A cast iron skillet? But what do you even DO with that? You're vegetarian!

Alas, many people equate cast iron skillets with grilling meat. Sure, that's a great use for them - if you swing with the meat-eating crowd. However, if you're like us, following a mostly plant-based diet, you might wonder if you even need to add this tool to your current kitchen arsenal. The answer is: yes. Yes, you do. You need a cast iron skillet in your life. You need it because cast iron heats to temperatures that your non-stick pan has only dreamt of. You need it because cast iron sears vegetables evenly, without wilting or over-cooking them. You need it because cast iron is the secret weapon in this fabulous weeknight recipe. Did I mention that you also need seared broccoli in your life? Well, you do, and I'm here to bring you the quick and easy recipe.


Seared broccoli is delicious on it's own, but you can crank it up a notch by tossing it with some incredibly delicious homemade vegan ginger molasses sauce. (Or, if you're SUPER pinched for time, you can totally use this awesome vegetarian hoisin sauce if you wish. I don't judge.)

Already a seasoned (pun-intended) cast-iron user? Skip directly to the recipe here!

Tips & Tricks for Cooking with Cast Iron

How to make sure your vegetables don't wilt
Blanch, blanch, blanch! Blanch your vegetables (do this by tossing your cut up vegetable into a pot of boiling water for only one minute) This method ensures that your veggies' bright colours and delicious crunch get locked in.

How to make sure your food doesn't stick to your cast iron pan
Two things will ensure that your food doesn't stick to your cast iron: oil, and heat. First, always make sure that your pan is well oiled. It should be glistening, but not pooling. Second, always heat the pan BEFORE adding the vegetable. Once your cold food hits the hot pan, it will sear instantly, creating a non-stick barrier.


How to clean and store your cast iron pan
STAY AWAY FROM THE SOAP! STAY AWAY FROM THE ABRASIVES!

All you need is some salt, some warm water, and a paper towel or a soft brush.
Step 1: Let your pan fully cool and remove as much excess food as you can.
Step 2: Sprinkle a generous amount of salt in your pan.
Step 3: Dampen your paper towel or soft brush. In circular motions, gently rub away the excess food in the pan.
Step 4: Rinse lightly
Step 5: Dry immediately
Step 6: Oil up your pan with two or three tbsp of canola or grapeseed oil (or any other oil with a high smoke point will do. Olive oil is NOT recommended.)
Step 7: Heat the pan until the oil smokes, swirl, then remove from heat and allow to cool completely. This step ensures that your oil does not become rancid while the pan is not in use. Wipe away any excess oil with a paper towel.
Step 8: Hang your pan, keep it out on the stove, or put it in a drawer - just make sure that it's not in contact with anything wet and you're good to go!


Seared Broccoli with Vegan Ginger Molasses Sauce
original recipe by allison sklar

seared broccoli ingredients
1 medium bunch of broccoli, cut into fork-sized pieces
2 tbsp grapeseed or canola oil

ginger molasses sauce
1 tsp miso paste
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
generous pinch of chili flakes (optional, if you like a little spice!)

method
Mix together all sauce ingredients and set aside.

Start by blanching your broccoli. This will ensure that bright green colour and crunch gets locked in! To do this, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop your chopped up broccoli inside. Let them get nice and green and remove after just one minute. No leaving the kitchen here, this is some quick and serious blanching action!

Drain your broccoli and pat dry. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet (until a drop of water sizzles). Toss your broccoli in and stir for a few seconds. Allow to sear for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, without moving around too much. Florets should be nice and golden with hints of char.

Remove from heat. (Pan and broccoli will remain hot, beware!) Immediately add sauce and stir. Serve hot.







I've always been a fan of the Traveling Wilburys, as far back as I can remember, playing their record over and over again throughout my childhood. Recently, I've re-discovered the albums, and have been listening to them on a loop. For those of you who don't know, the Wilburys are actually a supergroup (in which nobody is actually named Wilbury) consisting of Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Jeff Lynn. A supergroup is what occurs when multiple successful solo artists come together to form something that can only be described as super. 



