fingerling tomatoes

January 7, 2012

I owe the inspiration for this delectable finger food to my dear friends Cathy & Christopher who had us for dinner and served these little bites of heaven beforehand. They make a tasty appetizer flirting with ginger hummus or olive tapenade. Or eat them as a quick and healthy snack mid-day on their own or gracing the top of a cracker. They are also a quick side dish at dinner if you’re looking for a pop of colour and some Mediterranean goodness.

2 dozen cherry tomatoes, topped

olive oil

sprigs of thyme, de-leafed

garlic, shaved

sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the tomatoes by cutting off just the very top of each. Place in an oven-proof dish or on a cookie sheet so that they stand tall. Drizzle with olive oil, and then sprinkle with thyme leaves. Next place one or two thinly shaved pieces of garlic on top of each tomato. (A mandolin works well or, if you don’t have one, a sharp knife and steady hand.) Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft and succulent.

I think everyone understands the 3:00 PM energy crash. If you eat well it’s not as severe but, regardless, I think we all need a little pick-me-up mid-afternoon whether it’s a fabulous tea, smokey honey roasted almonds, or these amazing roasted chickpeas with paprika, rosemary, and thyme. The recipe hails from Heidi Swanson’s super natural every day complete with a few tips like making sure your chickpeas are as dry as possible before roasting, using three paprikas for depth of flavour, and adding these tasty morsels to stir-fries, soup, and salads. I’m not sure mine will last until dinner as I’ve eaten half the bowl just sitting here writing this blog post.

3 cups of cooked chickpeas or 1 1/2 cans of chickpeas rinsed and dried

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 425 with a rack placed in the top third of the oven. Put the dried chickpeas onto a baking sheet as pictured below and roast for 10 minutes. Shake the pan and roast for another 8-10 minutes, until the chickpeas crisp up. Keep an eye on them to avoid burning.

While chickpeas are cooking, make your sauce. Combine olive oil, paprikas, salt, lemon zest, rosemary and thyme into a mixing bowl.

Transfer the chickpeas into the bowl and toss until well coated. Return to baking sheet and roast for another 3-5 minutes. Note: do not cook any longer than this, or they may taste too dry. Let cool 1-2 minutes & serve warm.

beer battered onion rings

September 2, 2011

How do you spell summer? How do you spell BBQ? How do you spell super delicious vegan treat? It’s right here folks – beer battered onion rings brought to you by Veggie Wedgie. And Joshua thinks I’ve joined a cult! You should have seen his face when he tasted these decadent morsels. That’ll learn him! Granted, they are a bit finicky to make – not hard, just finicky – but totally worth the effort. Next to a veggie burger and green salad … well, and a beer … on summer’s last long weekend and you can’t go wrong.

2-3 onions sliced in circles

2 tbsps flaxseeds

3 tbsps water

1/2 cup beer of your choice

4 tbsps flour

3 tbsps chickpea flour or regular white flour

2 tbsps nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

3/4 cup breadcrumbs

First grind your flaxseeds as fine as possible (I use a coffee grinder), unless you use flaxmeal. Now place them in a small mixing bowl with the water and leave for 10 minutes or until the water become slimy/sticky (that’s our egg white sub). When flax egg is ready combine with beer and gradually add flour while stirring.

In a separate mixing bowl combine breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, salt, and paprika. And in another big mixing bowl place white flour or chickpea flour.

Place onion rings in the bowl with the plain flour and toss to cover them.Now one by one dip onion rings in the beer batter, lift out with a fork, and toss them in the breadcrumb mix to cover completely. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Preheat oven at 400 degrees and bake for 30 min or until golden brown and crispy. If you have leftover batter store in the fridge to reuse within a week. Also don’t throw away the parts of the onion you didn’t use! Just store them for later use in something else.

roasted garlic

September 2, 2011

roasted garlic

Possibly the easiest recipe in the world. Also one of the tastiest. Simple, pure, healthy, and medicinal. It’s got it all. Clean up a whole bulb of garlic removing just one outside layer of the garlic skin and trimming off any roots that still may be floating around. Chop off the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves. Place in an ovenproof pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30  – 40 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile toast some toast. Or forget the toast and just use crackers. When the garlic is done, scoop out the soft, smooth, gooey cloves of garlic and spread on your toast. Eat. Repeat. And never look back.

veggie pâté

August 9, 2011

This was a hard-fought recipe folks. Not sure why but success on the veggie pâté front eluded me until today. I guess good things come to those that wait or persevere or try try again or something. My sister sent me a recipe  from a Renée Frappier, a well-known, very active vegetarian guru and nutritionist in Quebec. The recipe below is a variation of hers as I tend to fiddle with ingredients and ratios. It’s chock-a-block full of good things and the flavours meld beautifully. And it’s spreadable so it’s the perfect thing on crackers, pita crisps, or hearty whole-grain toast. It’s almost as good as the veggie pâté I bought in the little market in Tofino. By the way, if anyone knows the guy that makes that pâté, can you tackle him for me and get the recipe? I’d love to compare and contrast.

1 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 potato, peeled and chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1/4 cups water

4 tbsps tamari

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon basil

1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 teaspoon savory

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch baking dish. In a food processor, blend all the ingredients until they are almost smooth. Transfer mixture to the baking dish. Bake for 1.5 hours, or until lightly browned.

