup did not disappoint. Chickpeas and squash go so well together. Savoury cumin and fennel seeds augment the mellow fennel, leek and shallots. Ginger and chile flakes add a nice zip and lemon juice balances it all. A hearty meal in a bowl, perfect for warming up with this colder weather. A new favourite, for sure.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Potluck party, to this month’s Simple and In Season and to this month’s Monthly Mingle for squash.

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Carnival Squash Stuffed with Cranberry Maple Quinoa and Beans

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

This feels like a guilty confession. Boastful yet partially aghast at my audacity.

I admit it: I have 10 different kinds of winter squash in my kitchen.

All are edible (unlike the uber cute swan squash below! which I didn’t buy by the way)

There are the usual players: Butternut squash. Buttercup squash. Kabocha squash. Delicata squash. Spaghetti squash. Sugar pie pumpkin.

They all happened to be on sale this week.

But then, I went to the large Loblaws downtown (the one with 20 different kinds of mushrooms) and yes, they have plenty of squashes, too. Known for its wide selection, they carry many gourmet foods. While the dried mushrooms could cost you an arm and a leg (dried morels are $113.05/lb), the unique squashes didn’t break my budget.

From a local mostly-Mennonite farm and only $1/lb, I came home with new-to-me squashes: carnival, white swan and sweet dumpling (pictured left to right, above).  I resisted buying the ambercup and turban squashes, but I may head back for my next squash fix. (These are small squashes, so it may happen sooner than you think!)

With the ridged nature of the squashes, I knew these squashes were meant to be stuffed. I filled them with quinoa and white beans spiced with sage and oregano from my garden along with fresh cranberries, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. The flavours worked well together and I liked the tartness from the fresh cranberries contrasting the sweetness from the maple syrup. I served it overtop spinach for a prettier presentation.

The squash verdict? Love the carnival squashes! Dry yet moist, crumbly and sweet. Perfect as a stuffed squash because you can eat through the squash at the same time and integrated it into the dish. It might be too crumbly to hold up as large chunks for soups or stews. In the end I ate the skin of the squash, too. It was nice and crispy after all the roasting, so make sure you scrub the squashes clean before you start.

PS. For those keeping track, I also have a golden nugget squash and haven’t tried it yet. Any predictions on how best to eat it?

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Marta, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, to Healthy Vegan Fridays, to the Healthy Thanksgiving Challenge, and to this month’s Herbs on Saturday.

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Vegan BLT Sandwich with Curried Kabocha Squash Flatbread and Tofu-Cashew Mayonnaise

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on September 7, 2012

A Vegan BLT.

Not so farfetched with prepared store-bought vegan bacon, vegan “mayonnaise” and a loaf of bread.

But this is Janet-style. Whole foods only. No white flours.

A return of the raw eggplant bacon. Flatbread made with kabocha squash, buckwheat and flax.  And for that mayonnaise, I whipped up a tofu-cashew version.

Food is always a source of discussion at gatherings, and since I don’t visit my extended family in Montreal that often, they found it shocking what I ate (or rather what I don’t eat). OK, no meat and dairy, but what about baked goods with eggs? No. What about whole wheat pasta? No. What about bread? No.

I make very few baked goods. Even when I do, I want them to be whole-foods based. It took me awhile, but I finally made Gena’s curried kabocha squash flatbread when I had a hankering for a BLT with the abundant fresh tomatoes. Although, after I had difficulties with a wet dough that never seemed to bake, I was reminded why I love my one-pot meals. They are so much harder to goof up!

My problem with the bread was that it took much longer to cook. I probably added too much water since my squash was already moist. Or I should have spread it thinner. In any case, I had to flip it while the underside was still wet. After a long run in the oven, it was dry and cooked through. I loved the subtle flavour from the squash which made these moist and pliable breads. The spices added a complementary touch and was nice with the BLT components.

I also made a quick vegan mayonnaise with tofu and cashews. I scoured a few recipes, including some made with avocado and even beans but wanted one that wasn’t loaded with oil. While not as creamy as traditional mayo and only reminiscent of its flavour, I still enjoyed the spread. In the sandwich, you wouldn’t note the lack of real mayonnaise. You only notice the differences while licking the knife.

