Tag Archive | vegan

Lemon Saffron Quinoa Soup

It’s at this time of year that I begin to miss soups, even before I actually stop making them. I push soup season for as long as I can and keep soups on my weekly menu plans until the end of May or early June, if it’s still cool enough. In fact, I don’t typically stop making soups over the summer, at least not entirely.  I just slow it down. I get one or two hot soups in before the summer months are over, not because they are seasonal, but because some seasonal ingredients work so well in soups, but more importantly because I love soups in any season. 

I’m not sure from where the inspiration for this soup came except for the fact that I enjoy soups and love quinoa. Quinoa is now being added to almost everything, soups, chillies, tacos, etc., but as one of many ingredients, and it frustrates me because I never seem to get my quinoa fill. This is a light, brothy soup with plenty of quinoa swimming in a saffron, lemony pool packed with sweet leeks, loaded with parsley and rounded by a soft hit of pepper. It’s intricate simplicity at its best. 

You can have fun with this soup by changing up the broth. A sweetcorn broth works quite nicely, as would a carrot, parsnip, or fennel broth. A single shredded carrot or parsnip is also a nice addition. 

This is a fast weeknight meal that can be made in 30 minutes or so and a complete vegetable protein!

As I lament the upcoming “hiatus” from soups, I must admit that I am tired of the winter grade produce and am wildly anticipating the spring goodies. Oversized bunches of asparagus sit in my fridge as I decide how to celebrate the debut of spring. 

But for just a little while, I’m going to sit on the fence as I reminisce about the days of winter now gone and await the fresh bundles of spring.  So, enjoy a hearty bowl of soup as you awaken from the winter’s slumber and delicately step into spring. 

Serves 4-5


 Olive oil  1/4 cup + 1
 Leeks  2
 Garlic, cloves, minced  3
 Chili flakes  1/8 tsp
 Broth, vegetable  10 cups
 Quinoa  3/4 cup
 Salt  2 tsp
 Black pepper
 Parsley  1 cup
 Saffron, pinches, generous  3
 Turmeric  1/4 tsp
 Zest, lemon, small  1
 Juice, lemon  1 tsp
 Watercress, baby


1. In a medium pot, over medium heat, heat oil.

2. Add leeks and sauté for 5-7 until softened, but not browned.

3. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook for a couple of minutes.

4. Add broth and bring to a simmer.

5. Add quinoa, salt, black pepper, 3/4 of the parsley, saffron, turmeric, and lemon zest and simmer for 15 minutes (or until quinoa is cooked – check package directions).

6. Add lemon juice and remaining parsley and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

7. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a handful of baby watercress.

Summer Zucchini Stew


Zucchini Stew

For those of you who have been wondering where I have been or what happened to me, well, summer happened. Though my least favourite of seasons, it does bring a lot of goodies for us foodies keeping us extremely busy throughout the summer. In fact, some summers, it’s hard to keep up with the rotation of seasonal vegetables.

Visited Toronto last weekend and came home with 7.5 lbs of my mother’s Italian flat string beans, 10 lbs of her san marzano tomatoes, an extra large bag of zucchini blossoms, and 2-8 lb Italian zucchini! It took me all night, but I used all of the tomatoes to make a pomodoro sauce, which was destined for an Italian string bean and pasta dish. With this round of zucchini blossoms, I made a risotto. With the first oversized zucchini, I made: zucchini pizza, zucchini soup (which I froze for a quick weeknight meal), zucchini loaf, and this week’s recipe, zucchini stew.

This dish brings me back to my childhood. My mother loves this dish and the ample supply of zucchini in her vegetable garden ensured this dish was on the menu often throughout the summer, especially during tomato season. I know I talk about the simplicity of Italian cooking often, but I don’t think there’s a dish that exemplifies this more than my mother’s Summer Italian Zucchini Stew.

I know what you’re thinking. Who eats stews in the summer? This is not your typical, heavy, winter stew. In fact, it’s light, sweet, and aromatic. With only a handful of ingredients, all available at this time of year, it’s a sweet celebration of seasonal and local cooking. Though the zucchini are the star attraction, they are stewed in an equally important backdrop of sweet summer tomatoes that are enveloped in olive oil and aromatized with sweet basil. The potatoes provide substance as do the sweet fava beans. Sweet zucchini, sweet tomatoes, sweet basil, sweet fava beans… How can you resist? All that’s missing is a crusty, Italian loaf to scoop up all that summer goodness.

Not quite sure how I’ll use the other monstrous zucchini. I’m thinking zucchini fritters, another zucchini loaf (for the freezer), and maybe some zucchini sticks. Ideas anyone?

All zucchini-ed out? Not a chance. If you haven’t tried Italian zucchini, this is your chance – tender and oh so sweet, especially at this time of year.

Serves 5


 Olive oil  3/4 cup + more for drizzling
 Zucchini, Italian, seeds removed, cut into 1.5-2-inch pieces  3.5 lbs
 Potatoes, peeled, quartered  2 lbs
 Fava beans, shells removed  2 cups
 Tomatoes, ripe, cut into quarters, seeds removed  4.5 lbs
 Salt  2 tsp
 Black pepper
 Basil, leaves, fresh  8
  1. Remove fava beans from pods and blanch for 1 minute. Remove casing and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil.
  3. Add tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes until tomatoes begin to break down.
  4. Add potatoes and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add zucchini and salt and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add fava beans and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in basil.
  8. Plate and drizzle with a little olive oil.


Barbecued Tofu Italian Style


BBQ Tofu Italian Style

When the barbecue season started, I found myself reminiscing about my mother’s barbecues. I kid you not, it was an excuse to cook over charcoal every type of meat under the sun, accompanied by a beautiful assortment of veggies. The variety was always nice, but what I remember most is the marinade. The meat was always tender, aromatized and sweet.

It’s been 2 decades since I have eaten meat and I could kick myself for waiting so long to experiment with her marinade with tofu. There are many Italian dish es I have vegetarianized, but this I wasn’t so sure about. Turns out, it works quite nicely with tofu. My mother laughed with pride. Liked it so much, I have already made it twice.

My husband insists that you can’t go wrong, if beer is in the mix. I’m not a beer drinker, but had to admit that it really works as a marinade. As usual, my mother doesn’t measure anything, so I had to do some configuring (minus salt plus tamari).

In the end, what resulted was a savoury, well-seasoned tofu with strong hits of garlic and oregano. I served it with a side of chimichurri that finished the dish just nicely.

Quite lovely, fast, and simple to prepare. My mother does it again!

Serves 2-3


 Tofu, firm  300 g
 Beer  1/2 cup
 Tamari  1/3 cup
 Olive oil 1 tbsp
 Black pepper
 Garlic, cloves, large, minced  2
 Oregano, dried  1/2 tbsp

1. In a shallow bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and mix well. I use a square glass baking dish.

2. Drain tofu. Cut tofu into 1/4-inch thick slices. 

3. Place tofu in the marinade turning every 10 minutes for 30 minutes. You should end up with 2 layers of tofu.

4. Heat the barbecue (medium heat). Place tofu on the grill and turn 4 times every couple of minutes rotating the tofu to acquire cross-wise grill marks.

5. Serve with a side of grilled veggies of choice.