If you like olives, pasta and fun ingredients, this is for you.

I recently posted about the carrot top pesto, (Which I am about to make again as I get carrots today in my basket), I have used it in the soup, spread it on bread, and made a pasta out of it. All were excellent, but this, this was the best. Another pasta dish, I made it using the leftovers from our first carrot top pesto pasta. The first pasta I didn’t prepare, my mother did and did not realize I had given her enough pesto for an entire box of pasta and she only used half the box so it was extremely strong. it was still good but needed a little tweaking to be perfect. well I used the leftovers to make this: IMG_0266Served with a swiss chard and romaine salad, this became a nothing wasted meal. I love it when all the ingredients can be used and nothing finds its way to my garbage – even the leftovers got used, the kids took them for lunch as a pasta salad with some tofu added for good measure. The swiss chard ribs are in the pasta and the leaves in the salad. We grew the swiss chard in the kids garden, a project my mother made for them this year, hot peppers, carrots, green beans, lettuce, chard and tomatoes. a beautiful little heaven of home grown foods.

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This meal came together slowly, I actually intended on just making a salad, ignoring the leftover pasta. But after de-ribbing the chard I realized I needed to do something with it. I thought caramelized onion and chard would make an interesting saiad topping so started that, then inspiration took over, i had a handful of cherry tomatoes left so chopped them in half and added then to the mix, then remembered the pasta in the fridge, and that was it. I tossed a bunch of pitted kalamata olives in to the mix and  as everything cooked down I added wine to deglaze and make a bit of a reduction before adding the pasta and some water. Tossing it all in the same pan the pesto thinned out and the flavours really work well together, unlike the flavour of typical pesto this is more citrusy with a hint of coconut. (there is coconut in the pesto itself and 1-2 tablespoons of lite coconut milk was added to the pesto to make the pasta.) I really like it but that might just be a personal taste preference.

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Hot or cold this dish is fabulous, although because I like warm olives, I do prefer it hot. I used an angel hair pasta here but really anything would work. what is also interesting is I DO NOT LIKE PESTO! I never have. Maybe its the cheese, or the pine nuts because neither feature here. I would actually bet this would be good on Zoodles (but I really have an issue with restricting carbs too much. use a whole grain pasta (pictured is “Smart” pasta) or something fun like buckwheat or rice if you have celiacs. Glass noodles would be killer here.)

Here I give you the correct amount of pesto for the correct amount of pasta, but you can also adjust to taste.

Carrot-top pesto pasta with Olives and chard.

Serves 2 (increase amounts to serve more we only needed this much)

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
ribs from a small bunch of swiss chard, chopped into strips
1/4 cup white wine
10 pitted Kalamata olives
6 cherry tomatoes cut in half
170g pasta of choice
3  tbsp of Carrot Top pesto
1 tbsp coconut milk
water if needed.

Cook pasta and add the coconut milk and pesto to it, set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a regular frying pan (don’t use a non-stick pan for this) add onion and cook until translucent, add the chard and continue cooking until chard softens. when a brown glaze forms on the bottom of the pan its time to add that wine. (this is my favourite part). now add the olives and tomatoes when the tomatoes. When tomatoes have softened you can add the mixed pasta and toss to mix and coat. you may need to add some water here. Serve!

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Molly likes it when I cook

Molly is like a miniature hoover, right at my feet anytime I cook to catch any scraps that may fall in the process (its amazing how fast she learned I am a messy cook!) She is quite the food loving dog and I am fairly sure she is packing on the pounds despite getting a good amount of daily exercise but if I feed her any less I am afraid she might start eating the walls!

IMG_0166 She adores going for her walks, loves the dog run but also loves leaving the dog run, she does not like being sprayed with the hose. The kids love it however so she will have to learn that getting a little wet is not the end of the world or she will have to learn to hide when the sprinkler is on.

  I have been trying to encourage her to come up and down our back stairs since discovering her on someone else balcony the other day!! so she can climb them, she chooses not to….. so far though, no real luck with ours. In fact all stairs seem to cause a severe case of lazy dog syndrome. Doesn’t matter what the reward is at the top she won’t climb more than 1-3 steps. 

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In other news, Molly has a boyfriend named Simba, a white/apricot mini poodle. She also has a puppy friend whose name I have forgotten but whose breed is so unique I will never forget it, a “Gany” or Ganaraskan. Not officially recognized this mix breed is really really cute!

  

Carrot Adventure.

  I got a beautiful assortment from Lufa farms in this weeks basket, but it came with a few challenges.

