Easy peasy and so good. What else is there to say?

1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into large cubes

3 parsnips, peeled and cut into large cubes

4 carrots, various colours, cleaned and cut into large cubes

2 celery root, peeled and cut into large cubes

6 cipollini onions, peeled

6 garlic cloves, peeled

olive oil

4 – 5 thyme sprigs

salt and pepper

3 tbsps maple syrup

Clean, peel, and cut all vegetables, onions, and garlic and place in a large roasting pan. Toss with olive oil and thyme leaves until well coated. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 – 45 minutes until tender and sweet. Toss with maple syrup and serve warm alongside pretty much anything.

Today was ode to the sweet potato. Not sure why other than I had wanted to experiment with Sweet Potato Pâté (hopefully coming soon to v:gourmet), I bought too many, and was looking for other things to make with this amazing but undervalued tuberous root. I found this recipe on a new blog – smitten kitchen – that I discovered while getting my hair cut. Go figure. It got 5 out of 5 from Bekah and her friend Katya. We ate it with the Tagine and Socca. A great triad if there ever was one.

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes (the latter will make them quite spicy, so using according to your preferences)

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 pounds medium sweet potatoes

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coarsely grind coriander, fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes in an electric coffee/spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Stir together spices and salt. Cut potatoes lengthwise into 1-inch wedges. Toss wedges with oil and spices in a large roasting pan and roast in middle of oven 20 minutes. Turn wedges over with a spatula and roast until tender and slightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Recipe adapted from smitten kitchen

vgourmet, Ruth Richardson, vegan zucchini boats

I was driving through Belleville and decided to stop at a book store to find a book I had been looking for for awhile. I found my book but inevitably the cookbook section called my name and I found myself browsing through the vegetarian section. I saw a book called The Vegan Cook’s Bible by Pat Crocker and decided to give it a whirl as it had a great reference section at the beginning complete with all sorts of information on the benefits of individual veggies, spices, grains, and beans. It also had an extensive recipe section.

I decided to start with Crocker’s roasted zucchini recipe for no other reason than I saw the picture and it looked good. And maybe because I remember as a kid my mom made a great stuffed zucchini but (it was the late 70s) filled with cream cheese which I’m not so keen on these days. Especially the processed Philly kind. I tested it last night on my parents, Andrew, and the kids and it definitely got the thumbs up. Bekah even wolfed down all the extra filling which I couldn’t fit into the zucchini boats. I’ve made a few changes, as always, so if you happen upon Crocker’s book the recipe will look slightly different.

4 medium zucchini (courtesy of Vicki’s Veggies, the best organic veggies around!)

4 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp ginger, minced

1 tsp cumin

1/2 cup cooked quinoa, or other grain

1/3 cup pecans, roasted and chopped

In a saucepan of boiling water, cook zucchini for 7 minutes. Immerse in cold water until cool, then drain. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the flesh, leaving a 1/4 inch shell. Finely chop flesh and set aside. Brush shell inside and out with 2 tbsps of the oil. Arrange, cut side up, on prepared baking sheet and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat other 2 tbsps oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add garlic, ginger, and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Remove from heat and stir in reserved chopped zucchini flesh, cooked quinoa, and pecans.

Divide filling into 8 portions and press into zucchini shells. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes or until filling is lightly browned and zucchini are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Crocker suggests serving this as a main delicately placed on top of roasted red pepper sauce. I’ll have to try that. We just had it as a side in the company of other tasty vegetable dishes and some steak for the kids about to head off to camp.

With the rebar cookbook being my cookbook of  choice this summer, I found this recipe, of course, in the rebar cookbook. I’ve made it about 6 times in 2 weeks because I can’t get enough of these yummy, sweet, succulent, morsels of heaven. I love shallots anyway. Slow roasted shallots smothered with balsamic and brown sugar just take these perfect, tiny alliums to a new level. Eat them as a side dish. Add them to salads, pastas, rice dishes. Put them on a pizza. No matter – you’ll adore them.

