Cannellini Beans, Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini Onions (With Optional Egg On Top)

A round white bowl on a red background filled with cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes and pearl onions, a thick gravy, and topped with a crisp egg and crostini.

I know, I know. I really, truly know. “Put an egg on it!” has become the mantra of millennial home cooks everywhere (hey, we had to eventually move past putting a bird on it, okay?). Leftover pizza? Put an egg on it! (Actually do this, it’s really good). Have some plain, cooked oats kicking around? Honestly, put an egg on it. This thick, ultra-savoury cannellini bean, tomato, and cipollini onion concoction? Definitely put an egg on it. I first started making this recipe (courtesy of my much-used and very dog-eared copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook) near the beginning of the summer. One evening, a few hours before hosting a dinner party that hadn’t gotten out of the planning stages yet (as my dinner parties are wont to do), I revisited this gorgeous little recipe. As expected, the recipe was simple to prepare and a huge hit with my guests (thanks, Deb!). Over the course of the summer I’ve done some tinkering with the recipe, nothing too over-the-top, but a few subtle changes have been made. I like to add a good glug of white vermouth or a super-dry white wine, I think it enhances the bright flavours of the tomatoes and adds complexity to the earthy cannellini beans and cipollini onions. I also like to add several sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano, I just leave them whole and remove the woody sprigs before serving. And speaking of serving, I like this dish best when it’s piled into a large, shallow serving bowl and accompanied by olive oil-brushed, thinly sliced crostini. The egg is used to revive any leftovers, although the way this lovely stew-like concoction disappears when placed in front of guests leaves me with no choice but to recommend a) sneakily hiding some away right in the back of your fridge off the bat or b) doubling the recipe.

cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions (with optional egg on top):

1 bag (or 1 lb.) cipollini onions

1 15-ounce tin cannellini beans, drained

1 1/2 lb. tomatoes (Roma, cherry, heirloom, whatever you’ve got!)

1 head of garlic, left whole but with the top part cut off so that the cloves are just visible

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white vermouth or dry white wine

1 Tbsp. sugar*

Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

A few sprigs each of fresh thyme and oregano

Olive oil-brushed crostini

Eggs

*If using fabulous, in-season tomatoes you may not need the sugar.

  1. Prepare the cipollini onions by boiling a large pot of water. Slice off the tips of the onions and plunge them into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute and then drain, rinsing the onions with cool water so that you can handle them without burning yourself. When they’re cool enough to handle, slip the cipollini peppers out of their skins and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. On a large, rimmed backing sheet or roasting pan, spread the tomatoes (leave whole and pierce with a sharp knife if they’re quite small or halve if using large tomatoes). Add the cipollini onions, cannelini beans, and the head of garlic (leave intact while roasting).
  4. Generously coat the vegetables and beans with the olive oil, white vermouth or white wine, and sugar, using your hands to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly covered. Season generously with salt and pepper, topping with the fresh herbs.
  5. Roast everything for about an hour, using a spatula or wooden spoon to stir every 20 minutes or so. The ingredients should be blackened in spots and fork-tender, meltingly soft. The pan juices are what makes this dish, so be sure to save them.
  6. Remove the baking sheet or roasting pan from the oven and let the contents come to room temperature. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mix in with the other ingredients. Stir in the cannellini beans and allow to sit until the mixture comes to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Serve the roasted vegetables and beans piled onto a serving bowl with thinly-sliced crostini.
  7. Reheat the next day and add a crispy or poached egg, the yolk should be soft enough that it thickens the leftover tomato sauce as they melt together.

This song is tight as a wire, epic in scope, and vibrating with gigantic, bursting emotion. Interestingly, Perfume Genius is one of the few bands with vocals I can listen to when I’m writing (I usually find lyrics too distracting when I work). And of course, when I’m cooking (which is often part of work, anyway). If Perfume Genius is new to you (in which case I’m very jealous you can hear everything for the time), think PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Wild Beasts, Kate Bush, and a tiny hint of Hawksley Workman without his annoying Canadian celebrity bravado.

Perfume Genius – Slip Away

 

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

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta

It’s terribly difficult being a food writer who specializes in cheese. I mean, what are you supposed to do when you have copious amounts of ricotta leftover from a photo shoot? Well, in my case, I happily ate fresh strawberries, honey, and ricotta for breakfast and spread it on thick slices of olive bread with slices of tomato and a generous application of Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper. Despite all my best efforts I still had an impressive amount of ricotta to use before it went bad (once opened, ricotta only keeps for 3-4 days before it starts to smell sour.) I was on the lookout for ricotta recipes that a) weren’t stuffed pasta and b) weren’t dessert (because I’m not a very dessert-y person.) Eventually I found this intriguing recipe for charred green beans with ricotta and lemon on Epicurius and felt inspired by the elegant simplicity of the recipe. The first time I tried this recipe (and with great success, I might add) I followed the instructions to a T and yes, it was just as gorgeous and delicious as I’d hoped. However, me being me, I wanted to fiddle around with the basics and create my own riff on this already brilliant idea (this sort of creative license is why I’m a disastrous baker.) Lo and behold, this recipe for roasted green beans and broccolini on a bed of ricotta was born. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a grill to fall back on but if I did I would be using it for this recipe – the slightly charred green beans and broccolini add a sweet and nutty flavour which complements the light creaminess of the ricotta*. Fortunately, a hot oven can mostly replicate this effect (albeit, without any aesthetically pleasing grill marks.) Don’t skip roasting the lemons with the green beans and broccolini, they won’t get those beautiful char marks food stylists strive for but the moderately high heat results in fat wedges of lemon with meltingly tender, almost buttery pulp. The quantities called for are open to interpretation, you can use more or less of everything depending on how many servings you need.

