Category Archives: Vegetables

Grilled Zucchini Halloumi Chickpea Salad

plated 3 FWe’re not big on celebrating the “Hallmark Card Holidays” in our house. Valentines Day is just an excuse for me to bake, blog about and then gorge on photo shoot leftovers of gorgeous heart shaped cookies like these, or these or especially these!! Not that I really need a holiday excuse to bake cookies.

Mother’s and Father’s Day are customarily observed with the perfunctory card and a big hug. So imagine my surprise this year when each of my 3 children, totally independant of each other, presented me with gifts. Two days before, my youngest son gave me a delicate sterling silver chain bracelet. On Mother’s Day my oldest son handed me an impeccably wrapped and ribboned box that contained an elegant hand blown glass pitcher with a flavour infuser in the center. And then, 6 weeks after Mother’s Day, my middle child, (my daughter), left a fitbit on my desk.

My first thought was that my husband told the kids he was leaving me for a younger faster version and hadn’t gotten around to telling me yet. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I was dying and no one had the guts to break the news to me. But no, the husband vowed he was in it for the long haul and I felt perfectly healthy. Turns out, they just wanted to show me how much they love and appreciate me. Awww. Sweet!!

Guzzling mint-strawberry-cucumber flavoured water and wearing the fitbit make me believe I am healthier already. I decided to go with the flow and assembled this healthy, insanely delicious salad I discovered in the June 2014 issue of Chatelaine magazine.

Already armed with some gorgeous local zucchini, I was prepared. zucchiniI sliced the fatter zucchini on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick planks. The little ones I just sliced in half, lengthwise. slicing green zucchini on diagonalA package of Halloumi cheese gets sliced into 1/2 inch planks as well. slicing halloumiI whisked together a dressing with white wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.lemon juice FEverything gets treated to a generous glug of good olive oil, some Kosher salt and pepper (no salt for the cheese!, it’s salty enough already.) The zucchini get grilled until deeply golden brown. I pan fried the halloumi since it can stick to the grill. A can of chickpeas and some fresh mint and parsley and lunch is ready. plated 4FI think that eating raw zucchini is about as pleasant and flavourful as chewing a sponge. But bathe it in olive oil, salt and pepper and let it get grill kissed and something magical happens to the taste and texture. It becomes silky in texture and almost meaty in substance. And if you have never had fried halloumi cheese before, well, let’s just say you are in for a real treat. It is salty, slightly rubbery and squidgey. While that may not sound like the most appetizing description, trust me, it is delicious. It sort of squeaks between your teeth when you chew it and it is very addictive. plated 2F 625 sq

Click here to print recipe for Zucchini Halloumi Chickpea Salad.

Inspiration

Happy Blogiversary to me. This is my 300th post! When I look back at my first post, It seems hard for me to believe I have been at this for over 6 years. This journey has been one of self discovery as well as one heck of a huge learning curve. With each post I learn something new and develop skills I never knew I had the capacity for. The most joyous thing about blogging is the readers. Connecting with strangers out there in the blogosphere is really incredible. (Also, it’s a great way to hear from your family!) Thanks so much you guys, for continuing to subscribe, read and leave me comments! Bloggers live for the comments. It means we are not just spewing off to an empty vacuum. Someone is out there listening.

For my 300th post I though I would talk about inspiration. People always ask me how do I think of subjects to blog about. Where does my inspiration come from?

Sometimes it comes from obvious sources, like travel to FloridaThe Amalfi Coast or South Africa. At times the nucleus of an idea forms as I am just going about my daily routine, perhaps at spin class or even something as mundane as sitting in the bathroom.

Life’s little challenges along the way can often provide inspiration as well. My son’s gluten intolerance spawned this post, and empty nest syndrome inspired this one. Once in a while sheer greed gives rise to a post, such as this one about a Chip Stand Crawl. Often the spark is my excitement to share an awesome new recipe I’ve discovered and can’t believe I have ever lived without before, like Double Coconut Granola. And then, once in a blue moon, lightning strikes, literally!

A visit to Parkdale Market yesterday left me feeling very inspired. Stay tuned for posts about all these gorgeous vegetables.

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green and yellow beansstrawberriespurple cauliflowerwhite cauliflower

 

Warm Broccoli Salad

three broccoli headsthree small and one large black plateWhile broccoli might not be the first vegetable you think of for a summer salad, let me be the one to convince you otherwise. With the addition of a warm garlic vinaigrette and a garnish of grated hard boiled eggs and crunchy salty rye bread croutons, it’s the perfect warm weather side dish.

