Long time no write!
My longest blog hiatus is definitely worthy of a wedding and honeymoon. I know a few were interested in photos and here are a few teasers from our fabulous photographer, Gabe McClintock.
After a partial whirlwind through Honduras and Guatemala following our wedding, we returned to Toronto earlier this week. I was hoping to bring a bit of spring and summer back with me, but Toronto is still fairly cold with (freezing) rain this week. Channeling my continuance of all things avocado (albeit of the Mexican variety), I could not resist them at the grocer. I still managed to stock up with lots of vegetables and then threw together this quick and easy salad.
Consider it a chunky avocado dressing, or an avocado scramble salad, the flavours are bright and flexible. The different veggies conferred different textures while enveloped by the creamy lime avocado mash with a hint of cheeziness from the nooch. The black beans help to make this a filling complete meal salad. It was excellent and I recommend eating it at once as the leftovers were not as vibrant. Alternatively, sprinkle with a touch more lime juice when reserving. While not necessary, I added the salad on top of leafy greens. I have a bad habit of being leafy greens and then not eating them. Here’s to eating more greens. And warmer weather.
What are you wishing for lately?
I must admit that I was drawn to making this because it had the word “summer” in its title. With frozen corn, canned tomatoes and fresh produce available even now (zucchini, spinach, red bell peppers and cilantro), you could almost imagine was made in the summer. This is probably one of most colourful curries, due in part, to all the rainbow of colours from the vegetables.
Rob and I (very briefly) considered taking our bikes out this weekend (we skipped right over snowshoeing) but while the temperatures are nice, the roads are littered with salt, sand and even some small snowbanks.
I am kind of hoping that once we return from our trip, spring will be here for real. Especially since I am already planning/imaging what I want to plant in my garden pots for the summer. I have missed my forest of fresh herbs.
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Even when you think everything is ready to go for the wedding, little things keep popping up. Rob needs to buy a belt, maybe I should get my nails done before we leave, we should pick some readings for the ceremony, we each need to write our vows. So while I have been silent on the blog, life has been anything but.
Rob and I want a short and sweet ceremony. We didn’t even discuss readings until I my inspiration for my vows was from some absolutely fabulous quotes. I kind of want to tell you all about our choices (I am that excited about them) but I don’t want to ruin the surprise for my guests who also read my blog. So, you will have to wait (sorry for the tease). If you want some vegan wedding porn, this one looked super cute (eco friendly on a farm!).
Otherwise, as we try to eat the remainder of our perishables before we leave, this is a perfect way to chow down. I consider these as almost non-recipes since it is basically roasted vegetables, beans, rice and a sauce. Here I returned to our staples, sweet potatoes, broccoli, chickpeas and brown rice. We love steamed broccoli but since I was roasting the sweet potatoes, in went the broccoli as well. The sauce is a lovely pantry-friendly creation (ignoring the ginger and garlic) with a heavy dose of miso and toasted sesame oil with a tahini base (although certainly not overpowering). Humble or not, this is a great meal to have on hand.
Miso and/or tahini dishes shared here previously:
I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
You guys are too kind. Based on the responses from my last post (and my post earlier this year about non-recipes), here’s to sharing some of my simpler eats. I will share my blog sabbatical during my honeymoon and hopefully come back rejuvenated. This is actually an easy recipe to share and I could not wait to share it with you.
I have made this two weeks in a row. Its first debut was when my parents came down last weekend and I threw it together for a late Sunday meal. Everyone devoured it, returning for seconds soon after polishing off their first bowl. After one bite, my Mom declared she loved it and proclaimed I could serve it for her anytime. Big win! YEAH!
While there have been glimmers of sun before and after work, I decided to continue to deliciousness into this week. It is rather a humble bowl of vegan goodness (brown rice, pan-fried tofu and kale) but the star of the bowl is the glorious peanut sauce. Sweet, spicy and saucy with a hint of curry powder. Mix it all up for a delicious meal.
Our veg staple in the fridge is broccoli and our protein of choice are chickpeas, which I contemplated for my second iteration. Worried it would be a tad repetitive (broccoli + chickpeas + peanut sauce is a common occurrence on this blog), I stuck with kale and tofu. To be honest, I don’t think I have ever made simple steamed kale and I was surprised how sweet it was. It was also ridiculously easy to make, so I definitely consider this meal a kitchen success.
What is your go-to simple meal?
