quinoa fava bean

Did you know that fava beans, also known as the broad bean, faba bean, field bean, bell bean, or tic bean, are among the most ancient plants in cultivation? Favas are native to North Africa, southwest and south Asia, and are believed to have become part of the eastern Mediterranean diet around 6000 BC or earlier. That’s a long time ago. They must be doing something right. It’s a shame we don’t see them more often in restaurants, cookbooks, and in the markets and grocery stores. They add a wonderful bright earthiness to this quinoa salad – an adaptation on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s – and a great pop of colour alongside the summer squashes and toasted pine nuts. With a hit of lemon juice, you’ve got a light and lovely lunch salad or side dish.

2 tbsps olive oil

4 or 5 small summer squashes (cousa, pattypan, zucchetta, zucchini), roughly chopped

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

a few sprigs of thyme

1 pound fava beans in pods

1 cup quinoa

a healthy handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

a squeeze of lemon juice

1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Place a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the oil and heat. Add the summer squash, onions, thyme and salt and pepper. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the zucchini and tender and starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.

While the summer squash is cooking, shell the fava beans, bending the tip of the pod and pulling down the seam of the pod to “unzip” the pod and reveal the beans inside. Discard the fuzzy outer pod. Place the shelled beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Remove and place into ice water. Peel off the beans’ thick waxy outer covering. Set aside.

Rinse the quinoa in several changes of cold water and then place in a saucepan along with 2 cups of cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the long white kernels are coming away from the seeds. Tip into a sieve and leave to drain and steam.

Combine the quinoa, fava beans, summer squash, and onions and toss to mix well. Add the parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir well. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve topped with toasted pine nuts.

sweet potato pecan crostini

We’re at the family cottage enjoying a much longed-for summer break. The summer is so fleeting and already we notice the chill in the breeze at night, the red squirrels madly storing pine cones, and a slight shift in the smell of the air, even though it’s only mid-August. I love cooking on holidays when there is more time, the pace is more relaxed, and there is more incentive to be creative with the limited stores of food in the fridge far away from the convenience of the city. Our lunch today was a simple green salad and these stupidly easy and tasty sweet potato pecan crostini with sautéed onion and thyme. What’s not to devour? They proved to be a fantastic mid-day meal, and the perfect set-up for an afternoon in the hammock with a good book.

1 sweet potato, cubed

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsps olive oil

sea salt and pepper

1/4 of a sweet onion, sliced

a few thyme sprigs

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

6 slices of good seedy sourdough bread (preferably from Blackbird Baking Co), toasted

1 tbsp of honey (or more maple syrup if you are not a honey eater)

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the cubed sweet potato with maple syrup, 1 tbsp of the olive oil and some sea salt and pepper to taste. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until soft and slightly browned, about 20- 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the other 1 tbsp olive oil to a small skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and thyme and sauté until softened, fragrant, and slightly crispy on the edges. Remove from heat and set aside. Toast the pecans in the oven or in a small skillet on the stove if they aren’t already toasted and set aside.

Once everything is ready, toast 6 slices of good bread. Place on a cutting board and add a healthy dose of sweet potato, squishing it down into the bread slightly with the back of a fork to make it a little more manageable to eat. Top with onions and pecans. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup depending on your preference. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

peach crumble

Peaches, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Fresh off the vine. Rustic peach galette. Drunken peaches au sirop d’erable. And I could go on. Add this peach crumble coffee cake to the list to celebrate one of summer’s finest, tastiest, juiciest fruits.

For the cake:

1 cup soy milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup cane sugar

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 cup diced ripe peaches

For the crumble topping:

3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp sea salt

4 to 5 tbsps solid coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 8- or 9- inch square or circular baking dish.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, vigorously whisk together the apple cider vinegar and the soy milk until the mixture is frothy. Allow it to sit for a few moments. Mix in the sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla.

In a large-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until they are just combined. Fold in the diced peaches and pour the batter into the baking dish.

To make the crumble topping, place the flour, sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a small mixing bowl. Work in the oil with your fingers, one tablespoon at a time. Continue working until large crumbs form.

