Cannellini Bean, Wild Rice, and Grapefruit Salad with Fresh Mint and Parsley

Cannellini bean salad in a round white bowl on a batik-print tablecloth with yellow cloth napkin.

Are you ever in need of virtuous food? After a weekend spent drinking Rosé-Aperol Spritzes (thank you Bon Appetit a million times over for this super simple, not overwhelmingly boozy cocktail!) and eating about a hundred za’atar-spiked chicken thighs, massive amounts of cheese, and birthday cake? No? Just me? Okay well in that case here’s a totally delicious, totally portable, and totally great salad to have sitting in your fridge for a few days. Made from creamy white cannellini beans, wild rice (or any other grain you have handy) this unique salad is punctuated with an entire bunch of thinly sliced flat-leaf parsley, fresh mint, and the juice and flesh of a pink grapefruit. I like to serve this substantial salad on a bed of arugula, its peppery bite is the perfect foil to the wonderful blandness of the beans and the bittersweetness of the grapefruit but it could also be served with chicken, shrimp, or a piece of poached or grilled fish. Cannellini bean, wild rice, and grapefruit salad with fresh mint and parsley is also an ideal bean salad for school and workweek meals and you’ll find that this recipe can be easily pre-portioned into containers or jars for a full week’s worth of lunches. Feel free to halve this recipe if desired, I tend to make it for bigger crowds and have gradually adjusted the amounts needed to compensate for larger numbers.

cannellini bean, wild rice, and grapefruit salad with fresh mint and parsley:

2×425 gram/15 ounce cans white cannellini beans

1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled (or any other grain you prefer)

1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and thinly sliced

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh mint, thinly sliced

1 grapefruit, cut in half and flesh removed with a paring knife (reserve all juice)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. allspice

Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

  1. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans in a colander, let them sit as you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl or shallow serving platter, gently combine the rinsed cannellini beans, wild rice, parsley, scallions, and mint. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the grapefruit flesh and juice, olive oil, white wine vinegar, allspice, salt, and black pepper to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  4. Pour the grapefruit juice dressing over the cannellini bean mixture and use a large spoon or tongs to coat the salad ingredients.
  5. Let the salad sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving or store in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days.

Part of me is like, YES! THE RETURN OF HOPELESSLY AUTUMNAL MUSIC IS HERE! And then part of me is like, NO ASHLEY, YA GOTTA HOLD ONTO TO THOSE GOOD SUMMER VIBES. I’ve been listening to lots and lots of the sweetly twee, surf rock-beachy-lo-fi wonderfulness of Fazerdaze lately and I feel like it’s extending summer if only for just a little bit (the very much-needed rainfall here in Vancouver is imminent, a sort of “will she or won’t she?” situation.) I’ll look to the title of this song for a good reminder to take it slow because we haven’t quite reached the dark months yet.

Fazerdaze – Take It Slow

Warm Eggplant and Zucchini Salad

Cooked eggplant and zucchini salad topped with beetroot hummus, Greek yogurt and chilies. The salad is in a large white bowl, garnished with a sprig of mint, and laid out on a black and white striped tablecloth.

This gorgeous summery recipe is the very definition of food flexibility; it can be a warm, silky soft salad or a rustic, satisfyingly chunky dip. Eggplant and zucchini are sliced into fat rounds and pan-fried in a hot cast iron pan or, for all my lucky readers who have access to a barbecue, grilled outdoors. Add plenty of fresh herbs, pickled red onions, capers, and a zesty red wine vinegar dressing and the result you’re left with is a dish that’s equally perfect for lazily eating at a beach picnic or for picking away at while anxiously watching Sharp Objects in the dark (literally to prevent bugs from flying into my apartment and metaphorically, just how is this show going to wrap up without any loose ends?) What this recipe does require is time; time to let the vegetables reach the warmish side of room temperature, time to let the flavours mingle, and time to decide what you’re going to serve with this salad. In the picture above I’m leaning towards a more salad-like interpretation of the recipe, serving it with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt and beetroot hummus. If you’re planning on using this recipe as a warm eggplant and zucchini dip I gently (but fervently) urge you to buy the freshest pita bread you can find (or make your own if you’re a fan of homemade baking projects) to use for scooping up big piles of the stuff.

