Simple and Fresh Pesto

I love basil! And this year is the first year we actually have happy basil plants. It can only mean one thing: PESTO TIME!

Pesto is so fresh and delicious it’s always very exciting to have some in the kitchen. The traditional recipes call for pine nuts, but, hum, these are really expensive! I kept things simple using ingredients that are always in my pantry, and I’m more than satisfied with the result. Here’s my simple, simple, simple pesto recipe!

Here’s what you need:

  • Enough fresh basil to fill up your blender, about 5 cups (leaves and tender stems)
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 2 tbs almond butter
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 whole lemon, rind removed
  • 1 tsp salt (I used coarse sea salt)
  • pepper, chipotle pepper flakes, or red pepper flakes to taste

Here’s what you do:

  1. Wash the basil and pat dry.
  2. Transfer all the ingredients, but the olive oil, into your blender and blend.
  3. Slowly add the olive oil until you get your desired consistency.
  4. Transfer to an air-tight container and keep in the fridge.
  5. Enjoy on everything!

I love this pesto because it is great on everything: sandwiches, as a salad dressing and, of course, pasta. I used raw kelp noodles for a lighter no cook meal, and it was delicious! Let me know what your recipe for pesto is!

 

Sweet Corn and Basil Salad

Corn is finally in season over here, and I just can’t get enough! Near our new place, there’s this little health food store that takes orders on Facebook, and I just think this is the best system ever. They let you know when produce, like corn, will be in and you can let them know what quantity you’ll buy. It’s just perfect: you get to enjoy the freshest produce, and they don’t order too much. Anyways, all that to say that today I got to pick up my 12 corn ears! They are so delicious, I actually hate one raw: super fresh and extra sweet! While I was at the shop, I also grabbed a bag of arugula and basil. Perfect for a summery salad!

sweet-corn-salad2

Here is what you need:

  • 4-6 fresh corn ears
  • 4 cups of arugula
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 4 tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • salt, hot sauce and pepper to taste

Here is what you do:

  1. Peel your corn ears and lightly brush them with some of the sesame oil. Place on a lined cooking sheet and sprinkle them with some salt. Place in your oven set to broil for 10 minutes, turn them over and let them sit for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. If your barbeque is out, you should grill your corn!
  2. Roughly chop the tomatoes and the basil. On your lined cookie sheet, place the tomatoes and half of the basil. Add a few pinches of salt and pepper and place in your oven set on broil for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. In your salad bowl, mix the remaining sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce. Add hot sauce or salt and pepper to your taste. Toss in the arugula, the rest of the basil and the tomatoes.
  4. Cut the corn from the cobs and add to the salad. Give a quick stir and enjoy!

sweet-corn-salad1

This is such a nice side dish to any barbeque you might be attending, or to accompany veggie burgers or anything really. It’s sweet, fresh and full of summer. Let me know if you try this out!


Pour cette jolie salade de fin d’été (et oui, déjà!), vous aurez besoin de:

  • 4-6 épis de maïs
  • 4 tasses de roquette
  • 1 tasse de basilic frais
  • 4 tomates ou 2 tasses de tomates cerises
  • 2 c. à table d’huile de sésame
  • 1 c. à table de vinaigre balsamique
  • 1 c. à café de sauce soja
  • sel, poivre et sauce piquante selon votre goût
  1. Enlever les peaux des épis de maïs et les placer sur une plaque allant au four recouverte de papier d’aluminium ou de papier sulfurisé. Huiler légèrement les épis avec un peu d’huile de sésame et saupoudrer quelques pincées de sel. Place au four sur le mode ‘grill’ pour 10 minutes, retourner les épis et laisser cuire encore 10 minutes. Sortir du four et laisser refroidir. Si vous avez un barbeque, c’est l’occasion parfaite de s’en servir! Lorsque les épis sont manipulables, couper les grains de maïs et réserver.
  2. Couper les tomates en morceaux et hacher le basilic. Placer les tomates sur votre plaque et ajouter la moitié du basilic. Ajouter un peu de sel et de poivre, bien mélanger et enfourner pour 10 minutes encore sur ‘grill’. Retirer du four et réserver.
  3. Dans un grand saladier, mélanger le reste d’huile, le vinaidre et la sauce soja. Vous pouvez ajouter du sel, de la sauce piquante ou du poivre selon votre goût. Ajouter la roquette, le reste de basilic, le maïs et les tomates. Bien mélanger et déguster!

