Pea and Corn Croquettes

Exactly what it sounds like. Peas and corn mixed with mashed potatoes, rolled in breadcrumbs, and then fried to give them a lovely crispy outside. This is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes, and it’s also a delicious side dish or snack!

Serves: 6.
Prep time: ~1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped.
  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped.
  • 2 tbsp oil.
  • salt.
  • pepper.
  • 1 tbsp flour, plus more to coat the croquettes.
  • 1-2 cups breadcrumbs (preferable panko), depending on how many croquettes you make.
  • 1/2 cup peas, defrosted if frozen.
  • 1/2 corn kernels, defrosted if frozen.
  • vegetable oil – enough to fill a deep frying pan halfway, plus a little extra in a small bowl.

Cooking Instructions:

Place the potatoes and onion in a large pot of cold water, then bring to a boil for 16-18 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them well with the oil, then season generously with salt and pepper.

Cool the potatoes down until they’re cool enough for you to handle, either by spreading them out on a baking sheet or popping them in the fridge for a few minutes.

Once the potatoes are cooled down, begin heating your oil on the stove. You want it to be hot enough that a breadcrumb will start bubbling when you drop it in, but doesn’t go brown right away. If you have a deep fryer, use that instead!

Mix the corn, peas, and flour into the mashed potatoes. Set up 3 separate bowls: 1 with flour, one with a bit of oil, and one with the breadcrumbs. Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of your potato mix and form into either a small patty or a cylinder. Patties are easier to flip, but cylinders look cuter.

Roll the croquette in the flour, then in the oil, then in breadcrumbs. If it’s looking a little bare, dip it back in the oil and then back in the breadcrumbs, patting it on all sides.

Fry them in batches to prevent the oil from cooling down too much. The croquettes should take a couple minutes on each side, until they’re lovely and golden brown all over. Serve piping hot.

These go really nicely with a Japanese-style curry (which I’ll probably be posting soon!), or with a nice pureed soup, anything you can dip them in!

Vegan Ma Po Tofu

A delicious, tremendously spicy dish from the Sichuan (or Szechuan, depending how you spell it) province of China, and a new go-to of mine! This is a rich, flavourful stew served on a bed of rice. Easy to prepare and quick to make. Not the most traditional version of the dish, to be fair, but it sure is delicious!

There are a couple of ingredients you might not be familiar with in this dish: Sichuan peppercorns and chili bean sauce. You can find both of these quite easily at a Chinese supermarket! Sichuan peppercorns are wonderfully spicy and leave an almost tingly feeling in your mouth – great for making your own spicy oil for various stir fry dishes. The chili bean sauce is made from fermented broad beans and chilies. It’s incredibly delicious and provides most of the seasoning for the dish, since it’s quite salty!

If you have a lower spice tolerance, feel free to omit the chilies or reduce the amount of peppercorns used.

Traditionally, this dish would use ground pork, but here I’ve replaced that with mushrooms, to make it vegan-friendly while still keeping that lovely umami flavour. Normally this would be cooked in a wok, but if you don’t have one, a deep frying pan will work just fine!

Prep time: ~30 minutes.
Serves: 4-6.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns.
  • 2 red chilies, finely diced.
  • 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil.
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced.
  • 3 tbsp garlic, peeled and finely diced.
  • 200 g. button mushrooms, finely diced.
  • 1-2 tbsp chili bean sauce.
  • 1 tsp soy sauce.
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar.
  • 200 ml boiling water.
  • 400 g. tofu (anywhere from medium to firm is fine!), cut into 1 cm cubes.
  • 2 tsp cornstarch.
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced.

Cooking Instructions:

Before you begin, start cooking some long-grain rice, about 1/4 cup per person. This will take about as long as the rest of the dish!

Start by grinding half of the peppercorns in a spice grinder or mortar or pestle, just until you get a coarse, crumb-like consistency.

Heat the oil in the wok over medium-high heat, and add in the peppercorns and chilies. Fry for a couple of minutes, until the oil takes on some of the colour, then add in the ginger and garlic.

Keep everything moving in the pan, and fry for a couple of minutes, until the ginger and garlic become fragrant. Add the mushrooms in, and once they become soft, stir in the chili bean paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and water.

