Category: vegetables

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have written some of the most delicious recipes that I have ever tried. The pair have a way of taking whole foods and transforming them into vibrant, flavourful dishes that absolutely never disappoint. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the duo, they are the co-authors of the Ottolenghi and Jerusalem cookbooks. Ottolenghi has also published two excellent vegetarian books, Plenty, and Plenty More, collections of recipes from his vegetarian newspaper column over at the Guardian. Whenever I’m in need of inspiration, I flip one of these gorgeous books open, scan around, and stop at whatever catches my eye, or whatever suits the vegetables in my fridge. I am in no way affiliated with these authors, and this isn’t a promotion. This is just a little fangirl blogging about her biggest inspirations!

This weekend, I was invited to a very meat-centric potluck dinner, so I felt it appropriate to provide a hearty vegetarian option for those of us who are slightly less carnivorous. I wanted to make something simple, but that had a complex flavour profile. Enter this colourful dish – stewed chickpeas with caramelized sweet potatoes. Sounds simple, but Oh. Baby. I want to eat this stuff all day, erry day. Now, note that you can probably make this vegan by subbing coconut oil for the butter, but really, if there’s ever a time to use butter, that time is now. Replacing it would be, just… well, it would be just OK. It would kinda be like the difference between going to see a Stones cover band, or seeing the actual Rolling Stones. The butter is Mick Jagger. You just won’t get the same satisfaction. (See what I did there? Ok, ok, I’ll get on with it.)

This recipe is a variation of the recipe titled Chickpeas and Spinach with Honeyed Sweet Potato (Ottolenghi, 82.) In the spirit of respecting intellectual property, I always like to give credit to those recipe authors who have inspired me, so, thank you kindly, Ottolenghi & Tamimi. You made my potluck dish a big hit!

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato
serves 3 to 4 people

ingredients
500g sweet potato, cubed
50g salted butter
4 tbsp honey
3 cups water

3 tbsp oil
1 small onion (or about 6 shallots), finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp corriander seeds
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 can (591ml) chopped, unseasoned tomatoes (no salt added is preferable)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp mango powder (found in most spice stores, Indian or Asian grocers, or bulk stores.)
(note: if you can’t find mango powder, 1 tsp of lemon juice or zest will also work.)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups torn spinach (or baby spinach)
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

cayenne pepper, to taste (use more if you like it spicy!)
salt, to taste

method
In a wide pot, bring water with potatoes, butter and honey to a boil. Lower heat to medium, and continue to cook until water is absorbed and butter & honey start to caramelize. Do not stir.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan. Add onions or shallots, and cook over medium heat, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and corriander seeds. Continue cooking until onions are brown and have reduced, about 3 more minutes. Add ketchup and stir, scraping any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add canned tomatoes with their juice. Add ginger, cumin and mango powder. Stir well. When mixture starts to bubble, add chickpeas and spinach. Continue to cook until mixture starts to thicken. Add cilantro after about 10 minutes. Taste, and add salt as needed. Add cayenne , a little at a time, until you’ve reached your preferred level of heat. By this time, your potatoes should be ready, or almost there. Once they are, pour them into the pan, along with their buttery juices. Scrape as much of the browned butter into the pan as possible. Give it one nice, gentle stir.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro.

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.

Warm Up (Mushroom Risotto with Thyme and Cheddar)

It’s that time of year again, Montreal! You know, that season that isn’t quite a season? For those of you who don’t live here, let me fill you in. We’ve had the kind of days that’ve started off in cozy sweaters and boots, and have ended off in shorts and flip flops. We’ve seen the kind of weeks that have offered us weather reminiscent of Melbourne – rain, sun, frost and heat all within 24 hours.

One certainty in all of this is that Autumn has officially arrived! The general drop in temps has offered us a much needed break after our wildly humid summer, so we can put our hair down and lace our boots up. Because, let’s face it – the best part of fall is the fashion… Oh, and of course, the other best part is the comfort food!

So, without further adieu, I present to you the rich, the tasty, the creamy mushroom risotto! Inspired by a deliciously rich dish that I recently ate at a small resto (in the suburbs, who’d have imagined!?) I decided to create my very own version.

It does take some time to make, but don’t let that stop you – it’s totally and completely worth it.
Now go get cooking!


Mushroom Risotto with Thyme and Cheddar

what you’ll need
1 cup white wine
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 cup arborio rice
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp chopped marinated garlic
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmiggiano cheese
1 cup water + more as needed

how to do it
Sautee mushrooms and green onions in oil in a medium saucepan. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring rice and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat and stir. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until rice absorbs the liquid. Slowly add in one cup wine. Simmer and stir until absorbed. Add one cup of stock at a time, waiting until absorbed before each addition, and constantly stirring. (Note – If rice is not fully cooked – tender, but not crunchy – after three cups of stock, continue the process with water or wine.) Once rice is tender, stir in mushroom mixture, garlic and thyme. Fold in cheeses. Sprinkle a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper into the mixture. Serve immediately, sprinkled with extra cheese if desired.

