the taste space

Balsamic Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Baked Tofu

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on June 25, 2015

Vegan Protein Bomb Salad (aka Balsamic Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Baked Tofu)

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.

Vegan Protein Bomb Salad (aka Balsamic Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Baked Tofu)

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?

Vegan Protein Bomb Salad (aka Balsamic Asparagus Quinoa Salad with Baked Tofu)

 

I am sharing this with Meat Free Mondays. (more…)

Green Apple Kale Juice + Superfoods Juices Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Drinks by janet @ the taste space on May 12, 2015

Green Apple Kale Juice + Superfoods Juices Cookbook Giveaway

I may have returned back to work full-time but slowly rekindling my interest in eating and blogging. Post-op, I found I had very little appetite but once I had enough energy, I was pretty excited about what I wanted to experiment with: juicing. With a tender digestive system (I always found this an all-too-common description amongst HLBs, albeit completely relevant in my case after a surgery), I knew I needed lots of nutrition without fibre overload. Green juice to the rescue.

I inherited my grandmother’s old juicer and must admit that I have only made homemade juice a handful of times. These past few weeks the old juicer was a real trooper. I also learned it was incredibly hard for me to juice kale and greens, although perhaps the hardest part was juicing the stem because once I stopped that, it went much smoother. I also found it easier to juice a lot at once so that I only had to clean the juicer once. With a quick shake, the juice lasts a few days in the fridge.

I played around with a few juices from Superfood Juices and my favourite was this green juice with kale, cucumber, celery and green apple. Yes, I even included the celery since it was not too much and it added a savoury hit to the juice. Beautifully balanced, light and not too sweet. It was lovely.

The juices in Superfood Juices are unique, yet approachable. Fruits and vegetables themselves are superfoods and this book aimed to include extra “superfoods” as well, such as coconut water, maca, cacao powder, acai berry powder, and also (more unusual) sea buckthorn berry juice, mangosteen juice, aronia berry juice and noni juice. This specific green juice also called for spirulina which I omitted without problems. There are suggestions for substitutions (like swapping unsweetened cranberry juice for aronia berry juice) but they are usually highlights to a recipe and could easily be omitted.

The recipes are enticing: honeydew mint chia fresca, mandarin ginger kombucha spritzer, kale martini, warm spiced fresh cider, carrot maca juice, but also seemingly impossible combinations like carrot ginger ice cream or chocolate-mint noni soft serve. A few more down-to-earth options are present too: strawberry rhubarb juice, cantaloupe ginger juice and celery greens juice.

Green Apple Kale Juice + Superfoods Juices Cookbook Giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the continental United States. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite juice flavour combination. The winner will be selected at random on May 20, 2015. Good luck!

Recipes from Superfood Juices spotted elsewhere:

Berries and Cream Juice

Carrot Maca Juice

Spectrum Juice (Carrot, Beet, Apple, Kale, Lime)

Spinach Pear Juice

Sweet Potato Protein Juice

Watermelon Goji Berry Juice

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes and Simple and In Season.

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Smoky Tofu and Pomegranate Arugula Salad

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on March 7, 2015

Smoky Tofu and Pomegranate Arugula SaladWith 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.

Smoky Tofu and Pomegranate Arugula SaladI 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?

Smoky Tofu and Pomegranate Arugula Salad

I am sharing this with No Croutons Required and Souper Sundays. (more…)

Jackfruit Vegan Gyros with Vegan Tzatziki Sauce + Vegan Without Borders Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on January 24, 2015

Jackfruit Gyros with Vegan Tzatziki Sauce

See below for the worldwide (!!) giveaway.

I don’t pay attention to food trends, mostly because I have learned I am usually ahead of the pack! Quinoa before the masses. I was talking about amaranth in 2010! Kale and cauliflower, I have you covered… Although I am still waiting for the world to catch on to the love of beans.

Anyways, Bon Appetit top prediction for 2015 is gyros.

Vegans need not fret. I am presenting to you: jackfruit vegan gyros for 2015.

Gyros sound finicky and complex. They are probably confused mostly in their pronunciation (hint: it sounds more like euro).

And yes, I also think jackfruit is looking to be the next culinary trend (and humble-brag alert, I’ve been eating jackfruit since 2012).

