Nut-Free Pesto with Fresh Herbs

A Pyrex measuring cup full of green pesto, garnished with fresh basil leaves - the background is a vivid shade of pink.

There’s nothing quite like fresh pesto. For me, homemade pesto is the embodiment of simple and summery dinners al fresco, last minute meals made from pantry staples, and bowls of pasta layered with green and the deep liquorice scent of basil. This nut-free pesto uses toasted pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts (as well as several other nontraditional ingredients, resulting in a very nontraditional pesto). Based on my mom’s recipe for nut-free pesto—she manages to grow a bumper crop of basil every summer—I recommend freezing the leftovers (and there will be leftovers) into individual portions and using as needed. I’m enamoured with parsley and I love the pleasantly grassy, slightly astringent flavour it brings to this pesto. Feel free to mix up the fresh herb ratio to your liking; cilantro and even dill can be used in this recipe.

Bird's eye view of green pesto in a Pyrex measuring cup on a pink background.

How to use pesto

  • On hot pasta: When you have pesto and pasta in the house you can have a meal on the table in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. I love the pillowy, silken texture of good quality store-bought or homemade pasta, especially when its been coated in this nut-free pesto.
  • In a vinaigrette: Whisk together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon of pesto, and kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper (bonus ingredients can include finely chopped olives, sundried tomatoes, minced herbs, crumbled feta, and/or Dijon mustard). This dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Use the above vinaigrette for pasta salads made with fresh tortellini or campanelle, as a dip for a baguette or breadsticks, drizzled over warm roasted vegetables, stirred into hummus or a white bean dip, or blended into a quiche or French omelet.
  • In this recipe for Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Rosemary
  • Or this Easy Summer Spaghetti with Yellow Squash
Two bright blue ice cube trays filled with pesto on a pink background.

How to freeze pesto

This recipe makes an impressive amount of pesto and it’s unlikely you’ll be eating it all at once. Freezing pesto in individual portions is easy when you use ice cube trays. Add a large spoonful of pesto to each mold and freeze for a least 3 hours. Once the pesto is frozen solid it can be transferred to a resealable freezer bag or lidded container. Store pesto in the freezer for up to 6 months. Directly add to pasta while still frozen or defrost for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Close-up of frozen pesto cubes on a pink background.

Nut-Free Pesto with Fresh Herbs

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Freezing time3 hrs
Total Time3 hrs 25 mins
Course: Sauces and condiments
Cuisine: Canadian, Italian
Keyword: fresh herb pesto, herb pesto, nut-free pesto
Servings: 24 servings
Author: musicwithdinner

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Sharp chef's knife or kitchen shears
  • Cast iron skillet (or other heavy bottomed skillet)
  • Spatula
  • Ice cube trays

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds raw, unsalted
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 large bunch flat leaf parsley carefully washed and dried
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves loosely packed
  • 2 cup baby spinach or baby kale loosely packed
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon

Instructions

  • Warm up a cast iron skillet (or other heavy bottomed skillet) over medium-low heat until the pan is hot.
  • Add the raw pumpkin seeds to the dry pan and toast for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and fragrant. This will happen very quickly so keep a close eye on the pumpkin seeds and transfer to a plate as soon as they're finished.
  • Add the toasted pumpkin seeds and all of the remaining ingredients to a food processor and blitz until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as you work, it may take a few minutes for all of the ingredients to form a smooth consistency.

Music with dinner

The best summer soundtracks hang lazily in the air as I’m cooking. There’s a distinct lack of angst and a sudden need for ease in my music choices (which is not to be confused with a preference for easy listening). Hymns to the Silence, Van Morrison’s 21st studio album, is a stellar example of this laid back vibe. So much so, that’s it’s become an actual hymn to anxiety reduction for my sister and I (we send each other texts quoting songs from HFTS on the regular). “Professional Jealousy” is the embodiment of jazz flute cool and the essence of backyard barbecues from my youth. Pour yourself something cold and get ready for relaxation (and nut-free pesto).

Van Morrison – Professional Jealousy

Farro Salad with Cabbage and Pistachios

Mixed cabbage salad with farro and pistachios piled high onto a decorative white plate with yogurt and chopped pistachios on top.

