Quinoa and Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad | With Lemon Vinaigrette and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

For those of you who participated in Virtual Vegan Potluck this past Saturday, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The scope of recipes that was brought to the table was remarkable, as was the care and expertise with which each dish was presented. I was really inspired by how creative – and in many cases, outright gourmet – the dishes were, flying in the face of any negative stereotype of ‘vegan potluck food’ one might hold. Vegan bloggers are clearly a talented lot! If you’re interested in checking out the potluck from the beginning, you can do so here.

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I also was super impressed by how smoothly the potlcuk came together – although I’m sure Annie at An Unrefined Vegan and Somer at Vedged Out, who coordinate the event, would disagree; just a guess, but rounding up 160+ bloggers from around the world and figuring out the logistics of getting them to post in unison must be a bit of migraine headache. I admire her dedication to making the whole thing happen!

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My sweet tooth was given full expression with the Salted Triple Chocolate Brownies I made for the potluck. Maybe the best thing about vegan baking is that you can sneak spoonfuls of the batter without risking salmonella poisoning, something I fully took advantage of while I was making my brownies. By the time I’d finished photographing and then sampling the final product, I felt like I’d definitely reached my sugar quota for the week, maybe even the month! Whenever that happens – and it certainly wasn’t the first time – I feel the need to ‘undo the damage’ wrought by the demonic baked good in question via a super healthy concoction of some sort.

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… Which is where this salad comes into the picture. Being a quinoa salad, it’s inherently nutritious – but with the bold flavours of marinated artichoke hearts, sweet balsamic-roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, lemon zest and crunchy radishes and toasted sunflower seeds, it’s anything but rabbit food! It makes a satisfying lunch on its own, and is also great as a side dish – but maybe the best way to enjoy this salad – and I only discovered this with the leftovers – is to bundle it up in a wrap and eat it that way. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – bread of any description always takes things to the next level!

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Recipe: Quinoa and Roasted Cherry Tomato Salad | With Lemon Vinaigrette and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon (zest your lemon first and set the zest aside; you’ll need it for the salad)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the salad

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 25 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Zest of 1 medium lemon
  • 6 medium basil leaves, chiffonaded
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts
  • 4 radishes, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup plain sunflower seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Roast cherry Tomatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  3. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and collapsed (tomatoes will leak a lot of juice while roasting – it’s OK)
  5. Rem0ve from oven and set aside to cool.

Cook quinoa

  1. While tomatoes are roasting, combine rinsed quinoa and 1 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and let quinoa cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Prepare Lemon Vinaigrette

  1. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, coriander and salt in a small bowl and whisk everything until thoroughly combined. 
  2. Set aside until needed.

Toast Sunflower Seeds

  1. Place sunflower seeds in a small skillet over medium heat.
  2. Tossing continuously, toast seeds until just golden brown (this will only take a couple minutes – be careful, they burn easily!).
  3. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Assemble Salad

  1. Place cooled quinoa, shallots, artichokes, radishes, basil, lemon zest and toasted sunflower seeds in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.
  2. Gently fold in roasted tomatoes and juices from roasting pan.
  3. Drizzle lemon vinaigrette into bowl toss until everything is combined.
  4. Serve, topping each portion with freshly ground black pepper. Eat!

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‘Pretty in Pink’ Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salad | With Sweet and Spicy Sesame Dressing

We’ve settled in nicely at the trailer park here in the Lower Mainland. After a few long months of being cooped up inside the trailer in the Okanagan, where it was too cold to spend much time outdoors, Hunter (now a bona fide toddler) is enjoying getting outside on a daily basis and practicing his walking skills in his new gumboots. I’m not a huge fan of the location of the park as we’re right off the highway and have to listen to traffic noise all day and night, but apart from that it’s a decent place to stay until we can ditch the Gypsy Roller (sorry, girl) and move into an honest to goodness house in a few weeks time.

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In a sense our impending move into a house makes me feel like we’re defecting from a sort of secret society. While the last 6 or so months have given me some interesting insights into the trailer park subculture, I have felt a touch cut off from the ‘real’ world living in such a tiny space, behind gated entranceways and amongst folks several decades our senior. The house we’ll be moving into isn’t big, but it will surely feel like a mansion by comparison!