Urban Agriculture Summer School

Last week, I had the chance to participate to ‘L’école d’été d’agriculture urbaine‘ that is organized every year by the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), the most rebellious of Montreal’s universities. If you are interested in gardening, changing the world, growing your own mushrooms, or taking care of bees, this week is perfect for you. For an entire week, you are visiting urban farms, listening to passionate guest speakers, and participate in some really fun and interesting workshops. Just to give you an idea of what my week was, here is a glimpse at my favourite activities from last week’s urban agriculture school.

  1. Favourite visit: The Hospitalières’ Garden Tour: I really enjoyed visiting the nun’s gardens that are situated behind the Hôtel-Dieum hospital in Montreal because it has had such an important role in the city’s history. I was really surprised to see how involved and dynamic this community of cloistered nun was. It was also great to stumble upon such a big garden right in the middle of really busy neighbourhoods. It was particularly interesting to learn that the nuns used to have a big medicinal plant patch and used the gardens as part of their patients’ therapy. How very modern! urban-agricultureurban-agriculture2urban-agriculture3
  2. Favourite workshop: Mycelium propagation by Champignons Maison: I loved how Geoffroy Renaud was so enthusiastic and passionate about mycelium and mushrooms! It was really inspiring to listen to him explaining how to take care of mycelium because he does not have a formal training in biology or agriculture. Now, this may seem weird, but it really was encouraging to meet someone who has built an entire successful business and created his job by being passionate and persistent. He also had a more relaxed approach to growing mushrooms which made everyone in the workshop just want to start right away. urban-agriculture4
  3. Favourite guest speaker: Serge Mongeau: Writer and simple living advocate, Serge Mongeau’s closing speech was very inspirational and reassuring. He talked about the necessity of changing our perspective on our consumption of goods. He supports the idea that by really thinking about what makes us happy and fulfilled, we can identify our real needs and adjust our relationship to money and work in consequence. This particular speech touched a delicate string in my heart because I have lived through two really intense years work-wise, and I feel like I’m a little off-balanced and disconnected. Hearing the particular guest speaker gave my ideas and inspiration.
  4. Unexpected fascinating workshop: Beekeeping 101: I really didn’t think I would find bees so fascinating! It was incredible to learn about how they live and work. I still don’t know if I’m completely comfortable with the way we use bees in modern farming, but it was really interesting to learn more about these hard workers.

urban-agriculture5.jpg

Of course this is just a glimpse of all the acitivities and learning that took place along the week. If you are in the Montreal area, and speak French, I would really recommend checking it out for next year because it is such a dense, inspiring and enjoyable week.  Cheers!

 

 

Buckwheat Stuffed Zucchinis

A few months ago I went to a bulk store where I bought a giant bag of buckwheat groats. I love the idea of adding more whole grains to my kitchen, but this bag of grains got lost in my pantry. When I found it again this morning, I decided to give it a go. I also had pretty little ball zucchinis waiting to be cooked, so I combined both and made stuffed zucchinis.

stuffed-zucchini

I started by cooking the buckwheat groat to have a better idea of their taste. I was really surprised! These grains have a subtle bread-like taste that is very mild, but still unique. These are also great because they cook so quickly! They would be a perfect alternative for rice as a side dish too.

stuffed-zucchini3

Combined with the fresh summery flavours of tomatoes and basil, these stuffed zucchinis were delicious!

stuffed-zucchini2

Here is what you need:

For the stuffed zucchinis:

  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 8 king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 stalks green onions
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-5 ball zucchinis

For the sauce:

  • the flesh of the zucchinis
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 3 laurel leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here is what you need:

