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Crazy Healthy Quinoa and White Bean Soup

10 Feb

It’s cold out there in the big city. There’s snow on the ground, icicles hanging from eavestroughs and lots of grumpy, bundled up people. By the time you get home from a long day and maybe long commute, you want to get warm and eat something good. And quickly. I came across something perfect for just this scenario that has the added bonus of being really healthy. Vegan, even! It only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and is full of flavour, textures and fantastic ingredients. Give it a try and I think you’ll quite enjoy it.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1b vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 ts cumin
1 ts coriander
1 ts salt
1 ts pepper
1/3 c quinoa, rinsed
2c vegetable broth (you could use chicken broth if that’s what you’ve got)
2c water
1 can white kidneybeans, drained and rinsed
2c baby spinach or 1c frozen spinach (thawed and drained)

Directions

1. In a medium pot, heat the oil to medium. Add in the onion and carrot, cooking til the onion becomes translucent (3-4 minutes).
2. Add in the garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and quinoa. Stir to combine, cooking for 2 minutes. Pour in the broth and water, bringing everything to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook partially covered for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in beans and spinach until heated through, just a couple more minutes and you’re done!

soup

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Cheddar Cheese Ball in Everything Bagel Spice

6 Jan

Sometimes, ya just gotta throw a party and I did exactly that. An appetizer party, specifically. What inspired this? Mostly, the party issue of Bon Appetit. I vacillated wildly between wanting to host a huge shindig for everyone I know to having just a few people over for something fancy. I’ve done both and enjoy them equally, if differently. Eventually, I settled on a not-too-big appetizer party based on a couple of recipes from the BA magazine. The runaway hit of the dishes I made was the giant, creamy cheese ball coated in salty, savoury everything bagel spice. I doubled the original recipe – a good call considering how little was left at the end of the night. Because it was such a large ball o’ cheese, I found it was a lot easier to make a dome than a ball but with the original recipe, it should be much easier to shape. Also, I skipped the pancetta step for two reasons: 1. there were vegetarians coming to the party and I wanted them to be able to try this out and, 2. I had enough to do already, thank you very much. I have no doubt the pancetta is fantastic when included, but I was a busy girl.

Ingredients

2 oz pancetta, finely chopped
1⅓finely grated extra sharp cheddar
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tb unsalted butter, room temperature
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 ts Worcestershire sauce
2 ts black pepper
kosher salt
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 ts poppy seeds
1 ts sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

1. Crisp pancetta in a sauce pan over medium heat for roughly 5-8 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Set aside.
2. Blend together (in a food processor, with beaters, whatever you’ve got) the cheddar, cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the green onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper.
3. Scrape the mixture into a small, plastic-lined bowl. Form into a ball and chill in the fridge until it’s firm. (3-12 hours)
4. Just before you are ready to serve, cook the garlic in a small pan over medium, stirring often, until crisp and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
5. Add the shallots to the pan and, like the garlic, cook until golden brown, which will take 5-8 minutes. Make sure you stir often. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool.
6. Mix the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, shallots & garlic in shallow dish and roll the cheese ball until it’s coated. Serve with crackers and eat too much!

cheese

Mexican-style Salad

30 Sep

In an attempt to make some healthier choices (I’m even back at the gym after a prolonged absence. Helllooooo, muscles I’d forgotten about!), I’ve been ransacking some cookbooks I haven’t opened in a while for inspiration. In the book Get Naked in the Kitchen, there is a pretty great recipe for a Mexican taco salad bowl. I made minor adjustments to the original to suit both my taste and what was in my cupboard. The end result had everything you could want in a healthy meal: it was filling, it was easy, it had lots of flavour, it was balanced, it came together in 25 minutes and it’s 100% adaptable. You can substitute the lemon juice for any vinegar, the brown rice for white or quinoa, the flavouring of the black beans or the black beans for another kind be it white, pinto, black-eyed peas…whatever you like. You could also throw in some tortilla chips for extra crunch. Give it a go!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

3-4 c greens (I used baby arugula)
2 tb olive oil + 2ts for beans
1 tb lemon juice
1 c brown rice, cooked
1 can black beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 ts cumin
1 ts chili powder
splash of water
1/2 sweet pepper, chopped
1 avocado
Salt & pepper
handful of cilantro, chopped

Directions

1. Cook the rice according to directions.
2. In the meantime, heat the 2ts of olive oil in a pan to a medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion and sauté until the onions are translucent, about five minutes.
3. Add in the beans, cumin, chili powder. Toss in salt & pepper to taste. Stir together and then add a couple of splashes of water to the pan. Turn up the heat and cook another 5-10 minutes until the water evaporates.
4. Slice the avocado in half. Remove the pit and cut the flesh into cubes. Season with salt, pepper & lemon or lime juice.
5. Toss greens and red pepper in a bowl with the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Split evenly on two dishes, making a well in the middle.
6. Plate rice in the well among the greens and then top with beans, avocado, cilantro and hot sauce if you so choose.

Warm Cauliflower & Herbed Barley Salad

21 Feb

I am always looking for new ways to incorporate grains and veggies into our diets.  This recipe appeared in an issue of Bon Appetit magazine and I thought it had excellent potential. Yes, the dressing has mayo but it’s only one tablespoon for an entire head of cauliflower and a pile of barley.