Distribute the crumble topping over the coffee cake. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the topping is nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

chickpea salad sandwich

June 22, 2014

chickpea salad sandwich

Thanks to The Simple Veganista for this smiple vegan chickpea salad sandwich. Brilliant idea and super tasty. On some toasted Blackbird Baking Co Seedy Sourdough, with mashed avocado and lettuce, it’s all anyone could want in a salad sandwich – as in old school tuna salad or chicken salad – but veganized. And it’s the perfect picnic fare on this first day of summer as we head into long lazy Saturdays at the beach or in the park.

15 oz cooked chickpeas

1/2 cup celery, chopped finely

1/2 cup red pepper, chopped finely

1/3 cup scallions, chopped finely

1/4 cup tahini

1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard

juice of 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

sea salt and pepper to taste

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, whether canned or home-cooked. Place in a medium-sized mixing bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If you need a little more liquid to soften up the tahini, you can always add a little warm water. Season to taste. Serve on toasted whole grain bread with whatever condiments and additions tickle your fancy.

creamed leeks

It’s spring and the farmers’ market is turning green with spinach, kale, chives, and all those fabulously welcome early greens. I bought a friend of mine River Cottage Veg for Christmas and she made this springy creamy leek and spinach dish for me one night. I pulled out the recipe this weekend thinking it was the perfect place for those spring greens to land. And it was. This is both fresh and hearty, with sweetness from the coconut milk and spiciness from the curry. On top of brown rice with a little nutty arugula and cashew garnish, you’ve got a meal that’s easy, filling, and healthful.

2 tbsps sunflower oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp good curry powder

4-5 medium leeks, trimmed of tough leafy ends, washed and sliced

bunch of spring greens, baby kale or baby spinach, washed

400 ml coconut milk

sea salt and pepper to taste

sprouts, arugula or kale

50 grams roasted cashews, roughly chopped or crushed

Heat sunflower oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add minced garlic and allow it to sweat but be sure not to let it burn. Add curry powder and sauté for a few minutes, again making sure it doesn’t burn. Add chopped leeks and sauté until they are cooked well and get quite tender, about 10 minutes. Add spring greens until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add coconut milk, sea salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for about 5 minutes to let the flavours meld.

Serve on top of brown rice. Garnish with arugula sprouts and crushed cashews.

bean hummus


I just watched this fabulous video of Michael Pollan on How Cooking Can Change Your Life. A must-see in my books as he argues so eloquently and passionately about the role of cooking, not just in our lives, our families, our health, our enjoyment, and so on, but in our whole food system as well. I’m sold. I have been for awhile, but now I’m really sold. I know for many cooking regularly and systematically seems daunting but with a few acquired habits and simple changes, it’s easier than one might think. Take my lunch the other day as an example. I could have gone out to a restaurant, or ordered a pizza, or picked up a quick sandwich to go but I had stale baguette, I whipped up this hummus in about 10 minutes and, presto, lunch is served. And it was delicious. And healthy. And simple. And everything that Michael Pollan was talking about. Of course it’s not always this easy but start small, think big. Baby steps towards letting cooking change your life, and our planet.

6 tbsps olive oil

4 shallots, finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

zest and juice 1/2 lemon

26 oz can white beans (cannellini, lima, navy), cooked

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet, add the shallots, garlic, chopped rosemary, and lemon zest and cook over low, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Transfer the shallot  mixture to a food processor, add all the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Serve on toasted baguette, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with a few rosemary sprigs.

banana bread

It’s Easter and Easter screams chocolate and baking and special treats. This is Bekah’s almost vegan chocolate chip banana bread, that she got from Food52 who got it from fiveandspice. It’s super tasty and is almost vegan. More macrobiotic which, depending on who you listen to, allows eggs once/month. I figure Easter is as good a time a month as any to make that egg exception. So cut me a slice and bring it on. And let’s toast spring, new beginnings, rebirth, and daughters who bake really well. I know what I’ll be saying thanks for today

3 very ripe bananas, mashed well

1 large egg, at room temperature (the temp here is important because a cold egg will congeal the oil/butter

2 tablespoons sour cream (or rice / soy yogurt)

2 ounces shot of espresso (or absurdly strong coffee)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon instant espresso granules

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (whole wheat pastry flour would also work well)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

Heat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9X5-inch loaf pan. In a medium-large mixing bowl, stir the mashed bananas together with the egg, sour cream, espresso, and vanilla extract, until everything is well combined. Stir in the instant espresso granules.

