Dressing Up or Dressing Down?

It seems that I am always returning to the same dressing recipes. The same ones that are mixed up in a second and I never have to think twice about it. Sometimes I want to explore flavours, combinations and experiments but at the end of the day I always end up with the same ones. Many weeks ago, I put together a new dressing recipe that has made its way into my regular cycle. This curried dressing easily became a habit and opened up new salad combinations. See how to make it here and it pairs really well with sweet, so go ahead and try adding pears, grapes, apples, mango, pineapple or even dried fruit to your salads.

Recently I was in the mood for something creamy, garlicky and that certain je ne sais quoi, that umami flavour that sets off cravings for, in this case, for the ultra-fatty-not-so-healthy Caesar dressing. I thought about how to make one without all that egg or mayo or any other ingredient I would rather not know about (I’m talking out standard run-of-the-mill store-bought kind).  I was also invited over to a friend’s house who is a rawfoodist, so thought it would be nice to bring a small hostess gift of homemade raw dressing for her. And so, a new dressing recipe is born.

A new favorite ingredient of mine is shiromiso. I used it to make soups and broths, especially good if cooking for vegetarian/vegan crowd – vegetable broths just don’t pack as much flavour. It is a great base for marinades, dips, spreads and dressings. Shiromiso  is a white miso, a Japanese condiment that is made by fermenting rice and/or soybeans, and as a result falls into the living food category. When buying miso in general, watch out for preservatives and added sodium (it is naturally salty in flavour) and try to find organic. The kind I buy costs about $5 and last up to two months (and I use it all the time!). When making broth, I use about 1 tbsp per 1.5 cups of water.

 

Raw Caesar Dressing

  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tbsp shiromiso
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until creamy – yup, it’s just that easy. Pour over any salad and fresh vegetable combination. As you can see in the picture above, I combined lettuce, pears, tomatoes, celery, avocado and a sprinkle of blue cheese. I have also used this dressing as a creamy dip for grilled asparagus, that was awesome!

On another occasion, I brought this dressing with a large container of arugula to my office for a potluck lunch and it was a real hit with my colleagues! On the plus side, you do not have to worry about any ingredients sitting out for a prolonged under that hot summer sun.

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Citrus Chickpea Tabouleh

It’s almost summer. Well, judging by this week’s heat wave you would think that we are right smack in the middle of it! Nonetheless, that means it is time for barbecues, picnics, road trips, hot summer days, camp fires, and sweet summer evenings filled with too much sangria… I can just hear the song Days of Summer playing in the background…

I am also looking forward to a summer filled with fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms. Until the crops are in full bloom, I have to work with what is available – and what comes in my weekly CSA basket. It’s still spring, so asparagus season is still with us for another short while, but more on those later. Still lots of citrus delivered this week and even though we don’t grow them inCanada, they still have the taste of summer written all over them.

Fresh, sweet and light this recipe is perfect to pack up for any get together, in the park, on the road, at a barbecue.

Citrus Chickpea Tabouleh

  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 orange
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cups parsleys, lightly packed
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed (reach for the low-sodium kind)
    or fresh ones if you’re lucky enough to find some at your local market
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Segment the grapefruit and orange (this just means cutting around the pith to only keep the juicy flesh), make sure to keep all the juices. Cut the avocado into large cubes. Chop the parsley. Thoroughly rinse and dry the chickpeas. If you want to go 100% raw, simple replace the canned chickpeas with soaked and sprouted beans of your choice.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper. A coarse sea salt works wonderfully here. Finish with a generous splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Makes a great appetizer, side or even main for the vegan/vegetarian in the crowd! Serves six appetizers/sides or two mains.

Cooking for a crowd? You can easily double the recipe and be sure to check out Potluck.li for organizing all your potlucks in minutes!

Dishcrawl Insprired by Food Guy Montreal

Yes, you got it… I experienced yet another Dishcrawl. What can I say? Looks like I’m hooked. It is always the same concept (read about my previous experiences here and here), but always different.

It is always fun to meet new people, see familiar faces and finally meeting some fantastic foodies off of the blogosphere.

Last week’s Dishcrawl was inspired by Food Guy Montreal, who I’ve been chit-chatting with on Twitter for a while but I finally had the chance of meeting in person. I was really looking forward to discovering his selection for the evening and he did not disappoint.

The first stop was at DNA. We were presented with a Spicy Goat Tartare, accompanied with a mint jelly crostini. The dish was top notch. Great flavour combination was spot on, the mint helped cool down the heat and the parmesan shavings gave a nice punch to the dish. I love my spicy food but this time I really would have preferred less heat to really set the focus on the goat meat. I mean how often do you get served local, organic, milk fed goat? Not everyday. And when you do, wouldn’t you want to taste the particularities of the meat? I would say yes. Nonetheless, I still thoroughly enjoyed the dish.

  

Our next stop was at Osteria Venti. I was very happy that this restaurant was one of our stops because I wanted to try it since it opened. I was particularly excited about this Italian eatery because the chef Michele Forgione makes everything from scratch. You name it, he’s made it. We were presented with a charcuterie platter: mortadella, Italian sausage, porchetta, smoked duck magret, and head cheese, served with house pickles. Everything was delicious, particularly the head cheese and mortadella, never tasted anything like it in my life. We were also served a dish of freshly made ricotta gnocchi with tomato and basil. The gnocchi were light fluffy pillows, perfect as they were, welcomed with the tomato basil sauce. So simple, so comforting. This place is one of those few places worth going back to again again, just to taste a bit of everything their extensive menu has to offer.

Our final stop for the evening was at Brit & Chips for desserts. I had been there before for none-other than their fish and chips – the best I’ve had in this city. Try the maple batter; it’s subtle, and nicely balances the sweet and savoury. Now, moving on to dessert, the reason for our visit, it boils down to three words: Deep Fried Whatever, a.k.a. a deep fried O’Henry bar. Yup, it’s exactly what it is. Nothing more. Nothing less. So bad for you, but if you have room for three or four bites, go ahead and try it at least once (just add a couple kilometers to tomorrow’s run). It was yummy. I was happy. =)

June is here, happy summer y’all! The next Montreal Dishcrawl will be a terrace-hopping, and like all others, an experience you don’t want to miss!