Basic Vinaigrette

This is your standard vinaigrette (3 parts oil to one part acid), which can be fancied up any number of ways with different herbs, spices, tapenades, and what have you! Use whatever kinds of oils and vinegars (or other acids, like lemon or lime juice) you like, this is just my go-to for salads. Spring onions, shallots, garlic, and other flavourful additions will spice it up. Mustard makes a good emulsifier to prevent it from separating when mixed. Play around with different ingredients to find out what you like best!

Prep time: ~1 minute
Gluten-free
Raw
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Mix everything together well and pour over your food. Voila!

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Garam Masala Coconut Green Beans

A delicious side dish I learned from my father. Goes very nicely with spicy food, especially curries. Again, I won’t claim that this is authentic, because it absolutely isn’t. Quite a healthy dish, with no added fats.

Prep time: ~20 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Raw green beans, halved, with the ends cut off.
  • 1 tin coconut milk.
  • 2 tsp garam masala.
  • Slivered almonds.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Place the green beans in a large saucepan or pot, and pour in just enough coconut milk to nearly submerge them. This won’t be the whole can! Save the rest.

Add the garam masala, and stir well. Cook on medium-low heat, simmering the beans in the coconut milk until done. If the coconut milk is too thick, or boils away too quickly, add a small amount of water (1 or 2 tsp at a time) so the beans don’t burn.

In a small frying pan on medium-low heat,, with no oil, toast the slivered almonds. They should be lightly browned and crispy. Serve the beans piping hot, and garnish with the almonds.

Fruit Salad

A staple for everyone who has people over for brunch. Mix up the fruits depending on your preferences and what’s in season, and whether or not you want it to be posh.

Prep time: ~15 minutes
Gluten-free
Raw
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 1 tin clementines, some of the juice reserved.
  • 1 apple, cut into small pieces.
  • 1 large handful fresh berries (one kind of berry or a mixture, up to you).
  • 1 fresh pear, peeled and sliced.
  • 1 large handful melon cubes/balls (again, one kind of melon or a mix is nice).
  • 1 large handful cherries, pitted and halved.

Cooking Instructions:

Place all of the ingredients in a large glass bowl and mix well. Add enough juice from the clementine can to prevent the fruit from browning. Serve immediately.

Middle-Eastern Seven Spice – Baharat

My friend Amr’s not-so-secret trick to making delicious Middle-Eastern food. This spice mix varies from place to place, and from family to family. This is the one Amr (and, by extension, the rest of our household) uses! This spice mix is great in all sorts of stews, marinades, and sauces.

Prep time: 5 min
Gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 4 tsp black peppercorns.
  • 3 tsp coriander seeds.
  • 1 cinnamon stick.
  • 3 scant tsp cloves.
  • 4 tsp cumin seeds.
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods.
  • 3 tsp nutmeg.
  • 4 tsp paprika.
  • 1 tsp allspice.

Cooking Instructions:

Place the spices into a dry frying pan on medium-low heat, and toast for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Place the toasted spices into a spice grinder, or a mortar and pestle, and grind until smooth. Store in an airtight container.

Tabbouleh-inspired Quinoa Salad

My sister’s recipe, adapted from a family friend’s Tabbouleh recipe. Since Elaine was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, this is now what she gets to eat instead of traditional Tabbouleh, which uses Bulgur wheat. It tastes almost exactly the same, and the texture is pretty similar!

Prep time: ~90 min, including cooking time for quinoa and chilling in fridge
Gluten-free
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled*.
  • 1 ½ cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved.
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced.
  • 1 large handful parsley, chopped finely.
  • 2 tsp olive oil.
  • Juice of 1 lemon.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

*see Black Bean Quinoa Bowl recipe for instructions on how to cook quinoa.


Cooking Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a large bowl, stir until combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let flavors mingle, and serve chilled or slightly below room temperature.

Mashed Potatoes

A no-brainer, one would assume. And yes, it is a very easy dish! However, mashed potatoes are a staple that can be used to make plenty of other dishes (shepherd’s pie, potato cakes, etc), so knowing how to make them well is very important. And you might assume “well, without butter and milk, how are you going to make them taste good?” Just wait and see…

Any kind of nice-tasting oil would work well here – I really like olive oil and butternut squash seed oil, but you could use various nut oils, sesame oil, whatever tickles your fancy.

These are delicious when fresh and hot, or eaten the next day. Potato cakes for breakfast is a super yummy way to use up leftover mashed potatoes!

Prep time: ~30 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups starchy potatoes, peeled if desired, and cut into chunks.
  • 1 tbsp oil.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Place the potatoes into a large pot, and pour in cold water until just submerged. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat until boiling gently. Boil the potatoes for approximately 20 minutes, or until easily speared with a fork and falling apart.

