Polenta with Broccoli and Tomato June 11, 2009

I usually stick to grilling or toasting the pre-made roll-o-polenta, but after a week of unexciting regular go-to’s, I decided to branch out and experiment.  Success!  Not only is basic polenta delicious and cheap, it’s super easy to make and goes with just about anything you’d pair pasta with.  It’s hearty and luscious, and a great way to showcase your favourite vegetables … plus it suits gluten-free diets perfectly! I had a head of broccoli that needed some love, and one brand new hunk of tasty parmesan that was just begging to be grated … and voila!




For the polenta

4 cups vegetable stock (although you can use water too)

1/4 tsp salt

1-1/4 cups cornmeal

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling

2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits


For the vegetables

2 tbsp olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 large bunch broccoli, chopped into tiny florets (5-6 cups total)

1/3 cup water

3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (you can use canned if you forgot to buy fresh)

Salt and pepper to taste



1. Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, then turn down to a simmer.


2. Add cornmeal to stock in a slow stream, whisking, and continuing to whisk after it is all added for about 5 minutes.


Note – Allow to polenta to cook gently while the vegetables are prepared.


3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, and once oil is hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic is fragrant (about 1 minute).


4. Add broccoli, toss with oil, then add the water and cover to steam until tender.


5. Uncover broccoli once tender, then add tomatoes, and cook until liquid evaporates (about 2 minutes more) – season to taste.


6. Season the polenta to taste, mix in parmesan cheese and butter, then pour onto plates and top with cooked vegetables (serve with a sprinkling parmesan cheese).



Eggplant Pasta Bake May 1, 2009

I am a pasta-holic.  Along with coffee and wine, pasta is one of my top vices – most definitely.  So, I try to make it only once (okay, maybe twice) per week, and as healthy as I can.  That said, here is my take on an easy casserole style pasta dish that is loaded with flavour and other than some fat from the cheese (which is good in my books), it’s a healthy way to add some fibre, veggies, and cozy-food goodness into your day.  And oh yes, this pairs deliciously well with a gorgeous Pinot Noir!!!


2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
salt (to sprinkle)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
2 + 3/4 cups tomato sauce
6 Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated


1) Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 8-10 min, until tender but firm, then drain and return to same saucepan. Set aside.

2) Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of eggplant slices with salt, and place on wire rack set on a baking sheet.

3) Let eggplant stand for about 15-20 min, then rinse with cold water and blot dry (tea-towel or paper-towels will do).

4) Brush both sides of eggplant slices lightly with olive oil, and cook eggplant on greased grill or BBQ for 2-3 min per side until golden.

5) Transfer grilled eggplant to cutting board or large plate, and cut into 1 inch pieces, then add to pasta.

6) Heat olive oil in small frying pan on medium – add onion and cook for 5-10 min (stirring often) until softened.

7) Add onion to pasta, stir, then add tomato sauce, Roma tomatoes, basil pesto and stir again.

8] Transfer everything into greased 3 quart casserole dish (bust out the Le Crueset!!!), sprinkle with both cheeses and bake uncovered, in 350°F oven for 30-40 min until heated through and cheese is bubbly and golden.

9) Let stand for 5 min before serving – then enjoy!!



Kashmiri Kidney Beans and Turnips April 24, 2009

I LOVE Indian food – winter, spring, summer and fall. This fragrant and heart-warming dish is a winter staple in the Indian state of Kashmir (or so I hear – although it seems for Fall-like to me) – but can obviously be enjoyed any time of year. It is a straightforward recipe, and results in an immensely satisfying meal. It’s high in fibre and nutrients, and is low in fat and calories, so what more can a gal ask for? Serve over basmati rice – or with a warm piece of fresh Naan bread.


1 turnips, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup water

1/4 tsp salt

1 (14.5 ounce) can kidney beans, drained (but save liquid for later)

1 tbsp and 1-1/2 tsp vegetable oil

1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds

1/4 tsp whole fennel seeds

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 tsp minced fresh ginger root

1/4 tsp minced garlic

1 cup chopped tomatoes (or use canned if you want)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp water

1/4 tsp garam masala


1) Place turnip into a saucepan with water and salt, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the turnip is soft (about 5 min).

2) Once tender, stir in kidney beans, and cook 5 min more.

3) Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat – stir in cumin and fennel, and cook until the spices toast and become fragrant, about 1 min.

4) Stir in onion, and cook until it turns golden brown, about 5 min.

5) Stir in minced ginger and garlic, cook and stir for 30 seconds, then add tomatoes and salt, and continue cooking until the mixture turns pasty.

6) Finally, stir in paprika, turmeric, ground ginger, and a bit of water (about a tbsp) – cook 2 min more.

