sweet potato + pepper breakfast tray bake

sweet potato pepper tray bake
sweet potato pepper tray bake

I hate breakfast. Have I mentioned that before? My perfect morning involves a cup of coffee and some quality time with the newspaper. The Whole 30 requires a substantial breakfast that includes vegetables, protein and healthy fats which unfortunately is not the nutritional composition of my cherished cup of coffee. So when i'm working on the Whole 30 or trying to be a super by-the-book paleo superstar I find the only way I can get vegetables, carbohydrates and healthy fats into me in the morning is with this sweet potato and pepper tray bake. Roasted sweet potatoes, red onion and peppers are sweet enough to make me less weirded out about vegetables in the morning and to get my protein hit, a runny egg and sausage on top do the trick.  This tray bake is quick to assemble and easily can be doubled (or tripled!) because we all know successfully completing the Whole 30 is ALL about prep. 

sweet potato + pepper breakfast tray bake
serves 4

2 large sweet potatoes, 1-inch dice
1 red onion, 1-inch dice
1 red pepper, 1-inch dice
1 yellow pepper, 1-inch dice
1 orange pepper, 1-inch dice
3 tbsp avocado oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried rosemary

Pre-heat oven to 375F. 

Put sweet potatoes, red onion, and peppers on a large rimmed baking tray. Pour avocado oil on vegetables. Sprinkle salt, pepper, fennel and rosemary onto vegetables and mix with a spoon (or your hands!) until all vegetables are coated with oil and hers. 

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until sweet potato is fully cooked. Halfway through baking time, give the vegetables a stir around the pan to prevent sticking. 

sweet potato pepper tray bake breakfast

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mango salsa

Haden Mangoes - Paleo Mango Salsa
Mango Salsa - From Pasta to Paleo

I'm in love. Sorry, Mr.FromPastaToPaleo. I've found another and their mottled pink and orange skin stops me in my tracks, their sweet juiciness gets me every time. My new love, friends, is the Haden mango. Originally bred in South Florida, it's breathtakingly beautiful, a gigantic workhorse of a mango, it's fairly perfect. 

I've been hosting a weekly local mom party every week this Summer because I love to entertain, make overstuffed platters (see instagram!) and get to know my neighbours. I like to make appetizers I can prepare earlier while the kids are awake and assemble quickly in that sweet spot right after they've gone to bed, just before the wild mom party begins. My mango salsa fits this bill perfectly. It's a great accompaniment for lettuce wrapped Instant Pot pork carnitas or for tortilla chips. I added garlic scapes to mine, because they have been a constant in my summer life, but feel free to add some green onion instead. 

mango salsa

2 mangoes, large Haden variety, diced
1 avocado, peeled + pitted + diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 garlic scapes, ends removed and sliced thin OR green onion
1/2 cup of red pepper, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 lime, tested + juiced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro, rough chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and gently stir. Taste for seasoning and add salt/vinegar if necessary. If preparing ahead, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the salsa to prevent avocado from browning. 

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zucchini madness - the 25 recipe mega round-up!

It's that time of year when you wouldn't be surprised to see a giant zucchini left on your doorstep from a desperate neighbour. If you're panicking on how to get all those zucchini into your belly, here's a massive TWENTY FIVE recipe round-up by some of my fellow bloggers from the Food Bloggers of Canada. Click on the photos below to view the recipes!

cassava flour waffles

Can waffles be paleo? For hardcore paleo purists, absolutely not. For paleo enthusiasts like myself, absolutely! 

In the paleosphere, a waffle can be a bastion of hope in the desolate landscape of bread-free sandwiches and maple syrup free breakfasts. My tiny human enjoys the occasional maple syrup soaked breakfast, so these cassava flour waffles do the trick. I prefer a savoury breakfast so these waffles double as the bread for a fried egg and bacon sandwich or a lemony eggs benedict.  