This farro salad is texturally and structurally inspired by tabouleh that has been made with bulgur. Comparable to bulgur and oats, farro has a pleasantly chewy texture that holds up well in hardy salads. I love the satisfying crunch of raw cabbage and this recipe includes green cabbage and shredded baby bok choy. For a colourful twist, try making this farro salad with red cabbage, thinly sliced red peppers, and pomegranate seeds in place of the green pistachios.

I like to serve this farro salad with a dollop of Greek yogurt and extra crushed pistachios. The tangy yogurt pairs seamlessly with the nutty astringency of the za’atar and the bright citrus flavours of the orange juice.

Baby bok choy freshly rinsed in a colander.

How to cook farro for salads

It’s easy to over- or undercook farro if this grain is a new addition to your pantry. The texture you’re aiming for is similar to that of steel cut oats or small pasta that has been cooked until al dente (meaning “to the tooth” or until pleasantly chewy).

  • Although many grains benefit from a good soak before cooking, farro has such a short cooking time that I find it’s an unnecessary step. Sometimes if I have the time I’ll give farro a good rinse in a sieve or colander, but I usually cook it straight from the package.
  • Cook farro in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water for 20-30 minutes, tasting frequently after the 20 minute mark. The length of time it takes to cook farro depends on its size and how long its been sitting in your pantry.
  • Drain the farro in a sieve or colander and fluff up with a fork. For the fluffiest farro in the shortest amount of time, spread the cooked farro in a single layer on a clean tea towel, roll up, and store in the fridge until ready to use.
A bird's eye view of a small Mason jar full of farro on a white background. Uncooked farro lies loose on the surface around it.

How to store farro

  • If you’re planning on storing farro for a couple of months it can be stored in an airtight container away from direct light or heat. I often buy it in large amounts and store it in my freezer for up to a year (this prevents farro from turning rancid).
  • Cooked farro can be made in large batches and stored in a lidded container for use throughout the week (or portion them out into individual serving sizes. Farro can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

Other uses for cooked farro

  • Use farro in place of barley or rice in soups, stews, and gratins.
  • Add a 1/2 cup of cooked farro to the bottom layer of jar salads; farro is hardy enough to withstand several days in an acidic vinaigrette.
  • Reconstitute cooked farro with a small amount of dairy or non-dairy milk, apple juice, or water. Serve hot with your favourite oatmeal toppings.
  • Substitute cold farro next time you’re planning on making fried rice. You’ll find that farro is perfectly suited to big flavours like ginger, sesame, garlic, chilies, kimchi, and other fermented condiments.
  • Don’t throw away that overcooked farro! Instead, use it to make homemade veggie burgers or as the base ingredient in farro risotto.

Farro Salad with Cabbage and Pistachios

Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Keyword: cabbage salad, farro, farro salad, farro tabouleh
Servings: 6
Author: Ashley Linkletter

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dried farro
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded baby bok choy
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers cut into half moons
  • 1 bunch scallions (pale green parts only) thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios smashed using the flat edge of a knife

Orange Juice Vinaigrette

  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. za’atar
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch kosher or sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 pinch freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)

Extras

  • 1 dollop Greek yogurt (per person)

Instructions

  • To cook the farro bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add the farro and cook for 20-30 minutes (taste every few minutes after the 20 minute mark). Once the farro is soft but still chewy, drain in a colander and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl toss together the cabbage, baby bok choy, cucumbers, scallions, and pistachios. 
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together with a fork or small wish. Alternately, place all the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake until completely emulsified.
  • Add the room temperature farro to the cabbage salad, using kitchen tongs to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, tossing until the cabbage is lightly coated (you might have leftovers). 
  • Serve the farro and cabbage salad with an optional dollop of Greek yogurt and extra smashed pistachios.

