Lemony vinaigrette & fennel/celery salad

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Whipped this up last night for a fennel & celery salad (pretty much my favourite salad).


  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated (a microplane grater is a wonder here)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest (see above re: microplane grater)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp honey (or brown sugar, mirin, etc…something sweet)
  • Dash salt

Directions are simple: put everything into a bowl, bottle, or jar and whisk or shake to combine.

The fennel & celery salad is insanely simple:

  • 2 bulbs of fresh fennel (aka: anise), sliced as thinly as you can manage
  • Roughly the same amount of thinly sliced celery
  • An ounce or so of parmagiana cheese strips (make these by using a vegetable peeler on a hunk of the cheese — long, thin strips)

Toss these with the vinaigrette. Ta dah.

Ricotta polenta

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Straightforward polenta with a bit of added cheese. This is not a low fat recipe, by any stretch of the imagination.


  • 4 c chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 c polenta (corn meal)
  • 1/2 c ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz shredded parmagiana cheese
  • 3 tbsp butter


  1. Bring chicken stock to a low boil in a medium sauce pan.
  2. When boiling, whisk in the polenta, pouring it into the stock a little at a time and whisking well — do this slowly to avoid lumps. Note: it will thicken quickly…do not be alarmed.
  3. Once the polenta is all stirred into the chicken stock, turn down to low (pretty much as low as your burner will go), and cover. Whisk vigorously every 10 mins.
  4. After 20 mins, whisk in the milk. Continue to cook on low, stirring every 10 mins for another 20 mins.
  5. At this point, grab a spoon and taste the polenta. Depending on how coarsely ground your cornmeal is, it could be done now, or you might need to keep cooking it. If it’s grainy, keep cooking. It should be soft and creamy.
  6. Stir in the ricotta cheese, then, once that’s well blended, stir in the parmagiana cheese. After that’s all incorporated, stir in the butter.
  7. That’s it. Fantastic as a bed for braised meat, sliced steak, mushroom ragu, etc etc etc. Keeps well, and solidifies (like jello!) when cool so it can be sliced and fried or grilled. Yum!

Zdir (Tunisian tomato-chili soup)

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Read this article in the Atlantic yesterday and decided to give it a try. The article doesn’t give a precise recipe, so I’ve deciphered it the best I can below (making a minor substitution and leaving out the semolina). I just made it. It’s really damned good.

I really have no idea whether this can be properly called “zdir” since I’ve been unable to locate an actual recipe (or any other information) about it. Either way, it’s crazy tasty with a good solid spicy punch. If you don’t care for spicy food, skip the harissa and chilis. If you do like spicy food, you have to try this.

  • 2-3 dried red chilis (I used 2 Sanaam chilis)
  • 1 oz olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp harissa (this is a lot, I might halve this next time…it’s potent stuff)
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground caraway
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tin diced tomatoes + juice (28fl oz)
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 tbsp preserved lemon, chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mint (or to taste)
  1. Soak chilis in a bit of water for 15-20 mins. Chop finely.
  2. Pour olive oil into a pot and heat over med-low, when warm add garlic + let steep for 5 mins or so. Don’t saute the garlic…just let it warm through and flavour the oil.
  3. Turn up the heat a bit and add tomato paste, harissa, and a bit of the tomato juice. Whisk together well and simmer for a few mins.
  4. Add chilis, caraway, and coriander to the paste. Simmer another few mins.
  5. Pour in diced tomatoes with their juices and the extra 1/4 cup of water. Add chopped sundried tomatoes, and mix well. Simmer over low/med-low for 20 mins or so. Add more water if needed.
  6. Optionally, if you have an immersion stick blender, use that now to chop up the tomatoes a bit. If you prefer a chunkier soup, or if you don’t have an immersion blender, just skip this part.
  7. Quickly rinse the chopped preserved lemon, capers, and olives (just to get rid of the excess vinegars/etc). Stir these into the soup. Let sit on low to heat through for another 10-15 mins.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in dried mint, serve.

