aloo gobi

May 19, 2012

This recipe was a labour of love – a well-researched-much-adapted-tested-and-tested-again-totally-worth-it labour of love. It’s awesome with chana masala, some simple naan, and rice. It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. I wish I could tell you more about the history of aloo gobi but all I know is that it’s usually a dry dish containing potatoes, cauliflower, and turmeric as the signature ingredients, and it hails from Punjab in north-west India. I don’t like mine so dry so I add stewed tomatoes. And it rocks. Which I guess is all you really need to know.

3 tbsps olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp whole cumin seed

1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated

4  garlic cloves, minced

2 tsps turmeric

2 tsps garam masala

¼ tsp cayenne

1 tsp sea salt

16 oz  stewed or crushed tomatoes

1 large cauliflower, broken into small florets

3 large potatoes, diced

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

sea salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add whole cumin seeds and cook until they pop and sizzle.  Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two. Stir in turmeric, garam masala, and cayenne. Cook until fragrant but be sure not to burn the spices; about 1 minute.

Stir in salt, stewed tomatoes, cauliflower, and potatoes. Cook with the lid on until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring often. If it gets too dry, add a little bit of water. When the potatoes and cauliflower are tender, turn off heat and add peas. Put the lid back on and let the peas steam in the residual heat; about 1 minute. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and pepper. Add chopped cilantro and serve piping hot.

chana masala

May 19, 2012

chana masala, vegan indian food, vgourmet, Ruth Richardson

One of the things I love most about having a food blog is that people now send me recipes. I get them all the time from friends and family alike. “Hey, why don’t you try to veganize this chili burger?” Absolutely! The latest was from my friend Pamela with the note “I made this tonight. It was super good. We had it with black rice and garlic naan bread. The small rascals even ate it!” How could I not give it a whirl? It’s from Canadian Living. It’s fabulous. And it’s a welcome change from the Indian food the kids like to order that I’m sure is packed with ghee. Black rice and garlic naan bread are wonderful accompaniments, as is aloo gobi. Presto, dinner’s ready.

3 tbsps olive oil

2 onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsps grated fresh ginger

2 tsps chili powder

2 tsps ground coriander

2 tsps ground cumin

2 tsps garam masala

1 cup water

1/2 cup tomato paste

2 tsps packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

40 oz chickpeas, cooked (or 2 cans drained and rinsed)

2 tbsps lemon juice

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or two. Stir in chili powder, coriander, cumin and garam masala. Cook until fragrant but be sure not to burn the spices; about 1 minute.

Stir in 1 cup water, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, and chickpeas, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Serve piping hot.

falafel burgers

May 13, 2012

This recipe is from a dusty old cookbook by Didi Emmons given to me by a friend. It’s a great veggie burger packed with carrots, cumin, garlic, parsley, tahini, and of course, the tell-tale chickpea. It’s great served with tahini sauce, any toppings of your choosing, on a toasted sesame bun. A little greek salad on the side, and you’ve got yourself a fabulous spring dinner out on the back patio. Don’t make the burgers too big or they will remain too soft in the middle – still delicious but soft. Pack them tight, keep them small, and grill away. They are one of the better veggie burgers around.

2 tbsps olive oil

1 1/2 cups minced onions

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 cup finely chopped carrot

1 3/4 cups cooked chickpeas

1 1/2 tbsps tahini

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1/3 cup chickpea or white flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and carrot, and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl or food processor. Set the skillet aside.

Add the cooked chickpeas and mash together with a potato masher, or chop them in a food processor until they are broken down. Add the tahini and the parsley. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the chickpea mixture and mix again, until just combined but not too processed (you still want the mixture to be chunky).

Form the chickpea “dough” into patties. Heat the skillet over medium high heat again. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the patties and cook flipping the patties when needed. Turn down the heat if necessary. Patties should be a deep golden brown on both sides.

We have a new steel chalkboard in our kitchen – floor to ceiling with lots of space to capture grocery lists, homework assignments, you name it. I put a quote up the other day from Parker Palmer, a wonderful thinker and beautiful writer. “Spring teaches me to look more carefully for the green stems of possibility,” he said. He’s so right whether you’re talking about relationships, work or new ways of doing things, or asapargus, chives and ramps. This pie embodies the latter, with a helping of lemon thyme and fresh chives as well. All early spring plants that infuse this simple pie with … well, green stems and possibility.

For Single Crust Pâte Brisée:

1  1/4 cups pastry flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

3 – 3 1/2 tbsps water, iced

For Filling:

1 pound firm tofu

2 tbsps lemon juice

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp sea salt

pepper to taste

For the veggies:

2 tbsps olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

3 bunches ramps, chopped

2 bunches asparagus, chopped

bunch lemon thyme, leaves removed

bunch chives, chopped

For the pâte brisée, whisk the flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Add the shortening by cutting it into small pieces and then, using your hands or a pastry cutter, blend it into the flour working it into pea-sized pieces until it resembles a coarse crumb. Add the iced water, beginning with only 3 tablespoons, mixing enough to form a ball (do not over mix or your pâte will become stiff). Add more if you need it but it might not be necessary. Flatten the ball into a disk shape, wrap it, and chill the dough until ready to use; at least a half hour.

Once your pâte brisée has chilled, remove it from the fridge and roll the dough out to 1/4″ thickness with a floured rolling pin. Transfer it to a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Shape it, trim the excess dough, leaving a 1/2″ overhang, then fold the overhang over the pastry sides and press against the side to reinforce the edge. Pierce the bottom with a fork a few times and place it in the fridge for 30 minutes until it’s firm.

While the pâte is chilling pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

After the pastry has chilled, line the chilled shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake until the pastry is set and pale golden along rim, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights.

Meanwhile, put tofu, lemon juice, balsamic, dijon, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add chopped shallots and chopped ramps and sauté until soft and translucent. Once done, add asparagus and thyme and sauté until the asparagus is just slightly soft but still bright green. Don’t cook it too much or it will get overdone. Transfer the asparagus mixture to a bowl. Add tofu mixture and chopped chives and stir well.

Transfer filling with the vegetables to the pie shell. Put in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and a inserted knife comes out clean. Serve with a green salad and a rosé bien frais.

pasta e fagioli

April 29, 2012

pasta e fagioli, vgourmet, ruth richardson

Pasta e fagioli is a quintessential Italian dish. Made from a base of olive oil, garlic, herbs, and tomatoes with the addition of pasta and beans, it shares common ingredients but shows up on tables in thousands of variations. For every household in Italy I’m sure there was a unique take on how to make “pasta fazool.” Even though its origins are as a peasant dish, you now find it on the menus of even the most sophisticated restaurants. Perhaps its because you just can’t argue with a simple, authentic dish that tastes great and fills you up. And remember, the better the ingredients you use, the better the final product will be.

pasta e fagioli, vgourmet, ruth richardson, trofie

16 oz cannelli beans

1/2 pound small pasta like trofie, ditalini, or campanelle

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, chopped finely

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups stewed tomatoes

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup veggie stock

small bunch of thyme leaves, chopped

small bunch of basil, chopped

sea salt and black pepper

If using dried cannelli beans, soak for 8 hours, then rinse. Put beans in a pot of un-salted water, bring to a boil, and cook until tender. Once cooked, drain and rinse and set aside. If using canned beans, drain  and rinse and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring another pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, turn down slightly, add pasta, and cook until al dente. Once cooked, drain, toss with a small amount of olive oil, and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent but not browned. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant. Add tomatoes, wine, stock, and herbs. Bring to a boil and then turn down and simmer until the mixture is reduced and thickened to a desired consistency, about 30 minutes. Add cooked beans and pasta, as well as sea salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for another 15 minutes until flavours start to meld. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and some nice warm bread.

nosso buco

March 31, 2012

As many of you will know, osso buco is a Milanese specialty of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. With the recent reporting out of Harvard on red meat consumption and how unhealthy it is, I was thinking a little nosso buco might nosso be a bad idea. “If you really want to go for the lowest possible (risk), it does look like not consuming red meat at all, or a couple times a year, is where you’d want to be” says Dr. Willet, a red meat lover himself. This recipe has all the benefits of osso buco but without the bad stuff. Simply substitute the veal for some crisped-up tofu and you’ve got a recipe that even the Milanese would have to agree rocks.

1/2 cup olive oil

2 large blocks of firm tofu, cubed about 1″ x 1″

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 onion, chopped

3 medium carrots, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup white wine

1 cup veggie stock

1 1/2 cups stewed tomatoes

1 bay leaf

2 tsps chopped thyme

sea salt and pepper

Start with the tofu. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet. Toss the cubed tofu in the cornstarch until well-coated. and shake off the excess. Add them to the hot oil in batches so they aren’t too crowded. Fry, turning them as you go, until they are golden all over and have a thin crust. After they are cooked, transfer them onto paper towels. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the other 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and sauté until they are cooked and tender. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute or two until fragrant. Add the white wine and let bubble away until it’s reduced by half. Add the stock, tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

When the sauce is just right and the tofu is done, add the tofu to the sauce and stir gently and minimally until the tofu is just incorporated. Serve with garlic smashed potatoes, and, for a really authentic nosso buco, with a gremolata of lemon rind, garlic, and parsley on top.


