Vegan Food Nerd

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Harvest vegetable stew

20141016_173321I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting very frequently this month. Life has been busy! We’re still cooking lots but I haven’t been taking the time to write down recipes and take pictures. However, this is the perfect season for a nice hearty stew so I wanted to put something together that is easy, yummy and filling that tastes like autumn in a bowl!

We have been getting bounty bags from the Mustard Seed Co-op that include a variety of local fruits and veggies and we had quite a bit left to use up after Thanksgiving, so I came up with this dish. I also used some leftover seitan roast we had made for Thanksgiving, and it went really well here. You can use your favourite veggie sausage chopped up instead, or make your own, or just leave it out! I apologize for not posting this last week when I made it in case you had some leftovers too.


  • The tomato paste and balsamic vinegar in this dish really add to the flavour of the stew and will help round out the flavours. The added acidity they add is something I wouldn’t skip!
  • I used a mixture of mushroom and vegetable broths, but would recommend any stronger flavoured broths for this.
  • I wanted to add some chopped fresh pumpkin as well, but forgot that it was sitting on the counter!
  • My stew thickened up really nicely just by adding the lentils into the pot and letting them simmer in the pot for another 5 minutes or so. If you don’t find your stew is thick enough add a little cornstarch dissolved in water.


1 large leek (or 2 medium) cut into strips or small pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger root, minced
1 small acorn squash, peeled and cubed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3-5 small potatoes, cubed
1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
2 celery stalks, 1/4″ pieces
2 tbsp freshly chopped herbs (sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried savory
1 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups veg broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
1 cup leftover seitan, cubed (optional)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1) Saute leeks in 1 tbsp of olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and stir and saute another minute, until fragrant.


2) Add veggies (squash, sweet potato, potato, parsnip, carrot, celery) and saute 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.


3) Add veggie broth, herbs, smoked paprika, coriander, savory and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmerand cook uncovered about 15 minutes, or until veggies are fork tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. If veggies are not tender after 15 minutes, cover and allow to simmer another 5-10 minutes.


4) Once veggies are tender, add lentils, seitan, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.


5) Heat through, simmering, about 5 minutes more. The addition of the lentils should thicken your stew up nicely. Check for salt and seasonings.

6) Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving to allow flavours to meld together. Serve with crusty bread!


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Italian Stuffed Artichokes

20140723_193807I’m pretty sure artichokes have always been my favourite vegetable. I remember requesting them for birthday meals many times throughout my childhood and teen years. I just love them anyway you can prepare them; whether it’s a simple steamed artichoke, or stuffed then steamed, or marinated artichoke hearts, or grilled, etc.

Now, artichokes do take a little bit of work to clean and prepare and stuff, but the result is super delicious. Your stuffing can also vary slightly, but I will provide you with my favourite method.


  • Artichoke size varies greatly! I like to use larger artichokes for stuffing (organic are preferred as they taste so much better, but this is not necessary). If you only see smaller artichokes, use those for grilling or other methods of cooking as they won’t work well here.
  • It can be a bit time consuming prepping your artichokes, and the larger the artichoke the longer they take to cook. Generally anywhere from 30-80 minutes could be required for cooking.
  • You may have some leftover stuffing. Save it in a ziploc bag for future use. On the other hand, if you stuff generously you may need to make a bit more.
  • After writing this post, I realize more pictures or a video might be required if you’re new to this method!


2 large artichokes
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1-2 garlic cloves (if they are large, 1 will suffice)
veg cheese or veg parmesan (optional)
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
olive oil


1) First you need to clean up your artichokes so they are ready for stuffing. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top 1/4 – 1/3 of the artichoke. This will give you some room to get into the leaves.

2) Cut the bottom stem so that your artichoke can sit upright on it’s own.

3) Snip off the top of each of the leaves with scissors or a knife as they are quite sharp.