Spinach & mushroom frittata with goat cheese & sundried tomato

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Spinach & mushroom frittata with goat cheese sundried tomato
I’m not going to post the recipe for last night’s dinner because it basically amounts to: make an omelette with fewer eggs and more stuff, the end. The sundried tomatoes were disappointingly tasteless, unfortunately. I need to find a new source. Otherwise, yum! Super easy.

Soba noodle salad with grilled tofu

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes, Vegetarian 2 Comments

Soba noodle salad & grilled tofu

Dinner this evening, sticking with the “meatless” theme, is a very simple soba noodle salad topped with grilled tofu.

Grilled Tofu

  • 2-3 1/2″ slices of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin (sweet sake)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Splash sesame oil
  1. Mix soy, mirin, vinegar, and oil in a shallow bowl. Add tofu slices and marinate for 15-30 mins or so. Note: mirin is optional — it adds a notable hint of sweetness which may or may not be wanted. I’ll probably skip it next time.
  2. Heat a ridged grill pan over med-high heat until hot enough to instantly sizzle water. Grill tofu 3-4 mins per side (it will smoke and should develop good grill marks). That’s it.

Soba noodle salad

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Splash sesame oil
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 oz soba noodles (uncooked)
  • 1/3 c frozen edamame (out of pods)
  • 1/4 c thinly sliced carrot
  • Small handful baby spinach
  1. Whisk together olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, and ginger. This is a simple lemon/ginger vinaigrette.
  2. Cook soba noodles in boiling water for 4 mins. Before draining, add edamame and let cook for another minute or so, then add carrot slices and baby spinach and let stand for 20-30 seconds. Drain well and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain for 4-5 mins.
  3. Put salad in a shallow pasta bowl, top with grilled tofu slices, and pour over vinaigrette.

Very tasty and very filling. This is what I made for one (me) and I couldn’t finish it.

Vegetable Stew

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes 2 Comments

Sort of made this up as I went. Serves four or so? We have leftovers.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, but tasty)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 med carrots, sliced into 1/2″ rounds
  • 2 lg stalks celery, sliced
  • 6 small potatoes, quartered
  • 1 md zucchini, sliced
  • 1 c cabbage, sliced
  • 1 19oz tin diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 1/2 c water or vegetable stock
  • 1 14oz tin white kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 c cooked barley (hulled, not pearled)
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over med-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes and saute for a couple of minutes. Add carrots, celery, and sliced cabbage, and saute for a few more minutes. Toss in potatoes, saute for a little longer.
  2. Pour in diced tomatoes and juices, and add water. Heat to just boiling, then turn down to med-low and simmer for 30 mins or so (until everything is cooked through).
  3. Add drained and rinsed kidney beans and cooked barley, stir and leave on low for another 10-15 mins to heat everything through.
  4. Salt & pepper to taste. Optionally serve with freshly grated parmagiana cheese (it’s yummy).

Grocery run

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Tylenol Cold & Flu meds got me on my feet long enough to get to the grocery store (Rob’s away, else he would have gone). Figured I’d pick up enough food for the better part of 2 weeks. Unsurprisingly, it’s cheaper to eat like this. Froze the bacon we already had on hand, which was hard. Oh bacon, I’m gonna miss you the most.

Here’s a list of what I bought because I’m bored and cranked on cold meds.


