On my ad-free cooking blog I only post recipes that people tell me they love – some are healthy, some are not, but they are all delicious! I record these recipes because I love to cook, and people tell me they appreciate looking at and trying out my recipes. Please write a comment if you have any thoughts about my posts so I know if I should keep experimenting with new recipes, documenting them, and paying to keep this blog advertisement-free. Thanks for the feedback! Enjoy!
I was fortunate to spend some time in Haida Gwaii recently, an archipelago off of B.C.’s coast. It is a gorgeous place, with lush forests and stunning coastlines. The Haida people have lived here since time immemorial and we experienced a thriving culture. We were able to see a lot of totem poles and other traditional art, and we experienced the sharing spirit of the place.
While staying in Masset at the Copper Beech House we were honoured to be invited to a dinner where we had, among other things, this pan-fried sea asparagus. Of course I had to find out more about it, so Chelsea who runs the show at the Inn taught me what to do. She taught me where to harvest it, and how to soak it to get rid of a lot of the salt, and then how to cook it. (see below)
Sea asparagus makes a nice side vegetable dish, or in a small quantity it could be a lovely garnish for salmon. We had it with ling cod and spruce tip syrup, and some herbed baby potatoes.
Sea asparagus goes by many names: sea bean, samphire, glasswort, saltwort, and probably others. Here is a link to an article about sea asparagus if you’re interested in learning more about it. Also this one. will give you more information on where to harvest. You can buy it at some Farmer’s Markets, but you can forage it for free if you live in the right area!
What you need:
butter or olive oil
What you do:
After harvesting the sea asparagus, clean it of any bits that don’t belong, brown parts especially.
Rinse the sea asparagus, then soak it in fresh water for about an hour.
Heat some butter or olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the sea asparagus briefly, tossing with tongs. It should still be bright green, so that it doesn’t become soggy.
A number of years ago I was on a trip to Spain, and I was treated to an amazing tapas feast. We ate so many delicious foods that night, but my favourite by far was the Padrón peppers – blackened, slathered with olive oil, and topped with crunchy salt. They were mildly hot; some were a little warmer than others, but the heat wasn’t uncomfortable.
I didn’t think I would enjoy these at all, since I’m not fond of green bell peppers, but these are completely different from bell peppers. Yay for trying new things!
When I got home from the trip to Spain I thought I would make these peppers all the time when I had guests, however, limited access to Padrón peppers in Vancouver crushed my dream. I was able to find them once at a Farmer’s Market. I paid a small fortune for them, and they were so hot that no one would eat them! I did eat them because I can be a bit stubborn, but they were not nearly as good as the ones in Spain.
Enter: the Shishito pepper. I found them in Vancouver at a Persian store, and at my local Korean store they are labelled as Twist peppers. They are incredibly similar to Padrón peppers – yay!
What you need:
Shishito or Padrón peppers
flaky sea salt
What you do:
Wash and dry the peppers.
Bring a large frying pan (I like cast-iron for this) to high heat. Add a glug of olive oil, then add the peppers. Allow to fry for about one minute before turning; they should be blistered and darkened on the first side.
Fry on the other side for another minute or so.
Drizzle a bit more olive oil, then use your fingers to sprinkle on some sea salt.
Enjoy them while they’re hot! You can always soak up the excess olive oil with some bread.
I have seen a number of recipes for roasted chickpeas lately, but I wasn’t very interested in making them because of a bad experience with some chalky store-bought roasted chickpeas. For some reason I decided to give them a try, and was really happy with the result. They come out just the right texture, not too dry, not too soft. I love the bit of saltiness topping off the creamy eggplant and tahini sauce. Add the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and you’ve got a pretty perfect vegan meal.
This dinner is quite simple to make. Most of the work is done by the oven, roasting the eggplant and the chickpeas, and while it is roasting you just have to whip up a quick sauce.
I made this a few months ago, and I didn’t actually measure the sauce ingredients, so this is my best estimate of the amounts I used. I cobbled this recipe together from ideas I’ve seen in various cookbooks, most notably the Ottolenghi (drool) cookbooks.
What you need:
1 – 540 mL can chickpeas
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
3 – 4 long and skinny, or 8 small eggplants
For the sauce:
1/3 cup tahini paste
2/3 cup greek yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup water or more as needed
parsley to garnish
pomegranate seeds, of they are in season. Chopped dried sour cherries might be nice too.
What you do:
Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.
Rinse the chickpeas and pat them dry with a clean towel. Toss them in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then toss with salt, pepper and cumin. Spread out into a single layer on a baking tray.
Wash the eggplants and slice them in half lengthwise. Place them cut-side up on a baking tray and brush them with olive oil.
Roast the chickpeas and eggplants for 30-40 minutes, tossing the chickpeas halfway through the time. The eggplant should be very tender when you poke it with a fork. The chickpeas should be slightly crunchy, but not hard. It’s a good idea to test the chickpeas a few times in the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
While the oven is doing its thing you can make the sauce. Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Slowly add the water to make a pourable yet still thick sauce. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed.
Plate the eggplant, drizzling the sauce over them, and then top with the chickpeas. Garnish with chopped parsley and optional pomegranate.