warm eggplant and zucchini salad:

1/4 cup (plus a little bit more) olive oil

1 Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ rounds on the diagonal*

2 zucchini, sliced into 1/2″ rounds on the diagonal*

1/2 large red onion, cut into thin half-moon slices

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh mint, loosely torn

1/2 cup fresh basil, loosely torn

2 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch dried red chili flakes

Kosher or Maldon salt, to taste

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

*Slicing the vegetables on the diagonal will create more surface area for them to cook.

  1. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet. Warm over medium-high heat until the oil just begins to sizzle.
  2. Working in batches, pan-fry the sliced eggplant and zucchini until golden brown on each side. The eggplant will soak up a lot of oil, so you may need to add extra in between batches. Don’t crowd the skillet, the eggplant and zucchini pieces shouldn’t touch each other. Remove the vegetables from the hot oil and drain on pieces of paper towel.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the red onion slices and red wine vinegar. Set aside.
  4. When the eggplant and zucchini are cool enough to handle, cut them into a rough dice. Add them to the red onion and red wine vinegar mixture.
  5. Gently fold in the rest of the ingredients, tasting for seasoning before and after the salad has had a chance to sit. Let the salad marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours before eating.

So we went to see Beach House on Sunday night at The Orpheum (my favourite concert venue in town!) and I’m SO glad we got there early enough to catch the opener, Sound of Ceres. In fact, I think I preferred the Sound of Ceres show out of the two performances; the visuals, the sound, and the vibe were 100 percent gorgeous. They reminded me of so many of my loves: Broadcast, Slowdive, Elizabeth Fraser, The Ruby Suns, and Royksöpp. If you love ethereal, space-aged dream pop then give everything else they’ve made a listen, it’s a total pleasure and a treat.

Sound of Ceres – Ember Age

Composed Summer Tomato Salad

Composed summer tomato salad with fresh basil and shaved parmesan in a white shallow bowl.

When you’re in the thick of it (tomato season, that is) you don’t actually have to do anything to tomatoes. Yes, you can stack them up with thick slabs of buffalo mozzarella, heaping dollops of burrata, a smear of ricotta, your best balsamic reduction, and a drizzle of the fruitiest olive oil in your pantry but you can also haphazardly cut them into chunks, sprinkle on some Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper and call it a day. That’s the thing with heavily ripe heirloom tomatoes, they’re a rare, gorgeous gift we only receive once a year* and when we have them, we need to make the best of them (however that may be.) I’ve been eating tomatoes nonstop this week, usually with a baguette that’s been heavily coated with fresh goat’s milk cheese and maybe some chili flakes. We’re in the middle of a heat wave in Vancouver, no one has air conditioning, and I live in an apartment without the faintest hint of a cross-breeze so I’m thankful for the ease that is fresh tomatoes on multiple levels. Here’s how I’ve been enjoying local tomatoes most nights; with a sense of playfulness based entirely on ingredient improvisation and of course, shining a spotlight on the natural flavour of the tomatoes. You’ll notice I don’t use any oil or vinegar here, feel free to add either or both if you like a more traditional salad.

*Unless, of course, you live somewhere perpetually warm and sunny (which Vancouver is definitively not.)

Composed summer tomato salad with fresh basil and shaved parmesan in a white shallow bowl with baguette slices and goat cheese.

composed summer tomato salad:

Big ripe summer tomatoes, cut into slices or chunks

Pinch of salt (I like kosher or Maldon)

Pinch of white granulated sugar

Fresh basil, cut into a loose chiffonade

Shaved parmesan

Dried chili flakes

Freshly cracked pepper

Arrange the tomatoes on a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and white sugar. Let sit for 15 minutes. Give the tomatoes a little stir. Top with shaved parmesan, dried chili flakes, and freshly cracked pepper. Eat at room temperature with a glass of lightly chilled pinot noir. Enjoy!

