Simple Summer Salad

Oh boy have I been bad with my blogging lately! I was expecting to find that I would have more time to cook and blog once summer came around, but I’ve been surprised with how little of both I’ve managed to fit into my schedule.

On the bright side, the things I have been cooking have been really simple, fresh, and tasty, just like this salad I’m about to share. I visited my cousin in Toronto a few weeks ago and she turned me onto “chunky” salads, i.e. salads without greens in them. There’s something to be said about biting into nice big cubes of fresh summer veggies — especially when there’s also cheese involved!

This salad reminds me of a traditional Greek salad, but the choice of cheeses and the inclusion of avocado give it a bit of a new twist.

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Oven Baked Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a quintessentially French comfort food: roasted veggies and tomato sauce come together in this zesty, comforting dish. Somehow, the French can even make comfort food sophisticated, don’t you think?!

I have loved ratatouille for as long as I can remember. The soft vegetables have loads of flavour and the tomato sauce that brings them all together is sweet and tangy. Ratatouille can be prepared on the stove top or in the oven, but I find the latter method gives the vegetables  a nicer texture and richer flavour.

I dare you to look at this and not want to gobble it all up!

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Foodie Friend Friday #4: Annemarie’s One-Pot Chunky Chili

I can’t believe we’re already at week 4 of my Foodie Friend Friday experiment… March has seriously flown by! Today, my friend Annemarie is sharing her recipe for stove-top beef chili, which sounds and looks absolutely deeeelicious!

Annemarie and I met in our first year of undergrad and have remained friends ever since. She and I share a love for knitting, tea, and good food (she’s actually been on my blog before!), as well as the occasional bout of shopping, glass of wine, and chick flick. We used to take turns making one another lunch back in the day, and I still dream about this spicy black bean and corn soup she made for me once — it was to die for. Her family has also been wonderful during my time at school, welcoming me into their home for Easter and Thanksgiving celebrations when I couldn’t fly all the way home to BC. We have had a really great 5 years together so far!

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Foodie Friend Friday #2: Garrett’s Cilantro Lime Couscous Salad with Shrimp

This is the second installment of my March series, Foodie Friend Friday, in which I’m asking my fabulous cooking friends to write up their favourite recipe to share. For the first recipe, as well as a bit more background, click here.

This week, I am featuring my friend Garrett’s cooking skills! Garrett is a total whiz in the kitchen, and I was so stoked when he agreed to cook for this series. I have known him for about two years now; we met while we were both working at our university’s student government, and we’re now working together again at David’s Tea. Garrett is hilarious and I love his dry wit and every single article of clothing he owns. He is also really really good at his job and we have a lot of fun when we work together.

I first realized Garrett was an amazing cook when I found some pictures he had posted to Facebook of all these amaaaaaazing dishes he was making. The descriptions of his meals were seriously mouthwatering, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me by the time you’ve read through his recipe below.

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(Slow Cooker) Vegetarian Chili

When I’m trying to plan my meals for a busy week, I like to prepare a dish that is a complete meal — no need for a side dish means I can grab my food, eat it, and go!

Chili is a classic meal-in-a-bowl because it’s full of vegetables, protein, and — most importantly — flavour. If you can make the time to put everything together, the quick leftovers are totally worth it.

I personally prefer vegetarian chili because I find I’m more creative when it comes to protein source selection; there’s no meat to rely on, so I think about it more and end up with a more balanced, less fatty meal. Generally, I try to aim for 4 to 5 types of beans, plus texturized vegetable protein (TVP), which has a consistency similar to ground beef and works perfectly in vegetarian chili, meatloaf (lentil loaf, anyone?), etc. Even if you are a meat eater, you should consider adding TVP to your diet. A little extra variety never hurt anyone!

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Chicken Pesto Pasta

Pasta meals are a great way to hit every food group while keeping your meal simple and quick. This particular dish combines whole wheat pasta with chicken, spinach, tomato sauce, and cheese, and is hearty and filling. A hint of basil pesto adds extra dimension and flavour to the sauce.

I put the water on to boil and start cooking the chicken at the same time. By the time the pasta is cooking, the chicken is in the sauce and everything is ready all at once. The whole enterprise takes 20 minutes from beginning to end!

Hot, hearty, and healthy.

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Simple Bruschetta

Bruschetta is such a wonderfully fresh dish. It’s a wonderful appetizer, or works well as a light lunch when paired with a bowl of soup or a filling salad. Juicy tomatoes, basil, olive oil, crusty bread, and garlic — I mean really, what more could you want?

Granted, January isn’t the ideal season for fresh tomatoes, especially if you’re under a few feet of snow. But what better way to relive the glorious summer days than to put this on the table? It may just tide you over until June.

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Moroccan Chickpeas with Mint

One of my absolute favourite restaurants in Kingston is a café-bakery called Pan Chancho. Everything they serve is impossibly fresh and absolutely bursting with flavour. Whenever my parents come for a visit, we try to make a stop there, and last time they were down, they bought the Pan Chancho cookbook. This recipe is adapted from their own Moroccan chickpea salad.

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