Next, stir in the melted oil until it is completely incorporated. Follow this by stirring in the sugar until everything is well mixed.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Dump this mixture into the wet ingredients and stir just until there are no dry streaks left. The batter will still be lumpy. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake in the oven until a tester inserted into the loaf comes out clean, about one hour.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the loaf pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then gently run a knife around the edge of the bread and turn it out of the pan. Finish cooling the bread on a cooling rack.



The oldest Strudel recipes – a Millirahmstrudel and a turnip strudel – are from 1696, in a handwritten cookbook at the Vienna City Library. The pastry descends from similar Near Eastern pastries, which are not puff pastries, but closely associated with them. Lots of people these days use puff pastry, and move beyond the traditional fillings, both of which I’ve done in this recipe. Now, you might be thinking that there is no way puff pastry can be vegan, and you would be justified in having those thoughts. I’ve made puff pastry and it involved a crazy amount of butter. But did you know that most frozen puff pastries you buy at the grocery store are vegan? And they don’t take a whole day to make? And they are pretty tasty provided you put the right stuff inside. This one is both savoury and sweet, good-looking, relatively easy to make, and fabulous as a main attraction for Sunday dinner, lunch with a green salad, or even as an appetizer cut in thin slivers.


1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tsp brown sugar

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

2 tbsps dried cranberries, chopped

1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and but into thin slices

3 tbsps Kozliks Sweet and Smokey Mustard (or Dijon)

sea salt and pepper

fleur de sel or crushed thyme


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until starting to get soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add brown sugar, pecans, and dried cranberries and continue to sauté until sugar caramelizes, another 5 minutes or so. Set aside.

Brush butternut squash slices with a little olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Grill for 5 or 10 minutes on your BBQ until soft, or bake in the oven for a few minutes until brown on the edges, but be careful not to burn them. Set aside.

When ready, roll out puff pastry on a floured surface until you have a rectangle of 9″ x 12″. Spread mustard to cover the middle 1/3 of the pastry. Spoon onion mixture over the mustard. Place butternut squash slices on top of onion mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.

Cut 1″ wide horizontal strips on either side of the filling. Fold strips on each side alternatively over the filling to create a braid. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little fleur de del or some crushed dried thyme. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.

sweet potato curry

Fresh English peas are not necessarily the star attraction in this simple, elegant, and surprisingly light red curry, but without them you wouldn’t have that spring zing and bright green sphere to feast your eyes on. I haven’t seen fresh shelling peas in the market for awhile but tripped upon some the other day and couldn’t resist, given that winter won’t release us despite the fact that it’s almost April. The earliest archaeological finds of wild pea date from the late neolithic era of current Greece, Syria, Turkey and Jordan. In Egypt, early finds date from ca. 4800–4400 BC in the Nile delta area, and they were present in Georgia in the 5th millennium BC. Now that’s just kind of crazy. They found their way to England – hence “The English Pea” and “Peas Porridge” and other horrid sounding recipes – and fortunately found their way here to grace much more appetizing dishes like this simple curry.

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp red curry paste

1 pound sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 cups vegetable stock

1 13-oz can coconut milk

6 kaffir lime leaves

1 pound firm tofu, cubed

1.5 cups peas, freshly shelled or frozen

2 tbsps tamari

green onion, cilantro, red pepper flakes

In a wok over medium-high heat, heat up sunflower oil. Add red curry paste and mix well, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Add cubed sweet potato and cook for a few minutes until sweet potato is coated.

Add vegetable stock, coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a boil then turn heat down to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes until sweet potato is soft. Add tofu, peas, and tamari  and let simmer for a few more minutes until tofu is warmed through. Just before serving, add garnishes to your liking including green onion, cilantro, and/or red pepper flakes.