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Full-timers (those who use their RV as a permanent home) have a name for people who, like us, live in a house and use their RV as temporary accommodations or to travel in a few months of the year: slabbers – as in, the concrete slab houses are built on. I can’t help but feel this term carries with it a tone of condescension or disapproval, as though we don’t have what it takes to make a full-fledged commitment to the so-called ‘RV-lifestyle’. But in a way I can understand why the full-timers might set themselves apart from us slabbers, as it does take a good deal of mettle to make a home out of an RV!

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We’ve already marked several occasions in the Gypsy Roller (Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s and each of our birthdays) and as of tomorrow we’ll be able to add Valentine’s Day to the list. Truth be told, I had zero intention of pitching this recipe as a Valentine’s dish – until, that is, I tossed the ingredients together and the juices of the grated cabbage and carrot combined and turned the whole thing a festive pink – Pretty in Pink, in fact, because you know I can’t resist a reference to my favourite decade, the 1980s! At any rate, this rice noodle salad has more going for it than just looks. It’s crunchy, refreshing, sweet and zesty – and more filling that you’d expect of a rice noodle salad (the toasted cashews give it some added bulk). If you don’t serve it on Valentine’s Day then try it another time for lunch or as a light dinner. And oh ya, it’s vegan and gluten free 🙂

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Recipe: ‘Pretty in Pink’ Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salad | With Sweet and Spicy Sesame Dressing

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Sweet and Tangy Sesame Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons pure sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s All Purpose Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sambal olek

Vermicelli Rice Noodle Salad

  • Approx. 100g vermicelli rice noodles (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup purple cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 small carrot, finely shredded
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely sliced
  • 5 green onions, minced (dark and light green parts only)
  • 1/3 cup cashews (plus a few more for garnish)

Method:

Prepare toasted cashews: Place cashews in a small skillet over medium heat and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. When cashews are cool enough to handle, chop into small pieces. Set aside until needed.

Prepare vermicelli rice noodles: Cook noodles according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside until needed.

Prepare Sweet and Tangy Sesame Dressing: In a medium salad bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Finish salad: Place cooked rice noodles, cabbage and carrots, celery, green onions and cashews in salad bowl and toss gently to combine with dressing.

Serve, topping each portion with more chopped cashews. Eat!

Tip: If you intend to store this salad in the fridge, keep the toasted cashews separate and add them immediately before serving. This way they won’t turn soft.

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Crunchy Daikon and Mutsu Apple Salad | With Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette

As an avid fan of anything and everything related to food, there is no stronger proof that I’m under the weather than when I want no part of it: not see it, not smell it, not read about it, not write about it, not be near it and certainly not eat it. Such has been the case for the last few days. While I wasn’t afflicted with a full-on stomach flu, my body was clearly trying to fight one off, as I completely lost my appetite, was in bed with body aches that would randomly come and go, and had ZERO physical and mental energy. I was feeling quite sorry for myself, trust me!

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Hunter (aka nocturnal feeder extraordinaire) continues to wake me up 5-6 times per night to nurse, so my mystery illness may have just been a culmination of not getting a decent night’s sleep in recent – make that distant – memory, but that still doesn’t explain my very uncharacteristic loss of appetite (seriously, even on my deathbed I’m sure I’ll be sending requests for coffee and donuts). There’s a particularly virulent flu ravaging all of North America this year, so I’ll stick with my theory that maybe I had a touch of it, although no unsavoury bodily emissions actually occurred, thank goodness!

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I prepared and photographed this salad last week, but before I could publish the recipe symptoms of the mystery illness began to take hold and suddenly I decided I hated food in all its forms. My own cooking struck me as particularly unappealing and consequently I felt entirely disinclined to write a single word about this salad for days. A quinoa and black bean-stuffed pepper concoction, although tasty, was another casualty of my being sick and also fell by the wayside. Now that I can face food again I’ll hopefully have the latter posted here ASAP as well 🙂

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This salad was built around daikon radish and represents my first go with this ingredient. I had long been intrigued with daikon but always passed it by at the green grocer – along with celery root – as I didn’t know what it tasted like or what to do with it (the same still goes for celery root). Finally I took the plunge and found that although it looks radically different than the red radishes I normally use, its taste and texture are quite similar, although it’s maybe a bit milder and juicier.