Beck has been a steady thing in my life since I was a teenager. For all those times when I’m not listening to Beck, I always feel right at home as soon as I dive back in. I remember having eighth grade sleepovers and crossing my fingers that Beck’s “New Pollution” would appear on late night Much Music (I didn’t have the highly coveted channel when I was growing up) and just being blown away by his larger than life—but somehow introverted—personality. In high school I had the soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s A Life Less Ordinary on CD, it was one of the “free” albums I ordered from Columbia Music House along with Bjork, Tricky, and Space Hog (as an aside, is Columbia House still a thing?). It’s an unsurprisingly good soundtrack (the Trainspotting soundtrack was, after all, impeccable) but this song stood out from the rest and I listened to it over and over and over again. It has an equally great music video, which I hope you enjoy in all its beautiful Beck glory.

Beck – Deadweight

Fruit Salad With Runamok Ginger Infused Maple Syrup Dressing

Close-up overhead photo of a blood orange, tangerine, dragon fruit, raspberry, and strawberry fruit salad with a bottle of Runamok Maple Syrup to the side with citrus halves.

Note: This post is a partnership between Music With Dinner and Runamok Maple Syrup. Offering a full line of organic maple syrups—including infused, smoked, and barrel-aged syrups—this Vermont-based family business is dedicated to small-batch crafstmanship and attention to detail. You can find their full range of delicious maple syrups here.

I love the versatility of fruit salad. I use it on granola and oatmeal, freeze leftovers for smoothies, and enjoy it for breakfast or as a quick snack before the gym. I also love it as a light dessert at the end of a heavy meal. Drizzled with a boldly-flavoured dressing and artfully arranged, a fruit salad can be be a real showstopper when composed with care. Runamok Maple Syrup makes a gorgeous ginger root infused syrup that’s perfect for fruit salads, especially when tempered with extra grated ginger, fresh lime juice, and lime zest.

Overhead shot of raw ginger, fruit salad dressing, Runamok Maple Syrup, juiced lime, and microplane.

What else can you do with maple syrup?

Everyone already knows maple syrup is the perfect addition to French toast or a tall stack of pancakes, but did you know it has plenty of other tasty uses beyond breakfast?

  • Add maple syrup to savoury dressings and glazes; a touch of heat, a splash of acidity, and a sprinkling of salt can elevate maple syrup into a memorable marinade or salad dressing.
  • Use in place of simple syrup when making cocktails! For example, I made an amazing variation on a Moscow Mule using Runamok Ginger Infused Maple Syrup, vodka, sparkling water, grated ginger, and fresh lime juice.
  • Maple syrup makes an excellent sweetener for homemade iced coffee (which I tend to drink year-round). I particularly like to use Runamok’s Cinnamon and Vanilla Infused Maple Syrup for this purpose.

What’s the best fruit for fruit salad?

  • Avoid overripe fruit whenever possible as they quickly begin to deteriorate when exposed to acidic fruit (bananas, kiwi fruit, and fresh berries are particularly bad for this).
  • Grocery stores with a good selection of international foods will often carry interesting and out of the ordinary fruit in the produce aisle. Have fun experimenting with new flavours, texture, and colours!
  • Always wash fruit under hot water before cutting as some types are coated in wax and/or pesticides. Make sure you take this step even if you plan on removing or peeling the rind; your knife can drag dirt directly through the entire fruit.
Close-up overhead photo of a blood orange, tangerine, dragon fruit, raspberry, and strawberry fruit salad on a white square serving plate.

Fruit Salad With Runamok Ginger Infused Maple Syrup Dressing

Citrus fruit works particularly well for this recipe, but any combination of your favourite fruits will taste delicious. 
Prep Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Salad, Snack
Keyword: fruit salad, maple syrup fruit salad dressing, Runamok maple syrup
Servings: 4
Author: Ashley Linkletter

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chopped or sliced mixed fruit

Runamok Ginger Infused Maple Syrup Fruit Salad Dressing

  • 2 Tbsp. Runamok Ginger Infused Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice fresh
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. lime zest

Instructions

  • Arrange chopped or sliced fruit on a shallow serving platter (alternately, add the fruit to a medium-sized salad bowl).
  • In a separate small bowl whisk together the Runamok Ginger Infused Maple Syrup, lime juice, grated fresh ginger, and lime zest.
  • Pour the fruit salad dressing over the chopped or sliced fruit and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Have you ever forgotten about a band you used to love and then heard someone else playing your favourite song from over a decade ago? How did I manage to forget A Sunny Day In Glasgow? To be fair, I think the last time I listened to them I was using a portable mp3 player that was capable of holding 50 songs. My sister started playing this album (Scribble Mural Comic Journal) the other night while I was making dinner and I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe how good their entire catalogue is, here’s how I would sum up A Sunny Day In Glasgow in ten words or less: super ethereal dream pop sung by lo fi angels.