What to do with

Green Tomatoes (challenge in progress)
Carrots with full beautiful leafy tops (Challenge achieved)
“no so pretty” bag of veggies. (challenge achieved)

The not so pretty bag of veggies was the first thing I tackled, there were 2 onions in there, I also had some carrots nearing the end of their life span in my fridge and celery only fit for cooking. one thing came to mind. Stock. I had never made stock before but how hard could it be. I had fresh herbs growing outside and the veggie scraps from the meal I was making at the time. So in the pot with water went the onion, carrots and celery with an eggplant bottom, some bits of cauliflower stem  and a bunch of fresh parsley and a bunch of fresh oregano. the end result was a beautifully fragrant and flavourful broth (I added salt) that just cannot compare to what you buy in a box!! but now I just enlarged my challenge list to include:

Make something with homemade stock (Challenge achieved)

And then inspiration and a good google search hit. and I managed to deal with all but the green tomatoes in one delicious meal:

  Carrot PB soup with Vegan Carrot top pesto

I mostly stayed true to the respective recipes with the following variations:

SOUP:

I used 4 cups of my homemade stock instead of stock and water. I used chilli powder, ginger and garlic powder that I mixed into the peanut butter before adding to the soup, (instead of chilli sauce, something I do not have in my kitchen) I used an inversion blender because I find it does a better job with less risk of exploding in your face.

PESTO:

I used unsweetened coconut as it didn’t specify, otherwise I followed this and it turned out absolutely delightful. its slightly tangy citrusy notes go so well with the thai flavours of the soup.

  

A Love Affair with Eggplant

Eggplant is one of those strange foods that confuse children (what do you mean its an egg plant, it doesn’t look like and egg and it definitely doesn’t taste like one) and adults aren’t always sure if they like it or not (eggplant poorly done is pretty gross). I love getting my eggplants from Lufa Farms, they are always just the right size and the idea that my food grew on a warehouse rooftop right in the middle of my major city is, well delightful. Especially since whenever I try to grow anything the squirrels get fat and my planters end up empty. I had one in my fridge from my last order and although I really wanted to eat it, cooking in 30 degree weather isn’t really pleasant. So I needed something that required minimal time in front of the stove. And the following two recipes were born.

I love salt, so if you are less of a salt affectionado the first one may be a bit too salty for you, my kids didn’t really go for it (they aren’t used to salt, as I do not cook with it as a primary flavouring very often.) So I cannot in my right mind suggest you try feeding this to your kids either, but its a nice side dish for a summer dinner.

Finding ways to make tofu more interesting is an ongoing experiment, my kids love it but I get tired of eating the same protein with the same flavourings over and over again. Since it was again too hot to bake in the over my BBQ tofu was out (I do not have a grill, I really want one now but its not convenient in apartment living and I am pretty sure I would set fire to my place anyway) Since I had some indian insipired rice a friend had brought over during my recovery from surgery (I had one of my heart issues corrected a few weeks ago!) I decided to stick with similar flavours and it turned out quite nicely.  This, the kids ate.

Photos to come, I need a new phone or camera and so photos for the moment are pretty few and far between.

  

 Pan Seared Eggplant and Tofu
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 brick extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 medium eggplant
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tsp Coriander
  • pinch of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp dried currants 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method:
cut tofu and eggplant into bite sized cubes,  put in large mixing bowl and toss with currents, salt and spices. (you can adjust these to your taste)

Heat oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat (or use a bit more oil in a conventional pan) – you may need to work in two batches if you pan is small – put eggplant and tofu in pan in a single layer making sure all pieces contact the bottom of the pan, stir to flip the pieces every 3-4 min until eggplant is softened and tofu is browned.

Serve over rice or quinoa with a soy sour cream mint sauce (Sour supreme, lemon juice and a lot of dried mint.) 

Eggplant Patties
serves 2

Ingredients:
1 small eggplant of 1/2 medium, sliced into circles
1/2 cup Braggs soy alternative (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp PB2 (or 2 TBSP natural peanut butter)
1 green onion, sliced
3 tbsp chickpea flour
2 tsp olive oil

Heat oil in pan over medium heat.
toss eggplant with the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl, be sure to cover the eggplant generously. if its too thin and doesnt stick to the eggplant add more flour.

in pre-heated pan place the patties and turn after 6-7 min, you may need longer depending on thickness of your slices, the eggplant is ready when it is completely softened. (the skins edges will sorta curve in and will become transparent)
wonderful served on brown rice cooked in veggie broth.