Jackfruit Gyros with Vegan Tzatziki Sauce + Vegan Without Borders Giveaway

This recipe is courtesy of Robin Robertson’s Vegan Without Borders. A very prolific author, this particular cookbook has focused on mostly authentic vegan recipes from around the world. The cookbook is divided into sections based on geography and highlights recipes from Europe (Italy, France, Spain and Portugal, Greece, Eastern Europe, British Isles), The Americas (United States, Mexico, The Caribbean, South America, Africa, The Middle East, India, and Asia (China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Southeast Asia Islands).

The recipes, so far, have been solid. They are earmarked as gluten-free, soy-free, low oil/no oil and quick and easy. Because Robin has tried to maintain authenticity to the dishes, there are a bit more convenience foods as ingredients than I like (sour cream, cream cheese, etc) but you could definitely try substituting homemade versions, too.

Jackfruit Gyros with Vegan Tzatziki Sauce

These gyros, though, were fabulous. The jackfruit had an excellent texture, similar to pulled pork and the flavours were bright and fresh. Because I didn’t have yogurt or sour cream on hand, I made my own version of tzatziki which complemented the pita well. I opted for a tofu base since I thought the meal needed an extra hit of protein.

As leftovers, once I ran out of the pita, this was also excellent as a quinoa bowl, with the jackfruit and veggies piled high and a generous serving of the tzatziki overtop.

Jackfruit Gyros with Vegan Tzatziki Sauce
Recipes from Vegan Without Borders spotted elsewhere:

Baked Eggplant Fries

Bibimbap

Chickpea and Kale Wat

Cucumber and White Bean Ceviche

Farinata with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Olives

Injera

Mango Rice Verrines

Pina Colada Squares

Pissaladiere

Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pistou

Seitan Jagerschnitzel

Szechuan Bok Choy

Tzatziki Sauce

Umbrian Lentil Salad

Vegetable Paella

Vegetable Tagine

Watermelon Paletas

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world. To be entered in the random draw for the book, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite cuisine (Thai, German, etc). The winner will be selected at random on February 1, 2015. Good luck!

PS. I am sharing this with Souper Sundays. (more…)

Mexican Spinach Salad with Salsa Baked Tofu Recipe

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on October 4, 2014

Taco Salad with Salsa Baked Tofu

I just might need a very pretty picture to knock me out of a bloggers block. A simple recipe, I really only gave directions for the salsa baked tofu and told you what else I included in my salad. No measuring, just plating and eating.

I tried a bit harder to make this salad pretty.

It is kind of a cross between my quick and easy salsa chickpea tacos and my older Mexican salad with a creamy tomato saucy dressing with a little old school baked tofu. Yum!

Taco Salad with Salsa Baked Tofu

I am sharing this with Bookmarked Recipes and Souper Sundays.

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Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing

Posted in Salads by janet @ the taste space on September 4, 2014

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing

Easing back into cooking in Toronto, I tried to highlight local, seasonal vegetables. We arrived too late to grow our own garden but we had a little help from family.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing

These cucumbers were courtesy of Rob’s mother’s garden and the tomatoes came from my sister-in-law’s parents’ garden. The dressing was a simple lemon-tahini-garlic combination that pretty much never fails. Although the twist was adding some olives. I don’t use them very often but it was an unusual and nice accent to the creamy dressing.

What are you growing this year?

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Garlic Tahini Dressing

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and Bookmarked Recipes.

(more…)

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by janet @ the taste space on August 28, 2014

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Thank goodness I got my share of summer while I was still in Houston. Spending a month in Africa was sunny, but still a bit nippy, and definitely not that green. Our first week back in Canada was hot and humid, but that was an anomaly. Toronto didn’t get much of a summer this year, either.

However, while I am no farmer, I think one thing that has benefitted from the rainy days has been the blueberries. The wild blueberries were unbelievably big this year and the cultivated ones, even more massive. Rob tried to warn me when I loaded up with some cultivated blueberries: They don’t taste that great, he whispered to me. Turns out they were big and blueberry-delicious. And I didn’t have to share them with Rob. Score! :)

Without restraint, I added them to my morning oats and carefully crafted this salad courtesy of Terry’sFrom Salad Samurai. A multi-component, main dish salad with a spinach base, filled with cucumber and blueberries, beefed up with Ginger Beer tofu and topped with sticky, sweet & savoury almonds with Chinese 5-spice. I tried to stay true to the recipe, but only changes were to decrease the tamari because it was an ever-present ingredient in nearly all the components. I also did not want to turn on my oven for the tofu, so I pan-fried it in its marinade. It wasn’t as crispy as it would have been baked, but still good. The star of the salad, other than the big blueberries, were the Chinese 5-spiced glazed almonds which were perfectly balanced with the tamari, agave and the Chinese 5-spice imparted an interesting edge that I did not expect to taste so good.

