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cumin scented lentil + quinoa patties with cilantro-lime crema

24 Mar

veggie burger1

I was a vegetarian for a few years… technically a pescetarian, but I ate fish very rarely.  It wasn’t an ideological stance that I was taking but rather a decision based on meat being an expense that my poor student self could easily do without.  I learned a lot about being resourceful with my food – especially alternate sources of protein – at that time and to this day most of my meals don’t center around meat.

Here’s the thing.  I like meat, a lot, but I have never had any interest in making things that are not meat taste like they are meat.  In fact, it bothers me.  I hate these “IT TASTES JUST LIKE DELICIOUS CHICKEN / BEEF TERIYAKI / ROAST TURKEY / A HAMBURGER BUT IT’S TOTALLY ACTUALLY TOFUUUU!!!!”

First of all, no.  It doesn’t taste just like a hamburger.

Second of all, you’re a cheating liar.

Third-ly of all the Tofurkey that you’re buying at the grocery store is just as salty and processed and unhealthy as a package of bologna so if you are going to eat it then at the very least make sure you get off your high and mighty vegetarian pony before you do.

I’m sorry.  I have a complex relationship with dietary restrictions.

Let’s back up.

My point is, simply, that there is a lot to love about foods that are not meat.  Just because we’re not eating meat doesn’t mean that we must try to imitate meat because there are many many other delicious things out there.

So this is my “veggie burger”.  It’s shaped in a patty shape, like a hamburger is, but there the similarity ends.  It is filling and nutritious and really really tasty in a way that’s completely different from any kind of meat.

And that is what makes it great.

Makes 6 patties

veggie burger2

cumin scented lentil + quinoa patties with cilantro-lime crema


  • 2/3 c dry red lentils
  • 1/3 c quinoa
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 small beet, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 c panko / breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 limes
  • 1 c fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 c plain yoghurt
  • alfalfa sprouts


In a saucepan, cover lentils and quinoa with a couple of inches of water.  Simmer over medium heat until lentils and quinoa are very tender – about 10 minutes.  Drain and set aside in a large bowl to cool.

Return saucepan to medium heat.  Add olive oil and cumin seeds.  Stir until cumin seeds begin to toast and are fragrant.  Add onion, garlic, beet, ground cumin, garam masala and turmeric.  Sautee until onions are translucent and beets are tender.  Turn off the heat and squeeze the juice of 1 lime into the pan along with a 1/2 c of chopped cilantro.

Add onion mixture to lentil mixture and stir to combine.  Mix in panko / breadcrumbs along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Let the mixture cool to room temperature then mix in the eggs.

Take a handful of the mixture and roll it into a ball in your hand then press it lightly with your palm to make a thick patty.  If the mixture seems too loose to hold together add more panko / breadcrumbs as you see necessary.


You can keep them separated with parchment paper in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.


Heat vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add patties and cook until golden brown then flip and cook to golden brown on the other side.  Unfortunately they’re too delicate to cook on a grill.  Don’t try it, you’ll only make a mess.


Stir together the yoghurt with the remaining 1/2 c of chopped cilantro and the juice of 2 limes.

Serve the patties drizzled with crema and topped with a generous handful of sprouts.

veggie burger

Porchetta & Co. : porchetta sandwich

13 Apr

Porchetta & Co.

825 Dundas St W Toronto

So they take pork shoulder.  They marinate it for a whole day.  They wrap it in prosciutto.  They wrap that in cured pork belly.  They cook it so the outside gets golden and crispy then slow roast it so it’s tender and juicy on the inside.  They carve it and put it on a soft, fresh, floury Portuguese bun with hot sauce and Kozliks’ mustard.

I can’t believe it took me so long to go get one of these!!

At $6.95 each, they’re not banh mi cheap but considering the love that goes into making that golden delicious pork it’s definitely worth it.

