How To: Seasonal Cooking – Farro Salad with Roasted Winter Vegetables, Tofu, and Goat Cheese

IMG_5111

I posted a teaser pic of this salad on instagram and claimed we had a new favourite grain in town.

Move over quinoa – farro has arrived.

IMG_4829

IMG_5076

I’m a sucker for texture and farro has got me hooked. It’s like the chewier and heartier cousin to brown rice. And it combines perfectly with a smattering of winters finest vegetables.

IMG_5078

IMG_5079

This kind of salad is something that is a staple in our house. You take whatever vegetables you have lying around in the fridge, throw them in the oven, combine with some herbs, a grain (farro in this case), and a whack load of cheese and bob’s your uncle. In this salad I’ve also added some cubed roasted tofu to up the protein content, but some leftover chicken or a can of beans would also do the job.

IMG_5083

IMG_5105

I love my grain salads to be just that – a salad. I think of the grain kind of like the crouton of the green salad. So there are no boring bites in this salad. Every forkful is loaded with flavour, texture, cheese, and of course chewy farro.

IMG_5107

Step aside barley, farro is here to stay!

Dara

IMG_5109

Farro Salad with Roasted Winter Vegetables, Tofu, and Goat Cheese

Serves 4-6
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Side Dish
Website Adapted from Joanne Eats Well With Others

Ingredients

  • 1 cup farro
  • 1/2 butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
  • 4 carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts (halved)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup sage (chopped)
  • 1 block of tofu (cubed)
  • 140 gram package of goat cheese (chopped)

Note

This hearty grain salad is great for lunch or a light dinner and is very customizable. Feta cheese works really well in place of the goat cheese. If you don't like tofu, leftover chicken or canned chickpeas could be used instead. Quinoa or brown rice could also be substituted for the farro.

Directions

1. In a medium sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water and farro to a boil. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes until tender. Drain any remaining water and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 425. In a large bowl, toss together butternut squash, carrots, brussels sprouts, red onion, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet.
3. On a seperate baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place tofu and spray with cooking spray. Season with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables and tofu in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and tofu is brown.
4. In a large bowl combine farro, roasted vegetables and tofu, chopped parsley, sage, and goat cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

How to: Quickie Meal – Italian Cheese Tortellini Soup

IMG_1091

I don’t mean to brag or anything, but this is a really super awesome recipe.

And I’m not lying when I say it’s a legit 15 minute meal.

It also involves parmesan cheese. Therefore >> automatic success.

IMG_1018

Weeknight cooking can be a real b, am I right?

I get that.

Cooking a balanced meal from scratch isn’t always realistic.

Relying on canned goods, packaged broths and frozen vegetables can drastically reduce prep time.  So use them!

Ain’t no shame.

IMG_1046

These fresh cheese tortellini make my life so much easier.  I buy the large package (1kg) and freeze half for another quick weeknight meal down the road. There are a number of brands available.  I choose the one with the fewest weird ingredients.

IMG_1025

This one wee clove of garlic is the only thing that requires a touch of prep for this recipe.  Assuming you don’t count using a can opener as prep work.

IMG_1030

A quick sauté of the aromatics, which helps bring out their flavour, and you’re off to the races.IMG_1034 IMG_1076

Make changes and substitutions to your heart’s desire, too.  Use chicken rather than veggie broth. Add kale instead of spinach.  Swirl in a tablespoon of pesto for added oomph.  Go bananas with the parmesan cheese.

IMG_1086

 

 

Mostly importantly…grab a seat, preferably by a fire with a big juicy glass of red, and enjoy.

Erin

Italian Cheese Tortellini Soup

Serves 5 - 6
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon dried italian seasoning
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1l vegetable or chicken stock
  • 400g fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
  • 200g frozen spinach

Directions

1. Heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and italian season and sauté for about a minute.
2. Add can of tomatoes and stock, raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Add tortellini and cook per package directions (usually 5- 7 minutes). In the final 2 minutes of cooking, add frozen spinach.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

How To: Snack Healthy – Flourless Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins

IMG_5075

Peanut butter and banana go together like leaves and fall. Peanut butter and banana go together like giraffe and tall.

Peanut butter and banana go together like hat and head. Peanut butter and banana go together like pillow and bed.

IMG_5066

IMG_5067

Oh sorry – got a little carried away there. I think I’ve read my daughters latest favourite book, We Go Together one too many times.

But it is so true – peanut butter and banana are one of those classic combos that never gets old. Unlike this book that I could do without right about now.

IMG_5068

IMG_5069

And they sure do go together in these delicious and healthy muffins. The banana, peanut butter, and eggs, all combine to add structure to these muffins so that absolutely no flour is needed. I too was shocked with the result but these are tender, fluffy, and very moist. Three important muffin qualities.

IMG_5070

IMG_5071

The other amazing things about these muffins is how easy they are. Like so easy you literally need one bowl, one whisk, and about 5 minutes. And for all that hard work, you have the perfect snack or breakfast at your fingertips.

IMG_5074

While I may be sick of that book, I am definitely not sick of these muffins!