Peanut sauces and dressings spotted here previously:
With less interest in writing on my blog, I wonder whether it has become boring. Have I reached a point where things are so similar they are not worth sharing? With a new set of colleagues since moving back to Toronto, I receive curious questions about what I eat, so even the most humble meals may still be blog-worthy. However, in this case, I dare you to tell me you’ve tried something like this. Sweet and tart pomegranate arils. Smoky onion tofu bits. Crisp and cooling cucumber on a bed of baby arugula drizzled with an apple-infused creamy dressing.
I was inspired by a sandwich in Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! but opted for a salad version instead. A winter salad which will propel us into the springtime salads. Those plants will be growing soon enough, right? They are covered by a foot of snow, but I hope it is only melting form here on out. In all honesty, Rob and I are winding down in the kitchen, working on last minute details before the wedding. Can you believe it was 2 weeks before my wedding before I thought to ask my Dad to walk me down the aisle? Oh dear, eh? (He said YES! hahaha)
What kind of unusual combinations have you cobbled together in a salad?
I have been lucky to be able to cook from so many fabulous cookbooks. I always try to share my favourite recipe for you to try as well, but sometimes there are so many good recipes. This dish was simplified, slightly from the Buddha Parcels in Keep It Vegan (as reviewed originally here).
Instead of making parcels (cute but not too practical), I put all the vegetables in a big glass tray and roasted them with a sheet of aluminum foil overtop. The sauce from toasted sesame oil and sriracha was spot on perfect, and I wonder whether the vinegar was the best part. Not that I tasted it, but it was a lovely marinade.
I used sweet potatoes and sweet red bell peppers and it complemented the spicy sauce. Because of the lid, the kale gets steamed from the juicy vegetables. Not that kale chips would be bad, because I think they were fabulous on this roasted vegetable and kale chip pizza.
There is a nice (albeit small) side of cardamom-lemon infused rice in the cookbook, but I ended up tossing the vegetables with chickpeas and brown rice. Enjoy it with your favourite protein.
I am sharing this with Shaheen’s Eat Your Greens.
Oddly enough, these last few months have been the hardest for me to blog. My new normal is scrambling the night before to cobble together a post. The recipes and photos are ready to go but I just don’t know what to say.
It isn’t that I am getting bored with my eats (I am most certainly not) but they are certainly fitting a similar theme each week. What can I say? I know what I like and I like to eat it.
Here, I took Gabby’s recipe which took an Indian-spiced tomato sauce with some (leftover, in my case) roasted spaghetti squash and cooked chickpeas. It did not disappoint in the slightest. Something a bit different than my bean-centric curries, loaded with strands of spaghetti squash. Totally a winner.
What are your oft-repeated meals?
I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes.
As I told you earlier, this weekend Rob and I completed the pool portion of our PADI scuba certification. Amidst Toronto’s cold, donning bathing suits in an 86F pool (and all the scuba gear) was a pleasant adventure, as we each described our plans for wanting to learn how to scuba dive. Some of the participants were going to head to Grenada for an ecological mission, others to Indonesia and Thailand but the majority, like us, were preparing for Caribbean destinations in a few short weeks.
The interesting thing about PADI certification, is that while yes, you learn how to scuba dive, the majority of the training is how to work your way through different challenges and how not to inflict harm on yourself. Lung overexpansion injuries, decompression syndrome, and contaminated air, it was actually kind of neat and definitely not anything we learned in medical school. If anything, Rob and I will probably be very happy spending more time in shallow waters than using more air in deeper depths. But we’ll see what it is like when we get there.
If you are at all interested in water ecology and environments, I highly recommend this excellent article all about jellyfish. Fascinating look at how they are taking over the waters.
However, I am willing to bet you are here for some good food. This is a basically a noodle topped with stir-fried veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, and even some edamame) and fried tofu then doused in a miso-ginger sauce. I used kelp noodles here but soba would work equally well. I also think this would work great with a quinoa or brown rice base, too, but it is nice to mix things up. Enjoy!
How are you keeping warm during this blast of cold? My thoughts are still with those digging out in Atlantic Canada (see the impressive photos here).
This is my submission to this month’s Pasta Please.
One can never have too many soup recipes, especially during the heart of this very cold winter.
However, this isn’t your standard red lentil soup. Have I ever shared a standard recipe? Probably not.