I had a waffle maker in the past that created the most sad, flat waffles. I wanted fluffy grain-free waffles that paleo dreams are made of. After coveting a fancy flippable belgian waffle maker I finally took the plunge on buying a mid-range model (this one in Canada + this one is USA) just after I had my second child. I think it was part delirium or high hopes that I'd be baby wearing and making waffles all the time but that waffle maker didn't budge from the box for 8 months but let-me-tell-you, once it did my dreams came to fruition. These waffles are fluffy and crispy with a bit of a lemony tang and freeze extremely well for reheating in the toaster for quick breakfasts and late-night snacks.  

paleo-cassava-flour-waffle

cassava flour waffles
makes 16 quarters

240 grams cassava flour
4 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp coconut sugar or raw sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 eggs - separated
3/4 cup ghee, melted or grassfed butter
1.5 cups unsweetened cashew milk
2 tbsp vanilla
zest of one lemon

Preheat belgian-style waffle maker. Combine cassava flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and coconut sugar in a medium mixing bowl. 

Using an electric mixer, or by hand, whisk egg whites until fluffy and stiff. 

Add egg yolks, ghee, cashew milk, vanilla and the zest of one lemon to the dry ingredients and stir until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. With a spatula, fold in egg whites carefully, trying to keep the egg whites fluffy in the thick batter. 

Open heated waffle maker - spoon about 1/3 cup of batter on the waffle griddle, close and use manufacturers instructions for cooking. The waffle should easily come off of the griddle when it is finished - about 7 minutes for a crispy waffle.

Serve + enjoy!
 
Freezer instructions: Let waffles cool completely + place in a freezer safe container or bag. The waffles keep well for 3 months in the freezer. To re-heat use toaster or oven. 

QUICK LINKS TO PURCHASE CASSAVA FLOUR
Canada: Amazon.ca or Flour Confections
United States: Amazon.com
Australia: Pantry Innovations
New Zealand: Food Compass

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disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, if the links result in a purchase, a small percentage (at no cost to you) will be shared with me to help with the costs of creating and maintaining this website. 

farmers market friday: kohlrabi

Farmers Market Friday - Kohlrabi.jpg
five-ways-to-use-kohlrabi
kohlrabi-heart-shaped

WHAT IS KOHLRABI? 
Feared most among CSA subscribers is the innocent kohlrabi. This totally alien looking vegetable is completely under utilized and desperately needs a marketing campaign to bolster its brand recognition. Admittedly, kohlrabi is confusing - it looks like a root but isn't and appears fibrous and tough but its not. Let's put all the confusion to rest! Kohlrabi is a member of the brassica family and like broccoli, it is entirely edible from leafy green to bottom. The texture is similar to jicama or radish and has an amazing crunch like none other. The bulbous bottom has a flavour similar to sweet cabbage and the stem and leaves taste rather kale-like. 

HOW TO BUY + STORE KOHLRABI
Kohlrabi is found in three variations, green, white and purple, though they taste the same.  When purchasing kohlrabi look for firm bottoms that have fresh looking greens attached and are free of brown spotting. The smaller bulbs tend to have more flavour. Kohlrabi stores very well for weeks in the refrigerator if you separate the leaves and stems from the bottom, which should be used within a few days. I use ziploc produce bags to keep my CSA vegetables fresh. 

HOW TO USE KOHLRABI
The bulbous bottom of larger kohlrabi has a tough skin that is edible but not altogether pleasant, peeling this tough skin with a good quality peeler or a paring knife does the trick. With smaller, super fresh kohlrabi, it isn't always necessary to peel the outside. The inside is easily sliced with a knife, mandoline or spiralizer. The stems and greens can be prepared in the same way as any hearty green and can easily substitute for kale or swiss chard. 

5 WAYS TO USE KOHLRABI + BONUS RECIPE!

  1. Slaw! A classic use of kohlrabi - use a mandoline and slice thin sheets of kohlrabi to julienne to substitute for cabbage in any slaw recipe.
  2. Quick Pickle! Slice kohlrabi into matchsticks and put in a mason jar. Heat a brine of 1 cup white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup water,  2 tbsp honey, 1 tsp crushed chili peppers - remove from heat and pour on top of kohlrabi. Cool to room temperature, put lid on and place in fridge where they will keep for 6 weeks. 
  3. Saute! Saute the greens and stems with olive oil, garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice and top with fresh herbs for a summery side.
  4. Soup!  Kohlrabi makes a great soup says the NYTimes and the greens could easily be substituted for kale in my absolute favourite soup - Ribollita
  5. Puree! Sick of cauli-mash? Kohlrabi can be steamed and pureed like potatoes or cauliflower.
  6. Spiralize! - A bonus method! Kohlrabi spiralizes like a dream. Recipe below!
spiralized vietnamese kohlrabi salad

spiralized vietnamese kohlrabi salad
serves 6

4 kohlrabi, medium sized, spiralized
4 carrots, julienned
4 green onions, sliced fine
1 cup cilantro, torn or rough chopped
1/2 cup basil, torn or rough chopped
1/2 cup mint, torn or rough chopped
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 limes, juiced + zest of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 tsp crushed chili flakes
1/2 cup avocado oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Combine spiralized kohlrabi, carrots and green onions and herbs in a large salad bowl. 

