Monthly Archives: October 2010

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie from the new Canadian Living Vegetarian Cookbook

I love flipping through Canadian Living Magazine!

They have the best recipes.

In fact, my mother-in-law gave me a whole stack of last year’s magazines to peruse and seek out new vegetarian recipes.  Now Canadian Living has made searching for their vegetarian recipes easier by including a selection of delicious sounding meals in their newest “tested til perfect” cookbook  The Vegetarian Collection.  Even though I have secured a copy of this cookbook  that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to flip through the old magazine editions!  Plus, this cookbook does not feature any deserts, so those old magazines will come in handy.

I had been eyeing this cookbook for a few weeks in Coles bookstore downtown.

Should I pick up, or shouldn’t I?

Then one day while looking through cookbooks in Winners I found a copy of the coveted cookbook for only $14.99.  Well, that settled it.

It was tough for me to decide on the first recipe that I would make from my newest acquisition. Would it be Rustic Spinach and Feta Galette, Squash Couscous, or Smoked Cheese Risotto?  Instead I decided on an adaptation of the Canadian Living version of vegetarian shepherd’s pie.

With a mix of yam and potato for the topping and a stew of lentils and veggie ground round beneath this shepherd’s pie was absolutely delicious.  I must confess it beat the pants off of a shepherd’s pie recipe that I posted previously. This one takes a bit longer to make, so if you have time to spare give it a try. Though you could use canned lentils instead of dried one to speed things up.

I think the mix of yam and potato with the grated cheese on top is what makes this shepherd’s pie so fantastic !

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dried brown lentils, soaked overnight then rinsed and drained (or one can of lentils)
1 340g package of Yves Veggie Ground Round
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 -28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of water
2 zucchini diced

4 (1 kg) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch dice
4 (1 kg) yams, peeled and cut into 2 inch dice
1/3 cup of milk
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

  • In a large pot heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions, celery, carrot and garlic.  Cook until softened, about 6 minutes.
  • Add lentils, cumin, and oregano and cook for 3 minutes
  • Stir in tomatoes and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  • Add the zucchini and cook for 30 minutes more until the lentils are tender.  If you are using canned lentils cut the cooking time at this point to 10 minutes.
  • Add the Veggie Ground Round and stir to mix.
  • While the mixture is cooking  add the potatoes and yams to a large pot of boiling water and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°C
  • Drain the potatoes and yams and rinse the pot.  Return the potatoes and yams to the pot and mash with milk, yogurt, salt and pepper.
  • Add 1/2 cup of grated cheese to the potato-yam mash
  • Scoop lentil mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread the potato-yam mash on top.  Top with the remaining cheese and bake at 375°C for 30 minutes

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Feeling like Carmella Soprano: Baked Ziti with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella

I was first introduced to ziti while watching The Sopranos.

In Season Two Carmella brings an aluminum pan of baked ziti to her daughter Meadow’s dorm room.  I wondered, what in the world is ziti.  I had never heard of it and I recalled that the dish had been mentioned a few times in Season One.  At first I thought it was an Italian dish, which it is, but I found out the name of the dish is based on the pasta shape.  As you all know, something not uncommon in Italian Cuisine.

EPC and I always eat whole wheat pasta, so I was delighted when I went to the Italian grocery store last month and found whole wheat ziti (they had whole wheat orzo and cavatappi too!).  I knew that my fabulous Jack Bishop Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook had a recipe for Baked Ziti with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella, so I decided to pick up a few boxes of ziti and give it a try.

It is had to believe how the shape of pasta can affect the way tastes.  For example, I really dislike whole wheat penne, but quite enjoyed the ziti, and cavatappi is my favourite pasta of all time.  Perhaps it not just texture and shape that affects the taste, but also the appearance.

Regardless what it is about pasta and its shapes, EPC and I enjoy pasta in its various forms about once a week.  This particular dish is a keeper and the quick tomato basil sauce of Bishop’s is a nice departure from canned or bottled sauces.

Baked Ziti with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella

3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves, minced
250 grams of mozzarella cheese, grated
4 cups (450 g) of uncooked whole wheat ziti
1/4 cup of parmesan, freshly grated
Freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Set large pot of water on high heat.
  • Then start the sauce: Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic until lightly browned
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, basil and pepper to taste
  • Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let stand until pasta is ready.
  • Oil a 9X13 glass baking dish and preheat the oven to 400°C
  • When the water is boiling cook the ziti 2 minutes less than suggested.  It will complete cooking in the oven.
  • Stir the ziti into the pot with the tomato sauce and stir to coat
  • Pour half the sauce and pasta mixture into the baking dish.
  • Top with half the mozzarella and half of the parmesan.  Add the remaining pasta and  top with the rest of the cheeses.
  • Bake until the cheese browns – about 20 minutes.