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My first instinct was to use the daikon raw in a salad, although it can also also be eaten cooked – GiRRL_Earth told me she added it to this minestrone soup recipe, and I also recently saw it stir fried with sesame oil here. So clearly it’s a versatile ingredient! I thought it was a nice addition to this salad and really liked it in combination with the pear-like flavour and crispness of the Mutsu apples, the fresh crunch of the celery and romaine hearts, and the zing of the blueberry-shallot dressing. While I’m in no position to attest to the purported anti-bacterial and ant-viral properties of daikon (sadly it didn’t have the power to halt the mystery illness in its tracks), I’ll certainly be bringing it into the rotation of vegetables I cook with on a regular basis 🙂

Recipe: Crunchy Daikon and Mutsu Apple Salad | With Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette

Makes 2 salads

Ingredients:

For Blueberry Shallot Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup blueberries (thawed if using frozen berries)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 4 leave of romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 daikon radish, sliced into 10 or so thin strips (using a mandolin or vegetable peeler)
  • 1 Mutsu apple, cored and finely sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely sliced
  • 1 small shallot, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup sweet green peas (thawed if using frozen peas)
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Method:
Prepare Blueberry-Shallot Vinaigrette: Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and season to your liking with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until needed.
Assemble salad: Place sliced apple in a large salad bowl and toss with lemon juice (this will prevent apple from browning). Add other ingredients and gently toss to combine.
Divvy salad into two portions and top with blueberry-shallot vinaigrette and freshly ground black pepper. Eat!

Festive Mandarin, Avocado and Fennel Salad | With Citrusy Cilantro Dressing

Being somewhat obsessive about food and eating, I’m always keen to dine out, but after our four day sojourn to Vancouver last week I’m actually glad to be back to cooking my own food again. Prior to our departure from the Okanagan I was looking forward to trying out the two new vegetarian restaurants that recently opened in Vancouver (how these places had the audacity to open after I moved away continues to baffle me!). But after one essentially sleepless night (Hunter had a cold and woke me up every hour on the hour wanting to nurse… so satanic), a visit with my mum that turned into a protracted shopping expedition, bad weather (pummelling rain – no surprise there), and a couple of doctor’s appointments thrown in for good measure, at the end of the day it was a lot easier to grab dinner on the go rather than making the extra effort to go somewhere specific.

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I never thought I’d be that person who voluntarily eats at a chain restaurant when better options exist, even if they’re slightly out of the way – but there I was, repeatedly darkening the doors of Tim Hortons, White Spot and Moxie’s. Actually, despite the predictable blandness of their fare I do have a bit of a soft spot for the former two establishments as they’re iconically Canadian, but Moxie’s – where the food is as insipid as the ambiance – is utterly defenceless. And we ate there twice!

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We did, however, manage one decent meal out with friends, at a place on Commercial Drive that features an ever-changing menu of 40 craft beers. The food was good – I had a roasted beet and goat cheese salad followed by a margarita pizza – but was definitely overshadowed by the impressive beer selection. I started with an IPA from the North Shore Brew Co., which was fantastic, then switched to whatever Mike was drinking, which was also delicious but had a significantly higher alcohol content (7.5% if memory serves me correctly). From there things are a little blurry. I recall my friend dancing around with Hunter, and then Hunter grasping the rim of full pint glass using his surprisingly strong pincher grip, and subsequently throwing the glass on the floor, where it smashed into many pieces and left a massive puddle of beer under the table. Everyone around us was wildly entertained by this mishap (someone even yelled ‘Opa!’ from across the restaurant) with the obvious exception of our server who was left having to mop up the mess.

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While I’m glad to be cooking for myself again after four days of eating mostly fast food, this saintly salad is a somewhat distorted representation of my dietary choices of late! I’ve been making entire meals out of the gargantuan Christmas cake (someone get this thing away from me) gifted to me by my mum, and today is Mike’s birthday so I spent the afternoon whipping up a batch of these bad boys and risking salmonella poisoning by eating scoops of raw cookie dough. Oh well, ’tis the season, right?

