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

Super Creamy Cashew Butter Stir-Fry Sauce

White bowl on an orange and blue-flowered tablecloth full of vegetable stir fry topped with cashew butter sauce, chopped fresh basil and cilantro, sambal oelek, and crushed cashews.

When people find out you have a peanut allergy this is what they always say: “You mean you’ve never had a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup? Man, you are missing out!” It’s never any other candy, it’s never a peanut butter sandwich, it’s always Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (which, c’mon guys, are they really that great? Wait, don’t tell me). I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, however, so I’ll tell you what I always think I’m missing: Peanut stir-fry sauce topped with plenty of crushed, salty peanuts (my sister assures me that I’m correct, peanut stir-fry sauce is actually incredible). So I took it upon myself to make something close using cashew butter (although you could use something entirely nut-free like SunButter if all nuts are off the table). I’ve made several versions of this sauce, each feeling a bit like trial-and-error, especially when you consider the fact that I’ve never had the original to compare it with. This is the version I’ve been making lately, it’s rich and creamy yet tangy and vibrant, all at the same time. I like to make it in my blender because it turns the cashew butter stir-fry sauce-making into a 2 minutes-or-less type of activity, but you could use an immersion blender or even a whisk to incorporate all of the ingredients together. This recipe is for a vegetable stir fry but feel free to add the protein of your choice, I like to carefully fold in small cubes of creamy tofu towards the end of the cooking time with the vegetables.

super-creamy cashew butter stir-fry sauce:

1/2 cup smooth cashew butter

Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 Tbsp. lime juice, total)

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. mirin

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. chopped ginger (use store-bought pre-prepped ginger if desired)

1-2 Tbsp. sambal oelek (garlic chili paste)

1/3 cup warm water

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth, adding more water to thin if necessary.

vegetable stir-fry:

1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

4 cups of your favourite vegetables, thinly sliced (I’ve been on a real sweet pepper, carrot, baby bok choy, and scallion kick lately)

2 cups spiralized zucchini

1 cup basmati rice, steamed

1/2 cup fresh basil, loosely chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, loosely chopped

1/3 cup roasted and salted cashews, crushed (I like to put a handful of cashews into a resealable bag and whack them with the flat-side of kitchen mallet)

Extra sambal oelek and lime slices, for serving

  1. Add the grapeseed oil to a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet and heat until very hot over medium-high heat (the oil will start to look shimmery once it’s hot enough).
  2. Carefully add the vegetables and stir-fry until tender-crisp, stirring frequently. A minute or so before you think the vegetables are done, add the spiralized zucchini and keep cooking until they begin to soften.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and pour the cashew butter stir-fry sauce over the vegetable mixture. The cashew butter will thicken quickly, keep stirring to prevent the sauce from burning or sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Serve the stir-fried cashew butter vegetables with a scoop of rice, plenty of fresh basil and cilantro, a generous sprinkling of crushed cashews, a dollop of sambal oelek, and a lime wedge.

It’s kind of funny that The War on Drugs always makes me think of my dad, considering the fact that it’s highly unlikely he’s ever heard them. They remind me of Neil Young, which reminds me of some of his first “single dad” apartments (children of divorce, you know what I mean). Staying at those apartments every other weekend as a little kid was surreal, in retrospect. Not quite comfortable with just doing nothing with my sister and I, as we would be at my mom’s house, we would always have planned activities to keep everyone from feeling well, under the pressure. We did a lot of painting (my dad loves to paint), I remember once time we tried to make a papier-mâché horse using taped up newspaper and old Penny Savers. My dad’s visiting me in Vancouver for the first time in a couple of years next month and I’ll finally have to play him a War on Drugs album and see if he remembers the oddity of that time in my life the same way that I do.

The War on Drugs – Under the Pressure

Roasted Cauliflower and Radishes with Pickled Onions

A white casserole dish full of roasted cauliflower, radishes, pickled onions, and cilantro on a red and green striped tablecloth.