7) Add tomato mixture to turnip, and add back in liquid from kidney bean can, and simmer 10 min.

8] Season with garam masala before serving over a bed of basmati rice!



Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes March 12, 2009

From start to finish, this dish will take less time than an episode of 30 Rock!  Phew!  I love having eggs for dinner (and lunch, and brekkie, and nibblies…), and baking them with a few veggies and serving it up with some beer bread is like a little piece of food heaven for me.  Comforting, tasty, nutritious and cheap – this is something you can whip together for a table of 1 or a hungry table of all your hung-over pals.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 x 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

salt and pepper

2 bunches spinach (about 1 pound), trimmed

8 eggs, separated (yolks kept whole!!)


1) Heat oven to 400° F.

2) Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat – add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

3) Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper to skillet and simmer for 3 minutes, then add spinach and cook until it begins to wilt, 1 minute.

4) Transfer skillet mixture to a 2-quart baking dish.

5) Beat egg whites until foamy, about 30 seconds, pour them over the spinach mixture – and carefully place the whole yolks over the top.

6) Bake until the whites are set, 20 to 22 minutes (let sit for a couple of minutes so it can rest briefly before cutting).

7) Divide among individual plates and enjoy!baked-eggs_300


Moroccan Tomato Soup February 19, 2009

I fould this tasty soup at a local soup kitchen a few years back, and fell head over heels in love.  I am a peanut butter junkie, and couldn’t believe my taste-buds that I could make a soup that had PB in it and tasted so amazingly decadent.  Trust me, this is your sure-fire way of instant happiness!  Guaranteed!  Easy, cheap and velvety smooth, this insanely delishious soup will warm your soul and keep your wallet and tummy very very happy.

2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 head garlic, diced
4 cups veggie stock
1 can tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1/2 – 1 cup all natural peanut butter
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp or 1 tbsp Hot pepper sauce
2 tbsp Cayenne Pepper
2 tbsp White Vinegar
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

1) In a large sauce pan, heat oil and fry onion and garlic until golden brown.

2) Add veggie stock, canned tomatoes (including all the liquid) and tomato paste, bring to a boil and then reduce heat (simmering for about 10 minutes).

3) Puree mixture with hand blender, continue to simmer on LOW, and season soup with vinegar, sugar, cumin , cayenne pepper and pepper sauce.

4) Adjust salt and pepper to taste, stir in peanut butter and let soup simmer on LOW heat for an additional 15-20 minutes.

5) Serve and enjoy!

Notes – you can add chick peas and/or quino/rice, etc … to make it even heartier if you like.  soup1


Bombed Beans (aka: Frijoles Borrachos) October 2, 2008

Beer + beans = happy times. Literally translated as drunkard, the word borracho was a 19th century term the spanish brought to the Americas. So this recipe’s name basically means “drunken beans.” Simmering the pintos in beer, with heaps of cilantro, results in a very tasty and “ole” kind of flavor. And seeing as the recipe only needs about 1/2 cup of beer, you get to have a tasty treat while you wait for the cooking to complete. Now that’s fine dining.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes OR 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 large scallions, chopped
4 cups cooked pinto beans
1/2 cup beer (the rest for you!)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
Salt/pepper to taste

1) Heat oil in a large skillet, add tomatoes and scallions and sauté over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.

2) Add remaining ingredients, stir together, then cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Note – If there’s too much liquid in skillet near the end, cook UNCOVERED until it thickens up a bit.

3) Serve hot as a side or with baked rice as a main! Also goes great with toast.



It’s fall and like an old-school pilgrim, the squash bounty is a plenty. This hearty stew contains the ingredients typical of Native American cooking, and I’d like to add my own personal reverie here too. I can’t get enough of the look, taste and ease of fall time squash. I’ve tried them all, and haven’t found one I didn’t like. My own favourites aside, you can swap any orange coloured squash here.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 med red bell pepper, diced
4 cups ORANGE squash (pumpkin, butternut, buttercup, etc.)
3 cups fresh or canned corn kernels
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
16-ounce can red OR black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 fresh hot chiles, seeded and minced
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp ground cumin
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or dried if need be)
Hot cooked brown rice

1) Cut squash in half, brush with oil, and bake at 375 for about 30 min until 1/2 cooked (lay cut side down).

2) Once cooled, peel and dice squash into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.

3) Heat the oil in large pot, add onion and sauté over med heat until translucent, then add red bell pepper and continue to sauté until onion is golden.

4) Add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT last three, bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.

5) Season to taste with salt, then stir in the cilantro.

Serve at once in shallow bowls over hot cooked brown rice (or quinoa or any other hearty grain you prefer).