Sunday, July 28, 2013

Creamy Carrot Top Pesto...

So, you go to the farmer’s market, and you see bunches upon bunches of beautiful long, thin, baby carrots. They’re bright orange, and luscious looking, with beautiful bushy tops that scream a bright vibrant green. You can’t help yourself from buying them because they’re everything that summer seems to represent. You take them home, and you use the carrots in whatever way most appeals to you, but then you’re left with a massive pile of carrot tops. Now the dilemma begins, because what is one suppose to do with a bunch of carrot tops anyway?

Carrot Top Pesto on some Thin Vegetable Ribbons

Carrot tops are not an item found on many restaurant menus. They’re not an item commonly features in cook books or on the food network. We don’t really live in a world where carrot tops are considered food, they are - more often then not - discarded, which to me seems like a terrible waste. Carrot tops are viable food, they’re full of nutrients just like any other green, and are probably better for you then the actually carrot itself. Still everyday they get thrown away as garbage, so if you’re like me and you hate to see waste, next time you buy some carrots at the Farmer’s Market put those tops to use in this delicious and creamy pesto!  It’s time for us to take carrot tops back and make them a feature on our plates rather then just another item in our compost or rubbish bins. Hopefully over the course of the summer I’ll come up with a few more creative uses for these delicate greens to share with you all, but this pesto is so good I might get side tracked and just make this all summer long instead! Oh, and did I mention what the bonus of making a pesto with carrot tops instead of basil is? You can get 4 Cups of carrot tops - plus the carrots they’re attached to - for half the coast of 2 oz of Basil. Maybe this depends on where you live, but in IL basil is expensive, at roughly $5 for 2oz organic basil, when I can get 2 bunches of carrots with 4 Cups of tops for $4.

My vegetable pasta contained Carrot and Zucchini Ribbon Noodles
Chopped Roma Tomatoes, and some Diced Green Onion
A Delicious combination with the Carrot Top Pesto 

Anyway, enjoy this pesto like you would any other, in a wrap or on a sandwich, in a warm or chilled soup, as a dip, as a sauce, as a dressing, on a pizza. I ended up enjoying it on raw noodles, you could do that too or use it on fresh cooked pasta. It’s up to you, it’s so versatile that the options are endless. As always enjoy!

Creamy Carrot Top Pesto 

Carrot Tops from 2 Bunches Carrots - Roughly 4 C
½ C Slivered Almonds
3 Green Onions
1 ½ tsp Garlic Powder - or 2 Cloves fresh Garlic
½ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Smoked Paprika
2-3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
½ C Flaxseed Oil
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1 Tbsp Mellow White Miso
1/4 tsp White Pepper
Slightly less then 1/4 C Water (Optional depending on how thin or thick you want your pesto)
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

- Add the almonds to a food processor and pulse until finely ground.

- Add the carrot tops and garlic and pulse until fine.

- Add in all the other ingredients - except water -  and pulse until you have a smooth paste. At this point check for consistency, if it’s too thick for your liking add in some water to thin. I used less then 1/4 cup but you can add as much as you need to, to get the pesto to your preferred consistency.

- Serve however you see fit and enjoy!

*** Note: I highly recommend using the miso as it adds a depth of flavor. However if you're following a soy-free diet you can leave it out, or you can replace the soy-based miso with an alternative miso like Chickpea Miso which is soy-free.***

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mixed Green Salad with Maple Roasted Rutabaga, Edible Flowers, and Creamy Maple Dijon Dressing...

Sometimes the best thing to ever happen in my kitchen is we run out of food. Im sure many of you start running out of the essentials, as well as fresh produce by the weeks end, - I know it often happens to me, - but rather then look at this as a negative I try and turn it into a positive. Sometimes you have your most creative moments when you’re at your most limited.

Take this salad for instance, it came about entirely out of necessity.  The day I made it all I had left in my fridge were a few sparse handfuls of mixed greens, a couple of tomatoes, a lonely avocado, some green onions and 3 rutabaga and I’d procured for some other purpose and then promptly forgot about. My pantry of course had other things like canned tomatoes, pasta, canned beans, olives but I didn’t want that. I was craving something fresh and light, that was fast, filling and satisfying. Normally when I feel that way a salad is my ‘go-to’ so I quickly began thinking about how I could turn these meager offerings into a salad that would inspire and satisfy my tastebuds.