This was not my first salad from the cookbook and it will certainly not be my last. Because the salads are huge ensembles of dressings, flavoured mains and interesting toppings, it can be hard to settle down and make an entire salad. Terry has some tips to master your art of making heavenly salads throughout the week. I have been picking and choosing each component separately, although, I really want to make everything: Thai Seitan Larb in Lettuce Cups, Lentil Pate Banh Mi Salad Rolls, East-West Roasted Corn Salad, Green Papaya Salad with Lemongrass Tofu, Miso Edamame Succotash Salad, Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing, Kimchi Black Rice with Asian Pear, Collards and Sweet Potato Crunch Bowl… ok, ok, I will stop. I basically want to make everything. The recipes are grouped by season and feature salads with loads of flavour from lots of fresh vegetables (no kidding) but also fresh herbs and spices. Terry also has a fun chapter for sweet salads, including a coconut carrot cake salad and overnight oats with Mexican chocolate creme that are calling out for salads for breakfast and dessert, too. Trust me, I am looking forward to cooking through this throughout the whole year.

Thankfully, the publisher is letting me share the recipe AND give a cookbook to one reader living anywhere in the world (since I will be shipping it). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite salad. I will randomly select a winner on September 5, 2014. Good luck!

Blueberry Tamari Greens Bowl & Salad Samurai Giveaway

Other recipes from Salad Samurai shared elsewhere:

Almond Butter Hemp Dressing

Asparagus Pad Thai Salad

The BKT (Bacon.Kale.Tomato) Bowl

Backyard Buffalo Ranch Caesar Salad

Coconut Bacony Bits

Coconut Samosa Potato Salad

Curried Tempeh and Apple Salad in Radicchio Cups

Fiery Fruit and Quinoa Salad

Grilled Kale Salad with Spicy Lentils

Herbed Pea Ricotta, Tomato and Basil

Mexican Roasted Corn Salad with Avocado (Esquites)

Pepperoni Tempeh Pizza Salad

Pesto Cauliflower & Potato Salad

Polish Summer Soba Salad

Seitan Bacon Wedge Salad with Horseradish Dressing

Sesame Noodles in the Dojo

Smokehouse Chickpeas ‘N’ Greens Salad

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays and this month’s Vegetable Palette.

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Raw Italian Stuffed Peppers with Sausage Pate (& Raw Italian Pate Collard Wraps)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on August 23, 2014

So, it is late August. We moved back to Toronto at the beginning of August. Our stuff from Houston arrived, and our stuff we squirrelled away in my brother’s basement will be arriving this weekend. Unfortunately, one key link remains broken: the internet. We have been waiting for our internet to be installed for 3 weeks now.

I have internet through my cellphone but otherwise, our tap into the internet is dry. As such, I am *still* relying on oldie-but-goodie recipes I photographed earlier, lurking in my drafts, waiting for the right moment to share.

This was a delicious nut pate I made when I had access to fresh herbs in my garden. While I am not a fan of raw pates, I will concede that I wasn’t trying to make a pate with this meal. That is what happens when you over-process nut meat! I was aiming for nut-based Italian sausage crumbles, but with a few too many whirls with the food processor, it turned into a delicious, chunky spread instead.

This is no bland pate, though. First of all, I wanted to lighten up the nut meat by adding some mushrooms.  I used oyster mushrooms because they have a very mild flavour and I dare say you couldn’t taste them anyhow. I pulsed the nuts (pecans and Brazil nuts) with a handful of fresh herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme and sage. It was the last-minute addition of sun-dried tomatoes that added not only a great burst of flavour, but also turned my sausage crumbles into a pate.

There are countless ways to enjoy this spread and I originally ate it solo, stuffed into a bell pepper. For leftovers, I smeared it into a collard wrap topped with assorted spiralized or thinly sliced vegetables (zucchini, beet, carrot, cabbage) and a beautiful sprout garnish. I almost didn’t photograph the haphazard (leftover) collard wraps, but Rob urged me to reconsider. They were definitely pretty, too, and mighty tasty.

Enjoy!

