Category: side

Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts. Known only to some as “that food in movies that kids never eat,” Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad rap over the years, possibly due to the fact that people have been cooking them the wrong way. However, there is a reason that they’ve been experiencing a resurgence – and you’ll probably see them make an appearance a lot more often this Thanksgiving, Christmas & holiday season. These miniature cabbages of joy are sprouting up everywhere from upscale restos to food network kitchens. New age foodies have learned that when prepared and heated correctly, these little green powerhouses make for a tasty, tender, buttery dish. Now, what I’m about to say may shock you, so brace yourselves – YOU DON’T HAVE TO ADD BACON! I know, I know. Forget what all those other foodie sites & food network stars tell you. The secret to brussels sprouts that taste good ISN’T bacon. The secret is proper cooking time. To me, bacon is a cop-out. You’re basically adding it to mask the flavour that you don’t like. Thing is, if you make these little babies properly, they’re so delicious on their own that you don’t need the bacon at all. In fact, bacon would only distract from the natural tastiness. Before we get started, let me give you a few other pointers that’ll help amp up your brussels sprouts game in the future.

3 Things not to do with brussels sprouts:
1. Do not boil the living daylights out of them.
2. Do not boil the living daylights out of them.
3. Do not boil the living daylights out of them.

Great! Now that we’ve got that covered, remember: do not boil your brussels sprouts. This is a surefire way to make sure you’ll never eat them again. They become soggy, bitter, and truly unpalatable.

3 Things you should do with brussels sprouts:
1. Leave whole & steam them.
2. Finely chop & pan-fry them.
3. Half, glaze & roast them.

Today, I’m going to show you how to glaze and roast the tastiest brussels sprouts you’ve ever had.
So heat up your ovens, and get your sprout show on!

Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey Glaze
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
2 cups brussels sprouts, chopped in half, woody bottoms removed
2 tbsp honey
3 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together honey and oil until homogenous. (If you’re having trouble stirring, it helps to heat the honey slightly in the microwave.) Add salt, pepper & cayenne. Toss brussels sprouts to coat. Transfer to greased baking dish (8″square should do the trick!). Roast in preheated oven at 400F for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring half way through. They are ready when golden and very tender.

Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes



When a “Let’s empty out the fridge and cook all the things,” dish becomes a “Let’s definitely make this again, like, all the time,” kind of meal, I know it’s time to blog.

This is one of those amazingly delicious get-your-omnivore-friends-to-love-vegan-food recipes. Seriously, this stuff tastes like love and comfort. A hearty, healthy, nutritional powerhouse, stuffed into a cute little potato package! You don’t even have to mention to anyone that it’s vegan, because really, they don’t even need to know that no animals were harmed in the making of this meal. They don’t even need to know that this is good for them. They don’t even need to know that it contains complete protein and is full of vitamins. Nope, they just need to eat it. And then, when they’re all done, you can casually fill them in. Oh, what’s that? You loved it? You want more? You can’t get over how creamy the sauce was? Yeah. Oh, bee tee dubs, it was vegan and naturally gluten-free!

And now, for the love of sweet potatoes everywhere, I present to you my 100th recipe!

Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa & Swiss Chard
an original vegan recipe by allison sklar 

ingredients
2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked to package directions
1 handful of chopped greens (I used swiss chard)
1 handful of chopped brussels sprouts (or cabbage)
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of your favourite mixed all-purpose seasoning. (I like to use a Jamaican jerk seasoning because it’s tasty, but any spice mix that you have on hand will work!) 

Quick spicy vegan mayo: 2 tbsp Vegenaise Original + 1 tsp Sriracha

method
Roast your potatoes, wrapped in foil, in the oven for about 45 mins at 400F. When they’re ready, take them out, cut them in half and scoop out as much flesh as you can, trying not to break the skin. Sautée the greens and cabbage in some oil, once they are bright in colour, add in your quinoa and stir. Add your chopped potato. Add your spices. Scoop it all back into your potato. If they need to be re-warmed (mine did, because I made them in advance!) put them back in the oven at 350 for about 15 mins. Serve hot, drizzled with spicy vegan mayo.

Asparagus, Fava & Snap Pea Salad

Here’s a great, super fast, super easy vegan meal packed with flavour, packed with protein, packed with nutrients, and oh-so-green! I found some beautiful asparagus this week at my local grocer (nice, thin stalks & bright green in colour, which is what you should look for when choosing asparagus!) Inspired by Ottolenghi’s newest book, Plenty More, and whatever else I had on hand, I came up with this. This salad is on the hearty side, which means that you can enjoy it on it’s own, or as a stellar side dish. If you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, don’t worry! I’ve put some substitution ideas in parentheses just for you.