Now, I can’t say I’ve ever actually eaten a rutabaga before this, and if you asked me why I originally bought them I couldn’t tell you because I can’t for the life of me remember what I had planned to use them for. But, since I had them, and a salad of tomato, avocado and onion isn’t very inspiring - or filling - I thought I’d give them a try. How bad could they be roasted and thrown in with the greens? Maybe they’d taste kind of like beets, sweet and earthy, that works in salad!

So once the salad began taking shape I needed a dressing. This too came into existence out of necessity. I used the things I had on hand, and I chose to use coconut milk yogurt again to provide creaminess because I needed to use the remainder of the container ASAP. Plus it worked out so well on my arugula, beet and walnut salad I thought it was worth trying out again.

While the rutabaga was roasting it filled the kitchen with a heavenly smell, that had me drooling as I diced my veggies and whisked the dressing. By the time they popped out of the oven I couldn’t resist snapping one up and giving it a taste. Wow! Seriously guys, roasted rutabaga? This is like my new favorite thing ever. The tiny bit of maple syrup made it sweet and the Bragg’s made it smokey, this was an absolutely perfect combination. I happily tossed them into the salad, garnished my bowl with some edible flowers I’d picked up in the market, and drizzled on the dressing.

I took my first bite and knew instantly that it was magic! Maybe this combination sounds weird to you, but I assure you it’s not. The flavors blend so much better then even I could have imagined while I was creating it. You get the sweet smokey rutabaga, the bitter arugula, the creamy avo, the acid-sweet tomatoes, mixed in with a rainbow of flavors from wild flowers, and a dressing that is sweet, smokey and tangy. What more could you want?

Mixed Green Salad with Maple Roasted Rutabaga, Edible Flowers, and Creamy Maple Dijon Dressing

Salad - Makes 2 servings

2 Handful Arugula
2 Handful Mixed Baby Greens
2 Tomatoes sliced
1 Avocado sliced
Sunflower Seeds to taste
Green Onions to taste
2oz Edible Flowers
1 Recipe Maple Roasted Rutabaga

- Maple Roasted Rutabaga 

3 Small Rutabaga Cut into small chunks
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s

Preheat Oven to 425'F and roast for 10-15 minutes

- Creamy Maple Dijon Dressing 

4 Tbsp Plain Coconut Milk Yogurt
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tsp Liquid Smoke

- Preheat Oven to 425'F. Place the cut rutabaga chunks into a bowl and drizzle over the olive oil, maple syrup and Bragg’s. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t measure exactly, but I didn’t use a lot so you can change the tsp quantity to suit your taste. Give the bowl a few good shakes to make sure all the rutabaga is covered in the mixture then spread the rutabaga out onto a baking sheet.

- Bake for 15 minutes until the rutabaga is smelling wonderful, and it’s a nice golden brown. It should be tender-firm.

- While the Rutabaga is roasting prepare your salad by evenly distributing the salad ingredients amongst two bowls.

- Next make the dressing. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until well combines and smooth. Since the yogurt may want to curdle when you add the mustard in this may take a couple of minutes of vigorous whisking to turn smooth. It will get there however.

- Once the Rutabaga is cooked divide it amongst the two bowls and drizzle the dressing over top of each salad.

Enjoy, on a lazy summer afternoon with a good book, and a drink.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Arugula Lasagna with Garlic Scape Pesto and Tofu Ricotta...

Okay, so I know it’s summer, and I know a lot of you are living in placed where it’s currently hot, hot, hot, but here in IL yesterday it was actually quite nice. It felt more like spring then summer with a cool breeze and no humidity. It was a perfect day, and while it might not have been a lasagna day per say, that’s inevitably what I ended up making for dinner.

You see, yesterday I was extremely busy writing essays and doing other homework. It consumed most of my day up until about 3pm. By then I was feeling a little tired and brain-fried and so I didn’t really feel like thinking to hard about making dinner. Originally I was just going to cook something from a cook book, but every recipe I found that was ‘quick and easy’ and looked appealing didn’t really utilize the bounty of fresh produce I had on hand. I had pounds of arugula, garlic scapes, kale, spinach, tomatoes, cabbage and beets and so I really wanted to make something that would use at least one or more of the most perishable items in that list. I started thinking about noodles, using my garlic scapes and kale to make a pasta dish but I didn’t feel like spaghetti. Then I remembered a box of whole wheat lasagna noodles my mom gave me to take home with me when I left Vancouver in May. Hm... Lasagna.....