I am sharing this with Shaheen’s Mellow Yellow challenge, Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck and Simple and In Season.

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Bahn Mi Collard Wraps with Star Anise Pickled Daikon and Carrots

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on April 29, 2014

We traded hills for wind this weekend.

Blustery wind. Gusty winds.

It was kind of humbling to cycle 100-km hilly routes outside Houston, and then find ourselves so pooped we could barely finish our rides.

Even though we’re aiming for 160 km, our odometers have been stuck at 100-km for a while. This weekend, we decided to shun the hills (and the 2-hour commute to get to them) and opt for distance. The wind was a pleasant (or unpleasant), unplanned surprise. A flat tire was also a surprise and likely cost us an hour of cycling time. We pushed through 127 km of city-riding on Saturday.

On Sunday, we aimed to add hills to our windy resistance. We did an “urban hill” loop where we tried to climb as many highway overpasses as possible. The wind was relentless. If we thought Saturday was windy, it was even windier on Sunday. Southeast winds of 30km/h with gusts over 50 km/h. Rob rerouted it to include a stopover at Mi Tienda #2, our favourite Mexican grocer. We weren’t going to skip out on our aguas fresca ritual! This week they had mamey, which was a hard choice over the guanabana.

Even though we were out and about on our bikes most of the weekend, we actually had more energy. I guess we’re better at tackling wind than hills.

We ended up (ok, just me) stockpiling veggies when we finally ended up at an Asian market for our weekly grocery run. We put them to great use in this vegan spin on bahn mi sandwiches. Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich, which I associate with the pickled vegetables and cilantro. Here, tofu and mushrooms are scrambled as the base. The veggies, with Terry’s spin of adding star anise, make this a nice and bright wrap.

Rob thought it was his best sandwich ever. I thought it nice, too, and opted to eat it in a collard wrap.

Maybe everything tastes better after biking 180 km?

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays. (more…)

Raw Dolmas with a Cilantro-Tahini Sauce

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by janet @ the taste space on March 18, 2014


Did you know March is
National Nutrition Month? While I celebrate proper nutrition every day (ok, 3 times a week here), I was encouraged by Erika to join Houston’s VegOut! challenge to eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days.

Thirty different vegetables in thirty days? Even as a veggie-loving gal, that’s a pretty huge feat. Look at my sidebar. I have favourites. Barring onions, my top ten are: garlic (227 recipes, and I don’t even tag all my garlic), tomato (139 recipes), ginger (121 recipes), carrot (110 recipes), red bell pepper (82 recipes), spinach (64 recipes), mushroom (50 recipes), kale (44 recipes), zucchini (44 recipes) and broccoli (36 recipes).


Erika
 may have won the first challenge with her black bean and veggie burgers (with 15 vegetables!) but I thought I’d try my best with their second challenge: my best jicama dish.

No stranger to jicama, I have enjoyed mostly in Mexican-inspired dishes: a raw burrito and as a cranberry-jicama salsa. This time, I decided to switch avenues and was inspired by Middle Eastern flavours. Packed with vegetables (7 if you include olives, but I think they are technically fruits), these are a fun twist on dolmas, stuffed grape leaves.


Instead of cooked rice, the jicama is riced into small pieces. Jicama is quite moist, so it needs a thorough drying before being incorporated with the cucumber, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. If you don’t have jicama, cauliflower would work, too. Dill and mint were used for the filling and cilantro for the green tahini dipping sauce. With all the fresh ingredients, the flavours really popped.

This was also the first time I tried grape leaves raw. I mean, without steaming them first. Steaming makes them more tender and less salty, but this was a quick and easy way to enjoy them.

Do you think you could eat 30 different vegetables in 30 days? How do you like to eat jicama?


PS. This is my submission to Raw Food Thursdays and to VegOut Jicama: #vegoutjicama #vegoutrfs

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Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Appetizers, Book Review by janet @ the taste space on January 11, 2014

Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce

I have been very fortunate to grow up in an environment where brains were valued over beauty. None of my friends were ever on diets. If I made New Year’s Resolutions (I doubt I did; my last decade has been more of a daily self-evaluation), they were short-lived vow to be nicer to my brother. My mother (and brother) may not believe me.

