Monthly Archives: December 2009

Arugula Salad with Chickpeas from Vefa’s Kitchen

Eight days without cooking.

Our winter holiday in Cancun, Mexico begins tomorrow. We will hop on an airplane where temperatures hover around -20°C and hop off the airplane at +28°C. Sounds wonderful to me. I will gladly trade white snow for white sand – even at Christmas time.

With all the pre-Christmas baking, socializing and eating I have felt quite stuffed. Literally stuffed full of “Christmassy” food. I think I may have hit my saturation points with regard to fruitcake, cookies, gooey bars, and tarts. As a result I have been craving lighter fare. Perhaps too, with our warm weather holiday only a day away, I have been getting into “dietary sync” and craving the fresh lighter food of warm weather days.

Last night I pulled out one of my favorite cookbooks, Vefa’s Kitchen. EPC and I received this as a wedding present from an old roommate/friend of mine and his wife. If you are in the market, I highly recommend this book. It is a weighty tome and is chock full of recipes separated into the standard sections of salads, vegetables, poultry, seafood, desserts etc, and also includes a section on seasonal recipes and one containing recipes from famous chefs. Oh, did I mention it is a Greek cookbook?

We received Vefa’s Kitchen this past summer, so I have only just begun to try the recipes. Of course, it did keep me occupied many evenings before bed as I browsed through the myriad of traditional Greek recipes and made a mental checklist of the ones I wanted to try. This is the second time I have made this particular salad. Sadly, I did not use arugula either time (EPC is not a fan of spicy greens), but used a baby spinach spring mix instead. This substitutes nicely, as you still get a dark green leafy bunch to drop the cucumbers, carrots and chickpeas.

Arugula Salad with Chickpeas

330 g arugula
2 carrots, coarsely grated
1 small cucumber, julienned
1 cup of canned chickpeas, rinsed well

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I cheat and use Real Lemon)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 small clove of garlic, chopped finely
10 drops of Tabasco sauce (I use a generous sprinkle of cayenne)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Cut arugula leaves into large pieces (Or you can use a spring baby greens mix) and place in serving dish
  • Place the grated carrots, cucumber, and chickpeas on top.
  • Put all the dressing ingredients into a jar with a screw top lid and shake well.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving

Vegetarian Black Bean Enchilada Bake

I had a friend ask for one of my recipes this past weekend.  I figured what a better way to get started blogging than with a “real” recipe request.  Afterall, that is the purpose of Cookbook Cooks – sharing recipes!

She and her partner stayed with us for a couple of days while they were getting some work done on their place.  Since she is gluten-free, I rummaged around in my unorganized recipe binder (sigh – I really need to do something about that!) to find a hearty and substantial recipe that was different and delicious while meeting her dietary requirements. Not that cooking gluten-free is difficult or implies that we need to make sacrifices, but I wanted to make an effort and cook something that  I thought she would enjoy (and that would make enough so we could all take some in our lunch the next day!).

I came across a recipe for Vegetarian Black Bean Enchilada Bake that I had found on  I  made it once before when my husband’s brother (a non-vegetarian) was visiting. He and my husband both loved it and each ate two large helpings, so I figured I would make it again.  If it was a success once, I figured it would be safe bet this time too.

Vegetarian Black Bean Enchilada Bake is easy and quick to put together, but is by no means a gourmet or elegant meal.  It tastes great though, and isn’t that what really matters?

Vegetarian Black Bean Enchilada Bake

Preheat oven to 350°C
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup salsa ( I like to use Pace medium salsa)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper (I like to use McCormick’s)
2  540 ml cans black beans, drained and rinsed
12  6-inch corn tortillas
3 cups Monterey Jack and Cheddar blend cheese shredded ( I like to use the Kraft Tex-Mex shredded cheese mix)

  • Saute the onion, pepper and garlic in a large skillet for 3-5 minutes until tender.
  • Add the salsa, cumin, cayenne and  black beans and bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring often for 3 minutes.
  • Arrange 6 tortillas in bottom of 9″ x 13″ baking dish overlapping them as necessary. Spread half of bean mixture over tortillas and sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat layering process with remaining tortillas, bean mixture and cheese.
  • Cover dish with foil and bake 20 minutes.