Category Archives: Soups and Salads

Marinated Baby Bellas

Marinated Mushrooms

Mushrooms always seem to make their way into our shopping cart. The way we see it, a dish is not complete without the addition of criminis, shitakes, chanterelles or good ‘ol white button mushrooms. If you share the same love for mushrooms as our family, you will love this simple appetizer.

Our first experience with Marinated Mushrooms was several years ago at The Green Door Restaurant, one of Ottawa’s oldest and best know vegetarian restaurants. It was this restaurant’s cookbook that first introduced me to the ingredients of umeboshi plum vinegar and umeboshi plum paste – two seasonings or condiments that are now staples in our pantry.

Umeboshi plum vinegar, also known as Ume Su, is popular in Japanese and macrobiotic cooking. It has a very unique flavour giving vegetables, fungi, pasta and rice a salty, sour and fruity taste. If you are vegan and love dishes that traditionally use fish sauce, umeboshi works as a great substitute.

As well, this vinegar is known for its medicinal properties. Made from pickled umeboshi plums, it has an alkalizing effect on the body which helps combat illnesses and disease. Just be sure to look for a bottle that doesn’t contain any nasty ingredients. The brand I purchase has three ingredients: ume (Japanese plum), sea salt and shiso. Check out the site Allergies and Your Gut for more information on the making of umeboshi vinegar and its many health benefits.

Have you tried the Garlic Beets? I use umeboshi vinegar in that recipe, too.

With the summer over (said with tears rolling down my cheeks), why not add edible fungi to your diet. Mushrooms are immune-boosters and most are nutrient-dense.

Crimini mushrooms, otherwise known as “baby bellas” – did you know that crimini mushrooms are a younger version of the portobellas? – are the ones I find most in our local stores. They usually sit next to the white button mushrooms in the produce section. I tend to choose the crimini mushrooms for their medium-brown colour and earthier taste.

MARINATED BABY BELLAS

  • 300 grams crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or thyme
  • chopped parsley to garnish

Clean and trim mushrooms. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add clean mushrooms and cook for no more than one minute. Drain and let cool.

Add all other ingredients to a bowl and combine well. Do not add salt. The umeboshi vinegar is salty in taste. When mushrooms are cool, add them to the bowl with dressing and toss. Garnish dish with fresh parsley.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

It’s going to be a beautiful summer solstice weekend in our neck of the woods. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than a trip north to the lake.

This is the salad we plan to eat on the dock as we watch the osprey dive and listen to the loons sing.

Quinoa seems to be all the rage right now. It’s no wonder. This gluten-free whole grain takes only 15 to 20 minutes to cook, keeps for a few days in the fridge, and is extremely versatile. I have put quinoa in our smoothies and stews, as well as blended it in soups that require a thick, creamy texture. It is even used in many cookie, cake and muffin recipes.

If you haven’t already done so, you may want to try substituting your rice dishes for this wholesome grain. Quinoa has so many health benefits. It is high in protein, iron and calcium and has an abundance of B vitamins and other minerals. In his book “Staying Healthy with Nutrition”, Dr. Elson Haas states that the “amount of protein as well as the quality of protein in quinoa is worth mentioning….this grain contains a fairly nice balance of all essential amino acids, including lysine”.  Lysine is usually not found in grains.

In fact, did you know that quinoa is more closely related to veggies like beets, spinach and swiss chard than it is to grains? As Dr. Haas says, “perhaps we should call it a vege-grain“. 🙂

There are so many delicious quinoa salads out there. This one happens to be our very favourite at the moment.  Mediterranean flavours are just so refreshing this time of the year, don’t you think?

MEDITERRANEAN QUINOA SALAD

  • 3 cups of cooked and cooled quinoa (follow directions on the package – one cup of dried quinoa makes approximately 3 cups cooked)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • one diced red pepper
  • good handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup chickpeas
  • chopped parsley or cilantro
  • capers and black or green olives, to taste

Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano

In a large bowl, make the dressing and stir with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and toss. I like to serve this salad on top of a plate of organic mixed greens.

So simple and so easy and so darn tasty! Guaranteed to be a hit at your next social gathering! Enjoy your weekend and eat well!