In a mason jar, add lime juice and zest, rice wine vinegar, garlic, chili flakes, avocado oil, honey, fish sauce and kosher salt. Put lid on and shake vinaigrette.

Pour vinaigrette on top of salad and combine all ingredients with tongs. Let salad sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

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farmers market friday: garlic scapes

farmers market friday - garlic scares
10 ways to use garlic scapes
garlic scapes willowind farm

WHAT ARE GARLIC SCAPES?
Ever wondered what those strange green curlicues you've seen at the market in bunches or bushels are? Those are garlic scapes! Garlic scapes are incredible and not surprisingly taste like mild but spicy garlic. If you've ever grown garlic in your backyard, you've seen garlic scapes - they shoot up in the late spring and look positively alien. These immature stems are cut in late spring/early summer to promote garlic bulb growth underground. When I see garlic scapes at the market I applaud that first person that made garlic scapes popular - how brilliant they were to make a natural byproduct of growing garlic such a marketable commodity. Three cheers for delicious ingenuity! 

HOW TO BUY + STORE GARLIC SCAPES
Garlic scapes can be found in May and June where garlic is grown. They are typically found at farmers markets but can be found in some upscale grocers. Look for bright green, firm scapes. They can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a week and freeze fairly well. 

HOW TO USE GARLIC SCAPES
Garlic scapes can be used in place of garlic in most applications. When cooked they have a slightly milder garlic flavour but when raw can be a bit on the spicy side. To prepare - cut off the flowering end and if the bottom stalks are woody give those a trim as well. 

10 WAYS TO USE GARLIC SCAPES

  1. Pesto! Making pesto is a great way to preserve the glorious taste of garlic scapes for the whole year. I have a recipe below for a dairy-free, paleo pesto that freezes really well. 
  2. Pickle! I love to pickle scapes to use on impressive charcuterie plates later in the year or to make vinaigrette with the brine. Serious Eats has a great pickled scape recipe
  3. Raw! Scapes are great where you would use green onions or garlic. I like to slice them into thin coins and add them to salads or vinaigrettes. 
  4. Grilled! Grilling scapes is simple and delicious. Toss them with olive oil, balsamic and a touch of salt and grill for about 5 minutes until slightly softened. 
  5. Chimichurri! Top your grilled meat or fish with a garlic scape chimichurri. Substitute garlic scapes for garlic in this Bon Appetite chimichurri recipe. 
  6. Roasted! Scapes can be roasted in a 400F oven for about 25 minutes, lightly tossed with olive oil, balsamic and seasoned with salt and pepper. They would make a great accompaniment to roasted asparagus or mini potatoes. 
  7. Broth! Adding garlic scapes when you are making bone broth or chicken stock recipe will lend a nice garlic hint to the finished product. 
  8. Butter! I make compound butters for big bowls of warm new potatoes when we have large BBQs. Mixing fresh herbs and sliced garlic scapes to grass-fed butter and tossing with warm vegetables or potatoes is a truly glorious way to celebrate summer flavours for a large group.
  9. Vinaigrette! Using a high speed blender combine 1/2 cup of garlic scapes, 2/3 cup of avocado oil and 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar, salt + pepper, a teaspoon of honey and you've got a lovely vinaigrette to top fresh greens or grilled veggies. 
  10. Frittata! What can't you add to a frittata? Eggs and garlic scapes are a great combination - add sliced garlic scapes to a frittata or scrambled eggs for a quick and easy breakfast.
garlic scape paleo pesto

garlic scape pesto
makes about 1 cup

15 garlic scapes - cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup pine nuts
3/4 - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Put garlic scapes, cashews, pine nuts and red wine vinegar into a food processor or high powered blender.

Blend/process the mixture until nuts and scapes form a paste, drizzling extra-virgin olive oil slowly into the processor/blender until you achieve the consistency you desire for all your pesto needs.