Make a cornstarch slurry in a small dish by mixing the cornstarch with a couple teaspoons of water. Add that to the pan, and stir it through well until it begins to thicken into a lovely sauce.

Bring to a gentle bubble, then stir in the tofu, being careful not to break the pieces. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the tofu to heat through completely. Check

Spoon some rice into the bottom of a bowl, then top with the stew. Sprinkle a small handful of chopped scallions, and enjoy!

Pea and Tarragon Soup

A lovely, refreshing soup that’s just as good served cold as it is hot. Don’t be scared off by the coconut milk – it doesn’t add much coconut flavour, just a lovely creaminess!

Prep time: ~45 minutes
Serves 6-8.
Gluten-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced.
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed/minced.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 3 stalks celery, diced.
  • 500 g frozen peas (let defrost before adding to the soup).
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon (save a bit of the zest for garnish).
  • 2 cans coconut milk.
  • 4 cups vegetable stock/water.
  • 1 large bunch tarragon, finely chopped (save a few leaves for garnish).
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Heat a large pot over medium heat with the olive oil in the bottom. Once the oil is nice and hot, add in the onion and garlic.

Fry them off until soft and fragrant, then add the celery. Cook until the celery has softened and the onions and garlic have begun to caramelize slightly.

Next, add in all of the peas, the lemon juice and zest, the coconut milk, and vegetable stock.

Bring the whole thing up to a boil, then toss in the tarragon. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

Puree the soup, strain if desired, and serve with a little extra lemon zest and tarragon as a garnish.

Hora’a Osbao – Syrian Lentil Stew

An absolutely incredible dish originating from Syria. I had it for the first time last year by chance, and had to ask what the name was, it was so amazing. It’s a fair amount of work, but the results are by far worth it.

According to my roommate, this is often served as a side dish, but it’s more than filling enough to serve as the main course!

This dish uses pomegranate molasses, also called dibis ramman, which was an entirely new ingredient to me. It’s tangy, sweet, and just flat-out delicious. My local grocery store carries it, but you might have to make the trek to a Middle-Eastern market to find it! If you can only find grape molasses (which has a similar flavour profile), you can use that in a pinch.

If you use gluten-free pasta, this dish can be gluten-free.

Prep time: ~1.5 hours.
Serves: 6-8, generously.

Ingredients:

  • 5 large white onions, peeled and cut into thin slices.
  • 2 cups vegetable oil (for frying the onions)
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed/minced.
  • 1 bunch coriander, half finely chopped, half with the leaves removed from the stems.
  • 2 pieces Arabic bread (pita works well), cut into small cubes.
  • 2 cups lentils, rinsed well.
  • 8 cups water.
  • 6 tsp cumin.
  • 150 grams fettuccine (or similar pasta).
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses.
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice.
  • 1 tbsp sugar.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.
  • pomegranate seeds, to garnish.

Cooking Instructions:

Start off by heating 2 cups of oil in a large saucepan or pot on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough that an onion slice starts to bubble when dropped in, but doesn’t go brown right away, add in all the onions.

Stir occasionally, and cook until browned and crispy, 25-35 minutes. Remove from the oil, pat off the excess oil with paper towels, and set them aside to cool.

While the onions cook, preheat the oven as hot as it will go. Toss the bread pieces with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, until they’re nicely coated, then spread on a tray and bake for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until toasted and brown. Set the croutons aside to cool.

Place your lentils in a large pot with the water and cumin, and place the pot on high heat. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down until they’re just simmering. Cook for 30 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, heat a small pan on medium heat. When hot, add 2 tsp olive oil and the garlic. Turn the heat down to low immediately, and cook the garlic, stirring often, for 2 minutes.

Add in the chopped coriander, then turn off the heat, but keep the pan on the stove. Stir occasionally until it begins to cool down, then set aside. This is called the “takliye”.

Cook your pasta for half the time specified on the package, then drain the pasta, but reserve 3 cups of the pasta water.

Once the lentils have been simmering for 30 minutes, add in half of the pasta water, an all of the pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and sugar. Stir well until combined.

