Category Archives: Dinner

Creamy Curry Soup

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So. While I like to think I’m an efficient human being who gets her stuff done (and done well), I admit that lately I’ve been slacking. Okay… not slacking but just… not doing anything. Showtime is upon me, which means the end of school (THANK ALL THE DEITIES!), and time feels non-existent. Everyday seems to slip by and I feel like I’ve achieved NOTHING. That being said, at least I JUST completed the second year of my program and SUMMER IS UPON US. So here is a warming soup…

This soup, creamy due to the roasted eggplant, is best served slightly warm, in my opinion. It’s earthy and spicy and crazy refreshing. Not to mention there are SO few ingredients it’s a snap to whip up. I had leftovers over a bowl of amaranth one day, and the next I dipped crackers into it – both were awesome.

CREAMY CURRY SOUP (serves 4)

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/2 tablespoon curry powder of choice
  • 2 cups water (or milk alternative)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Fresh cilantro, to garnish
  • 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped, to garnish

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat the eggplant rounds in the grapeseed oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 8 minutes, until they are golden and quite mushy. Remove from the oven and let cool for five minutes. Remove the skin with a knife (it should peel off easily if it roasted long enough)

In a blender, blend the roasted eggplant, shallot, curry, water (or milk alternative) and salt and pepper. Divide the blended soup into four bowl, do a final test for salt and pepper levels, garnish with cilantro and mushrooms, and serve!

Beet Salad with Simple Miso Dressing

DSC_0668 Please don’t hate me because my last three posts have been salads. I’ve to realize that when I come home after class, extravagance is not a thing. Efficiency and simplicity is what I’m all about these days. Another things I’ve noticed about myself is that my diet is hugely raw. Yes, I eat cooked grains and sometimes make roasted yam fries, but otherwise, my cooking is kept to a minimal (mostly because of the time). This salad is a prime example: shredded raw beets! Of course, you could shred them and roast them for a while (with a bit of oil and salt and pepper)to tenderize them, but here, I love the earthy AND crispy texture they give. Add a simple miso dressing and BAM, I got a salad for the ages. With this I had a fieldroast sausage, and a plain piece of toast (I’m not lying when I say I’m really into simplicity these days – I crave plain slices of toast). I simply ADORE Silver Hill’s Squirrely bread. Silver Hills Bakery makes awesome bread; they are vegan and packed full of goodness (and freakishly delicious).

I really love the white miso paste (which is the mildest) mixed with the balsamic vinegar; it’s a great combo of earthy and acidity. If you don’t know what miso is… I really couldn’t give you a good education on it… Basically there are A TON of different types of miso. It’s fermented. Yeah… Here’s a link to some info on miso!

By now, I’m positive you know the basics of how I make my salads, but here is the recipe regardless.

BEET SALAD WITH SIMPLE MISO DRESSING (serves two big bellies)

  • 2 cups raw beets, shredded (I used three medium sized beets)
  • 2 cups greens, chopped (I used kale)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • nuts or seed of choice for garnish (sesame seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc)

Method:

Shred the beets on a mandoline or box grater and place into a large bowl. Add the greens, parsley, mushrooms, and onion to the bowl and mix.

In a small bowl combine the miso paste, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper and whisk to combine. If it’s really thick, add more olive oil or a bit of water. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix to coat.

Divide into two bowls and enjoy!

Artichoke and Lentil Salad

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Let’s add artichokes to my list of addictions. I will never be able to get enough of them. Initially, I wanted to undertake the great task of using a fresh artichoke. However, I guess I picked an extremely unripe one so in frustration I walked to Provigo and bought a jar of marinated artichoke hearts. It was a damn good idea.

The jar of artichoke hearts I bought were marinated in oregano so this tasted extremely similar to the lentil salad I posted in November, I chose to be lazy and used a bit of the oil they were marinated in as the dressing, and just added a huge squeeze of lemon juice. The major upgrade in this is the addition of a whole ton of fresh herbs.