These stuffed shells are the supergroup of the food world: a combination of already amazing foods that become exponentially more delicious when they're put together.  Pasta. Sweet Potatoes. Fennel. Kale. Pesto. Mascarpone. (Writing this, I'm already wishing that I had made more.) I mean, just look at the photos. And then, when you find out that it's spiced with an unusually delicious combination of cinnamon, sage, allspice and nutmeg, you'll want to eat this all autumn long.


Sweet Potato & Fennel Stuffed Shells
recipe by allison sklar

MAKE IT VEGAN: omit the mascarpone and sub 1/4 cup soaked raw cashews, blended. 

ingredients
1/4 cup vegan pesto sauce

4 tbsp mascarpone (if vegan, see note above)
2 tsp cooking oil
2 onions, diced

1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
3 tbsp salted butter or vegan margarine
4 tbsp maple syrup
3 cups water

1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup finely chopped fresh kale
10 to 12 large pasta shells

method

Mix mascarpone (or cashew paste) and pesto together and set aside.

In a wide, deep saucepan over medium heat, heat oil and sautée onions until translucent. Add fennel and stir, sautéeing until brown. Add water, sweet potatoes, butter/margarine and maple syrup. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium, stir once, and continue to cook uncovered until water is absorbed and butter & honey start to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Do not stir.

Add spinach & kale, stir, and scrape the bottom of the pan. Spoon in 1/4 cup of pesto mixture. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired. Cover and keep warm.

Cook shells according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Carefully spoon potato mixture into each shell, topping with remaining pesto mixture. Serve warm, garnished with your favorite parmesan or vegan cheese shreds. 

Looking for something with lots of flavour and very little work? Dust off your CrockPot and make this vegan mixed bean ragout - the perfect dish to warm your soul on chilly winter nights. Set it and forget it, then come home to something magical. Use canned pumpkin purée, canned beans & canned tomatoes to make your prep work ultra-fast!

Slow Cooker Mixed Bean Ragout
vegan and gluten-free

ingredients

2 1/2 cups pumpkin purée
3 cups vegetable broth
1 can San Marzano tomatoes, diced
1 large red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup navy beans
1 cup pinto beans
2 tbsp molasses
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce

2 cups spinach
1 cup cilantro

seasonings:
1 tbsp corriander seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
pinch chili flakes
1 tbsp cumin seed
3 star anise pods
2 tsp ground allspice
3 tsp ground black pepper

In slow cooker, mix all ingredients and seasonings together except spinach and cilantro. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 7 hours. Uncover, taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or hot sauce if necessary. Add spinach & cilantro. Cover and continue cooking on high power for 1 more hour.
Serve warm. Leftovers? Keep it in the fridge up to 5 days, or freeze for up to three months.




Pesto sauce. That delicious, garlicky green stuff that you want to smother on everything. Once you learn how ridiculously easy it is to make your own fresh vegan nut-free pesto at home, you'll wonder why you haven't done it before. With only four ingredients and a blender - this sauce is faster than a frozen pizza! The most wonderful thing about it, other than how absolutely delicious it is, is how easy it is to change it up depending on how you feel, and what you've got on hand. Throw in a little arugula for a peppery bite, or some sundried tomatoes & olives for a little mediterranean flair. Add spinach to make it super duper fresh tasting, or satisfy your garlic craving when garlic scapes are in season. 

Perfect Vegan Nut-Free Pesto 
recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups fresh basil
1/2 cup good quality olive oil 
1/8 tsp salt 

Place half of the oil, basil, garlic and salt into a blender or a food processor and pulse until mixture comes together. Slowly add the rest of the oil, streaming in and turning up the speed. Scrape down the sides. Blend on high for one minute, or until mixture becomes homogenous. Store refrigerated up to two weeks in a mason jar topped with a little extra oil, or freeze for up to 3 months. Wonderful on sandwiches, pasta (like these stuffed shells!) or secretly enjoy it straight out of the jar!








As a general rule, food is cuter when it's miniature. Mini cakes. Mini brownies. Mini sandwiches. Mini burgers. Something about handheld food makes it significantly more appealing than it's full sized counterpart. Handheld mini patties are easy to make - finding burger buns to match, however, can prove to be a challenge. Readers, rejoice, I've found the solution - just make your own. Super quick and easy, and obviously SUPER tasty. 