  1. In a sauce pan, combine the buckwheat groats with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer until all the water is absorbed. This should take less than 10 minutes. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cut the mushrooms in tiny pieces. In your sauce pan, add the oil and the mushrooms and let cook on medium-high heat. Add the tomato paste along with 1/2 cup and mix well. Once all the water has evaporated, add the mushrooms to the buckwheat.
  3. Mince the garlic cloves and green onions and add to the mix.
  4. Add the chickpeas, pepitas and basil leaves and mix until everything is well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper accordingly. Set aside.
  5. Cut the caps off your zucchinis and hollow them out using a spoon. Make sure your zucchinis are still about 5-7mm thick all around. Set aside.
  6. Fill the zucchinis with the buckwheat filling and close with their caps. Place on a lined cookie sheet. Cook for 45 minutes at 350F.
  7. Dice the 3 tomatoes and place them in your sauce pan. Add the zucchini flesh and the laurel leaves, rosemary leaves and red pepper flakes. Place on medium heat and mix.
  8. Once the tomatoes are completely mushed, remove from the heat. Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper. Using your wand mixer, process the sauce until smooth. Set aside.
  9. To serve, place some sauce at the bottom of your plate, add a zucchini and garnish with some green onions and basil leaves. Enjoy!

stuffed-zucchini4

These are so cute! They were delicious: the sauce added just enough moisture to the dish, while the buckwheat made it super filling and delicious. The contrasting textures of the mushrooms and pepitas also made every bite exciting. But, really, how cute are they? Let me know if you try this out!

Zucchini Raviolis, perfect for the BBQ!

Zucchini are so good right now and super cheap too! That’s why I went a little overboard at the farmers’ market and bought a ton. I thought I would try making something summery that would be perfect grilled on a BBQ. Now, I don’t have a BBQ, but I think this would make the perfect addition to your vegan grill.

zucchini-ravioli

These little raviolis are super cute, and you can customize them to your liking by changing the filling. I used some fresh basil for an extra summery touch, but I think sun-dried tomatoes would also be a great option.

zucchini-ravioli2

Here is what you need (for 14 raviolis):

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 cup firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, separated in two.
  • 2 tbs ketchup or tomato paste
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

For garnish:

  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Red pepper flakes

Here is what you do:

  1. In your food processor, place all the ingredients except the zucchinis and half of the basil leaves, and process until you have a firm, slightly sticky dough. Set aside.
  2. With your potato peeler, make long ribbons with the zucchini.
  3. Take two zucchini ribbons and place them in a plus sign (+). Place one or two leaves of basil in the center with one tablespoon of the tofu filling. Pat to even down and close the zucchini flaps over the filling. Flip over so that the closing of your ravioli is on the underside. Place the ravioli on a lined baking sheet.
  4. Once all your raviolis are done, add one slice of tomato on each one. Place in your oven set to broil for 10 minutes, or grill on your BBQ. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes and fresh basil leaves before serving and enjoy!

zucchini-ravioli3

This is really good! The zucchini slices are barely cooked and therefore keep their nice crunch without being soggy. The filling is full of basil flavour and has a very meaty texture to it. The sunflower seeds also give it a nice crunch. Finally, the tomato slice balances out the lightness of the filling and adds a lot of flavour. I love how these look like little parcels of goodness! Let me know if you try this out!

Mini Chocolate-Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Yesterday I attempted aquafaba macarons again. Now, I have experimented with these multiple times, but there’s always something wrong: they melt in the oven, they are hollow, they taste weird, the meringue does not get stiff… But, I keep on trying! Well, the batch I made yesterday is the best so far. Chewy and tender, they don’t have feet, but at least, they did not melt! I’ll consider this one a success!

mini-chocolate-raspberry-ice-cream-sandwich

As it is supposed to reach 40C today, I really didn’t feel like making a creamy filling. So I went with raspberry quick ice cream. Basically just frozen raspberry, this filling was a great addition to my chocolate cookies. It is tart and fresh and goes really well with the chewy and sweet chocolate!