8 oz shallots, peeled and halved

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsps balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cracked pepper

1 tsp chopped rosemary or thyme

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss all of the ingredients together in a small glass baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and carmelized. Serve warm.

As a rule I used to steam cauliflower and smoother it with cheese sauce, the way my grandmother and mother always used to make it. I tried this recipe the other day and the kids decided they prefer it. Phew! The sauteed shallots are key.

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and chopped

2 tbsps olive oil

1/4 cup minced shallots

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

optional: grated parmigiano, asiago, or sharp cheddar cheese

1. Steam the cauliflower until very tender, ,about 7 minutes. Put in a shallow bowl and set aside.

2. Warm the oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat and saute the shallots, garlic, salt and pepper until the shallots have softened. Add to the bowl of cauliflower and mash with a potato masher. Stir in the scallions and parsley. Stir in the grated cheese, if desired.

I was at my new favourite cafe the other day – it’s called The Rooster Coffee House and it’s fabulous. Well worth a trip to Riverdale if you’re in the general Toronto area. Anyhow, back on topic, I was sipping a soya milk latte with my mom and noticed in their stack of books the new Moosewood cookbook called Cooking for Health: more than 200 new vegetarian and vegan recipes for delicious and nutrient-rich dishes. Naturally I asked to borrow it. I posted their super yummy Pear and Thyme Vinaigrette the other day. Today I’m posting a quinoa and sweet potato dish that is pleasing to the eye, taste-buds, nose, soul, and stomach. You gotta try it out. And I just had it for lunch so I can testify to the fact that it’s as good, if not better, the next day so make lots.

3/4 cup quinoa

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups diced, peeled sweet potatoes

1 2/3 cups water

2 cups lightly packed finely chopped greens (chard, spinach etc.)

2 tbsps toasted pine nuts

1/4 currants

1 tbsp minced green onion

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and ground black pepper

1. Rinse and drain the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer to remove any residue of the grains’ bitter coating.

2. Warm the oil in a covered pan. Add the onions and salt and cook on low heat, stirring now and then, until the onions are transparent, about 8 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, water, and drained quinoa, cover, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat. Stir well and add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Just before removing from the heat, stir in the greens, pine nuts, currants, green onions, and lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

garlic smashed potatoes

April 17, 2010

Lucy Waverman, God love her, did a piece in the Globe and Mail right before the winter holidays on how to cook a vegan Christmas feast! One component of that feast was garlic mashed potatoes which, in our house, we call smashed potatoes. They’re good. Love ’em. And don’t miss the cream or milk at all. I made one addition, the rosemary, which I really like if the rest of the meal calls for that earthy, pungent compliment.

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 heads of garlic, skinned, root end trimmed

spring or two of rosemary in cheesecloth (bouquet garni style)

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 to 1 cup potato cooking water

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Separate garlic cloves and place in a pot of cold salted water along with potatoes and rosemary bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and boil until potatoes and garlic cloves are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove rosemary. Drain and reserve potato cooking water separately.

Mash together potatoes and garlic. Add olive oil and beat until combined. Add enough potato cooking water to reach a soft creamy consistency. Season well with sea salt and pepper to taste.

simple cauliflower

March 27, 2010

In my musing “But what exactly?” I talk about eating meat and dairy which I don’t do on a regular basis, but there are exceptions. As I walk further down this vegan road, I’m noticing that there are two categories of exceptions. One is the 6-month exception. At Christmas I had lamb – this was the big diversion that seems to happen every 6 months or so. What about the monthly or weekly exceptions? Week to week, I pretty much stick to a vegan routine. Monthly? It’s come down to two things: feta and parmigiano. Becoming vegan has brought into vivid view the things that I truly appreciate and, surprisingly, feta and parmigiano are at the top of the list. (I’ve always loved them but didn’t realize how much more I love them than other types of cheese and dairy.) I don’t eat them often but once in awhile they are a nice treat.

The recipe below calls for parmigiano. You can, of course, leave it out if you want to do a vegan version but it was a really nice addition. The kids loved this recipe – said it was way better than any other cauliflower dish I’ve made. It’s from 101 cookbooks. Serve it with rice, another veggie dish, and some BBQ meat for the non-vegans in the house and everyone’s happy.