I am a HUGE fan of dinner parties featuring well, dinners, composed of lots of interesting and equally delicious dishes which are centred around a some sort of theme (which could be general or very specific, either way). In an effort to officially begin the year 2018 in An Orderly And Responsible Fashion I spent a few days last week shopping for and then cooking some dinnertime basics I could pull out of the freezer as needed, one of these recipes being a loose riff on the sesame-spiced meatballs in the first Smitten Kitchen cookbook (I say loose in that I subbed pork and beef for the turkey and added sesame oil and finely chopped cilantro). Having things like meatballs, creamy puréed chickpea soup, beef stew, and bean burritos in the freezer means that meals are considerably less likely to be sidetracked for mediocre frozen pizzas and takeout on nights when I don’t feel like cooking. I also take advantage of my beloved freezer pantry when hosting those aforementioned dinner parties, hence the appeal of sesame-spiced meatballs. The fragrant scent of cumin, sesame, and cilantro became the main theme of this particular dinner and the surrounding spread went on to include tabouleh, a tahini-yogurt-lemon dip drizzled with mustard and coriander-steeped olive oil, finely chopped cornichons, and this beauty of a dish: roasted cauliflower and radishes with pickled onions. The tanginess of the pickled onions brightens the earthy flavours of the roasted vegetables without overwhelming them and the chopped cilantro adds just the right amount of herbacious green flavour while amplifying the overall appearance of this gorgeous, couldn’t-be-simpler recipe.

A white casserole dish full of roasted cauliflower, radishes, pickled onions, and cilantro on a red and green striped tablecloth.

While I originally served this easy roasted vegetable recipe as-is, I was fortunate to have leftovers the next day which I stuffed (room-temperature) into fresh pitas topped with Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

roasted cauliflower with radishes and pickled onions:

for the pickled onions:

1/2 red onion, cut into thin strips

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

In a small bowl toss the red onion with the red wine vinegar and lime juice. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours before serving.

for the roasted cauliflower and radishes:

1 medium-sized cauliflower, cut into large bite-sized pieces

10 radishes, scrubbed and halved

Juice of 1 orange

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. coriander

2 tsp. sumac

1 tsp. kosher salt

Plenty of freshly cracked pepper

1 cup of cilantro, chopped

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the chopped cauliflower and radishes. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cilantro and toss to combine (I use my hands for this step).
  3. Spread the vegetables on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, stirring three or four times throughout so that the cauliflower and radishes brown easily.
  4. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. Top with the cilantro and stir to combine. Serve warm or cold with hummus, Greek yogurt or stuffed into pita bread.

Why yes I DO love 1980’s Joni Mitchell, thanks so much for asking (and when Peter Gabriel decides to tag along too, even moreso). I’m alone a lot during the day so I’ll listen to this album (Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm) as well as many other super-lady albums while I’m working away at my desk.

Joni Mitchell – My Secret Place

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

Spicy Pickled Watermelon Radish

Thinly sliced watermelon radish on a white background with parsley.

This recipe for pickled watermelon radish follows a very basic method for making refrigerator pickles and can easily be used to pickle any other crunchy vegetable. Watermelon radishes are so delightfully twee in appearance and the pickling process renders them a delicate shade of rose, making them look absolutely gorgeous laid out on a cheese or charcuterie board. These pickles need to sit for at least 48 hours before they’re ready to eat and can potentially stay in your fridge for a whole month, although it’s doubtful they’ll hang around that long.

spicy pickled watermelon radish:

2-3 watermelon radishes, sliced as thinly as possible into rounds

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1-2 dried whole chiles

1 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1/2 cup of white wine vinegar

1/2 cup of unseasoned rice vinegar

1 cup of water

1/3 cup of white granulated sugar

  1. Prepare 1 medium-sized canning jar by washing it in very hot, soapy water and allowing to hand-dry or running it through the dishwasher.
  2. Add the mustard and coriander seeds and dried chile pepper to the jar.
  3. Bring the vinegars, water, sugar, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved (how’s that for accidental alliteration?).
  4. Pour the hot brine over the sliced watermelon radish leaving a couple of centimetre’s space at the top, carefully applying the lid and smoothing out any air bubbles so that a tight seal is formed.
  5. Store the pickled watermelon radish in the fridge and let them sit for at least 48 hours and up to a month.