A Sunny Day in Glasgow – 5:15 Train

Red Wine Lemonade With Blood Orange Juice

Bird's eye view picture of two red wine lemonades with blood orange juice cocktails garnished with blood orange slices. The glasses are on a stark white background and are filled with ice and are completed with a metal straw.

If you haven’t tried red wine lemonade you’re missing out. I know, I know, everyone is always immediately skeptical of this unexpected combination but trust me when I say it’s delicious. Think of red wine lemonade as sangria’s less distinguished—yet equally refreshing—younger sibling. Popular in Spain, where it’s known as tinto de verano or “the red wine of summer.” This simple wine-based cocktail is traditionally made with inexpensive wine and sparkling lemonade and served over ice. Unlike sangria, this blood orange red wine lemonade can be made just before serving, no soaking of fruit required! In this version of red wine lemonade, the blood orange juice adds a not-too-intense hint of musky sweetness. The resulting blood orange red wine lemonade is a gorgeous, budget-friendly cocktail that can be made by the glass or in large batches for a crowd.

Bird's eye view of blood oranges for red wine lemonade.

Red Wine Lemonade With Blood Orange Juice

Yields:

1 Blood Orange Red Wine Lemonade (can easily be multiplied for a crowd)

Ingredients:

6 oz. inexpensive red wine (I like to use a fruit-forward wine such as Merlot, Malbec, or Beaujolais)

3 oz. sparkling lemonade

Juice of half a blood orange (I’ve also used my Blood Orange and Rosemary Simple Syrup when I’ve had it on hand)

Ice

Slice of blood orange for garnish

Special equipment:

Highball glass

Bar spoon

Method:

Pour the red wine, sparkling lemonade, and blood orange juice over ice in a highball glass. Stir until combined with a bar spoon. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.

What I’m listening to

No matter which band he’s in, Stephen Merritt of The 6ths and The Magnetic Fields can sum up the highs, lows, and devastations of romance like no other songwriter that I can think of.

Even though I met you only recently
I find myself falling in love with you
I don’t know quite how to put this decently
But what’s the chance that you could love me too?

Who who who who who
Has made my dreams come true?
And turned my gray sky blue
Why it’s you you you you you
Woo woo woo woo woo
Like amorous lovebirds do
Who made my world seem new
Tis tis you you you you youYou make me feel like I’m seventeen again
You make everything beautiful seem true
I can’t wait to go to sleep and dream again
‘Cause every dream I dream’s a dream of dreamy little you

Who who who who who
Has made my dreams come true
And turned my gray sky blue
Why it’s you you you you you

Woo woo woo woo woo
Like amorous lovebirds do
You make my world seem new
Tis tis you you you you you

The 6ths – You You You You You


Honey-Roasted Tomato Spread

A glass jar containing savoury roasted tomato spread with a spoonful of roasted tomato spread in the background. The dishes rest on a white tablecloth.

Let’s face it, unless you live in a warm climate year-round winter tomatoes will always be things of underwhelming mediocrity. So what’s the antidote to several months of off-season tomatoes? You take a tried-and-true cooking method like slow-roasting and you add a generous drizzle of honey (and sundried tomatoes just to be sure). Blitzing the slow-roasted honey-coated tomatoes with a few other familiar savoury ingredients results in a spread so full of deep tomato flavour it may as well have been made with tomatoes cut fresh from the vine.

