Lentils, lentils and more lentils … oh my! March 22, 2010

I’m a lover of the lentil … have you guessed yet?  How could anyone hate these glorious little gems?  So easy to cook, so versatile, so delish, so cheap!  There are so many kinds to choose from too – keeping the boredom at bay.  So, after weeks of adding lentils to just about anything and everything (okay, I was on a bit of a bender you see), here two of my faves, that are ridiculously quick and beyond simple to compile:



1 cup dried green lentils

1 bay leaf

1 cup quinoa

1 tsp each turmeric, salt and coriander

¾ cup raisins or cranberries

¾ cup walnuts

2 green onions, diced

¼ cup fresh parsley (or half the amount dried)

4 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp  white wine vinegar

¼ tsp salt

3 Tbsp olive oil

Pepper to taste


1. Add add lentils and bay leaf to 3 cups of water and cook thoroughly (read package for specific timing).

2. Meanwhile quinoa, tumeric, coriander and salt to 2 cups of water,  bring to a boil, cover and simmer, 10-12 min.

3. Once both pots are cooked, cool then mix together.

4. In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon juice, honey, vinegar, salt, oil and pepper,

5. Stir in dressing to main grains, then add chopped walnuts, cranberries, chopped green onion and minced parsley and combine thoroughly.



1 medium onion

2 Tbsp veggie broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp ginger

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp salt

1 cup tomatoes, diced

½ cup chickpeas (canned)

½ cup mixed beans (canned) – I used black eyed peas

1 cup cooked lentils (red cook the fastest but almost dissolve completely)

1 ½ cups water

1 cup leafy greens (I used baby spinach)


1. Sauté onion in oil for 3 min, then add garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt, tomatoes, broth, beans and lentils, simmering covered, until ingredients are softened and flavours are well combined (approx 5-10  min).

2. Add 1 cup greens, simmer again for 2 more minutes.

3. Serve hot over rice, naan, pr pita!


The Weekly Soup: All alone-ey Minestrone December 16, 2009

I found myself with a night of me me me, so what do I do?  Cook.  It was cold, wet, damp and miserable enough out that I was desperate for comfort food that would not infringe on my upcoming Christmas binging.  The result was another soup – one that was sooooo good it only lasted a day (no freezing possibilities were even a glimmer in anyone’s eye).  The best thing about this soup is its versatility.  Add or remove whatever you want or have or feel like – maybe double the batch so at least there’s a chance it may last for more than a day.



1 TBSP olive or canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp coarse salt

2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 medium zucchini, chopped

1 pepper, chopped (red, yellow, orange will do)

1/2 can of sweet corn

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced)

4 cups good quality broth

1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz )

1 can mixed beans (19 oz)

2 TBSP tomato paste

2 tsps each of dried basil and dried parsley

1 tsp dried thyme

fresh pepper to taste

3-4 cups water

1 cup dried macaroni or shells



1. Heat oil in a large stove-top pot at med-high, add chopped onion and sauté until translucent.

2. Add all remaining vegetables to the pot and sauté until well cooked and softened (about 10 min).

3. Gradually add stock, tomatoes, mixed beans, tomato paste, spices, and water (add as much as you like until you get your desired consistency – I used 3 cups).

4. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes – stirring occasionally.

5. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil for macaroni or shells then add pasta to boiling water, and cook until al dente (just under the recommended time)

6. Add al dente pasta to soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.

7. Remove soup from heat, and serve sprinkled with fresh Parmesan and crusty bread.


Saucy Polenta Fingers December 10, 2009

After feeling like I hit a culinary wall of non-creativity (why is it that we always go back to the same old same old after a while??), I went a huntin’ in the great abbyss that is my pantry.  My prey?  Turned out to be a big fat zippy filled with cornmeal.  Enter… inspiration!  I’ve made both the store bought and homemade kinds before, but I wanted to jazz this lil diddy up, so I made this into fingers.  Cooled ’em, cute ’em, grilled ’em, then smothered ’em in sauce.  Outcome?  A brilliantly cheap, quick, hearty and luscious winter-time meal.  Bonus was the totally gluten-free day I had!  Woot!



