This is how we roll.
Rob and I have been hosting non-stop gatherings this summer and we finally had a weekend to ourselves.
We continued our summer grilling. The only difference is that this time I took a photo of my plate of food before I dug in.
A plate of bountiful vegetables.
Mojito-inspired tofu skewers, sin rum. Perhaps better rechristened as lime-mint grilled tofu.
Mojito-inspired zucchini coins, sin rum as well.
Mesquite grilled plantains.
Mesquite grilled corn.
I really enjoyed everything. It seems a tad busy but they were all very good.
I liked the lime-mint marinade for the tofu. I used my newest favourite tofu (especially for grilling). However, since the package was only 350g, I supplemented with zucchini. They were grilled and then topped with the extra marinade for a bright minty lime flavour.
The plantains and corn also shared the same mesquite-spiked oil (Mesquite seasoning and melted coconut oil). Instead of making plantain coins for the skewers, Rob found it easier to grill slabs of the plantain instead. They were equally sweet and smoky as last time but we didn’t lose any into the insides of the barbecue.
Rob’s mom gifted us some incredibly sweet corn from Woodstock and we wanted to keep things simple. We returned to keeping the husk on the corn while grilling to help it keep its moisture. We’ve made it with rosemary and garlic before, but this time, we kept it simple with the mesquite seasoning.
A fabulous meal, indeed.
The mojito-inspired tofu comes from a fabulous cookbook, Vegan al Fresco. I have been working my way through it this summer and absolutely loving it. The theme of the cookbook is “happy and healthy recipes for picnics, barbecues and outdoor living” and it definitely delivers on its byline.
The cookbook is broken down into finger foods and appetizers, sauces/dips, sandwiches/spreads, salads, foods to grill, baking, desserts and drinks. Plus, it also has tips for packing picnics and hosting meals outdoors.
All recipes are vegan. Most are creative vegan spins on traditional American fare. Samosa spring rolls, caper and edamame dip, chipotle and peanut butter hummus, peanut butter adobo barbecue sauce, cilantro barbecue sauce, jalapeño and cherry jam, quinoa and avocado ‘slaw, peanut potato salad, lime and ginger tahini tofu skewers, strawberry and basil scones, chilled blueberry chocolate pie and vanilla ice cream with cherry pie filling. Also, let’s not forget drinks like ginger lemonade. Trust me, there are a ton of fun recipes here.
Just look at Tracey’s photography of the tofu!
I will be sharing a few of my favourites from the cookbook but wanted to share this one prior to Labour Day. Enjoy!
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me what you like to bring to a picnic or barbecue. The winner will be selected at random on September 4, 2015. Good luck!
Even a tofu salad
I’ve been missing my beans.. and then all of a sudden, I had a craving for a mixed bean salad.
My last mixed bean salad was Symphony in a Can aka My 5-Minute Symphonic Mixed Bean Salad which has a more classic flavour profile: lemon, mustard and onion for the mixed beans.
This time I went with a Southwestern inspired bean salad with a chile-lime dressing. Lots of vegetables including bell peppers and tomatoes along with fresh cilantro. I worked with a medley of beans and then added in extra red kidney beans. They are perfect for salads and I don’t use them nearly enough.
I think my chile powder has been losing its freshness/spiciness so my newest trend (you may have already spotted it) is adding some Sweet Mesquite Seasoning which has plenty of oomph. Either that or my palate is warming up… Probably the former.
In any case, this salad received a lot of praise during my last barbecue. I think you will like it, too. Enjoy!
We finally branched out from our standard veggie burger and grilled vegetable routine.
A delicious routine but still a new routine.
Except, I still grilled some vegetables. They were on a skewer, though.. which makes it somewhat different, right? In this case, they were smothered in a jerk-inspired (but not too spicy) spice rub. I also slathered it on top of some extra-firm tofu.
I used sweet red peppers and a sweet plantain which contrasted with the spice rub incredibly well along with some zucchini, because zucchini grills so very well. In fact, I dare say the plantain was the highlight of the meal. I picked a very black plantain and figured I had nothing to lose, as I wasn’t sure how it would grill, but it was wonderfully sweet and smoky. The only problem? I cut the pieces a bit too small and they were more fragile than the other vegetables. I think Rob lost a few while grilling. I suspect fresh pineapple would be a fabulous substitute for the plantain.
I served this to guests and they raved about it. I hope you like it, too.