4) Turn the artichoke upsidedown (stem side up in your hand) and bang it on the counter or a wooden cutting board a few times to help open up the leaves. This will help you to get in between the leaves that are held fairly tightly together. You can also prod them open with your hands a bit.

5) Rinse your artichokes under cold water and if not using immediately place in a bowl of cold water mixed with lemon juice to prevent browning.

6) Mix breadcrumbs, parsley, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slice garlic thinly.

7) Now, working with one artichoke at a time, get in between each leaf with a bit of your stuffing. The amount you use is really up to you. Try to get in between each leaf but it’s ok to leave a few without stuffing. I usually leave the very middle untouched.

8) Sporadically place the garlic slices in between some of the leaves, you want maybe 1/3rd of the artichoke to have garlic rather than every single opening.

9) If you so desire, you can also repeat the garlic part of the stuffing with some grated veggie mozzarella or parmesan. I have used pecan parmesan in the past with success as well as store bought vegan parm.

10) Once your artichokes are stuffed place into a pot and fill with about 1.5″ of water (you want to cover the bottom third of your artichoke).


11) Drizzle each artichoke with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper. Feel free to salt the water in the pot fairly generously as this helps to season the artichokes. Squeeze lemon juice over each artichoke, especially if they were not placed in the lemon water earlier. This will help to brighten the flavour.

12) Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer – be sure to keep the lid on or they will not steam.

13) Large artichokes will take roughly 45-60 minutes to steam but they can take longer. You will know when they are ready when you can pull a leaf nearer to the center of the artichoke out easily. The bottom portion of the leaf should be tender and have a buttery texture.

14) Once cooked, remove from pot with tongs and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Serves 2

To eat your artichoke

1) Starting on the outside layer, remove a leaf, and scrape the bottom portion of the leaf between your teeth. This will allow you to eat the stuffing as well as the tender portion of the leaf. Continue leaf by leaf!

2) Once you get closer to the centre of the artichoke, the leaves will be more and more tender allowing you to eat more and more of each leaf.

3) When there are no leaves left (you may have to pop off the really thin centre leaves), you will be left with the choke and the heart. Remove the choke (this is the hairy part of the artichoke) with a fork or spoon. Now you can eat the entire heart hiding below the little hairs. This is my favourite part of the whole experience as it is usually the most tender and delicious!

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Baked Zucchini Fries

20140731_184416Zucchini season is still upon us (at least in some areas), and it can be difficult to think up some new meal ideas. I love zucchini sauteed, grilled, roasted, raw in salads, baked into breads or brownies, and now also as ‘fries!’ Our zucchini plants have actually succumbed to the cold temperatures but there still seems to be an abundance at the farmer’s markets.

This is a simple recipe that just takes a little bit of time as you have to dip into a few bowls one ‘fry’ at a time. You can add flavour to the zucchini easily though by dressing up your flour or breadcrumbs that you will be using to coat the zucchini pieces.

I adapted this recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie.


  • To prevent finger clubbing, use one hand to dip into the wet bowl and one hand to dip into the dry. This will keep the breadcrumbs from sticking to your fingers.
  • This also works with yellow squash. I used a green and yellow zucchini and they both tasted equally yummy.
  • You may want to spray the fries themselves with a little oil to help with the browning process. This was not done for the photo above, but they still crisped up nicely!
  • Try some different flavour combinations as you please.


2 small zucchinis
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk (or soy)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika (smoked, hot or sweet)
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 cup breadcrumbs (regular or panko)
1/2-1 tsp herbs of choice (basil, oregano, parsley would be great)
salt and pepper to taste


1) Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly grease a cooling rack (I used coconut oil spray) and set on a baking sheet and put aside.

2) Cut zucchini into fry shapes, leaving the skin on. If you are using a larger zucchini you may want to cut out some of the seeds as they add too much moisture and your fries won’t be as crispy.