Yellow tomato salad on a white heart-shaped plate on a blue background.

I’ve been listening to Chopin nonstop for about a week – it’s calming and it’s beautiful and I can write at the same time (when I’m writing professionally I find it difficult to listen to music with lyrics at the same time.)

Chopin – Nocturnes

Halloumi Salad with Roasted Red and Jalapeño Peppers, Pickled Red Onions, and Mint

Halloumi Salad with Roasted Red and Jalapeño Peppers, Pickled Red Onions, and Mint in a long, white serving dish on a white background.

As some of you may already know, I love halloumi cheese. This halloumi salad is, in fact, a natural progression from my recipe for Slow Roasted Sweet Pepper and Baked Halloumi Salad with Oregano and Chilies. This version adds smokey-sweet roasted jalapeño peppers, bright pink pickled red onions, and lots of fresh mint and basil to bring the salad together. Just in case you’re wondering, “is it ludicrous to add feta cheese to a baked cheese salad?” I’ll admit that you’d be correct in thinking this is too much cheese but for this recipe I use ultra-creamy (and only mildly salty) Macedonian feta. Surprisingly, the addition of creamy feta really brings the whole salad together (you can also use chèvre if you prefer.) If you have access to a barbecue on this fine Canada Day weekend (which I sadly do not) you can grill the peppers and halloumi, just make sure to brush everything with some oil before you begin. I like to let this halloumi salad sit for a good 30 minutes before serving at room temperature, this gives all the separate ingredients the chance to mingle and develop while you have a much-needed glass of wine or a cold beer. This halloumi salad recipe stands on its own as a main dish or you can serve it the way I prefer, with plenty of other dishes (think corn on the cob, a big green salad, olives, roasted chicken, marinated artichokes, potato salad, etc.)

halloumi salad with roasted red and jalapeño peppers, pickled red onions, and mint:

4 large sweet peppers

4 jalapeño peppers

1 + 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

1 medium-sized red onion, cut in half and then into thin slices

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 packages of halloumi

1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped

 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

1/2 cup crumbled Macedonian feta

Freshly cracked pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add the red onion slices to a bowl and toss with the juice of 2 limes and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
  3. Pierce each pepper with a sharp paring knife (both sweet and spicy), this will prevent any accidental pepper explosions in your oven. Rub the peppers with 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and evenly spread out on a baking sheet.
  4. Roast the whole peppers, turning occasionally, for 45 minutes. They should be evenly charred on the outside.
  5. Carefully remove the peppers from the oven and transfer them to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a large plate. Set aside.
  6. Slice the halloumi lengthwise into pieces that are about 1-2 centimetres thick (or about the thickness of your pinky finger.) Add the remaining grapeseed oil to a large rimmed baking sheet.
  7. Cover the halloumi slices with the oil in baking sheet, turning once or twice to evenly coat.
  8. Bake the halloumi in the same hot oven as the peppers for 10-15 minutes, turning once. The cheese should soften and spread only slightly, halloumi will keep its shape when heated. Remove the halloumi from the oven and set aside.
  9. Go back to the roasted peppers. Remove the plastic wrap or plate and carefully peel away the charred skin (it should come off easily, use gloves if you feel more comfortable.) Using a sharp knife, cut the peppers into large thirds or halves and lay flat.
  10. To assemble the salad alternate slices of halloumi, roasted peppers, and pickled onion. I like to do this on a flat, narrow serving platter but any serving dish will work.
  11. Drizzle the remaining red onion pickling liquid over the layered salad. Top with crumbled Macedonian feta, fresh mint and basil, and freshly cracked pepper.
  12. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving at room temperature.

Halloumi Salad with Roasted Red and Jalapeño Peppers, Pickled Red Onions, and Mint in a narrow white serving dish on a white tablecloth.

There’s something really calming about Kurt Vile’s music, it’s almost like listening to someone talk to themselves for a prolonged amount of time (and I talk to myself all day long since I work from home, alone.) It’s good, twangy summer music, too; even on a cold rainy day like today. At the very least it makes me feel like there’s a warm end in sight (and I hope that’s true, because I really want to go to the beach!)