For the polenta –

4 cups water

3 1/2 cups of milk

2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp butter (I used unsalted)

For the sauce –

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces

2 cups diced canned tomatoes

1 tsp EACH dried parsley and dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste



1. Bring water and milk to a boil in a medium pot, then turn down to a simmer – watching closely so you don’t burn the milk.

2. Add cornmeal  into pot in a slow stream, stirring, then add dried basil and salt, and continuing to whisk for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Continue to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes more – polenta will be gloppy and stiff, but try to keep stirring so the bottom does not burn, then remove from heat.

4. Mix in Parmesan cheese and butter, then plop into a greased 9×11 baking dish and cool for at least 30 minutes until completely solid.

5. While polenta is solidifying, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, and saute onions until translucent, then add in garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant and slighly browned (about 1-2 minute).

6. Add canned tomatoes and dried spices (and salt and pepper to taste), simmer for 5-7 minutes, then add in diced green beans and cook until tender – about another 5 min (simmer sauce on low until ready to use).

7.  Slice soild polenta into fingers, remove fro baking dish, and grill in a grill pan until heated and slightly browned (you could also broil in the oven, turning so all sides are browned).

8. Place grilled polenta fingers on a plate, and cover with sauce – sprinkle with parmessean and serve HOT!


Painless-Meatless-Delicious Shepherd’s Pie March 12, 2009

Comfort – comfort – comfort … all in one big casserole dish!  Try this unique twist on a classic – not only is it meatless, but this version also uses sweet potatoes instead of regular Yukons.  You can sub in a variety of veggies here, just make sure the quantities are equivalent.


2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 tbsp PLUS 1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsp unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 medium fennel bulbs, cut into a 1/2-inch dice

2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved

2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/2 tsp black pepper

1¾ cups veggie broth

3 cups fresh spinach (you can use torn Swiss chard leaves instead!)

pinch ground nutmeg


 1) Place sweet potatoes and 1 tbsp of salt in a large pot, adding enough cold water to cover. 
 2) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. 
 3)  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium-low heat, melt 2 tbsp of the butter.
 4)  Add onion and cook for 10 min, then add parsnips, celery, fennel, Brussels sprouts, parsley, pepper, remaining salt and toss. 
 5)  Add broth, increase heat, and simmer until all veggies are tender, 15-20 minutes. 
 6)  Add the spinach and stir just until wilted - remove immediately from heat. 
 7)  Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a casserole or 9-inch pie plate.
 8]  Drain potatoes and return to pot, then add remaining butter and mash until smooth. 
 9)  Spread mashed potatoes over the vegetables, set broiler on high and broil until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. 
10)   Dust with the nutmeg and serve!

Notes – if you’re really pressed for time and don’t have any fresh produce on hand, grab some quality frozen veggies, they’ll work too (again, make sure the ratios are the same)1106_thanksgiving_veg_6!  I added some peas too – loves em!


Fettuccine in Mushroom Broth with Truffle Oil

Sounds luxurious … and tastes just like it sounds (but believe me, it won’t break the bank).  Last night consisted on giving in to my pregnant-lady-like-hankering for pasta and mushrooms (no, I am not even remotely with child … I just obsess over food like someone who is!) … by satisfying my craving with one amazing savoury dish!  I happened to have Truffle oil  – it’s a long story – and one incredible bag of organic whole-wheat pasta.  Lucky me!  If you don’t have Truffle oil, you can substitute another oil like walnut or almond or a high-quality olive oil.  Don’t be afraid of the ‘brothy-ness’ of this dish.  The pasta soaks up most of the liquid and what you’re left with is something spectacular!  Good for a date night or one of those dinners where you just have to make all your friends jealous of your mastery in the kitchen.


* 2 Tbsp olive oil

* 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms

* 2 cups shiitake or cremini mushrooms, stemmed and diced

* ½ cup finely chopped shallots

* 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbps)

* 1 cup stock (I used mushroom stock!) or water

* 1 cup dry white wine (and 2 cups for you!)

* ½ cup frozen peas

* 1 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley

* 3 tsp truffle oil, divided

* 8 oz fettuccine or any other noodle you desire


1) Boil the stock (or some water) and place dried mushrooms in 1 cup of the boiled liquid – and allowthe mushrooms to hydrate for about 30 min.

