New vegetarian weeknight meals for spring

IT’S MAY! One of my favourite months. ūüôā

I have two dishes to share today. I thought I would combine them since they have a lot in common — vegetarian (the first is actually vegan), and with a lot of greens — perfect for this time of year.

Spicy Chickpea Bowl (recipe)
In my view you can never go wrong with a tahini-lemon dressing. I love tahini, and this dish has all of the ingredients of a healthy but satisfying and filling meal — chickpeas and greens. You’ll see that there are potatoes in the recipe, but I decided to leave them out. It looks a little complicated, but this comes together very quickly as you can do several things at once (prepare the chickpeas, make the sauce, and get the greens ready).


Quinoa & broccoli salad with buttermilk dressing (recipe)
Sometimes you make something and wonder why you haven’t been making it for years. This is one of those dishes. It’s a simple idea, not difficult to make, yet incredibly satisfying and tasty, particularly if you like sharp, creamy acidity like me. I will make this over and over again. You can play around with this one — I used coriander and parsley for herbs, and didn’t put any pistachios in. Versatile and delicious! And healthy.

quinoa broc



Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheddar Bake

Soon after I posted saying I’m not cooking much new…I have a couple of posts in the pipeline.

This is like a mac & cheese except solely with vegetables. I’m not sure about elsewhere, but¬†cauliflower rice¬†is everywhere here: even in tiny shops it’s available, pre-chopped. I picked some up on a whim and for a couple of days mulled over what to do with it. Since we all know that I love cheese…it had to be something cheesy in the end. I loosely adapted¬†this¬†recipe.

I didn’t have buffalo sauce (it doesn’t seem to exist here? Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough), so made the recipe a simple “mac and cheese,” with bechamel sauce, cheese (mature cheddar and Parmesan), and “pasta” (vegetables). The original recipe is with shrimp, but, again, I omitted this.

I won’t lie: this was not the tastiest or most thrilling dish I’ve ever made. In hindsight I would have added some sharp blue cheese to it, and if I make it again I think I’ll do that. Nevertheless, it wasn’t dull or bland — I had it with a side salad and they worked well together.¬†I don’t think I’d go to the trouble of mincing the cauliflower by hand to make this though — some shortcuts are worth it.

cauli cheddar bake


Broccoli & Gorgonzola Tagliatelle

This is a great spring pasta dish. I found the recipe in an old delicious magazine and adapted it based on what I could find.

This dish is straightforward to make and manages to be light yet filling and decadent yet not indulgent. It even looks a bit summery. I used Gorgonzola in place of Dolcelatte and pine nuts instead of walnuts, and I personally think it worked very well.¬†I’d recommended using the best pasta you can find. I normally use (dried) wholewheat, but this time decided to go for fresh and I do think it made¬†a difference.


Broccoli & Spinach Soup with Tahini-Lemon Sauce

A good soup is so satisfying, and this is definitely one of them. I was very impressed with the way this turned out. Easy to make, healthy, and really tasty — really lifted by the tahini sauce. I followed the instructions very closely, although I completely forgot to add in the zaatar/pine nut combination at the end! Despite this, the soup was excellent, and I think would appeal to even those who don’t like broccoli. It’s definitely one I will be adding to my regular repertoire.


Broccoli, Lemon, & Parmesan Soup

I’m aware that the title of this post likely will not grab the majority! Broccoli soups aren’t up there on most people’s “favourite things to eat” lists. ūüėČ However, if you have a spare head of broccoli lying around that you need to use up, as I did, I encourage you to try this recipe. It is an incredibly easy and satisfying soup and made with such few ingredients in proportion to its taste. I made it yesterday for lunch [yes I am finally caught up with my blogging!]¬†and am looking forward to the rest of it tonight. Be generous with the Parmesan!

brocsoup 027

Friday Night Chinese Feast

H. and I have been living in London for just over a year now. While we like living here, there are some parts of everyday life that are made much more complicated in a city that is as crowded and massive as it is. Running errands is one of them. Anything that goes beyond bank/post office/groceries tends to involve a lot of chaos and miles on public transport. On this particular Friday afternoon (Friday the 13th, of course!), I was feeling quite defeated after a whole afternoon of frustrations and one setback after another. The whole time I was out I was looking forward to relaxing at home with a glass of wine and preparing this meal. For me, time in the kitchen tends to heal a lot of wounds.

The initial inspiration for this meal came from this Saveur recipe, and I based the other dishes around it.

Kong Bao Ji Ding¬†(aka Kung Pao Chicken):¬†Peanuts, in pretty much any form, go down very well in this house. I knew the moment I saw this that it would be a good options for us, and H. is still raving about it. The ¬†recipe looks complicated but is actually quite simple to prepare, and absolutely delicious. I’ve also since made it in veggie form using tofu which worked too.

Eggs noodles with sesame dressing:¬†The noodles were probably the weakest part of the meal – still very tasty, but they did not pack as big a punch taste-wise as the other two. I probably won’t use this recipe again.

Broccoli & shiitake mushrooms: This is a great recipe from the NYT‘s Martha Rose Shulman which¬†I¬†modified to just include broccoli and mushrooms. The hoisin sauce mixture ¬†is really delicious and would work with all sorts of veg combinations I think.

* * *

The meal came together quicker than anticipated. I started by marinating the chicken, and by the time that was done (30 minutes), I had all of the other sauces prepared and was ready to cook. Once the chicken is in, the noodles and broccoli combined take under 10 minutes, so it all came together really quickly. I think the key is definitely having everything pre-mixed before you cook.

As a first go at a 3-part Chinese meal I think this turned out really well and I was pleased and proud of the result. Add H., a shared bottle of wine, and some Arrested Development and you have the perfect cathartic end to a hectic day!

Chicken in wok
Chicken in wok
A true feast!
A true feast!

Broccoli Soup

I’m constantly on the lookout for great soups to make, and this one definitely fits the bill. It’s a recipe from Canadian Living magazine.

I was very impressed with this broccoli soup. It is creamy and delicious, which, unlike in other soups, is not achieved by adding a lot of cream. There is just one tbsp of butter (I used margarine), and ~350mL of milk (it calls for evaporated skim milk, but I used regular 1.5%). The potato (I only used one medium-sized one) really adds to the texture as well. It even convinced H., normally a broccoli skeptic. Add a tiny bit of shredded cheddar on top as a treat, and it is even better!