Israeli Couscous with Pesto & Veggies

Couscous was something I had multiple times a week as a baby and now, at age almost-twenty, it’s still a favourite (although I’ve come a long way from eating it off a highchair tray). The Israeli variation just makes recipes slightly more interesting, it steps up any simple salad. It’s great, versatile base that can really be mixed with anything, approved by babies and adults alike.

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups israeli couscous

1 1/2 cups fresh basil

1 clove garlic

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

1/2 red onion

1 small zucchini

1 pepper

Chili flakes

1.In a medium pot, bring the couscous and 3 cups of water to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low and let cook for about 10 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the couscous is tender.DSC00336 2. To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic, cheese, pine nuts, oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a blender until smooth. Set asideDSC00340 DSC003493. Heat some olive oil in a sauté pan. Slice the onion and cook for a few minutes, then add the chopped pepper and zucchini as well. Cook until veggies are tender and begin to brown DSC00344 4. To assemble the salad, spread the couscous in a large bowl and mix in the pesto and veggies. Stir well and top with salt, pepper and chili flakes. Enjoy!
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Peach, Chevre and Caramelized Onion Flatbread Pizza

Dinner, Starters | July 4, 2016 | By

Cooking dinner for a friend yesterday, I realized how much I genuinely enjoy preparing meals for other people. It never feels like work or a hassle, I am always motivated and happy to plan, shop for and prepare meals. And what better thing to make for others than pizza, having to be the most universally enjoyed food. Although I set out with the intention of making a flatbread with this recipe, they look more like pizzas. But the great thing about dough is that it can be made into so many things, and regardless it turned out to be a great dinner. And best of all is the satisfaction that comes from putting a dish in front of someone with something you’ve created. Foodie or not, the joy of cooking for others is a pretty great feeling.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (I used this recipe)

Olive oil

1 cup chèvre cheese (or any goat cheese)

1 peach

1/2 cup kale

1/4 cup fresh basil 

Salt

Pepper

2 tbsp butter

2 white onions

1 tbsp brown sugar 

Chilli flakes 

Balsamic vinegar 

  1. Preheat your BBQ to high heat or about 450 degrees
  2. Make the dough and roll out onto oiled pizza pans. I split the mixture in half but you could do one big flatbread – if you have a big enough pan!
Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

3. Drizzle the dough with oil, then crumble the cheese and sprinkle on top too

4. Chop the peach, kale and basil and place on the dough as well

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on the grill with the lid down. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the breads have puffed up and are golden brown. (Check often to make sure they aren’t burning on the bottom!)

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

6. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a pan and slice the onions. Add to to the pan along with brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often until they are golden brown.

7. When the pizzas are done, take them off the grill and place on a wire rack to cook. Top with caramelized onions and sprinkle with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Roasted Beet Caprese

My dad is notorious for eating whatever is put in front of him at the dinner table and unfailingly complimenting it – whether deserved or not. But father’s day called for a special meal, something that he would genuinely enjoy and cover all the bases of his favourite foods. While my mum grilled steak – a father’s day must – I was in charge of the sides. I love caprese’s because they act as a rich, savory side disguised as a vegetable dish. And defying the norm by being the raw-tomato-hater that I am, I swapped in roasted beets (fitting the usual colour scheme and adding a sweetness to the dish). It was the perfect way to round out our dinner and end a warm weekend.  (a condensed version of this recipe – without pictures – will be at the end of the post for easier printing)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large beets

3 tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mozzarella (I used a 340g package)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Handful of fresh basil

Black pepper

 1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F

2. Thinly slice the beets (I just rinse them and leave the skin on) and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paperDSC00248 3. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and the rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until beets are tender and slightly crispy at the edges. DSC00249
DSC00267 4. While the beets are cooking, slice the cheese into thin rounds as well. DSC00258 5. Roughly chop the basil and mix together with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, the balsamic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper. DSC00265 6. To assemble, cut the beet and cheese rounds in half. Layer on a serving platter, then drizzle with the balsamic mixture. Enjoy!
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Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 large beets

3 tbsp olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tbsp dried rosemary

Mozzarella (I used a 340g package)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Handful of fresh basil

Black pepper

 1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F

2. Thinly slice the beets (I just rinse them and leave the skin on) and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper

3. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and the rosemary. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until beets are tender and slightly crispy at the edges. 

4. While the beets are cooking, slice the cheese into thin rounds as well.

5. Roughly chop the basil and mix together with the remaining 1 tbsp of oil, the balsamic, a pinch of salt and some black pepper. 

6. To assemble, cut the beet and cheese rounds in half. Layer on a serving platter, then drizzle with the balsamic mixture. Enjoy!