Asparagus, Fava Bean & Snap Pea Salad 
inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More 
ingredients
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off, roughly chopped
2 cups snap peas, roughly chopped
1 cup cooked, frozen, or canned fava beans (edamame works well, too!)
1 medium avocado
1 handful chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if you prefer!)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp tahini (or dijon mustard)
1 tsp agave (or honey)

1 tsp harissa paste (or sriracha)
1 tsp ground corriander seed
pinch of chilli flakes
cracked black pepper
sea salt
Blanch asparagus, beans and snap peas in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and place into colander. Run under cold water to cool. Place into large salad bowl. Top with chopped avocado and cilantro. Whisk dressing ingredients together. Toss to coat.

Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

Alright, so I have a confession to make. This dish actually started out as an italian-style meatless meatball dish. It was supposed to be covered in tomato sauce and smothered in cheese and served on top of a plate of spaghetti. But, with an ice storm a brewin’ outside, I did not feel safe venturing out to get the handful of ingredients that I was missing. So, I decided to just make a few changes and use whatever I had on hand. Basil became cilantro. Beans became chickpeas. And then, somewhere along substitution road, my meatless meatballs in tomato sauce became meatless falafel in yogourt sauce. Let me tell you, whatever you want to call them, these little babies are 100% pure deliciousness.
  
Just a few things to note before you go off and make this. You MUST roast the eggplant the whole way through. No if’s and’s or but’s, the roasted eggplant has a flavour and texture that is crucial to the texture of the final product.  Also, the chickpeas are what give it that distinct falafel taste, so if you decide to sub them for something else, you’re going to have a very different little ball! Oh, and be sure to use greek yogourt (I prefer to use 2% as it’s creamy but still low in fat, but you can use any % that you like.) Vegan? No fret! Omit the yogourt sauce and replace it with some red hot sauce instead. Alright, let’s get ballin’!
Roasted Eggplant Falafel with Spicy Yogurt Sauce
An original recipe by Allison Sklar. Inspired by Meatless Meatballs, Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2015.
ingredients
(for the vegan falafel)
1 large eggplant, roasted
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chickpeas (rinsed & drained)
1 clove garlic, mashed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup soy or nut milk
2 tbsp ground chia or flax seeds
1 tsp chili flakes
pinch salt & pepper
(for the yogurt sauce)
1 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable juice
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp harissa paste 
handful chopped fresh cilantro
Begin by roasting your eggplant. Preheat oven to 375F. Place whole eggplant on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Prick eggplant with fork all over. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it looks wilted on the outside and is soft enough to slice easily with a knife. Let eggplant cool, about 15 to 20 minutes, before using. 
Meanwhile, prepare the broth for the yogurt sauce. In a small saucepan, combine spices and harissa paste. Toast on medium low heat until fragrant (2 to 4 minutes), moving it all around with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add vegetable juice & cilantro and whisk. Continue whisking intermittently on low heat until mixture reduces, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. (You may transfer to fridge once it’s cool enough!)
While the mixture is cooling, prepare your “chia egg.” (This is your binding agent!) Combine milk with chia seeds and let sit for about 10 minutes, until mixture is slightly gelatinous. 
Now, it’s time to make the falafel! Mash chickpeas very well with a fork. Mix together with breadcrumbs, cilantro and garlic. Once the eggplant is roasted and cooled, scoop out the inside, discarding the skin. Mash as well as you can, and incorporate it into the breadcrumb mixture. Add in the chia egg, and use your hands to bring it all together. 
Roll into balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden on the outside. 
Combine cooled broth with yogourt, mixing well. 
Serve hot falafel with cool yogourt sauce. Use more fresh cilantro to garnish if desired. 
NOTE: Short on time? No fret! Here are a couple of suggestions…
You can roast the eggplant the day before. 
You can skip the broth part of the yogurt sauce if you want to, and instead, just mix yogourt with a couple of tsp of harissa or sriracha! Instant spicy yogurt!


Pretty in Pink Salad (Quinoa with Watermelon and Beets)

Being vegetarian for over 10 years, I often get asked “but where do you get your protein?”
There are so many plant-based significant sources of protein out there, many of which you’re probably already eating. (Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, peas, spinach, broccoli, just to name a few.) Quinoa is among those plant-based sources, and it is a little powerhouse. Quinoa is even more versatile than rice, quick and easy to cook, and contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs for growth and repair. You can eat it sweet like porridge, savoury like rice, or go somewhere in between, like this pretty pink salad.

Watermelon + Beets: a tantalizingly refreshing combo that looks as wonderful as it tastes. The earthiness of the beets balance the sweetness of the watermelon, and the textures compliment each other beautifully. I convinced the boy to hop on the pink salad bandwagon with me, and we were both hooked. Imagine my surprise when came home after work one afternoon, about to rush over to school, when I was greeted by the loveliest smile and a hands that were holding a watermelon and beet salad, ready to go. Only this time, it wasn’t only watermelon and beets. No, my wonderful man took it up a notch, and invited quinoa and figs to join the party. With some avocado placed delicately on top, Josh had turned a side salad into a full blown vegan meal. I couldn’t be prouder!

I’ll keep this post short and sweet, so you can get right on to the market and pick yourself up a nice juicy watermelon to make this salad tonight. I’ll share the recipe, you share the love!

Happy August!