Drain the water, and get ready to mash. Use a good old fashioned potato masher if you want, or a potato ricer, which looks a little something like this:

Using a ricer will make your potatoes super smooth and completely lump free. In any case, add your oil, salt, and pepper, and mash/rice away!

Fluff with a fork before serving, and enjoy!

Oven-roasted Root Vegetable Medley

A very simple way to cook root vegetables, but delicious and pretty hard to mess up. Mix up the vegetables you use based on personal preference and what’s in season! A nice mix of colorful vegetables looks nice, especially if you’re serving this to people at a dinner party or the like.

Prep time: ~1 hour
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups various root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, sweet potatoes, etc), peeled if desired, chopped into roughly bite-sized pieces.
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Herbs of your choice (rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and dill all work nicely).

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the vegetables in a large roasting tray or baking dish, and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle on your salt, pepper, and herbs, and toss again. Cook for at least 30 minutes, or however long it takes to make the vegetables soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. This will depend on the kinds of veggies you use, and how large you cut them.

Hearty Vegetable Stew

A stew I adapted from one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes. Very filling, great for fall or winter. If you don’t drink alcohol, skip on the wine, and instead add a little extra stock, maybe a splash of white wine vinegar to replicate the flavor the wine would add.

Prep Time: ~1 hour
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 leek or 1 onion, chopped.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • A pinch of thyme.
  • 3 large potatoes, cut into roughly bite-sized pieces.
  • 3 carrots, chopped.
  • 2 parsnips, chopped.
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into roughly bite-sized pieces.
  • 2 cups vegetable stock/water.
  • ½ cup white wine (optional).
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking instructions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the onion/leek. When soft, add the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme, and allow to cook until fragrant.

Next, add the potatoes, carrots, sweet potato, and parsnips. Cook, covered, until they start to soften. Then add the tomato paste, stock, and wine. Bring to a bubble, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for at least 45 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender and the stew is thick.

Serve piping hot. Great with a nice thick slice of bread to soak up the sauce when you’ve emptied your bowl.

Garlic Bok Choy

After having this dish many a time at the wonderful restaurant Mother’s Dumplings (if you live in the GTA, go there! The food is amazing), Elaine and decided to I create our own version of it. Delicious on its own, you can also add mushrooms to it for a little more substance. Serve with any number of Asian dishes, or fancy it up with other additions (noodles, rice, etc) to make it into a more substantial meal.

Bok choy is quite high in vitamin A and C, and some studies have shown that it is highly nutrient-dense, citing it as a “powerhouse” vegetable. It also contains glucosinolates, which can prevent certain kinds of cancer in small doses. That doesn’t mean eat 2 kilos of the stuff a day, but adding a little more to your diet can definitely help your health!

Prep time: ~15 minutes
Gluten-free
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • At least 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed.
  • 2 tsp oil (sesame and olive oil are nice).
  • Several heads of Shanghai bok choy, at least 2 per person.
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat up a large pan (that a lid fits on comfortably) with the oil in it. Saute the garlic until soft and fragrant. Next, add in the bok choy, stir well, and place the lid on to allow the greens to steam and become soft. Stir occasionally, making sure the bok choy is fully cooked, but don’t leave the lid off for too long.

Serve piping hot, and enjoy!

Koshari

Also spelled Kushari. A traditional Egyptian dish that I learned from my sister’s boyfriend. An incredibly filling, tasty dish that uses very inexpensive ingredients, so if you’re on a budget, this is a great option!

Just as yummy leftover as it is fresh. This dish can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free pasta.

Prep time: ~1 hour
Gluten-free (if using gluten-free pasta)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice, rinsed.
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed.
  • 2 tsp Baharat, aka Middle-Eastern 6 spice mix. See the recipe I have on this blog, under spices!
  • 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 large onion, half chopped, half thinly sliced.
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 can whole tomatoes.
  • 1 tsp vinegar.
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or hot sauce to taste.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • 400 grams macaroni or other short pasta/gluten-free pasta.

Cooking Instructions:

Place the rice, lentils, and spice mix in a pot or a rice cooker with 4 cups water, a pinch of salt, and a dash of oil, and cook until tender.

Fry the chopped half of the onion in a large pot in the olive oil until soft, add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using them) and cook until fragrant. Puree the tomatoes and add to the pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat until simmering. Add the vinegar and hot sauce (if using it), season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, and strain, tossing with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.

Prepare a small frying pan with enough olive oil to comfortably cover the bottom, heat until just below the smoke point. Lightly salt the sliced onion and press with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then fry in the oil until browned and crispy.

Serve in layers: the rice-lentil mix on the bottom, the pasta, the sauce, and then the onions. Use up all the crispy onions while this dish is fresh, they’re no good when refrigerated.