Ricotta

*A note on ricotta: Buy the best, full-fat ricotta you can find (remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive ricotta you can find.) If you’re in Canada and you can find Quality Food’s Canadian Cheese Grand Prix-winning ricotta I’d highly recommend this particular brand. Another tasty option is sheep’s milk ricotta (if you can’t find it at the grocery store check out your local cheese shop or farmer’s market.) Sheep’s milk ricotta has a light, milky taste and is generally well-tolerated by people who suffer from lactose intolerances or allergies.

roasted green beans and broccolini on a bed of ricotta:

1 lb. green beans, tipped and tailed

1 lb. broccolini

2 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

2-3 lemons, halved

1 – 1 1/2 cups full-fat ricotta

Dried red chili flakes

Fresh parsley and basil, roughly chopped/torn

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Line 1-2 baking sheets (depending on their size) with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  3. Spread the green beans, broccolini and lemon halves (pulp side down) across the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, gently massaging it into the vegetables. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 30-40 minutes, stirring everything two or three times as it cooks. If the green beans and broccolini look like they’re cooking in a shorter amount of time reduce the heat to 350°.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, spread a generous layer of ricotta across the bottom of a large serving platter (or a smaller one, depending on the number of servings you end up with.)
  6. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and loosely pile across the surface of the ricotta, drizzling with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and any juices that may have accumulated in the baking sheet.
  7. Finish the dish by slicing the lemon halves into smaller wedges, nestling them into the ricotta with the vegetables. Sprinkle the dried chilies, fresh basil, and parsley over top before serving.

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta 2

When I was a little kid I was obsessed with Tina Turner (and Lionel Richie, but that’s another story.) I used to wear my leotard from ballet lessons and make up dances to every single song on Tina Turner’s Simply the Best album in my room with the door closed. I’m pretty sure I wore out the tape from overuse, I’d listen to it on my Walkman walking to school, mowing the lawn with a clunky old push mower, and lying in bed at night. I actually hadn’t listened to Tina in a long time, years in fact, but the other day I was trying to do some writing and I felt really stuck and (unsurprisingly) this amazing greatest hits collection saved the day! I’m choosing “Better Be Good To Me” for this post because it has an amazing video involving a werewolf-like man and a song you can strut to.

Tina Turner – Better Be Good To Me

How to Make Amazing Cold Brew Iced Coffee with a French Press and an Ice Cube Tray

A Mason jar full of milky iced coffee against a burgundy background.

My love of cold brew iced coffee is comparable to say, my love of listening to Nick Drake while walking around at dusk: that is to say, immense, deep, and neverending. I like to drink it black and unsweetened, although I’ve never turned down an iced coffee that’s had a drop or two of cream added. As a freelance writer in the summertime I go through an embarrassing amount of iced coffee and when I add it all up it seems crazy that I’m not making my own. I started making cold brew iced coffee in my French press instead and I have to say, I think it’s even better than what my local coffee shop is selling. What makes it so delicious? The ice cubes! I make two batches of coffee, one hot and one cold brew, and then fill ice cube trays up with the hot coffee for the following day. No watery iced coffee endings anymore, the entire experience is as loaded with caffeine as it could possibly be. Cold brew iced coffee needs at least 12 hours to sit so I’ve been making everything the night before – waking up has never been this hopped up and amazing!

for the coffee ice cubes:

Make coffee as you normally would using a French press and pour into ice cube trays. Freeze for future use in iced coffee. If the coffee on coffee component makes you leery and you enjoy milky coffee these cubes can be piled high in a glass and topped with the milk of your choice (this works really well for iced coffee on the go).

for the cold brew iced coffee:

The trick with cold brew coffee is to grind the beans coarsely, the flavour will be fabulous and you won’t have to worry about grounds floating around after you lower the press. Use about 3 times more coffee than you normally would, this will leave you with strong coffee that can be diluted with water or dairy. Cover the coffee grinds with filtered cold water, stir gently, and cover with plastic wrap before transferring to the fridge overnight and up to 24 hours. Since the coffee is being extracted in cold water the finished product won’t have strong acidity and bitter notes but it will have plenty of caffeine. Plunge the coffee as usual and pour over the coffee ice cubes, leaving room to dilute with with water or the dairy/non-dairy of your choice.

*If you like to sweeten your cold brew coffee it’s a good idea to keep some simple syrup made with either sugar or honey hanging around. Simple syrup will sweeten your coffee uniformly and will taste much better than regular cold brew with sugar sitting undissolved at the bottom of your glass.