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rhubarb cherry cassava flour snacking cake

rhubarb cherry cassava flour snaking cake

Cassava flour excitement is growing day-by-day in our house. This rhubarb cherry cassava flour snacking cake is a spin on a rhubarb cake I make every year with all-purpose flour from the lovely blog, smitten kitchen. It's not a showy dessert but a great companion to your morning coffee or school lunch box (cassava is nut-free! yippee!).  I was planning on going full-paleo with this recipe but I realized my coconut milk was 100% liquid and I really needed that luscious coconut cream to easily substitute for sour cream so instead I used full-fat good quality yogurt in the recipe. 

New to baking with cassava flour? Check out my grain-free baking 101

rhubarb cherry cassave flour snacking cake

rhubarb cherry cassava flour snacking cake
adapted from smitten kitchen

cake
2/3 cup rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup cherries, pitted and halved
2/3 + 3/4 cup coconut sugar (or cane sugar)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (or ghee/coconut oil)
1 tsp lemon zest
2 large eggs
165 grams cassava flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup full fat plain yogurt (or coconut cream + 1/4 tsp baking soda)

crumb topping
125 grams cassava flour
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or cane sugar)
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (or ghee/coconut oil)

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter the bottom and sides of 9x13-inch baking pan with butter and line with parchment. 

In a bowl, combine rhubarb, cherries and 2/3 cup coconut sugar. In another bowl whisk to combine cassava flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. Set both bowls aside. 

Using an electric mixture, beat butter, sugar and lemon zest until creamed/light and fluffy. Add the eggs and 3/4 cup sugar and mix on medium until incorporated. Add half of the cassava flour mixture, mix until combined and add half of the yogurt. Add the remaining cassava flour and yogurt and mix until just combined. 

Spread batter in a thin layer into the pan. Pour the rhubarb and cherries over the batter evenly. 

Make crumb topping by whisking the dry ingredients together and stirring in melted butter with a fork, creating a sandy crumb-like texure, Evenly dollop crumb on top of fruit layer. 

Bake for 45 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve. 

QUICK LINKS TO PURCHASE CASSAVA FLOUR
Canada: Amazon.ca or Flour Confections
United States: Amazon.com
Australia: Pantry Innovations
New Zealand: Food Compass

tag #frompastatopaleo on Instagram to show me your finished dishes!

disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, if the links result in a purchase, a small percentage (at no cost to you) will be shared with me to help with the costs of creating and maintaining this website. 

grain-free baking 101: cassava flour + banana chocolate chip muffins

grain free baking 101 cassava flour

WHAT IS CASSAVA FLOUR?
Cassava flour is the newest 'it' flour in grain and gluten-free baking. Cassava/Yuca is a root vegetable that is peeled, dried and finely milled into a flour. It has a fine texture which resembles all-purpose flour. One of the great things about cassava flour is that it's nut-free and school-snack friendly. 

HOW DO YOU USE CASSAVA FLOUR? 
This flour can be substituted for all-purpose in an almost 1:1 ratio so it makes grain-free and gluten-free baking fairly simple. The most precise way to substitute for all-purpose flour is by weight (grams) not volume (cups). All-purpose flour weighs 120 grams per cup so aim for that weight when measuring cassava flour which is heavier than all-purpose on a cup-by-cup basis. 

Often cassava flour is confused with tapioca flour because they come from the same root vegetable. Cassava flour is the whole dried root and tapioca flour comes from the extracted starch. These ingredients are not interchangeable in recipes. 

WHAT'S THE NUTRITIONAL LOW-DOWN ON CASSAVA FLOUR? 
Cassava flour is fairly high in carbohydrates at 14 grams per 1/8 cup (15g). This is why it's such a great subsistence food in a lot of cultures but cannot be a subsistence food in our house! 

WHERE CAN I FIND CASSAVA FLOUR?
Up until recently, it wasn't affordable for a Canadian to get their hands on the gold-standard of cassava flour, Otto's Naturals, but now its possible from Flour Confections online and the price is on-par with blanched almond flour. I have had success with cassava flour found in a Carribean food store in Kensington Market as well, it's a fraction of the price but is grittier and has a bit of an odour that Otto's doesn't. 