What to do with honey-roasted tomato spread

  • Make a sophisticated yet simple pasta dish: Prepare your favourite pasta noodles as directed, reserving a scant cup of salted pasta water before draining. Add the honey-roasted tomato spread to the hot pasta, using about 2 tablespoons of the spread per serving and thinning it with the pasta water. Top with more chopped olives, fresh oregano or basil, and plenty of good parmesan.
  • Add to grilled cheese: Spread a thick layer of honey-roasted tomato spread onto one half of a grilled cheese as it’s being prepped. Fresh cow or buffalo milk mozzarella, Chèvre Noir (or other aged goat cheddar), and Taleggio are all excellent pairings.
  • Use as a cheese or charcuterie accoutrement: Honey-roasted tomato spread can be used as-is or piled onto a thick layer of labneh or Greek yogurt.
  • In egg dishes: Either use as a topping for eggs or incorporate it directly into omelettes, quiches, and frittatas.
  • With roasted chicken and pork: A spoonful of honey-roasted tomato spread will do wonders to liven up roasted chicken and pork. Alternately, rub the spread directly onto the poultry or meat to infuse it with delicious Mediterranean flavours.
Two spoons resting on a decorative plate. One contains honey-roasted tomato spread the other capers.

Honey-Roasted Tomato Spread

Yields:

1 generous cup of honey-roasted tomato spread

Ingredients:

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (or any other small, sweet tomatoes)

8 cloves of garlic, papery skins removed and left whole

1 large sprig of fresh rosemary

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 sprigs of fresh oregano

2 Tbsp. olive oil + 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

2 Tbsp. honey

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

8-10 kalamata olives, pits removed

1 tsp. capers, in brine or salted and rinsed

2 Tbsp. sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped

Special equipment:

Sharp chef’s knife

Cutting board

Measuring cups and spoons

Roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet

Parchment paper or silicon baking mat

Kitchen tongs

Food processor

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275° Fahrenheit/135° Celsius.
  2. Line a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
  3. Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, and oregano evenly across the roasting pan or baking sheet.
  4. Drizzle the tomatoes, garlic, and fresh herbs with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the honey, and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Use your hands to toss everything together, making sure the oil and honey are evenly distributed.
  5. Roast the tomatoes for 60-90 minutes, gently stirring the contents of the baking sheet with a spatula.
  6. The tomatoes are done once they’ve collapsed and have developed a jammy texture.
  7. Remove the remaining sprigs of fresh herbs and scrape the tomatoes and garlic cloves into a food processor (make sure you get any pan juices, too!).
  8. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive, lemon juice, kalamata olives, capers, and sundried tomatoes. Blitz until the mixture is thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides with a spatula.
  9. Transfer the honey-roasted tomato spread to a sealed container or glass jar and store for up to 2 weeks.

I am a monster, but I am also in love with Austra (they’re no stranger to Music With Dinner). Despite feeling like I’ve taken a swan dive into a drowning pool, I can almost feel the truth of “I don’t feel nothing, anymore.” Everything about this song is my current truth as I’m experiencing it. The energy of this song is frenetic and uncomfortable, the vocals are questioning, searching, resigning. In what feels like several weeks of oscillation between overwhelming sadness and total loss of feeling, the euphonic depth of Austra’s Future Politics is the perfect, darkest cloak to hide behind.

Austra – I’m A Monster

Make-Ahead Vegetarian Sandwich

Note: This post is a partnership between Music With Dinner and Abeego beeswax food wraps. I’ve been a huge fan of Abeego products for the past year but for the sake of transparency I did receive free product for the purpose of this blog post.

This make-ahead vegetarian sandwich is one of all-time favourites. It has all the qualities I look for in a vegetarian sandwich: It’s super crunchy and refreshing, you can find all the ingredients at the grocery store or your local deli (or you can make your own), and you can make these vegetarian beauties ahead of time. Just assemble, wrap, and refrigerate.

Abeego is my go-to food wrapping material for several reasons. It’s exceptionally breathable, self-adhesive, and can be reused over the entire course of a year. I have to admit, my absolute favourite thing about Abeego is opening a fresh package; I’m instantly transported back to being a first grader at the Waldorf school (where we made a LOT of beeswax candles). You can follow them on Instagram to learn all about how Abeego beeswax wraps can be used to keep food fresh for longer than you thought possible!