I got the basic porchetta with mustard and hot sauce but you have the option of adding toppings like parmesan, truffle sauce, mushrooms, rapini and more.

Porchetta & Co on Urbanspoon

butter chicken

29 Mar

Have you ever wanted to host a dinner that starts out all civilized and quickly degrades into neanderthals fighting over meat with their hands, using forks and plates only to beat off other dinner guests and unlocking their jaws so that they may stuff as much food into their mouths as possible?  Look no further!

This butter chicken recipe from NPR’s Kitchen Window is that good.  I exaggerated about the unlocking jaws, none of my friends can do that, but the rest is true.

Even if you’re only feeding two people go ahead and make the full recipe because it makes great leftovers.

Serves 4

$7.60 per 2 servings

making sauce

warm naan

portobello cap salad

19 Mar

Credit for this goes to my dad who used to make this as an appetizer in the summer all the time.  I love it.  The portobello cap is rich and meaty, the chevre and tapenade are tangy and savoury, the greens are bitter and refreshing.

Don’t throw out the portobello stems, by the way.  Save them for the next morning, chop them up and sautee them; they’re one of the best things you can put in an omelette.

$9.50 for two servings.

Serves 4 as appetizer or lunch.

portobello cap salad


  • 4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 3/4 c olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp kalamata olive tapenade
  • 100 g soft goat cheese
  • 6 c mesclun salad mix
  • 4 thick slices crusty french or italian bread
  • pinch coarse sea salt


Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Place 1/2 c olive oil in a bowl and use to brush both sides of each portobello cap and both sides of bread slices.

Place portobello caps on grill, bottoms down.  Cover and cook until browned and beginning to shrink slightly (3-4 minutes).  Turn and repeat on the other side.

At the same time place oiled bread on grill and sprinkle one side with sea salt.  Cook each side until toasted golden brown (2-3 minutes).  If cooked before the portobellos are done, move to the edge of the grill to keep warm without burning.

Whisk remaining 1/4 c of olive oil with balsamic vinegar.  Put a large handful of mesclun mix on each plate and dress with balsmaic vinaigrette.  Place cooked portobello on top of salad, spread 1 tbsp kalamata olive tapenade on each mushroom and top with a slice of goat cheese.

Serve immediately.

grilled basa fish tacos

17 Mar

I just got a brand new barbeque!  Unfortunately I’ve been terrified of barbeques since my dad tried to teach me how to use one many years ago.  All I remember from that ordeal is “blah blah don’t turn this knob or everything will explode blah blah fire”.  Needless to say, I never got over it.

But I am going to overcome my fear!  Luckily these fish tacos are very easy to make. I managed to do it and I am SO PROUD of myself.  (Full disclosure, my boyfriend turned on the propane and lit the barbecue.  I still have some overcoming to do.)

I used Basa fillets because they’re one of the cheapest white fish I’ve found and they have much more flavour than some other options like Tilapia.  They are also much more firm than most white fish which makes them perfect for grilling, especially for a barbeque novice like myself.  Any flaky white fish (mahi-mahi, halibut etc.) will work.

$8 per 2 servings

Serves 4.

grilled basa fish tacos

adapted from Bon Appetit August, 2011


lime crema

  • 1/4 c cream
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  • 2 Basa fillets (or any firm, flaky white fish – mahi-mahi, halibut, tilapia, etc.)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • 2 c cabbage, shredded
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • pico de gallo


lime crema

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.


Lightly oil grill and heat to medium-high heat.

Mix onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and oil on a plate to form a loose paste.  Rub both sides of the fillets with spice paste.

Place fish on grill, cooking each side for about 3 minutes.  Remove from grill and use a fork to flake the fish into small pieces.

If you can get fresh corn tortillas, heat a skillet with some vegetable oil to medium-high heat and cook each tortilla for a few seconds on each side, until brown spots appear.

Serve tortillas warm.  Top each with shredded cabbage, diced avocado, fish, pico de gallo, crema and lime.