QUICK LINKS TO PURCHASE CASSAVA FLOUR
Canada: Amazon.ca (Chozi brand) or Flour Confections (Otto's)
United States: Amazon.com
Australia: Pantry Innovations
New Zealand: Food Compass

banana chocolate chip cassava flour muffins

banana chocolate chip cassava flour muffins
yields 24 muffins

1.5 cups cassava flour
1 cup tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 cup melted ghee (or grassfed butter/coconut oil)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 cups ripe banana, mashed
2 tsp vanilla
6 eggs
3/4 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is dairy/gluten free)

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 12 cup muffin tins with muffin liners or silicon liners. 

In a medium bowl, combine cassava flour, tapioca flour, baking powder,salt and baking soda and mix with a whisk. 

In a large bowl, add melted ghee, coconut sugar, banana, vanilla, eggs and combine with a whisk until all ingredients are incorporated. Add half of the dry mixture to the bowl and stir until combined, add remaining dry ingredients and stir until combined. 

Using a heaping 1/4 cup measuring cup, evenly distribute the batter into the muffin liners. Bake for 20 minutes. 

Enjoy fresh for up to 3 days or freeze. 
 

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disclosure: this post contains affiliate links, if the links result in a purchase, a small percentage (at no cost to you) will be shared with me to help with the costs of creating and maintaining this website. 

farmers market friday: grilled bok choy

farmers market friday - Bok Choy.jpg

It's Farmer's Market Friday, a new feature that showcases seasonal produce and recipes inspired by my weekly trips to the market. Farmers markets are pure bliss for me. Our local Wednesday market is a magical slice of a small town in the big city. We have folk singers, kids playing, a solid group of regulars and mighty fine food vendors. Community building and a shared love of local food warms my sarcastic little heart to the core. This week I was lucky to score some gigantic bok choy. 

WHAT IS BOK CHOY?

Bok choy looks intimidating. It's a member of the cabbage family and has several names - pok choy, pak choi, and chinese cabbage. It's green leaves are tender while the white bulbous stems are crunchy and subtle tasting. I find it has an almost floral aroma, but maybe I'm just a bit strange. Bok choy is considered a "superfood" for its extremely nutrient dense and high in vitamin A, C and K. 

HOW TO BUY + STORE BOK CHOY

When purchasing bok choy look for the crispest looking bulbs that are firm to the touch. The leaves should be green and not wilted.  Bok choy lasts about a week in the refrigerator if stored in the crisper or in a perforated produce bags. Produce bags are the key to my summer vegetable success - they have an amazing ability to keep just about everything fresher for longer and can be found with the other storage bags at the grocery store.  I'm fairly obsessed with them.

HOW TO COOK BOK CHOY

Bok choy has gotten a bad rap as the floppy green addition in typical greasy chinese take-out. Bok choy is so much more than that! It can be elevated to deliciousness with so little work. Stir-frying and steaming are perfectly fine methods of cooking bok choy but at this time of year the only thing I really feel like doing is grilling.  I wasn't sure how the marinated bok choy would handle the heat of the grill, but it turned out great - the trimmed leaves took on a crispy roasted brussels sprout quality and the white stem maintained their crunch. I've included two marinade recipes for the bok choy and each has a sweetness that makes the bok choy caramelize on the grill nicely. 

Grilling isn't the only way to include bok choy in your summer rotation. It's versatile as a raw addition to salads and slaws and could easily be swapped for the fennel in my fennel + orange slaw recipe. For more bok choy ideas check out the (mostly gluten-free or paleo-adaptable) recipe round-up from a lovely group of talented bloggers after my recipe below.

sesame maple grilled bok choy


grilled bok choy - two marinades
serves 4

4 bok choy, large or 6 smaller

balsamic mustard marinade
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, grated on microplane
2 tsp grainy mustard
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh herbs - assorted, to top finished dish

maple sesame marinade
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds, to top finished dish

Preheat grill to medium heat while preparing bok choy. 

Choose one of the marinades and whisk together all ingredients (except herbs or sesame seeds) in a dish large enough to hold the bok choy. 

Prepare the bok choy by slicing across the bottom stem slightly, about 1/2 cm, so that only the outer leaves fall off. Cut the greens off the top so that only 2 inches are left above the end of the white part. Slice the bok choy in half and then in quarters if the bok choy are very large, being careful to keep the leaves attached to the stem. Gently rinse the bok choy.  Place bok choy in the marinade for 10 minutes. 