Everything you need to know about the best make-ahead vegetarian sandwich

  • The trick is in the layering! My favourite vegetarian sandwich can be made 24 hours before you plan on eating it as long as the correct procedure for layering is followed. The cream cheese, hummus, and tzatziki act as a barrier between the bread and the vegetables.
  • Follow this crucial step: Drain the sliced cucumbers and roasted red peppers on a clean tea towel for at least 15 minutes before adding to the sandwich.
  • Use a hearty and slightly chewy bread like ciabatta or sourdough (if you’re making this to eat right away you can use any kind of bread or pita you like).
  • Feel free to add marinated artichokes and mushrooms, olives, pickles of any kind, and sliced cheese. Just be sure to drain any wet additions on a tea towel before using.

Make-Ahead Vegetarian Sandwich

Yields:

Enough for 2 large sandwiches

Ingredients:

2 ciabatta buns or 1 small ciabatta loaf

1/2 sweet red peppers, cut into thin strips

1 carrot, grated

1/2 cup thin cucumber slices

2 jarred roasted red peppers

Plain cream cheese, Neufchatel if possible

Hummus

Tzatziki

Special equipment:

Cutting board

Sharp chef’s knife

Reusable food wrap (such as Abeego beeswax food wrap)

Method:

  1. Cut the ciabatta in half.
  2. Spread cream cheese on one side of the sandwich, and then again with a thin layer of tzatziki. Spread a generous layer of hummus on the other side of the ciabatta.
  3. On the cream cheese and tzatziki side add the sliced sweet red peppers, cucumber slices, roasted red peppers, and grated carrots. At this point you can either eat the sandwich immediately or it can be wrapped up and eaten the next day.

What I’m listening to

There’s something about this version of “Cool Water” that makes me cry. It’s so perfectly textured and carefully layered; there’s something about it that makes me feel deeply underwater. I know people are critical of Joni Mitchell’s 80s catalogue but I LOVE her husky voice and careful detachment. More than any other artists else I can think of, Joni Mitchell’s lyrics, music, and paintings make me feel like all of my surroundings are secretly works of art.

Joni Mitchell – Cool Water

Savoury Yogurt Bowl with Chickpeas and Roasted Vegetables

Round, shallow white bowl with a layer of Greek yogurt on the bottom, chickpeas, and roasted peppers, zucchini, and shallots. The dish is sitting on top of a brightly coloured batik tablecloth.

I love full fat plain Greek yogurt. I love it in salad dressings. I love it as a base for homemade frozen yogurt. I love it as a dip. I love it in breakfast parfaits. But you know what I’m especially loving lately? A savoury yogurt bowl.

Making the perfect savoury yogurt bowl: Everything you need to know

  • The sky’s the limit when it comes to toppings so you can feel free to flex your improvisational skills: Shredded chicken or pork, crispy diced tofu, sautéed greens, roasted vegetables, julienned fresh vegetables, chopped nuts, toasted seeds, nut butter, antipasto, refried beans, crumbled or grated cheese, tahini, pulses, hot sauce, tapenade, and any other topping you can dream of will work well on top of a savoury yogurt bowl.
  • Savoury yogurt bowls are incredibly easy to meal prep for several day’s worth of lunches or dinners. Keep each element separate and mix just before eating. You can also make the chickpea salad and roasted vegetables with Ras El Hanout in advance and store them in the fridge for a meal that comes together in less than five minutes.
  • Greek yogurt is a fantastic source of protein, making it ideal if you don’t eat poultry, meat, or fish.
  • Unlike a grain bowl, there’s no prep necessary (other than the toppings). Just grab a container of plain full fat Greek yogurt and you’re halfway to a satisfying meal.
  • Turn a savoury yogurt bowl into a simple yet elegant dinner by pairing it with a crisp green salad and fresh fruit.
Clear glass divided lunch container with three sections. One contains fresh blackberries, one contains roasted zucchini, red pepper, and shallots, and one contains chickpeas with a dollop of yogurt. The container is sitting on a colourful batik print table cloth.

What is Ras El Hanout?

