Category Archives: salad

Moroccan Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Salad

EPC and I had been looking for a Moroccan cookbook for ages.  It seems that the majority of them place little focus on vegetarian options and lay heavy on the lamb.  I guess this make sense, but we were hopeful that something out of the ordinary would present itself.

One Saturday afternoon last month, as we were drooling over the Emile Henry Tagines on display at our neighbourhood kitchen supply store, my husband noticed a copy of Ghillie Basan’s Tagines and Couscous rounding out the display of crockery.  We flipped through it and in comparison to the other options we had, this cookbook had a fair selection of delicious-looking vegetarian tagines (8), couscous (3 out of 5 recipes), and side dishes (11).  We jumped at the chance and purchased it on the spot.

Tonight was the first chance I had to delve into the cookbook and I settled on two salad dishes, one with chickpeas and the other, the star of the show, a delicious roasted eggplant and tomato salad.

Sure, roasting (and then peeling) eggplant and tomatoes is kind of a pain, but if you do it early in the afternoon and leave it on the counter to cool, the salad is ready in no time. We served it with some whole wheat pita bread left over from New Year’s Eve, but serving it with the recommended crusty bread would be even better.  There is something about sopping up savoury dish with a thick hunk of bread that a triangle of pita bread just can’t compete with.

Moroccan Spicy Eggplant and Tomato Salad

2 large eggplants
4 large tomatoes
1/2 cup of olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon of harissa paste*
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground (I used a motar and pestle)

  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Put the eggplants on a baking sheet
  • Put the whole tomatoes in a casserole dish and cover with 1/4 of olive oil
  • Bake both for 30 minutes and then cool on the counter
  • When then have cooled (about 45 minutes), halve the eggplant and scoop out the inside and discard the skin.  Chop the eggplant into a pulp.
  • Peel the tomatoes, discard the seeds and chop into a pulp
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron pan and saute the garlic until it begins to turn colour.
  • Add the tomatoes and harissa and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the eggplant, cilantro and parsley and cook for about 5 minutes until the eggplant is heated through.
  • Add the lemon juice, cumin seeds, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with the remaining olive oil drizzled on top and don’t forget the bread!

* You can pick harissa up at a speciality store or follow Ghillie Basan’s  simple recipe:

8 dried chilies, seeded and then soaked in warm water for 1 hour
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, ground
4 tablespoons of olive oil.

  • Drain the chilies and combine in a food processor with garlic and salt until a thick paste.  Mine never got to a thick paste, but c’est la vie.
  • Add the cumin, coriander, and olive oil and blend well.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about 1 month

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Beets and more beets: Beet Burgers and Beet Salad

The weekend is coming to a close and, although the weather was downright nasty for August (with the daily highs just above +10°C),   when I look back over the last two days I can conclude that it was one of the best weekends of the  past month.

You can’t beat brunch at Culina Highlands with friends Saturday morning (even though their vegan option was far too salty), freezing to death at the downtown farmer’s market (and lugging home beets, banana potatoes, carrots, corn, Macintosh apples and Concord grapes), freezing to death again at our yearly condo BBQ, making fantastic blueberry lemon jam, taking a walk to Paddy’s Cheese and putting together a delicious Sunday night supper!

Yes, all in all, it was a great two days!

I decided to cook up all the beets I picked up on Saturday and make Beet Burgers from Toni Fiore’s Totally Vegetarian plus a Beet Salad with Herbs from Habeeb Salloum’s Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middles East and North Africa.

The Beet Burgers were delicious.  I will certainly make these again.  However, it make take a while. Toni’s cookbook features two more tasty looking burger recipes that I need to try first.  Her burgers held together while cooking and didn’t fall apart after the first bite;  I lost a few  pieces of my burger as I munched away, but for the most part this burger held its own – without the addition of eggs!  As well as being found in her cookbook, the recipe is also on the Delicious TV website (Toni Fiore is the host).  I figured that I would take peak to see if it was online to save me from typing it out 🙂  (FYI:I did not add the pumpkin seeds and I substituted 7 fresh basil leaves for the beet greens).

Delicious as they are, this certainly is not a weeknight meal, but you can easily make them up on a weekend afternoon and freeze them uncooked for another day (I did that with the 2 of the burgers).  EPC can always eat two burgers and, of course, I packed my second burger for tomorrow’s lunch.

The Beet Salad was just as tasty.  I have contemplated picking up Habeeb Salloum’s  cookbook for the past year, so I finally signed it out from the library to give it a try.  I have a made a few recipes and enjoyed them all.  There are a few more that I am looking forward to trying.  After tasting a few selections, EPC declared that we have to get this cookbook and I would have to agree.