 

Avocado and Mango Salsa Crostini

For the month of June, I am eating a strictly vegan diet. I’m doing it as a sort of trial run, to see how challenging it is and how I feel along the way. So far, it seems as though the emphasis has been on things I have to avoid – my sister’s graduation cake and the ice cream truck to name a few. But I’ve realized that with just a few alterations, many of the meals I love can be made vegan friendly. For Sunday dinner I wanted to make something that would be satisfying and indulgent; something that wouldn’t make me feel like I was missing out. These crostini brighten an otherwise unexciting time of the week, with Monday morning looming. A flavourful and recognizable appetizer, they’ll appeal to vegans and meat eaters alike; an environmentally, ethically and health conscious start to your meal. 

Serves 4 as an appetizer

Ingredients:

1 ripe mango

2 tbsp chopped red onion

1 green onion

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

Black pepper

Honey

1 mini baguette or 1/2 a full baguette

Olive oil

1 ripe avocado

Juice of 1 lime

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Peel and cut the mango into small pieces. Place in a medium sized bowl.

DSC00206 2. Wash and finely chop the red onion, green onion and parsley, then add to the bowl as well. DSC00211 3. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, pepper and honey and mix well to combine. DSC00214 4. Meanwhile, slice the baguette and place onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Drizzle with oil and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the bread is golden and crunchy. Keep your eye on these!DSC00222 5. In a small bowl, mash the avocado with the juice of 1 lime and a pinch of salt. 
DSC00225 6. Assemble your crostini by generously spreading each toast with avocado and topping with the salsa. Enjoy!!DSC00231 DSC00236 DSC00244

Maple Grilled Veggies

The joys of summer are here – long warm nights, lazy weekends and a general sense of contentment. But as are new jobs, reunions with friends and a whole new set of activities. Outside of our year’s daily schedule, it can be difficult to establish a routine – a normal dinner routine – in the summer. You want something that’s light, requires minimal appliances (the less heat the better) and can accommodate however many people happen to be around your table that night. These roasted veggies are quick and versatile: add them to salads, pair with grilled meat or put right in a sandwich. With minimal clean up as well, you’ll have more time to enjoy all that summer has to offer. 

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus (15-20 pieces)

1 small eggplant

1/2 red onion

1 red pepper

4 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

Black pepper

  1. Preheat BBQ to high heat or around 450 degrees C.
  2. Wash and chop all veggies into small pieces (roughly the same size so they cook evenly). Place in a large bowl.

DSC001923. Add in the syrup, oils, chill powder, salt and pepperDSC00194 4. Toss well to combineDSC00197 DSC00198 5. Place on a BBQ safe sheet or basket and cook, stirring often, until veggies are tender and browned, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!DSC00203

Caramelized Onion Hummus

Dinner | April 5, 2016 | By

One of my favourite things about coming home over the holidays is having access to a kitchen with appliances again. Opting to spend money on other, seemingly more important things, my kitchen at school has all of a magic bullet and broken immersion blender. This means that making anything requiring a food processor is pretty much out of the question. So I always request soup when I go home and tough it out while at school. But going months without homemade hummus? 

I found that you actually can get a pretty good consistency of hummus without any appliances by using a bit of arm-power and adding some white beans to the recipe, which are softer than chickpeas. Try it out if you’re in an appliance-limited kitchen like me, or dump it all in a food processor for an equally tasty result. 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups chickpeas

1/2 cup white kidney beans 

1 teaspoon butter

1/2 cup white onion

2 tablespoons olive oil 

Juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon salt

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

  1. Rinse and drain chickpeas and white beans into a bowl.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.37.05 PM
  2. Using a potato masher, pastry cutter or the back of a fork, mash the beans together to form a smooth pasteScreen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.37.27 PM
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in a sauté pan. Slice the onion and add it to the pan.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.38.16 PM
  4. Cook, for about 10 minutes, until onions are browned and softened.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.38.23 PM
  5. Chop onions and add to the beans, along with the oil, lemon juice and salt. Finely chop the garlic and cilantro and add as well.Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 4.37.59 PM
  6. Mix well and serve with crackers and veggies. Enjoy!Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 11.00.12 AM

Grilled Peach and Pineapple Salsa

Dinner, Starters | August 16, 2015 | By

When she was born, my sister was known as the “cocktail food baby” – some of the only food she would eat consisted of marinated artichoke hearts, blue cheese and olives. Looking back on it now, I think that was a pretty clever tactic on her part: avoiding baby food and going straight for the quality stuff. Although I was an easier eater as a baby, I love that kind of food now and could make a whole meal out of hors d’oeuvres. I made this salsa to go with a cheese plate on Friday night; juicy and fresh, it was the perfect addition. A fun recipe to start the weekend, I’d pick it over baby food any day.