3) In a medium bowl or large plate with a lip, mix together flour, milk, salt, garlic powder, paprika and chili powder to form a thin paste.

4) In a second bowl mix together breadcrumbs, herbs and some salt and pepper.

5) Dip each zucchini fry into the flour mixture to coat, and then toss around in the breadcrumbs to form a thin layer. Place prepared zucchini fry onto the cooling rack. Repeat until you have no uncoated zucchini left.

6) Bake for 18-20 minutes or until browned. Serve immediately with your favourite dipping sauces. I used chipotle vegenaise and ketchup.

Serves 3-4 as a side dish.


Pickled Jalapenos

20140908_090606I know, I know, another canning post. Canning and pickling season is upon us though! I’m not actually hugely into spicey things – I’m a bit of a spice wuss if you may – but I do like an added kick for certain foods and have been learning to tolerate our variety of hot sauces we like to use! These pickled jalapenos were done more as an experiment for the dude in my life, because he loves them, and it’s nice to have your own homemade products and all. We actually just picked up 4 large jalapenos from our farmer’s market and this made two 250 ml jars of pickles plus one 125 ml jar (which is plenty for us, but you can double, triple or quadruple the recipe as you please!) It’s nice to experiment though, so if you don’t want to commit to a large canning job, this is a good one to try out.


  • As always, please ensure you have an understanding of proper canning techniques before attempting this.
  • I used a water bath canner, small pot for jars/lids, medium pot for the brine, metal ladle, funnel, 2 250 ml mason jars with lids and seals, 1 125 ml jar with lid/seal, canning tongs and the magnetic lid/seal picker upper.
  • The slices have a tendency to float so you can probably pack them in more tightly in the two larger jars and forgo the 3rd smaller jar.
  • These are spicy! They have a great flavour though.


4 large jalapenos
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp pickling salt
1 1/4 tsp pickling spices
1 garlic clove


1) Wash and dry jalapenos, and slice each, removing the stem end.


20140906_1802152) Prepare brine by combing water, vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil in your saucepan.

3) Prepare jars by sterilizing in a water bath or in an oven at 275 F.

4) Add 1/2 tsp of pickling spice and a 1/4 of a clove of garlic to each of your 250 ml jars. Use half of that for smaller jars or depending on your tastes you may want to add a bit more garlic and pickling spice to each jar.

5) Pack jalapeno slices into each jar, and fill with brine, leaving 1/4″ of space at the top. Use a knife or chopstick and insert into the jar and move around the perimeter of the jar to remove air bubbles.

6) Process in your water bath for 10 minutes. Let sit for a week in a cool, draft free area before opening!

Makes 2-3 jars.

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Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl

20130918_182023The great thing about buddha bowls is you can really adapt them based on what is in season, what you happen to have in your kitchen, and of course what you love to eat. Two of my favourite roasted vegetables are cauliflower and sweet potato. I love how the cauliflower takes on a bit of a nuttiness from roasting, with some delicious carmelization to boot. I served the veggies with some red quinoa, spinach and arugula, and a lemony white bean sauce. It’s a great quick meal that also tastes great the next day!


  • This recipe is mega adaptable. Besides the vegetables, add a bean or grain, some greens and a sauce to top it off with. The greens can be raw or steamed/sautéed. The options are plentiful! 
  • I didn’t cook the greens in this recipe but the hot veggies and quinoa wilted them a little bit.
  • If you happen to have any leftovers, you may have to thin the sauce a bit with some water the next day as it can thicken in the fridge overnight.


1 sweet potato, cut into cubes
1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup of uncooked quinoa (I used red)
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of arugula
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Lemony White Bean Sauce

1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
1 large lemon, juiced
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp of sea salt
2-4 tbsp of water to thin the sauce
drizzle of olive oil (optional)

20130918_1820291) Preheat oven to 400 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Cook quinoa according to package instructions or use my method outlined here. Rinse quinoa in a colander and drain. Preheat a medium sized pot over medium heat and add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Add quinoa and stir to coat. Continue stirring frequently to toast quinoa – it should brown a little. Add 2 cups of water or veggie stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until water is all used up. Stir with a fork to fluff quinoa and keep it covered until ready to serve.