We’re just back from Tulum where we consumed lots of beans, rice, guacamole, and other staples of the Mexican diet. For Sunday dinner I decided to try my hand at chiles rellenos with a traditional mole. The chiles rellenos probably need little explanation (other than that it simply means “stuffed chiles). The mole? Well, the story behind Mole Poblano is that “in the early 17th Century, a Dominican nun named Sor Andrea de la Asunción lived in a convent in Puebla de los Angeles, outside of Mexico City. The mother superior of her order asked her to create a special meal to honor and celebrate visiting dignitaries who would be arriving on a Sunday. Since this request came at the last moment, Sor Andrea had to make do with the ingredients that she already had in the convent kitchen. She enlisted the help of the native women who worked with her to invent something wonderful, using the tools at hand. These native women, descended from Aztecs, believed that chocolate was the perfect ingredient to add to a dish created for visiting noblemen, because in Aztec culture, only royal males were allowed to eat chocolate, so they added chocolate to the blend of chiles, herbs, seeds, and vegetables.” Seem a little far-fetched? Maybe, but I do believe that truth is often stranger than fiction so I’m happy to go with it. This is not a quick meal to prepare but the earthy scents and associations will fill the house and, while you cook, you can bask in the beautiful imaginings of white sand, warm winds, palm trees, and the sound of the surf.


Sor Andrea de la Asunción’s Mole Poblano

1/2 cup sunflower oil

3 ounces chiles anchos, about 6 or 7, stemmed and seeded

3 ounces chiles pasillas, about 12 or 13, stemmed and seeded

3 ounces chiles mulatos, about 6, stemmed and seeded

1/3 ounces dried chipotle chiles, about 4, stemmed and seeded

1/2 white onion, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

3 tbsps raw almonds with skin

3 tbsps raw shelled peanuts

3 tbsps raisins

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

4 tablespoons sesame seeds

1/2 cup reserved chile seeds (from chiles above)

5 whole cloves, stemmed

1/4 tsp anise seeds

1/4 tsp coriander seeds

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1 stick true or ceylon cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1/4 tsp Mexican oregano

1/2 pound roma tomatoes, about 2 , charred or roasted

1/3 pound tomatillos, about 2, husked, rinsed, charred/roasted

6 ounces Mexican style chocolate or bittersweet chocolate

5 cups veggie broth (plus 4 more cups to dilute later on)

1 tsp sea salt, or more to taste

1/2 cup sesame seeds, toasted, to sprinkle at the end

In a large dutch oven set over medium high heat, add 1/2 cup oil. Once hot, about 2 minutes later, add the chiles in 2 or 3 batches and sauté, stirring often, and being careful not to let them completely burn. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a mixing bowl as you move along.

In the same oil, add chopped onion and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until they soften and release their aroma. Stir in the almonds, peanuts, raisins and pumpkin seeds, and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the sesame seeds, reserved chile seeds, stemmed cloves, anise seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, ground allspice, oregano. Stir frequently and let it all cook for 3 to 4 more minutes, stirring often. Make room again, add the tomatoes and tomatillos. Let it all cook for a couple minutes.

Incorporate the already sauteed chiles and pour in the vegetable broth. Stir and once it comes to a simmer, add the chocolate pieces and the salt. Mix well, and let it simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let the mix rest for 1/2 hour, so the chiles can completely soften.

In batches, puree the mixture in the blender or food processor until smooth. Set aside. (You can store this mole, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze it for up to a year.) When ready to eat, dilute a cup of mole with 1/2 cup vegetable broth in a saucepan and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.


Chiles Rellenos

5 chiles poblanos

2 tbsps olive oil

1/2 cup wild rice

1/2 cup basmati rice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups diced, peeled sweet potatoes

1 cup water

2 tbsps toasted pine nuts

1/4 currants

1 tbsp minced green onion

2 tbsps cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub chiles poblanos with the olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. Roast the chiles turning them occasionally until the skins are blackened and charred. When the skin of the chiles is sufficiently charred and blistered, remove from the heat and let them cool to room temperature. Peel the skin from the cooled chile; be careful to not tear the chile while peeling it.

Make a small slice into the side of the chile (this is the tricky part as roasted chiles are very soft, and tear easily). Insert a small spoon into the chile and scrape the seeds and the white membrane out, try to not tear the chiles flesh any more than possible, keeping the stems intact. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the wild rice  in a fine-meshed strainer to remove any residue of the grains’ bitter coating. Cook according to package instructions until done and set aside.

Rinse and drain the basmati rice in a fine-meshed strainer. 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 basmati rice, cover, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 20 – 25 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.

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

Turn the oven down to 325 degrees. When all your ingredients are ready, stuff the chiles rellenos with the rice mixture. Drizzle with the Mole Poblano and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Warm in the oven for just 5 minutes or so to bring up the heat. Serve immediately with a little pico de gallo and a cold cerveza on the side.