Howdy everyone! It’s taken me longer than normal to post a recipe here; as is likely the case for many of you, the last few days have been spent slowly emerging from a holiday-induced food and booze lethargy. I can’t say I always enjoy the overconsumption that typically comes with the season – often I find myself stuffing my face for the sake of stuffing my face – but this year I’m proud to report I really put my heart (and stomach) into it! Christmas dinner on the 25th was had at a resort in the snowy Cariboo region of BC (108 Mile Ranch to be exact) and featured an impressive spread with lots of tasty vegetarian options – the roasted brussel sprouts and yams being the standout dish – and a nice selection of BC VQA wines. We went with the Blasted Church gewurztraminer (thumbs up). After going back for seconds and then finishing things off with an impressive helping of dessert, as is my way (black forest trifle and pumpkin mousse), I wish I’d worn pants with an elasticated waste. You just can’t wear skinny jeans to a buffet, everyone knows that.
More eating happened the following day at my mother-in-law’s place (Hi Sher ), most of which wasn’t too disastrous from a health perspective apart from the generous glass of Baileys-on-ice I knocked back after taking Hunter out for a toboggan ride in the snow, and the handfuls of candy I compulsively helped my to from the bowls set out on the side table.
Even with Christmas over and done with, I was somewhat compelled to continue the festive eating as my birthday falls on the 27th. I was still too full from Christmas to bear the thought of a dinner out to celebrate on my actual birthday, so we waited until we returned to Lake Country the following night. My plan going in to the meal, commendably, was to not eat anything too extravagant, but after one glance at the menu and a few sips of wine I suddenly felt less inclined to act commendably. First there was grilled foccacia served with a roasted garlic bulb and baked brie with roasted red pepper mayonnaise, then came the main event – a fantastically flavourful capellini pasta with seasonal roasted vegetables. Finally there was dessert – an amaretto-infused pannetone bread pudding – which was quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever ingested. All was washed down with a bottle (maybe two) of Arrowleaf pinot gris, another great BC wine. Just recounting the meal makes me fall into a reverie. Sigh.
After really giving it (pie hole-stuffing) my all for several consecutive days, I was more than craving a simple, vegan meal to ring in the new year. This soup isn’t particularly festive in the traditional sense (truth be told, I don’t even know what traditional New Year’s fare looks like), but you can’t deny that it looks like one hell of a party in a bowl: lots of colourful veggies, bowtie pasta and confetti-like jasmine rice, all in a warming, paprika-spice tomato broth. A bottle of cheap bubbly wine and homemade pizza will be the extent of our celebrating tonight, and I highly doubt I’ll stay awake until midnight – at this point catching up on sleep is far more important. However, I’m looking forward to further mining my twin obsessions (cooking and eating) in 2013 and discovering your culinary creations as well. Happy New Year
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup sweet potato, diced into 1/2″ cubes
- 1 small zucchini, cut into half moons
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup corn
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1/4 cup rice (I used Jasmine)
- 1/2 cup farfalle (bowtie) pasta (or your choice of gluten free pasta)
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 398ml can diced tomatoes, preferably organic
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large saucepan or stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute just until fragrant and golden brown. Add red pepper flakes, cumin, paprika and coriander and stir until spices coat other ingredients. Stir in sweet potato, zucchini, yellow and orange pepper and corn. Add diced tomatoes, vegetable stock and water. Add rice and pasta and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and let soup simmer until pasta, rice and vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add spinach. Remove from heat as soon as spinach is wilted. Taste and correct with salt if necessary. Serve, topping each portion with freshly ground black pepper. Eat!