Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini



Where have I been having vanished with the summer?
Sheltering from the rain, I’d replaced my passé front yard with an edible garden.
I tried my luck with a few heirloom seeds and a few more old stand-by vegetables.
Summer may have squeaked by, but not without leaving me with a few baseball bat sized zucchinis.

I took company coming as the perfect opportunity to eat up the biggest one.  Of course there were cakes and something savoury for lunch as well.

We managed to eat half. (That was even with seconds!)

QUINOA STUFFED ZUCCHINI

1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Shallot, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Cup Red Quinoa
1 Large Zucchini, very large in my case
1 Cup Yellow Pear Tomatoes
A big handful of herbs of your choice. I used mostly basil, some parsley and thyme, finely chopped
salt+pepper

Rinse the quinoa well and leave it to soak in a mesh colander for about 3 minutes.
Combine the drained quinoa with 2 cups of boiling water in a medium saucepan.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 7 minutes.
Lift the lid and check in on the quinoa. The water should be mostly absorbed and appear fluffy. If not, cover again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes more.
Once the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave it to cool while you prepare the remainder of the stuffing.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the shallots. Once they’ve softened, add the garlic but be careful not to burn it.
Half the zucchini lengthwise and remove the seeds. Trim the ends and remove the bottom of one half just so it will sit without toppling over. Dice the other half until you’ve measured 2 Cups. (If there’s still some left, here’s a recipe for scones.)
Add the chopped zucchini to the shallots and continue to sauté until it’s softened.
Slice the tomatoes and add them to the zucchini.
Remove from the heat and add the prepared quinoa and chopped herbs.
Combine well and add a good amount of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Place the seeded, trimmed zucchini half in a baking dish which has been lightly oiled.
Pack the stuffing into the crevice. Drizzle with olive oil and cover lightly with foil.
Bake for approximately 1 hour or depending on your zucchini’s size and thickness, until it’s tender. (Begin checking at 40 minutes if it’s more of a slender forearm size:)

The New Vegan Frontier


I had this realization at the grocery store the other day. It’s something I’ve obviously not given enough thought. I mean, I know why people have food restrictions and I know that there are many reasons. There are people in my family are allergic to wheat and dairy and a large reason because of that is why this site exists. I’m fairly conscientious but never though, have I gone out and so rigorously read every ingredient that went into my shopping basket. What was once simple shopping took an hour and a half.

I’m aware of the easiest ways to healthier eating and that’s making everything yourself. But after this experience, I couldn’t believe it more true. The sneaky binders and unfortunate ingredients that “deprive” those of a delicious waffle. After a few let downs there was excitement. I’d find new produce or the wheat-free, gluten-free, yeast-free bread that will remain nameless to excite me into a tizzy. I was about ready to start this detoxing cleanse.

My biggest splurge was to finally buy a rice cooker. I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t done this earlier and now it sits happily along sit my Kitchen Aid as one of my favourite appliances. Shameful to admit, I’ve never been a stellar rice steamer myself. Iffy at best, I’d cross my fingers and hope not to burn it on the bottom or lift the lid early exposing a soggy mess. Amazing that this basic food is one of my favourites and when cooked right, tastes like a delicacy to me. Naturally, I was inspired and created one of my first meals for the detox as a rice bowl.

Totally versatile, starting with a mix of brown and wild rice, I added many of my grocery shop finds; broccolini, roasted squash, pea shoots and bean sprouts. To it was a great maple baked tofu with a great tahini sauce to liven it up.

Maybe this won’t be so bad?

MAPLE TOFU AND TAHINI RICE BOWL

4 cups Cooked Brown & Wild Rice, or whatever you have that you think is nice
1 Acorn Squash, seeded & sliced
1 Block Extra Firm (organic) Tofu, halved and sliced about 1/4″ thick
Handful Each of Pea Shoots, Sprouts, Broccolini & Frozen Green peas
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil,
Safflower Oil for frying

SESAME TAHINI SAUCE

1/4 cup tahini
3 Tablespoons Water
3 tablespoons Sesame Seed Oil
1/4 cup  Lemon Juice
Pinch of Salt to taste

Make the dressing by whisking together the tahini and hot water to thin. Add the lemon  juice, sesame oil and sprinkling of salt.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly drizzle 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a baking dish. Lay your sliced squash evenly and flip to coat in the oil.
Bake for about 15-20mins, then flip and return to the oven to continue roasting on the other side for another 15 minutes or until soft and golden. Remove from pan and lightly sprinkle over salt and pepper.
While the squash is roasting, heat a thin layer of the safflower oil in a large pan for frying.
Once the oil is hot, add the tofu slices and brown on both sides.
Remove and drain on towels.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF.
Using the roasting pan for the squash, add the tofu and evenly pour over the maple syrup, tossing to coat on both sides.
Bake the tofu for about a 1/2 hour, flipping half way through, until it is browned and slightly crisped.
Cook your rice, as per your usually methods. 2C dry rice with about double the water, usually does it for me.
Scoop the cooked rice into a nice, big bowl and to it, stir in the broccolini and frozen green peas

Serve rice family style or into individual bowls, topping with tofu, slices of squash and a handful of shoots and sprouts.
Drizzle over the tahini dressing. Taste and add more salt and freshly ground pepper, if needed.

