squashchickpea

This is originally from the Casa Moro Cookbook via Food52, one of my go-to blogs for the recipes and fabulous Provisions store. It’s adapted slightly, from a slight adaptation. Which makes me happy – thinking about all these recipes that travel and get shared and get switched up slightly with each new rendition. My daughter, Rebekah, was my co-chef on this one and decided to add Jimmy Nardello Smoked Paprika from the amazing Vicki’s Veggies. Which is so fitting given the travelling and sharing. Why? Because of Jimmy.

Rumour has it that Giuseppe Nardiello and his wife, Angela, nurtured a favourite variety of sweet frying pepper in southern Italy in the region of Basilicata. When they set sail from the port of Naples in 1887, Angela carried a handful of the pepper seeds with her. They settled in Naugatuck, Connecticut, where they raised the peppers, and eleven children. The fourth one was a son named Jimmy. Jimmy was the only one of the Nardello children to inherit Angela’s love of the garden. Jimmy passed away in 1983. But before he did, he donated some of the heirloom pepper seeds to Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) in Decorah, Iowa. SSE specializes in protecting heirloom seeds, with more than 11,000 varieties protected in two separate climate-controlled vaults. One hundred and twenty years after the Nardellos set sail, bringing a small piece of their homeland with them, the pepper that bears the family name is becoming a favourite among chefs and home gardeners nationwide, but it is still registered as “endangered” on Slow Food USA’s Ark of Tastes. The Ark is an effort to find, catalog, and protect the world’s endangered flavours from the onslaught of the standardization of agriculture and cuisine. Crazy, right? Totally. But beautiful and important and poignant and a great addition to this warm winter salad.

2 pounds pumpkin or other winter squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp jimmy nardello smoked paprika

2 tbsps olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

14 ounces canned or home-cooked chickpeas, drained

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

4 tbsps fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

3 1/2 tbsps lemon juice

3 tbsps tahini paste

2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsps water, to taste

Heat the oven to 425°F

Toss the squash with the garlic, allspice, smoked paprika, olive oil, and some salt and pepper.

Place on a tray, optionally lined with parchment, in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

While the squash is cooking, make the tahini sauce. Mix the minced garlic with lemon juice and add the tahini. Now thin with the water and olive oil, and check for seasoning. You should taste a balance between the nutty tahini and lemon.

To assemble the salad, place the squash, chickpeas, red onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Pour on the tahini sauce and remaining oil and toss carefully. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. Eat. And say a prayer of thanks to Jimmy.

spidskål

January 1, 2014

spidskal

What you probably know is that cabbage is a leafy green plant grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense-leaved heads and is closely related to other veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. What you probably don’t know is that cabbage was most likely domesticated somewhere in Europe before 1000 BC and that by the Middle Ages, it had become a prominent part of European cuisine, especially in the wintertime because it’s so hardy. Denmark was no exception. Spidskål is a Danish Cabbage Salad featured by Mikkel Lippman from Copenhagen in the new Kinfolk Table. I used Nappa Cabbage for this recipe which is a Chinese, not Danish, Cabbage with a Japanese name – “nappa” is colloquial term in Japanese referring to the leaves of any vegetable, especially when used as food. So, once again, the world meets in this simple, elegant dish with a crispness from the cabbage, a nuttiness from the sesame seeds, and a tanginess from the dressing. But despite its simplicity – perhaps because of it – it can hold its own on any celebratory table.

1/2 cup white sesame seeds

1 head napa cabbage

3 tbsps red wine vinegar

2 tsps Dijon-style mustard

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Toast the sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

Discard any torn or wilted leaves from the outside of the cabbage. Cut the head in half and discard the core. Finely shred or chop the cabbage, placing it a wide mixing bowl as you work. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add half of the toasted sesame seeds. Toss well and set aside.

Combine the vinegar and mustard in a small mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil to form an emulsified dressing. Drizzle the dressing over the cabbage and toss to coat evenly. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining toasted sesame seeds. Serve cold or at room temperature.

baby beluga 2

 

I’m heading to London, England next week and will be dining at the fabulous Ottolenghi’s on Tuesday night. I can’t wait. I use his cookbooks all the time and am very inspired by him. And now I get to feast on his creations prepared by – not by me in my humble little kitchen – but by his peeps. So this recipe is in honour of that occasion. I’ve switched it up a bit but it’s still his signature style using fresh, good quality ingredients in a simple way with heaps of fresh herbs to make it sing.

10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

8 thyme sprigs

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp thick balsamic vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

1 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar

1 tsp sea salt

1 1/3 baby beluga lentils

3 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

3 tbsp chopped parsley

3 tbsp chopped chives

4 tbsp chopped dill

pine nuts, toasted

black pepper

Start by making the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Quarter the tomatoes vertically and place skin-side down on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Arrange the thyme sprigs on top of them. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with some salt. Roast for 1 hour, or until semi-dried. Discard the thyme and allow to cool down slightly.