  • Bananas (7)
  • Clementines (2 lbs)
  • Flat of cubed melons + pineapple (on sale)
  • Blueberries, 1 pint

Fresh vegetables

  • Baby spinach (1 lb)
  • Celery (1 bunch)
  • Carrots (organic, 2lb)
  • Leeks (3)
  • Anise (1)
  • Zucchini (3 small)
  • Ginger
  • Garlic (5)
  • Cabbage (1 large)
  • Butternut squash (1 med)
  • Spaghetti squash (1 med)
  • Potatoes (3 lb, small)
  • Eggplant (1 large)

Dairy (and whatnot)

  • Goat cheese (plain)
  • Feta cheese
  • Butter (cultured, 2lb)
  • Milk (2%)
  • Yogurt (1 ltr, plain, 6% mf)
  • Tofu (extra-firm, 2 blocks)
  • Eggs (2 doz)

Everything else

  • Tortillas (whole grain, flax)
  • Bread (whole grain, flax)
  • Crispy flatbread (honey & flax)
  • President’s Choice “Ancient Grains” cereal (2 boxes)
  • Sundried tomatoes (3oz, dry)
  • White kidney beans (3 tins)
  • Red kidney beans (3 tins)
  • Black beans (3 tins)
  • Chickpeas (3 tins)
  • Vegetable stock (Campbell’s organic, 3 tetrapaks)
  • Short grain organic brown rice (best rice ever)

Already on hand…

  • Basically everything else including onions, sweet potatoes, various rices, barley (hulled & pearl), quinoa, dried beans, a plethora of dried herbs & spices, various oils & vinegars, a somewhat alarming array of hotsauces, a big ol’ chunk of 2 year old cheddar, parmigiana cheese, peanut butter, tahini, olives, dried mushrooms, egg noodles, rice noodles, pasta, tomato soup, etc etc etc.

This is gonna be awesome.

Meatless recipes

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes 1 Comment

I just went back through my archives, adding a “Meatless” category to the meatless recipes I’ve already posted. They’re not all mains, but here’s the list:

An experiment in meatlessness

Cooking, Food, Meatless 4 Comments

Picture by karimian.

I’ve decided that I’m going to try an experiment in going without meat for the next two weeks. I say “without meat” rather than “vegetarian” because there are shades of grey in the world of vegetarianism, and I fully intend to cook with animal products such as eggs, milk, cheese, and butter. Just no beef, pork, fish, chicken, shrimp, etc.

The reason for this is simple. We’ve been working on eating less meat on average for the past couple of years, but we still eat more than we should. To eat less, we need to expand our repertoire of recipes for meatless mains. We have the cookbooks, we just need to use them and try more new things.

Two weeks gives me a chance to try around 10-15 new recipes. More if I get inspired and energetic, but probably not because I’ve got a cold and “inspired” is just about the last thing I feel right now. I’ll probably start with some sort of vegetarian stew or chili and go from there. If I remember, I’ll take pictures and blog it all.

If there are particular meatless recipes you think I should try, leave a comment!

Soba noodle salad with edamame and tofu

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes, Vegetarian 2 Comments

Mark Bittman did something like this in his Minimalist article a while back, but his version was a little weird and involved entirely too much lime juice. I modified it for a second attempt and it was pretty tasty.


  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 oz soba noodles (uncooked)
  • 1 c edamame (out of pods)
  • 1-2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1/2 package of firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 c green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 c baby carrots, sliced
  • 2 tsp white or black sesame seeds

1. Whisk together oils, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, and ginger. This is really just a basic vinaigrette with soy and ginger. I just dump it all into a mason jar and shake like hell. Taste and adjust as necessary.1

2. Cook soba noodles until they’re at the texture you want. When done, rinse under cold water to stop them cooking any more.

3. Cook the edamame — I just cook it in boiling water (from frozen) for 2-3 minutes. Rinse under cold water until cool.

4. Put peanut oil into a shallow pan and heat. Dump in the tofu and fry ’til a bit crispy (this part is optional…you don’t have to fry the tofu, but it adds to the texture). Let cool.

5. Divide noodles into two big ol’ bowls, top each with edamame, tofu, green onions, and carrots. Pour 2-3 tbsp of the vinaigrette over each and a tsp of sesame seeds.


1 = I don’t actually remember the precise ratios for the vinaigrette, so this might not be quite right. Feel free to modify to taste.

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