Kale Pesto (Vegan, Gluten-Free and Soy-Free)

Spring is for green food. I mean, hopefully every day has something green, but the spring is especially the time for green food. My husband is allergic to basil, but in a truly amazing twist of fate, he is not allergic to pine nuts! Most of his allergies strike us as a great and winding mystery, but in this case, it’s so surprising that pine nuts are safe. Here comes the need for a kale pesto! It’s not entirely unfamiliar and has a very clean flavour.

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Makes 2 cups

1 bunch curly kale, stems removed
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or less
Salt, to taste

Clean up your kale by removing the thick stems and washing it. I generally run my hand along the stem and pull it towards me. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium, being careful not to burn them; you just want a little colour. Combine the kale, pine nuts and nutritional yeast in a food processor and pulse a few times to start breaking the kale down. Add the lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt and turn the processor on. Slowly add the olive oil and blend until the mixture is smooth and (!!) pesto-like. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you like. Serve on anything.

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French Country Vegetable Soup for Two (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free and Oil-Free)

In my quest to make quick and easy dinner recipes in small portions, I’ve taken to testing them out in the day in between my other activities. This helps ensure they are really low-prep. This soup is inspired by Amy’s Kitchen’s French Country soup but is lighter in consistency and richer in herb flavour.

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Ready to go in half an hour! The ingredients are really flexible, so add or subtract as you see fit. You want to add a potato or a handful or rice, go ahead! Red pepper or fresh basil? Do it! Soup is fun and easy!

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Soup

1 cup white beans (any kind you like, really)
540 ml canned tomatoes (diced, whole, stewed, anything)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
1/2 teaspoon lavender (if your herbs de Provence does not contain it)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons dried chanterelle mushrooms, re-hydrated according to package directions.
1 litre of water
Handful of leafy greens, your choice (optional)
Black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients, except the leafy greens and black pepper, in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer for fifteen minutes, or as long as you have! Just as you’re ready to eat, toss the leafy greens into the soup, taste for seasonings and serve hot.

Fiddleheads

I want to talk to you briefly about fiddleheads, the alien-looking spring vegetable of my nightmares. Seeing as my husband’s food allergies limit his list of edible vegetables so greatly, a new one is always going to be attempted. Except, these weren’t new…

I tried them about five years ago at a Christmas dinner and they immediately became my sworn enemy. They were boiled and more bitter than anything I’d ever eaten. They ruined the rest of the food that night because that taste just wouldn’t go away.

fiddleheads

Being the internal optimist that I am (never mind the deadpan snarker), I filled a bag and agreed with myself to eat one again (and give the rest to Devon). To my great surprise, they were unbelievably delicious. I thought they were a little bit like less-sweet asparagus. So savoury, so rich, so full of umami that I must be wrong about everything I ever thought I was right about. My roommate says that fiddleheads are so amazing that they will save any meal: don’t like the potatoes on your plate? Eat a fiddlehead with it and suddenly it’s heaven.

Lesson being, please revisit foods you’re not so sure about at different points in time, with different preparation methods. These were an absolute revelation.

Here’s all I did:

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fiddlehead ferns, brown ends trimmed and washed
1 large clove garlic, diced
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste

In a microwavable container, cover fiddleheads with water. Microwave for about 4 minutes or until the water is very hot and the fiddleheads have had a chance to slightly darken. Over medium heat, in a skillet or wok, heat the olive oil. Drain the fiddleheads and add to the oil. Sautee until the fiddleheads have begun to brown and add the garlic, cayenne and salt. Serve with anything you like.

Ratatouille Pizza

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Look at that pizza; it’s downright pornographic. You want to make this, trust me. I don’t feel like I need to say anything more – you already know you should be eating this right now.

Recipe
Makes 4 small pizzas

4 gluten free pitas or small flat pizza crusts
1 bulb garlic, roasted
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Italian eggplant, sliced thin into half moons
1 small green zucchini, sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced thin into half moons
Pinch dried thyme
1, each, small red, orange and yellow pepper, sliced thin
1 Roma tomato, sliced thin
1/4 cup tomato sauce ( I used a homemade red wine sauce; I recommend something rich)
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Handful of fresh basil
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). Cut the top end of the garlic bulb off. Place in a small roasting dish, drizzle with oil and season with salt. Roast for about half an hour, until the garlic is softened and browned. In the meantime, slice eggplant (immediately salt it), zucchini and onion. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange eggplant, zucchini and onion in one layer. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil (paying special attention to the eggplant). Roast for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables have softened and barely begun to brown.

Take out the garlic and vegetable and let cool until you can handle them. Reduce heat in oven to 350 F (175 C). Slice bell peppers, and tomato. Finely chop flat leaf parsley. Heat tomato sauce in a small sauce pan, add roasted garlic. Spread evenly over 4 pizza crusts. Sprinkle parsley over sauce. Arrange all vegetables in a single layer over pizza crusts. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crusts are crispy and the vegetables are soft. Chiffonade the basil and sprinkle it on top of the pizza before serving. Eat hot, warm, room temperature or cold.

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I Had a Picnic (And Got Married): Roasted Vegetable Edition

For no other obvious reason, other than insanity, I decided to cater my own wedding. OK, to be honest, I hate wedding and never anticipating having one of my own to plan, so I knew that to make it tolerable, it would have to be to my standards – simple, warm, no creepy patriarchal traditions, and focused on who my now-husband and I are.

I couldn’t be happier with how things went, and I’ll be interspersing ordinary recipes with posts about the wedding – especially the food. The spread was gorgeous; strangers snapped pictures.

For today, roasted vegetables!

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Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

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Preheat your oven to 400 F (205 C).  Place asparagus in a large bowl and drizzle the oil, garlic and salt over the vegetables. Toss with your hands, to make sure the asparagus is evenly coated. Arrange asparagus on a large baking sheet, so they are laying mostly flat. I knew mine were going to be served at room temperature, so I crowded them a little more than usual. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until your desired level of browning is reached.

Roasted Onions

6 onions, any kind you like
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

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Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). Cut off ends and peel onions. Slice lengthwise and then into wedges that are about half an inch at the thickest spot. The size is not important, you’ll simply have to watch them in the oven and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Lightly grease your baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange the onions in a single layer on the baking sheet and pour the remaining olive oil over the onions. Evenly pinch the salt and thyme over the onions. Roast for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until the onions are a beautiful caramel colour.

Roasted Herby Yams

4 medium yams, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes

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Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C).  In a large bowl, combine the yam rounds with the other ingredients and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the slices so they are flat on a baking sheet. Roast for about 45 minutes or until the slices are tender and starting to brown. Serve at room temperature, for optimal deliciousness.

Roasted Zucchini

12 small zucchini (I did a mix of yellow and green because that’s what the market had)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

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Move one rack of the oven up to the top rung. Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C). In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and garlic. Slice the ends off the zucchini, then slice them into quarters, lengthwise, then in half. Place skin side down on baking sheet. Brush the oil mixture on the tops of the zucchini. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, so they start to release some of their water and they get a little colour. Remove from the oven and toss with herbs and salt and pepper.

Roasted Ratatouille

 

Ratatouille is the perfect vegetable dish.
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A dish that forces the vegetables, and the special way they play off of each other’s flavours and textures, into the spotlight is the perfect vegetable dish; no argument to be made against it.

Get yourself to the Farmer’s Market, pick up the ingredients grown by a local farmer and marvel at this French wonder.

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Serves 4, very comfortably

Ratatouille

2 large tomatoes
1 bulb garlic, top sliced off so the cloves are visible
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C). In a baking dish, place tomatoes and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with a touch of salt. Roast, uncovered for about an hour. In the meantime, if you don’t have a food processor to do all the chopping, get a head start. Once the tomatoes are soft and the garlic is golden brown and sweet, remove from the oven and let cool, until it’s comfortable enough for you to handle. Remove the garlic from the skin and set both aside. Turn the oven down to 350 F (175 C).

Image3 small green zucchini, sliced into 5 cm thick rounds, on a bias
3 small yellow zucchini, sliced into 5 cm thick rounds, on a bias
1 large eggplant, sliced into 5 cm thick rounds and then salted, on a bias
3 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 large red pepper, deseeded and sliced in long strips
4 to 6 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
Large handful of fresh basil and fresh thyme,
1 tablespoon dried oregano, rubbed in your hand
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

It’s important you salt the eggplant individually because it (in my experience) guarantees the correct melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Grease a large round baking dish with olive oil. Place your roasted tomatoes and garlic in it. Using a potato masher, mash the garlic into the tomatoes. You don’t want a sauce, but you do want the garlic and the tomatoes to be well mixed and to cover the bottom of the baking dish fairly evenly. Season with a touch of salt and pepper, a drizzle more of olive oil and a couple pinches of the herbs. Reserve a half cup or so, to pour on top of the sliced vegetables.

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Layer the slices of vegetables in concentric circles on top of the tomato sauce. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and herbs. Place the reserved half cup of tomatoes and garlic in the middle. I lay a large handful fresh thyme across the top (because it’s wonderful and my one of my favourites).  Arrange halved cherry tomatoes around the sides of the dish, if using. Cover and cook for 45 minutes. Cook an additional 15 to 20 uncovered.

I served mine with an herbed polenta and it was heaven. You do whatever you need to to achieve yours.