Start with hard boiling the eggs. I am a hard boiled egg pro. No green or grey rim around the yolk ever! It was my responsibility to hard boil a gross (don’t see that word used very much anymore! ) of eggs every morning at my very first restaurant job. Here’s how to make perfect ones every time. Place eggs in a pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Put lid on pot and remove pot from the heat. Let sit, covered for 12 minutes. Drain, rinse eggs under cold water and peel as needed. hard boiled eggsNext, dissect the broccoli. three preparationsPeel the stems and cut into diagonal coins. peeling stemsslicing stems on diagonalCut the head of the broccoli into thick 1/2 inch planks. These broccoli planks remind me of the storybook character Flat Stanley. If you have never heard of him, check out this link. I have always wanted to possess this super power of making myself totally flat so that I could slide under locked doors and snoop where I shouldn’t! What super hero power do you wish you had?slicing planksAs you slice the planks, little bits of florets will fall off. Set them aside for boiling or steaming. They are too tiny and tender for roasting. 

A few glugs of extra virgin olive oil, a liberal sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and the sliced stems and flat planks ready for roasting.ready for roastingToast some rye bread croutons while the broccoli is roasting. croutonsWhisk together a warm garlic-mustard vinaigrette.garlic vinaigretteArrange the roasted and steamed broccoli on a platter. Drizzle with the tangy dressing and garnish with the egg and croutons. Each bite is a perfect combination of textures and flavours. The roasted broccoli brings a charred, smoky bite. The verdant steamed broccoli adds a bit of freshness. Hard boiled eggs add creaminess and the rye croutons add salt and crunch, always welcome at any party. The tangy Dijon garlic vinaigrette wakes up your taste buds. round black platter

Click here to print recipe for Warm Broccoli Salad.

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Shaved Spring Salad

on green plate 625 sqIn my little corner of the world, there is still one stubborn patch of ice in the north-east corner of my yard that refuses to melt. The chives, god bless their hardy little souls, have managed to poke through the ice and have given me hope that spring will arrive.

We are still weeks away from local asparagus here in Ottawa but that has not curbed my craving for something raw and crunchy! Imported rainbow carrots and asparagus will have to do for now.fresh beautiful sprng coloursShave the carrots and asparagus with a vegetable peeler. I love my Y shaped peeler! At the risk of being accused of “skinny shaming”, fat spears are what you want here. Thos skinny ass spears of asparagus are useless (and tasteless too, IMHO).carrotsasparagusToasted hazelnuts, chives and some shavings of gouda or gruyere cheese are mixed in to provide some crunch and funk. Tossed with a simple hazelnut oil vinaigrette, this shaved salad tastes like springtime in a bowl. Most supermarkets now carry hazelnut oil now. Just remember to store it in the fridge. Feel free to use olive oil instead if you can’t find hazelnut oil. It will still be delicious.

Click here to print recipe for Shaved Spring Salad.

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Roasted Squash with Smoked Paprika, Maple Syrup and Sage Salt

Roasted squash 2 625 sqWhile home for a visit last weekend, my daughter observed the mess on our dining room table and expressed the opinion that perhaps I may have developed a bit of a hoarding problem. “Don’t you think you’ve acumulated enough food photography props mom?” she asked.DR tableClearly she doesn’t understand. Those are all spring/summer props. Now I need to start acquiring appropriate fall/winter props. While some parents turn their kid’s vacated bedrooms into gift wrapping quarters or perhaps an extra closet to store off season clothing, it is entirely possible that her bedroom may be converted into my props closet, if I continue collecting at my current rate.

Of course it doesn’t help when my sister sends me these charming bowls. They were intended as nut bowls, but they are just perfect as mise en place bowls for a photo shoot!  I let out a squealed with joy when I opened my gift. I have an extreme fondness for bowls! The colour combination of these little vessels is just gorgeous. little bowlsShe found them in Toronto at The Cookery Store. I have since discovered you can also get them online at Fishs Eddy.

I had a glut of winter squash after a recent photo shoot, and I needed to use them up before they went bad. My go-to ingredient for roasting vegetables is smoked paprika. It just makes everything taste better. The inspiration for this roasted squash hails from Melissa Clark’s book, Cook This Now. She mixed smoked paprika with olive oil and honey and smeared it all over squash before roasting. I swapped out the honey for some maple syrup, because that’s just the way we Canadians roll!ingredients

brushing squashMelissa suggests finishing the roasted squash with a sprinkling of homemade sage salt. So simple to make; just bake some fresh sage leaves for about 10 minutes, until crispy. Then crumble them between your fingers with some coarse sea salt. Earthy, and slightly bitter, sage makes a perfect partener for sweet squash. A final sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds adds a welcome crunch.

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Squash with Maple Syrup, Smoked Paprika and Sage Salt.

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