Homemade Slider Burger Buns

make it vegan by using non-dairy milk and coconut oil!

ingredients

1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy, you choose!)
2 tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp granulated sugar2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, with a bit more for kneading

1 tbsp cooking oil (your choice of canola, vegetable, olive, etc.)

1 cup water

1 1/2 tbsp baking soda

2 tbsp butter, melted 

2 tbsp of toppers (sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onions, or a mix of all three!)


method


Oil a large clean bowl and set aside. 


Heat milk gently until 100F and pour into another large bowl. If the milk is too hot, or if you don't have a thermometer, wait for it to cool to approximately body temp. 
Whisk in sugar, sprinkle yeast on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Add butter and half of the flour. Stir to make a batter. (It will be lumpy, don't worry about it!) 
Add in salt and remaining flour and mix with a spatula or with your hands. 
Once it starts to come together, knead in the bowl until it becomes a ball. Dust your countertop with flour and knead an additional 2 to 3 minutes. 
Put dough into oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled. Meanwhile, heat water to a near boil, add to a small bowl and whisk in baking soda to dissolve. Set aside. 

Once dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a work surface and cut into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. 

Preheat oven to 450F.
Submerge one by one into the baking soda solution for 10-15 seconds, then transfer to a parchment-paper lined baking baking sheet. Sprinkle with toppings.
Bake for 9 to 12 minutes until golden brown. 
Remove from oven and brush with remaining melted butter. 
Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Ah, mornings. While many of you may groan at the thought of getting out of a warm cozy bed, mornings are actually my most productive time of day. My predicament? Mornings are just not long enough! No matter how early I set that alarm, I can never seem to find enough time to do all of the things that I'd like to get done before heading off to work. While I have good, healthy intentions, my breakfast ritual often involves me standing over the kitchen sink, scoffing down handfuls of Mini Wheats & drinking almond milk out of the jug. That is, until recently.

My Pinterest addiction inspired me to create grab-and-go breakfasts, packed into mason jars, prepared the night before. These often involve yoghurt or a smoothie, and a little bit of homemade granola. If you haven't made your own granola yet, this is definitely the recipe to try. Sweet cherries, a hint of chocolate, and a tart, tangy cherries, with a wonderful buckwheat crunch.

I am a big fan of honey in my granola, but if you're looking for a vegan alternative, maple syrup or agave both work equally well.

Chocolate Cherry Granola

gluten free, vegan

2 cups rolled oats*
1/2 cup buckwheat groats
1 cup unsulphured unsweetened shredded coconut**
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp dark cocoa

70g agave nectar OR maple syrup OR honey
70g coconut oil
1/2 cup dried cherries

Combine all dry ingredients except cherries. Melt coconut oil and syrup/honey together in a microwave-safe bowl. Toss with dry ingredients. Lay out on parchment sheet and bake at 300F for about 15 minutes. Mix, add cherries, and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Let cool completely before breaking into pieces. Enjoy!

*If you're in the U.S., most commercial oats are naturally GF. In Canada however, if you are cooking for someone with celiac and you need to be certain, look for the GF certification. Bob's Red Mill sells certified GF oats, usually found in the organic section of most grocery chains.

** I get mine from Bulk Barn - the size of the shreds work perfectly for this recipe!




My comfort foods come in many shapes and sizes, but all share a common trait: they are all meals that I ate as a child. Peanut butter and cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, baked beans... generally some simple, cheap, good stuff. Also on my list are a few of my mother's Slovak dishes, including her incredible pasta dumplings, which she calls "Halushki." Interestingly, a Google search for Halushki (as well as one for Haluski) did not return any results resembling the dumplings that I've grown up with - generally I found photos of broad, flat egg noodles fried up with cabbage. I'm thinking that somewhere along the way, either the translation was mixed up between my mother and my grandmother, or my grandmother had been making spaetzle while calling it halushki. In any case, it's always been halushki to me, and it's the most delicious food that I have ever eaten. I decided that those cabbage people were onto something, so, while I normally eat these with scrambled eggs, I tried it with fried brussels sprouts and golden onions. It did not disappoint. Being of Eastern European descent, cabbage and onions rank high on my list of comfort foods, so combining them with the pasta was a definite win all around! 

