Friendly Food Snobs

supper

salsa verde

Summer weather is arriving here in Toronto, thank goodness,.

Bright green, aromatic and delicious, this salsa verde uses fresh flat leaf parsley and cilantro, which I grab from my herb garden. We’re growing tomatoes, zucchinis and cantaloupes all in pots this year too. I am not sure if camps will be open because of COVID, so I am hoping watering the growing fruit and veg in the backyard will keep my kids busy.

Warmer weather means cooking has shifted gears too. Lemons and limes are always on my grocery list, for salad dressings, guacamole or to squeeze into water. I am also loving crispy sweet romaine lettuce salads. And I have been using the leftover brine in pickle or sauerkraut jars to quick pickle my own red onions. Just thinly slice and add to the jar.

Dreaming of travelling again someday and my cravings have been Mexican and South American food. Enter this salsa verde. So simple to make. Just toss everything in the blender, let is sit in the fridge for an hour to two and enjoy.

I serve this salsa verde over sliced skirt steak, grilled chicken, shrimp, roasted potatoes or even with eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey/maple syrup
  • pinch chili flakes
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Pour the oil and vinegar in your blender. Add remaining ingredients, and blitz until almost smooth.

lentil soup with greens

I love a good vegetable lentil soup in the winter. Serve with bread or crackers and cheese to make supper. Or freeze it for meal prep. This soup is simple to make but totally delicious. The trick is to saute the veggies until they are starting to brown and smell fragrant, then stir in the tomato paste and let it cook for a few minutes to build a big base of flavour.

I recommend using yellow split peas for this recipe. They hold their shape and are packed with protein and have a lovely bite. They take about 20-30 minutes to cook. If you are using red lentils they cook much quicker, just 5-7 minutes, any longer and will turn mushy. Look for yellow split peas in the bulk section of the grocery store or your local health food store.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cooking onion chopped
  • 1 head thinly sliced swiss chard or baby spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 chicken or vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 tbsp thyme

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with the 5 tbsp olive oil. Saute the onion, celery and carrot with a generous shake of salt and pepper over medium heat for ten minutes. Add the chopped garlic and tomato paste and stir as the paste browns and starts to caramelize for another few minutes.

Add the 6 cups of water and bouillon cube and bring to a boil. Toss in the split peas and bay leaf and simmer for 30-40 minutes until split peas are tender. If using red lentil the cooking time is less, just 5-7 minutes.

Once the lentils are done turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and stir in the swiss chard. The residual heat from the soup will wilt it perfectly. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. This soups taste even better after a day in the fridge and freezes well too. Highly recommend serving it with some fresh bread with butter and a hard cheese.

Need inspiration for more soups and stews for winter? Check out this easy chickpea curry, coconut milk butternut squash soup, slow cooker beef tostadas and butter chicken.

miso garlic butter mushrooms

This summer has flown by. We just returned from a week at a cozy cottage on Buckhorn Lake. There’s something so restorative waking up beside the water to the sunrise. I’ve been cooking a tonne of vegetables this August, so much beautiful veg coming from our local farmers. Along with fresh tomatoes and zucchini, mushrooms are one of my favourites. They’re flavour packed and cook quickly.

In this recipe the mushrooms are the star. The miso paste, garlic and butter bring lots of wonderful umami flavours too. Here are my tricks for crispy, not soggy mushrooms.

  • dry the mushrooms well with paper towel, no need to wash them with water
  • leave them to get crispy and brown for a few minutes on the frying pan without flipping them
  • fresh mushrooms are key – use within five days of purchasing.

What is umami? It’s the Japanese word for pleasant savory taste. Miso is packed with it, as well as broths, shelfish, Parmesan cheese, soy sauce and mushrooms. If you don’t have miso paste at home, no worries, these mushrooms are wonderful without it too.