This hummus has a bit of a kick to it, what with the chipotle and all. Great straight-up on a cracker. Spread it on a grilled veggie sandwich. Pile it on a veggie burger. It’s a variation of the  hummus endorsed by Buddhist monks that I posted back in March 2010 and it rocks. I think they’d agree. And if you want to go smokey, not spicy, simply substitute the chipotle with smoked paprika.

2 cups chickpeas, cooked

2 inches ginger, peeled and cut into coins or grated

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1/2 tsp chili chipotle powder

2-3 tbsps olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 cups of tahini

Juice of 2 lemons

1 roasted red pepper, skin and seeds removed


Prepare the chickpeas (either cook dried chickpeas or rinse canned chickpeas). Puree chickpeas with remaining ingredients and about 1/4 cup of water. Check consistency. If you want it less stiff, add more olive oil, tahini, and/or lemon juice. Add salt to taste.

garlic scape pesto

July 19, 2011

There is an exception to every rule. In my world view there is very little that’s black and white and instead we live in nuance shades of gray. And so it is with my garlic scape pesto – beware you vegan followers – which is, alas, not vegan. But I love it. And I grow garlic, a lot of it. And while you can use scapes in soup, or sautéed or in dressings and sauces, I think pesto is perhaps their highest form. So I bring to you the v:gourmet exception which will make pasta sing, and will adorn any good crostini with pizazz. For those of you not familiar with the elegant garlic scape, they are the stems that grow up from the plant, twisting and turning, and producing a flower at the end. I should know – I just harvested 3000 of them! Bring it on.

2 cups garlic scapes, roughly chopped

2/3 cup parmigiano, grated

2/3 cup pine nuts

sea salt and pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

You can lightly sauté the garlic scapes or use them raw. Whichever route you take is good so throw them into a food processor with the parmigiano, pine nuts, sea salt and pepper. Blend thoroughly while slowly adding olive oil. Once blended to your desired consistency, taste, and adjust seasoning. Eat immediately or keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze to enjoy all year round.

They say necessity is the mother of invention which is true. But adaptability, necessity’s twin sister, also has the mothering gene. I felt like I needed more beans on the daily menu so found a recipe for a white bean stew. It did not pass the v:gourmet test so we turned it into a dip by sending it on a trip through the food processor. Yum. As a dip. On sandwiches (with grilled veggies and greens!). You name it. An adaptable cook is a happy cook.

3 cups beans, soaked overnight and cooked

olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

4 carrots, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 tsp ground fennel seed

2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

1/4 cup white wine

sea salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Add carrots and onion and cook until tender. Add garlic and red pepper flakes for a few minutes until garlic is aromatic and the flavours come out. Add fennel seed, rosemary, cooked beans, wine, sea salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes more. Let cool slightly and then throw everything into a food processor and blend until smooth but still a little “rustic.” Add additional olive oil while blending if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning. See? Happy cook.

mushroom crostini

April 25, 2011

There is no end to the variety of crostini one could conjure up. One could get quite fancy but should never forget the humble origins of this elemental food. I’ve read that this was a quintessential Tuscan peasant food. Peasants knew what it meant not to have food but one thing they did have was flour so they made a very simple bread of flour and water. The other thing they had was very heavy, unfiltered olive oil. In the beginning they would simply brush bread with olive oil and salt and toast it (fettunta). Then the peasants started to add garlic and, once in awhile, some tomatoes (bruschetta), or mushrooms (crostini) and the experimentation went on from there.

1 baguette sliced

6 cloves of garlic

1 pound mushrooms, mixed varieties, sliced

olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

5 thyme sprigs

sea salt and pepper

Place sliced baguette on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until brown and crisp. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan. When hot, add sliced mushrooms and cook until they begin to sweat. Add white wine and sprigs of thyme and cook until wine is reduced to a thick syrup. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. When baguette is toasted, rub each slice back and forth a few times with a garlic clove to coat in garlic (one clove will do for about 5 – 6 slices). Once each slice has been adequately “garlic-ed” top with mushroom mixture, sprinkle with a dash more sea salt, and serve immediately.


April 25, 2011

I fell in love with bruschetta when Andrew and I lived in Tuscany many moons ago. It was always on offer with the antipasti and seemed to just scream Italian authenticity and yumminess. Thank goodness it’s vegan because it would be hard to give up. I served it on Saturday when a whole whack of people showed up for a light Easter lunch – served alongside vegan cesar salad (with chicken on the side for those that wanted a chicken cesar), mushroom crostini, and a hearty olive boule.

1 baguette, sliced

6 garlic cloves peeled

4 tomatoes, chopped finely

1 bunch basil, chopped finely

sea salt and pepper

olive oil

Place sliced baguette on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until brown and crisp. Meanwhile, toss chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, olive oil, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. When baguette is toasted, rub each slice back and forth a few times with a garlic clove to coat in garlic (one clove will do for about 5 – 6 slices). Once each slice has been adequately “garlic-ed” top with tomato mixture, sprinkle with a dash more sea salt, and serve immediately.