Add the pasta, 2/3 of the crispy onions, and all of the takliye, stir well, and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper, and taste to see if the lentils are done. If they’re still too firm, add some more of the pasta water and let simmer for a few minutes longer.

When the lentils are cooked and the stew has a nice, thick consistency, stir in the last coriander leaves. If you are serving this for others, place in a large serving dish and allow to cool slightly, then top with the croutons, pomegranate seeds,, and the remaining onions.

This dish can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

 

Super Simple Vegan Banana-Oat Cookies.

A super quick and simple cookie recipe I like to make when I have friends coming around. I usually use gluten-free oats, since my sister has Celiac and we live together, but you can use regular oats as well.

This recipe makes 16 small cookies, and within this recipe, you can add your favourite spices, dried fruits, etc. The only important thing is to use 1/2 cup of oats for every 1 banana you mash up.

Gluten-free
Prep time: ~15 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 3 very ripe bananas.
  • 1.5 cups oats (use gluten-free oats if making the gluten-free version).
  • 2 large handfuls vegan chocolate chips.
  • 1 large handful chopped dates.
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.
  • pinch of salt.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 325 F. Get a large mixing bowl, and peel your bananas. Mash them using a fork or a potato masher until they’re nice and smooth, with no lumps.

Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, and stir until combined. Next, add in the oats, mixing until the banana mixture coats the oats nicely. Toss in the chocolate chips and the dates, and stir until combined.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. place small spoonfuls of your cookie dough onto the sheet, and squish them down slightly to form little disks. You can place them fairly close together, they don’t puff up of spread out much at all.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are no longer wet to the touch and have started to crisp up nicely. Allow to cool before serving.

Kale and Cauliflower Salad

Another salad that incorporates roasted vegetables. A little more effort than usual, but I find that mixing the salad while the roasted vegetables are still warm helps the kale tenderize a little bit more and taste better. This particular salad uses cauliflower, red peppers, and carrots – only the cauliflower is roasted, though!

Gluten-free
Serves 6
Prep time: ~30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large handfuls of chopped kale.
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced.
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets.
  • 2 large carrots, peeled if desired, finely grated.
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar.
  • 1/2 cup olive oil.
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard.
  • 1 tsp agave syrup.
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper. Tumble all of your cauliflower florets onto the baking sheet, and season well with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until soft and cooked all the way through.

While the cauliflower cooks, it’s time to make the dressing. Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, agave syrup, salt and pepper. You can blend everything together using an immersion blender, food processor, or standing blender, but you can also just mix it all by hand if you don’t mind the dressing being a little less smooth and uniform.

Once the cauliflower is done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. This is a good time to dice up your red pepper and grate your carrots.

When the cauliflower is mostly cooled, but still a little bit warm, place all of your kale into a large bowl and mix in the cauliflower. This will allow the kale to wilt down slightly and become tender and easier to eat. Add in the bell pepper and carrots, and mix those through as well.

Dress well and serve immediately, or serve with dressing on the side to allow everyone to add as much or as little as they like!

Sage and Squash Soup

Butternut squash and sage: a classic combination. And one of my very favourites. If I learn how to make vegan pasta, you can bet I’ll be coming up with the best sage-and-butternut ravioli ever!

Gluten-free
Serves 4-6
Prep time: ~60 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash.
  • 3 tbsp olive oil.
  • 3 shallots, peeled and finely diced.
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed/minced.
  • pinch of ground nutmeg.
  • 1 small handful fresh sage, leaves removed from the stalks and chopped.
  • 4 cups vegetable stock.
  • salt and pepper, to taste.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Slice the butternut squash lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Rinse as much pulp off of the seeds as you can, then set them aside. We’ll roast those off later when the soup is almost ready!

Line a large baking tray or dish with foil, and place your squash on it. Rub the squash generously with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes, until the squash is tender and cooked all the way through.

Take it out of the oven, then turn the oven down to 275 F.

When the squash is ready, start heating a large pot on medium heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom. When the oil is hot, add in the shallot and the garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to caramelize slightly.

Scoop all of your squash into the pot, along with the nutmeg and sage. Mix well to combine, then add in the vegetable stock. Bring to a gentle simmer, and allow to bubble for about 15 minutes.

