Warm Winter Pasta and Pesto

Hello again. I am sorry for my long absence. It has been a crazy few months. I am now four and a half months pregnant! Wow. And as thrilling being pregnant is… I have to admit that the first three months of pregnancy were not so wonderful. I was horribly sick and even the thought of food made me gag -I basically survived on bagels and cream cheese- hence the abrupt end to my blogging. But now things are starting to get interesting again; although my taste buds are still drawn to fairly bland comfort foods. I will do my best to post every now and again if I can find something other than Annie’s Shells and Cheddar and Haggen Daz mint ice cream to excite my palate. As I said to a good friend, “The all whole foods earth mother approach quickly goes out the window when the smell of rice and quinoa make you sick. All we can do is our best.” Great lessons to learn even before the baby arrives.

Needless to say, here is a tasty and quick recipe that is great for the winter months (or use it in the summer and serve chilled). Filling and healthy and super simple, this recipe is hard to beat. My husband was convinced there was parmesan hidden in the pesto but I told him it was vegan to the core. He was impressed by it’s creamy texture. I hope you will be too. Enjoy.


Warm Winter Pasta and Pesto

Serves 3-4


  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • handful of fresh basil (around 15-20 large washed leaves)
  • 2 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 1/2-2/3 cup olive oil (it is key to have really good first cold pressed olive oil)
  • 4 tbs lemon juice or one whole lemon squeezed
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper and a pinch of salt


  • half a bag of pasta or more depending on number of people (whatever kind you prefer)
  • four cups of fresh spinach
  • head of broccoli, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  1. Place the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency. I prefer something that still has some body to it as opposed to a pesto that is totally smooth. Add more olive oil to get your desired consistency. Set aside. (I tend to make this in the morning so the flavors have time to set but you can also do it while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients).
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boiling temperature and cook pasta as indicated on it’s package.
  3. Bring another pot of water to boil and place spinach and broccoli in a colander above the boiling water. Cover and let sit for 2-3 minutes so that the spinach wilts slightly and the broccoli tenderizes but is still crisp.
  4. Wash and shred the carrot.
  5. Place cooked pasta in a bowl. Add the veggies and pesto and mix.
  6. Eat up!

Note: you can add whatever veggies you have in your fridge to complete the dish. You don’t have to use spinach and broccoli.


Maple Ginger Pumpkin Seeds

These are great for a snack, mixed in with granola, a soup or salad topping, or anything to which you want to add a salty/sweet crunch. The flavors are quite subtle but once you start eating them you won’t be able to stop. I used them as a soup topping but found Corey and I kept adding soup to our bowls just to continue munching on the pumpkin seeds. I even think they would make a great kid snack or popcorn replacement. Best thing is they are super quick easy to make!


Maple Ginger Pumpkin Seeds

  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs dried ginger (or 1 tbs ginger and 1 tbs cinnamon or 2 tbs cinnamon)
  • hearty pinch of salt
  1. Turn the oven to 150 C
  2. Pour the pumpkin seeds into a bowl and add all the other ingredients
  3. Mix until thoroughly covered
  4. Place on a pan covered in parchment paper
  5. Bake, stirring occasionally, for 12-18 minutes or until the ingredients set
  6. Take out of the oven and let sit to cool
  7. Add to your favorite salad, soup or meal or eat alone

NOTE: 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds contains more than half the daily recommended does of magnesium. So folks with high blood pressure or heart issues… eat up!

Tangy Cashew Miso Dressing

My husband and I recently decided that the key to vegan eating is a good sauce. A tasty sauce makes my craving for cheese disappear (although I still do indulge here and there). I have to say I was a bit skeptical of combining miso with cashew butter but it does wonders. I think (and Corey thinks) this sauce is one of the best I have made thus far. Thank you to Amy Chaplin for this one (although I doctored it a bit). It gets even better as it sits–but it won’t last for long as it compliments most meals. It may become a once a week staple in our house. Add it to lentils, cooked veggies, grains… just about anything and it will add a tasty kick.