2) Heat olive oil in very large skillet over medium-high heat, add porcini mushrooms, shallots, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté 5 minutes, or until mushrooms are soft.

2) Remove the now hydrated mushrooms, squeeze dry, and ad to skillet and sauté for another 2-3 min.  NOTE – do not throw out the liquid, keep it for later!!!

3) Add wine and the remaining stock, and simmer 10 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender.

4) Add peas, simmer 2 minutes more, then stir in parsley and 1 tsp. truffle oil (season with salt and pepper again if necessary).

5) Meanwhile, cook fettuccine in large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente (usually 7-12 min, depending on the noodle).

6) Drain pasta, and toss with mushroom sauce, then drizzle 1/2 tsp. truffle oil over each serving, and sprinkle with grated parmessean. pasta


QA-Sala (Quinoa Apple Salad) August 12, 2008

I’ve used quinoa in many recipes, and am always looking for new ways to serve this tasty tongue twister (it’s keen-wa). Here’s a nice fresh salad that will serve about 6 as a main-course salad, and keeps really well in the fridge for a few days. Apples are always easy to find and usually pretty tasty even when not in season. If you buy quinoa in bulk, this whole dish will generally cost you under $1 per person. Not too shabby!

juice from 1 lemon
1⁄3 cup apple cider
1⁄2 cup orange juice
1⁄3 cup canola or sunflower oil (olive oil is a bit too full bodied for this)
1⁄3 cup honey
5 cups cooked quinoa
2 apples, cored and chopped
1 red pepper, diced small
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or canned will do)
1⁄2 cup dried cranberries
1⁄2 cup currants (or raisins if you don’t have any currants handy)
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans
1 cup each, fresh parsley and mint, chopped
sea salt/freshly ground pepper to taste

1) Place lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, oil and honey in a small bowl and stir to combine.
2) In a large bowl, combine quinoa and all remaining ingredients well, then stir in dressing. Adjust seasonings and refrigerate until ready to serve!

To cook quinoa, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil in a pot with a lid. Stir in 2 cups quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until water is fully absorbed, about 25 min. You can cook any amount of quinoa you like as long as you keep the 2:1 ratio of liquid to grain. It is also worth your while to test out other liquids such as your fav stock or even 1/2 coconut milk, 1/2 water.


Gazpacho-so July 10, 2008

I have been meaning to post this simply incredible recipe for months now. I keep getting distracted by new ventures in the kitchen! This is based on a birthday menu my brother in law put together for me 2 years ago, and I’ve been making it steadily ever since. If you can’t be bothered with the roasting, this tastes just as good sans cooking!


1 pound cherry, grape, or small tomatoes
1 small red bell pepper
1/2 large cucumber, chunked
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce, to taste
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1/4 cup cold water
3-4 ice cubes


1] Preheat oven to 425F, spray an 8×8-inch baking dish lightly with olive oil and place the tomatoes in it in a single layer.

2] Spray a smaller dish, and place the whole pepper in it, and roast for 15 minutes.

3] Stir tomatoes, turn pepper, and roast for 10 more minutes (hint: when tomatoes are wrinkled and have leaked their juice, remove them from the oven to cool.

4] Turn the pepper and continue to roast until the skin has darkened on all sides, then remove it from the oven and seal it in a storage container until it is cool enough to handle.

5] Peel off pepper skin, discard the seeds and stem, and cut it in half.

6] Once tomatoes are cool, put in blender.

7] Add half of peeled pepper and half of the cucumber, cut into chunks, setting the remaining bell pepper and cucumber aside.

8] Add all of the remaining ingredients, except ice cubes, and puree until vegetables are finely chopped.

9] Refrigerate until chilled.

10] When ready to serve, finely chop the remaining bell pepper and cucumber and add it to gazpacho, along with a few ice cubes, and serve!

NOTE: this looks really sharp when served in stemless martini or parfait glasses (or any fancy glass for that matter). It is a great starter on a hot summer night. Garnishing with a fresh mint leaf or small slice of avacado make a nice touch too.