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A weekend of beets

Eating a large amount of beets over the course of a weekend should not come as a surprise at this time of year.  It is harvest time after all!

We went over to our friend’s place for supper and games on Saturday evening and what a treat!  The company and the food were top-notch.

Our host prepared these wonderful puff pastry parcels filled with golden and red beets that were absolutely delightful and for dessert his “partner-in-cooking” prepared a lovely apple tart.  He promises me that the beet parcel recipe is forthcoming, so I hope to be making it myself and posting it soon.  Enjoying the harvest bounty with friends made it feel like Thanksgiving had come a weekend early.

We also played a  board game that EPC really enjoyed.  I finally got into it after the second round (translate: figured out what the heck was going on), but we didn’t make it to a third, as dessert and conversation got in the way.  The game is popular in the UK and is called The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game.  Since EPC enjoyed it so much, I am hoping that I can track it down here in Canada.

I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a large bag of beets harvested from the garden of my co-worker’s mother.  I decided to make a beet cake with cream cheese icing and some savory beet pancakes that I had seen in a summer issue of Vegetarian Times (their photo is much better than mine).

Beet cake is something I have enjoyed numerous times at a local restaurant The Blue Plate Diner.  I didn’t have a recipe for a beet cake so I took a carrot cake recipe and modified it.  It worked out and tasted great (thanks to some suggestions from my Mom), but I have a bit of tweaking to do before it makes an appearance on Cookbook Cooks.

The beet pancakes were scrumptious.  I am eating a leftover one as I write this post and I must confess that eating one the second day convinced me to get off my butt and post the recipe so you can make them too!

Savory Beet Pancakes with Yogurt-Mint Sauce
makes about 8 pancakes

Yogurt-Mint Sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few turns of the pepper mill

Beet Pancakes:
1 1/2 cups of grated beets (about 3 medium)
1 cup of grated carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten

First make the yogurt mint sauce:

  • Using a fork, whisk together yogurt, mint, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl
  • Refrigerate until ready to use
  • Then make the pancakes:

  • Preheat oven to 250°C (to keep the pancakes hot as you prepare them)
  • Grate beets and carrots by hand or using a food processor.
  • Add garlic and salt and stir.
  • Add the beaten eggs and mix well.
  • Spray a non-stick skillet or cast iron pan with cooking oil and heat over medium heat (medium low if you are using cast iron)
  • Drop 1/4 cup of the beet mixture onto the pan and flatten.  I found that I could easily cook 2 at a time.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side and put finished pancakes in the oven until ready to serve.
  • Top with yogurt-mint sauce and serve
  • Click to print

    The tang of lemon and feta: Greek Lentil Soup

    I took a look at this recipe and thought that sounds good: I love lentils and who doesn’t like feta cheese!

    It was better than I expected.   I figured that it would be good, after all I have never had a lentil soup I did not like, but it was better than good.   Mediterranean style lentil soups are nothing new, but I am not sure whether it was the lemon or the feta, or both, that took the flavour of this soup out my taste experience.

    When you have eaten a lot of lentil soups like I have, finding one that charts out a new taste territory is a good thing.

    That is all I have to say.


    Try the soup.

    Greek Lentil Soup (adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook by Audrey Alsterberg and Wanda Urbanowicz)

    To make it vegan leave out the cheese.  If opting for a gluten-free option make sure your vegetable broth is GF.

    2 cups of red lentils, rinsed well and drained
    2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
    1 large onion, diced
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 1/2 cups of carrots, diced
    1 cup of potato, diced
    1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    1 teaspoon dried rosemary, ground or minced (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle)
    2 teaspoons dried oregano
    2 bay leaves
    7 cups of vegetable stock
    a couple handfuls of fresh spinach
    zest of 1/2 lemon
    juice of 1 lemon
    salt to taste (remember the feta will add some saltiness)

    2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese
    1/4 teaspoon mint
    freshly ground pepper to taste

    • In a large soup pot warm the oil over medium heat and saute the onions until translucent.
    • Add the garlic, carrot, potato, pepper, chilies, rosemary, oregano and 2 bay leaves and saute for about 5 minutes.
    • Add the lentils and the stock and bring to a boil.
    • Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.
    • Add the spinach and cook until wilted
    • Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and salt and pepper.
    • In a small bowl stir the feta with the mint and freshly ground pepper.
    • Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with the feta mixture.

    Click to print