(image from Amy Chaplin’s website)

Tangy Cashew Miso Dressing

(makes about 3/4 of a cup — I double the recipe to have extra on hand for the rest of the week)

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tablespoons raw cashew butter
  • 3 tablespoons filtered water, plus more to thin out if needed
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • ½ clove garlic
  • 1-inch piece scallion, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  1. Add everything EXCEPT THE OIL to a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as necessary.
  2. Pour in the oil and blend until thick and creamy.

Note: Keep this in an airtight container in the fridge and it will last about 5 days.

One Pot Mujadara and Pickled Indian Eggplant

Hello again! I am finally back in London after quite a hiatus. It is such a gift to be cooking in my own kitchen again–surrounded by my pots and pans and jars of dried goods. My husband seems thrilled too–as he should be.

This dish is chickpea free–per request of my Uncle Jeff. It is an easy single pot meal that will warm your belly as the fall chill sets in (although it certainly hasn’t set itself in London yet!). It goes extremely well with Pickled Indian Eggplant (or a store bought pickled something) and/or Tangy Cashew Miso Sauce (left over from another meal–I will post promptly). The Pickled Eggplant is easier to make than you would think… as is the Mujadara. So dive in and eat up.


(image and recipe from the Holy Cow Vegan Recipe Blog)

One Pot Mujadara

Serves 3-4 (4 if there is another dish on the menu)

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, chopped (or one large onion)
  • 1 cup brown lentils (soaked for a few hours or overnight)
  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt and more to sprinkle
  • 4 cups leafy greens (I used Kale – stems removed and finely slice)
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add leek (or onion) and sauté until brown and crispy (8 to 10 minutes). Make sure to stir the leek as it is browning to keep from burning.
  2. Remove half the leeks to a bowl, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  3. Add the minced garlic and bay leaves to the pot with the remaining leek and stir for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the cumin, allspice and cayenne to the mixture and stir to coat the mixture.
  5. Add the rice to the pot and stir for another minute or until the rice slightly changes color (or becomes more opaque if using white).
  6. Add the drained lentils, cinnamon and salt. Mix everything together then add 4 cups of water.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover the pot and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
  8. Uncover and add an even layer of greens to the top. Simmer covered for another 5 minutes.
  9. Take the lid off and let the extra water evaporate through steam (about 5 minutes). Turn off the heat and replace the cover to let the mujadara sit for about 10 minutes.
  10. Add the rest of the browned leeks, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and serve on its own or with coconut yogurt, miso sauce, or Pickled Indian Eggplant.


(image and recipe from Green Kitchen Stories)

Pickled Indian Eggplant

Makes about two small jars

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp (and a pinch) dried red chili flakes
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 – 10 curry leaves (or lime leaves)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 medium sized eggplant, cut into small cubes
  • 2 inches ginger, minced
  • 1½ tbsp tumeric
  1. Heat the olive oil in a thick pot, add fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds.
  2. Let it boil for a short while and then add garlic and stir until it has turned light brown
  3. When it has turned light brown add a pinch of red chili flakes, the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Fry while stirring over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the apple cider vinegar, water and salt and stir briefly.
  5. Add eggplant, ginger, tumeric and 1/4 tsp of red chili flakes. Let it boil for least 25-30 minutes–or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  6. Cool off and pour into glass jars. Store them in the fridge.

Note: If you store the eggplant in an airtight jar, the mixture will last for a few weeks. Once you have opened the jar it needs to be eaten in 3-4 days.

Note: Supposedly this is a good side dish to help kick a cold.

Curried Chickpea Salad

Yet another salad creation made with tahini, chickpeas and carrots. The variations are endless. This one is another winner and it is super easy to make. Toss it together and serve on a bed of greens, add it to a sandwich, or serve it with cut up veggies as an appetizer. It is simple, versatile, and yummy. The base of the recipe comes from The Simple Veganista. As usual, I added, subtracted and mixed it all up.