If you’re like me, you have leftovers up the… yeah. So this comes together super easily when there are cooked lentils ready and waiting in the fridge. I suppose this could also work with a grain such as amaranth or rice (or quinoa!), but it would also work as a starter/ side salad for a bigger meal without the grain or lentils. VERSATILITY! I’ll just admit to being a bit of a lazy “cook/chef/baker” and say that I use whatever is in the fridge. I usually just go grocery shopping with flavours in mind, and get what’s on sale. I’m quite a compulsive grocery shopper… and yet I never buy cookies….. I digress. This salad is wonderful. The solid lentils and the slippery artichokes and the salty marinade/oil rock and lasted well the next day for lunch. 

ARTICHOKE AND LENTIL SALAD: serves 2

  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup cooked french lentils
  • 2 cups spring greens (or spinach, or chard, or kale, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly ripped
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly ripped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons artichoke marinade, (or olive oil with a sprinkle of dried oregano)
  • 4 whole marinated artichoke hearts, cut into quarters
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

In a large salad bowl, mix all ingredients except the artichoke heart segments, and a few leaves of each fresh herb. Divide the salad into two bowls and divide the artichoke segments equally. Garnish with the remaining fresh herbs and add a healthy grind of black pepper on top.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

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MY SEMESTER IS FINALLY OVER. Yet I don’t feel any weight has been lifted because I know I have to go back in a few weeks… sigh. I guess all I can do to comfort me is eat some wonderfully warming food (including lots of chocolate).

I know this isn’t very festive, but I’m not in the festive mood. And I had left over pumpkin puree in my freezer. And I was craving a velvety smooth soup. I contemplated having a pumpkin and ginger soup, but I feel a bit over loaded on ginger these days so I used cayenne pepper to add a hearty, spicy punch. The leftovers thickened up very nicely; I dipped crackers and veggies into it like a dip. I also had one serving of leftovers with wild rice and cilantro and pumpkin seeds – pictured at the end (it was nice having something a bit heartier in the soup to add texture, but I liked it better without the rice – maybe on top of brown rice or quinoa would be better?).

SPICY PUMPKIN SOUP: (serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup white onion, chopped
  • 4 small garlic cloves
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • scallions, for garnish
  • pepper, to taste

Method:

In a medium sauce pan, heat the grapeseed oil on medium heat an sautee the onions and garlic until the onions are transparent; about 3 minutes.

In a high speed blender, blend the cooked onions and garlic with the pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric and salt until very smooth. (I let the blender run for about 90 seconds)

Pour the puree into the medium sauce pan and warm on medium heat. It’ll only take 3-4 minutes to warm the soup up.

Garnish with chopped scallions and black pepper.

Leftovers with wild rice, cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

Leftovers with wild rice, cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

Not-So-Classic Guacamole (& Birthday Tacos)

DSC_0829As I mentioned in my last post, it was recently my birthday. So for the celebrations, my roommates and I had tacos and beer. It was awesome. We played Christmas tunes and lit festive candles and had a great evening (I was a party pooper and went to bed at midnight because I’m a tired baby and my body was exhausted). It was a nice little break from all the studying and school things we’ve been doing lately.

There are so many cool recipes out there for more exotic tacos (Like these or these), but I just wanted classic tacos. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a classic taco. But this is what tacos are in my mind. And it was my birthday so no one could contradict me… right? So, we bought a can of refried beans (Amy’s brand – delicious!), we bought some tortillas, chopped up some onion, tomato, and cilantro, and I made the guacamole. It was soul soothing in an odd way.

Today, I present you with the guacamole. This is from Grazings which is an awesome book full of snacks and dips and finger foods. It may be full of meat recipes but there are some gems (like this one – it also has some really cool meat dishes that have worked well with meat substitutes!) It’s not your average guacamole… actually it’s pretty fancy. But since the flavours used aren’t often paired together, it’s a wonderful surprise (actually your taste buds will go crazy with how good it is). The sweet fruit and the creamy avocado and the spicy pepper basically rock my world. If you’re not having the guacamole with tacos, it’s also fabulous with simple crackers or pitas or other veggies. It’s also good in a sandwich with slices of tofu, tomato, and lettuce… Just trust me.

