Glamping Meals



Have no idea what I’m talking about do you?

I think I could say I’ve been glamping for years but it’s finally fashionable to go camping in style without baked beans from a can. Honestly, it’s the only way I know how to camp and now there’s a name for it.

Having just returned from my first camping trip in over five six years, I can safely say that we are all unscathed. A few mosquito bites richer but certainly not any hungrier, our almost rain-out of a weekend finished up a sunny success.

Expecting an onslaught of this glamourous “Glamping” camping, I began to imagine froufy pink Gucci tents, pocket dogs with their own inflatable beds and a/c adapters for hair drying in the wilderness. Being not much of that myself, I thought more about the food. We pitched our tents with another two families, so there was certainly no shortage of it! There was Portabella Pasta Alfredo, Red Pepper Fajita’s, Campfire Roasted Baba Ghanouj and Cast Iron Fritata and that was just the first day – kidding.

All this gourmet glamping almost, just almost made me long for that can of beans and a hot dog on a stick – but not quite.

BLACK BEAN & FRESH CORN QUESADILLAS

1 Can Black Turtle Beans
1/2 White Onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Filtered Water
2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
8 Soft Tortillas
2 Cobs of Corn
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Tomato Salsa

Set a pot of water to boil.
In a sauté or cast iron skillet, heat the oil and add the onion.
Once the onion has softened and become translucent, add the garlic.
Drain, rinse and add the beans.
Sprinkle over the spices and add the water allowing everything to absorb and simmer for about 3 – 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat.
Mash the beans with a fork, potato masher or a hand blender until they are smooth but recognizable.
Set aside.
Drop the freshly husked corn into the awaiting pot of boiling water and sprinkle over the sugar.
Once the water returns to a rolling boil, remove the pot from direct heat. Let the corn sit for 5 minutes <only> then pull it out of the water.
With a chef’s knife, cut the kernels from the corn cobs.
Lay out 4 of the tortillas and spoon over a thin, even layer of the bean mixture,dot with salsa and sprinkle with the fresh corn before topping with the 4 remaining tortillas.
Place the tortillas in a heated skillet, or on a grill over the campfire coals.
Cook until golden and crisp. Flip and repeat.
Slice into wedges and serve with additional salsa or guacamole.

Spinach & Smoked Tofu Pasta Salad


Seeking out yet another farmers market here in the city, I was a bit surprised by the standard fare of field tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes until I passed the last vendor of the lot. There I found baby courgettes, quarter sized, tender Sunburst squash and a rainbow of heirloom grape tomatoes. It wasn’t a tremendous leap from the fore mentioned “norm”, but a nice hop to say the least.

Although I’d gobbled almost half of my little tomatoes on the way home, I was still famished by noon. I wanted something quick and cool but filling. So while thinking about my presto pasta contribution, I wanted to incorporate my fresh finds. With the addition of tofu and rigatoni, I had a full meal to share.

SPINACH & SMOKED TOFU PASTA SALAD

500g Whole Wheat Rigatoni
1/2 Package Firm Tofu, marinaded in Sundried Tomato Pesto*
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Cups Baby Spinach, packed
1 Cup Heritage Grape Tomatoes, sliced
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, 6 or 7 chopped
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
4 Baby Courgettes, (zucchini) or 1 regular, sliced
4 Sunburst Squash (Patty Pan), sliced

*SUNDRIED TOMATO PESTO

1 Cup Sundried Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, packed
4 Cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Add the tomatoes to a 1 Cup measuring cup and fill with enough water to cover the tomatoes and allow to reconstitute until soft, about 20 minutes.
Drain the tomatoes and add them to a food processor. Add the garlic and pulse until well chopped.
Add the basil and thyme and with the motor running, slowly drizzle enough oil until everything is well blended and smooth.
Add salt to taste, incorporating well.

Drain and slice the tofu 1/” thick, lengthwise.
Place it in a single layer in a seal able bag, spreading enough of the tomato pesto to cover each side.
Seal and freeze for at least 20 minutes.
Whisk the olive oil and balsamic vinegar; set aside.
Boil the rigatoni to al dente, as to the package directions.
Drain and toss with the waiting oil and vinegar.
Grill the tofu over a medium flame for about 4 – 5 minutes on each side, or until slightly crisp with grill marks, being sure to close the lid between flipping to capture that smokey goodness.
Slice the tofu into bite sized cubes.
Wash and thinly slice the courgettes and squash; add to the pasta.
Toss with the spinach, tomatoes and lemon zest and top with the cubed tofu.

Serve immediately or make in advance and chill.

Pan Fried Bruschetta Gnocchi


I usually find Gnocchi to be thick and heavy. Is it any wonder why when translated it means “lump”?

I’ve attempted making my own lumps and snuck the odd one from friend’s restaurant plates, yet I still found them relatively unpleasant to eat.

Between Heidi Swanson and my daughter, I was inspired to take gnocchi to the next happy level.

I recently found a store bought, yes, yes… but vegan gnocchi which I hesitantly cooked for it’s speedy 75 seconds. (Yes, that would be one minute, fifteen seconds.)
Post draining, I put it into a hot, awaiting sauté pan for a few quick tosses and there it was, slightly crisp, light and deliciously golden. It was a perfect match to something fresh and I was delighted with what I ended up with.