While most people have returned to school this week and may be looking for totable lunches, sandwiches are common for the masses. However, just like my BLT Corn Pinto Bean Salad with Raw Eggplant Bacon, the bacon needs to be kept separate and assembled just prior to serving. The great thing about the eggplant bacon is how crispy it is. However, it seems to whisk in moisture super fast, so you need to keep it separated until ready to eat.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s potluck party for Back to School Recipes, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays and to this month’s Simple and In Season.

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Black Bean and Kabocha Squash Rancheros

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 30, 2012

Although it is still many, many moons away, if I am moving to Texas, I think I need to learn more about Mexican cuisine. While I have posted quite a few Mexican recipes, they are a tad nontraditional:

Tacos made with “BBQ jackfruit meat

Guacamole with pineapple and cucumber or edamame

Lime-spiked non refried black beans and quinoa in a kale wrap

Raw burritos which are collard wraps filled with jicama, sprouts and a nacho-cashew sauce

Or how about a raw taco filled with walnut meat, cashew sour cream and a cherry tomato salsa

Chickpea salad with a Mexican mango dressing

Moles with cranberry beans and roasted butternut squash or with tofu and tempeh

Mexican cabbage stirfry

What can I say, that’s what happens when I veer away from deep fried and cheese-heavy meals. At least I know how to pronounce mole (moh-lay).

Thoroughly thrilled with my hazelnut-roasted kabocha squash, I figured it would also be delicious with Isa’s Butternut Rancheros.

Glancing at the recipe, I could tell this was a going to be a dish with spicy tomato sauce smothering black beans, topped with hazelnut-infused caramelized roasted squash. But what makes this a rancheros? What is rancheros?

Turns out rancheros literally means Ranch-style. Huevos rancheros, a classic Mexican dish with a tortilla topped with an egg and tomato sauce means Ranch-style eggs.

So this, my friends, is Ranch-style squash!

A very simple recipe to prepare, basically you create a spicy silky-smooth cumin and coriander enhanced tomato sauce that coats black beans. The spiciness is juxtaposed beautifully against the sweet squash.  Isa’s recipes rarely disappoint although I still tinkered with it.

I roasted my kabocha with hazelnut oil instead of walnut oil. Olive oil would work, too, no worries. I substituted 2 green chiles for the jalapeno and increased the garlic to 6 cloves. It had a nice zing for my palate, but for those who love heat, definitely add more chile.

Any plans for Cinqo de Mayo this weekend?


This is my submission to this month’s My Kitchen, My World for Mexico and to this week’s Weekend Wellness .

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Tofu, Tempeh and Squash Peanut Mole

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 27, 2012

Have you ever been drawn to a particular ingredient or appliance based on a recipe?

I do it all the time. Do you need chaat masala to make the Malai Kofta? Of course not, but I wanted to see what it tasted like with it. I remember my sister-in-law searching out maple sugar just to make Kevin’s Blueberry Maple Pecan Cinnamon Buns. (For the record, I don’t think it was worth it).

I first spotted this Tofu, Tempeh and Squash Peanut Mole a few years ago. Certainly not fat-free with the peanut butter, I knew that if Susan from Fat Free Vegan found it worthwhile sharing, then it must be special. Joanne loved it, too.

Problem: I had no slow cooker. So I stalled on the dish. I had tofu frozen for the longest time until I figured out how to make it sans slow cooker. I also needed to get over my fear of the chipotle chiles in adobo.

Then, I moved and my landlords graciously lent me their slow cooker.

It still took me a nearly a year to finally make it. Getting the boot from our home and leaving the slow cooker, was my impetuous for making this. Rather, highly suggesting Rob make it, as he likes spicy moles and in a slow cooker it couldn’t be any easier, right?

Wrong! The recipe was deceiving. Rob thought this was way too much work with all the blending and grinding prior to using the slow cooker. He ended up forgetting to use the chipotle chiles and the bread (nevermind the bread, it was thick enough).

We both tasted it and thought it was just ok. Not worth repeating. Not worth searching out a slow cooker.