A Mason jar filled with iced coffee and coffee ice cubes sitting on the book Alligator Pie by Dennis Leery.

Oh weird, yet ANOTHER 4AD artist I’m obsessed with (add it to the list: Belly, Tanya Donelly, Cocteau Twins, Modern English, Grimes, Blonde Redhead, Lush, Camera Obscura, Ultra Vivid Scene, Deerhunter – it’s like someone made a record label just for me).

Daughter – Numbers

Creamy Portobello Mushroom Puff Pastry with Pancetta and Smoked Caciocavallo

Sour Cream Mushroom Puff Pastry

I can’t really think of a less summery recipe than buttery puff pastry piled high with meaty portobello mushrooms and then topped with smoky cheese, but up until quite recently Vancouver was asking its regular “is it winter? Is it summer?” questions, my cravings being reflected in the former season rather than the latter. I also have the benefit of my beloved toaster oven, which I use more than my actual stove all year long, meaning that my kitchen doesn’t get hellishly warm when I’m cooking things at 400 degrees. You don’t have to use portobello mushrooms, you can either go for the exotic and use fancy mushrooms or you can dial it right back with white button mushrooms. Regular bacon or even prosciutto can be used instead of pancetta if you prefer, it’s the crispy texture and resonant smokiness that’s important in this recipe. If smoked caciocavallo isn’t familiar or available to you then go right ahead and use smoked mozzarella in its place. Incidentally, if you’re searching for smoked caciocavallo it can often be found with the fancier supermarket cheeses, Cryovaced and in the shape of a rubber ducky – you’ll know it when you see it.

creamy portobello mushroom puff pastry with smoked caciocavallo:

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed and rolled out on parchment paper

1/2 packet of pre-cubed pancetta (about 1/2 cup)

3 portobello mushrooms, dark gills removed

2 shallots, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely minced

1/4 full-fat sour cream

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. dried dill

Juice of half a lemon

A generous cup of grated caciocavallo or mozzarella

Fresh parsley, torn into small pieces for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare puff pastry by pricking it all over with a fork, being careful to leave a small border around the edges and trying not to press the fork all the way through the puff pastry. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes while you prepare the mushroom topping.
  2. Cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Remove pancetta from skillet and set aside.
  3. Chop the portobello mushrooms up into smallish pieces, removing any overly woody stems. Sauté the shallots, garlic, and mushrooms in the bacon fat over medium heat until softened and cooked through. Add the paprika and dill and cook for a couple of minutes longer.
  4. Remove the mushroom topping from the heat and stir in the sour cream and lemon juice.
  5. Bake the puff pastry for 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden. Remove from the oven and spread out the mushroom topping evenly, right up to the border. Sprinkle with the smoked caciocavallo and return to the oven for another ten minutes, watching carefully to ensure the cheese doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  6. Garnish with the fresh parsley and serve with a crisp green salad. Alternately, serve chilled on  picnic along with seasonal fruit.

Where do I even begin? I’m wrestling with the mother of all depression demons right now, it’s been several weeks of lows so low I can’t touch the bottom. So I listen to a lot of Lemon Jelly because I feel like at least with them, there are no expectations. They’re a gentle push when I feel like I’m swimming against a leaden current, like an encouraging smile in the form of music.

Lemon Jelly – Come

 

 

Marinated Olives with Orange and Rosemary

Clear glass dish with marinated olives with orange and rosemary on a white, green, and red striped tablecloth.

Do you need a quick, dare I say effortless, appetizer for your next gathering? Something less formal and more of a help-yourself-my-lovely-friends ordeal, but still sophisticated enough that it looks elegant decanted into a few pretty dishes? Look no further dear reader, this bright little recipe lets the olives do the work with the help of a few vibrant additions to the overall look and taste. Rosemary and orange zest are old friends in this recipe, seemingly oddball in combination with the olives but somehow it just works. Give the olives at least a day to marinate in the fridge and then put them out for your guests in a few well-chosen beautiful dishes (remember to include a little container for the pits as well) and let them have at it.

marinated olives with orange and rosemary:

About 2 cups of mixed olives, with pits (reserve the brine for storing any leftover olives)

2 or 3 big sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 orange, coarsely zested and juiced

3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

Olive oil

Freshly cracked black pepper

In a large bowl or container stir together the olives, rosemary, orange zest and juice, garlic, and a few good glugs of olive oil. Give the mix a generous addition of freshly cracked black pepper, stir well and try an olive to make sure the flavours are on the right track. Allow to marinate overnight or for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours, store any leftover olives in the reserved brine (these make an excellent midnight snack as you stand in the front of the open fridge pondering what your real snack will be).

And speaking of midnight snacks, cold roasted radishes dipped in sea salt make an excellent last-minute addition to your day…

Roasted pink radishes on a white plate.

Bowery Electric provides the ideal downtempo soundtrack to mulling over your late night eating habits; I should know, this album has served me well through my important snack food decision making for the last 20 years or so.

Bowery Electric – Empty Words