Spinach Pesto


I used to be one of those people who would see those enormous tubs of spinach, you know the ones that are at least a pound, and not imagine what sized family could possibly consume that much salad in a week. Seeing that baby spinach weighs a little more than air, that’s quite a bit of greens. However, since converting and making a “baby spinach only” vow, it’s on my weekly grocery list. I put handfuls of it into just about everything I cook that will take it; like soups, omelettes or pasta. The rest go into my every other daily salad or into this super mild and creamy staple: pesto.

SPINACH PESTO

2 Cups Baby Spinach Leaves
Handful of Flat Leaf Parsley, about 1/2 cup
4 – 5 Large Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Walnuts, lightly toasted
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Pinch of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pile everything but the oil into a food processor and combine well.
Using a spatula, scrape the sides then reattach the lid.
With the motor running, drizzle in the oil through the feed tube one tablespoon at a time until everything is smooth but not oily. You may only end up using 2 tablespoons. (Use the remainder for topping the pesto, if you’re keeping it in the fridge.)

Pesto may be kept in a sealed container, topped with oil. Otherwise, it freezes very well in ice cube trays or flattened, in a ziploc bag, where you can break off desired amounts for soups, crustini or pasta for one.

Yields about 1 Cup.

HHDH: It’s Cheeseless Pizza


Who doesn’t like pizza? I am yet to meet a single soul who would turn down a slice….
Except when it was going to be me with the notion of no cheese.

I was always of the mindset that pizza had but one basic construction – a crust (perfect blend of thin and chewy ), sauce (very important) and cheese. – Everything on top of that is really up to an individuals discretion and craving.

That was until I had a bite of my first “real European” pizza experience. Being 15 and at the height of my pizza connesseur training, I was in the south of France on exchange. My host mother would pack my lunches complete with a little Mom note, a chocolate and something often mysterious to try; there was infrequent PB&J in Provence. While out in the countryside, our group was left to remark on the construction of Romanesque Aqueducts. Removed from any civilization able to spare me of my brown bag filled with cold and cheeseless pizza with peppers and black olives (with pits!) Starving and only armed with my Orangina, I dug in and discovered a new, old, delicious world of pizza. From that moment, my eyes were opened, my pallet was cleansed and my nose had been lifted to new a pizza snob height never known before; and I was yet to arrive in Italy!

Flashing forward 15 some odd years, when trying to capture the best vegan version, I knew that one of those important and very expected elements – cheese, would be missing. Making up for the lack of gooey dairy was actually easy and created a more flavourful pizza than I’d usually eat. The secret of a good crust is always important and the hint for vegan pizza is just to pre-bake the crust a little longer to insure the crispness and then you’re free to go to town on virtually any topping you could imagine.

Pizza for breakfast? Check out 80 Breakfasts, who is hosting HHDH. I’m sure it will be quite the round-up.
Continue reading HHDH: It’s Cheeseless Pizza

Marina Di Chioggia Gnocchi


Upon returning from vacation I couldn’t help but notice one of my pumpkins from my collection. The skin of my Marina Di Chioggia had turned much darker than its original green and although I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about pumpkins and their various shades green, I do know that my prized Marina Di Chioggia is one of the most delectable of all the gourd breeds.

From the coasts near Venice, love is in the air for the pumpkin aptly nicknamed “Deliziosa”. The hard, green shell of this heirloom pumpkin may be a pain to peel, or even get into for that matter, but it’s sweet, subtle flavour and silky flesh certainly make it worth it. To claim victory over the tough to surrender peel, just make one cut around to get in and clean out the seeds, then simply roast the pumpkin in a short depth of water for about 90 minutes at 350ºF.

Of all the heirlooms gathered from the patch this season, the glorious Marina Di Chioggia is perfect for just about any recipe. It’s sweet yet delicate and can hold it’s own beautifully in pies, pasta and of course, gnocchi.

Perpetually intimidated by making gnocchi, with or without eggs, I found that this pumpkin is a great addition to the delightful dumplings. Typically worried about them being gummy and dense or at worst, falling apart in the cooking water, I found nothing of the sort. The dough was quite soft, so depending on the extent of draining you do, climate you live in and any other moisture factors, you may have to adjust the amount of flour to create a workable dough.

…And with a terrific yield, everyone can look forward to a few great pumpkin recipes to add to autumn and holiday collection.


Continue reading Marina Di Chioggia Gnocchi

Great White North



I’m currently tearing off the layers as I write this. It’s tough to believe that it’s Thanksgiving, here in Canada, that is. You see, it’s 90ºF and I’m really thankful I cooked our “Appreciate The Turkey Day” feast yesterday when it was cloudy and chilly enough for a cozy fire.

I went outside to try to find any scratch of this great Holiday going on. Any cars gathering for visits, the scent of roasting goodness traveling through a window screen, a football cheer, or the screech of a fork on a plate, but nothing. Nothing but cyclists, lawn mowers buzzing, the summer smell of the backyard grill, fans blowing and kids giggling with their dad on his day off.

I made soup last night, with feast leftovers, two kinds! This time of year, mind floods to comforting, feel good, stick to your ribs meals. But today, as I’m about down to my skivvies, I just can’t imagine any more hot and sticky.

Together with a little roasted pumpkin and grilled tofu, left over from yesterday, I whipped up a creamy spinach pesto to go over some quick, brown rice fettuccine. It was perfectly satisfying and didn’t add heat to the house.

Oh well, shouldn’t complain, it could have been snowing.
Continue reading Great White North