Other Jamaican Jerk inspired recipes shared previously:
As the hot summer persists, let us marry the perfect summer eats. BBQ and salads. And for those without a BBQ, have no fear, this one is for you.
No BBQ needed, the BBQ flavour is completely from the roasted chickpeas. A bit more complex than my bacon-flavoured chickpea croutons, but definitely not any harder than pulling out a few more bottles, these roasted chickpeas are awesome. Smoky, savoury and delicious. You could just eat them with your hand (totally guilty) or add them to a salad for a more complete meal. Here I paired it with salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, purple cabbage, shredded carrots and avocado with a splash of lemon juice. Mix it all together for a fabulous meal.
The smoky roasted chickpeas comes from Somer McCowan’s new cookbook, The Abundance Diet. Somer blogs at Vedged Out and is the originator behind the vegan extra sharp cheese ball and fresh vegan moxarella (a revised version of the mock mozzarella is in her book). The cookbook was borne out of her previous Green Smoothie Challenge.
I am always anxious of leafing through cookbooks marked with words such as ‘diet’, ‘detox’, or the like, but I have no reservations about this cookbook. Somer’s recipes are all gluten-free, plant-based vegan recipes and also, to the astute eye, also free of oil and refined sugars. (The tip-off are the lack of oil in the soups and stews, as I am accustomed to sautéing my onions in oil). Otherwise, the recipes are filled with an abundance of vegetables for creative meals that are relatively easy to make, too.
The recipes span the entire day (breakfast to lunch to dinner including snacks) because there are meal plans that span 28-days (they can be found here if you want a preview). She includes recipes for 26 salads and dressing. The Lentil taco salad was fabulous (even without the roasted red pepper dressing) and her Ultimate Lentil Salad reminds me of my own 11-Spice Lentil Salad with Capers and Currants (and always a hit). Her soups are equally enticing, with meal-type soups like Quinoa Minestrone and her Smoky Split Pea Soup. Others are more vegetable-based which are more suitable as appetizer.
I enjoyed her Moroccan Lentil Soup even though I substituted a handful of fresh dill for the parsley/cilantro. She also has a main dish section with recipes I have been eyeing, such as Chiles Rellenos Casserole Bake with Smoky Chipotle Enchilada Sauce and Homestyle Mexican Casserole. Green smoothies, juices, snacks, dips and desserts round out the cookbook to keep you full throughout the day.
I remember when cookbooks were mostly text, but it is so nice to see excellent photography. Ann Oliverio photographed most of the recipes and they are a treat throughout the cookbook. Just look at the delicious cover photography highlighting the Funeral Potatoes. A funeral for your fat?
Of note, while this is a diet based on vegan abundance, Somer’s narrative highlights the potential ways to expedite weight loss. Some people may not like this tone and I suggest simply enjoying the recipes. Not a fan of stevia? (Me, neither). Simply substitute dates instead for the smoothies or all coconut sugar in other desserts. Or in my case, add some beans to the vegetable-centric meals. In all, the recipes look great and only on closer inspection do they jump out as diet food.
Want your own copy?
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me what you like to eat in abundance. The winner will be selected at random on August 7, 2015. Good luck!
Recipes from The Abundance Diet spotted elsewhere:
Even though we have had the BBQ on in full force since it arrived, it is (mostly) limited to the weekends. However, I love bulk cooking on the weekends, so we’re trying to keep things simple mid-week.
Here I multipurposed leftover portobello carpaccio (just as good with a longer marinade) into a glorious summer salad with strawberries, fresh (not grilled) tofu, all over a bed of baby spinach, doused with a balsamic dressing.
Jessica asked about mosto cotto in my previous posts. It is a sweet balsamic reduction and a simple 1-ingredient dressing. A balsamic vinaigrette could easily be substituted, so I decided to make my own and use it all week. I made a glorious full cup to share with Rob.
Except the world was against me, and I tipped 75% of my dressing. Onto my shorts, onto my slippers and behind my stove. I am not sure if bird poop or balsamic vinegar makes a worse stain, but I quickly disrobed and cleaned my shorts and next my slippers. My black shorts fared better than my slippers which may now look a bit more brown than white. Oops….
Anyways, the salad was fabulous. I hadn’t planned to share it but the mushrooms added a wonderful earthy contrast next to the sweet strawberries and savoury balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious. Enjoy!
I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
Onwards with the BBQ experimenting.