Dara 

IMG_5086

 

Flourless Banana and Peanut Butter Muffins

Serves 12 muffins
Meal type Breakfast, Snack
Misc Freezable
Website Adapted from Detoxinista

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas (mashed)
  • 1 cup all natural peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Note

These easy and healthy muffins are great for an afternoon snack or quick breakfast. Almond butter can be used instead of peanut butter, if you prefer. They can be kept for about one week in the fridge and also freeze very well.

Directions

1. In a large bowl whisk all ingredients together until combined.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
3. Using a 1/4 cup, scoop batter into muffin pan. Bake for about 17 minutes. Muffins should be lightly browned and firm when done. Let cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before removing.

How to: Healthy Sides – Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Barley Salad

IMG_0931

Salads are healthy.

Yet, I’m cold.

Ergo, my new rule is warm salads only.

Because winter blows.

IMG_0892_2

Barley has been my muse lately.  The first time I made this salad, it was with leftover barley from my frozen burrito recipe.  I like to make a whackload at once and eat it in everything.  It’s super chewy and carb-y, two of my favourite things.

It also makes an excellent hot cereal.  Add your milk and fruit of choice to a bowl of leftover barley, heat for 90 seconds in the microwave.  Boom. Hearty, healthy breakfast.

So basically, barley for mayor!

IMG_0906

This über simple dressing is a great fresh contrast to the smoky cauliflower.  The original recipe calls for dijon mustard which I find a bit overpowering, so I’ve swapped it out for its milder cousin, whole grain mustard.

IMG_0901

For a super freshy fresh boost, add the zest of a lemon.

I promise, it’ll make you feel like you’re walking on sunshine.

IMG_0918You can adapt this recipe in many ways to meet your needs.  If you’re looking for a vegan version, cut the parmesan.  Adapt for a gluten free diet with quinoa or brown rice. Make it a meal by adding a can of cannellini beans for protein.

The important thing is you try it.  Because you’ll love it.  And you’ll want to shun cold salads too.

Erin

IMG_0926_2

Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Barley Salad

Serves 6
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Website Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • 1 small head of cauliflower (chopped in to bite sized pieces)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves

Note

Lots of leftovers? Add a can of cannellini / white kidney beans and pack some up for a well balanced lunch.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F
Rinse barley in a sieve or colander until water runs clear. Transfer to small sauce pan, cover with 2 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes. Drain any remaining water.
2. Meanwhile, toss cauliflower florets with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a lined baking sheet for 15-17 minutes until browned, flipping halfway through.
3. In a small bowl, whisk remaining olive oil, lemon juice and mustard.
4. While still warm, toss cauliflower, barley, dressing, parmesan and parsley until well combined. Serve warm.

How To: Big Batch – Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

IMG_5036

When it comes to making a winner of a dinner, you can never go wrong with enchiladas. I mean, who doesn’t love a large saucy casserole dish covered in cheese? If you just raised your hand, I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

IMG_5018

IMG_5013

IMG_5022

But  if I’m really being picky, the one problem with enchiladas is the stuffing and rolling. Not to say our butternut squash enchiladas are not worth that little bit of extra effort, but sometimes you just want to throw everything in a pan, get it in the oven, and call it dinner.

IMG_5023

IMG_5024

IMG_5026

And that is why I bring you this casserole. Kinda like a lasagna, but instead of tomato sauce, we have a super simple homemade enchilada sauce. And instead of the usual ricotta and spinach, we have beans, corn, and a whack load of cheddar cheese. It ain’t enchiladas without the cheese!

IMG_5028

IMG_5031

IMG_5034

It may not be a quickie dinner, but once made, the leftovers will come to your dinner rescue the next night, and the next night, AND the next night. It’s not called big batch for nothing!

IMG_5037

So forget the rolling and get stacking!

IMG_5054

Dara

Vegetarian Enchilada Casserole

Serves 8
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish
Website Adapted from Weelicious

Ingredients

  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 1 zucchini (diced)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can corn (drained)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese (grated and divided)
  • 6 whole wheat or corn tortillas

Enchilada Sauce

  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)

Note

This enchilada casserole is a Mexican twist on the traditional Italian lasagna. It can be made a day or two ahead of time and baked off right before serving. It also freezes well whole before baking or as individual servings after it's cooked.

Directions

Enchilada Sauce
1. Heat oil over medium high heat and saute onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add cumin, chili powder, and salt and saute one more minute.
2. Add honey and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly and puree with an immersion blender until smooth and set aside.
Casserole
3. In a large bowl combine red pepper, zucchini, garlic powder, cumin, salt, Greek yogurt, 2 cups of cheese, egg, and cilantro. Stir until mixed together.
4. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9 x 13 pyrex with cooking spray. Add about 1 cup of enchilada sauce to the bottom of the pan and layer with two tortillas. Top with half of the vegetable and cheese mixture. Continue layering with tortillas, sauce, and remaining vegetable mixture finishing with tortillas and sauce.
5. Sprinkle remaining half a cup of cheese evenly over the top and bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes.

IMG_5053