 

 

Smokin’ Split Pea Soup

Baby, it’s cold outside!! A snowfall warning in effect, temperatures reaching minus 27 degrees Celsius, and a mighty northerly wind – this was our past weekend. Time to break out the parka and snowpants!  🙂

We warmed things up inside with a hearty bowl of Kris Carr’s Split Pea Soup. As per her recipe in “Crazy Sexy Kitchen” (click here for the recipe), we added a teaspoon of smoked paprika and some finely chopped kale. I  added my own touch to this awesome soup by throwing in some chopped potato.

When you check out the recipe, you’ll notice that Kris Carr suggests adding some dulse seaweed. Unfortunately, I did not have dulse in my pantry and I wasn’t about to head to the grocery store with over 25 cm of freshly fallen snow on the roads. However, I do plan on adding some dulse the next time around for that extra boost of vitamins, minerals, and protein. The soup was still delicious without the dulse.

Split Pea Soup

A bowl of this soup will warm you from head to toe.  An ideal meal for a day full of skiing or snowshoeing. I am so looking forward to the upcoming holidays where I will have a little more time to enjoy the great outdoors. I believe that the best way to enjoy a good Canadian winter is to play in it. My only wish is that it will warm up, just a bit. In my opinion, it can’t get any colder.  😉

Enjoy your week! It’s going to be a busy one!

Easy Tex-Mex Brown Rice Salad

Planning your meals for the upcoming work week?  This dish is an easy and delicious make-ahead salad to take to school, work or any potluck gathering.

Easy Tex-Mex Brown Rice Salad

  • 3 cups cooked brown basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil (omit for an oil-free dish)*
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed (I use Eden beans)
  • good handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh organic corn kernels (frozen and thawed kernels work too)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • sea salt and tabasco sauce to taste

Place all of the above ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Cover the salad and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Simple and so aromatic!

*More and more I am using less oil in my dishes and the outcome is just as delicious. If you are interested in reading more about olive oil and its use in recipes, I would like to direct you to a recent and excellent post by Paul at vegan food preparation.

Roasted Tomato Soup

roasted tomato and red pepper soup

This delicious tomato soup was inspired by last week’s Harvest Moon and all the vine ripened tomatoes gathered from my mom’s generous vegetable garden.  In mid September, we had a couple of good frosts so I had a number of tomatoes just begging to be transformed into a delicious and comforting meal.

For us folks living in the northern hemisphere, the autumnal equinox (or beginning of Fall) arrived this past Sunday afternoon.  Feeling a “little under the weather” (the cold and flu season is now upon us), the girls and I said goodbye to the end of the summer in our comfy pjs and welcomed the Fall with a warm bowl of soup.

Originally, my intention was to add some coconut milk to the roasted veggies and broth, but instead I opted for hulled millet to make each bowl uber-nutritious and filling.  When cooked and blended, millet can be creamy in texture. This makes it one of the most versatile grains.

As well, hulled millet is packed with fiber, B vitamins, essential amino acids and protein (that’s right – protein!), but don’t get too bogged down with the nutrients in foods.  Adding any whole grains to your diet will assist your body in creating or maintaining a healthy environment.  When choosing and consuming foods, just remember “whole” and try to vary it up.

This is my Harvest Moon Soup. 🙂  Easy and so comforting.

ROASTED TOMATO SOUP

  • 4 very ripe medium-sized tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups vegan and gluten-free broth
  • 1/2 cup hulled millet, rinsed
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  • dried basil or parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut tomatoes, onion, and red pepper into wedges.  Toss cut veggies, including the unpeeled garlic (nothing like roasted garlic!), with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper.

Roast veggies on a baking sheet for about 45 minutes until lightly browned and tender. Once roasted and a little cooled, squeeze garlic cloves to release the peel. Transfer roasted veggies and peeled garlic to a soup pot.  Add soup stock and hulled millet; bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium, add salt, pepper, and dried basil to taste.  Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. If you want a creamier soup with little or no texture, simmer the soup longer (about 30-40 minutes) until the millet is very soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend together all the ingredients. You may also cool the soup and transfer to a food processor for blending.