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I’d like to think this salad cancels out the damage wrought by all that sugar and butter, but that’s probably wishful thinking. This is my first attempt using citrus fruit in a salad and I’m pleased with the results! The mandarins compliment both the avocado and the  liquorice-y flavour of the fennel, and I like their juicy texture combined with the crunchiness of the other ingredients. I suspect I’ll be making this salad again soon as I have a 7 lb. box of mandarins to plough through!

How are your eating habits faring so far this season? Are you eating healthily overall or have you succumbed to the lure of festive treats?

Recipe: Festive Mandarin, Avocado and Fennel Salad | With Citrusy Cilantro Dressing

Makes 2 salads

Ingredients:

Festive Mandarin, Avocado and Fennel Salad

  • 2 cups organic mixed greens
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 4 radish bulbs, finely sliced
  • 1/4 bulb of fennel, shaved (using a vegetable peeler or mandolin)
  • 2 mandarin oranges, sectioned into pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Citrusy Cilantro Dressing

  • Juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup  + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey (or agave syrup)
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed cilantro
  • Dash of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

Prepare Citrusy Cilantro Dressing: Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust with salt if necessary. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and blend for another few seconds. Set aside until needed.

Finish salad: Arrange mixed greens on two plates and top with mandarin sections, avocado, fennel, radishes and walnuts. Drizzle each salad with dressing and top with freshly ground black pepper. Eat!

Warm Rapini and Carrot Salad | With Yogurt Mustard Seed Dressing and Toasted Chickpeas

I feel like it’s taken me an eternity to get around to writing this post! Typically my modus operandi with this blog is to cook and photograph a dish one day, then write a blurb about the dish and publish the post the next – although sometimes I get on a roll and manage to accomplish these steps in single day. Not that it’s all that involved, but sometimes it feels involved when there’s a nearly-ambulatory one year old in the mix. While I’m absolutely certain none of you maintain statistics on the intervals between my posts, I’ve been itching to get this one out of my drafts folder. It’s nice publishing a post; it makes me feel like I’ve met my creative quota for the week and provides a crafty counterpoint to changing diapers, wiping drool and folding tiny clothes… although naturally (perversely?) I enjoy all of that, too! 

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This post is slightly delayed because the last few days have been action packed – and when I say action packed, I mean it in the least fun way possible. On Saturday we finally got around to rearranging our storage locker to make room for the last of the furniture (from our condo in Vancouver) that’s been sitting in a cargo trailer for the past month and a half. The mere act of moving stuff into storage is crappy enough; having to take almost everything out, determine the most efficient way to configure boxes and other more cumbersome items (bikes, a BBQ, a snowmobile) in order to free up space, and then put it all back together made us want to turn our backs on the entire operation and get belligerently drunk. But as responsible parents, no such option existed. Rather, we persevered until everything was back in its place. Naturally this beast of a job took several hours longer than anticipated and we were tired and craving junk food by the time we got back to the trailer park.

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With that gargantuan task behind us, we decided to reward ourselves with a sojourn to Vancouver, where I’m writing this from now. Unfortunately yesterday didn’t feel like much of a reward as Hunter had no interest in being strapped in his car seat during the drive and made his dissatisfaction known via seemingly endless wailing, despite numerous attempts to entertain him with music, cartoons and sound-making toys. Sketchy road conditions, and the fact we were towing a cargo trailer didn’t do much to improve the driving experience. All that aside, I’m enjoying staying in a hotel and being able to take a real showers with limitless hot water! And just getting away from the trailer park for a few days is a pleasant switch for all of us, too.

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With all that box-shuffling and the crappy car ride out of the way, I’m free at last to write a few words about this rapini salad! I can concede that rapini – even more so than other leafy greens – is a bit of an acquired taste. Really, there’s no way around it: the stuff is bitter. This doesn’t offend my palate much; but then again I also love dark chocolate, black coffee, black liquorice and other flavours many people find too intense. I’ve read that boiling rapini in heavily salted water can help reduce its bitterness, but I’m not a fan of boiling vegetables and the heavily salted water thing doesn’t sit well with me either. So I simply sauteed it until tender crisp along with a few handfuls of ribboned carrots, the natural sweetness of which I find offsets the bitterness of the rapini nicely. The creaminess of the yogurt dressing (I used Mediterranean yogurt which has a pretty high (10%) milk fat content) also takes the edge off the rapini somewhat, and is delicious in its own right! But if you simply don’t enjoy eating rapini, I think kale or Swiss chard would be perfect substitutions here.