This is a pretty simple recipe and, unlike other laborious pastas, it comes together in a matter of minutes. My mother has a special "halushki pot" that she uses to press the dumplings through, but a large-holed colander will do just fine. Don't have that either? Dropping tiny spoonfuls into the water will do just fine. If you like these pasta dumplings, you should also check out my Sweet Potato Gnudi recipe here! 

Haluski with Brussels Sprouts and Onions
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients

2 cups flour
1/2 cup warm water
2 eggs, beaten
a couple of pinches of salt

2 cups chopped brussels sprouts
1 large red onion, diced
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
cracked black pepper

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil (vegetable, canola, sunflower, etc.)

method

Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Make a well in the middle. Add eggs and water. Stir to combine, bringing in flour from the sides. If the dough feels dry, add a little more water, a tbsp at a time.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using an oiled, large holed collander, press dough holes, letting it drop into water. Alternately, fill a pastry bag with the mixture and pipe out quarter-sized drops at a time, or, drop by small spoonfuls. Once your pasta is in the water, it will start to move around, stir gently a couple of times. Pasta is ready once it floats to the top - about 5 minutes. Drain, toss with a bit of oil, and set aside. 

Heat oil in a frying pan. Once it's hot, return heat to medium and add onions, stirring. Allow them to brown, about 8 to 12 minutes. Add cabbage and stir. Add butter and halushki. Continue cooking another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with cracked black pepper and paprika. Enjoy!



This breakfast is everything that you've been wanting in a meal: easy to make, delicious, healthy, hearty, and convenient! Mason jars help create a no-spill, grab-and-go breakfast for those mornings where you just don't have the time to cook, a.k.a. every morning. Mason-jar meals have been quite the trend on Pinterest lately, I figured it was time that I hop on the bandwagon. A girl's gotta stay on fleek! (Never let me say that again.) Oh, P.S., it's naturally vegan and gluten free.

What's extra-awesome about this recipe is it allows you to change the ingredients based on the season. Summer? Strawberries and peaches! Autumn? Plums and pears! Winter? Dried fruits! Cinnamon is delicious with all of the above, so I highly recommend using it.

Mason Jar Breakfast
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients

2 tbsp steel-cut oats
2 tbsp quinoa (or kaniwa)
2 tbsp buckwheat groats
1 tsp chia seeds
pinch cinnamon
pinch salt
3/4 cup boiling water

1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup chopped seasonal fruits or 2 tbsp dried fruits

Combine all dry ingredients in medium mason jar (if using dried fruits, add them now!) Pour boiling water over the top & stir lightly. (Do not shake, as the contents will stick to the sides!) Cover and let sit for about 30 minutes (until the jar comes to room temperature) then transfer to the fridge overnight. In the morning, add the milk and fresh fruits. Heat in the microwave in 30 second intervals if desired.

Stir, and serve!

Hello loyal readers,

Apologies for the hiatus, and a big thanks for understanding - it's been a very busy summer over at Savoury Sweets! Weddings, events, and birthdays galore - as well as a wonderful two-week vacation to the (very underrated) west coast of Canada. I've finally managed to find a few minutes, so I'm here to continue sharing healthy, plant based recipes to bring some colour to your plate, and variety to your diet!

I'm going to start by sharing something that I've been dreaming about since I made it - a quinoa & veggie-stuffed portobello cap. (Side note - Portobello? Portabella? Portobella? However you spell it, it's a giant, delicious mushroom.) I posted a photo on Facebook and immediately had multiple requests for the recipe - you ask, I deliver!

During my travels, I stumbled upon many secondhand bookshops, each one more adorable than the next. It was very hard not to take everything home with me. I did snag a wonderful book called Grain Power (Green & Hemming, 2013), which is what inspired this creation. Not only is this dish colourful, flavourful, and quite photogenic - but it's also filling enough to be a standalone meal. Bonus - the whole thing comes together quickly, and the filling can be prepared in advance - so it's great for a quick weeknight meal, or for a last-minute vegetarian or vegan dinner guest. Double bonus - it's gluten-free, and can be vegan if you omit the cheese, or use vegan cheese!