Grill the bok choy for 10 minutes at medium-low heat, turning them to cook evenly. Save the marinade to use as the sauce. The bok choy will be only slightly translucent when it is ready. 

Put bok choy on a platter, topping with the remaining marinade and fresh herbs or sesame seeds. 

MORE BOK CHOY RECIPE INSPIRATION! (click for recipes)

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fresh peas + mint cilantro vinaigrette

Fresh peas were not on my seasonal eating hit-list. Heirloom tomatoes and asparagus have always won my heart over peas. At our local vegetable shop I saw a bag of unshucked peas, their vibrant green shells and wispy tendrils taunting me to give them just one more try. So, I did. They blew my mind. How could I have been so wrong about peas? 

Pairing peas with a fresh mint, cilantro and chive vinaigrette lends a triple zing of herby freshness that suits the peas vibrant flavour. It will be a tough job but I think I'm up for the challenge of making up for a lifetime of pea apathy in just one season. Bring on the peas! 

peas-mint-cilantro-vinaigrette

fresh peas + mint cilantro vinaigrette

2 cups shelled fresh peas (or frozen) 
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp kosher salt

In a shallow pan, bring 3 cups of salted water to a simmer.

Using an immersion blender and a wide mouth mason jar, blend cilantro, mint, chives, red wine vinegar, olive oil, water and salt. 

Once water has come to a simmer, add shelled peas and cook for 4 minutes, until cooked. Combine vinaigrette and peas in small bowl and serve. 

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celebration menu: holiday BBQ!

Happy Victoria Day to my Canadian friends!

Long weekends equal BBQ parties. Brined pineapple pork skewers and marinated mushroom beef kabobs paired with these make-ahead salads are a great way to celebrate.  Each recipe easily doubles or triples and everything should be made ahead so there's no rushing around when your guests arrive.  The strawberry rhubarb chia pudding can be made the night before and would look pretty adorable in small cups topped with whipped cream or coconut whip. 

holiday BBQ celebration menu

spicy broccolini + sausage zucchini noodles

What exactly is broccolini? Is it simply a younger, taller, skinnier version of broccoli? This super-model of the brassica world is actually a cross between broccoli and chinese gai lan. It's completely edible from stalk to flower and reminiscent of asparagus, with its slight sweetness. I don't often purchase broccolini but found myself at Costco wanting to purchase large amounts of raw cashews, giant tubs of mayo (maybe not) and organic veggies. The frigid veggie room at Costco really yields some stellar deals for organic zucchini and random organics like broccolini.

I don't always feel 100% awesome about shopping for fruits and vegetables at Costco, I like to keep those purchases local and through trusted sources but sometimes I just can't....resist...the...deals. There is little I like more in life than a good deal, even if it's 20% off in a store that is 20% more than the others. The psychology of sales works on me 95% of the time. I did a bit of research on Costco's organic buying power and found a good-news story -  in order to meet the demands of their organic supply they are investing in a San Diego organic produce company to assist in purchasing farm equipment and land in Baja, California. This is the first of these initiatives but they are looking to increase these partnerships to ensure a sustainable supply of organic produce. Good work, Costco. Keep it up! 

Veggies + protein + zoodles = dinner. Super quick 15 minute meals like this are a staple in our house and satisfy my need for a big bowl of pasta while packing in tons of vegetables and flavour. 

spicy broccolini and sausage zucchini noodles

spicy broccolini + sausage zucchini noodles

4 sausages, removed from casings
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups broccolini, trimmed (about one small bunch ) 
2 anchovies, packed in oil
2 tsp jarred hot peppers in olive oil, or 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 tsp pepper, fresh ground
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 medium zucchini, spiralized

In a medium saucepan on medium heat - add olive oil and sausage and cook for about 5 minutes until the sausage is browned and cooked through. 

Add broccolini, garlic, anchovies, and hot peppers to the pan and use a wooden spoon to break up the anchovies. Cook ofr 5 minutes to allow flavours to combine and broccolini to soften slightly. 

Add zucchini noodles, salt and pepper and if necessary, add a splash of olive oil. Cook zucchini noodles for 3 minutes, using tongs to ensure all the ingredients are mingling with the noodles.