GUACAMOLE: serves 4

  • 2 large avocados, very ripe
  • 3/4 cups pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup green grapes, chopped
  • 1 small red pear (or your favorite variety of pear)
  • 1/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Mash everything together with a fork to make it as smooth or as chunky as you like. Season with a generous amount of salt and a touch of pepper.

Za’atar Rice Pilaf

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Let’s talk about how little time there is. For me, my free time is spent reading articles for classes, writing essays, writing more essays, and making my lunch (and often dinner) for the next day. I had minimal time to celebrate my birthday last week (which is okay because the holidays are right around the corner). I have ten million essays due and six million exams this next week. I have practical exams in my technique classes. Essentially, my time is very scheduled these days. ALL THAT TO SAY: My meals lately have been simple to make. This is no exception!

Rice. Spinach. Tofu. Onion. Almonds. Dried Cranberries. Balsamic Vinegar. Za’atar. Tasty, easy, lasted for many meals, filling, wonderful.

ZA’ATAR RICE PILAF: serves 2

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Long grain brown rice (basmati, or short grain brown, or wild rice would also rock)
  • 4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 10oz package of tofu, crumbled,
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped (I used white, but purple onion or shallots would be good too)
  • 2 tablespoons raw almonds, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon za’atar spice

Method:

In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add rice. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let cook for 20-25 minutes (until all the water as absorbed and the rice is… cooked).

Place the rice in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and serve warm.

Here is a version I made for lunch with mushrooms and fried onions.

Here is a version I made for lunch with mushrooms and fried onions.

As all my recipes are, this can serve as a base for an infinite number of dishes. With a base of rice, add chopped veggies and onions, with some protein (it doesn’t have to be tofu) and some nuts or grains and top with any kind of spice. For example, you could add crumbled tempeh, kale, parsley, cucumber, tahini and top it with cayenne and chili flakes… I don’t know if that’d actually be good… I should try it… I digress, rice is a good base for simple meals.

On a side note: WE HAVE SNOW HERE! Time to pull out my parka and drink all the tea. Much love.

Lentil Salad

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LENTILS! What vegan doesn’t love them? I used this recipe from 101cookbooks, but I added almonds, hemp hearts and had the lentils on a bed of spring greens (even though it is not even close to spring time…).

This recipe was fabulous. The french lentils held their shape nicely and the simple dressing of oregano, olive oil, salt and lemon juice was satisfying. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are best. (Don’t get me wrong, making an extravagant dish is rewarding, but so is the humble olive oil). I sliced up half an avocado to have on the side with a squeeze of lemon. The amount of lentils I made lasted me for 3 days and it kept amazingly. By the third day, the oregano was super fragrant and delicious.

One last note, this recipe was EASY. Cooked the lentils, and that was pretty much it. I even did an outline for an essay while the lentils were cooking! If you don’t have time to cook your own lentils, no biggie. Just use two cans of lentils and make a little bit more dressing. If you want to learn how to cook lentils, check the note at the bottom!

LENTIL SALAD: serves 2

  • 1 cup dried lentils (or about 2 cups cooked)*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 handfuls of spring mix greenery (spinach, kale, chard or lettuce would also work)
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

Method:

Rinse the lentils and pick out any stones or weird things. In a large pot, cover the lentils with two cups of water and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Add water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered. (Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy.*)

Meanwhile, combine the oregano, olive oil, salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Put two handfuls of greenery on each plate. Once the lentils are cooked, divide them onto each plate on top of the greenery.

Pour half of the dressing over each plate and garnish with almonds, hemp hearts and green onions. Add some extra salt, pepper or lemon juice (or avocado) as needed! Enjoy.

Much love and many easy meals as November… RUSHES INTO DECEMBER. OMG WHERE HAS THE YEAR GONE?

*Note: This is a great resource for how to cook lentils.