So the wheels got turning, and I must say as much as I love a good lasagna I really hate actually making lasagna. It’s always such a process, but once I got thinking about it I couldn’t stop. I mean what if I put garlic scapes and arugula in a lasagna? I’d never heard of that before, It could be very interesting. What about some olives? Do I have tofu to make ricotta? What if I made a pesto out of the garlic scapes? Hm.. The questions just kept on coming and finally I decided, ‘lets do this thing!’ Of course pesto alone in a lasagna might be a bit too overpowering I thought, so I made a red sauce too, and everything combined together made the most perfect, and delicious lasagna. My husband says this is one of my best ever. No one flavor overpowers another, they all work In perfect harmony together. So If you like lasagna I urge you to make this one, it’s unique blend of flavors is really a pleasure. Of course, if it’s a bit too hot where you live to turn on the oven, then wait for a cool day to try it!

Arugula Lasagna with Garlic Scape Pesto and Tofu Ricotta 


14oz Whole Wheat or Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles
1 Large Yellow Onion Diced
½-1 lb Baby Arugula (I used roughly 1/2 to 2/3 of a 1 lb package)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tomatoes Sliced
Handful of Kalamata Olives
Sea salt and Black Pepper to garnish if desired
1 Recipe Tomato Sauce
1 Recipe Garlic Scape Pesto
1 Recipe Tofu Ricotta

Tomato Sauce 

1 28oz Can Diced Tomatoes
8oz Can Tomato Sauce
3 Cloves Garlic
2 tsp Dried Basil
2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1/4 C Capers

Garlic Scape Pesto 

14 Garlic Scapes Steamed
½ C Walnuts
½ C Olive Oil
½ C Water
2-4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (to taste)
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Smokes Paprika
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2oz Fresh Basil

Tofu Ricotta 

1 lb Extra Firm Tofu drained and Pressed
4 Garlic Cloves Minced
2 tsp Dried Basil
2 tsp Dried Oregano
½-1 tsp Sea salt
Black Pepper to taste
4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Tahini
1 Tbsp Mellow White Miso
Slightly less then 1/4 C Water

To Make the Tomato Sauce 

- Combine all ingredients except capers and blend until smooth, add in the capers and give a gentle blend for 2 seconds just to incorporate.

- Set aside until ready to use.

To Make the Pesto 

- Trim the ends off of your garlic scapes and steam in a pot fitted with a steamer basket for 5-7 minutes until bright and fragrant.

- Pulse Walnuts in a food processor until very fine.

- Add in Olive oil and garlic scapes. Process until relatively smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

- Add in all other ingredients along with the water. Process again until you reach your desired consistency. (I like my pesto slightly textured.)

- Set aside till ready to use

*** Note - You can use more or less water depending on your desired thickness. You can also leave the garlic scapes raw if you prefer, but some people find the taste too strong which is why I suggest steaming them for a few minutes before hand.***

To Make the Tofu Ricotta 

- Crumble Tofu into a mixing bowl.

- Mix the White Miso with the water until smooth.

- Add all other ingredients to the tofu including the miso water mixture and use a fork to mash until everything is thoroughly combined and tofu reached desired ricotta-like consistency.

- Set aside until ready to use.

For the Lasagna 

- Boil the Noodles per package directions then drain and rinse under cold water.

- Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a pan and saute the onion until soft. Add in the arugula and saute for roughly 5 minutes until wilted. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.


- Preheat oven to 400'F

- Fill the bottom of a baking dish with a thin layer of the sauce. Place a layer of cooked noodles over top.

- Place half of the pesto mixture on top of the Noodles and spread to coat evenly.

- Spread half of the arugula mixture over top of the pesto.

- Spread half of the tofu mixture over top of the arugula mixture and spread as evenly as possible.

It’s okay if the Arugula shows through the tofu.

- Spread another thin layer of sauce over the tofu mixture, then top with another layer of noodles.

- Spread the remaining pesto over the noodles.

- Spread the remaining arugula mixture over the pesto

- Spread the remaining tofu over the arugula and top with another layer of noodles.

- Spread the remaining sauce over top of the noodles. Then garnish with thinly sliced tomatoes, kalamata olives and a bit of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper if desired.

- Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are shriveled and sauce is bubbling.

- Let cool for 15 minutes then cut into the Lasagna and enjoy!