My natural instinct when I hear BBQ is to buy portobello mushrooms. As I said, I love salads and dishes I can prepare in advance, and the Portobello Carpaccio in But I Could Never Go Vegan sounded perfect.
Similar, but not identical to my grilled balsamic portobellos, these portobello mushrooms are marinated and roasted in the oven. The marinade is Italian-inspired with dried herbs and a red wine vinaigrette. I suppose the barbecue could work, too, but the barbecue was for later in the day. Once the mushrooms were cool, you slice them super thin (and had I known what on a bias meant, I would have done more of a diagonal to the horizontal plane). Then I popped them in the fridge for a few hours prior to serving. A sprinkle of capers and rosemary finished this as a really fun appetizer, with portobello mushrooms masquerading as rare meat.
Because mushrooms alone do not make a meal, and I had used up most of my culinary energies, we opted for something so simple, I was worried it might not work.
I had seen Tiffany’s post about tofu cheeseburgers where she simply grilled slabs of tofu and called it a burger. She isn’t even vegan and loved it. I was intrigued so we tried something similar.
We cut up a package of super firm tofu into four slices, cut longitudinally, and grilled it. Nothing added, not even salt and pepper. Rob said it stuck a bit on the grill but otherwise it was perfect. Slightly smoky and a blank canvas to work nicely against the vibrant portobello carpaccio.
Next time, we might try oiling the grills or brushing the tofu with some oil before placing it on the grill.
What do you think? Have you grilled plain tofu before?
I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
I don’t know about you guys, but where I am, it is H.O.T. We’ve done pretty well for not using the air conditioner during the days but we closed our windows and turned it on yesterday. To think all my friends in Houston are always 10 degrees hotter (and humid) and positively melting. That is possibly the one thing I do not envy because we loved living in Houston.
Here is a fun pasta dish which adds layers of veggies to your meal. Carrots and cucumber are spiralized into thin noodle shapes and thinly sliced red peppers add some crunch, too. The maple sweetened tofu is unique with a salty/peppery bight and makes this a complete meal. Avocado rounds this out as a fabulous fat and feast for your eyes.
Recipes from The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon spotted elsewhere:
Baked eggs with barley creamed greens and mustardy bread
Cacao nib pavlovas with mixed berries
Chickpea deli salad
Chunky Mediterranean eggplant dip
Coconut sorbet with strawberry rhubarb sauce
Curried sweet potato soup with crispy black lentils
Golden quinoa breakfast bowl
Hippie bowl with tahini citrus miso dressing and spiced sunflower seeds
Kale Caesar salad with cornbread bits
Marrakesh carrot salad
Roasted asparagus salad
Roasted zucchini and quinoa bowls with cilantro pepita pesto
Smoky tortilla soup
Strawberry millet tabbouleh
Tahini kale slaw with roasted tamari portobello bowl
Tropical smoothie bowl
Winter fruit salad in a ginger-lime syrup
If you are interested in the quickest of complete meals, this is what I ate most of last week after our move.
We found a nearby restaurant that makes its own homemade fresh tofu. Tofu made without any preservatives, they warned us it would spoil faster than commercial tofu. We got some for take-away and quickly ate through it.
I thought I knew a lot about tofu but this was different. Airy and light. (Despite my description, this is not silken tofu since they sell that too and I got the regular fresh tofu). Because it was so fresh, it was silky smooth and I did not feel the need to do anything to it. No marinade, no baking, no frying, simply nothing.
It was a perfect addition to a quick salad. I added it to some other local specialties (fresh strawberries!) and made it into a simple salad after biking home from work. Pictured here with mixed greens and cucumber with a drizzle of mosto cotto, with a nod to my previous Vegan Green Power Bowl.
Do you ever eat plain tofu? Ie, straight from the package? If so, what is your favourite way to eat it?
I am sharing this with Shaheen’s Eat Your Greens.
It has been a week in the new house and we’ve given our new barbecue a quick initiation.
Part of the beauty of the new grill is that meals are simpler. Fresh vegetables with a touch of oil, salt and pepper along with a veggie burger. It still hasn’t stopped me from pinning more creative recipes (follow my vegan BBQ pinterest board here).
These BBQ lentils are from my pre-BBQ days and a fun way to switch up your BBQ protein if you are tired of veggie burgers. While you could eat these as a side, I opted to construct a sandwich, reminiscent of Sloppy Joes but with a BBQ flavour. I topped it with my carrot-sriracha coleslaw for an easy topping.