Smoky Superfood Stuffed Portobellos

ingredients

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 cup quinoa 
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice from one fresh lime
  • 3 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup herbed goat cheese, crumbled
  • smoked Tabasco (optional)

method

Remove stems from mushrooms, setting the caps aside. Chop mushroom stems.

Bring quinoa and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer about 15 minutes, until all water is absorbed, and quinoa is fluffy. Set aside.

Heat 3 tbsp oil in large saucepan. On medium heat, cook onions, stirring intermittently, about 15 minutes, or until they start to brown. Add garlic and stir. Add peppers and mushroom stems and cook until soft, about 10 mins. Add spinach, continue cooking until wilted.

Add quinoa to saucepan and stir, combining everything. Drizzle with remaining oil, lime juice, tarragon, paprikas and turmeric. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop mixture into portobello caps and sprinkle with cheese, if using. BBQ, or place on a tray and low broil, until cheese is melted, about 4 to 6 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with smoked Tabasco, if desired.







Do you have 15 minutes, some dry active yeast, and a kitchen scale?

If so, you, my friend, can make bread - right this instant. 
No experience required. No fancy ingredients. This bread is easy-peasy - and absolutely delicious. 

The secret ingredient is beer - yes, the kind you drink. Any beer will do, but I like to experiment and change it up each time I make it. So far, my favourite breads have been made with white beers or wheat ales. I have yet to try with a stout - but please, let me know if you venture that way! Now, lets get on with it, and get baking!

Easy Vegan Beer Bread

ingredients
500g (approx 2 cups) all purpose flour
8 g (about 1tsp) salt

16g dry active yeast
4 tbsp warm water
2 tsp sugar
30 ml olive oil
371 ml (1 bottle) of your favourite beer

5 cloves of garlic, grated (optional)
3 scallions, chopped (optional)

method
Combine yeast, sugar and warm water in medium bowl. Stir with a fork until yeast is dissolved. Set aside 10 minutes until frothy. 

Stir oil and beer into yeast mixture. Add garlic and scallions if using.

Sift together flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in the liquid ingredients. Using a spatula, or your hand, combine everything together until a sticky dough forms. Work the dough in the bowl until all of the flour is combined, and it comes together smoothly, about 2 minutes. 

Cover the bowl with aluminium foil, allow to rise for 1.5hrs.

Once the dough has risen, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle with flour. Invert dough onto floured parchment and gather it into a round shape. (It will be gluey - very normal!)

Sprinkle the top with some more flour, and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 425F. Make diagonal slits in the bread (as seen in the photo) JUST before putting it into the oven. 

Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool before slicing. 






Sometimes, I procrastinate.

This recipe is something that I've wanted to make for years. YEARS. Why have I never done it? Procrastination, my friends. Well, that, and severe lack of Panettone. Now that I live in Little, Little Italy (Lasalle), there is an abundance of this fluffy Italian treat - at all times of year! So many varieties to choose from in fact, that I found it slightly overwhelming. Do I want currant Panettone? Chocolate Panettone? Coffee Panettone? Mixed Fruits? Original? Yellow? White? Which brand do I choose? (Italians and Panettone lovers, please weigh in on this - I still don't know!)

Once my choice was made (chocolate-filled!), I decided to go ahead and let it sit on my counter for weeks. You see, I'm SO good at procrastinating, that I also procrastinate eating things. How does someone NOT consume an entire pannetone all by themselves? Self-control, people. Self. Control.  I knew that this particular panettone was destined for great things. This particular panettone was born to be transformed. This particular panettone would soon become a marvelously chocolatey, marvelously boozy breakfast miracle. Five months and mucho procrastination later, I share with you the one and only way that you'll ever want to eat panettone again.

Panettone French Toast with Chocolate
an original recipe by allison sklar

Notes:  Leftover panettone freezes very well, and is easier to cut into cubes when frozen. Don't use more than half of your panettone at a time, or you'll end up with an overflowing pan, soggy toast, and unhappy tastebuds.

ingredients

1/2 packaged panettone, cut into cubes
1/4 cup chocolate chips

2 tbsp Nutella
2 tbsp milk

6 eggs
1/4 cup 15% cream
1/4 cup Bailey's or chocolate liqueur 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp brown sugar

method
Line a 9x13" baking tray with parchment paper. Place cubes evenly into tray. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat milk and nutella for about 20 seconds, until soft. Whisk together and drizzle over toast.