(image taken from The Simple Veganista)

Curried Chickpea Salad

Serves 4


  • 2/3 cup fresh tahini
  • 3 tbs lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup water


  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 5 green onion/scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds or cashews
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 1/2 avocado, sliced
  1. For the sauce: In a small bowl whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, curry powder, garlic powder and sea salt. The mixture will be thick. Slowly pour in the water (a few tbs at a time) and whisk until you reach a consistency that is slightly pourable but still thick. Set aside.
  2. Drain and rinse chickpeas (about three cups) and place them in a large mixing bowl. Using a large fork, mash about half of the chickpeas. Remove the excess skins that appear in the bowl.
  3. Add the shredded carrots, raisins, scallions, nuts and cilantro and mix together.
  4. Pour the dressing on top and mix until the veggies are lightly coated.
  5. Place the avocado slices on top of the salad with a bit of salt, pepper, and extra cilantro flakes. Serve, as suggested above, on a bed of greens or any way you like.

Quick and Easy Harrisa Chutney

Chutney is one of those overlooked magic-makers in the US. I particularly love the UK addition of chutney to grilled cheese. This one is incredibly fast and incredibly tasty. It will add a kick to any meal. Whip up a batch (makes about 1 1/2 cups) and keep it in your fridge in an airtight container for a week or two. Everyone will enjoy it.


Quick and Easy Harrisa Chutney

(based on a recipe from My New Roots Blog)

  • 2 bunches of spring onion (equals roughly 3 cups chopped) — (you can also add in a regular or sweet onion if you don’t have enough spring onions)
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. harissa paste (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 2 large dates, preferably Medjool, pitted
  • 3 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  1. 1. Wash and chop the spring onions (including the green stems).
  2. Place a saucepan on medium heat and add 1 tbs coconut oil.
  3. Add onions (both kinds, if using) to saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the onions start to look a bit see through.
  4. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until the ingredients are smooth but still a bit chunky. Taste season as you like.

Root Veggies and Lentils in a Cilantro Miso Sauce

Miso dressings seem to be a hit in our household these days. Corey keeps asking for more. Miso helps to add enough saltiness and flavor to pretty much any combination of veggies, tofu, grains, etc. I forgot to take a photo of this creation so there is a comparable image below–except I served the mixture over a bed of arugula greens. The green color of the Cilantro Miso sauce coupled with the green arugula makes for a beautiful, funky dish. It was a hit for Corey and our dinner guests so that is enough proof of its fabulousness for me.

I am off to Venice for work for a week and then to the states to visit my family so my posts may be intermittent at best… but this will give you time to catch up on any recipes you may have missed. I am posting from London’s City Airport. I highly recommend flying in and out of this small, business port. It is so civilized: free internet, no lines, comfy seating and only 40 minutes from our apartment. Perfect.


(image and basic recipe idea from Cookie and Kate blog)

Root Veggies and Lentils in a Cilantro Miso Sauce 

Serves 4

Roasted Root Veggies: (this is what I used but you can use whatever you have available)

  • 3 carrots (chopped)
  • 5 finger potatoes (washed and cut into small pieces)
  • 2 beets (skinned and chopped into small squares)
  • olive oil, salt, pepper to cover
  • 2 spring onions (diced) — add to mixture after veggies are roasted


  • 2 cups dried brown lentils (soak lentils in water for a few hours before cooking to make more easily digestible)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano or herb de provence
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Cilantro Miso Sauce:

  • 3-4 tbs miso
  • 1 1/2 tbs tahini
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Zest and juice of one lime
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

EXTRAS: Serve over a bunch of arugula greens or with some steamed broccoli with sesame oil and salt.

1. Turn often on to 170 C or around 350 F. Chop veggies and combine in a small bowl (leave out the spring onions). Lightly cover veggies in olive oil, salt and pepper — mix to cover. Place on a baking pan covered in parchment paper or tinfoil. Cook for about 1/2 an hour, mixing veggies every now and then so they brown evenly.

2. Place a dollop of oil in a medium sauce pan. Lightly fry the sliced onion and chopped garlic for the lentils over medium heat (about 4-5 minutes). Add lentils and cover with water. Bring mixture to a boil and then lower heat and allow lentils to simmer until ready (adding water if necessary), about 20-30 minutes. Add the oregano or herb de provence after about 15 minutes.

3. Blend the Cilantro Miso sauce ingredients into an even, pourable texture. Taste and add ingredients if desired.

4. Mix cooked lentils with roasted root veggies and stir in the chopped spring onions.

5. Serve over a bed of arugula greens (if using). In each bowl place greens on the bottom, the lentil mixture on the greens and pour a large dollop of the green sauce on the top.