The red lentils are infused with coriander and star anise, spiked with orange juice and a touch of fresh ginger gives you a bit of a bite. This split pea soup has also has ginger and coriander, but the orange and star anise were a refreshing twist. Flavours that seemed a tad unusual but worked very well.
Red lentil soups shared here previously:
I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
This weekend was a doozy of a cold fest. With the long weekend, I briefly contemplated using the snow in my favour by breaking out the snowshoes… until I realized just how cold it was. With temperatures near -40C with the wind, Rob and I opted to stay inside most the weekend.
We actually had a plan. We needed to study.
We are working to becoming PADI scuba certified. Since our wedding in one of the best places to go scuba diving, we decided to capitalize on the uniqueness of the location. 5 hours of videos, 300 pages of a manual and multiple questions, we spent the majority of the weekend tucked away reading. Next weekend, we will attempt our pool portion of the training. Sadly, outdoor dives here will not resume until June, so we won’t be certified before we go, but it will make it much easier to go scuba diving.
Around this time of year, it is probably a good idea for us to go through our pantries and cold rooms. Please tell me I am not the only one with winter squashes that always seem to linger throughout the winter. No better time to use the winter squash along with a new variety of bean. Especially in curry form.
Susan gifted me these black chickpeas awhile back and I will admit, I prefer regular chickpeas. However, this curry was spectacular. There were a multitude of spices, added at different times to the curry, which created a rather optimally spiced dish. The fennel and panch phoran make this Bengali-inspired and a bit different from our typical curries. The black chickpeas made for a beautiful visual contrast but regular chickpeas could work, too.
How did you stay warm this weekend? Any scuba divers with beginner tips? :)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
While the blogosphere blows up with desserts, here is a fun way to add even more chocolate to your meals. Cocoa jerk tofu tacos. No stranger to brightly flavoured jerk foods (e.g. Jamaican Jerk Plantain Soup and the ever classic Jamaican Jerk Tempeh Wraps), I have never seen it with the addition of chocolate.
The recipe is courtesy of Superfoods for Life, Cocoa which is a vegan cookbook devoted to adding more chocolate to your meals. The book explains the health benefits of chocolate and shows you ways to incorporate it into your breakfast, lunch and dinner, including desserts (obviously). Sweet and savoury.
This has been my favourite recipe so far, and I probably would not have tried it had Sayward not raved about it. The perfect balance of tangy, spicy (not too spicy) with flavourful spices (allspice, oregano, cinnamon) and the raw cocoa powder merely lent a deeper flavour. This did not taste like chocolate. It was also really simple to put together, with a quick marinade mixed in a baking dish which was then baked altogether. I served it as tacos with a spoonful of mashed avocado but Matt also recommends eating it with a side of rice, beans and/or plantains. Rob doesn’t like onions too much, so if you are like him, reduce or replace the onions with more bell peppers.
It took me awhile to review this cookbook because I quickly realized it is hard to eat chocolate so often. Even with the savoury meals, sometimes I got tired with my leftovers prematurely so I had to space them out. I will also admit was not that adventurous to try all of Matt’s suggestions yet (bana ghanoush with cocoa powder, cocoa coleslaw, choco-spinach lasagna). However, it just goes to show you how novel some of these recipes truly are.
I wish the cookbook was organized more intuitively for finding the recipes, but I cannot determine the method to their madness. I think they are organized based on health benefits (ie, preventing stroke, diabetes, etc). The chapters are labelled as such: Heart-Healthy Cacao: Little Bean, Lots of Benefits and Cacao on the Brain: From Stroke Prevention to Cognitive Function.
Here is a sample of the recipes shared elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite unusual way to enjoy chocolate. The winner will be selected at random on February 22, 2015. Good luck!
PS. I am sharing this with Vegetable Palette.
Life would be boring is I only ate the same thing everyday.
Except if it for a few days thanks to leftovers. That’s how I roll.
I used to eat a grapefruit every.single.morning. Now, I can’t even remember the last time I ate a grapefruit. Perhaps in Houston. Suffice it to say, it has been a while.
I probably should have spent more time devouring citrus while in Texas because ripe and sweet grapefruits are delicious. Sometimes you are lucky to find them in Canada, too. In this case, I went with something more unique and added it to a kale salad. I also experimented with raw fennel, which was a touch bitter for me (especially paired with the grapefruit), so add that to taste. A bit of coconut was reminiscent of the Caribbean. The flageolet beans, perfect for adding to salads, was a way for me to make this a complete meals instead of a side salad.