Now that the warmer weather is here I’m starting to think about what to make for patio and picnic time. This salad is super tasty, and really healthy too. For me it’s a great quick meal salad, and since it keeps in the fridge for a few days I can just dig in whenever I need a little something to eat. You can also mix and match at you see fit, for example if you don’t like peppers you can substitute a bit of jicama or apple or whatever you’d like.
If you use canned beans and corn, all you have to do is make the dressing and add in whatever veg and herbs you like – super easy! Then let it all sit for about half an hour before you dig in.
I found the recipe here, and I just downsized the amounts. I used canned corn instead of frozen because I find frozen corn a bit rubbery, and peaches and cream corn is the best. I also added some freshly chopped tomato to the top of each salad, and a bit of extra bell pepper.
Avocado makes a great addition to the top of each salad serving. Sadly, I could not find a ripe avocado in the five stores I checked. They could charge double for the ripe ones… I’d pay double for a perfectly ripe avocado – would you?
What you need for the salad:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
I can peaches and cream corn, along with the liquid
1 small jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and diced (amount dependent on your heat preferences)
1 bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped red onion
What you need for the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
a pinch of cayenne pepper
What you do:
Mix up all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
In a larger bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Stir the dressing into the salad.
Let the salad sit in the fridge with a cover over it for half an hour, or a few hours.
This is SUCH a great salad! In my cookbook library is a copy of the amazing Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, which contains this recipe, but I didn’t think to make it until I saw rave reviews online. So many people were commenting that this was their favourite salad, and now I know what they are talking about. It is my new favourite salad, and I can hardly wait to make it again.
I love the buttery toasted almonds and pita tossed in sumac. The onions (I used red because they are pretty) that are nicely mellowed in a vinegar marinade, along with the dates which become meltingly delicious, and their sweetness is balanced by the onion and vinegar.
2 small pitas, roughly torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup whole unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
150g baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
What you do:
Place the vinegar, onion, and dates in a small bowl, adding a pinch of salt. Mix well with your hands, then leave to marinate for 20 minutes or more. Drain the extra vinegar
In a frying pan over medium heat melt the butter and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pita and almonds, stirring to cook them for 5 to 6 minutes. The pita should become crunchy and brown. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the sumac, red pepper flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Let this cool.
To prepare the salad toss the spinach with the pita in a large bowl, then add the dates and onion, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Serve right away!
I stumbled upon this recipe while searching for recipes to use the cucumbers that are growing in my garden. This blogger has a love for old recipes, and published this one, which is her version of a 17th century dish. She says it is “An interpretation of a dish described in Salvatore Massonio’s Archidipno overo dell’insalata e dell’vso di essa, published in Venice in 1627.”
It’s a really simple recipe, as are many of the best vegetable recipes. It should be prepared an hour or two before you plan to eat it.
I substituted sweet onion for regular, as I often do, and I peeled my cucumber because the peel on this variety is a little too bitter for me. In the original recipe the basil is added before refrigerating, but I like to add it at the end so that it retains its green colour. My version of the recipe is for two, and the measurements are approximate.
Please, please, please, don’t use dried basil for this recipe. It’s just not right. It really doesn’t taste like fresh basil. If you have no fresh basil, I’d opt to leave it out. You can freeze basil, so it retains the fresh flavour; if you use previously frozen basil in this salad it will be darker than fresh basil, but will still taste good.
After eating the salad I used the remaining dressing to pickle some cucamelons – these adorable little cucumbers that resemble a miniature watermelon. It was this summer’s garden experiment. The verdict? Cute, but I prefer a regular cucumber. The peel to inside ratio is a little high on the peel side.
What you need for two people:
1 small cucumber or 1/2 an English cuke
a small chunk of an Onion, sliced very thinly
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
a few pinches of salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
What you do:
Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl or large jar.
Cut the cucumber in half, then slice it lengthwise. Slice as thinly as you can, using a mandoline if you have one. Cut the onion in half and slice it as thinly as you can. Place the cucumber and onion in the container with the dressing and toss it well so it’s all coated.
Refrigerate for an hour or two.
Before serving chop the basil finely and stir it in.
I’m always looking for new ways to prepare vegetables, and with barbecue season finally arriving, this seemed like a great dish to try out. It’s got a slightly sweet sauce that glazes the soft eggplant. I will definitely be making this one again.
I found the recipe on this site, where they suggest serving the eggplant in an udon noodle dish. We ate it on its own as an appetizer, but I think it might also be good on small slices of bread, used like a spread.
What you need:
3 japanese eggplants (the long skinny ones)
2 tablespoons red miso
2 tablespoons mirin (or a sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon brown sugar
vegetable oil for griling
What you do:
Whisk the miso, mirin, tamari and sugar together in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook briefly, just until it has thickened. Set aside to cool.
Trim the stems from the eggplants and halve them lengthwise. Cut slits into the flesh of the eggplants, cutting almost through to the skin, but being careful not to slice all the way through it.
Preheat the grill. Brush the fleshy side of each eggplant lightly with oil. When the grill is hot, place the eggplant cut-side down, on the grill. Cook for about 3 minutes; the eggplant should have grill marks on the fleshly side, and be somewhat softened.
Turn the eggplants skin-side down, and spread the sauce over the fleshy side, all the way to the edges. Cook for about 3 more minutes. The eggplant should be very tender, and the sauce bubbling up.