***Note: This can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free noodles.*** 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

White Beans and Garlic Scapes with Caramelized Tempeh...

Garlic Scapes are still abundant at many markets, and since the season for them is so short I love to take advantage of them. Unfortunately last week I had a ton of them in my fridge but hardly anytime to cook. Still one afternoon as I was preparing to leave for work I needed something quick and easy to throw together to take with me for lunch and this just happened to be it.

It was one of those ‘Grab whatever’s around’ affairs. One of those ‘throw everything into a pot’ deals, you know? I’m becoming more and more fond of this style of cooking because it seems no matter what I throw together it always comes out great. With this dish in particular the scapes work so well with the creamy white beans. I used Italian flavors as inspiration and caramelized some tempeh for a bit of extra oomph and a little sweetness, By the way, caramelized tempeh is like my new favorite thing ever. If you’ve got some garlic scapes you don’t know what to do with I urge you to try this dish. It’s packed with good stuff and you can whip it together in under 30 minutes.

White Beans and Garlic Scapes with Caramelized Tempeh 

1 15oz Can White Beans (rinsed and drained)
1 Large Tomato Diced
12 Garlic Scapes cut into 1 inch dice
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 tsp Dried Rosemary - (or fresh if you have it)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
8 oz Tempeh cubed and steamed for 10 minutes
3 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s - or Tamari or Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup

- Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic scapes and saute until nearly tender 4 minutes.

- Add in the White Beans, Tomato, Red Pepper Flakes, Rosemary, Sea salt and pepper and saute until the scapes are tender, the tomatoes have softened and the beans are heated through. About 4 more minutes.

- Add the lemon juice and stir to combine then transfer to a serving dish.

- Using the same pan as you used to cook the scapes and beans turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the cubed tempeh and saute until beginning to brown on all sides. About 5-6 minutes.

- Add in the Bragg’s, and Maple syrup. Let the mixture bubble up and get thick using a wooden spoon or spatula stir the tempeh around so that it all gets coated with the mixture. Cook about 2-3 minutes until most of the sauce has been absorbed into the tempeh and the tempeh takes on a ‘sticky’ look.

- Add the caramelized tempeh to the bean and scape mixture and enjoy!

PS: You can eat this as is, or you can enjoy it over a bed of greens or a bed of cous cous or rice.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Black Truffle Balsamic Drizzle...

Last weekend I didn’t buy any groceries, since last Monday was my birthday we did a bit of eating out in the beginning of the week so there was no sense in buying fresh produce only to watch it spoil. I had a well stocked pantry and a few items in the fridge with a longer shelf-life but by the end of the week food was getting pretty scarce in my refrigerator. When lunchtime on Friday rolled around the fridge was looking pretty sad and I was craving a salad. The only greens I had left was some arugula that needed to be used tout de suite, and ditto for some lonely looking beets.

Well arugula and beets sounded like a great combination especially once I started thinking about walnuts and balsamic vinegar. I also had some coconut milk yogurt sitting in the fridge that I’d specifically bought for a recipe I ended up not making and so I decided to use it in my salad dressing in place of oil. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out, but somehow it paired beautifully with the bitter greens and tangy vinegar. Still the recipe needed just a little something extra to bring ti to new heights, and that something ended up being Black Truffle Oil. Now, I know black truffle oil is a fancy - and pricy - gourmet ingredient but it imparts a truly unique flavor into a variety of dishes. Seriously, this stuff has become my new best friend, and it’s great that such a little can go such a long way. It really makes the cost worth it. Of course if you prefer you can leave the truffle oil out, but I strongly recommend it. The salad isn’t quite the same without this unique component.

Strangely enough, though this started out as a haphazard attempt to just eat something before going into work, this ended up being one of my favorite meals of the entire week. It’s super simple to throw together but the flavor is out of this world. Enjoy!

Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Black Truffle Balsamic Drizzle

For the Roasted Beets 

2 Small Beets cut in Small Dice
Olive Oil to taste
Sea salt and Black Pepper to taste

For the Salad 

2 Handfuls Arugula
1 Batch Roasted Beets
1/3 C Walnuts
2 Green Onions sliced
1 Tomato

For the Dressing

2 Tbsp Plain Coconut Milk Yogurt
1 ½ Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
½ tsp -1 tsp Black Truffle Oil
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Garlic Powder to taste

- Preheat the oven to 450'F.