Meanwhile, place the red onion in a medium bowl, pour over the vinegar and sprinkle with the sea salt. Stir, then leave for a few minutes so the onion softens a bit. Place the lentils in a pan of boiling water (the water should come 3cm above the lentils) and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain well in a sieve and, while still warm, add to the sliced onion. Also add the olive oil, garlic and some black pepper. Stir to mix and leave aside to cool down. Once cool, add the herbs and gently mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

To serve, pile up the lentils on a large plate or bowl, integrating the tomatoes as you build up the pile. Drizzle the tomato cooking juices on top,  sprinkle with the pine nuts, and serve.

 

 

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The farmer’s market is one of my favourite places to go on a Saturday morning. The sunny faces, the fresh produce, the smell of hard work and satisfaction, the chaos of kids and dogs and lazy shoppers. I love all it, but I especially love the potential of what all those local ingredients will become, and the release from decision-making and meal planning. You can go to the market, see what they have, and just prepare what you come home with. Yesterday it was baby zucchini, zucchini blossoms, basil, mint, tomatoes, and thyme. No need to over-think it – just prepare what you’ve got and thank the gods for this season’s bounty. This is a zippy, zingy salad thanks to the lemon zest, with lovely aromatic notes thanks to the fiori di zucca, or zucchini blossoms. And it’s pretty to boot which should never be underestimated; pleasing to the stomach, heart and soul.

1 generous handful fresh thyme sprigs

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

6 mixed baby zucchini, thinly shaved on a mandoline

5 or 6 small  tomatoes, quartered

6 zucchini blossoms, halved or quartered if large

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Pinch of red-pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Coarsely ground pepper

Place thyme on a cutting board, and bruise with the dull edge of a knife. Place thyme and oil in a small saucepan. Cover, and heat over medium heat until small bubbles appear. Turn off heat, and steep thyme, covered, 20 minutes. Discard sprigs, leaving loose thyme leaves in oil. Whisk together lemon zest and juice and 2 tablespoons thyme oil.

Combine half the dressing with the zucchini, tomatoes, zucchini blossoms, basil, mint, red-pepper flakes, and salt. Season with pepper, and toss. Prepare nicely on a platter. Drizzle with remaining dressing, and sprinkle with little more basil and mint.

 

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This is an Ottolenghi special which needs little introduction. It’s refreshing and tasty and a wonderful companion to a mejadra that nourishes the body and soul. Instead of raita for those super-vegans out there, try this a complimentary cucumber side dish.

Garlic Cucumber Salad

3 tbsps rice wine vinegar

2 tsps sugar

2 tbsps sunflower oil

2 tsps toasted sesame oil

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp sea salt

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 and 1/4 pounds cucumbers (4 medium, 2 large), peeled

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

3 tbsps cilantro, chopped

For the dressing, place all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add the sliced onion and mix until coated. Let sit for 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the ginger and salt in a mortar (or small bowl) and pound well with a pestle (or other implement of destruction). Add the garlic and pound until the garlic is crushed into small pieces, but isn’t quite a paste. Scrape all the ginger / garlic mixture into the bowl with the onions and dressing. Mix until combined.

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then slice, at an angle, into 1/4 inch slices. Add the cucumber to the bowl, followed by the sesame seeds and cilantro. Mix well and let sit for 10 minutes.

To serve, tip out some of the liquid from the salad (the cukes give up a lot of liquid), then stir. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve beside a heaping portion of mejadra.

spinach salad

Wiki tells me that “Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (modern Iran and neighboring countries). Arab traders carried spinach into India, and then the plant was introduced into ancient China, where it was known as “Persian vegetable.” The earliest available record of the spinach plant was recorded in Chinese, stating it was introduced into China via Nepal (probably in 647 AD). In AD 827, the Saracens introduced spinach to Sicily. The first written evidence of spinach in the Mediterranean was recorded in the medical work by al-Razi.” Which kind of makes sense – that it would be in a medical work – because it’s highly nutritional and full of antioxidants. What’s more, there is nothing like the spring baby spinach you find at the farmers’ markets at this time of year – small, tender, and bright green. With a little warm honey mustard dressing and toasted pecans, those Arab traders would think they had died and gone to heaven.

1 bunch of fresh baby spinach

1/4 tsp garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsps shallots, minced

2 tbsps dijon

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup pecans, chopped coarsely

Wash and dry (spin) the spinach and set aside.

Mix garlic, shallots, dijon, honey, and red wine vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat and let it come to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let it cool down slightly and then slowly wisk the olive oil into the other ingredients until mixed well. Set aside.

Toast pecans in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Be careful not to burn them but to just toast them until golden brown and fragrant.

Toss the spinach with a generous dose of dressing. Top with toasted pecans and serve alongside a falafel burger or my favourite VLT.

chickpea kale feta salad

March 16, 2013

kale chickpea feta salad

I have oft said that there is an exception to every rule. This is a vegan blog and so it is, naturally, dairy-free. But I do make one exception and that’s feta from Ruth Klassen of Monteforte Dairy. It’s local, and lovingly produced by a dedicated and passionate woman whom I see every Saturday at the farmer’s market. I love what she does and what she stands for – at Monteforte “we’re convinced the small things do indeed make a difference, that agriculture is best practiced on a human scale, and that our cheeses, each in its own way, reflect something a little deeper than the technology behind mass manufactured food – a little of the poetry and passion of life itself.” How can you argue with that? And her feta is to die for. If you are a stalwart vegan and just can’t go there, you can always replace dairy-based feta with a soy-based “feta” or herbed tofu as I prefer to call it.  Whichever way you go, it’s a great compliment to this salad of chickpeas, wilted kale, and basil. Serve it next to the French Bean Salad and you’ve got a killer lunch.