Ras El Hanout is a North African spice blend containing (amongst other spices) cinnamon, cumin, ginger, peppercorn, rose petals, coriander, paprika, and dried chilies. A few years ago a friend brought some back for me from Morocco and I’ve been a fan ever since. Can’t find it at your local grocery store? Check your local specialty cooking or spice shop or buy it online. Because of the spice blend’s earthiness, warmth, and gently astringency, I love to use Ras El Hanout on roasted chicken, as a rub for white fish, in citrus-based salad dressings, and sprinkled on popcorn with melted butter.

Round, shallow white bowl with a layer of Greek yogurt on the bottom, chickpeas, and roasted peppers, zucchini, and shallots. The dish is sitting on top of a brightly coloured batik tablecloth.

Savoury Yogurt Bowl With Chickpeas And Roasted Vegetables

Yields:

3-4 generously sized savoury yogurt bowls

Ingredients:

Full fat Greek yogurt

Chickpea salad with lemon parsley dressing (see recipe below)

Roasted vegetables with Ras El Hanout (see recipe below)

Black sesame seeds

Nigella seeds

Dried red chilies

Special equipment:

3-4 shallow bowls

Method:

Add two to three dollops of Greek yogurt to each bowl. Top with the chickpea salad and then the roasted vegetables with Ras el Hanout. Liberally sprinkle with black sesame seeds, nigella seeds, and dried red chilies.

Clear glass divided lunch container with three sections. One contains fresh blackberries, one contains roasted zucchini, red pepper, and shallots, and one contains chickpeas with a dollop of yogurt. The container is sitting on a colourful batik print table cloth.

Simple Chickpea Salad With Lemon Parsley Dressing

Yields:

Enough for 3-4 generous savoury yogurt bowls

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh parley

2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Juice of half a lemon (or, a generous tablespoon of bottled lemon juice)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Special equipment:

Can opener

Medium-sized salad bowl

Measuring spoons

Food processor, blender, or mini-chopper

Spatula

Method:

  1. Add all of the ingredients except for the chickpeas to a food processor, blender, or mini-chopper and blitz until smooth. Taste for seasonings and readjust if needed.
  2. Toss the chickpeas with the salad dressing in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Set the chickpeas aside until you’re ready to assemble the savoury yogurt bowls. This salad can be stored in the fridge for up to three days, keeping in mind the pungency of the garlic will increase substantially.
Clear glass divided lunch container with three sections. One contains fresh blackberries, one contains roasted zucchini, red pepper, and shallots, and one contains chickpeas with a dollop of yogurt. The container is sitting on a colourful batik print table cloth.

Roasted Vegetables With Ras El Hanout

Yields:

Enough for 3-4 generous savoury yogurt bowls

Ingredients:

1 medium-sized zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then into fairly thick half moons

1 red pepper, cut into chunky strips

4-5 shallots (depending on size), peeled and cut into quarters lengthwise

1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. Ras El Hanout

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Special equipment:

Sharp knife

Cutting board

Large rimmed baking sheet

Measuring spoons

Parchment paper or silicon baking mat

Long-handled tongs

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread the vegetables in a single layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon baking mat.
  3. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and evenly distribute the Ras El Hanout and kosher salt, massaging the oil and spice mixture into the sliced vegetables.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes, using long-handled kitchen tongs to stir everything three or four times throughout.
  5. Once the vegetables are lightly browned and soft they’re finished. Set them aside until you’re ready to make the savoury yogurt bowls or keep them covered, in the fridge, for up to four days.
Round, shallow white bowl with a layer of Greek yogurt on the bottom, chickpeas, and roasted peppers, zucchini, and shallots. The dish is sitting on top of a brightly coloured batik tablecloth.

What I’m listening to

Jazz from a strange celestial place. Hypnotic jazz. Give me some really good vibes jazz. Jazz for drinking a glass of wine and chopping up shallots. The kind of jazz that could score a montage of people coming home on Friday evening after work. As the late, stupendously great Carol Channing sang, “Cause I’m a jazz baby, little jazz baby that’s me.”

Alice Coltrane – Something About John Coltrane