While the soup bubbles, make some roasted squash seeds: take the seeds you rinsed off earlier and pat them dry. Line a baking tray with some parchment paper. Toss the seeds with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and any spices you desire.

Pop them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until they’re nice and toasty and begin to pop a little bit.

Once the soup’s been simmering for 15 minutes, season well with salt and pepper, and puree with an immersion blender. Serve with some of the roasted seeds and a sage leaf on top as a garnish!

 

Spiced Roasted Nuts

A great snack for low-energy days, these roasted nuts are full of protein and flavour! I’ve included two different ways to season them – one sweet, one savoury.

These also make a nice little appetizer/snack for dinner parties.

Gluten-free
Serves 8
Prep time: ~40 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnuts.
  • 2 cups pecans.
  • 2 cups almonds.
  • 1 cup cashews.
  • 1 cup peanuts.

For the sweet:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil.
  • 1/2 cup sugar.
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup.
  • 2 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom.
  • generous pinch of salt.

For the savoury:

  • 2 tsp vegetable oil.
  • 1 tbsp sugar.
  • 2 tsp ground cumin.
  • 1 tsp ground coriander.
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne.
  • 1 tsp salt.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (depending on the size of your oven, you might need to do this in two batches). Mix together the nuts, oil, and all of the spices.

Pop them in the oven for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oil has dried up and the nuts are crispy and toasted.

Allow to cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container.

 

Mango and Red Cabbage Coleslaw

Coleslaw, at least the traditional creamy kind with mayonnaise, isn’t my favourite. But throw in some fresh fruit and dress it up with a vinaigrette instead, and I’m in heaven! This particular variety uses mango, green apple, red cabbage, and carrots.

Use as much or as little of the dressing as you like.

Raw
Gluten-free
Serves 6-8
Prep time: ~20 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ripe mango.
  • 1 head red cabbage
  • 2 large carrots, peeled if desired.
  • 1 red onion.
  • 2 green apples.
  • 1 large handful fresh mint.
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander.
  • 1 lime, juiced.
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice.
  • 2/3 cup olive oil.
  • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard.
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup.
  • 1 clove garlic.
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, about 2 cm square, peeled.

 

Cooking Instructions:

To make the dressing, place the ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, mustard, and maple syrup into a food processor/blender/use an immersion blender, and blend until combined.

Slowly stream in the olive oil until nicely emulsified. If you don’t feel like doing that, just do it by hand in a bowl.

Set the dressing aside. Slice the mango and the apple into thin strips. Use either a grater or a mandoline to shred the cabbage, red onion, and carrots. Chop the coriander and mint very finely.

Mix all of the vegetables in a large bowl, and add in the lime juice. Pour in the dressing and toss it all together.

Let sit in the fridge for a little while to let all the flavours mingle together, then serve!

Easy Granola

Breakfast: the most important meal of the day. Unless you, like me, wake up at 4 am for work and can’t really eat anything before 6 am. That bakery life. But I do like a quick bite in the morning before I head out for the day, and a handful of granola makes a good snack later on in the day too!

This is similar to the granola we make at my workplace, but with a few twists to make it to my liking.

This recipe can be gluten-free if you use gluten-free oats. Sidenote: while oats themselves don’t contain gluten, the vast majority of oats are processed in a way that contaminates them with gluten. So don’t feed regular oats to your Celiac friends!

Serves 8
Prep time: ~40 minutes, largely unattended.

Ingredients:

  • 5 1/2 cups rolled oats.
  • 2 cups walnuts, crushed up into bite-sized pieces.
  • 2 cups slivered almonds.
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds – the kind without the shell.
  • 1 cup dried fruit (cranberries, dates, raisins – you decide!).
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom.
  • 2 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar.
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup.
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, to bind it all together.
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (depending on the size of your baking sheet/oven, you might need to do this in two batches).

Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add in the sugar and spices, and mix well. Pour in the wet ingredients, mix it all together, then dump it out onto the baking sheet, spreading it out into a thin layer.

Bake for approx. 3o minutes, stirring every 10 minutes with a spatula, until the granola is nicely browned and mostly dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Break up any larger chunks, and store in an airtight container. Voila!