In fact, the majority of the stuff I made in the slow cooker were beans, but I prefer them on the stove top so I can keep my eye on them. The problem with freshly dried beans (ie from Rancho Gordo) is that they can easily be overcooked! Rob’s slow cooker brisket was probably the biggest recipe winner. Our year with the slow cooker has taught us that we definitely do not need a slow cooker.

Perhaps a pressure cooker instead? Quicker beans, please!! ;)

This is my submission to this month’s My Kitchen, My World for Mexico, to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness, and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Root Vegetable Mulligatawny

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on April 16, 2012

I know you raised an eyebrow when I posted the recipe for Banana Naan. Bread flour, what?!

Let me assure you that for my Indian Easter, I continued with the clean out my kitchen mantra and no-more-buying things for the pantry moratorium with the Janet-friendly part of the meal.

I had been eyeing Sarah’s Mulligatawny Soup ever since she posted it in January. My Mom told me not to stress about the meals, so I scoped out recipes that I could make with the produce I already had (we happened to be fortunate that cauliflower was on sale for $1/head for our pakoras). Almost everything else had been squirreled away in my freezer, or living without a purpose in my fridge (I was looking at half a celeriac and half a kabocha squash!). While Sarah also provided the recipe for the Celeriac and Pumpkin Curry, they don’t taste remotely similar.

Mulligatawny is a British Indian curry-flavoured soup and literally means “pepper water”. However, recipes seem to be so varied that anything goes. Tess‘ version of mulligatawny is primarily red lentils, lemon and cilantro, whereas this is a creamy, tomato-spiked vegetable curry-soup brightened with tamarind. The leftovers were definitely more of a curry consistency.

Preparing a huge batch of soup in advance is a great way to relieve the stressful prep before a large meal. However, I didn’t fully appreciate how much soup I would be making. Sarah suggested it would serve a crowd, and she didn’t lie. We definitely already had enough food to feed an army along with the pakoras, 2 other curries [Malai Koftas, and a Spinach Chana Dal curry], a couscous pilaf salad and dessert. Oh, and we bought naan, too. Those recipes are still forthcoming, no worries!

Why did we make such a feast? 1) To make sure there was something for everyone to enjoy; and 2) No cooking required for the rest of the weekend since we’d be eating the leftovers.

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s Sunday Night Soup Night and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Celeriac and Pumpkin Curry

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 19, 2012

Celeriac. Pumpkin. Could I be sharing any more autumn-like produce?

As I am munching away through my freezer before our next move, I am rediscovering meals that I should have blogged about but for some reason, I haven’t!

I am a long-standing proponent of leftovers but oddly enough, when I stash leftovers in the freezer, they kind of sit there for a while. Freshly made meals are always my go-to choice, but I have some real gems being unearthed these days.

I have  become a bit more accustomed to the tamer curries that are made with curry powder, red lentils and an assortment of veggies. I really liked the Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal and since celeriac was my favourite veggie this winter, I was eager to try my hand at a similar stewy curry from Sarah. Typically, potatoes are used in Indian cooking but here, celeriac adds a different dimension which complements the sweetness from the pumpkin.  I also loved the addition of the spinach thrown in for good green measure. I usually don’t freeze meals that use greens, but these leftovers are ok from the freezer.

By the way, does anyone know what kind of pumpkin is sold in stores that are cut into large wedges? They are labelled as Ontario pumpkins, but I have no clue what kind they are… I don’t cook with the jack-o-lantern pumpkins, but this was definitely a pumpkin for cooking. :)

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

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Ethiopian Split Pea and Kabocha Squash Stew with Collards

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 2, 2012

Just when it seemed like Rob and I had finally settled into our new place, unpacked all our stuff, got rid of the mattress in the dining room, we found out we would be moving again.

While we haven’t found a new place to live yet, I am hoping to stay in the same neighbourhood, which I have grown to love.  It is a lovely working class residential neighbourhood with some positive gems – a summer Farmer’s Market, a simple unassuming health store filled with bulk and organic ingredients, and oodles of ethnic grocers along Danforth. Our specific area is kind of a hodge podge of cultures: Ethiopian stores can be found next to Bengali supermarkets, but that is what I love. Before one of our Ethiopian fests, Rob went out to try to find some injera and instead came home with roti. All the injera was sold out, explaining how he ended up in Little India instead.