It’s another bright and sunny day in Vancouver and frankly speaking, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a precipice looking down into 6 months of rain and scatterings of damp snow. I’m hanging on by listening to the sunniest music I can get my hands on (and, I’ll admit, maybe secretly playing my autumn favourites ahead of time). If you feel like upping the dreaminess of making homemade pickles out of watermelon radishes then I’d highly suggest creating kitchen ambience with this sunny little album. It’s an effortless listen, pairing well in the mornings with a cup of tea or with a cold Ting and whatever-you-fancy cocktail later in the day.

Vince Guaraldi & Bola Sete – Y Sus Amigos (full album)

 

Chilled Watermelon Soup with Roasted Apricots and Tomatoes

A shallow white soup bowl full of watermelon gazpacho with roasted apricots, tomatoes, and red onions on a red, white, blue floral background. Small fresh basil clusters are arranged on the gazpacho and background.

Soup is best served cold on a hot day and this gazpacho-inspired recipe is a fine example of chilled summer soup at its best. Make this soup when local produce is readily available, this is the time to let seasonal fruits and vegetables shine. Roasting apricots, tomatoes, red onions, and a jalapeño  pepper or two gives the soup depth of flavour and a solid base for the raw ingredients. It’s absolutely crucial that this soup is chilled for at least 12 hours in order for it to taste spectacular, 24 hours is even better if you have the time. Use a fruitier extra virgin olive oil if possible, the biting peppery taste of the oil you use to cook with isn’t complementary to the lovely sweetness of the soup. I’ve also used avocado with success, it gives the finished product a delicious buttery quality. I love using sherry vinegar in this recipe as a nod to traditional gazpacho and I’ve added some additional lime juice to really underscore the sweetness of the watermelon. I like to serve this chilled watermelon soup with something tangy and rich such as creme fraiche or high-fat yogurt, finely diced avocado also works well. Pack this soup into jars for an easy picnic addition or any on-the-go meal, it’s also incredibly refreshing after any outdoor activity when temperatures are in full mid-August mode.

chilled watermelon soup with roasted apricots and tomatoes:

(makes enough for several meals and will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator)

4-5 cups of watermelon, cubed with seeds removed

6 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into quarters

6 fresh apricots, cut in half with puts removed

1 medium-sized red onion, cut into quarters

1-2 jalapeño peppers, cut in half with seeds removed

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 medium-sized cucumber, cut into a fine dice with seeds and peel removed

1 sweet pepper, cut into a fine dice

A generous handful of fresh basil, cut into a fine chiffonade

4 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

1/3 cup fruity olive or avocado oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put the watermelon in a food processor and pulse until completely blitzed. Set aside.
  3. Arrange the tomatoes, apricots, onion, and jalapeño pepper(s) on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until everything begins to brown, stirring occasionally.
  4. Scrape the roasted fruits and vegetables into the food processor with their juices. Pulse a couple of times being careful not to process until smooth, the goal is a chunky salsa-like texture.
  5. In a very large jug or bowl stir together the watermelon, roasted and chopped vegetables, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and fresh basil. Season generously with salt and paper.
  6. Cover the soup and refrigerate for 12-24 hours before serving chilled with your preferred finishing touch.

IMG_2824

Greg Gonzalez of Cigarettes After Sex has the gentlest of  singing voices, the most obvious comparison would be Hope Sandoval when she’s singing with the Warm Inventions but I also hear echoes of Low when they’re at their most sparse. This dreamy EP is just gorgeous, it’s also an album that gives me a definite feeling of time and place. It makes me think of reading in bed, sunlight filtering through semi-closed blinds, and the distinct smell of dust and library books. CAS has a playful yet melancholic sound that fills the room because of its lo-fi simplicity not despite of.

Cigarettes After Sex – Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby