Creamy Coconut Lentils

Happy holidays and Happy New Year!

I will make this short and sweet…thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you for making my dream/goal of running my very own food blog a successful reality in 2013. I appreciate your support and encouragement so much. It’s a beautiful thing when you have an idea and it comes to life!

I am pretty sure 2013 had been my most eventful year of my life. Lots of ups (a few lows) and I am grateful for all of it. This blog has definitely been like a journal for me. A journal through food and photography 😉

My favourite dish combination has to be rice and beans…or PULSE and beans, if you will. I probably have a dozen variations that I make continuously and yet somehow my brain always think they are different. It is no surprise that dishes like this have been eaten globally for tens of thousands of years. It just works. Every time.

Wait…I may have just decided on a theme for my first cookbook 😉

“101 Ways to make Rice and Beans” or “Pulsating Beans”…a work in progress!

It is a meal in itself with only a few ingredients needed. In fact this particular recipe only requires about 4 ingredients plus a few spices.  And on these cold winter nights nothing satisfies they way this hearty dish can.

IMG_6213

 

For a slight variation it is fantastic with baked zucchini (I simply cut the zucchini lengthwise and bake at 350 for about 20 min with a little olive oil and sea salt)…yum!

IMG_6217

I hope and trust that the close of the past year is joyous and reflective for all of you!

Here’s to 2014 and all of the wonderful food possibilities.

Cheers.

Creamy Coconut Lentils

Serves 4-6

Prep Time 20-25 mins

Ingredients

4 cups cooked coconut jasmine rice (cook as per instructions using coconut water instead of regular water and then finish with 2 tbsp coconut oil once fully cooked)

3 cups vegetable broth

2 cups of dry red lentils

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1 tsp tumeric

1- 400 ml can of coconut milk

sea salt to taste

handful of chopped cilantro

2 tbsp sriracha (optional)

  • Bring vegetable broth and lentils to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Then reduce heat to low and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Approx. 15 mins
  • Add garlic powder, cumin, coriander, tumeric and salt. Stir to combine and then add coconut milk. Heat for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Scoop creamy lentils over the coconut rice and finish with sriracha and cilantro. Easy peasy!

IMG_6208

Muhamarra

A few years ago when I was in school taking studying Holistic Nutrition, I met a beautiful chef who shared the same love of food as I do (albeit not vegan food but I adore her nonetheless).  Her name is Christina and among many other things she is a Red Seal chef, Holistic Nutritionist and operates a gorgeous blog  www.honeyandvanilla.com

Throughout my time at CSNN she introduced me to several simple and delicious recipes. I had never experienced Muhamarra before she passed on the recipe and I was over the moon excited once I tried it. This dip works with anything- cucumbers, baked sweet potato medallions, crackers, bread, whatever!

IMG_6185

Pomegranates are a fruit that contain a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help to improve the skin, bone quality, digestion, cardiovascular health and much more!!!

I have used this spread numerous times for different types of get togethers or holiday parties and it is perfect for this time of year. What screams HOLIDAYS more than pomegranate?…aside from a spiced rum and holly nog 😉

IMG_6195

So please do not skip out on the pomegranate molasses. If you don’t know already it has so many uses and tastes delicious. Buy the large bottle (stick with me) and I will help you figure out how to use it!

IMG_6200

Muhamarra

Created by HoneyandVanilla.com

1.5 cups walnuts (lightly roasted)

12oz jar roasted red pepper (or if roasting yourself then use 2 bell peppers)

1/4 cup EVOO

2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp honey

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried chili flakes

salt to taste

Cooking Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt. Allow  to rest in fridge for a couple of hours before serving. Cut up you favorite veggies or pita bread and serve on the side.

Quick Tip: Scoop muhamarra dip into a large Ziploc bag and then cut a small opening in one corner to create a piping bag!

IMG_6190

To create the sweet potato medallions I used a thin sweet potato to start, peeled it and then cut into equal slices. Lay them on a baking sheet coated with a small amount of olive oil and bake at 350 for approx. 20-25 mins (turning half way through)

IMG_6194

Also great served simply as a dip for raw veggies…

IMG_6203

Protein Pizza

So I hope you all enjoyed your short week last week, because honestly it messed me UP!

I spent most of the week thinking it was the day prior.

My inner dialogue sounded something like this…”Oh shoot I cannot do that on Tuesday cause I have that thing, oh, actually, hold on a second, it’s Wednesday never mind. Oh crap! It’s Wednesday I am supposed to be at that other thing :/”

So here in lies the reason that I am sending out my blog post on Monday instead of my usual Sunday. I really hope this does not mess you up for the rest of the week 😉

Thankfully in the kitchen I don’t adhere to any weekly food schedules, you know like Taco Tuesdays.  So throwing together meals was just as wonderfully spontaneous as most weeks are. I started last week with an idea that I couldn’t let go of and that was that my kids are not getting enough protein. Not that I am jumping on the “protein bandwagon” because as a mostly vegan adult I have no concerns about getting enough protein. My kids however are another story. If you let them, kids will very quickly (and without warning) jump into a “food rut”.  Sticking with what they know, or like, can somehow turn into a less than colorful plate…Brown rice pasta with butter or cheese pizza (both non-dairy, of course)…neither of which carry alot of protein!

Well, until now  🙂

I am a huge lover of beans. I could eat them at every meal and usually try to sneak them in to a few dishes throughout the week. But more often than not, I find them carefully removed and resting on the side of my kids plates 😦 My heart breaks a little each time.

IMG_6103

On Tuesday this week I was whipping up a homemade pizza sauce for dinner and a tiny little light bulb went off in my head. Why not hide the beans in the sauce? Brilliant! (my inner dialogue said) I had some fresh white beans in the fridge so I threw them right into the food processor with the rest of the sauce. Could it really be that easy? I felt a little like Jessica Seinfeld 🙂

Up until this point no one is aware of any of my deceptive behaviours and watching them inhale their pizza was enough to make me smile. Because the sauce wasn’t the only thing that I “rigged” with protein 😉 I also substituted some of the white flour with quinoa flour and it was completely undetectable.

IMG_6108

This sauce is also great as a pasta sauce or shoved into a quesadilla

But don’t be fooled by the veggie pizza pictures…those were for me. The kids still want their “cheese” pizza, but at least I know that I have controlled the amount of sugar, salt and protein that they are eating with this homemade pizza sauce. And that is a small victory that I feel good about 🙂

IMG_6113

Have a great week!

IMG_6094

Protein Pizza Sauce

1- 28oz can crushed tomatoes

1-14oz can navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp sugar

2 cloves roasted garlic

1 tsp sriracha (optional)

  • Add all ingredients into a food processor and combine until smooth

Protein Pizza Dough

Prep time: about 1 hour

2 cups warm water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups organic unbleached white pastry flour

1 cup quinoa flour

  • Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees for 10 mins and turn it off.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar and let sit until the mixture begins to bubble, about 5-10 mins.
  • Add the salt and olive oil to the mixture. Slowly add the pastry flour. When the dough starts to thicken, use your hands to mix in the quinoa flour and knead until smooth. Place the dough in a large oven-safe bowl that has been lightly oiled and cover with plastic. Set the dough inside the oven until it has doubled in size , about an hour.
  • When the dough has expanded, place a floured flat surface and roll out the dough.

From here, the sky is the limit with whatever toppings you enjoy most! On this pizza I have added grilled zucchinis, chopped orange bell peppers, steamed asparagus ribbons and finished with Herb de Provence cashew nut cheese.

IMG_6104

Best Stuffing EVER!

Happy Thanksgiving to my Canadian friends!

However it is that you celebrate or acknowledge this holiday, one thing seems to be a common thread amongst us all and that is appreciation!

It’s a beautiful thing.

And what’s easier to appreciate than good food? Well, good food prepared by someone else! I don’t get to say this very often (because I truly enjoy creating and prepping food) but last night I was totally spoiled by my dear friend Theresa’s amazing holiday meal…and I didn’t even lift a finger 🙂

No exaggeration, this stuffing was phenomenal. At one point towards the end of the meal I was so stuffed I thought I might roll myself home and yet I involuntarily reached over to the dish of stuffing and scooped myself another helping. Now that is appreciation. Sweet, unapologetic appreciation 😉

It was so good in fact, that I couldn’t leave without getting the recipe.  Then I woke up this morning and headed to the grocery store to pick up the supplies I needed to make it for dinner tonight. I tweaked a few ingredients to make it totally vegan (replacing the butter) and substituted a sourdough loaf.  It turned out just as delicious as Theresa’s version so I would say this recipe is fool-proof!

IMG_6052

The oyster mushrooms are definitely a highlight of this stuffing. If you have never worked with oyster mushrooms you will probably be surprised to find them right beside your less-expensive mushrooms in most supermarkets. These sweet mushrooms grow on trees and are harvested in the fall. They are extremely versatile (ideal for soups, stir-frys, stuffing) and their sweet aroma is not lost in the cooking process.

But let’s not sugar coat this, stuffing is just well-seasoned and decorated bread! In all it’s glory, this stuffing is a sweet and savoury dish that should be enjoyed once (or possibily twice) a year without guilt.

I hope this recipe has found you in time to share it with your own family feast this year but if not then save it, or pin it, or do something so that you can impress everyone with your mad cooking skills at your next holiday meal!!!  

Enjoy the long weekend in whatever way that brings you appreciation of your family, your friends, food, oh and lets not forget wine…we should not forget to show appreciation of a good bottle of wine 😉

IMG_6062

Rustic Bread Stuffing w/dried cranberries, hazelnuts and oyster mushrooms

Serves 8 to 10 people

Ingredients:

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan

2/3 cup dried cranberries

Loaf of rustic bread

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup Earth Balance

1/2 cup finely chopped red onions

1lb (500g) oyster mushrooms, stem trimmed, torn into strips

2/3 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts (to toast, place on baking sheet, bake at 350 for 14 to 18 mins, stirring half way)

1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp finely grated orange zest

2 cups vegetable broth

IMG_6045

  • Heat the oven to 375. Oil a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Put the cranberries in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let stand 15 mins; drain.
  • Remove the crust from the bread and cut the bread into 3/4-inch chunks. In a large bowl, combine the bread, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 20 mins.
  • Remove the bread from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350
  • Melt the Earth Balance in a 12-inch skillet over med-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, 1 to 2 mins.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large bowl, mix the bread, cranberries, mushroom-shallot mixture, hazelnuts, parsley, chives, thyme and orange zest. Stir in the broth. Toss well to combine; the bread should absorb most of the broth.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing in the prepared dish and cover with foil. Bake for 5 mins; then remove the foil and bake until crusty and golden, about 35 mins.

Make Ahead: Combine all the ingredients except the broth up to 4 hours ahead. Add the broth, put the stuffing in the and hold at room temperature, covered, up to 1 hour before baking.

IMG_6065

Autumn Chili

Hello foodie friends 🙂

I intended on posting this recipe last week while it was still technically September soups month here on Fig and Basil, but somehow the weekend got away from me 😦 I feel a sense of guilt when I have been away from writing for too long. Not that I assume you are all fading away to nothing from lack of food inspiration but I trust that you at the very least look forward to them!

And if I could place blame for a moment, I would have two words…Breaking. Bad.

I finally caught up with the rest of the planet and began binging in this series. I am hooked and only half way through Season 4 (so nobody tell me what happens ;)) At this point I am convinced that Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are merely characters played by Walt and Jess to throw us off their real identities! But there is no need to indulge in my crazy

Fall is definitely here and surrounding us all with change. Change in the air, change in the trees, change in our clothes and if your immunity health has also changed (for the worse) then you are not alone. Almost everyone I come into contact with these days is getting a cold, in the midst of a cold or just getting over a damn cold.  The writing is on the wall, this time of year it is so crucial to take care of your health!

Besides getting a regular 7-9 hours of sleep every night and drinking a tonne of clean, filtered water, the single most important thing is your diet. So lets focus on what is beneficial to our immune systems.  It’s quite simple really, you cannot get enough of seasonal fruits and veggies this time of year.  And Mother Nature is no dummy! It is no coincidence that it’s harvest time for most fruits and veggies. Apples, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, beans, kale, pears…everything your body needs is being provided exactly at the right time. But lets not confuse the pumpkin spice latte as a seasonal necessity 😉

IMG_3574

Chili is definitely a recipe that has been around the block a few times. Everyone has their version and it has been tweaked a thousand times. Therefore I am not trying to reinvent the wheel but perhaps provide you with an inspiration to add another ingredient to a well-loved dish. Acorn squash is a perfect pairing for chili and provides a huge boost of nutritional benefits. This winter squash not only has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and insulin-regulating properties but for this time of year it is an awesome source of Vitamin C.  And as an added bonus acorn squash is a great source of fibre and low in calories.

IMG_6027

I couldn’t make this next recipe more autumn-ish if I tried 🙂

The colours and the ingredients scream FALL!!!

IMG_6026

Autumn Chili w/acorn squash

Prep time: 45 mins

Serves: approx. half of the Breaking Bad cast (6-8 badasses)

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 med yellow onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or grated

3 portobello mushrooms, chopped

15-20 cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

1 tbsp dried thyme

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 acorn squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces

2- 28oz cans of high-quality tomatoes (I use one crushed tom and one whole peeled tom but use whatever combo you like)

1- 28oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1-14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 whole cinnamon stick

1/8 cup raw sugar

2 avocados, peeled and cubed

handful of fresh cilantro for garnish

  • heat olive oil on medium heat in your best soup pot. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 3-5 mins.
Quick Tip: using a microplane to mince the garlic is super fast and easy

Quick Tip: using a microplane to mince the garlic is super fast and easy

  • add in the mushrooms and cook for another 5 mins. Toss in thyme, cumin and chili powder and stir.
  • add squash, stir and cook for about 3-5 mins.
  • finally add in the remaining ingredients (except for avocado and cilantro) plus using one of the tomato cans add a half a can of fresh clean water. Turn up temperature to med-high until you get a gentle boil. Place on lid, lower heat down to med-low and cook for about 15 mins. Remove cinnamon stick and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • Serve in bread bowls and finish with fresh chopped avocado and cilantro.

IMG_6029

Spicy Paella Soup

I cannot even express how appreciative I am of all the new foodies I have been introduced to through Vegan MoFo over the past week. It’s a beautiful thing to see so many people from all parts of the world, share in the love of plant-based food. It not only feels like a celebration of vegan food but also a movement! So lets keep it going 🙂

In the past I have been vocal about my deep-rooted love of Spain and I thought it was time to revisit that intriguing part of the world (if only through our taste buds) for this weeks Sexy September Soups!

IMG_5915

Where I live the summer weather is still very much here but there are also a few rainy days in the forecast and a spicy bowl of Spanish goodness makes for a perfect meal. Tucked into your favorite chair with a blanket and a good book while the season changes around you, this soup works for a slow lunch or a relaxing dinner…or both, like a did yesterday 🙂

Choosing a vegan lifestyle is never about focusing on what you “cannot” eat but more about exploring all of the incredible foods that you have to choose from. It is also about compassion for others and making decisions to not put your own temporary satisfaction above others discomfort. Funnily enough, this week I found myself extending those beliefs into other parts of my life. It seems to me that when you align all parts of your life then what you eat, or who you love, or what you wear all become the same expression of who you are.  So I guess I’m feeling  spicy this week because I made my Spicy Paella Soup very hot, adding way more sriracha than my recipe called for 😉

Tomatoes are to be celebrated this time of year so nothing is better than a tomato-based soup. Seasonal ingredients just feel good for the soul. This soup is a perfect example of all the delicious foods that are available this time of year and all the wonderful choices that are available when you choose a plant-based diet.

Hasta pronto amigos 🙂

IMG_5905

Spicy Paella Soup

Serves 4-6 amigos

Prep Time: Approx 45 mins

Ingredients:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 small zucchini, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

2- 14 oz cans of high-quality diced tomatoes

4 cups mushroom (or vegetable stock)

1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika

1 tbsp ground up sea vegetables (I use a combo of nori & dulse pulsed in a small food processor)

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup frozen peas

4 artichoke hearts, cut into quarters (for this recipe I use artichokes from a jar)

2 tsp sriracha (optional for added heat)

Salt & Pepper to taste

2-3 cups of Lemon Saffron Rice (see recipe below)

  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan and add onions. Cook for approx. 7-10 mins until onions are slightly brown. Add garlic, zucchini and red pepper to pan and cook for another 10-12 mins.
  • Add in tomatoes, mushroom stock, paprika, sea veggies, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
  • Reduce heat and add the frozen peas and artichokes. Simmer for 10 mins.

IMG_5892

  • Remove from heat and serve with Lemon Saffron Rice.

IMG_5906

Lemon Saffron Rice

Ingredients:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 cups vegetable stock

2-4 pieces of dried porcini mushrooms

1 tsp saffron threads

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook rice according to instructions using vegetable stock instead of water. Add the mushrooms and saffron into the stock prior to cooking
  • When rice is cooked, toss in the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Set aside.

IMG_5896

Portobello Tacos

I hope you all are enjoying this lazy July weekend!

I am completely guilty of being 100% submerged into summertime and this may have created a bit of a writer’s block!?!  With the kids being out of school and no real routine in place, it’s a free-for-all around here. These days I am usually torn between working in my garden, creating recipes in my kitchen, food photo sessions for my Instagram account (yes, I actually do that), the kids and their social life or keeping myself moving either on my bike or at the gym…Tough life I know!

But the reality is that alot of changes have occurred over the last month leaving me to fall behind on some of my responsibilities and  I feel somewhat out of balance. Not in a “Help me I am drowning!!!” kind of way. More like a “Oh!…did I forget to do that?” kind of way 🙂  But lucky for me, I am not in a huge hurry to get myself back to balance just yet so I will continue to be aware of the imbalance for now. And when it comes to this blog, it is never far from the front of my brain. I am always creating and thinking of things to share with you all.

IMG_2928

Over the past two weeks all of my meals have been about using what I have at hand, to avoid more visits to the grocery store, while still pulling together delicious and simple dishes. This recipe could definitely fit into the “Simple Summer” category. I think I have made this 3 times over the past two weeks and everyone loves it. And when everyone loves it, then I know its worth sharing. The clean, whole foods and light flavours make this perfect for this time of year.

I also have been experimenting with my hummus recently…and I have discovered that the possibilities are endless! In this photo session for the Portobello Tacos I was using a Radish & Cilantro hummus combo which paired really well with the radish greens I used in the tacos. Another great one was this Cilantro & Lime Hummus that I paired with some leftover steamed purple cauliflower (pulsed in the food processor before folding into the hummus). It is packed full of amazing nutrients and the only thing anyone cares about is how great it tastes 🙂

IMG_2980

A trick that I learned a long time ago was to prep caramelized onions when I have a bit of time so that they are quick to use whenever a recipe calls for it. The sweet and savoury onions are one of my favourites and can be used in just about anything. Just this morning I added them to my avocado toast for breakfast. But it’s important not to rush the cooking process of the onions to fully bring out their natural sweetness. So try to prep these when you have a good 45 mins to watch over them and give an occasional stir. I like to use red onions but really any onion gives great flavour. You can cook them down with olive oil, coconut oil or Earth Balance with a good amount of sea salt. Cooking a large batch allows you to have extra for pizzas, sandwiches or salads.

IMG_5644

This week we are heading on our summer vacation on the West Coast. As always, I try to rent places that have great kitchens so that I can continue to prepare most of our meals (I have been known to pack important kitchen utensils and spices in my luggage to bring on family vacations). Being away from a cutting board is never a vacation for me! I am fortunate enough to be able to return to Tofino, BC for a few weeks to explore and relax with the kids. I am looking forward to trying a couple of new restaurants (well, new to me) and utilizing all of their amazing local produce for my own creations. I hope to be able to share some of this with you while I am out there.

Before we know it the summer will be just another passing season and complaining about the cold weather will be part of our regular conversation again. So I hope that you are enjoying the perfect imbalance that comes with this time of year and that you are still finding joy in your kitchen!

IMG_2982

Portobello Tacos

Prep Time: 30 mins or less (if you have the caramelized onions pre-prepped)

Serves 4-6 people

Ingredients:

8-10, 6″ corn tortillas

1 cup of hummus, homemade with your favourite flavours is the best option

1 cup caramelized red onions

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for tortillas shells

1 tsp truffle salt, optional

3 portobello mushrooms, gills removed and cut into 1/4″ slices

2 avocados, pitted and sliced

6-10 cheery tomatos, sliced in half

a handfull of greens, ie. radish greens, micro mixed greens

a small bunch of cilantro, chopped

your favourite hot sauce, optional

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place mushrooms slices into pan and sprinkle each piece with truffle salt or regular sea salt. Cook about 5-7 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

IMG_5645

  • Pre-heat outdoor BBQ to a medium heat. Drizzle olive oil onto large plate and with your hands lightly coat each side of the tortilla with the olive oil.
  • Add tortillas to grill and grill for approx. 3 minutes each side. Watch carefully as each grill is different and the “hot spots” on your grill will cook some of them faster than others. Remove and immediately fold them in half to shape them before they cool and harden.
  • Lay out your buffet of tacos toppings and allow each guest to make their own version of Portobello taco. Serve with a side of hot sauce for those you like it a little spicier.

IMG_2929

  • For added enjoyment be sure to be sitting outside on a patio with a cold Corona close by 😉

Panzanella Salad w/Tofu feta

Hello foodie friends!

First off let me apologize for missing last weeks blog 😦 I had intentions to but with all of the craziness that ensued following our city’s flooding last week, I found it impossible to even open my computer. For those of you that don’t know, Calgary was hit unexpectedly with a devastating flood and my community (being close to the Elbow River) was one of numerous communities evacuated for 3 days. Thankfully I was able to return home to a dry home along with most of my neighbours. Other than being out of our homes and losing power, we are very fortunate to be able to carry on with our regular routines with the added bonus of having a greater sense of appreciation. There are many people that were deeply affected by the floods and returning to regular life is not as easy. Many homes, communities and businesses are having to dig themselves out and start a long process of rebuilding. One of the most amazing take-aways from this difficult situation is the enormous spirit and camaraderie of this incredible city. Volunteers showing up by the thousands everyday to help those who need it, donations by the truckloads and people opening up their homes to strangers. It’s just awesome.

Coming out of this, it seems that everything has come up so fast!

School is out, the days are longer, the flowers are blooming and if you haven’t already heard, SUMMER HAS OFFICIALLY ARRIVED!

And as promised, I have one more recipe for the Simple Summer Recipe Series. This week is another one of my staple meals during the summer months, Panzanella Salad. This salad originates from Italy as a way to utilize stale bread and highlight their fresh tomatoes and onions. I don’t typically use onions in my version of this salad but tomatoes and bread are definitely the main attraction. This salad is incredibly easy and loaded with flavour!

On a side note: I know alot of you have sensitivities to gluten or wheat but don’t count this recipe out. Whether you use a spelt bread, a sourdough or a gluten-free bread it can still work.  But don’t be afraid to make this salad without any bread. The vinaigrette mixed with the fresh veggies and tofu is so refreshing. 

IMG_5621

One ingredient that I am slightly obsessed with right now is tofu feta. I am not exactly sure how it took me this long to discover this delicious recipe but now that I know about it,  I would like to shout it from a mountain top like the Swiss man blowing his horn in a Ricolla commercial 😛

This part of the recipe should be made ahead of time and left in the fridge to marinate for at least a couple of hours but longer if you can. I like to make it the day before… but the problem then becomes trying not to eat a piece every time I open the refrigerator 😦

Tofu Feta

400 g firm or extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2″ cubes

4 cups water

1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tbsp sea salt

2 tsp dired basil

2 tsp dried oregano

  • add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil
  • reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for approx. 25 mins or until almost of the water in gone
  • transfer tofu with the brine into a sealable container and place in fridge overnight

IMG_5617

The other component of the dish is the grilled peppers. If it’s just one step too many for you, there are some great options at the grocery store for peppers that are already grilled and peeled for you. However, I would encourage you to try making them yourself, as it is pretty straight forward. I do mine on the outdoor grill by preheating it to med-high and then tossing a few peppers directly onto the grill. Every 5 mins or so I turn the pepper until it is completely charred all the way around. I then remove them and immediately toss them in a brown bag and twist the top to lock in the steam. Leaving them in the bag for approx. 30mins allows them to cool but also separates the skin of the pepper so that it is much easier to peel.  I use my fingers to peel away the outside layer of charred skin and slice the pepper into strips.

IMG_5601

With this recipe I wrap up my Simple Summer Recipe series but do not fret, there will be plenty of seasonal, easy and delicious recipes coming your way this summer.

My hope is that you can keep these 6 recipes close at hand and be able to pull them out over the next few months as quick and nutritious meals that you can make at home without having to sweat over a stove!!!

IMG_5623

Panzanella Salad w/tofu feta

PrepTime: approx 30 mins (plus prep for tofu feta and grilled peppers)

Serves: 4 people, as a main meal

Ingredients

1/2 loaf of day-old Sourdough, cut into 1/2″ cubes

10-12 whole green olives

4-5 roma tomatoes

6-8 large basil leaves, ripped into small pieces

1 cup of tofu feta (see recipe above)

2 small red or orange bell peppers, roasted, peeled and cut

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

black pepper & sea salt to taste

  • For the vinaigrette: cut tomatoes in half and scoop out the insides into a small food processor or blender (save the outside flesh of tomato for the salad). Puree the tomatoes until most of the chunks are gone and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add in the garlic, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk together until completely combined and set aside.

IMG_5606

  • Toss remaining ingredients into a large salad bowl and top with the tomato vinaigrette. Toss together to coat all of the bread with the dressing. Cover and place in refrigerator for about 20-30 mins. Serve.

IMG_5604

Family-Style Grilled Veggies

Simple Summer Recipes- Part 2

I had a really great response to last weeks Quinoa salad so I will take that to mean 2 things: #1 you like quinoa and #2 you want super simple recipes for your summer cooking!

This week it will be my first non-recipe recipe that I have ever posted 🙂

It would be difficult to even call this a recipe…it’s more of an idea. An idea that is served in my house at least once (sometimes twice) every week when the weather is nice. Everyone loves it!!! We usually are sitting in the backyard and the sun is still shining while we dig into the very large plate of grilled veggies. This meal is beyond easy and requires very little thinking (which is kind of what we want sometimes, am I right?) without taking away any of the flavour and of course loaded with nutritional benefits. I usually never plan exactly what it is I am going to grill, I simply look in the fridge and see what I have. Therefore this meal is never the same twice.

IMG_2463

There is basically 2 parts to this meal prep- make the rice & cut/grill the veggies. First, start by getting your rice cooking and depending on which type you choice will determine how long the total prep time will take. I like to use brown rice when I can get away with it but the kids really love jasmine. But don’t be afraid to substitute the rice for quinoa or millet. And I know I say this each time, but it adds so much flavour to our grains when we cook them with stock instead of just water.

While the rice is cooking, preheat your barbecue or indoor grill before you start chopping. Next, grab every vegetable you have on hand and start chopping into large but thin pieces. Really any vegetable works and don’t forget fruit works too. You can grill pineapple, peaches, pears, etc.  I like to throw all the chopped veggies on a large baking sheet and then coat with extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice and Herbamare (you can substitute salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano or dried thyme if not using Herbamare). Here is 2 examples of what I have headed to the grill with recently;

IMG_5360 IMG_2398

Individually my kids have their favourite veggies that I try to include every time. One loves asparagus, one loves the sweet potatoes or regular potatoes and I love the mushrooms! However even with their favourites in front of them, they always venture out and try something else from the plate… which is all part of my secret plan 😉 And having favourites is why this meal works, there is no “wrong” way to load your plate and everyone gets to customize their dinner without you having to make separate meals.

Preparation Tip: With asparagus, it is much more enjoyable to eat if you shave off the bottom stem with your vegetable peeler. With portobello mushrooms, you must remove the inside gills as they tend to get slimy when cooked. I use a spoon (a grapefruit spoon actually) and scrap the inside of the mushroom before the grill.

IMG_5357

The presentation is what makes this dinner so appealing. Whether you are serving it to yourself, your family or you are having dinner guests, take the time to organize the plate before presenting it. I feel that it makes a difference as we usually tend to eat with our eyes first!

IMG_5361

Although I love all the veggies, my favourite part of this dish is usually the dip or sauce. I tend to make up a new one each time (without any real recipe) but as usual I am trying really hard to write down what I make so that I can share with all of you! Here is a couple of quick ideas for you to experiment with;

Asian Inspired Mayo

1/2 cup Veganaise or your mayo of choice

2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tbsp tahini paste

Spicy Hummus

1 cup hummus *homemade preferably

1/2 tsp red curry paste

1 tsp harissa

juice of 1/2 lime

Lastly, I wanted to fill all of you in on some really exciting news…I have been brought on a Social Media Correspondent for this years Tofino Food & Wine Festival taking place next weekend. For those of you that have been following me from the beginning you know that this is exactly where I had hoped this new path would lead me. I plan to journal all things food and wine through my Instagram account (@figbasil), posting photos on Twitter and on their Facebook page. Please show your support by “Liking” their Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Tofino-Food-and-Wine-Festival/165195280193148?fref=ts and this will allow to you to experience the festival from afar!

Image

It should be an incredible weekend and I am looking forward to sharing the amazing food and wine with you!

Sweet Yam Quinoa Salad w/Pomegranate Dressing

Hello foodie friends!

This past week I have received an overwhelming amount of support. From hundreds of new followers on Instagram, to increased interest on my blog, messages of encouragement, and even a photo from readers that made one of my recipes last week (shout out to my West Coast girls!). I am just so grateful for all of it. Not for any other reason than it helps me realize that my passion is connecting with people and that reaffirms for me that I am exactly where I should be. So keep it comin’! 🙂

And on that note, I going to try something new with my blog this week (and the next few to follow)…a series!

I will call it 6 Simple Summer Recipes. With the intention of sharing 6 recipes that can be made in rotation during the warmer months.  All of these recipes can be made in under 30 minutes (look at me ripping off Rachel Ray :-)) and are deliciously simple to throw together.  Its harder to get in the kitchen when the sun is shining and the garden is calling but you still gotta eat!

So hopefully I can help you.

I am a huge fan of quinoa in the summer months for salads. Mainly because it is so versatile, can be made ahead of time, and is just so flipping good for you. The most commonly used quinoa is the white variety but red and black quinoa are also readily available in most grocery stores so why not explore?  This week I am using the red quinoa in my Sweet Yam Quinoa Salad.  Nutritionally speaking, the benefits are pretty much equal between the white and red quinoa. All quinoa, being a complete protein, offers numerous vitamins and minerals to you that your body will love you for. The small difference between the two varieties would be the texture and flavour. Red quinoa has a slightly crunchier bite (which is an awesome combination with the soft & sweet roasted yams) and a slightly bolder flavour. As I have said before about rinsing, the same rule applies to the red quinoa, which is to make sure you give it a good rinse before cooking to wash away the outer coating.

IMG_5347

A few simple whole foods make up this incredibly satisfying lunch or dinner dish. The dressing is sweet and tangy and only requires a couple of ingredients that most of us have available in our pantry, with the exception of the pomegranate molasses. I would highly recommend that you grab yourself a bottle of this “deliciousness-in-a-bottle” before the summer months approach, as it is amazing in almost every homemade dressing!

IMG_5351

Have a lovely week.

Sweet Yam Quinoa Salad

Prep time: 30 mins

Ingredients:

2 cups red quinoa (cooked according to directions…but instead of water I like to use vegetable stock)

3 medium-large yams, peeled, cut into 1″ cubes

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped small

small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped

Pomegranate Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp dried chili flakes

salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chopped yams on a baking sheet, coat in olive oil and season with sea salt. Bake for approx. 20-25 mins, checking about half way through to turn them. * make sure to cut the pieces small enough so they cook fast
  • Combine all ingredients for dressing and set aside.
  • Combine onions, cilantro, quinoa and slightly cooled yams into large bowl and toss in dressing. Taste and season with sea salt and pepper as needed. If you find it too dry then add a bit more olive oil.
  • Ideally, letting this rest for more time allows dressing to absorb and increases the flavour (which makes this dish fantastic for leftovers or tomorrow’s lunch) but serving it immediately is also delicious!

IMG_2551