It was only after I started reading food blogs, did I encounter the dizzying world of detoxes, cleanses and diets. Not that I have ever condoned detoxes. Barring liver disease or overdoses, our liver does a great job “detoxifying” our body every.single.day. Imagine my surprise when not one, but two of my friends in Houston told me they were eating 100% raw shortly after New Year’s, spurred by Kristina’s 21-Day Raw Challenge. I love the creativity that comes from cooking/uncooking/eating raw foods, but they complement my cooked vegan eats. Let’s be honest, even in Houston, winter is not the ideal time to go all raw.

Parsnip Rice Sushi with Sweet Tamarind Dipping Sauce

My friend hosted a potluck to kickstart her first day on her raw diet and this is what I brought to share. I used it as an opportunity to make something from a new cookbook, Balanced RawRaw sushi is easy to share at a party, so I tried the new recipe. I have made raw sushi before, and the recipes are quite similar, but I decided to share this version, too, mainly because Rob took some impromptu sushi rolling action shots. Using a placemat makes sushi rolling very easy. Parsnip rice is spiced with a bit of chile powder and filled with an assortment of vegetables.

Raw Parsnip Rice Sushi Demo

A note about the cookbook, though. The recipes are built around a 3-week vegan “cleanse” with a meal plan for every day. The recipes span both raw and cooked meals, but they seem to follow a low-fat 80/10/10 vegan diet. While Kristina is good about mentioning the need to eat enough calories, the meal plans in this book look woefully inadequate calorically. However, the recipes are interesting and would be a useful adjunct to whatever your typical eats may be. There are ideas for vegetables beyond salads. I use raw foods to enhance my vegan diet. It is a great way to eat more vegetables and fruits.

The publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom (YES!). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what you think about cleanses and detoxes. Have you done one? Are you doing one? I will randomly select a winner on January 20, 2014. Good luck!

Balanced Raw recipes elsewhere:

Blue Greens Smoothie

This is my submission to this month’s I Am Vegetarian – Hear Me Raw, and this week’s Raw Foods Thursdays.

PS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for Superfood Smoothies here.

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Raw Parsnip Sushi Rolls, Two Ways

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on November 19, 2013

You saw the writing on the wall. With my love of wraps, it was only a matter of time before I made sushi rolls.

It took me a few tries, but I finally found not one, but two recipes that I really like.

Am I the only one who scopes out a bunch of recipes for a particular dish and then can’t decide what to make? Should I go with option A or option B? Sometimes, I decide to hedge my bets and make multiple options. That’s how I ended up with 2 versions of my chocolate black bean cookies and oodles of combinations for my savoury flax-hemp crackers. Half a recipe for you and half a recipe for you… which means the bonus of 2 recipes for me!

This explains why my recipe says it serves 1. I boiled down each sushi roll to fit one parsnip with its seasonings.  The fillings could easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled, but please, please, please don’t assemble these babies too far in advance. The nori sheet will become limp and soggy…and no fun.

To be fair, my first venture at a nori wrap was from Color Me Vegan with an orange-cashew cream sauce. I have become spoiled because that cashew sauce was nothing compared to my previous Zesty Cashew Orange Spread. The rolls seemed a tad lacking, especially since there wasn’t anything that reminded me of a standard sushi roll.

Having really enjoyed the parsnip in Raw Thai Pineapple Parsnip Rice, I knew that this was the way to approach raw sushi. Then I had to decide- nut butter-version from Gena or miso-version from Lauren? I have had some really heavy sushi rolls at raw restos because they make the rice from nuts, so I was excited to try the lighter miso version. I was torn, though, because I was still drawn to Gena’s recipe since the butter seemed to accentuate the parsnip rice. So, I made both and glad I did because they were both different yet equally delightful.

The miso version was light and flavorful and worked well with the multitude of veggies. It reminded me of my citrus-spiked sushi rice bowl with the miso twist. I am not sure the oil was completely necessary so I may remove it next time. The tahini version was heavier but incredibly flavourful from the tahini and the touch of toasted sesame oil. They were both filling as a light lunch.

If you haven’t yet made raw sushi, don’t be shy. You certainly don’t need a special sushi rolling mat. Just a great filling. It is what is inside that counts, and I’ve got you covered. Twice. Two hugs, as Rob would put it.

This is my submission to this month’s Pantry Party for quick foods.

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Cucumber Avocado Sandwiches With Dill and Mint

Posted in Appetizers by janet @ the taste space on November 5, 2013

Cucumber Avocado Tea Sandwiches With Dill and Mint

Time flies. I have already passed the 4 month mark. One-third of my time in Houston.  I already know what I will remember the most. Mosquitoes and potlucks. The mosquitos are relentless and well, I am discovering the joys of vegan potlucks.