Serves 4-6.

Detox



I’ve finally found a time of year where I can’t find an excuse not to eat a little better.

Honestly, doing a detox for the next 21 days has more to do with January than New Year’s and all it’s resolutions.
It’s something I’ve been meaning to do and put it off again and again. I’ve finally found that this month and the next couldn’t the be better. I’ve had every food excuse. Last spring with all it’s new produce, the summer with it’s berries, cobblers and bbq’s the fall harvest… you get the picture.

Based on the Dr. Joshi Diet, the next three weeks will have:
No Coffee
No Alcohol
No Sugar (Maple syrup is ok)
No Wheat or Yeast (ack)
No Nightshades; potatoes, peppers, eggplants or tomatoes.
No Fruit (double ack)

It’s long overdue. I need a balance and this is what this type of elimination diet is trying to achieve. A balanced PH, making my body more alkaline rather than acidic. I just never realized how much I liked acidic once I tried to figure out what to eat when you’re not allowed to eat anything.

Seriously, I made the trip to the grocery store to stock up and in trying to keep in interesting I wanted to eat more than brown rice with broccoli every night, not that I won’t enjoy that. Especially with a little maple glazed tofu… but for all of you with allergies I feel for you. Even after eliminating all of these things, my bill had never seen such heights!
Goes to prove, cheap is NOT healthy.

Wish me luck.

I’ll be sure to post once I figure out what to eat beyond today’s roasted butternut and edamame;)

Best Vegan Visitor Recipes of 2008


ytd2008

JANUARY

The citrus obsessed that I am decided away with diets and and that pink grapefruits were way underused:
Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts

Every winter likes the cold and every winter I battle it with something extra warm:
Creamless Potato Leek Soup


FEBRUARY

This Chili continued to warm + what would the Superbowl be without it’s tailgate chili?
Superbowl of Chili

And this was just goood:
Cape Gooseberry & Raspberry Clafouti


MARCH

Daring Baker’s sent me the perfect gift. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for my own birthday cake:
Perfect Party Cake

A March break get-away might have almost gotten me trapped by a snowstorm, but it was Montréal. I was hardly complaining:
Maple Madeleines


APRIL

It’s my daughter’s birthday in April and it just wouldn’t be tradition if she didn’t get her “Favourite Things Dinner”.  She’s six, I’ll give you one guess what her favourite thing is to eat:
Cheeseless Macaroni n’ Cheese

Spring and weeds. If you can’t beat ’em, EAT them:
Warm New Potato & Dandelion Salad

After breaking out the BBQ for the first grill of the season, I discovered one of the best soups ever with the leftovers:
Cedar Smoked Asparagus Soup


MAY

A peanut butter cookie bomb became one of my favourite desserts:
Peanut Butter Caramel Tarts

Mother’s Day brunch wouldn’t be complete without cake. And what better one than this coffee cake developed from my Nana’s own recipe box:
Also Goes Great With Tea Coffee Cake

JUNE

Squeaking it in for the last of the school year. I couldn’t resist buying more snacks for lunches, so I replicated them instead (even though I was made fun of for it):
Chewy Nut-Free Granola Bars

Getting sick of watching countless sandwich crusts go to waste, I came up with a solution. I saved the crusts and made bread pudding. Waste Not:
Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding
JULY

Summer’s in full swing with heat beaters and last minute evening parties. I took full advantage of the garden’s offerings with these easy recipes:
Rose Infused Strawberry Sorbet
Scape Salsa Verde Potato Salad
AUGUST

This was time consuming, but boy it was good:
Summer Pea Ravioli

The cherries were awesome this year, sweet and almost never ending. When I *almost* became tired of spitting pits, I decided I could finally bake with cherries more instead:
Cherry Streusel Muffins
SEPTEMBER

One of my favourite times of year. You know it, when there are too many tomatoes to eat at once. Never a fan of it as a kid, still I tried my own swing at it and will forever be changing my tune about tomato soup:
Heirloom Tomato Soup

Tree-fruit season YAY:
Gingered Peach Shortbread Bars
OCTOBER
Have I not yet mentioned how much I like autumn and the tree fruit? This was so easy, especially when tearing through a freshly picked bag of apples before our vacation:
Apple Upside-down Cake

Super good, super easy and quick autumn-y gnocchi with one of my most favourite flavour combinations:
Gnocchi with Butternut Squash & Spinach
NOVEMBER

Move over Charlie Brown, I’m the pumpkin patch junky. Never fails, ever November I find myself with, well, enough pumpkins to last me until next Halloween. This year I FINALLY made this:
Maple Pumpkin Butter

Everyone needs a quick go-to recipe to use up those browning bananas, and this one is it for us:
Ultra-Quick Banana Bread
DECEMBER

I took a scoop of that long over due pumpkin butter and added it to my favourite brownie batter. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?:
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Honestly one of the best gingerbread men I’ve ever bitten the head off of:
Classic Gingerbread Cookies

Wow. What a year! Wishing you and yours the happiest 2009!