Ingredients:

3 peaches
1 cup of pineapple
3 plum tomatoes
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp basil
1/4 tsp salt
Cayenne
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/3 cup of pistachios
Bread or crackers of your choosing

1. Preheat your BBQ to medium-high heat

2. Slice peaches and cut pineapple into large chunks. Drizzle with a bit of honeyDSC_04453. Place on grill for 5-7 minutes per side or until charred and softenedDSC_04474. Roughly chop up the fruit into small pieces and place in a medium bowl

5. Chop the tomatoes in a small dice and add to the bowl as wellDSC_04506. Finely chop the basil and add to the bowl as well, along with the honey, salt, a dash of cayenne and lime juice.

7. Roughly chop the pistachios and place in a small bowl. Place some salsa on top of crackers or bread and top with pistachios (or eat it however you want). It is also good with cheese. Enjoy!
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Lemon Sesame Spaghetti with Spiralized Carrot and Zucchini

Dinner, Salads | August 12, 2015 | By

We have been on the hunt for a spiralizer for months; ever since the zucchini noodle craze started, I’ve wanted one. After scouring multiple kitchen stores looking for one that wasn’t $300 and didn’t weigh 50 pounds, I didn’t expect to find the perfect fit in a Walmart checkout aisle. But I guess that store really does have everything. And the spiralizer is great; turning vegetables into pasta? Sounds pretty good to me. But even if you don’t have one, another peeler will do just fine. A perfect summer dinner, it’s healthy and fresh but still feels like comfort food.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

454g of spaghetti (a standard box)
2 zucchini
2 carrots
1/2 red onion
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup edamame or peas
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (shelled)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp salt

1. Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Drain and pour into a large bowlDSC_04522. Using a spiralizer (you can also use a julienne peeler or vegetable peeler if you don’t have a spiralizer) spiralize your zucchinis and carrots. Add to the pasta bowl 
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3. Thinly slice your onion and add to the mix as well. Pour in the sesame oil and olive oil and toss together
DSC_0454DSC_0456DSC_04584. Add the edamame, sunflower seeds, lemon juice and salt. Mix well and serve. Enjoy!DSC_0463

Spicy Basil Roasted Corn

Dinner | August 9, 2015 | By

To me, corn is pretty bittersweet. When it’s ripe, it’s really amazing and I’d have it with every meal. But corn peaks in August and with that comes the reminder that summer is starting to wind down. I remember anticipating the arrival of fresh corn in about May this year; a staple of summer meals, I was excited to start cooking and eating it again. Now that corn is making it’s way onto our dinner plates, I’m reminded by how quickly the summer always goes by. Either way, this recipe will help you take full advantage of fresh corn and the summer. And while this sunny month may fly by and the season for corn will come to a close, there’s always next year’s harvest to look forward to.

Ingredients:
4 ears of corn (or as many ears as you’d like to make and adjust the other ingredients accordingly)
Tin foil
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
Salt
Pepper
2 tbsp basil

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foilDSC_0427DSC_04302. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, paprika and cayenne. Spread evenly on cornDSC_04323. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place in the oven and cook for 35-45 minutes or until slightly browned and kernels are tender. Turn the corn every 10 minutes or soDSC_04364. In the last 10 minutes or so of cooking, roughly chop basil, sprinkle over corn and continue cooking. Enjoy!DSC_0440DSC_0441

Seared Spicy Sesame Tofu

Dinner | August 5, 2015 | By

This post is for everyone who refuses to eat tofu because of it’s texture. When I first stopped eating meat, I turned to tofu as it seemed like the obvious source of protein. This didn’t last long; with no idea how it cook it, I ended up with mushy chunks that you basically had to force down your throat. Needless to say, I was turned off tofu for a long time until I decided to give it a chance again recently. With the firmest tofu I could find at the store in hand, I was determined to make it taste good, or even edible. With this recipe, I actually enjoy tofu and no longer feel like an outcast vegetarian for shying away from it. 

Ingredients:
Tofu (I used a 350g package of extra firm tofu)
2 green onions
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp garlic power
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
Cayenne
2 tbsp sesame oil

1. Thinly slice your tofu width-wise and spread evenly into a dish. Blot any excess water on the tofu with a paper towel. DSC_0427 2. Mince the garlic and green onions and sprinkle over tofu, along with garlic powder, hoisin, soy sauce and a few dashes of cayenneDSC_0430 DSC_04323. Using your hands or tongs, make sure that each piece of tofu is evenly coated in the mixtureDSC_0436 4. In a large frying pan, heat the sesame oil. Add the tofu in one layer and cook for about 12 minutes, flipping every couple of minutes, until dry and browned. Enjoy!DSC_0437