The refresh cookbook by Ruth Tal is fantastic. There are a number of soups I want to try out (butternut squash and pear with coconut milk – sounds yummy!) so I’ll get back to you on those. In the meantime I thought I should highlight two of their sauces that are the perfect accompaniment to rice and veggies, or what they call rice bowls. Rice bowls are simply steamed brown basmatic rice (but you can use any rice) topped with, well, pretty much anything from tofu to grilled vegetables to nuts and seeds. My favourite is sticky rice with grilled peppers, zucchini, fennel, maybe some steamed greens, sesame seeds and/or tamari sunflower seeds and then, of course, these two sauces – tahini and tamari. Dollop on liberally and enjoy. It’s good, it’s filling, it’s nurturing. Vegan comfort food. And because you build it yourself, the kids can opt in and out of whatever tickles their fancy or not. Everyone’s happy.

Tahini Sauce

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup chopped parsley  (the other day I didn’t have any so I used cilantro instead which was equally good)

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tbsps lemon juice

2/3 cup filtered water

1/2 cup sesame butter (tahini)

Whiz ingredients in a blender or food processor. Run until smooth, scraping the sides down once or twice.

Simple Tamari Sauce

1/2 cup tamari

3 tbsps sesame oil

1 1/2 inch ginger root, peeled and minced

4 tbsps lemon juice

Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

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

barley salad, vegan grain salad, rice salad, rice barley quinoa salad, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson, vegan food

I made up this recipe based on a few I’ve eaten when I’m out and about. I’m really happy with it. You can add more or less dressing depending on your preference. It makes quite a heap so unless you’ve got lots of mouths to feed, are cooking for a potluck, or would like it to last you several days, half the recipe.

1 cup mixed wild rice, cooked

1 cup barley, cooked

1 cup black quinoa, cooked

2 tbsps olive oil

5 celery stalks, chopped

4 large carrots, chopped

1 bulb fennel, chopped

1 – 2 cups pumpkin seeds (roasted tamari pumpkin seeds are nice)

3/4 cup of dried cranberries

bunch of green onion, chopped

bunch of parsley, chopped

bunch of cilantro, chopped


1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbsps grainy Dijon mustard

1 tbsp grated ginger

dash maple syrup

1/2 cup olive oil

sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook the grains and then set aside to let cool. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add celery, carrot, and fennel and sauté until cooked through to desired consistency. When cooked, mix grains, vegetables, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, green onions, and herbs in a large bowl. Prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients well. Add dressing to the salad and serve.