March 26, 2012

Ribolitta is a famous Tuscan soup, or potage. It almost always contains stale bread and beans, and a healthy portion of various veggies like carrots, celery, cabbage, cavolo nero, and onions. It literally means “reboiled” and embodies all the best of peasant food which, for me, equals frugality and simplicity but not at the expense of taste and artistry. Let the uber-chefs have their emulsified this and that; I’ll take good hearty farmstead food any day. This is a variation on the traditional Ribollita, if you can call it that. I’m sure every variation is a variation and there is no “pure” original. Build a base soup and add garlic rosemary croutons, a bit of garlic scape or sun-dried tomato pesto, and a drizzle of some really good quality Tuscan olive oil. No wonder Alice in Wonderland said “Beautiful soup! Who cares for fish, game or any other dish? Who would not give all else for two pennyworth of beautiful soup?” It’s all love….


1/2 cup olive oil

2 onions, sliced

1 large fennel bulb, diced

4 carrots, cut lengthwise and sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 heaping tbsp tomato paste

1 cup white wine

14 oz plum tomatoes with their juices

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 tsps thyme leaves

2 tbsps chopped fresh parsley

2 bay leaves

2 tsp cane sugar

4 1/2 cups veggie stock

2 1/2 cups cooked cannelli, great white northern, or navy beans

a bunch of kale, chopped, stems removed

sea salt and pepper

Garlic Rosemary Croutons

1 loaf stale sourdough bread or baguette

4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped

4 tbsps olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or heavy pot. Add chopped onion and fennel and sauté for about 5 minutes over medium-high until they begin to get tender. Add carrots and celery and continue to sauté for another 4 or 5 mintues, stirring ocassionally. Stir in the tomato paste and mix well. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and then let simmer for a couple of minutes.

Add plum tomatoes with their juices, herbs, sugar, and stock. Add some sea salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the stale bread into large chunks. In a large mixing bowl, toss bread chunks with olive oil, rosemary, garlic, sea salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until the bread is nicely browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Place half the beans in a bowl and smash them with a potato masher. Add them, as well as the other half of the beans, to the soup. Add chopped kale. Let simmer for about 5 or 10 minutes. Adjust sea salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a small handful of garlic croutons in the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle a good portion of ribollita over the croutons. Add a dollop of pesto on the top and a  healthy drizzle of really good Tuscan olive oil. Serve hot and be forever grateful for the wonder that is soup.

sesame sprout salad

March 25, 2012

sesame sprout salad, vegan salad, vgourmet, ruth richardson, asian noodle salad

This is a cooling, refreshing noodle salad with a bit of heat from the chile peppers. It’s loaded with raw vegetables, fresh herbs, and sesame seeds which makes it both simple and complex. It’s simple in its preparation and list of ingredients; it’s complex in its flavours and the way everything comes together. And with micro-greens popping up in gardens mid-March (!) with this early, early spring, you can add a homegrown element to it as well.

1 package rice noodles

2 medium carrots

1 cucumber

1/2 red onion, sliced very finely

1 small red chile pepper, chopped finely

1 inch fresh ginger root, chopped finely

1 cup sprouts, radish, bean, alfalfa

small bunch cilantro, chopped

small bunch mint, chopped

3 scallions, chopped on the diagonal

1 tbsp black sesame seeds

2 tbsps rice vinegar

2 tbsps soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp sesame oil

4 tbsps peanut oil

2 tbsps olive oil

bunch micro-greens for garnish

Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the rice noodles and cook for 3 minutes until they are done. Drain, rinse noodles under cold water, and set aside.

Meanwhile, slice the carrot and cucumber as finely as possible with a mandolin, knife, or better yet, vegetable peeler. Place in a large mixing bowl. Add onion, chile pepper, ginger root, sprouts, cilantro, mint, scallions, and the cooked noodles.

In a separate bowl, combine black sesame seeds, rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic, and sesame, peanut,  and olive oils. Mix well.

Pour dressing over the noodle mixture and toss gently until everything is mixed and coated nicely with the dressing. Place in a serving bowl and top with micro-greens like sunflower sprouts or miniature arugula.