I have been to many a potluck, but usually that means I bring a dish I will be eating. It is usually the only vegan component and I try to make it a complete meal, like a hearty bean or whole grain salad. Even though that is my specialty, it kind of limits my repertoire.

All vegan potlucks are a whole other ballpark. I know I will find plenty of food (and they have been really tasty!) and therefore, I can branch out to try something new. Furthermore, some foods lend better to a buffet set-up than others, so I have been testing out new ideas.

Enter the cucumber sandwich. Not a tea sandwich, this one replaces the bread for cucumber, creating a crunchy bite-sized nimbler. Easy to add to your plate and no fussy sauce that can leach and contaminate the next dish over. (I have adopted the 2 plate strategy for potlucks- 1 plate for savoury and 1 plate for desserts!) Perfect for those who want a gluten-free and nut-free snack… and raw, to boot. For me right now, raw has become more synonymous with easy food prep.

This dish, while easy to prep, is a bit more fussy than my typical one-pot meals. Puree your cucumber and lemon juice into a mayonnaise-like consistency and pulse in the cool and crisp cucumbers and herbs. The lemon juice should prevent the avocado from oxidizing but try not to make them too far in advance. Hopefully they will be devoured and none will remain after they have been served.

What are your go-to potluck dishes?

Other dishes I shared at potlucks this year:

Peach & Hazelnut Kale Salad with Maple Miso Vinaigrette

Raw Thai Pineapple Parsnip Rice

Curried Chickpea Salad with Carrots and Currants

Peanut Butter and Jam Energy Balls

Raw Watermelon Candy

Rich Vegan Cheesecake with a Pecan Shortbread Crust

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, this month’s Cooking with Herbs, to this month’s Random Recipes, and to this month’s Veg Cookbook Club for Isa Does It.

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Kale Salad with a Raw Thousand Island Dressing

Posted in Salads by janet @ the taste space on September 14, 2013

While we planned our trip to Burning Man half a year in advance, it wasn’t until we bought our plane tickets that we decided to tack on a side trip to Portland and then roadtrip it down to the desert. Rob was worried that I wouldn’t like the extreme nature of the camping we’d have to do in the desert, so we planned for success. How could we not enjoy Portland?

Turns out that each part of the trip was better than the next. After Portland, we drove East through the Columbia River Gorge, stopping at the Hydro Dam and Multnomah Falls. The path to the top of the falls may only be 1.25 miles long, but you are basically going up and up. Kind of like Mother Nature’s Stairmaster. There was a 700ft elevation. It was a fun but tiring jaunt! If I lived in Portland, I could see this as a fun fitness bench marker (similar to the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, which I have yet to do). How fast can you climb the falls?

The following day, we skirted along the gorge, through the Hood River Fruit Loop and stopped to pick up local sweet peaches and huckleberries (it was my first time trying them – they are similar to a tart wild blueberry).

Our next stop was the Smith Rock State Park. Since it took us a good 3 hours to get here, it was too late to begin the Misery Ridge trail. Because of the heat and lack of shade, you should begin this early in the day. In any case, we didn’t bring our hiking boots with us, so we had already planned to do smaller hikes and watch some of the mountain climbers.

Our next destination was the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Billed as the best lava park between Iceland and Hawaii, we had fun walking around the volcanic crater and the lava field below. To be honest, I didn’t even know there were volcanoes on the continental US. We didn’t have enough time to explore the lava tubes, but we will definitely be back.

The next day, we scheduled a whole day for Crater Lake National Park. You can drive around the lake and stop off for lots of smaller hikes. We hiked up to a great lookout, again on another side, to see some hoodoos, and some waterfalls. It was nice to get a variety of vistas from each hike.

The trip through Oregon was fabulous. I highly recommend it.

But I know you are here for the food. You see, we stocked up a bit with food from Portland. I wasn’t sure what lurked in the smaller towns. Turns out we lucked out in Bend, Oregon. We found a local brew pub (Rob’s mission was to try out local brews) that served vegan eats. I changed the tempeh reuben sandwich into a salad and I was blown away. It was really good. I haven’t had enough time to recreate the entire salad (now on my bucket list) but I started with making a raw thousand island dressing.