Fantabulous Summer Pea Ravioli


I like peas, actually, I figure most people do, so I can’t help but get a little giddy & nostalgic when I see the flooding piles of pea pods carefully anchored in the farmer’s crates at market.

They’re crisp, green, a little dusty but ever so perfect.

I always seem to strangely imagine a large shady porch, so perfect for sitting, chatting and watching the clothes blow in the line from the warmest summer breezes.
A big bowl is handy for catching the just cracked and tossed pods with another for rolling the fresh, young peas into.

As I bring my “fantasy” into realization, (sans a shady anything, big bowl or even laundry) I discover that shelling peas loses it’s glint after, say, about the eighth one.

But they are good. Damn, they are good. I don’t want to even cook them, just crack and roll them into my salivating jaws and realize that is a much better than any summer pea fantasy.

I rarely do more than steam peas and blob a knub of butter on them. I’m not a mint or little pearl onion kind of gal. However I got this idea for a recipe to repackage these newly podded peas to, you know, share with friends and I just had to give it a try.

SUMMER PEA RAVIOLI

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Leek, white and very light green parts only, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Cups Green Peas, shelled
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Dry Vermouth
1 1/2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

SOY RICOTTA
1 Cup Soy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Salt

HOMEMADE PASTA
1/2 Cup Unbleached Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
1/3 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

To make the pasta, combine the flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor.
With the motor running add the the oil, then, in a steady stream, add the hot water.
Continue to process. When the dough comes together, stop adding any water, if any remains. (Otherwise if your dough hasn’t come together once all water has been added, drizzle over more hot water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it does.)
Remove the dough from the food processor and quickly knead together to form a ball. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Quarter and cover the dough and let it rest until ready to use.
To prepare the peas, heat the oil in a large sauté pan.
Add the chopped leek and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, then add the vermouth.
Add to it, the peas, water, herbs, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile combine the soy milk, lemon juice and salt in a non-reactive bowl.
Allow it to sit while you continue with the peas.
Simmer to blanch the peas and reduce the water by about half.
Then, drain the curdled soy milk through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth and leave it to remove as much liquid as possible.
Purée the peas in a food processor on high or through a food mill.
Layer a colander over a mesh sieve which has been placed over a bowl.
Push the mixture through the colander and let what remains in the sieve to remove excess liquid.
Reserve the liquid in the bowl for the sauce.
Prepare the pasta, which has been divided into four, then roll it out into thin sheets.
Combine the pea purée with the soy ricotta.
Dot the pea purée by the teaspoonful along the first sheet of pasta.

With a water and a pastry brush, dampen the edges around the purée.
Lay another pasta sheet on top and with your fingertips, push out any air and seal the edges around each, soon to be ravioli.
With a roller, or ravioli cutter, cut out each piece.
Repeat with the two remaining sheets of pasta and pea purée.

Cook the ravioli in a large pot of rapidly boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until they all float.
Meanwhile, melt knub of (vegan) butter, about 2 tablespoons and add about 1/2 cup of the reserved, strained pea liquid to heat. Once it’s simmering add 2 tablespoons of vermouth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Continue to simmer until the ravioli is done.
Remove with the ravioli from the water with a slotted spoon.
To plate, evenly spoon the sauce in the center of four plates and top with ravioli.
Garnish with fresh pea shoots and cracked pepper, if desired.

Serves 4.

New Potato Salad With Scape Salsa Verde



Of course with a long weekend ahead I would be lost without a handy potato salad recipe, so here it is.
I’m sure not too many of you miss the heavy mayo laden with egg and celery version but not to fret, I’m sure it will still be offered – somewhere, you can just bring this along to the BBQ instead.

Easy, light and FRESH I’ve finally found another way to use up those tasty garlic scapes as the main ingredient in this salsa verde style dressing.

NEW POTATO SALAD WITH SCAPE SALSA VERDE

3 Lbs New Red Potatoes
8-10 Garlic Scapes, trimmed
1/4 Cup Basil Leaves, packed
1/3 Cup Flat Leaf Parsley, packed
1 Tablespoon Capers, about 30
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Wash and boil the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover.
Cook potatoes until just tender, or al dente, so you are able to cut through them easily.
Meanwhile, trim the seed buds from the top of the scapes and discard.
Combine the scapes along with the basil and parsley, pulsing to finely chop.
Add the capers, mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar, continuing to blend while drizzling in the oil through the feed tube.
Scrape down from the sides, taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Drain the potatoes. Once they are cool enough to handle quarter them into even sized wedges, unless they are very small.
Add the potatoes to a large bowl and add about half of the dressing at first. Toss well to coat adding more to your liking.
Serve at room temperature.

Want more potato salad? Try my other, Warm New Potato Dandelion Greens Salad, if you still have a few weeds that need eating from your yard.