Do you eat grapefruit?
Howdy! I don’t have much to say today… other than to highly suggest making this soup. Bonus points if you make it and you don’t have snow outside. It will still taste delicious.
The coconut-infused broth is silky smooth with spicy hints of sriracha and ginger, balanced by the lime juice and cilantro and packed with good-for-you veggies like sweet potato and cabbage. Oh, and there are red lentils in there to make this a complete meal. The cabbage was fun because they were inadvertently like noodles with their long strands.
(Continuing with making a curry each week, although not necessarily blogging about them each week, ha!)
If you are looking for recipes with a pressure cooker, other than JL’s new book, I recommend checking out Indian cookbooks. Or more specifically, I knew there were plenty of bean-centric pressure cooker recipes in one of my Indian cookbooks, 1000 Indian Recipes. I ventured forth with a dish that required no pre-soaking and cooked reasonably fast.
Thank you, chana dal, which are split black chickpeas. They are more crunchy than most beans I cook although that may because I didn’t cook them with too much water (2:1 water to bean ratio, weird). This dish could also be made without a pressure cooker, it would just take longer and I would add the greens later.
While dill might seem like an unusual ingredient for curry, I know it works really well (see this fabulous chickpea dill curry). The tomato is familiar to both Indian and European foods although this is purely Indian with the ginger, cumin, garlic and cilantro. The spinach almost melted by the weight of the pressure cooker, so I may try something different next time (like using baby spinach added at the end) or use a heartier green like kale.
Rob gave me a high five for finishing up the last of our chana dal. I say high five for the chana dal for still being awesome after all these years on my bean shelf!! Yeah! :)
Full disclosure: In the fall, I had a full-blown case of cooking ennui. It probably evolved from a combination of immobility from my fracture, beginning my new job and the stress of starting to plan for our wedding.
I ended up buying a lot more prepared foods than ever before. At the farmer’s market close to our house, they would sell flavoured tofu and would easily at least 2 packets per week. My favourite was the miso-flavoured tofu. They also have a sweet and sour one, but miso was the best. When I tried this recipe for “sweet and sour marinaded tofu” is was a close approximation to the miso tofu (and not sweet and sour). Go figure. A bit more salty but you only notice it if you eat it cold from the fridge. Added to a bowl of vegetables and some quinoa, you have a seriously delicious and balanced meal.
This recipe is courtesy of Aine Carlin’s new cookbook Keep It Vegan. Another blogger that I have been following for a while, it is my pleasure to share her recipes with you. She blogs at Pea Soup Eats and her British influence is obvious throughout her book of comfort vegan foods: Morning Oat Jacks, Shepherdess Pie with Sweet Potato Topping, Chana Masala, Mexican-Style Lasagna, Red Lentil and Spinach Lasagna, Braised Red Cabbage with Apple, Chocolate Chestnut Pie, Summer (Bread) Pudding, and Banana Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sauce Sundae. Her recipes are approachable without too many esoteric ingredients (beyond what is normally found in a vegan pantry) but she also includes unusual and creative ideas like Bloody Mary Bruschetta, Breakfast Brownie with a Strawberry Bottom, Rosemary-and-Pear-Stuffed-French Toast and even Sweet Potato and Kiwi Soup.
Rob made the Hole Mole Black Bean Chili which was excellent, although we skipped the chocolate part. And we snuck in some leftover tamarind chickpea curry from Vegan Without Borders. But is was still excellent.
But these tofu bites were spectacular. A strong-flavoured miso-based marinade infused the tofu for a few hours and then they were lightly pan-fried for a delicious crispy crust. It reminded me of old-school vegan eats (aka this classic tofu dish dubbed Sweet and Sour, Hot and Spicy Tofu) and I added it to a bowl of almost roasted red peppers, sliced avocado, quinoa, arugula/spinach and hemp seeds. Basically, another version of a Dragon Bowl with the vegetable remnants from my fridge. Astute readers might realize a lot of the ingredients were leftovers from the Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Hemp and Orange. :) If you have extra marinade, it could be used to drizzle overtop but I let mine soak into the leftover tofu.
The photo below is the one from the cookbook. Feel free to cut the tofu into bigger slabs and serve with the green bean salad, as suggested.
Recipes from Keep It Vegan spotted elsewhere:
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan comfort food. The winner will be selected at random on February 12, 2015. Good luck!