Arugula Salad with Pistachio Crusted Grapefruit, Fennel and Sourdough Croutons

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Ingredients:

2 cups sourdough bread

Olive oil

Rosemary (fresh or dried)

150g arugula

1 cup raw fennel

3/4 cup shelled raw pistachios

1/4 cup fresh basil

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

2 grapefruits

Lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the sourdough into cubes and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with oil, salt and rosemary, and bake until browned and crispy.
  3. Meanwhile, place arugula on a serving plate and top with thinly sliced fennel.
  4. In a food processor, combine the basil, pistachios, chili powder and salt. Pulse until it breaks down into a fine crumble.
  5. Slice the grapefruits and divide into individual sections, removing all the skin and membrane.
  6. Dunk the grapefruit sections into the pistachio mixture, making sure they are evenly coated.
  7. Assemble the salad by topping the arugula with the sourdough croutons, then the grapefruit.
  8. Drizzle with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

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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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Peanut Butter – Banana – Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

It’s the little things that can make or break your morning: your favourite song on the radio, a good hair day or catching all green lights to work. So, at least for me, taking a few extra minutes to make an aesthetically pleasing breakfast can put you on track for a great day – because everything tastes better when it looks good. Whether it’s to post on instagram or just for yourself, this breakfast is healthy and filling while feeling like a treat. And gearing up for a few days of 40 degree humidity, it’ll be a refreshing part of your morning before the rush (and heat) of life sets in. (Scroll to the bottom of this post for a recipe card for easier printing/saving)

1 frozen banana

4 tbsp non-dairy/dairy milk (I used cashew milk)

1 tbsp peanut butter

1 tbsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

Ice

Chia seeds

Coconut flakes

Blueberries

  1. Blend the frozen banana with 2 tbsp milk in a blender on low speed until it is smooth and creamy. (You can use fresh bananas but it will give the smoothie a thinner consistency)

    Photo by Nathalie Kent

    Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

2. Add peanut butter, cacao powder and a handful of ice to the mix. Add the other 2 tbsp milk and blend again until smooth.

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

3. Using a spatula, scrape the mixture into a bowl and smooth over the top to make a flat surface

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

4. Top with anything you’d like! I used coconut, chia seeds and fruit. Dig in and enjoy.

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Photo by Nathalie Kent

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie Bowl
Serves 1
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250 calories
37 g
0 g
11 g
7 g
4 g
439 g
138 g
16 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
439g
Servings
1
Amount Per Serving
Calories 250
Calories from Fat 95
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 11g
17%
Saturated Fat 4g
18%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 138mg
6%
Total Carbohydrates 37g
12%
Dietary Fiber 6g
25%
Sugars 16g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
2%
Vitamin C
17%
Calcium
5%
Iron
9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 frozen banana
  2. 4 tbsp non-dairy/dairy milk (I used cashew milk)
  3. 1 tbsp peanut butter
  4. 1 tbsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  5. Ice
  6. Chia seeds
  7. Coconut flakes
  8. Blueberries
Instructions
  1. 1. Blend frozen banana with 2 tbsp milk until smooth and creamy
  2. 2. Add peanut butter, cacao powder, ice and the remaining 2 tbsp of milk and blend again.
  3. 3. Using a spatula, scrape into a bowl and smooth the surface.
  4. 4. Top with whatever you'd like. I used chia seeds, coconut flakes and blueberries.
  5. Dig in and enjoy!
Notes
  1. You can use fresh bananas in this but the smoothie mixture will be thinner.
beta
calories
250
fat
11g
protein
7g
carbs
37g
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The Countertop http://the-countertop.com/

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

Where to Find Me…

This Week on The Counter | February 17, 2016 | By

I’d just like to make a quick post letting everyone know that I have recently started writing for a student foodie website, “Spoon University”. More than 100 campuses across the US and Canada are involved and I am a member of the McGill chapter. I will be posting bi-monthly food related articles so if you’re interested in reading them or any others, here are the links!

Spoon University: https://spoonuniversity.com

Spoon University McGill: mcgill.spoonuniversity.com

My first article was published yesterday and is a recipe for sesame citrus salmon and a caramelized orange salad.

As always, thank you for all the support and encouragement along the way! I am looking forward to posting on the countertop again soon as summer (slowly) approaches.

