September 23, 2014

Vegetarian Borscht

When the colder temperatures hit this month, all I wanted to eat for dinner was a big bowl of comforting soup with fresh bread.

Since I had a huge head of green cabbage sitting in my fridge and local beets are in season, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at a soup I've always wanted to make - borscht!

Rather than sticking with a traditional borscht, I made more of a vegetable stew with beets, potatoes, carrot, cabbage, and cauliflower. And since I was using a vegetable broth instead of beef broth, I tried to make it extra flavourful by cooking some onion, garlic and ginger first, and adding lots of spices and herbs like caraway, cumin, coriander, thyme, and bay leaves.

A bit of plain yogurt or sour cream works perfectly as a topping for this soup, and if I had some fresh dill, I would have added that as a garnish as well. 

For a healthy broth-based vegetable soup, I thought this was actually really tasty and I didn't mind eating it for both lunch and dinner several days in a row, since it made such a big batch! Plus, how can you not enjoy eating something with such a pretty colour!

Vegetarian Borscht
Adapted from Canadian Living 

1 tbsp oil or butter (I used Earth Balance coconut spread)
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 small yellow potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1.5 lbs beets (I used three large ones), stems removed, peeled and diced
1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
5 cups shredded green cabbage
1.5 tsp salt
Ground pepper
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth (1 container)
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp agave nectar
3 tbsp white vinegar
Plain yogurt or sour cream for serving (optional)
Fresh dill for serving (optional)

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the oil or butter. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, caraway, cumin, coriander, and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes (until the onion begins to soften).

Add the potatoes, carrot, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, salt, and some freshly ground pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Then add the vegetable stock, water, and bay leaves and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low, partially cover with a lid, and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

Remove pot from heat. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the agave and vinegar. Serve hot, topped with plain yogurt and a handful of chopped fresh dill if desired. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings

September 18, 2014

Summer Recap

Somehow another month has passed without a blog post or recipe to share with you, but I'm going to try to make it up with some new recipes starting next week! I made a big batch of soup this week that I'll be sharing here soon, and I hope to start making some pumpkin treats this weekend too!

In the meantime, I thought I would do a post about what I've been eating over the summer - even though I didn't spend as much time cooking or developing my own recipes, I still enjoyed lots of good food!

A lot of my meals were super simple dinners that I could throw together quickly as I was so busy working on my dissertation. I ate a lot of toast with various toppings like avocado or sliced radishes with butter or hummus, and I loved eating fresh tomato and basil sandwiches. I also added a cob of corn to my meals whenever I found local corn at the grocery store!

Near the beginning of the summer, I made a big batch of veggie burgers at my parents' house so that I could pull one out of the freezer any time I was there for dinner and needed a vegetarian option. I loved the flavour and texture of these BBQ chickpea burgers from Oh She Glows, and they made the perfect summer meal with a side of potato or pasta salad!

I always love eating panzanella in the summertime. I usually stick to traditional combinations of ingredients like tomatoes, cucumber, basil and sometimes cheese, but I really liked this fruity variation with strawberries and cantaloupe that I threw together!

On the right is a pasta salad that I made twice this summer - it's a variation of this recipe from the blog archives, but with some changes to the veggies (like corn instead of peas and extra zucchini and cucumber) and I left out the tofu and walnuts. My favourite part of this salad is the creamy lemony basil dressing!

For other quick and easy meals, I made pasta with avocado sauce (pictured on the right), following this recipe from Oh She Glows, and zucchini noodles with a sauce I whipped together using hummus (on the left). I didn't use my spiralizer as much this summer compared to last year, but I still love "zoodles"!

For Canada Day in July, I brought these red and white cream cheese-stuffed strawberries to a party and while they got pretty messy on the trip there, they were still a hit! I can't remember the exact recipe I followed, but this one from The Comfort of Cooking is a good example!

I managed to break out my ice cream maker once over the summer to make this chocolate stout ice cream. I followed a recipe from The Beeroness, but with a few minor changes (I reduced the sugar, left out the toasted coconut, and added a bit of arrowroot powder to thicken it). I thought it had just the right balance of chocolate and beer flavours, and I loved how it stayed creamy rather than turning icy in the freezer like other vegan ice creams tend to do.

Other than my homemade ice cream, I ate a lot of delicious ice cream treats over the summer, from countless bowls of self-serve frozen yogurt, to an amazing lemon meringue pie cone, to a couple of treats that I haven't had in ages - a cookies and cream milkshake and an ice cream float!

I also visited food trucks a few times over the summer, as my city has developed a pretty good food truck culture over the past couple of years. It's usually hard to find vegetarian options, but I loved this kale salad and flatbread with brie and peach chutney!

Finally, I also enjoyed many meals out at restaurants over the summer. Our patio weather seemed a bit limited this year, but I still tried to enjoy eating out on patios as much as I could!  Pictured above clockwise is some halloumi and fried zucchini crostini, caramelized onion grilled cheese, a tofu sofritas burrito bowl from my very first visit to Chipotle, and more Mexican food with tacos, chips, and guacamole.

Hope you all had nice relaxing summers and are ready for all the exciting things that come with fall, like pumpkin, soups, and Thanksgiving food!  Personally, I wouldn't mind a few more weeks of sunshine and warm weather though ;)


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