Whisk together eggs,  cream, liqueur, vanilla and sugar until very frothy. Pour over panettone mixture.

Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until set and golden. 

Serve hot, sprinkled with icing sugar if desired.









Inspired by a recipe for Sambal Goreng (Indonesian spiced tempeh) found in an old issue of Saveur Magazine, this unexpectedly delicious dish will have you wondering why you haven't been eating tempeh forever. For those of you who are unfamiliar, tempeh is what happens when soybeans undergo controlled fermentation and fuse together to form a firm patty with a meaty texture. I know it doesn't sound super appealing, but trust me, it can be, when prepared correctly! The taste is less neutral and more nutty than tofu, but can usually be used in similar applications. As it originates from Indonesia, I believe that the best way to try it for the first time, or to rediscover it, is by cooking it Indonesian style: with a whole lot of garlic and spice!

Indonesian Style Tempeh with Black Garlic

Ingredients
1 slab tempeh, cut into rectangular cubes
1/2 cup olive oil + 1/4 cup for frying
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tomatoes, peeled, small dice
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chili, minced
1 habanero pepper, minced
pinch turmeric
2 tsp paprika
3 cloves black garlic, minced
NOTE: if you cannot find black garlic, add an extra tbsp of soy sauce.

2 cups rice, cooked (for serving)

Method / Instructions
Heat 1/4 cup oil in large skillet or saucepan. Over medium heat, fry tempeh until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain and set aside.

Combine olive oil, tomato paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar together in a medium saucepan Whisk until combined. Add garlic, tomatoes, peppers & spices.  Whisk in a few tbsp water if mixture seems to thick (some brands of tomato paste are thicker than others!). Heat over medium, careful not to boil. Add tempeh & black garlic to pot. Simmer together for 15 minutes, lightly stirring.

Serve over rice.




This multipurpose marinade is excellent for tofu, chickpeas, and rice. If you swing with the meat crowd, it's also a great sauce for chicken breasts or thighs. I want to call this a curry sauce, but I also don't want to scare any of you away. Don't be fooled by the yellow colour - it does not taste anything like Indian food!


What's really great about this marinade is how fast it comes together. Open up a can of coconut milk, squirt in some sriracha, zest and squeeze your limes, add a couple of dashes of seasoning and bam! Marinade is made. 


Thai Style Chickpeas and Rice
with Coconut Lime Marinade
an original recipe by allison sklar

for the marinade:
1 can full-fat coconut milk*
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp sriracha sauce (or more, to taste)
zest and juice from two limes

for the chickpeas and rice:
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup water
a few pinches salt

Make the marinade: combine all ingredients and whisk together until homogenous. 
Add chickpeas to marinade and pour into heated saucepan. Heat until bubbly. 
Reduce heat and let simmer, uncovered, until sauce reduces and thickens, about 15 minutes. 
Meanwhile, start the rice. Combine rice and water in wide bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Pour rice into chickpea mixture and stir. Salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro if desired. 


*Tip: Choose coconut milk in a can with a high fat content. The "drinking" coconut milk that's found in the refrigerated section won't do as it is lacking cream, which is important for the consistency. 




Now that you've got some tasty vegan broth that's been STOCKpiled (oh, I just HAD to have some pun with that), I'm going to show you a few interesting ways to use it. I'll start with this amazingly quick and easy vegan mushroom gravy. This is the tastiest, umamiest (totally a word), most versatile gravy that you'll ever try. You can keep it classic and serve it over mashed potatoes. Or, be trendy and have it on top of a whole roasted cauliflower. Vegetarian poutine? No longer a pipe dream. Whichever way you decide to pour it, once you try it, you'll never go back to brown powder and water again. Bonus: this gravy is both vegan AND gluten-free, making it a great option for those dinner guests with special diets or food intolerances.