Nathalie

Thank You

After a month of being unable to log into the blog, I’m finally back in again. I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has followed, supported, commented on and cooked from my blog this summer. I’m so grateful for all the encouragement and positive feedback. It was such a fun a rewarding project for me and something I definitely intend to continue in the future. And while I had anticipated being able to continue posting in the school year, work and kitchen logistics (4 roommates and about 2 cm of counter space aren’t the ideal conditions for experimenting with recipes) seemed to get in the way. But this blog has really solidified and spurred on my love of cooking and I look forward to being able to continue on with it in the future! All the best,

Nathalie

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Brown Rice Vegetarian Sushi

There are some foods that you just can’t eat alone. Pizza is definitely one, sushi another. It’s such a social food to me: something that is so easily shared and seems to be almost universally liked. While a dinner like spaghetti is hard to talk over and you end up with a trail of noodles hanging from your mouth at the exact moment you have something to say, sushi is a great conversation-having food.  It’s also one of those things that I always crave; even after I go out to eat it, I’m already looking forward to the next time. And though you can easily only pay $20 for an excessive, all-you-can-eat meal, good quality sushi is definitely more expensive. So, given that I’m using all my will-power to deposit my pay-checks straight into a savings account and not blow them on extravagant dinners, I decided to try and make some from home. If you have a free weekend afternoon, this is the perfect thing to do. It takes some getting used to but is so rewarding when you get the hang of it. And while I would have no problem eating all 30 pieces of sushi that it yields, it always tastes so much better when shared with someone else. 

Makes about 30 pieces of sushi

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sushi rice (can be found at asian super markets)
50 ml rice wine vinegar
40 ml sugar
5 ml salt
1 carrot
1/4 cucumber
1/2 red pepper
1/2 an avocado
1 package of sushi nori, you’ll need about 4 or 5 pieces
Rolling mat
Wasabi powder (optional)
Soy sauce for dipping
Sesame seeds

1. Cook your rice according to the directions on the package. For mine, I brought 2 cups of water to a boil then added the rice and turned down the heat to low, put the lid on and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, sugar and salt. Pour over the cooked rice and toss to combine. The rice should become slightly sticky.DSC_04323. Prepare your vegetables: shred the carrot and cut the cucumber, pepper and avocado into long, thin strips. The thinner you cut them, the easier it will be to roll the sushi.DSC_04224. If using wasabi, mix your desired amount of powder with a little bit of water to form a paste.
DSC_04295. To assemble your work station, lay your rolling matt on a cutting board and place a sheet of nori on top.
DSC_04346. Spread an even layer of rice on the bottom third of the nori, right up against the edge closest to you (in the picture below I was using a small piece of nori but it will usually be as long as your rolling matt) Sprinkle on some sesame seeds if you want, then place veggies along the centre of the rice.DSC_04387. Roll the matt up to close the sushi into a long cylinder. You will probably need to wet the edges of the seaweed to help hold it together. Squeeze the matt as you roll to make sure the sushi is tight and secureDSC_04378. Wet a sharp knife (to prevent sticking) and slice through your roll. This may take some practise and can be frustrating at first. Just make sure to keep wetting the knife as you go! Your first roll won’t look too great but you’ll learn as you go.
DSC_0440 9. Serve with soy sauce for dipping. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to follow me on instagram: @thecountertopDSC_0441

Blackberry Mojitos

Perks of making cocktails from home: drinking in your pyjamas, no designated drivers, unlimited refills. Last summer was the summer of the mojito for us, we perfected making them from home and did so at any opportunity for all of those reasons. Mojitos are the epitome of Friday evenings in the summer for me; a refreshing treat to celebrate the end of a long hot week. It’s a fun drink that signals the start of two days of relaxation ahead of you and a pretty great thing to share with friends on a warm back patio. No matter what kind of week you had, this blackberry mojito is a no-fail way to kick off the weekend well.

Makes 4 mojitos

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 carton of blackberries (6 oz)
4 sprigs mint (about 8 leaves per glass)
White rum (1.5 oz per glass)
2 limes
2 cans soda water
Ice

1. Add sugar, water and half the blackberries to a small pot. Turn up the heat to medium and stir often, dissolving the sugar into the water. Don’t worry if the blackberries break down a little. DSC_0410 2. Divide the remaining blackberries and the mint between 4 tall glasses. Squeeze half a lime into each glass and then drop it in as well. DSC_0415 DSC_0417 3. Add the rum to each glass then muddle together using a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon.DSC_0423 4. Divide the sugar water mixture between the glasses, add in a few pieces of ice, fill with soda water and stir. Enjoy!DSC_0427 DSC_0431