I have only recently discovered a love for Ethiopian food as I know it can be deathly spicy. I was converted after a glorious visit to a vegan Ethiopian resto, M&B Yummy, again quite an unassuming hole-in-wall kind of place, where you can get a huge meal for two under $30 including $2 Mill St Organic beers and $3 tofu cheesecakes from Sweets from the Earth. The vegetarian platter, served overtop a lovely sour injera pancake, includes berbere-spiced faux meat, spicy red lentil stews (or wats), as well as not as the milder collard greens, split pea puree, carrot and green bean dish and a lettuce salad. Sadly, we haven’t been able to try the chickpea scramble, butucha, as they’ve always been out.

My two favourite dishes from this platter are the split pea puree (kik alicha) and green bean and carrot dish (fasoulia). Both were the least spicy of the dishes and work well adjacent to the spicy lentil purees and faux meats. I have duplicated both recipes, and will share them eventually.

In the meantime, I have brought together most of the traditional elements of Ethiopian cuisine into one dish.  Split peas. Berbere. Collard greens. Kabocha squash, too. In a one-pot meal. Boo-yah! I originally spotted this on Ainslie’s blog and my curiosity was piqued with the sweet split peas contrasting with the spicy berbere. She suggests serving this overtop kale, which was just the invitation I needed to throw collards into the stew as well. The result is a hearty stew, creamy and sweet from the split peas and squash, with a touch of bitterness from the collards and enough heat you can tolerate from the berbere. Rob and I scored a hefty sample of berbere from a nearby store and I was pleasantly surprised that it was more flavourful than spicy. It definitely helps to experiment with the blends from different stores as well as different recipes.


This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring hot spices, to this week’s Weekend Wellness and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Heather. For Lisa’s complete birthday menu, (since I haven’t shared my other Ethiopian favourites yet), I’d serve it with fun Moroccan Vegetable Phyllo Rolls with Balsamic Maple Sauce and finish it off with a Moroccan Orange Cinnamon Salad and Raw Mango Paradise Bars for a decadent birthday treat.

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Hazelnut Roasted Kabocha Squash, Cucumber and Avocado Collard Wrap

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on January 23, 2012


Calling all squash experts. I need your help!

This week, kabocha squash was on sale. Half price. Score for me!

I had two problems, though.

1) While I have heard of such a highly-praised squash, I had never eaten it.  I figured there hadn’t been a squash that I hadn’t liked, so I still decided to scope them out.

2) When I made it to the grocery store, the sign was labelled as BUTTERCUP squash, though. The squashes had kabocha stickers, the flyer advertised kabocha squash, but the sign clearly stated buttercup squashes were on sale.

I haven’t tasted a kabocha, let alone really noticed them before (the one I bought at the Farmer’s market, that is still sitting in my kitchen, is a light shade of blue… and 8 lb.. and looked nothing like these squashes!). Furthermore, there was no way I could discern any differences from a buttercup squash. What to do???

If I had a cell phone, I could have done an emergency internet search… but I don’t have a cell phone. :P So I bought a bunch of squashes, drove home and then did my emergency squash search.

Turns out I am not the only person with the buttercup-kabocha quandary! Heather outlined the very subtle differences, focusing mostly on the butt of the squash.

Tell me how my squash butt compares. Did I buy a kabocha or a buttercup?

I suppose the proof is in the pudding.  Or wrap, in this case.

I decided to roast the squash so that I could really taste it. Drizzled with a little hazelnut oil and only salt and pepper, this was a delicious squash. Denser, yet drier than a butternut squash. I found it had more flavour though and possibly a bit more sweet. Plus, the definitive bonus of the kabocha squash is that you don’t need to peel it!! I buy butternut squashes because I have become pretty adept at peeling it, but eating the peel is even easier! (FYI- the buttercup squash tends to cook up softer and falls apart quite easily).

