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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

ingredients

  • 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

preparation

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.

TO STORE THE PATTIES

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.

TO COOK THE PATTIES

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.

CILANTRO-LIME CREMA

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

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lemon + fresh herb pasta

5 Jan

lemon herb pasta4At some point in the morning on New Year’s eve I said ‘Everything’s going to be closed tomorrow, I should buy groceries today’.  At no point on New Years eve did I go buy groceries for New Year’s day.

So I had a day with a very very empty fridge and a very very empty tummy.  Luckily I found a lemon and some fresh herbs left over from something I had been making a few days prior along with just enough pasta for two.

Added a few things I found in the fridge and it turned out to be a delicious meal.  So, this is my stuck-with-no-food-on-New-Year’s-day pasta.

If you want to make the dish vegetarian or if you just hate anchovies, a tablespoon of capers would be a good substitute.

Makes 2 servings

lemon herb pasta2

lemon + fresh herb pasta

ingredients

  • enough pasta for 2 people
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons – zest + juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 c good quality green olives, chopped
  • approx. 1/2 c chopped basil
  • approx. 1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  • pepper

lemon herb pasta1

preparation

Cook pasta in boiling salted water and strain.

Return the empty pasta pot to the stove over medium-low heat.  Add oil and butter, heat until butter is melted.  Add garlic, lemon zest and anchovy then lemon juice.

Cook for about 30 seconds or until garlic is soft.  Turn off the heat, add olives and all but about 2 tablespoons of the chopped herbs.  Stir for a few seconds until the herbs are wilted then add the pasta and toss to coat.

Serve immediately, garnish with the remaining herbs.

lemon herb pasta

poached egg croissant sandwich

24 Nov

Coffee, newspaper, egg sandwich.

All it takes to make a perfect Saturday morning.

ingredients

  • 1 croissant, halved and lightly toasted
  • lettuce
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 egg, poached
  • dijon mustard

preparation

Put all that together.  As a sandwich.

toasted tomato sandwich

5 Sep

Yeah, it’s just a toasted tomato sandwich.

When was the last time you had one?

I thought so.

Have a toasted tomato sandwich.

It’s a great thing.

(A special toasted tomato sandwich thank you goes out to John & Deb for fresh tomatoes and amazing spicy arugula from their garden.)

toasted tomato sandwich

ingredients

  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • mayonnaise
  • arugula and/or fresh basil
  • 2 slices of bread, toasted

preparation

Put all those things together, as a sandwich.

don’t we all have mixed feelings about Java House / chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

22 Aug

If you’re from Toronto and are / have been at one point young and poor you’ve probably had the… not “pleasure”… the, experience of going to Java House.  I’ve been there a lot (not recently but that’s beside the point) and I have a tumultuous relationship with the place, as I believe many do.

There are some undeniably great features – it has a huge patio just off Queen West that’s always bursting at the seams yet always has room for you somewhere, even on the most patio friendly days of summer.  The beer is cheap, like 11$ for a pitcher of half decent beer cheap, and so is the food.  One must, however, consider that the place just feels like there are cockroaches running around the kitchen and under the kegs – I’ve never had a bad experience with that but I’ve heard enough stories to be wary – it’s fairly dingy.  The service is ok-ish but under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you try to get separate bills for your table.  Don’t. Do it.  Oh, and I mentioned that the food is cheap… it is, really really cheap.  It is not “good”.

With one exception!  There was (as I said, I haven’t been there recently so maybe it’s gone?) a tomato chick-pea soup that I believe cost about $3 a bowl.  It was not spectacular but it was really tasty.  It was especially good when, half way through an after-work session of “beer instead of dinner will be just fine”, I realize that no I need to eat at least once a day.  Probably more.

So I feel that an homage to that fine, fine soup is in order.  My soup is better.  In fact it’s unreasonably f***ing delicious, especially considering how simple it is.

makes 6 servings

chick pea + kale soup with cinnamon

ingredients

  • 6 c vegetable broth
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 400 ml can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch of kale
  • 1 500ml can chick peas, drained
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • olive oil
  • salt

preparation

Cut the spine out of each kale leaf.  Rinse the leaves, bunch them together and roughly chop them; you should have about 2 generous cups of chopped kale.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sautee until they just begin to soften.  Add garlic, turmeric and oregano along with the chick peas.  Cook, stirring constantly, until onions are translucent.  Add kale one handful at a time, stirring until it wilts.  Add tomato, broth and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Remove cinnamon stick, add salt to taste and serve.

Java House on Urbanspoon

pasta + roasted tomato sauce

2 Jun

I work all day and I get home and I. am. so. HUNGRY.  But I’m also tired.  So the trick is to have an after work dinner that is both satisfying for my tummy and not too much work for my brain and body.

This loose, roasted pasta sauce is just right.  The best thing about it is that there are plenty of variations so even if I make it every couple of weeks – which I do, especially in the winter – it doesn’t get too boring.

The recipe I have here features some wonderful Columbian chorizo sausage (from Segovia – if you’re in Toronto go there..).  It’s also great with shrimp and/or mussels, just add them in the last five minutes in the oven, or leave out the meat altogether and add a few extra tomatoes and some more onion to bulk up the sauce.

Makes 4 servings

pasta + roasted tomato sauce

ingredients

  • 2 handfuls of linguine (or any pasta of your choice)
  • 2 lbs roma tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2 large sausages, cut into large pieces

preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut the tops off of the tomatoes.  Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds.  Cut each half into about 3 pieces.  Crush the 6 garlic cloves with the side of a heavy knife, remove the skin and tough bottom from each.