Kurt Vile – Was All Talk

 

 

 

Big Crunchy Winter Salad with a Maple Balsamic Dressing

Big crunchy winter salad on a square white plate with maple dressing.I can’t stop eating crunchy things lately. The other night I had a late-night dinner of barely roasted green beans and sea salt and the following day I was eyeing all the crunchy ingredients in my fridge, wondering how I could combine them all into one ultra-crunchy meal. This big crunchy winter salad is the result of all that wondering; composed of red cabbage, raw kale, broccoli stalks, apple slices, pomegranate seeds, celery, and toasted almonds this salad really lives up to its name. I know fruit in salad is highly contested, but I love the combination and ended up topping the salad with a maple balsamic dressing and a sprinkling of chunky sea salt. Ordinarily I would have used dried apricots in this salad, but I had a bright orange apricot and almond cheese plate add-on that I forgot to use so I chopped it into thin strips and used that instead. This salad will keep with its dressing on for several hours in the fridge so feel free to periodically nibble away on it until it’s totally gone.

big crunchy winter salad:

About 1 1/2 cups of thinly sliced or grated red cabbage

About 1 cup of very thinly sliced kale, ribs removed (give them a good massage with some olive oil and lemon juice if they’re particularly tough)

3 celery ribs, very thinly sliced on a diagonal

1 broccoli stalk, peeled and julienned (I used my handy-dandy julienne peeler for this)

1/2 an apple, very thinly sliced (dip in lemon juice to prevent browning if the salad will be sitting out for any length of time)

1/2 cup of toasted almond slivers or slices

5-6 dried apricots, cut into matchsticks

1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Layer all of the salad ingredients on a large serving platter or in a salad bowl. Drizzle with the maple balsamic dressing and add a sprinkling of chunky sea salt such as fleur de sel on top of the salad before eating.

maple balsamic dressing:

1 Tbsp, maple syrup

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Whisk together the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar before slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Big crunchy winter salad on a white plate.

As a writer I find myself alone a LOT of the time during the day, which means I seek out audiobooks and podcasts when I’m not doing work that requires constant attention to order and word arrangement. There are also times when I’m by myself and I need to listen to something that will pump me up, usually in the form of a one-person dance party in my kitchen – and this is a good example of music that keeps me going when I’m feeling lonely. The Knife can be pretty inaccessible but damn, when they’re on they’re on!

The Knife – Silent Shout

Harvest Salad Bowl with Roasted Vegetables, Pistachios, and a Creamy Lemon Basil Dressing

A white square plate full of mixed raw and roasted vegetables on an orange and blue background.

Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone and once again we celebrated with a non-tradional beef tenderloin in lieu of turkey and, while that particular bird has never been a family-favourite, we still stick to a routine of roasting whichever autumnal vegetables look best at the grocery store. This explains why I now have an abundance of roasted brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and beets just begging to be added to big and beautiful salad bowls such as this one. The sky’s the limit when it comes to ingredient options, I picked these ones because they make me feel as though I’m eating a rainbow and frankly, I already had them in my crisper. The pistachios could be any salted nut or seed, their saltiness against the sweetened roasted vegetables is the really important thing (which is why I’ve added a small crumble of feta to the dressing). You could really use any sort of dressing but I think the creaminess of this particular version really complements the roasted vegetables and provides a pleasant contrast to the crisp raw vegetables.

harvest salad bowl with roasted vegetables and pistachios:

An assortment of leftover roasted vegetables, especially brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and beets (or choose from a long list of other options including yams, sweet potatoes, broccoli, squash, mushrooms, or new potatoes)

About 1 cup of shredded purple cabbage

1 carrot, grated

4 grape tomatoes, quartered

1 Tbsp. pomegranate seeds

1 Tbsp. pistachios, chopped

2 scallions, thinly sliced

creamy lemon basil dressing:

1 heaping Tbsp. Greek yogurt

1 heaping Tbsp. sour cream

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. olive oil

About 2 Tbsp. crumbled salty feta

A couple of basil leaves, cut into a fine chiffonade

Juice of half a lemon

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar, whisk or shake until completely emulsified.