I assume that most of you love to eat your veggies. But are there any vegetables you just won’t go near? I think I like everything except raw onions; they’re just too pungent (which goes against what I said above about liking strong flavours, but there you have it). I love onions cooked, but unless we’re talking about the super mild kind available in Mexico, I do my best to avoid them!

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In other news, this past week I’ve been the recipient of THREE blog awards (yowza!), so I’ll be posting about those in the near future, too! Many thanks to my fellow bloggers Crew CuisineLove & Green Juice and GiRRL_Earth for the nominations 🙂

We’ll be in Vancouver until the latter part of the week, but I’ll be back as soon as possible with a new recipe to share with all of you! I’m heading to Whole Paycheque Foods tomorrow, and hope to find some new ingredients to experiment with there 🙂

Recipe: Warm Rapini and Carrot Salad | With Yogurt Mustard Seed Dressing and Toasted Chickpeas

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

Yogurt Mustard Seed Dressing

  • 1 cup plain Mediterranean yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Toasted Chickpeas

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rapini and Carrot Salad

  • 1 bunch rapini, ends removed
  • 1 carrot, peeled into ribbons (using a vegetable peeler or mandolin)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Make Yogurt Mustard Seed Dressing: Place mustard seeds, cumin and coriander in a small saucepan over low-medium heat. Toast until spices are fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Be careful of mustard seeds; they may pop so you may want to place a lid on your saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.

Toast chickpeas: Heat one teaspoon of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chickpeas and season lightly with salt and pepper. Saute just until browned. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

Prepare rapini and carrotsHeat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add rapini and saute just until bright emerald green and tender crisp. Add carrots and saute for another minute or two, just until they begin to soften. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

To serve, divide rapini and carrots into portions and top with toasted chickpeas. Dollop yogurt dressing on top of each serving, or serve on the side. Eat!

Green Lentil and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Cilantro and Blue Cheese

Depending on where you’re reading this from, you may or may not know that Canada is in the midst of a massive recall of Alberta beef due to high E. coli levels. My first reaction upon hearing about the recall was to feel renewed smugness confidence in my decision (going on 20 years) to not eat meat. I mean, in light of everything you hear about people getting sick from consuming meat, it makes you wonder why anyone wouldn’t convert to vegetarianism. But while it’s tempting to write off E. Coli as a meat eater’s problem and continue to scarf veggie burgers with impunity, this distorts the matter. Because like it or not, it’s very possible for foods other than animal products – yes, I’m talking about our saintly vegetables! – to be contaminated with E. Coli as well. I found a good fact sheet on E. coli and how it affects different foods here.

While the E. coli problem has a lot to do with how meat and vegetables are handled and cooked by consumers, the real issue – and one of the main reasons I became vegetarian to begin with – appears to stem from the scale on which meat is processed. In other words, too few meat processing plants processing are processing too much meat. With such a system in place, it’s little surprise that E. coli outbreaks aren’t detected quickly enough, and people get sick. This is definitely reason enough for meat eaters to boycott factory-farmed meat in favour of supporting smaller-scale operations, or even better, move toward a more plant-base diet. It’s a long shot – especially in light of the fact that a huge chunk of Alberta’s economy (and culture ) is rooted in the meat industry – but ideally there will be less need for large-scale meat processing if fewer people want to consume animal products. And with fewer large-scale operations, the threat to consumers – carnivorous and vegetarian alike – will hopefully be reduced. I’m probably preaching to the choir, but after hearing about the recall for weeks straight I needed to vent a little! Whew!