mici-ice-cream-sandwich

Oh, you might be wondering what aquafaba is. Well, it’s the liquid that’s left after you have cooked beans, or the liquid you usually drain out when using canned beans. You might have noticed that this liquid is sticky and egg-like. Well, it can replace eggs in many recipe, including when making meringue! Extraordinary! What I usually do is keep this liquid in my freezer and just take it out when I feel like using it.

chocolate-raspberry-ice-cream-sandwich

Here is what you need:

  • 200 mL aquafaba (about the amount you can find in one can of beans; I used the liquid from kidney beans.)
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar.
  • 2/3 cup ground almonds
  • splash of vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 tbs maple syrup

Here is what you do:

  1. In a small sauce pan, bring the aquafaba to a simmer and let reduce until you have about 100mL (a little less than 1/2 cup). Remove from the heat and let chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  2. Pour the aquafaba in a large mixing bowl and use your electric mixer to whisk up until you have stiff peaks. This will take anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes, so hang in there!
  3. Once the meringue is thick, add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar to help it stay stiff. Add the vanilla extract. Whisk a little bit more, until the liquid is all mixed in.
  4. Put the sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder in a sieve and add that little by little to the meringue. Fold in the meringue using a spatula. Be gentle with the meringue: you don’t want all the air to leave, but you want all the dry ingredients to be well mixed in.
  5. Using a piping bag, pipe a dime size amount of batter on a line cookie sheet. Keep the bag perpendicular with the cookie sheet to have round cookies. Or go crazy!
  6. Preheat your oven to 250F and place the cookie sheet on the top rack. Bake for 30 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN! After 30 minutes, turn off the oven and let sit the cookie sheet in the oven for 30 more minutes without peeking.
  7. Take out the cookies and let cool completely before removing them from the cookie sheet. Set aside.
  8. For the ice cream, place the frozen raspberry and maple syrup in your food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  9. Scoop some raspberry ice cream on one cookie bottom and top off with another cookie to make super cute miniature ice cream sandwiches! Place in the freezer to set and enjoy!

chocolate-raspberry-mini-ice-cream-sandwich

I have to say that the no-peeking-in-the-oven is really hard for me because our oven does not have a window: it’s always a complete surprise! I was really happy to see that these little cookies were nice and not puddle-like!

chocolate-ice-cream-sandwich

I love that they are bite size because they make for the perfect no-mess ice cream sandwiches. And, they are adorable! Let me know if you try them out!

 

 

Lettuce Wedge Salad

Summer is back in Montreal and with the temperatures rising, all I want to eat is salad. At some point though you start getting tired of salads. That’s when I stumbled upon pictures of really cute lettuce wedge salads. I had to try it out!

lettuce-wedge-salad

This is perfect as you can customize it to add anything you want. The key is to have a nice, fresh iceberg lettuce. Yup, that’s right! This salad makes iceberg lettuce truly shine. Crispy and fresh, it’s perfect for hot days.

Here is what you need:

  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • 1 orange
  • 2 small apples
  • 10 cherries
  • 1 bloc of smoked tofu
  • 1 tsp oil
  • the juice of 1 lemon (minus 3 tbs to add to the dressing)
  • sesame seeds to garnish
  • sriracha sauce to garnish

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs tamari sauce
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • zest of 1 lemon

Here is what you do:

  1. Remove the damaged outer leaves from the lettuce and wash the whole head under water. Place in a colander and let drain while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Dice the smoked tofu in tiny cubes. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add the tofu cubes when hot. Stir from time to time, until golden and crunchy. Set aside.
  3. Peel the orange and cut each wedge in 3 or 4 parts. Set aside.
  4. Grate the apples and mix with the lemon juice. Set aside.
  5. Cut each cherry in half to remove the pit and set aside.
  6. Pat dry the lettuce head with paper towels and cut in half. Cut each half in 3 parts and remove the foot.
  7. On each plate, place some grated apples at the bottom. Place the lettuce wedge in the middle. Add some orange pieces, cherries, and tofu bits. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds and add some sriracha.
  8. Mix all the dressing ingredients together and pour over a few tablespoons on top of the lettuce wedge. Serve and enjoy!

lettuce-wedge-salad4

This is so good! The lettuce is so crunchy and goes perfectly with the fresh fruits. The tofu is crispy, and its smoky taste is the perfect alternative to bacon. The dressing adds just the right amount of tartness and saltiness. The flavours really work together, and this is just the perfect summer salad. Let me know if you try it out!