Arrange the salad ingredients in a shallow bowl, layering the pistachios, scallions, and pomegranate seeds on top. Drizzle with the creamy lemon basil dressing and enjoy the rainbow of fresh flavours that is your harvest vegetable salad bowl!

A small white bowl full of salad dressing and garnished with a small basil leaf on an orange and blue background.

This song has a way of making people happy very quickly. A few years ago I was in Ontario visiting my dad and stepmom and we were driving around running errands when this song started playing from my iPod. We ended up driving around the block about ten times so my dad could get in repeated listenings and sing-alongs. We also played this song at our wedding, which (and I’m not trying to brag) was one of the best dance parties ever and people went crazy. I have it on a playlist full of very random songs and whenever Heart and Soul comes on it’s almost impossible not to have an in-the-moment one-person dance party right there and then, especially if you’re in the kitchen chopping vegetables.

Huey Lewis and The News – Heart and Soul

Warm Roasted Potato Salad with a Crispy Egg

 

Warm roasted potato salad topped with a crispy egg on a square green plate with a purple background.

I love potato salad and I’m not snobby about it. I’ll eat deli-style mayo-based potato salads any day, and I’ll certainly eat a warm potato salad with a tangy sweet dressing like the one. I think that roasted potato salads are notably more autumnal than their creamy counterparts and this recipe is living proof (in that, I have been eating it frequently ever since the first tinge of fall crept into the air). Many potato salad recipes, of the warm sort or otherwise, contain a couple of hard-boiled eggs to lend a creamy texture to the finished product. The truth is that I hate peeling eggs and will do almost anything to avoid doing it and as a result I’ve decided that topping a roasted potato salad with a crispy egg is the next best thing, especially if you fry them in any hypothetical bacon fat you might have lying around in your freezer. As with many of the recipes I post, you can consider this recipe a jumping off point. In the past I’ve had great success with the addition of finely diced cornichon, crumbled feta cheese, pancetta, and niçoises olives (so, basically anything salty). You can even use leftover roasted potatoes and skip the first step altogether, just let them sit out of the fridge for an hour or two so that they come to room temperature.

warm roasted potato salad with a crispy egg:

16-20 new potatoes, scrubbed and halved

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt

6 radishes, halved and very thinly sliced into half moons

2 ribs of celery, very thinly sliced

1 bunch of scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped

Big handful of fresh dill and parsley, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. white sugar or 1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and plenty of freshly cracked pepper to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

1 egg per person

Small amount of bacon fat (if you have it), or any other type of fat that the eggs can be cooked in

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the halved potatoes with the olive oil and kosher salt before spreading them in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, flipping the potato halves over with tongs a couple of times to ensure even roasting. Remove from oven and transfer to a large bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan warm the vinegar, paprika, white sugar or honey, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste over low heat. Pour the olive oil into the saucepan in a thin stream, whisking constantly so that the dressing emulsifies.
  3. Add the radishes, celery, scallions, capers, and fresh herbs to the warm potatoes. Drizzle the also-warm dressing over the salad, using a spatula to gently combine the ingredients. Taste to see if the seasonings need to be adjusted.
  4. Heat a small amount of bacon fat over medium-high heat in a lidded skillet. Fry the eggs for a minute or two, covering with a lid so that the whites will cook. Carefully remove the eggs and place on top of the plated warm potato salad, adding an extra scattering of fresh herbs before serving.

Small white ramekin with thinly sliced red radishes on a purple background.

Pretty little Beach Boys-inspired song that I forgot about until my sister came over and started playing random music off of my computer. She’s the biggest AC/Panda Bear/Avey Tare fan I’ve ever met and I don’t think I’d listened to Panda Bear’s Person Pitch in several years; thank you Gabrielle!

Panda Bear – Ponytail