On a completely different note, there’s a storm a-brewin’ here in Lake Country! Gusts of wind are causing the RV to rock back and forth in an unnerving manner, and I’ve already had to run outside twice in my leopard-print housecoat and Birkenstocks (NOT a good look, FYI) to chase items that had blown out of the recycling box, surely inducing shock and alarm in any and all elderly neighbours who happened to be peering out their window at the time. Amidst all this chaos (and in spite of the fact I have a cold and didn’t sleep a wink last night… ugh!), I somehow summoned the will to whip up this salad for lunch. There are few vegetables capable of a more dramatic metamorphosis than cauliflower, right? Raw it’s the stuff of store-bought veggie platters (the ones that come with a packet of bottled Ranch dressing… I think I have a personal vendetta against bottled Ranch dressing) often spotted at potlucks and kids’ birthday parties, but steamed, sauteed and especially roasted it takes on an entirely new and tastier life! Such is the case with this salad, where caramelized roasted cauliflower combines deliciously with earthy lentils, fresh cilantro, a whisper of blue cheese and a subtle dijon-honey dressing. Serve the salad warm as soon as it’s ready, or chilled the next day!

Recipe: Green Lentil and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Cilantro and Blue Cheese

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup green lentils, uncooked
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (approximately 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

Dijon-Honey Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Cook green lentils until tender but still firm. If you’re new to the universe of dried lentils, there’s an nice tutorial on how to cook them here. Once lentils are cooked and drained, place in a large salad bowl and add salt to taste. Set aside.

Prepare cauliflower: Preheat oven t0 400F. Place cauliflower florets in a single layer in a large baking dish and toss with cumin and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and place in oven for 20 minutes or until tender and caramelized, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and place in bowl with cooked lentils. Add chopped cilantro and crumbled blue cheese. Gently fold all ingredients together.

Prepare dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Drizzle dressing onto ingredients in salad bowl and gently toss to combine. Serve and eat!

Organic Mixed Greens with Avocado, Seasonal Fruit and Clove-Infused Balsamic Reduction

You know you’re really hooked on your stove when you can’t even make a SALAD without turning it on. After a spate of cooking that has seen me sweat and slave, martyr-like, in front of the oven while outside the Okanagan sun beat down onto the Gypsy Roller’s fibreglass exterior, I was quite please with myself for deciding to post this recipe, a simple end-of-Summer salad… until I realized that lo-and-behold, I’d used the bloody stove on to make the dressing! I’m a hopeless case, it’s official. I suppose I could have opted to seek out a big ol’ bottle of Kraft Ranch and throw a few glugs of  that atop my organic greens, but I’m trying to build my blog’s readership and not keep it hovering eternally around the zero mark, and I don’t think “Salad with Kraft Ranch Dressing” would have much allure amongst those who follow food blogs. And besides, I refuse to let any Kraft product (apart from Kraft Dinner and oh, the box of crackers I keep stuffing my hand into as I write this) pass my lips.

Another obvious option would have been to make a dressing in the blender, but mine is currently boxed up in the storage locker as the RV has approximately 1 square foot of countertop space. This I’ve awarded to my coffee maker because as I’ve stated so emphatically in previous posts, I’m about as effectual as the dead guy in “Weekend At Bernie’s” without a constant stream of caffeine entering my bloodstream. Plus I figured the blueberries and cantaloupe I came across at the farmers’ market would work well with a balsamic reduction, something I hadn’t tried my hand at before. So in the scorching heat to the stove I marched once more (cue Pomp and Circumstance), all in the name of a dressing for my lunchtime salad. How noble! I’m sure when Winter arrives I’ll be struck by a preposterous urge to make gazpacho or something equally inappropriate to the temperature outside.

I used cantaloupe and blueberries in my salad as they’re in-season in the Okanagan right now, but other fruit – strawberries, blackberries, pears, grilled peaches – would definitely work nicely as well. Beets would also have been a tasty addition. I actually had some golden beets buried in my produce drawer and forgot to use them. Duh! Next time I guess…

Recipe: Organic Mixed Greens with Avocado, Seasonal Fruit and Clove-Infused Balsamic Reduction

Makes 2 side salads or 1 big one!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups organic mixed greens
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cantaloupe, sliced
  • 1/4 cups natural sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Clove-Infused Balsamic Reduction:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
 Method:
Prepare balsamic reduction: Put balsamic vinegar, honey, pepper and cloves in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, or until liquid forms a syrupy consistency, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.
Assemble salad: Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a mixing bowl. Add mixed greens and toss until leaves are coated with oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place greens on a plate and arrange avocado, fruit and cottage cheese (if using) on top however you like. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top of salad and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Eat!