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sesame cucumber noodle salad

sesame cucumber noodle salad

My kindergartener is a bit of a task master. His tasks are mainly playground and gelato based and he wants to participate in them all of the time. After surviving the bleak winter, it's nice to be outdoors but it's very hard to eat properly and be out in the world all day. Gelato is tempting, gluten-free cookies are everywhere, and nary a good salad can be found in my neighbourhood which leads me to the imminent purchase of a small insulated cooler and some serious picnic recipe development. This picnic-friendly sesame cucumber salad is a riff on a soba noodle salad I used to make way back when I had a horrible bank job and the only bright part of my day was my precious 30 minute lunch break. Rice wine vinegar is acceptable in our household but if it bothers you, substitute white wine vinegar and honey. This salad keeps fairly well for a few days in the fridge.

sesame cucumber noodle salad
serves 2 or 4 as a side

1 english cucumber, spiralized
1/4 cup cilantro, rough chopped
3 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar OR 3 tbsp white wine vinegar & 1 tsp honey
4 tbsp nigella seeds, toasted (or black sesame seeds)
2 scallions, sliced thin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

Combine cucumber, cilantro, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, half of the nigella/sesame seeds and scallion with a pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Let salad sit for 10 minutes for flavours to develop before serving.  Top with remaining nigella/sesame seeds and scallions to serve.

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strawberry rhubarb chia pudding

When I was a kid my grandmother had a patch of rhubarb in her back garden. I remember picking it and being terrified of the poisonous leaves - I was a cautious kid but apparently the taste of rhubarb was worth the potential for death. In reality, I would had had to eat a huge amount of the raw leaves to ingest the oxalic acid and die a rhubarb-induced death. Between the deathly rhubarb and my oral-allergy to strawberries, I really put myself out on a limb to make this chia pudding. The tart rhubarb and the sweet strawberries mingle perfectly with coconut milk to make this creamy chia pudding. Even though cocoa banana is my son's true chia pudding love and he loudly protested the addition of strawberry to our repertoire, my valiant recipe taster enjoyed them every single day for an entire week. This yet again proves that four-year-olds really don't know what they want but sure make a lot of noise about it. 

strawberry rhubarb chia pudding

strawberry rhubarb chia pudding

2 cups rhubarb, diced
2 cups strawberries
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1.5 cup coconut milk, canned
3/4 cup cashew milk, unsweetened from carton (almond/coconut can be subbed)
2/3 cup chia seed

In a medium saucepan on low heat, add rhubarb, strawberries, honey and vanilla. Stew until fruit has cooked down - about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and use a stick immersion blender to puree the fruit.

In a large bowl, whisk coconut milk, cashew milk and fruit puree. Add chia seeds and whisk to distribute chia seeds throughout. 

Using a ladle or a funnel, pour chia pudding evenly into 6 mason jars or small lidded jars. Refrigerate for 3 hours until set. 

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pancetta + spring vegetable pasta

It's happening - spring is in the air! I'm busting out my birks and boat shoes and calling a moratorium on socks until October. The vegetable markets are starting to have the glorious vegetables of spring - peas, asparagus, ramps, and garlic scapes - and after a winter of stews and braises, I'm ready to eat vibrant greens again. This zucchini noodle pasta is packed with pancetta, asparagus, leeks and fresh peas and a lemony tang. With a glass of sparkling wine (or water!) in the backyard, this will be my go-to spring meal for entertaining. 

pancetta-spring-vegetable-pasta

pancetta + spring vegetable pasta
serves 4

1 cup pancetta, cubed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1 lemon, zested + juice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup peas, fresh if possible
2 cups asparagus, ends removed + 1 inch pieces
1 cup leeks, sliced thin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Italian parsley, rough chopped
4 medium zucchini - spiralized

In a medium saucepan on medium heat - add olive oil and pancetta and cook for about 5 minutes until the pancetta is almost cooked.

Add 1/2 of the zest of the lemon, leeks and garlic to the pan and let cook for 2 minutes, allowing the lemon to flavour the oil and leeks to soften.

Add peas, asparagus, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally while peas cook through. Add zucchini noodles, parsley and lemon juice. If necessary, add a splash of olive oil.  Cook zucchini noodles for 3 minutes, using tongs to ensure all the ingredients are mingling with the noodles.  Top with parsley and remaining lemon zest to serve. 

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