Throw the seeded tomatoes, crushed garlic cloves, sliced onion, basil, capers and sausage in an ovenproof dish.  Squeeze the juice from the 1/2 lemon over everything and drizzle with olive oil.  Toss to coat and put the dish in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Cook the pasta while the sauce is in the oven.

Once sauce is cooked, toss with pasta and serve.

asparagus soup + lemon creme

30 May

Hey everybody.  Hi.  I haven’t posted in a long time… I’ve been busy…

Lazy, I’ve been lazy.

But also a bit busy.

But mostly lazy.

Anyway, I have for you here my most favourite spring soup.  It’s super simple – just asparagus, shallots, cilantro and a bit of butter – and it’s good warm or cold.  Also, it takes about 15 minutes to make, including prep.

The original recipe from Bon Appetit calls for the soup to be strained but I prefer not to do that, I like the chunks.  The key is to choose the thinnest asparagus stalks you can find so the soup won’t get that stringy, woody texture.  If you must use thick stalks and you’re not planning to strain the soup, just peel them before cutting them up.

Makes 6 appetizer servings

asparagus soup + lemon creme

from Bon Appetit, March 2006

ingredients

soup

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 cup shallots, chopped
  • 2 pounds asparagus (thin stalks), trimmed + cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 3/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

lemon creme

  • 1/4 cup sour cream (or creme fraiche if you can find it)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

preparation

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sautee until soft – about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and cilantro – stir 1 minute. Add vegetable broth and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes.

Puree and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir sour cream, lemon juice, and lemon peel together in small bowl. Divide soup among bowls. Top with a dollop of lemon creme and serve.

root vegetable salad

20 May

Apparantly there are a whole bunch of really colourful root vegetables that I didn’t know about… I thought the little purple fingerling potatoes I bought were just purple on the outside and would be normal potato colour inside.  Wrong!  They’re purple the whole way through!

I don’t know what kind of crazy wizard did this to vegetables but I like it.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the potatoes are just potatoes, but the candy cane beets and yellow beets taste much sweeter than your average (but still lovely) red beet.

Makes 4 side servings

$2.10 per 2 servings

root vegetable salad

ingredients

  • 1 candy cane beet, peeled
  • 1 yellow beet, peeled
  • 2 handfuls of green beans, tipped and tailed
  • 8 fingerling potatoes, cut into coins
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3 tsp cider vinegar

preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut the peeled beets in half lengthwise.  Set the halves down on the flat side and cut them in half lengthwise again, cut them crosswise into thin slices.

Toss sliced beets and potatoes with salt, a generous amount of pepper, and enough olive oil to coat.

Place mixture in a shallow ovenproof dish and roast until vegetables are just tender (beets should stay a bit firm) – 25 to 30 minutes.

While the vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of water to a boil and add green beans.  Boil for about 30 seconds then transfer to an ice bath or run under cold water to stop cooking.  They should be bright green and slightly tender but still crisp.

Whisk together mustard, cider vinegar and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Combine beets, potatoes and green beans in a large bowl with mustard vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

The beets and potatoes can be cooked on the barbeque in a roasting basket over medium-high heat if you don’t want to use the oven.

orzo salad

12 May

Just a quick and simple side dish.  You can cook the orzo as much as a day ahead of time, throw it together with the rest of the ingredients and have it ready in five minutes.

It goes well with just about anything… rich fish like salmon or trout, grilled sausages, portobello caps, chicken, and so forth.  Makes great leftovers too.  Miam!

Makes 4 servings

$2.45 per 2 servings

orzo salad

ingredients

  • 1 c orzo
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes
  • 2 heaping tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heaping tbsp capers
  • 1 c pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt

preparation

Cook orzo and strain.  Set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for about 20 seconds.  Add tomatoes, capers, basil, olives, salt and juice of half the lemon.  Cook until the skin begins to come off of the tomatoes – 2 minutes.  Add cooked orzo and remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook until orzo is warmed through – 1 minute.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Garnish with the remaining lemon half, sliced, and basil leaves.

potato + leek + swiss chard soup with bacon wrapped seed onions

1 May

Because it’s raining and I have a hangover and this will fix all that…

ps. For anyone who came here via the ‘vegetarian’ tag and is all “wtf bacon”, it’s a perfectly good meat-free soup without the bacon wrapped onions.  That is why.

Makes 6 servings

potato + leek + swiss chard soup with bacon wrapped seed onions

ingredients

soup

  • 8 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 6 c vegetable broth

onions

  • 6 skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 24 seed onions

preparation

soup

Set a large pot with butter over medium heat.  At the same time, heat broth in a separate pot over high heat.  Once the butter has melted, add leeks, pepper and garlic and sautee until leeks are soft – about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and hot broth.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender – about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cut stalks out of the swiss chard and coarsely chop the leaves.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat and add chard.  Sautee for 1 minute, until leaves are wilted, then add 1 tbsp water and cover the pot for another minute.

Puree soup and stir in chopped swiss chard.

onions

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut the top and bottom off each onion and remove skin.  Wrap about 1/4 of a slice of bacon around each onion and put it on a skewer, 4 onions on each.

Lay the skewers on something that will let the fat drip off and collect underneath (I laid them over a small cake pan) and cook until bacon is crispy and onions are soft – 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve immediately with soup.