- Spray a cooking sheet with a little bit of coconut oil.

- Drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil on the sliced beets. Add sea salt and pepper to taste then mix until the beets are well coated.

- Spread the beets out on the baking sheet making sure they do not touch then roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until they are tender but not mushy. A little bite is nice!

- While the beets are roasting combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl.

- Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. This may take a few minutes as the yogurt is going to want to curdle once you add the vinegar. Whisk briskly for 1-3 minute and it should come out smooth.

- Once the beets have finished roasting remove from the oven and let cool for five minutes.

- Top your salad off with the roasted beets, then drizzle over the dressing and enjoy!

PS: This salad makes one good sized serving, or two small starter servings. If you want to make enough for two good sized portions the recipe easily doubles.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Garlic Scape Socca with Hummus and Steamed Greens in Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette...

Where does the time go? I’ve been sitting on numerous recipes that I’ve been dying to share and yet it seems this week I didn’t have a spare moment to post. It was a busy week though, and Monday was my birthday so I’ve spent my free time over the past few days celebrating. Monday was also Canada day so to all my fellow Canadian friends and readers I hope you had a good holiday and enjoyed yourself!

So anyway, back to those recipes. Well, the whole reason I posted my Classic Hummus  recipe last week, was because I was planning to post this socca recipe the day after! But time got away from me and now I’m posting it a week late, though better late then never right?

Now, the last time I posted about Socca was last December, and I had fully intended to post more Socca recipes because it really is a new favorite food of mine and I make it quite often. Though it seems to always work out that I tend to make socca when I have limited time - which means my camera is never at the ready and so I wolf the food down without snapping any pics. This time however I was preparing a socca recipe with the full intention of posting about it because one of my absolute favorite things is back in season GARLIC SCAPES! As soon as I saw them at the market I knew I would have to use them to make Socca, it seemed to me to be the perfect marriage of two amazing things. I’m sure you recall my love of Garlic Scapes, and if you haven’t tried them yet I strongly encourage you to go out and buy some. If you don’t know what to do with them you can always try these recipes Mighty Green Pasta with Garlic Scapes and Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce Garlic Scape Soup,  Garlic Scape and Collard Green Pizza or make this socca!

So since Socca are French, I decided that for this particular recipe I wanted to use some French flavor pairings like Herbs de Provence, and Dijon Mustard, with a lot of greens and a nice bean spread. After some careful consideration I thought a simple classic hummus would taste fantastic spread over socca, and so that’s how this recipe was born. It’s an interesting amalgamation of flavors and somehow they all work beautifully together. Try it and See, I think you’ll be just as happy as we were with the finished result.

Garlic Scape Socca with Hummus and Steamed Greens in Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette


8 Garlic Scapes sliced
1/4 red onion diced
3 Tbsp Capers
1 ½ C chickpea flour
1 ½ C water
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
½ tsp Smoked Paprika
½ tsp White Pepper
Sea Salt to taste


1 Bunch Kale
1 Bunch Arugula
2 ½ Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 ½ Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 Recipe Classic Hummus  or Hummus of your choice

For the Socca -

- Preheat the Oven to 425'F

- Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the water and stir to combine into a smooth batter. Add the sliced garlic scapes, red onion, and capers. Stir to combine.

- Lightly oil a cast iron skillet, then heat it over medium high heat. When the skillet is hot, pour in the batter and let it cook for 1 minute.

- Remove the skillet from the heat, and place it into the preheated oven. Cook for 20 minutes or until the socca is dry and pulling away slightly from the edges. Let the Socca cool for ten minutes then slice into quarters or eighths.

For the Greens - 

- Fill a medium sized pot with an inch or two of water. Fit with a steamer basket and place the greens inside. Steam lightly for 3-5 minutes until the greens are wilted but the kale still has a bit of texture. Transfer mixture to a bowl.

- Combine the Balsamic Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, and Maple Syrup in a bowl. Whisk until smooth then pour over the steamed greens.

Assembly - 

- Spread a generous amount of humus on each slice of Socca, and top with a generous amount of the steamed greens/ Then enjoy.

- Alternately, you can spread the humus over the socca, and eat the steamed greens on the side as a salad. It’s up to you, but it all tastes great mixed together!

PS: Apologies for the pictures, I know it's kind of hard to see the socca because I really loaded up my plate with the steamed greens. That's the way it's suppose to be though right?