Nishi’s Luscious Lentil Salad

I veganized my friend’s Nishi’s lentil salad, and replaced some veggies with what I had in the fridge.

Ingredients:
1 can lentils (brown or green)
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
1/2 english cucumber, finely chopped
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

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Dressing:
4 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix all the ingredients, and add dressing. Even my omnivore husband enjoyed this salad!

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For vegetarians, below is Nishi’s original lentil salad recipe.

Ingredients:
1 can lentils (brown or green)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
2 oz semi firm Havarti cheese, cubed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

Dressing:
4 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper

Enjoy!

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Miso Potato Soup

We love fusion foods in our house! This one was easy. By using miso as the primary seasoning, this Eastern European soup is given a Japanese twist. The fusion results in a satisfying richness.

Miso Potato Soup

3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
4 Yukon Gold or Red potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 cups water
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp white miso
1 tsp Vegeta or seasoning salt
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of fresh chives

1. First make a roux, a basic thickening agent, by combining equal amounts of olive oil and flour. Heat oil on high in a large pot. When oil is hot, turn heat down to medium. Add the flour gradually and stir constantly. It should be smooth with no lumps. Keep stirring until the flour is light brown. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
2. Remove from heat and add the water. Be very careful not to splash yourself as the roux will be extremely hot.
3. Add potatoes and bay leaves to pot. Cover the potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and can be easily pierced with a fork.
4. Remove soup from heat. Take out the Bay leaves and discard. Use a potato masher to combine the miso with the potatoes. Mash until soup is thick and creamy.
5. Add vegeta, salt and pepper. Taste soup and see if you would like to add more seasonings.
6. Sprinkle each serving of soup with fresh chives.
Serves 4.

What are your favourite fusion foods?

Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup

So we may or may not have had to buy a second bag of Halloween candy because we ate most of it before it was time for trick-or-treating… Next year we’re not buying candy until October 31st!

Now that Halloween is over, we’ve been craving wholesome meals made with plenty of vegetables. This creamy butternut squash soup is made with carrots and parsnips so it’s a nice immune system booster and really hits the spot when it’s -10 C in Calgary!

Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium Butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (2-3 pounds)
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
2 cups light coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (or less if using vegetable broth with sodium)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
A dash of chili pepper flakes (optional)

1. Melt the butter or margarine in a heavy skillet. Add the diced squash and cook without stirring until browned underneath, about 6 minutes. Then stir the squash and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 more minutes. Remove from the skillet.
2. Melt the coconut oil in the same skillet and add chopped onion, parsnip and carrots. Saute for 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer the caramelized squash, onion, parsnip and carrots to a large pot. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, or more if needed, until vegetables are covered by a layer of the vegetable stock. Add coriander, salt and pepper.
3. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. When vegetables are cooked, remove from heat and stir in 2 cups of coconut milk.
4. Puree the mixture in batches until smooth. Return to pot.
5. Warm up the soup before serving and add more vegetable stock if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve with a fresh french baguette and a scoop of sour cream if desired.

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Creamy Potato Soup

This recipe has been in our family for generations. It’s delicious, creamy and so comforting on a cold day. We like to eat it with grilled cheese or French bread.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 cups water (or more, if needed)
3 Bay leaves
2 teaspoons Vegeta (or seasoning salt)
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

First, make a roux (pronounced “roo”). Roux is a basic thickening agent used when making stews, soups and sauces. Traditional roux recipes call for equal parts of butter and flour, but in this creamy potato soup we prefer to use olive oil.

1. Heat oil in a pan. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the flour gradually and stir constantly. It should be smooth with no lumps. Keep stirring until the flour is light brown. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
2. Remove from heat and add water. Be very careful, the roux will be extremely hot, and when you add water, be careful not to splash yourself or get burned.
3. Add potatoes, carrots, Bay leaves, salt, pepper and Vegeta.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
5. Mash with a potato masher instead of using a blender.
6. Stir in sour cream and parsley, and remove Bay leaves. For a vegan version of this soup, omit sour cream. The soup is still very yummy.
7. Serve hot with a slice of fresh French bread or grilled cheese.

