Posted by Natalie in Gluten Free, Indian, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Rajma Rajma

I really love making Indian food. Another lifetime ago, long before I was married and even longer before baby Rain was an idea, I spend around 8 months travelling all around India and Nepal with two of my girlfriends. Despite my indifference to almost everything at that time of my life, somehow food and cooking was a priority as it’s always been. I was relatively intent on learning as much as I could about the regional cuisine of the many different places we travelled and I did a pretty good job of retaining and documenting most of that information considering I was completely stoned out of my mind 98% of the time.

All of you former young world travellers out there know how it is to be 18 and in search of the next “life changing” experience. Or maybe that was just typical to the angsty teenage backpackers travelling in South Asia in the late 90s? Either way, I was definitely in search of something or at least thought I was because it was all or nothing on every front. I think it’s safe to say that was the case for my friends as well. From the strange yogi who completely hypnotized my friend into covering her whole body with turmeric – incidentally my first experience with the spice – which despite relentless scrubbing made her appear jaundiced for 2 weeks afterwards (this still makes me laugh harder than most things), to the apprentice of a particularly famous guru, who I thought had the answers to all of life’s questions and had me dressing all in white and carrying a poster sized FRAMED picture of her with me for the rest of my travels. It’s safe to say that I am completely terrified of having a teenager, or at least one as willful as I was.

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Mushroom Soup

Posted by Natalie in Recipes, Soup, Vegetables

MushroomEdit3 Mushroom Soup

It’s no secret that I am lover of all things soup, always have been and always will be. I’m pretty sure this has something to do with my absolute love for things that pair amazingly with bread, or more accurately my need to pair everything with bread. Isn’t everything just better with bread? I can fit it into any meal. Have what you think is a no bread necessary meal lined up? I bet I could fit it in, feel free to email me and we can discuss.

Actually, I have recently found myself in the unique position of having to eat much lighter than i’m used to. Not because I want to but because my body is forcing me too. Its definitely not like the earlier weeks of pregnancy where a seemingly never ending appetite seems to alert you to taste buds you never even knew existed, making eating even for a major food lover like me an elevated version of the usual religious experience. A few weeks back I was discovering flavor profiles in soda crackers that would blow your mind. Now sad as it is I can only eat very small amounts at once and even when I do that there seem to be uncomfortable consequences. It’s like alien resurrection inside my stomach after I eat so I’m really trying hard not to cramp his/her style cause revenge is a bitter bitter pill to swallow. No matter what you hear kicks feel like before you’re pregnant, nothing can prepare you for the feeling of a foot in the ribcage during the 8th month of pregnancy.

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Chanterelle Ceviche

Posted by Natalie in Appetizer, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Mushroon Cheviche Chanterelle Ceviche

These chanerelles were some of the dirtiest mushrooms I’ve ever purchased. If any of you are familiar with chanterelles you’ll know that they are not exactly the easiest variety of mushroom to clean. They have all kinds of groves almost like gills underneath the top that seem to be able to hold a plethora of dirt and grit, so they are definitely a mushroom variety that takes some extra time to clean up. I bought a whole bunch at the farmers market last week and it was like they came with the earth they grew in.

Once I did manage to clean them up, which took me a few days after purchasing, it was clear that these were going to be cooked simply. I think I must be going through an extremely lazy phase right now because a few dirty mushrooms never really caused me any cooking anxiety before. I had planned from the point of purchase to make a Mushroom Cheviche, inspired by the flavors common to traditional ceviche. Chanterells are truly one of the most delicately flavored mushrooms, they are quite rich and are perfect when they are simply sauteed in some butter. I thought a little bit of lime and cilantro would be just the thing. This is definitely not a mushroom you want to mix with a lot of strong flavors, they are best when kept simple. This recipe has only a few ingredients and is an absolute perfect appetizer for the season. We ate these for lunch and were  really happy that we didn’t have to share.

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Sauteed Zucchini with Cumin

Posted by Natalie in Appetizer, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Zuchinni 1024x768 Sauteed Zucchini with Cumin

This is the easiest recipe in the world and I feel somewhat ridiculous even posting it. It’s really a no brainer but so perfect that you absolutely have to try it. We recently got into the habit of trying out all of the varieties of zucchini available at this time of year, which is a bit out of character for me because usually unless its baked with lots of sugar and chocolate (I’ll eat anything in loaf form!) I’m not the biggest zucchini fan. Well maybe I’m coming around to it a bit more in my old age, I’ve recently had my eye on a certain zucchini fritters recipe and baked zucchini sticks are one of my favourites, but as a kid I really couldn’t stand the stuff.

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Cherry Tomato, Basil and Brie Panzanella Salad

Posted by Natalie in Appetizer, Recipes, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian

DSC03519 Cherry Tomato, Basil and Brie Panzanella Salad

I’ve gone a little tomato crazy this year. I’m finding myself literally surrounded by tomatoes of all varieties and I only have myself to blame for it. As I may have mentioned before we receive more than we can eat in tomatoes each week from my mother-in-law and with many failed attempts at refusing her generous offers, because she really gives us way more than we could possibly eat, we gave up.

You would think that this constant supply of free tomatoes would extinguish any temptation to buy other available varieties in the market.

Nope, unlike most people who find themselves in an over abundance of any one thing, I don’t seem to know when to stop. You see, its tomato season in Vancouver and we have all kinds of amazing otherwise unavailable varieties like heirlooms and Okanagan Field tomatoes (still a few more weeks for these but I’m anticipating!). I wait all year for good Okanagan tomatoes I still think they’re the best in the world. How would it be possible for me to pass these up?