3) Toss cauliflower and sweet potato with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil (enough to coat the veggies lightly) and salt and pepper and add to baking sheets in a single layer.

4) Roast veggies for 15 minutes, turn and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until browned and to your preferred tenderness. If your cookie sheets don’t fit in your oven side by side, be sure to switch the rack they are on when you flip the veggies (they may also need some extra time for browning).

5) To serve: Divide greens amongst your serving plates/bowls, top with a few scoops of quinoa, cauliflower and sweet potato, and drizzle with white bean sauce (recipe follows). Serve with extra sauce on the side because it’s hard not to go back for more!

Serves 3-4

Lemony White Bean Sauce

1) Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender, minus the water, and blend until smooth and creamy. You can add more lemon, garlic or salt to suit your own tastes. If it seems thick, add water 1 tbsp at a time until it reaches desired consistency.



Fried Garden Eggplant

20140903_182912Despite the odd growing season we have harvested a few sicilian eggplants and what’s better than breading and frying them? (Ok, well my vote was to roast eggplant slices in the oven, but someone may have convinced me to do otherwise). I just picked a few more eggplants so I will totally win the next round! Regardless, the breading method used here made a really crispy coating and the eggplant was deliciously creamy and tender on the inside. We served it with some tomato sauce and pasta and garlic bread on the side (hello carbs!)


  • There are a few steps to breading the eggplant as you have to dip into the flour mixture, then into the breadcrumbs to coat. Make sure to give yourself a bit of counter space and set up an assembly line to make for quick work!
  • To prevent finger clubbing, use one hand to dip into the wet mixture and transfer to breadcrumb plate, and use your other hand to coat with the breadcrumbs.
  • You can peel the skin if you aren’t a fan or if it seems particularly thick. The skin was left on here.
  • The eggplant slices were salted first for this recipe. Since these tasted really delicious, and had a lovely silky texture, I can’t vouch for making these with unsalted eggplant and getting the same result. The salting also helps the eggplant to absorb less oil.
  • The leftovers are great in sandwiches for lunch the next day with your favourite fixings!


1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/4″ slices

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup almond milk plus 2-3 tablespoons
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

2 cups breadcrumbs
2 tbsp finely chopped herbs (parsley, chives & basil worked great)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

vegetable oil for frying


1) Place your eggplant slices in a colander and salt each side generously. After about 30 minutes, pat each eggplant slice with paper towels to remove the moisture that has been seeping out.

2) Combine flour, almond milk and seasonings in a shallow bowl or plate so that you have a bit of a thin paste. It should be thick enough to stick to the eggplant and coat it in a thin layer – add more almond milk if necessary to thin it out slightly.

3) Combine breadcrumbs, herbs and salt and pepper in a separate bowl or plate.

4) Working with one eggplant slice at a time, dip into the flour mixture first and then into the breadcrumbs. The breadcrumbs should stick easily.


5) Heat a large frying pan over medium heat with about an inch of vegetable oil. The oil should be hot but not smoking – you can test your oil by taking some breadcrumbs and putting them into the oil. It should sizzle!

6) Put your breaded eggplant slices into the pan without overcrowding – 3 or 4 at a time is likely what you will fit. Fry until golden brown on both sides.

7) Place fried eggplant slices on a cooling rack placed on top of a cookie sheet while you continue frying the rest. This can be placed in an oven at 350 F to keep them warm and crispy and the cookie sheet will catch any excess oil. (You can also pat the excess oil with paper towels if you wish)


8) When you are done frying all of the eggplant, serve immediately topped with some home made tomato sauce or eat as is.

Makes 8-9 slices