Spaghetti Squash with Sundried Tomatoes and Olives

I love the idea of spaghetti squash, but I find it doesn’t have quite enough flavour on its own.  As my friend Meredyth says, sundried tomatoes make everything better.  I feel the same way about olives.  This easy recipe isn’t shy on taste, and it is super healthy and all-vegetable.  And  nut.  Okay, and olives are actually a fruit . . . but you get the point.

What you need:

1 spaghetti squash

6 sundried tomatoes

1 lemon, juice and zest

2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped basil

1/2 clove garlic, finely diced

about a dozen kalamata olives

1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts

What you do:

1.  Cut the squash in half, scoop the seeds out and place cut-side down on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400F for about 40 minutes.

2.  While the squash is baking toast the pine nuts.

3.  When the squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it is cool enough to handle.

4.  Combine the lemon juice and zest, olive oil, basil, sundried tomatoes, olives, garlic and basil.

5.  Remove the squash from the shells by scraping with a fork.  Add the other ingredients to the squash.

Ready, easy and yummy!

Spinach Borek with Apple Tahini Sauce

Spinach Borek is a great little vegan savoury appetizer than you can make up ahead of time, then pop in the oven as guests are arriving.  I made up the filling the day before and filled it right before putting it in the oven, but you could also fill and fold them up ahead of time.  Just put them in the fridge with a slightly damp towel over top.  I found this recipe in Molly Katzen’s ‘Enchanted Broccoli Forest’ years ago and have only slightly modified it.

What you need for the Spinach Borek:

2 packages frozen spinach

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, chopped finely (about 1&1/2 cups)

1/2 teaspoon salt

pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1/3 cup fine bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind

1/2 cup currants

a little grated nutmeg

1 pound filo pastry

What you need for the Apple Tahini Sauce:

1/2 cup tahini

1/4 cup apple juice, or more as needed

1 & 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cayenne

How to make the spinach borek:

1. Thaw filo and spinach.  Filo needs a few hours to thaw; read the instructions on the label.  If you have it in the fridge, take it out at least one hour before you plan to use it.

2.  Heat about 1 tablespoon of the oil and fry the onion over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes.  Squeeze the excess moisture out of the spinach and add it to the onions, cooking for a few minutes.

3.  Remove from heat and add all the remaining ingredients and mix them in well.

4.  Lay out the filo and brush a little olive oil over the sheet.  Follow the diagram below to fold them up, then brush on  a little more olive oil before they go in the oven.

5.  Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.  These are great hot, and can also be served at room temperature.

How to make the tahini sauce:

1.  Use electric mixer to beat tahini for about 5 minutes.

2. Gradually add apple juice and cider vinegar.  Add more apple juice if it’s too thick.

Note:  if you don’t add it gradually it will become a blobby mess and the oil may separate, like it did for me.  I spent ages trying to bring it back to the consistency it should be.

3.  Add remaining ingredients and taste to see if you want to adjust the seasonings.

4.  You can keep this in the fridge for a few weeks, but keep in mind that it thickens up when it’s cold.  You may want to take it out of the fridge a while before serving so it has time to soften up.

This sauce is also great for a veggie dip, or a spread for crackers or bread.

Lemon Tahini Chickpea Salad

This salad is so easy to make, tastes amazing, and has lots of nutrients tp keep you healthy!  Chickpeas have plenty of dietary fibre, vitamin B6, folate and manganese.  One third of a cup of sweet red peppers contains your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, as well as lots of vitamins A and E, B6, folate and many other nutrients!

What you need:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed

1 sweet red pepper, sliced into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon red onion, chopped finely

1/4 cup loosely packed chopped basil

2 teaspoons olive or flax oil

1 tablespoon tahini

1/4 teaspoon cumin

juice of 1/2 a lemon

optional: fresh mint

What you do:

1.  Mix the oil, tahini, cumin and lemon juice.

2.  Put the chickpeas, onions, pepper and basil in a bowl.  Mix in the dressing.  Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

3.  Before serving, chop up some mint and place on top of the salad.

Lemony Kale

Easy, good for you.  Need I say more?  Oh yeah, it tastes great too!

You need:

garlic cloves, sliced

olive oil

kale

lemon juice, fresh squeezed

What you do:

1.  Slice 1-2 garlic cloves per person.  Heat olive oil in frying pan on medium heat.   Add garlic, and fry briefly.  It should not turn brown.

2.  Cut the leaves of the kale off the stems, and chop roughly.  Add kale and stir, adding a tablespoon or so or lemon juice.  The kale will begin to wilt, and it will be ready to go!  It should be bright green and fresh looking when it is, finished cooking, which only takes a few seconds.

3.  Eat it right now, while it is still warm and fresh!

Kale is an anti-oxidant, and is a good source of beta carotene (good for the eyes), vitamin C, lutein (also good for the eyes), calcium, and has cancer fighting properties.  It’s a superfood!  So eat up!

Quick Lemon Pasta

Looking for ways to use up my bumper crop of arugula, I made up this easy pasta dish.  You can easily substitute the arugula for fresh basil; just use a little less.  It’s a super fast meal to prepare!

What you need:

Pasta (I used brown rice spaghetti by Tinkyada)

fresh lemon juice

parmesan (I use lactose-free l’Ancetre)

arugula or fresh basil

salt and pepper

What you do:

1.  Cook the pasta in lots of water.

2.  Squeeze lemon juice, about 1/2 a lemon per person.  Mix it with a tablespoon or two of parmesan per person, a big drizzle or olive oil, and salt and pepper.

3.  Chop arugula roughly and place in the bottom of a bowl.  Place hot pasta on top of the arugula so the arugula wilts a tiny bit from the heat of the pasta.  Pour the lemon mixture over top and mix it all up.

4.  Enjoy!

lemon block print

Fattoush – Lebanese Salad

I love to bring this salad to picnics.  While the recipe calls for pomegranate, I also make it without it, as fresh pomegranate isn’t always available.  My local Mediterranean shop carries ground sumac and pomegranate syrup, which is much thicker and more tart than pomegranate juice.

What you need:

1/4 cup fresh spearmint, chopped

1 cup tomatoes, cut into bite sized chunks

1/2 cup cucumber, cut into bite sized chunks

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

whole wheat pita bread

For the dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground sumac

1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup

1 clove garlic, chopped finely

What you do:

1.  Mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl.

2.  Put all the veggies and herbs into a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over and allow to sit for several hours before serving.

3.  Toast the pita bread in the oven until crispy, then break it into bite sized pieces.

4.  Serve the salad topped with the pita at the last minute so it doesn’t get soggy.

Kamut Salad

This kamut salad is delicious and high in protein.  I cooked the kamut and made the dressing, then just made up half the recipe for dinner, serving the kamut hot with the fresh veggies and chickpeas.  I used the leftovers for lunches by cutting up fresh veggies and mixing them with the dressing and cold kamut and chickpeas.

For the kamut:

3 cups water

1 cup kamut

Bring the water to a boil, then add the kamut.  Reduce the heat, put a lid on it, and let it simmer for 1 & 1/4 hours.  Then take the lid off and let it simmer until the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes.

For the dressing:

Juice of 1 lemon or lime

1 tablespoon flax or olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix it all together with the following ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, drained

1-2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch scallion, sliced thinly

1 cup chopped mini cucumber

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Enjoy!