Do you have any favourite recipes for the BBQ? I highly recommend these balsamic roasted portobellos which have been my go-to option whenever I had access to a grill in the past. I am also curious which brand of veggie burgers is your favourite. There are so many options. The one I have liked so far has been “Veg Out” Quarter Pounder. Oddly enough, I can’t even find a link with it on the google interwebs to share my find with you.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Our house is still in shambles a week after our move. With 3 days off work, I thought we’d be near completely unpacked but it is anything but. The kitchen appliances are working but my pantry is still dissembled, packed in quite a few boxes. I am thinking of sharing some of my simple meals, but until then, I’d like to talk about a new cookbook, Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking.
This cookbook is about mastering the classic meals, vegan-style, while also attempting to teach you how to save money in the kitchen. Borne of a time when Annie and Dan Shannon were dealing with infertility and mounting costs, they have put together their favourite recipes while trying to keep their budget low. [Of note, nothing like buying a house to make you feel poor!]
The recipes are both creative yet classic. Instead of plain waffles, they share a recipe for banana churro waffles. Instead of classic tabbouli, there is a lemon-tahini fattoush inspired salad which mixes Middle Eastern flavours together. The Korean Kimchi BBQ burgers (see below) are also fusion cuisine in its finest.
I made the red lentil soup, which was homage to every red lentil soup they have eaten and tinkered with their slow cooker jambalaya to make it in the pressure cooker. They were very good, if not subdued in their spices. The red lentil soup reminded me of my Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sizzling Mint, with a swap for fresh mint which changes the flavours.
I have chosen to share their vegan blueberry blintzes with you, instead.
Classic crepes are not vegan, with reliance on eggs for their supple texture. I have shared a few non-traditional crepe-like recipes before (raw chocolate banana crepes and raw grasshopper crepes). This is my family’s traditional recipe and while that one was with Nutella and kiwis, it was not uncommon for my family to fill them with cottage cheese, cream of wheat and eggs and top it with a blueberry compote and serve them as blintzes. We would eat them for dinner as they were mostly savoury despite the fruit.
Instead of cottage cheese and eggs, this recipe is more dessert-style. Or breakfast/brunch-style. The filling is sweeter with a base of vegan cream cheese and tofu and topped with fresh blueberries and a sprinkling of sugar.
It would have been nice to see a recipe that didn’t include vegan faux cheese, especially if one of the cookbook’s aims was to offer cheaper recipes. However, I can appreciate the shortcuts to help make delicious foods faster. The cookbook has plenty of recipes with pantry staples but a sizeable minority call for specialty ingredients. As an example, the Korean Kimchi BBQ Burger recipe calls for 2 cups of Lightlife Gimme Lean Burger or Match Vegan Meats Burger and store-bought kimchi. The cost was $2.68/burger and I wonder how much cheaper it would be to use plain (and uber cheap) TVP instead. Of note, that same recipe has a recipe for homemade Asian-style BBQ sauce which looks great.
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the US or Canada. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me how you like to save money in the kitchen. The winner will be selected at random on July 9, 2015. Good luck!
Other recipes from Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking spotted elsewhere:
PS. I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays.
This is totally the Vegan Green Power Bowl. Let us count the green ingredients: spinach, cucumber, asparagus and avocado. Balsamic baked tofu and cooked quinoa round this out as a hearty salad. I drizzled some mosto cotto overtop as a quasi-dressing. With its sweetness, it balanced the rest of the bowl perfectly.
Posts will be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks. Rob and I are moving across town and work has been keeping me hopping, so I have barely had enough time to squeeze in cooking, let alone blogging.
While I realize it is likely too late to grow anything at our new place (heck, we don’t even have a garden dug out yet), I am still dreaming of what to plant. I am going to try to my hardest to get an asparagus plant going. They are perennials and can live for over 50 years. It takes a few years until they are productive, so we will be patient. We plan to settle for down for many years. For the last five years, Rob and I have moved every.single.year. It will be nice to unpack our boxes for the last time.
Which vegetable do you like the most in your garden? Do you have any asparagus?
I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays. (more…)
Whups, I was hoping to get back to sharing three recipes a week but plans changed. At the last minute, Rob abandoned his plan to bike to Niagara Falls (I was planning to stay at home and relax) but instead, we both headed out to a friend’s cottage for the weekend. It was a doozy of a stressful week and it was wonderful to relax amongst the water, forest and a touch of biking the hills.