Perfect Strawberry Sorbet

Strawberry sorbet is the best! Especially right now that local strawberries are in season. They are so gorgeously delicious, sweet and juicy. It’s the perfect summer fruit.

strawberry-sorbet2

After eating a few quarts just like candy, I felt like trying something different. This is what I came up with, and it is so good! Such a strong strawberry taste, sweet and tart; this is strawberries in a scoop.

strawberry-sorbet

Here is what you need:

  • 6 cups hulled strawberries
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Here is what you do:

  1. Process the strawberries in your food processor until completely smooth.
  2. Place the strawberry sauce in a large bowl and whisk in the other ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate for a few hours before putting the strawberry sauce in your ice cream maker. Churn according to your machine’s instructions for about 30 minutes.
  4. Put in the freezer to set completely in an air-tight container. If you find the sorbet too hard for scooping, let the container sit on the counter for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

strawberry-sorbet1

This is delicious! It is so soft, and the strawberry flavour is incredibly intense! The sorbet is not too sweet, not to tart, just perfection. I am completely in love with the intense red colour: so appealing! We finished the whole thing in a day and could not get over the extraordinary strawberry taste. Anyways, this is the best sorbet I made so far, so try it out and let me know what you think!

Simple Pasta Salad

This is the perfect recipe if you want something simple and delicious for dinner, and for the next day. It’s perfect when just cooked, but it makes for a perfect lunch or picnic addition. You probably have all the ingredients already in your kitchen, so it’s perfect if you don’t know what to cook and are in a rush. It only takes minutes to put together, and it’s delicious!

pasta-salad1

Here is what you need:

  • 4 cups pasta, I used gluten-free fusillis
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 3 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbs ketchup
  • 2 tbs tamari sauce
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • a few pinches of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes

Here is what you do:

  1. Set the pasta to cook according to instructions.
  2. Wash and dry the zucchini and carrots. Peel the carrots skin if you like. With your potato peeler, peel up the carrots and zucchini into ribbons. Place in a large salad bowl.
  3. Wash and remove the stems for the kale. Bunch up the leaves and finely chop so that you have thin ribbons of kale leaves. Add to the vegetables. Pour the lemon juice over and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Once the pasta are cooked, drain and add to the vegetables.
  5. Add the sesame oil, nutritional yeast, ketchup, tamari sauce and pepper. Mix well until everything is coated in the sauce and well combined. Enjoy!

pasta-salad2

This is a great dish! I really like how the vegetables are barely cooked: the heat from the pasta will warm them up, but you still get all those great raw nutrients. It also makes for amazing textures. This is seriously delicious! Let me know if you try it out!

Melon-Maple Sorbet

In the summer, there’s nothing better than a fresh melon, cut in half, that you eat by the spoonful… except perhaps if you make a sorbet out of it! This is super simple, quick, easy and so refreshing!

melon-maple-sorbet

Here is what you need:

  • 1 melon, cut in small pieces, about 6-8 cups (I used a cantaloupe)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Here is what you do:

  1. In you food processor or blender, process the melon until completely smooth.
  2. Strain the melon and add the maple syrup and lemond juice. Mix to combine.
  3. Place in the fridge to cool for at least 2 hours.
  4. Place in your ice cream maker and churn according to your machine’s instruction for about 30 minutes. Place in an air-tight container in the freezer for a few hours to settle completely. Enjoy!

melon-maple-sorbet2

This is the perfect sorbet for a hot summer day: it is light, fluffy and just sweet enough. The melon flavour is what you will taste first, and then the maple syrup will jump in. You will have the best texture if you eat it after freezing it for a couple hours after churning. It truly is delicious! Let me know if you try this out!