Next, I went just a bit more fancy and stuffed the roasted squash into a collard wrap smothered with mashed avocado and cucumber, an idea that I borrowed from Gena at Choosing Raw. Gena has a wonderful way with pairing seemingly odd ingredients together, yet they work so well (remember the delectable apple and zesty cashew orange spread wrap?). Anyways, this was a very decadent wrap with the seasoned avocado working as a dressing, the cucumber conferring crunch all highlighting the hazelnut-flavoured roasted kabocha squash.

How do you prefer to eat your kabocha squash?


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cindystar, to Ingredient Challenge Monday for squash and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

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Garlic-Roasted Butternut Squash and Kale Salad with Pomegranate

Posted in Favourites, Salads by janet @ the taste space on December 21, 2011

Last weekend, Rob and I had pre-Christmas dinner with his family. Our families are located a bit too far from each other to want to drive between both cities on Christmas Day so we went to Woodstock a week earlier. Rob’s mom was a sweetie and gave me full reign over the kitchen to whip up a few dishes. She took care of the traditional Polish dishes while I had more of a hybrid/fusion contribution with braised cabbage, borscht (recipe to come) and this kale salad.  In the aftermath of the gathering, Rob let me know that his parents couldn’t stop raving over this kale salad. People raving over kale salad, doesn’t that make your heart skip a beat? ;) First of all, let me apologize for the less-than-stellar photos. That’s the sacrifice for making a new recipe for guests away from home. Trust me, though, that the salad is stellar. Wilted kale. Garlic roasted butternut squash. Pomegranate arils.  Smothered with a lemony vinaigrette. Oh so festive with a green base and sparkly red jewels. This is my version of Sarah’s Poppy Seed-Crusted Butternut Squash with Kale and Pomegranate Salad. As you can tell, I nixed the poppy seeds altogether. And the shallots. I also increased the amount of garlic, added a lot more kale and used more fresh lemon juice and salt. It is hard to muck up a salad with such delicious ingredients, so add what you like. :) This made a ton of food, and the beauty of kale salads is that the leftovers are just as good… which is what I brought home to photograph for you. ;) This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays,  to Ingredient Challenge Monday for squash and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend. (more…)

Butternut Squash, Coconut, and Lentil Stew (Aarti’s Indian Summer Stew)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Soups by janet @ the taste space on October 14, 2011

Rob finds blogging to be a chore, at times. Me, I will gladly use it as a form of procrastination. Writing personal statements, now that is a chore!

This was another recipe I pawned off suggested to Rob when I had leftover butternut squash. Aarti‘s Indian Summer Stew. Indian, check. Coconut, check. Butternut squash, totally up my alley… and a new kind of bean to try: toor dal or split pigeon peas. I actually originally bookmarked this recipe when I saw Anja using split yellow peas (my latest craze), but I’ve bought a few new split beans to facilitate more cooking from 660 Curries, Rob’s go-to cookbook. So toor dal, it was!

As expected, Rob adored this soup. Creamy and savoury. The toor dal melts into a thickened soup spiced with warming spices and thick chunks of dried coconut. There was a zippy undertone that was tempered by the cilantro. He promptly took photos and linked it up on Facebook, sharing his culinary success.

But as we ate the soup, we argued a bit. Freshly made, I thought the soup was a bit too hot for me (not Rob). Was it the mustard seeds or the Aleppo? Half a teaspoon is usually my max for the Aleppo chili flakes, and Rob swore he didn’t add anything extra or sneak in any of our garden chilis. Were my chili flakes more potent? We had finally returned to using my stash of chili flakes from Turkey, as opposed to the Aleppo from Kensington Market. Rob then described how he cooked the chili flakes, in the tempering oil. Oh yes, that must be why – the flavour oil explosion!

Turns out that the stew mellowed as leftovers, so it was now safe for me. Life got busy, though, and Rob lost his enthusiasm for sharing the recipe. I still wanted to share the meal, so here I am with Rob’s dish. Because while I used to only share food that I made, I can’t deprive you all of tasty dishes that Rob cooks up!

This is my submission to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this month’s Healing Foods featuring coconut, to this month’s Veggie/Fruit a Month featuring coconut, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend, to Healthy Vegan Fridays, to this month’s Ingredient Challenge Monday for coconut and to this month’s No Croutons Required featuring squash.

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