Unseasoned cottage goers, we were stuck in Sunday traffic and forgot that grocery stores close early (at least our favourites close to home) so we had to make do with limited produce and a lonely mango. Soba noodles to the rescue! Tossed with a pleasantly sweet lime dressing, this is a summer pasta salad sure to please the masses.
I am kind of digging the white background in these photos. On with the recipe, though.
Munching through more asparagus, this is a fairly simple combination of asparagus, soba noodles and a walnut-miso dressing. The dressing reminded me of this Asparagus and Carrot Salad with a Walnut-Miso Dressing so I think carrots would work equally as well here. I like how the water from the noodles was used efficiently to also cook the vegetables. Score!
The dressing is pretty luscious. Use as much as you like.
I wait patiently for the few weeks every year when local asparagus finally makes its way to my kitchen. A late start to spring, and perhaps an early start to summer, meant I had to wait a little bit longer. Asparagus is cheaper than our beloved broccoli, at least right now, so we’ve been stocking up. Stalking up, is probably more correct. HA!
This was a simple salad completely worth sharing. It is multi-component, but each part is simple and completely malleable to what you have in your kitchen. I picked quinoa as a fluffy base to the salad and seasonal roasted asparagus as my green. It is topped with candied nuts and seeds, oven roasted with maple syrup and everything is balanced with a tangy lemon-tahini dressing. Avocado would have been a nice accompaniment, too.
The recipe is adapted from Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Eat. Originally published in Britain, it was updated for a North American audience. The cookbook is vegetarian with plenty of vegan or vegan-friendly recipes, and I love this cookbook so far. The recipes highlight vegetables with seemingly simple ways to create meals without being boring. She has worked with Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi, if that gives you an idea of her recipes: flavourful unique combinations with a touch of simple.
Recipes from A Modern Way to Eat spotted elsewhere (I found many of them!):
Any night of the week pizza
Autumn roasted root panzanella
Avocado and lemon zest spaghetti
Banana, blueberry and pecan pancakes
Brown sugar meringues with sticky apples and pears
Butterscotch chocolate chip blondies
California miso, avocado and lima bean salad
Cardamom and carrot cakes with maple icing
Celeriac soup with hazelnuts and crispy sage
Cherry and rose water macaroon tart
Cherry poppy seed waffles
Double chocolate cloud cake
Double greens and filo pie
Elderflower and pistachio cake
Farro with roasted leeks and smoky-sweet romesco
Figs with sticky date dressing
Full of greens fritters
Goodwill rainbow pie
Laura’s herbed green quinoa
Lemon-roasted feta with traffic-light tomatoes
Lemony lentil with crispy kale soup (totally on my to-make list)
Light tart of butternut squash and kale
Lime and chipotle black bean tacos
Maple peanut California wraps (totally on my to-make list)
The New Eggs Benedict with a Healthy Hollandaise
Overnight bircher with peaches
Pan-dressed noodles with crunchy cabbage and crispy tofu
Raw thai citrus crunch salad
The really hungry burger
Roasted spring vegetables with watercress vinaigrette
Seeded pistachio and squash galette
Strawberry poppy seed crisp
Sweet potato quesadillas
Sweet red onion and hazelnut pizette
Tomato and coconut cassoulet (totally on my to-make list)
Turkish fried eggs
I recently finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Rob put it on hold at the library in December and we finally made it to the front of the list. Just in the knick of time, too, as we start to pack our house again for our (hopefully) last move ever. Have any of you read it and started tidying? I have seen a few reviews around the blogosphere (example), so I knew the premise to declutter was to only keep things that brought you joy. I am waiting for Rob to finish reading it (at least the first part on purging) prior to beginning to tidy. It will be easier if we are on the same page (said the one that has been slow to adopt the minimalism).
Rob has already packed my cookbooks, and I wouldn’t want to undo his efforts, so we’ll keep them all for now (HA!). Honestly though, one of my favourite cookbooks (definitely one I would keep) is Isa Does It (see my review here). Quick and simple, creative recipes that deliver loads on flavour. This is one such example. This was definitely more than the sum of its parts. Mushrooms and corn are pan-fried with soy curls and then spiced with chilies, lime and cilantro. Isa uses seitan but I think chickpeas could work well, too. She also recommends black beans which would fit with the Mexican theme.
So, please tell me, which cookbook brings you the most joy?