Anyway, I hope your weekend was as good as mine, but if not, don’t worry we have a 3-day weekend coming up!

Want to impress someone? Try Pineapple-Glazed Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad.

This has become one of my favourite meals.

It is a wonderful summertime dish.  Cool and refreshing with a little zing!

I picked up Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen from the local library 3 weeks ago and haven’t really had a chance to explore it as much as I would have liked.  It is due in a couple of days and of course there is a hold on it.


We have been so busy over the last couple of weeks that we have been cooking old standbys.  You know how it goes, too strapped for time and energy to try anything new.

Anyway, this was the perfect meal to get me back in the saddle!  (I guess the Calgary Stampede is influencing my choice of words).  No matter.  I can do no wrong after this meal – bad pun or not.

It took over an hour to prepare, because Bishop recommends that you salt, press and drain the sliced and peeled cucumbers for one hour.  Cucumbers are quite watery, so it seemed like the right thing to do.  And what do you know, I had to wipe cucumber juice off the counter a couple of times. I didn’t have any plain rice vinegar, so I substituted sushi vinegar and left out the sugar (sushi vinegar is sweet enough as it is).  It worked just fine.

One more thing.  It may seem like the glaze will never boil down, but then, voila,  you are left with perfectly browned and glazed tofu.

Just wait until you taste it!

Pineapple-Glazed  Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad

1 1/2 to 2 long english cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded.
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt (I didn’t have any, so I used pickling salt)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (you can use sushi vinegar and leave out the sugar)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1 small fresh hot red Thai chili
1 heaping tablespoon of cilantro, finely chopped

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound of firm tofu, cut in half and then each half sliced into four slabs and then pressed and blotted dry
2/3 cup of pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of salted peanuts, finely chopped

Enough brown rice noodles to make you both happy, cooked, rinsed, and tossed with a few drops of oil to prevent sticking.

First the salad:

  • Toss the cucumbers and salt in a colander and apply two sandwich size Ziploc bag full of water to the top to help draining.  Set aside for 1 hour.
  • While the cucumbers are draining, bring the vinegar and sugar to boil over medium heat.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup.  This takes about 5 minutes or so.
  • Pour the dressing straight from the stove into a large bowl and add the onion and chili.
  • When the cucumber has finished draining, rinse off the salt and blot dry with paper towels.  Add to the bowl and top with cilantro.
  • Stir well to mix.

Now the tofu:

  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet (I used my cast iron pan).
  • Add the tofu in a single layer and cook until golden brown – about 7 minutes.  Turn the tofu and cook about 5 minutes.
  • Add the pineapple juice, lime juice and a dash of salt.
  • Cook, turning the tofu once until the liquid has evaporated.  This takes about 5 minutes.
  • Spoon enough brown rice noodles for one person on a plate, top with cucumber salad, tofu and garnish with peanuts.
  • We found the dish served two of us, with enough for seconds.

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Tostados with Black Beans, Jicama Slaw, Carrot Salsa and Feta.

After having jicama at a friend’s house last weekend, I thought I should make something with this seldom used (at least in my house) root vegetable. I found a recipe for Jicama Slaw in my latest library acquisition: The Real Food Daily Cookbook by Ann Gentry. She also has a recipe for Carrot Salsa that I adapted for tonight’s dinner. I figured it would be a pleasant departure from tomato salsa.

I’ll get straight to the point, the tostados  were fantastic. In fact, when EPC saw me putting them together he remarked that he could already tell that dinner was going to be amazing.

It was amazing: a crisp oven baked corn tortilla, topped with black beans, crumbled feta cheese, jicama slaw, carrot salsa, and a dollop of guacamole. All the flavours and textures worked really well together, plus it was a fun casual dinner – perfect for a Friday night.

The only thing that went wrong (other than forgetting to make the guacamole until the last minute) was that all 6 limes I bought produced a few meager tablespoons of juice between them.  Certainly, not enough to add the amount of tang needed.  In the recipes below I have suggest 3 tablespoons, but feel free to add more if you like.  Anyway, lesson learned. I picked up a bottle of Real Lime this weekend in case I need saving in the future.

Kelley’s Black Beans

1 19 oz can of black beans, undrained
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 roma tomato, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Cayenne pepper, crushed red chilies, or a jalapeno to taste(I did not add any heat this time)

  • Saute the onion and garlic for about 5-7 minutes until soft (add jalapeno now, if using).
  • Add the seasoning and stir to coat.
  • Add black beans and their liquid and the tomatoes.  Increase heat until beans are bubbling.
  • Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
  • For tostados, remove from heat and let cool before assembling.