Mushroom & Pepper Gravy
(a.k.a. Vegan Mushroom Gravy / Vegetarian Gravy)
an original recipe by Allison Sklar

ingredients
2 tbsp oil
1 pint cremini (or white) mushrooms
1/2 small onion, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp gluten-free tamari (or low-sodium soy sauce, if you're not concerned about gluten)
1 tbsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
pinch salt
generous amount of cracked black pepper

method
Heat oil in large saucepan. Add onions and mushrooms. Cook, stirring infrequently, about 10 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. (Those brown bits are major flavour enhancers!) Add broth slowly, and bring to a boil. Add tamari/soy sauce & vinegar. Whisk cornstarch into cold water until homogenous. WHISKING GRAVY CONSTANTLY, slowly pour in the cornstarch mixture, continuing to whisk until sauce bubbles and thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add pepper and salt, stirring with wooden spoon.

If not serving immediately, keeps well in a glass jar in the fridge for a few days. To reheat, pour mixture into saucepan with a tiny bit of water. Whisk constantly until heated. Serve hot.

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After a strange, elongated dance with flu this winter, I craved nothing but soup broth for days. Maybe it was instinctual - my body associates broth with healing, as I was brought up to believe that my Bubbie's chicken soup was THE Jewish penicillin.

A little embarrassed to admit, these days, I've been a broth-in-a-box kind of girl. I know, I know! Making soup broth is so easy! The problem is, I've always found homemade broths to be expensive, and quite wasteful, throwing all of the strained, overly mushy vegetables straight into the trash. However, my thoughts on this subject changed dramatically when I recently discovered that broth can actually be a great way to use up otherwise unusable produce! 

I had been stockpiling a few vegetable odds and ends in my freezer over the last little while (too-soft celery, wilted mushrooms, broccoli stems), and I decided that this would be a great time to use them all up. I added in some garlic and onions (for some super flavour and amazing healing properties) along with a few of the herbs that I dried last summer, some tamarind, and some salt, and a beautiful, versatile broth was born!

The base of your broth should be made up of garlic, onions, celery and carrots. Mushrooms, if you have them on hand, add a lot of flavour as well. The rest is up to you! Here are a few things that I always include:
  • Prunes - to create rich colour and add subtle sweetness. Thank you Ottolenghi for this suggestion. I never go without it!
  • Tamarind - to add a bit of tanginess. You can adjust the amount to your taste preference (a little goes a long way!)
  • Dill - if I don't have fresh dill on hand, I'll add a generous sprinkling of dill seeds to get a nice burst of earthy flavour. This is reminiscent of the dill-icious matzah ball soups that I ate as a child. 
  • Black pepper & chilli flakes - for a little bit of bite. 
  • Salt - but only at the end! Salt your broth only once it has simmered away for a long time,  so you know it's reached it's maximum flavour potential. This is a great way to avoid over-salting. 

Whole Vegetable Cooking: Healing Vegan Broth
(Basic vegetable soup stock / vegan soup stock)

Ingredients
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled & roughly chopped
1 entire bulb of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped or minced
4 stalks celery with the leaves (if available), roughly chopped
3 carrots & greens (if available), roughly chopped
4L water
4 prunes
1 tsp tamarind paste (or more, to taste)
2-3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 bunch fresh tarragon (or 2 tbsp dried)
1/2 cup chopped dill (or 1 tbsp dill seeds)
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp chilli flakes
salt, to taste

+ any leftover veggies / odds / ends you have laying around!

Method
Heat oil in large pot for about 1 minute. Over medium heat, add onions, sauté until translucent. Add garlic, celery & carrots. Sauté for 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add "leftover" veg, if using, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Add tamarind, prunes, spices and herbs. Cover, and simmer over low heat, 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Use fine mesh sieve to strain soup into clean pot. Taste & add salt as needed. Can be stored up to 2 weeks in refrigerator or 6 months in freezer. 