Serve soup topped with diced basil or parsley.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Caesar Salad, Dressing and Parmesan Cheese

Creamy, tangy, and oh so garlicky, this Caesar salad recipe is a winner.  Dinner guests that tend to be “picky eaters”,  will never know it’s gluten-free and vegan.  Unless, of course, you tell them which I personally tend to reveal long after the plates are licked clean. 😉

vegan caesar salad_edited-1

This recipe comes from Kris Carr’s book, Crazy, Sexy Diet.  If you don’t mind a little sass, this book is an excellent and quick read.  Kris explains in an easy-to-understand way how to take total control of your own health.

VEGAN CAESAR SALAD AND DRESSING (from Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr)

  • 1 cup * Vegenaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic (or more!)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended. Pour desired amount over chopped romaine leaves, slivered or chopped red onion,  and gluten-free croutons, if desired.  Using tongs, toss the salad to evenly coat the romaine leaves. Sprinkle top with a vegan Parmesan cheese (see below for a quick and easy recipe).

Store extra dressing in a jar in the fridge and use it later as a spread on sandwiches, steamed vegetables (it’s so yummy on steamed asparagus!), or as a dip for your raw veggies.

vegan caesar dip

Here is a simple recipe for a Parmesan cheese that we absolutely love on our Caesar salad or pasta dishes.

VEGAN PARMESAN CHEESE

  • handful of raw cashews
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • sea salt to taste
  • some fresh parsley (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until you have coarse crumbs.  Store unused Parmesan in a glass jar in the fridge for future use.

If you are transitioning to a plant-based diet, I highly recommend this Caesar salad.  It satisfies any cravings you may have for cheese or other dairy foods.

* Not familiar with Vegenaise?  You may want to read here for its comparison with a jar of mayo.

Springtime Roasted Fiddlehead Salad

vvpLOGO    Welcome to your next salad in this Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I’m sure you mouth is now watering from all the appetizers, beverages, bread and previous salad posts!  I know mine is!

Considering it’s early May, I wanted to give you a salad that contains a veggie that marks the beginning of the Spring season.  Like the first robin on our front porch,  Spring has officially arrived when fiddleheads arrive at our farmer’s markets and local supermarkets.  For me, fiddleheads are a Springtime delicacy.

Fiddleheads are the furled fronds of a young ostrich fern.  Using my daughter’s words here – “they are cool looking”, as “they very much resemble a little gnome’s violin”.  Fiddleheads have a Spring-like and earthy flavour quite similar to asparagus, another one of my favourites.  This veggie is so nutrient-rich, mostly with iron, fiber, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, you just gotta love them!  They grow wild in my neck-of-the-woods, mostly along the banks of rivers and marshes.

I’m pretty big on raw foods, but this is one vegetable that should not be eaten raw. Traditionally, fiddleheads are boiled or steamed for 10-12 minutes.  I wanted to try a different method, so I went with roasting.  Roasting usually brings out the sweetness in vegetables, so it was worth a try.  Roasting fiddleheads, I am happy to report,  makes this unassuming vegetable a little more palatable for some fussy mouths (thinking of my 9 year-old here).

fiddlehead

I hope you enjoy my Springtime Roasted Fiddlehead Salad! I tried to keep the recipe and ingredient list simple.  If you are unable to find some fiddleheads, you can always substitute asparagus or broccoli in this recipe.  But, if you really have the desire for fiddleheads, don’t wait too long.  They are only around for a short period of time (unless you acquire frozen ones!).  Without further ado, here is my recipe.

SPRINGTIME ROASTED FIDDLEHEAD SALAD

  • 2 cups of fiddleheads
  • 1/2 tablespoon melted coconut oil for roasting (or any other high smoke point oil)
  • 1 large carrot, sliced thinly on a diagonal
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thinly on a diagonal
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly on a diagonal
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a roasting pan with parchment paper.

Wash fiddleheads thoroughly in cold water.  Gently remove  browned tips and brown flakes.  Pat dry with a clean cloth.  Toss gently in a large bowl with melted coconut oil and place on prepared pan.  Be sure fiddleheads are spread out evenly on pan.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt, if you wish.  Roast fiddleheads for approximately 25 minutes, giving them a little flip halfway through roasting.  Let cool.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.  This is your salad’s dressing.

Prepare remaining vegetables and toss in a medium-sized serving bowl.

Once fiddleheads have cooled, add them to your serving bowl.  Whip your dressing with a fork and pour the dressing over the vegetables in your serving bowl.  Toss and serve.

Enjoy the rest of this fabulous potluck!

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