A lot of people don’t seem to care for cauliflower that much (“It smells like feet!” a friend once exclaimed), but I’ve always liked it. It’s especially nice here with little caramelized spots lending some sweetness to each floret. You can most definitely do this salad ahead of time and it’s even better the next day. I made mine without the beans as none of those goes over particularly well in our house, but I have no doubt they could work in the salad. Instead, I doubled the amount of barley.

Serves 4 with lots of leftovers.

Ingredients

1/2 c pearled barley
1 tb lemon zest
3 tb lemon juice
1 tb mayo
1 ts Dijon mustard
6 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 15-oz can of corona, gigante or butter beans
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
2 tb fresh tarragon, chopped
salt & pepper

Directions

1. Place barley and 1.5 cups of water (or broth) in a large saucepan with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes. Set ‘er aside.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, mayo, Dijon mustard and 5tb of olive oil until the mixture emulsifies.
3. Heat a large pan to medium and add the remaining oil. Toss in the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper. Turn the florets over occasionally and cook roughly 10 minutes, until you start to see brown spots appearing. Add in 2tb of water, cover and steam for two more minutes.
4.  Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl. Add half of the parsley and tarragon, barley and dressing. (If you’re using the beans, this is when you would add them.) Stir to coat everything thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
5. Divide the salad among 4 bowls. Garnish with lemon zest and the rest of the herbs.

photo

Carrot & Coconut Soup

3 Dec

Baby, it’s getting cold outside. What’s better than warming up with a spicy, sweet, comforting bowl of soup (perhaps accompanied by a glass of wine a cheese muffin)? This recipe is courtesy of Bon Appétit and it was a cinch to make. Chop, sauté, stir, blend. Ta da!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1/4 c butter
1lb carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
2 c low-sodium chicken/vegetable broth
1 13oz can coconut milk
2 tb Thai chile sauce
handful cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions and season with salt and pepper. Stirring often, cook until the carrots have softened, roughly 15-20 minutes.
2. Add the coconut milk, broth and chile sauce. Bring the whole concoction to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. The liquid should have reduced some and the vegetables should be quite soft.
3. Let the soup cool a bit, then pureé until smooth. (You can use a standing blender, but I just used my hand blender…carefully.) Add a little water if you feel the soup needs to be thinned out.
4. Season with more salt, pepper and/or chile sauce if you like. Split into the bowls and top with cilantro if you’re using it.

Carrot Coconut Soup

Carrot Coconut Soup

Portobello, Walnut & Goat Cheese Salad

23 Aug

As I mentioned in my last post, I received a copy of refresh for my birthday. I have been making my way through it, greatly enjoying the results. After a particularly meat-heavy dinner on Tuesday, I thought it would be a good idea to eat a little lighter the next night. I was craving crunch and when I saw the portobello & walnut salad I knew it would work for me. As I often do, I made a couple of changes to suit my tastes but it was a good jumping off point. It came together in 15 minutes – including prep time – which is a big bonus on top of it being a healthy vegetarian option. (To make it vegan, just omit the cheese.)

Serves 2.

Ingredients

4 portobellos, cleaned & sliced
1/2 c cherry tomatoes, scored on the top
1/2 c walnut pieces
2 tb extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greens
2 tb balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
4 c greens
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

Directions

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan to medium. Toss in the mushrooms and the vinegar. Sauté until the mushrooms soften, roughly 5 minutes. Season with a little salt and pepper.
2. Add in the walnuts and scored tomatoes. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes start to split.
3. Split the greens over two plates & drizzle with olive oil. Place the cooked mushrooms, walnuts and tomatoes over the greens and top with crumbled goat cheese.

p, w & c salad

Curried Chick Pea Rice Bowl

7 Aug

I received the cookbook refresh for my birthday and I’ve been debating what healthy, vegan recipe to make first. The book contains a variety of recipes from breakfast through dessert, sauces, shakes and more. Finally settling on the Energy Rice Bowl, I set to work prepping the curried garbanzo filling. (side note: I really wanted to name our dog “Garbanzo.” J was having none of it. Buzzkill.)  I adapted the recipes a bit to utilize what I had on hand also to my taste but it’s essentially the same. It’s filling, it’s healthy, it’s vegan and it’s great. Once the prep is done, you toss everything in a pan and in less than 10 minutes, dinner is ready.  Hard to argue with that!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

2 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 green pepper, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled & finely diced
1 jalapeno, finely diced (remove the seeds if you want less heat)
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tb cumin
1 tb salt
1 tb turmeric
1 tb oregano
4 c cooked chick peas, rinsed
1/2 c tomato paste
2 c cooked rice
1/2 English cucumber, peeled & diced
handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 green onions or 1/2 red onion, finely diced
4 tb tahini
drizzle of Sriracha

Directions

1. Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Add the vegetables and spices and cook until soft.
2. Mash the chick peas and toss into the pan with the tomato paste. Stir together and cook until heated through.

Cooking away...

Cooking away…

3. Serve over rice and top with cucumber, tomato and diced onion. Drizzle with tahini and Sriracha.

curried banzo 2

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