3 cups cooked chickpeas

1/2 pound baby kale, wilted

1/2 red onion cut into small slices

1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped finely

chunk of feta, crumbed, or a healthy dose of herbed tofu

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsps balsamic vinegar

juice from 1/2 lemon

sea salt and pepper to taste

Cooked your chickpeas, drain, and put into a large mixing bowl. Or if you are using canned chickpeas, rinse, drain, and put into a large mixing bowl.

Wilt the kale in a pot of boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes, or in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add to the chickpeas when done.

Add red onion, chopped basil, feta or herbed tofu. Add olive oil, balsamic and lemon juice. Mix well. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning, including lemon juice, balsamic, or any other ingredient, as necessary. Serve. Serve seconds. Lick your chomps. And be grateful for simple, beautiful salads.

marinating shallots

Who knew tarragon and celery seed were such good friends? They come together beautifully and freshly in this french bean salad. In fact they sing out loud, while the other ingredients – stalwart dijon, sophisticated sherry vinegar, and trusty olive oil – provide back-up and support the whole act. It’s a delicious lunch salad next to a chickpea kale and feta salad. And, to boot, this salad gives you a little hit of nature’s medicine. Tarragon is known to prevent cardiovascular disease. And celery seed? Aulus Cornelius Celsus was talking about using these tiniest of seeds for pain relief way back in 30 AD.

celery and mustard seeds

1 pound french green beans, “tipped and tailed” or just “tipped”

1/4 cup sherry vinegar

3 shallots, diced finely

1 tsp mustard seed

1 tsp celery seed

2 tbsps dijon mustard

1/2 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tbsps fresh tarragon, chopped finely

sea salt

French Bean Salad

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Once the water has reached boiling point, turn the heat down slightly and  blanch french beans in the water for 4 – 5 minutes until just tender. Remove beans immediately and give them a bath in iced water to stop the cooking process and lock in their bright green colour. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, add finely diced shallots to the sherry vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes.

Crush the celery and mustard seeds with a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

Add dijon mustard to the sherry vinegar and whisk until well blended. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking as you go to make sure the mixture combines well and reaches a creamy consistency. Once mixed well, add crushed celery and mustard seeds, chopped tarragon, and sea salt to taste.

Toss dressing with the blanched green beans. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve as a light lunch or as a wonderful side to any french-leaning dinner.

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Culturally speaking this is a bit of a mixed-up salad. Soba is Japanese for buckwheat. Avocado comes from the Spanish aguacate which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word āhuacatl, which goes back to the proto-Aztecan pa:wa. This recipe also calls for cilantro which is native to regions from southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. Corn comes from Mesoamerica. And beans? Well, they are citizens of the world. But despite heralding from all over the planet, the ingredients in this salad come together beautifully and harmoniously ready to dance on your tongue.

1 package soba noodles

4 green onions, chopped

1 cup corn niblets, either cooked and niblets removed from the cob, or canned / frozen

1 cup black beans, cooked and rinsed

1 small bunch cilantro, chopped finely

2 avocados, cubed

4 tbsps brown rice vinegar

4 tbsps lime juice

2 tsps agave nectar

4 tsps sesame oil

2 tsps sunflower oil

2 tsps jalapeño, minced

1/4 tsp sea salt

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Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, put the green onion, corn, black beans, cilantro, and avocado in a large serving bowl.

In a separate bowl, prepare the dressing by mixing the brown rice vinegar, lime, agave, oils, jalapeño, and salt in a bowl. Once the noodles are cooked through, toss with vegetables and dressing. Adjust seasoning with additional sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Everyone has stuff in their fridge that overstays its welcome, food that hides in the back corners and somehow avoids going out on the town, heading over to the table for dinner. I’m sure each of us have our own list from beets to zucchini. This fall, for whatever reason, for me it’s been apples and squash. They just never seem to jump out at me begging to be cooked or eaten. Until today when I fired up the skillet and made this very seasonal, exceptionally tasty, totally nutritious warm wild rice salad. While I was hoovering it back, it made me think that it’s quite timely too as it would be a lovely addition to the holiday table.

1 1/2 cups of mixed wild rice

3 cups water

sea salt

2 tbsps olive oil

1 medium onion

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced

3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 cup veggie broth

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

sea salt and pepper

Mix rice with water and a pinch of sea salt. Cook until done according to the instructions and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a heavy oven-proof skillet. Add onions and cook until just tender. Add diced butternut squash, diced apples, and fresh thyme. Saute for about 10 minutes until they start to soften. Add veggie stock, cooked rice, chopped walnuts, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Place in the oven and bake at 425 for about 20 minutes until the squash is soft and tender.

Serve on its own as a nice warm salad lunch or as a side to brighten up any meal.