Carrot Salsa

2 cups approximately 4-5 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1/4 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup of red onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of lime juice, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon of salt

  • Put the carrots in a bowl and mix with cilantro, onion,  lime juice and salt.
  • Let sit 20 minutes

Jicama Slaw

2 cups of jicama, peeled and coarsely grated.
3/4 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons of lime juice, or more to taste

  • Squeeze the grated jicama to reduce its water content so it can absorb the lime juice (you will be surprised by how much water is in this vegetable!)
  • In a bowl combine the lime zest, lemon zest, lime juice and salt, and mix well.
  • Add the jicama and stir together
  • Let sit 20 minutes before serving

Oven Baked Tortillas

8 6-inch corn tortillas

  • Preheat oven to 350°C
  • You will need to do this in batches or use two cookie sheets.
  • Spray both sides of 4 corn tortillas lightly with oil, lay on a cookie sheet.  It is ok if they overlap.
  • Bake for 5 minutes and turn.  Bake another 3 minutes, or until crispy.
  • Let cool before topping

Tostado Assembly

  • Top cooled oven baked tortilla with a couple of spoonfuls of warm black beans.
  • Follow with crumbled feta cheese, a couple of spoonfuls of the jicama slaw and carrot salsa.
  • Finish with a dollop of guacamole.
  • Serve 3-4 tostados per person

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Katchoomber Salad (and a Recipe Index!)

I love non-lettuce salads.

I like the fact that you get more nutritional bang for your buck with more substantial vegetables in the salad bowl.  Another plus is that these salads keep longer in the fridge than their lettuce-based counterparts and you know how much I love taking leftovers for lunch!

Katchoomber is one of my favourite salads.  It is easy to make, tastes wonderful, and keeps for a couple of days in the fridge without going soggy.  I am not a fan of raw onion, so feel free to add a few slices of red onion to the carrots, cucumber, and celery if you like.

This recipe has been adapted from Daksha’s Gourmet Spices Cookbook Three: Indian Vegetarian Cuisine. The neat thing about this cookbook is that it my In-Laws picked it up for me at a local craft sale.

They certainly know me well: I love cookbooks and I love Indian Cuisine.

The cookbook comes in a package with 5 or 6 spices that are needed to make the recipes in the book. Of course you can pick them up at any specialty Indian grocer, except for one. One of the spices, thana jeero is a special blend from the author’s family, so when I ran out I had to make a trip to the craft sale the following year to pick up more of the spice.

As I mentioned before, the best thing about this salad is the crunch. Of course the tangy vinegar, the musky cumin, and the surprise bite of freshly grated parmesan (which at first seemed a little out-of-place – until I tasted it!) make this salad stand out. Just to prove my point, I took this salad to a work potluck and it was all anyone could talk about. Everyone, even the more conservative eaters, couldn’t get enough.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I have added a recipe index to Cookbook Cooks to make searching for your favourite recipes a bit easier.  You can access it from the top of the page, or by clicking here.

Katchoomber Salad

1/2 long english cucumber, julienned
3 medium carrots, julienned
3 celery stalks, julienned
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds (I crushed them using a motar and pestle)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon grated parmesan

  • Put vegetables in a large serving bowl
  • Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, cumin, and cayenne until well blended
  • Pour dressing over salad and toss.
  • Add cilantro and parmesan before serving

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It doesn’t look pretty, but it sure tastes good: Tofu Burgers and Cilantro Carrot Salad

“Honey, this is the best tofu scramble you have ever made.”

He was joking, but if you are making veggie burgers and you can barely get them off the baking sheet and onto the bun without them crumbling all over, well, you get the idea.  He was not too far from the truth, it was certainly more like a tofu scramble than a tofu burger.  We were both good sports and attempted to eat it on a bun like it was intended, but that did prove difficult.

It looks pretty good in the photo, so I guess I should have included an after first bite photo.

This veggie burger was delicious, but it didn’t do what a burger should, so I am not going to bother posting the recipe.  I think vegetarians have enough trouble finding a good home-made burger recipe that doesn’t fall off the bun and make a mess all over the plate, without me adding to the collection.

I have a whole host of veggie burger recipes to try and I when I find a one that sticks together fairly well and tastes great I will share it with you.  EPC and I really love veggie burgers, but have been getting tired of the store-bought variety, so testing a bunch of recipes will be fun, tasty, and relatively painless.

However, I would like to share with you the recipe for the simple and delicious salad that I served on the side. This easy salad and the tofu burgers are from my latest library acquisition the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook

Cilantro Carrot Salad

2 1/2 cups of peeled and coarsely grated carrots
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of cilantro, minced
1 tablespoon of parsley, minced
a dash or two of salt to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of cayenne

  • Place the carrots in a serving bowl
  • Blend the dressing ingredients  together with a whisk or in a blender.
  • Pour the dressing over the carrots and toss well.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.

It will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

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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