2 – 3 heads of small cauliflower (or 1/2 head large)

2 tbsps olive oil

a couple pinches of sea salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small bunch of chives, chopped

zest of one lemon

freshly grated parmigiano

pinch or two sea salt

To prep the cauliflower, remove any leaves at the base and trim the stem. Now cut it into tiny trees – and by tiny, I mean most florets aren’t much larger than a table grape. Make sure the pieces are relatively equal in size, so they cook in the same amount of time. Rinse under running water, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil and fine grain salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and stir until the florets are coated. Wait until it gets a bit brown on the bottom, then toss the cauliflower with a spatula. Brown a bit more and continue to saute until the pieces are deeply golden – all told about six minutes. In the last 30 seconds stir in the garlic.

Remove from heat and stir in the chives, lemon zest, and dust with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of flaky sea salt (if you have it on hand). Serve immediately.

Photo credit: 101 cookbooks

This recipe is from the refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal. The other day I posted 2 sauces from refresh that I love – Tamari and Tahini – and mentioned that I wanted to try the Butternut Squash and Pear soup. Well I tried it. Kind of. We had friends over for dinner last night and I needed a yummy side dish. So instead of making a soup, I turned the recipe into a puree. It was so good.

Not only was it totally delicious last night, but today for lunch I took the left-over puree, added a little veggie stock, turned it into a soup, and then sprinkled it with picada. Totally satisfying except now it’s gone which is sad. I wish I had made more. Try it  out. And one day I will make the soup the way Ruth Tal suggests and let you know how it goes. In the meantime, this is a great improv version.

1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced

1 cinnamon stick

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

6 cups vegetable stock

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped (I used shallots which I adore)

1/3 cup white wine

2 pears, cored and chopped (to enhance the wonderful pear flavour in the soup, leave the pear peel on.)

sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the ginger, cinnamon stick , squash, and sweet potato in a large pot. Cover with the vegetable stock. Bring to a boil  then reduce to a simmer.

2. While the vegetables are simmering in the pot, heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add onion and cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes.

3. Add white wine and chopped pear to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes until wine is reduced; then add to the squash and sweet potato mixture.

4. When everything is cooked through, about 30 minutes, pour off most of the stock and reserve for another use (or for your reconstituted soup the next day!). Remove the cinnamon stick. Puree in a food processor until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

photo credit: Kristina, Lovely Morning

This is another good Vij’s recipe to go alongside the Coconut Curried Vegetables. I’ve “vegan-ized” it by using olive oil instead of butter. The other thing you can do is add dried currants to get a good hit of iron and fibre. My kids don’t love them so I tend to leave them out but you could also just have a little bowl-full on the side for customized additions.


2 cups basmati rice

3 3/4 cups water

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

3/4 Tsp salt


2 Tsps cumin seed

2-3 Tbsps olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

10 whole cloves

1 1/4 Tsps ground turmeric

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)

1 1/2 Tsps salt

1 cauliflower (about 1 pound), in 1-inch florets (about 5 cups)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, with stems

1. To prepare the rice: wash rice twice in cold water. Soak rice in 3 cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain rice.

2. In a medium pot with a lid, combine rice, 3 3/4 cups of water, olive oil and salt on high heat. As soon as the rice starts to boil vigorously, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, but do not remove the lid. Allow rice to sit for about 5 minutes, then remove the lid and set aside.

3. To prepare the cauliflower: In a separate frying pan or a wok, heat cumin seeds in oil on medium-high heat. Once seeds have sizzled for 30 to 45 seconds, reduce the heat to medium and add onions and cloves. Sauté the onion for 8 to 10 minutes or until brown. Add turmeric, jalapeno and salt and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add cauliflower, stir well and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked but still firm and not too soft.

4. Add cauliflower to rice and combine well. Add cilantro and stir with a large fork until the rice is completely yellow from the turmeric.

Serves 6 to 8