In a moment of panic, upon realization of my dilemma, I have come to the conclusion that we will be eating a lot of tomato based meals in the near future, at least until the Okanagan tomatoes are through. I’m OK with that for now. I promise I will exercise some restraint and not post exclusively tomato recipes for the rest of the summer.

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Farmers Market Greens with Anchovies and Sesame Spelt Croutons

Posted by Natalie in Appetizer, Recipes, Salad, Vegetables

Creat22 Farmers Market Greens with Anchovies and Sesame Spelt Croutons

Saturday lunch during the spring and summer months is my favorite meal of the week. It rivals even the prized boozy Sunday night dinners at my parents place. Though arguably lighter and without the wine parings these lunches are always pretty fantastic and inspired by the farmers market. They are also extremely simple, usually no more than just a few ingredients.

I had been meaning to write up one of these for some time now so I’m glad I’m finally getting to it. It might become a tradition, well see. This week, like most, I was drawn to the greens and decided to whip up a salad from a mix of pea shoots, pepper crest and another delicate green that I think was called something like Cresh. I’ll confirm that next week. Regardless though the result was pure perfection. The sweetness of the greens with the salt of the anchovies was amazing and surprisingly these greens though delicate were not overpowered by the anchovies. I was pretty happy with myself about that.

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Quinoa, Garbanzo, and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing

Posted by Natalie in Gluten Free, Recipes, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Quinoa3COPY Quinoa, Garbanzo, and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing

There are many things I love about quinoa but the best thing by far is that it fills you up for a long long time. I’m not sure exactly why that is, someone mentioned to me recently that they thought quinoa contained more protein than other grains, I’m going to run with that theory as it makes perfect sense to me.

So I’ve gradually started to make quinoa in the place of other grains and pastas. I never thought it would stick for more than maybe a few dinners as I was anticipating serious opposition from my husband. If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s to never take rice away from an Indian! Not that I was actually trying to make him stop eating rice, I was just trying to find something that we could occasionally replace the all the basmati rice with.

Have you ever had basmati rice at an Indian restaurant? Or maybe you have a fabulous Indian cook in the family too? Ever wondered why the rice is so freaking never-want -to-eat-anything-else-EVER-again good? I’m talking about the kind of rice that makes you completely forget about that incredible piece of naan bread laying next to your plate AND the butter chicken you ordered.

Can you guess the answer?

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Roasted Baby Artichokes

Posted by Natalie in Appetizer, Gluten Free, Recipes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

BabyArtichokesEDIT Roasted Baby Artichokes

Here’s a recipe that will make you feel a little fancy on a Tuesday night. I almost can’t believe I’m writing a post about artichokes as they were one of my most feared food items as a child. I’m not quite sure why anymore, I think it had something to do with a period in my life where my mother made them a lot, beyond that I can’t remember any details.

A few years ago after seeing baby artichokes make there way into Vancouver markets, I decided it might be worth giving them another shot. They are small and seemed like the perfect entry level artichoke to tackle as a former artichoke hater. Plus I had them once being served as part of an amazing antipasti platter and I completely fell in love with the way they  complimented everything both aesthetically and with their woodsy flavor.

These artichokes apart from the cleaning process are extremely simple to prepare. Really it’s just a few tablespoons of olive oil, lemon and any variety of strong hard cheese you have on hand. They are a perfect snack or accompaniment. I served these roasted as is but I suspect they would be fabulous if you had some kind of simple sauce like an aioli to dip them in. My behind is starting to look like an Easter ham so I decided to skip that part at least this time around.

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Shaved Asparagus Salad

Posted by Natalie in Appetizer, Recipes, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Asperagus1 Shaved Asparagus Salad

This salad was one of those unplanned surprises. I had intended on using up all of the asparagus I had purchased from the Farmers market in my chicken salad and was a bit alarmed when I realized I would only need about half. It was one of those weeks where I had planned almost every meal and I absolutely hate the possibility of having something go to waste.

Fortunately, being the over-eaters that we are, it wasn’t particularly difficult to find a way to add an additional course into one of our meals. Never is come to think about it. This might be the reason why I am not fitting into my jeans the way I used to and have been wearing leggings almost exclusively for the past month. I might have to look into that. Oh well! Never trust a skinny cook, right?

I’ve been seeing all kinds of shaved asparagus salads over the past month and so I was immediately drawn to this when trying to think of creative ways to use up the rest of mine. Seriously though, this salad is another one of those extremely easy ways to impress. Aesthetically its almost perfect and will take you about 10 minutes to prepare. Also, the taste of raw asparagus, thinly shaved may even have the power to win over those asparagus skeptics in your life. I know it did with mine.

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Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Pea Shoots

Posted by Natalie in Appetizer, Gluten Free, Recipes, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Heirlooms31 Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Pea Shoots

After 2 weeks of eating white bread for almost every meal, I haven’t been able to eat anything but fresh vegetables since I got home. I know it seams a bit simple to be posting a recipe as basic as an heirloom tomato salad, but this is what I’ve been eating so tough! Ha! No in all seriousness there were some amazing looking heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market this morning and I just wasn’t strong enough to leave without a few of them. For the most part I’m powerless against these, when I see some good ones I just can’t walk away.

This salad is so simple and really needs nothing aside from some ripe heirloom tomatoes and maybe a bit of olive oil and some sea salt. I added in the pea shoots and thought the sweetness really complemented these amazing subtle tomatoes, but of course they aren’t necessary.

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