Honey Garlic Brussels Sprouts with Almonds

Prior to last year, Brussels Sprouts and I had never crossed paths. Perhaps it was because I was brought up thinking that these little green spheres were meant to taste putrid, and that I should avoid them at all costs. (In reality, I think it was just because my mother didn’t like them herself.) Whatever the case, I discovered cabbage’s baby cousins while on holiday abroad, and I have been eating them happily ever since. 
Lately, I’ve been hum-ho while cooking (aka, lazy) and eaten most of my veggies straight-up steamed. Tonight however, I decided that it was time to spruce things up. A gander into my fridge led me to throw in a dash of this, a sprinkle of that, and before I knew it, voila! A delightful honey garlic sauce was born.

Honey Garlic Brussels Sprouts with Almonds
an original recipe by allison sklar
what you’ll need
2 cups brussels sprouts
4 tbsp honey
1 medium head garlic
1/4 cup slivered almonds
sea salt & black peppercorns
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp olive oil
how to do it
chop brussels sprouts into thin pieces. chop garlic into large chunks. whisk together oils and honey. toss mixture with brussels sprouts into a large frying pan. over medium-low heat, cook until desired tenderness is reached (about 10 minutes). If brussels sprouts begin to brown too quickly, toss in 2 to 4 tbsp of water and cook until water evaporates. sprinkle with desired amounts of salt and pepper just before serving. 

Move Over, Minnestrone (Vegetable Soup)

I am generally not a soup person. The idea of having something that’s both liquidy and chunky at the same time on my spoon just doesn’t jive in my head, nor does it feel right in my mouth. That being said, there have always been a few exceptions: matzah ball soup, for one. And, well, who can resist clam chowdah (…in a bread bowl, in San Francisco, at that?) Otherwise, soup is rarely a headliner, neither a sidekick on my table.

However, today, while staring blankly into my fridge as I often do, I found myself staring at my box of vegetable stock and slightly craving a warm cup of broth to soothe my sore throat. Known to some as Jewish Penicillin, chicken soup has been widely known as the go-to meal for generations of cold and flu sufferers. However, my lack of wanting to eat chicken, combined with the medley of vegetables in my refrigerator that have decided to wilt in unison, inspired me to stir up a vegetable-based bouillon.
Chop. Pour. Simmer. Who knew three simple steps could release the most magical aroma into the air? 
Soon after, I sat on the couch, sipping the magical masterpiece with my roommate while discussing possible names for my most fantastic creation. His favorite part was the sweetness provided by the corn, whereas I thoroughly enjoyed the colourful combination. 
I suggested “Rainbow Soup.” 
He said, “That’s corny.”
I laughed. Hard. 

Corny Rainbow Soup
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 box vegetable broth (I used Campbells)
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, diced
1 can sweet corn
1 can San Marzano plum tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp red pepper (chilli) flakes (Optional)
how to do it
Toss diced vegetables into pot. Cover with broth.  Heat on medium. Once soup comes to a boil, add corn & red pepper flakes & stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. 
Serve garnished with shaved parmigiano reggiano cheese, if desired. 

Chard Charade (Swiss Chard & Arugula Sauté)

Readers, friends, fellow bloggers, Mom… I’d like you all to meet Swiss Chard. She’s a lovely leafy green that tastes just like spinach, only slightly heartier, and possesses the most photogenic stems I’ve ever seen. I’ve shied away from Chard in the past, burdened with a fear of all that is unknown and green after an unfortunate mishap with raw rapini. To my sweet surprise, this chard did not leave the same bitter aftertaste on my tongue that do most greens. In fact, the striking similarity to spinach had me reaching for seconds. And possibly thirds… but who’s counting?

What to cook the chard with? Whatever’s on hand! When cooking with chard, don’t be shy – use the stems as well as the leaves to add a pop of colour to your dish. Use it in your favourite recipes in place of spinach, or, go ahead and make this easy entrée tonight and change up your routine!

Swiss Chard & Arugula Sauté

what you’ll need
1 tbsp light olive oil
1 cup Swiss chard, chopped
1 cup arugula (roquette), chopped
1/2 cup corn kernels, reserving 4 tbsp liquid from can
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp cayenne/chilli powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

how to do it
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Toss in arugula, chard and liquid. Once greens begin to wilt, add in corn and tomatoes, constantly moving around in pan with spatula. Sprinkle on salt, cumin and cayenne. Cook about 4 minutes on medium heat, or until tomatoes begin to blister and liquid reduces.
Serve warm, optionally topped with plain non-fat greek yogourt.