"Best Ever." I see this phrase, and variations of it, used liberally all over the internet. Everything seems to be the "best ever." A quick Google search for "best cookies ever," will land you with millions of results, but not necessarily what you're looking for. In Vancouver, a friend of mine once counted 6 "world's best pizza," signs within a 1km radius of each other. I have eaten the "best food in the city," at countless locations, all in the same city. Recently, my boyfriend and I embarked on a (fattening) quest to discover the best pizza in our area. What we've learned: we both have *very* different criteria when it comes to pizza. (I like thin crust, lots of sauce, little cheese - he likes the complete opposite. Clearly, our opinions differ greatly on which pizza is the best.) So how is it that so many places claim to be the "best ever?" I'll chalk this phenomenon up to two things: first, many people truly believe that they have the best *insert food name here* ever, based entirely on their own personal preferences. The second reason is that curiosity sells. People want to know - is it really the best ever? The thing is, it's a win/win situation: if it is the best ever, a-w-e-s-o-m-e! I just got to eat it! If it's not the best ever, I can ridicule those who think that it is, and I can fill the internet with my angry opinion!

Because #trolling.

All that being said, I'm here to tell you that these kale chips really are the best that *I* have ever had. They are crispy, umami, and not too salty. That's all a kale chip really needs in life, and that's what I'm here to share with you today.

Things to note before making this recipe
1. If you do not have a dehydrator, you *can* make these in the oven, as long as it's on the lowest setting. My oven goes down to 170F, which is only 10F higher than my dehydrator, and it works very well. If your oven only goes down to 200F or so, you'll have to check on them regularly, and continue flipping to make sure that they don't burn. If they start to brown, get out of town! (And by that, I mean take them out of the oven. They're done.)
2. Nutritional yeast has no substitute. Buy the flaked kind, not the powder. You can find it at most bulk stores, or at specialty health food stores. As it's rising in popularity, you can sometimes even find it in chain grocers in the "organic/health food" section.

So without further adieu, the humble, tasty, umami filled, nooch speckled, crispy, tangy, delicious kale chip.

The Best Ever Kale Chips 
a.k.a. Nutritional Yeast Kale Chips
a.k.a. Umami Kale Chips
a.k.a. Cheezy Vegan Kale Chips

ingredients

2 bunches of kale
2 tsp sesame oil
3 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

method

Remove all stems from kale. All of them. Get them off of there! They have no place in the life of kale chips. Toss leaves in a large bowl with sesame oil and soy sauce. Massage into kale until all leaves are coated. Toss with nutritional yeast.

Place on dehydrator sheets (or on parchment-lined baking sheet) and dehydrate at 160F for 3 to 4 hours, or until they are crispy. If they are in the oven, put your oven to it's lowest setting, and bake, turning about once every 30 minutes, about 2 to 3 hours, or until crisp.

Note: Smaller pieces will crisp up faster - feel free to remove them earlier to snack on while you're waiting. I highly encourage this.











Ajvar! Caponata! Pindjur! If you're of North American descent, chances are, you've never heard any of these words. They're in fact three different condiments from various parts of the world, whose ingredients differ regionally. What they often share is a beautiful base of eggplant and tomato.

Ah, the eggplant-tomato combo. Where have you been all my life? A few years ago, I realized that I actually enjoy eggplant. More recently, I discovered that I enjoy it even more when it marries with tomato to become a sweet and tangy sauce. Today, I present to you my version of an eggplant-tomato sauce. No, it's not a babaganoush. And it's not quite a ratatouille. It's it's own thing, really, so I'll just refer to this as a "condiment" for now. I do wish I could eventually come up with a jazzier name, because this saucy spread really jazzes up whatever it touches.


This "condiment" is great served hot, or cold, and is a wonderful topping for fresh bread or crackers. I also like to eat it on top of polenta (similar to a recipe in Ottolenghi's "Jerusalem"), or as a dip with pita chips. Enjoy this dish on it's own, or watch it transform into something new when mixed with thick yogurt. Toss in chickpeas to make it into a meal, and adjust the heat to your liking. It is truly a versatile food!

Eggplant & Tomato Relish
an original recipe by allison sklar

ingredients
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
4 - 5 medium canned plum tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp each: chopped oregano, cilantro & parsley
1 tbsp sambal olek chili sauce, or more to taste

method
Heat oil in large pan or wok. Cook eggplant over medium-high heat, until reduced in size and browned. Oil will first be absorbed, then will separate. Drain eggplant and return to pan with tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato paste. Add sugar, salt, lemon juice. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until eggplant and tomatoes begin to homogenize. Add herbs and chili sauce and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve warm or cold.