Quinoa with Watermelon and Beets

2 cups watermelon, cubed
4 small beets, boiled until tender, cooled and cubed
1 cup cucumber, cubed
1 cup cooked, cooled quinoa
Handful of dried figs, chopped
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
1 avocado, sliced

Combine all ingredients, except avocado, and toss gently. Garnish with avocado slices. Sprinkle with pistachios or hemp seeds for an extra protein boost!

Roasting Season (Roasted Pear, Spiced Pecan & Blue Cheese Salad)

The autumn leaves, vibrant and warm not long ago, seem to be turning dull and brown faster than the temperatures are dropping. There is a place, however, that is brighter than ever at this time of year. Adorned with rich autumnal hues, brimming with the season’s best squash, tubers and root vegetables, you can count on your local farmer’s market stands to bring some vibrancy back into your day. Behind the stands, stacks of mason jars line the walls, adjacent to pies overflowing with seasonal fruits. An intoxicating smell of mulling spice is in the air… Suddenly, when you’re here, the word autumn becomes synonymous with comfort. 

Trading flowy dresses for chunky cable knits, replacing bonfires with fireplaces, comfort is the word of the season – especially when it comes to our meals.
Is it possible for a salad to be a comfort food?
Don’t dismiss the idea just yet. Enter caramelized pears, spiced pecans, and blue cheese. Cheese is always comforting. (Unless you’re vegan. Horrah for Daiya shreds!) 
Toss these three things with a head of lettuce and voila! Autumn gourmet – comfort salad. 
So sit back, pull up your legwarmers, and breathe in that oddly comforting, subtle smell of burning insects of seasons’ past as you turn on your electric heater for the first time. And then, enjoy this salad. Let it warm your body and your soul. 
Or at least just your body. 
Or, eat it cold if you prefer.
You know, you should just eat this no matter what. 
Like now. 
Trust me.
Caramelized Pear, Spiced Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad 
an original recipe by allison sklar 
what you’ll need
1 head boston lettuce, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 medium sized just-ripe pears (fruit should be firm)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar 
Pinch sea salt
1 cup pecan halves
1 egg white
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika 
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp mayo or vegan mayo
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar 
how to do it

Roast your pecans
Preheat oven to 300F. Toss pecans with beaten eggwhite in a medium bowl. In seperate bowl, mix all of the spices together. Toss coated pecans with spice mixture. Spread evenly on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 23 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. While pecans are roasting, prepare your pears.

Beware: your house is going to smell amazing.

PrePEAR (oh come on, you laughed.)
Slice pears into about 6 sections each. Remove seeds and stem. In a microwave safe bowl (or on the stovetop) melt butter and brown sugar together. Whisk in salt. Toss pears with butter/sugar mixture.
Lay evenly on parchment lined sheet. Once pecans are done, turn oven up to 325F. Roast pears for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they begin to soften and brown.

While pears are roasting, prepare dressing by combining all ingredients and whisking until smooth. Toss finished pears with chopped lettuce and pecans. Top with cheese and drizzle with dressing.

Enjoy!

Savouring Summer (Sweet Potato Salad with Maple)

As I sit in the beaming afternoon sun, squinting to see my computer screen, sweating as if I’d just been to the gym for hours, one might see me and wonder why I don’t just go inside. The answer is simple: I’m trying my absolute hardest to absorb as much as I can of the last weeks of summer. Treating each day as if it is a mirage, knowing well that a Canadian summer is but a fleeting train filled with sunshine and happiness, I’m making a solid point to be outdoors as much as possible. Unlike many, I don’t complain that it’s 30 degrees C outside. I don’t complain that it’s humid. I don’t complain that I’m sticky and my skin is glistening with sweat. No, I don’t complain. Instead, I embrace it. I know fair well that in less than three months, the temperatures will dip to a number colder than the inside of my freezer, and I’ll be praying for these dog days to return. 
In the spirit of all things summer, I’ve been eating tons of salad. This afternoon, I decided that I should make something different than my usual spinach and whatever-is-around mixture. Opening my vegetable bin for inspiration, I spotted an almost forgotten sweet potato. Out of the corner of my eye, I also spotted my shiny new jar of Vegenaise. 
Sweet potato salad? 
Is that even a thing? 
It is now! (And is it EVER!)

Sweet Potato Salad with Maple Dressing (VEGAN!)
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and cubed
2 hot (or mild) cubanelle peppers (one large bell pepper would work too.)
2 lebanese cucumbers (1 regular cucumber would also work)
handful chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp Vegenaise
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp dijon mustard
pinch salt & pepper
Cook sweet potato as desired – I use the microwave to save on time, but I recommend chopping into cubes and boiling until desired tenderness is reached. Cool potatoes (to room temperature or colder.) Dice cucumbers and peppers. Combine with potatoes. In a seperate bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients. Toss dressing with salad and chopped cilantro. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.
Serve cold. 
Tip: For a more traditional “potato salad” flavour, add 1/2 cup of sweet corn kernels and 1/2 cup of chopped pickles, if desired.