Sunday, July 10, 2016

Maple Sesame Roasted Carrots

I had an eye opening experience this winter when, deep in the throes of meat and potato season, I realized I was eating a disproportionate amount of protein and carbs as compared to vegetables. The star of the show I was calling dinner featured juicy steak, crispy chicken, or some kind of amazing pasta dish - and then onto each plate I would place the token vegetable.

A spoonful of frozen mixed veggies, some sorry ass boiled broccoli, carrots, or cauliflower (if I was feeling ambitious), or a scoop of pickled beets would take up tiny slivers of space on the dinner plate while constantly being overshadowed by the much sexier array of main dishes and sides I was spotlighting.

It occurs to me, this is familiar territory... myself at grade 7 dances. While the pretty girls were asked to slow dance to Stairway to Heaven, I sat on the bench and adjusted the tape on my glasses.

Lonely. Nerdy. Forgotten.

People, think about the message we've been sending the carrot! 

Well verily, just as I blossomed from a shy 7th grader to become the bastion of fabulousity you know and love today, so too shall the carrot! No longer a scrawny afterthought on the side of a plate, with a little TLC, I've turned the lowly carrot into a Goddess of culinary supremacy!


 And the carrot shall rise!

In all seriousness, this dish is absolutely spectacular. I served it to my husband as the main event last night and though he was somewhat icy at first over the prospect of getting a plate full of carrots and rice, once he got into it, he was raving. And not in a bad way.

The carrots roast to a tender perfection and then are slathered in a sesame maple glaze and roasted again until the glaze gets sticky. Served over Jasmine rice with more of the sesame maple glaze, salted peanuts, and cilantro, you get a perfect balance of sweet and salty on the palette and, I promise, you won't have left overs!

I love this dish so much, I would totally ask it to dance. Only to Tupac. Because hip hop.

Try this, please - and let me know if you do...

Maple Sesame Roasted Carrots
Visit the printable recipe here: Maple Sesame Roasted Carrots

Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as a starter or side
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar  
  • 2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch chili pepper flakes
  • 12 carrots, peeled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
  • roasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Shake the first 6 ingredients together in a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Toss the carrots, whole, in the olive oil, place each on a baking sheet, and sprinkle with the salt.
  4. Roast for app 45 minutes turning periodically until they're browning on all sides.
  5. Remove from the tray to a large bowl and pour have of the sesame sauce you made earlier over the carrots, toss well, place back on the baking sheet, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and return to the oven. Roast an additional 5-7 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn, until the sauce has caramelized onto the carrots. 
  6. Serve the carrots on plates over a bed of cooked Jasmine rice (as per the photo). Drizzle equal amounts of the reserved sauce over each plate and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Sesame Ramen Salad

I've been eating a mostly plant based diet for over a month and I have to say I've never felt better. I'm not sure if that's because I'm not eating meat, or more likely, because I'm eating from a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables - either way I'm having a lot of fun doing it!

This summer I'm going to be all about trying fruits and vegetables in new ways and I'm looking forward to grilling radishes, making all kinds of different pestos, and generally stepping up my veggie game.

In the spirit of that, I've also been experimenting with new ways to make old favourites - like Ramen - and trying some of the amazing products available like Mandarin Crispy Chick'n.

My friend told me about this gmo free, organic product and from the first bite of these delicious nuggets I was hooked! Better still, they go perfectly with today's recipe for Sesame Ramen Salad.

 Easy and oh so tasty! Please enjoy the recipe...

Sesame Ramen Salad
Visit printable recipe here: Sesame Ramen Salad

Ingredients Maple Sesame Dressing
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar  
  • 2 tbsp Tamari soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch chili pepper flakes
Place all ingredients in a jar, shake well, refrigerate until ready to use.

Ingredients Salad 
  • 3 packages Ichiban Ramen, flavour packets removed (I buy the miso flavour and then use the seasoning packet for other dishes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 stalk diced celery
  • 2 thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled into ribbons using carrot peeler
  • 1/2 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced, peeled cucumber
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil
  2. Chop and dice the vegetables and peanuts
  3. Immerse the Ramen in the boiling water and using forks turn them over, move them around, and cook just until they begin to come apart - no more than a minute. They should still be slightly under-cooked when you drain them. 
  4. Drain and then immerse in cold water. Drain again and give them a second cold water bath. 
  5. Drain and place in a large salad bowl. 
  6. Add the cilantro and all of the vegetables and toss with the dressing. 
  7. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and chopped nuts and toss again. 
  8. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

West Coast Salad

I was out of town on business last week and had a delicious salad called the "West Coast Chopped" at Original Joes. It was so delicious, I decided I wanted to create something like it at home - and WOWZERS people!!!! This might just be the best salad I have ever had or made!

A scrumptious combination of candied maple chick peas and pecans sit atop a bed of greens, chopped veggies, avocado, and mandarin orange segments. Everything gets tossed in a maple infused salad dressing that is so damn delicious you'll be licking the bowl, and then topped with crumbly, creamy, slightly salty chevre cheese.

The nuts and the chick peas pack enough protein to make this a filling dinner salad for two, or an amazing first course for 4-6!

West Coast Salad 
Printable recipe here:  West Coast Salad

Ingredients, Salad
  • 1 – 15 oz can Chickpeas  
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups salad greens
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 cup tinned mandarin orange segments, drained 
  • Chevre cheese
Ingredients, Dressing 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup 
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  1. Mix the salad dressing ingredients together, cover and refrigerate at least an hour.
  2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Spread on a parchment lined sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and shake the pan around periodically to promote even browning. 
  3. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter, maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon together.
  4. Place the roasted chick peas and pecans in a large bowl and coat evenly with the butter and maple syrup mixture. 
  5. Return to the parchment covered pan, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and continue to roast for about 10 minutes. Watch these carefully as you don't want the nuts to burn. 
  6. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. 
  7. When ready to serve, place the salad greens, veggies, avocado,  and mandarin orange segments into a large bowl and toss with about 1/3 cup of the salad dressing or enough to suit your tastes.
  8. Place on individual plates.  Sprinkle with desired amounts of cheese and candied pecans/chick peas