Ingredients:

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 cups sliced brown or cremini mushrooms (about 220 grams)
  • 1 TSP miso paste
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

Dry the mushrooms with paper towel and wipe off any dirt. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and toss in the mushrooms and salt and pepper generously. Let them crisp up on one side for about three minutes before stirring.

Cook for an additional five minutes until browned. Add the butter, miso paste and garlic and stir well to combine. Once the garlic and butter is fragrant (about a minute) pour into a shallow serving dish and top with toasted sesame seeds. Happy last weeks of summer, friends!

mujadara: rice with lentils and crispy onions

Hello, from living in social isolation here in Toronto. I’ve been baking and cooking loads with all the extra time at home. This mujadara, also known as rice with lentils and crispy onions is homey comfort food at is best. The recipe was taught to me years ago by a Palestinian friend. It’s a recipe I have adjusted over the years and this version I am sharing is the simplest and easiest and still gets the comforting flavours and those dreamy, crispy sweet onions.

I use canned green lentils (drained and rinsed) and I also often make the rice the day before. I often make this on the weekend for my family or for guests to serve with roasted chicken or fish. It can also be a dish on its own. Just top with any cooked veg and a dollop of hummus or plain yogurt. Hope you enjoy the recipe and stay well. xo

Mujadara

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 yellow cooking onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 x 540 ml can green lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • one cup dry basmati rice

Cook rice to package instructions. When done remove lid and leave to cool. While your rice is cooking slice the onions into half moons. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add your onions to the frying pan and toss in the teaspoon of salt.

Saute onions over medium heat until they start to brown and get sweet and caramelized. This takes about 30 minutes. Don’t rush them. The onions really are the best part of this dish! I will often load the dishwater or do some other food prep (chopped veg for lunches etc) in the kitchen and stop to stir the onions every few minutes.

Once the onions are brown and starting to get crispy, add the butter and cumin and stir well until butter becomes fragrant – just a moment or two. Add the rice and lentils and stir well. Check to see if needs more salt and pepper. Top with chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro before serving if you’re feeling fancy.

Mujadara keeps well in the fridge for close to a week, or freezes very well. I also think it tastes better the next day. Enjoy friends.

chickpea curry with coconut milk

Hello January. Days are starting to feel a tiny bit lighter but the most of snowy winter is still ahead of us.

I feel like the best way to “get through” winter is to embrace the best of it. My mantra for the winter weekends is hibernate, moisturize and play in the snow. Lots of slowing down, making soup and curries, reading, watching movies, and arts and crafts. I am also a little obsessed with my nighttime winter skincare rituals. They signal for me it’s bedtime and my time at the end of the day. I recently went for a facial at Pure + Simple and love this vitamin C serum I picked up there. Super moisturizing and the smell is divine.

Soups and curries like this one line my freezer. I make them on the weekend when I have more time and then whip them out for super quick weeknight supper. This chickpea coconut curry is my current favourite and my kids eat it over rice.

Use a can of organic chickpeas if you can. The taste and buttery texture is much better than non-organic. Truth: most canned goods I buy are traditional, but I splurge for organic chickpeas for this recipe.

Serve over basmati rice or quinoa. Top with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro or green onions if you’re feeling fancy. Hope you love it!

chickpea curry with coconut milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooking onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 x 796 ml can whole tomatoes
  • 1 x 400 ml can coconut milk
  • 1 x 796 ml can organic chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Heat a soup pot or large deep frying pan with oil. Add the diced onion, salt generously and saute over medium heat five minutes.

Add the butter, ginger and garlic, then the turmeric, cumin and curry and stir creating a paste.

Cook the paste until fragrant, just a minute or so. Pour in the coconut milk and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon. Turn heat to a simmer and stir for five minutes as sauce thickens, then add the chickpeas and brown sugar. Reduce heat to low/medium and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir in the handfuls of baby spinach. And taste for salt and pepper, adding as needed.

Oh, this freezes so well too. Stay warm, friends.

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