Originating from the Thousand Islands region (hola Ontario!), thousand island dressing is probably one of the most ubiquitous North American creamy sauces, as a mayonnaise dressing spiced with tomato/ketchup but may also have bits of pickle, olives, etc.

The creaminess of my raw version of dressing is from cashews. The deep tomato flavour comes from sun-dried tomatoes. Garlic and onion add further ripples, while the vinegar brightens the dressing. The acidic dill pickle brings this up a notch. The only trick is that the cashews need to be soaked a few hours for easier blending.

For my salad, I just used up the random vegetables in my fridge. I first wilted the kale with lemon juice and then tossed in cucumber, red pepper, olives and hemp seeds. I am not sure they were the perfect combination (and not the prettiest salad, either) but the dressing was perfect. Now I know where to start with my own tempeh reuben salad. :)

In any case, this vacation has spurred my love of Oregon. I am even more excited to try to schedule in Cycle Oregon next year!

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s No Waste Food Challenge.

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Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites by janet @ the taste space on September 10, 2013

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

I feel a bit guilty sharing this post.

1. It will be a quickie vacation gush over Portland.

2. More easy peasy food. I feel guilty sharing such a simple recipe but it was SO GOOD.

Oddly enough, despite travelling to Japan, Morocco, Iceland and Colombia throughout my blog tenure, I have yet to do any thorough vacation recaps. Mostly sharing the recipes they have inspired back in my kitchen or the treats I made to travel with me.

Those destinations seem so foreign and mostly inaccessible to the masses. But Portland, dude, that’s in America (and I know most of my readers hail from the US of A). I also made nada special to bring with me. I knew vegan heaven was only a plane ride away.

Despite visiting for only a short weekend, I feel like I connected with Portland and the rest of Oregon. The city, even downtown, is green. Green in the lots of trees sense, and in the save the environment sense. Cycling is a culture and definitely safer than where I have lived previously. Vegans rejoice, as there are truly innumerable options for fun meals. Lucky me, many a vegan already visited Portland earlier this year (mostly for Vida Vegan Con) so I already knew where to hit up.

In brief, food: Canteen (our favourite restaurant of our trip, the Portland bowl was fabulous as well as the maca shake); Prasad (lovely soul salad and chai latte); Rawdacious raw cheesecake (found at Canteen); Raw Pixie Re’treats (loved the mock BLT and lil pudding; found at Kure and Food Fight); Kure Juice Bar (breakfast acai bowls and matcha latte); Missionary Chocolates (found at Living Room Theaters); the infamous Portobello restaurant (Rob’s lasagna was better than my portobello steak but the decadent  ice cream sundae made up for it); vegan Mexican fare (with soy curls!) at Los Gorditos; Food Fight, an all vegan grocery store for some desert treats; Rob also had some Voodoo Doughnuts, but not the vegan ones (the Memphis Mafia was pretty epic, though [peanut butter, coconut and chocolate on top of a fritter as big as his head]) and lots of local brews for Rob
(more complete reviews can be found at Happy Cow)

In brief, non-food: Cyclepedia at the Portland Art Museum, Bike-A-Rama Bicycle Tour, watching indie films on a sofa at the Living Room Theater; Powell’s City of Books, early morning views of the city from Pittock Mansion and hiking in Forest Park (loved this!!). We also snuck in some shopping at REI and a downtown cycle store.

Who could guess we were only in Portland for less than 48 hours? Well, that’s the way we roll… bring on the awesomeness!

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

I have plans to recreate that delicious Portland bowl sauce but until then, I am sharing this delicious hummus-tzatziki fusion dip. We made it before we left and we made it when we returned. It is possibly our favourite non-classical hummus. Just like my strawberry-cucumber smoothie, cucumber adds an airy lightness to the dip which is countered by flax (trust me, you can’t taste it). Lots of garlic and bit of lemon juice makes this a great dip. Or spread. Or however you want to eat it. I won’t judge.

I still have many more places on my Portland hit-list, including Native Bowl, Natural Selection and Departure with their vegan menu, and that’s just the food list. Anything you recommend I see on my second trip to Portland? :)

PS. have you entered my giveaway for a copy of Moosewood Restaurant Favorites yet?

PPS. Hopefully we’ll have some photos up later this week.

Cucumber Hummus Dip (Hummus-Tzatziki Fusion)

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair hosted by Swathi and to this month’s Credit Crunch Munch.

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