Gnocchi’s bad rap with me has been lifted and it took less than five minutes!
Finally my true definition of speedy Presto Pasta.

PAN FRIED BRUSCHETTA GNOCCHI

1 Package Gnocchi (1/2 Lb/500g)
1 Cup Tomatoes, diced ( 1-2 field or heirloom)
1/4 Cup Yellow Bell Pepper, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Scallion, finely diced
6 – 7 Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Wash, seed and dice the tomatoes and yellow pepper; place them in a medium mixing bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the minced garlic, vinegar, scallion, basil and parsley, tossing to coat everything evenly.
Set aside to rest.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the gnocchi and cook until they float, about 60 – 90 seconds. Remove gnocchi immediately and drain.
While the gnocchi is boiling, heat a large sauté pan and the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil.
Add the drained gnocchi, tossing regularly until crisp and golden; about 3 minutes.
Add the tomato bruschetta mixture, tossing to heat and coat the gnocchi.
Plate immediately and top with fresh parmesan, if you eat it.

Serves 3- 4.

Chili Thai Spring Rolls


When I thought of making a pasta dish, I wanted something light.
I was looking for a quick and cool summer pasta for a crowd, so I hit my pantry and noticed the rice paper sheets I had on hand.
Perfect for an appetizer, or a fresh meal, depending on what you choose to fill them with, these really only take a few minutes to assemble making them the ultimate no-cook pasta.

Continue reading Chili Thai Spring Rolls

Casareccia with Pea and Garlic Scape Pesto


The heat wave persists and I swore I’d stick with cool food for a while but I just could’t resist the exploding garlic scapes in my garden.
I wasn’t sure what the heat would do to the poor greens, speeding up the season and making them woody and go to bloom. Not only a waste to miss, I’d shrink my future garlic bulb harvest since picking these spicy delicacies forces the growth back down the plant to the bulb.
I picked them all – thin and tender, full of pure early garlic zest.

I thought to substitute them them for the garlic cloves in a standard basil pesto but I’m glad I settled differently. I had sugar snap peas on hand, which I love-love! I thought they would balance the zip of the garlic and cut the heat. Add the classic flavour of a delicious tossed pine nut and a bit of lemon with thyme -Mmm. Something I had to share for Presto Pasta night.
It finished even lighter than expected, so just for summer kicks I served it topped with some grilled vegetable skewers of zucchini, red peppers, tofu and mushrooms – This super smoky finish was pure summer goodness.

SUGAR SNAP PEA & GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

2 Cups Furled Scapes (about 1 cup roughly chopped)
1/2 Cup Sugar Snap Peas, washed and threaded
1/3 Cup Pine Nuts, toasted
4 – 5 Marinated Artichoke hearts, optional but delicious
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme
1/3 Cup Olive Oil, or drizzle until desired, spreadable consistency
1 teaspoon lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 450g of dried Carareccia pasta.
Cook to the package directions, about 8 – 9 minutes to al dente.
Heat a sautée pan over medium high and add the pine nuts, tossing frequently to toast.
Once golden, remove the nuts from the heat and set aside.
In the bowl of an food processor, add the garlic scapes, peas and artichokes, if using; pulsing to mince.
Add the lemon juice, pine nuts, thyme, salt and pepper. Continue on a medium speed to incorporate.
With the motor running, drizzle the oil through the feed tube. Blend until smooth and consistent.
Taste and adjust seasoning where necessary.
To take this from vegan to vegetarian, blend in a 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese to finish.

Drain the cooked pasta and toss with the prepared pesto to coat evenly.
For extra taste and texture, I added a cupful of frozen green peas.
Garnish with a pinch of fresh thyme leaves.

Serves 4 – 6

Eggless Asparagus Quiche


It finally rained – in two ways.
Thankfully the ground is now moist, our tomatoes will grow and the grass might turn away from it’s current shade of tan. Yay!
Yet, unfortunately, during our trip to the farmer’s market yesterday, we were informed that the asparagus must be left to shoot up into it’s destined willowy trees, bringing an end to our supply for the season.
Asparagus is one of my favourite summer vegetables, so I’ll be sure to freeze what I can. The rest inevitably became lunch for today in this vegan version of a classic, light meal.

EGGLESS ASPARAGUS QUICHE

1 Package, Firm Silken Tofu
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried (or a good sprig of fresh, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Zest of 1/2 Lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

1 Pre-made Pastry Shell, Tenderflake (I know, not me, but they’re such a time saver.)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Bake the pastry shell for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the crust is firm and light golden. Set it aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º.
Snap the ends and blanch the asparagus in boiling water for about 2 – 3 minutes or until bright green. Rinse in cold water, then trim tips to 3″ and reserve. Trim the ends to 1/2″ pieces.
Drain the tofu and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Blend it to a smooth consistency.
Add the nutritional yeast flakes, salt, pepper and spices, mixing well to incorporate everything.
With the motor running, sprinkle the arrowroot powder through the feed tube, combining well but not over mixing.
Finish with the lemon zest and stir in the 1/2″ asparagus pieces.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry shell and top with the reserved asparagus tips.
Bake uncovered at 350º until set, about 20 -25 minutes.

Great warm or chilled.
Serve with a salad.