Roasted Almond, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

The next time someone curious about veganism asks me, “where do you get your protein?” I’ll spoon-feed them a bite of this roasted almond, asparagus and black bean bowl while singing an Iron and Wine song. Once they are no longer creeped out and have regressed to that of a sleepy, full toddler, they’ll rejoice in the simplicity and delightful flavour of this salad.

Add spices to taste. I throw in whatever I’m in the mood for, which is usually smoked paprika.

Roasted Almond, Asparagus and Black Bean Bowl Recipe

1/2 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 bunch asparagus
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup black beans
1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Favourite spices (smoked paprika, cumin, etc.)

1. Start by boiling the quinoa. The best way to prepare quinoa is to rinse and drain it in water first, as this will get rid of the slightly bitter taste you might find after it’s been cooked. After rinsing, place in a small pot with water, maple syrup and garlic. Bring to a boil, then cover and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. Quinoa will be done when it has a tiny curl and will be slightly crunchy. Fluff with a fork and add to large bowl.
2. While quinoa is boiling, roast almonds in a dry pan on medium-high heat. Watch almonds closely to make sure they don’t burn. Once browned, or you start smelling that delightful “almonds roasting over a stovetop” smell, remove from heat and let cool.
3. Time for the asparagus. Wash, break off ends, then place in a small pan filled with water and 1/4 tsp salt. Allow to boil on medium-high for 5-6 minutes. When done, should be slightly firm and bright green. Rinse in cold water and then set aside.
4. Rinse and drain black beans. Add to large bowl.
5. Once quinoa is done, mix quinoa, almonds, asparagus and black beans together in the bowl.
6. For the dressing, mix the juice of one lemon with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add whatever spices you’d like, for example 1/4-1/2 tsp smoked paprika or cumin. Season to taste! Pour over salad and mix.

Prep and cooking time: 25 minutes.

Adapted from a recipe in Glow Magazine.

– Silvia

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

We love to make strawberry and spinach salad at our house because it looks nice and it tastes amazing. I played with the ingredients until I came up with the following recipe.

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red balsamic vinegar
2 tsp white granulated sugar
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
3 green onions, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of smoked paprika

Salad:
1 large bag of baby spinach
2 cups sliced ripe strawberries
1/2 cup pecan or walnut peaces

1. Place all dressing ingredients in a small container and mix well. Dressing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.
2. Wash the spinach, discarding tough stems, and wash and cut up strawberries. Place spinach and strawberries in a large bowl. Refrigerate if not serving right away.
3. Just before serving, toss the salad with prepared dressing, and then add walnut or pecan pieces.

Low Sodium Vegetable Stock

Vegetable stock is so much cheaper to make at home, not to mention way tastier and healthier! Who wants to pay $6 a box for something filled to the brim with sodium?

Making your own vegetable stock is pretty simple. We like to keep a bag in the freezer with all the usable scraps from our veggies, which we’ll throw into the pot with regular veggies. You can throw in pretty much anything that is edible, like mushroom caps, parsley, the rough part of carrots, and any veggies that look like they are close to their expiration date.

If your fridge needs to be cleaned out, take the opportunity to make your own veggie stock! Or if you bought a big tray of delicious organic veggies for a party thinking that your guests would go for a healthy selection, but they stuck to the chips and salsa, use them up! Alternatively, buy the cheapest onions, carrots and celery you can find and add them to the pot with scraps.

Low Sodium Vegetable Stock

4 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound carrots, chopped
1/2 pound celery, chopped
24 cups water
2 tsp salt
Kitchen scraps (mushrooms, parsley, broccoli stems, parsnips, etc.)

1. Heat olive oil on medium setting in a very large pot. Saute onions for 4-5 minutes, then add carrots, celery and garlic and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.
2. Add all your vegetable scraps and then add 24 cups of water.
3. Cook on high until it starts to boil, then lower heat to medium low and cook covered for two hours.
4. When it’s done, strain the stock over a sieve covered with two layers of cheesecloth.
5. Divide the mixture into 1 and 2 cup portions and freeze. Use as needed when a recipe calls for vegetable stock.

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