How much do I love this recipe? Let me count the ways. Number one, pear is an awesome, versatile, sweet (local and sustainable) fruit that should feature prominently on everyone’s weekly menu. Number two, I can’t say enough about cinnamon and ginger. We go through pounds of these two queens of the super spices in our tea, in our favourite tofu marinade, in stews and soups, and just about anything and everything. Number three, who can resist the temptation of carmelized organic cane sugar? (Enough said on that one.) And number four, with a dollop of coconut milk ice cream on the side, you get that hot/cold thing I’ve always loved as the ice cream melts into the sugary syrup.

3 – 4 medium-sized ripe pears

2 tbsps lemon juice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

pinch nutmeg

3/4 cup organic cane sugar

Peel the pears. Cut them in half and scoop out the cores. Place in a small baking dish with the pears packed in tightly. Drizzle the pears with the lemon juice and then sprinkle with the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

In a small heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat stirring carefully until the sugar melts and turns to golden brown. Drizzle over the pears until they are coated evenly.

Bake the pears in a preheated oven at 375F for 30 minutes, or until the pears are completely tender. Serve with a dollop of coconut milk ice cream and a generous ladle of the sugary syrup.


We try our best to eat as seasonally as possible, within reason. Now that we’re into mid-March the pantry is getting a little low on stuff but we still have delicata squash, winter kale, and root veggies like parsnips. But how much can you really do with them? Well, quite a lot in fact. I made this tower of winter vegetables – delicata squash, steamed kale, parsnip sage risotto, baby beluga lentils, toasted squash seeds, and micro-greens – for a nice dinner the other night with friends in front of the fire. It’s not complicated but there are a number of steps so it’s best made when you’ve got a little extra time and you want to make something special. I put some absolutely outstanding squash jam with lavender on the side. It’s made by Stasis Preserves in Toronto and might just be one of my new favourite condiments.

For the sqaush

1 delicata sqaush

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

sea salt

Cut delicata squash into 1 – 2 inch slices. Scoop out the sqaush seeds and set the seeds aside. Place sqaush in a heavy-bottomed, oven-friendly frying pan. Drizzle with olive oil, nutmeg, and salt. Roast in a preheated oven at 375F until soft and slightly browned. Once done, remove the sqaush from the pan and set aside.

Clean the squash seeds. Pat dry with a tea towel. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the same frying pan used for the squash over medium-high heat. Add the seeds and sauté them until they are crispy and nicely toasted. Let cool.

For the steamed kale

1 bunch of curly kale or other greens like chard, collard greens, spinach

1 tbsp lemon juice

sea salt

Clean the kale thoroughly. Tear it into large chunks and place in the top of a steamer. Steam over high heat until the kale is softened but not gone totally flacid. You want it to have some texture and presence to it. Once done, transfer to a bowl and season with a little lemon juice and sea salt. Set aside.

For the parsnip sage risotto

2 tbsps olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 large parsnips, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 cups of arborio rice

4 cups of veggie stock, heated

1 cup white wine, heated

a small bunch of fresh sage, chopped finely

sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Add the onion and sauté until tender. Add the parsnips and minced garlic and sauté another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant. Add arborio rice stirring constantly until evenly coated. Begin to add the stock and wine slowly. Remember, the key to good risotto is to 1) start with heated stock and wine, 2) stir constantly, and 3) add the liquid slowly until the rice is just covered. Let the rice absorb the liquid and then add a little more, again, until the rice is just covered. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Once the rice has reached the perfect state of al dente-ness add the sage and toss. Season with good sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the baby beluga lentils

1 cup baby beluga lentils

1 carrot, quartered

1 celery stalk, quartered

1 onion, quartered

1 bay leaf

olive oil

sea salt

Clean and rinse lentils thoroughly. Place them in a saucepan with the carrot, celery, onion, and bay leaf. Cover with twice as much water, about 2 cups. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 – 25 minutes. Once done, remove the bay leaf and vegetables. Drain the lentils. Put them back into the saucepan and drizzle with a little olive oil and sea salt. Set aside.

To assemble

Start with the roasted squash. Put it on the plate you are going to use to serve. Fill the cavity with risotto. Next, on a cutting board, pack the steamed kale into a circular cookie cutter about the same diameter as your squash. Use a wide knife to lift it off the chopping board and gently place on the squash. Do the same with the risotto – pack it into the cookie cutter and place it gently on the kale.

Next, add some squash jam or other condiment (onion confit, red pepper jelly) beside the squash in a nice presentation. Then drizzle the whole dish with the baby beluga lentils and toasted squash seeds. Finally, top with some micro-greens and serve with pride and a smile on your face.