No Croutons Required - The Winner for July

The challenge for July was to come up with a vegetarian soup or salad that is especially satisfying during hot summer months. We received plenty of tempting submissions and the choice was not easy, but we do have a winner. Congratulations to Michelle of The Tiffin Box who came up with this mouthwatering Home Grown Parsley and Potato Soup that takes advantage of garden goodness.

Jacqueline will be hosting the August edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme.

Homemade Olive Tapenade Pizza

Fresh homemade pizza is always a treat, especially with a soft chewy homemade pizza crust! Smothered in a robust homemade black olive tapenade, plenty of delicious good quality soft cheeses, some sautéed portobello mushrooms, and some jalapeños and fresh basil from my garden, this is a colorful and extravagant pizza loaded with wonderful flavors and textures. I served it to my husband and good friend Basil outside on the deck on a beautiful summer evening — good food, good people and good weather are all the ingredients you need for a perfect dinner.

The perfect results were also a tremendous relief after a rather disastrous crumbling pastry I had made for a rhubarb and strawberry pie just days earlier (delicious nonetheless). And dessert redemption soon followed with a beautifully executed pineapple upside-down cake too.

Homemade Olive Tapenade Pizza

Homemade is the way to go, and my diners are asking for more. The best parts of making your own dough are that you can add different seasonings and spices into the blend, and that you can control the size and thickness of your pizza. The dough recipe below makes enough for two 12-inch pizzas, so after making this pizza I have enough dough in the freezer to make another round soon. Next time I think I will incorporate sun-dried tomatoes into the sauce and focus on Greek cheese or maybe another variant of my famous paneer pizza.

Homemade Olive Tapenade Pizza

Homemade Olive Tapenade PizzaHomemade Olive Tapenade Pizza
Recipe by
Published on July 29, 2012

Rich delicious pizza smothered with homemade black olive tapenade, delicious soft cheeses, sautéed portobello mushrooms, jalapeños and fresh basil

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Dough recipe makes two 12-inch pizza crusts. Instructions for making one 12-inch pizza below. If making two pizzas, double the tapenade and topping ingredients.

Pizza dough:
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 oz (8 g) package of yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups unbleached white flour or spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + more for brushing
  • cornmeal
Olive tapenade:
  • 1 cup black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice from 1 small lemon
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Pizza toppings:
  • 1 large portobello mushroom, sliced
  • 3 cups soft fresh shredded cheese (I used a combination of Gouda, Fontina and Mozzarella)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (suggestions here and here)
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 2 - 3 jalapeños, seeded and sliced into rounds
  • fresh basil leaves for garnish
  • Begin by making the dough. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water, making sure the water is "bathtub" warm but not hot. Sprinkle in the yeast and stir gently for about a minute until it dissolves. If the yeast clumps, the water is too cold and the process should be restarted. Let sit in a warm place for 5 minutes or so until you have a smooth beige-colored mixture and a layer of bubbles forms on the surface.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt and curry powder (if using). Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the yeast-water mixture and olive oil. Mix the ingredients together, beginning in the center and incorporating the flour from the sides of the bowl. Continue until a soft dough is formed.

  • Lightly flour a large cutting board or wood surface and dust your hands with flour. Knead the dough by pushing it away from you, folding it over, and moving it forward. Rotate the dough and continue. Add some of the remaining 1/4 cup of flour as needed until your dough is no longer sticky — about 5 minutes. Keep kneading for another 10 to 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

  • Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a well-oiled large bowl. Brush the dough with more olive oil and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, after which the dough should have doubled in size.

  • While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings for the pizza. Combine the tapenade ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until a coarse paste is formed. Taste for seasonings, and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, toss in the mushrooms and sauté for 5 or 6 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to lose their moisture and start to "squeak" in the pan. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Prepare a 12-inch vented pizza pan by lightly brushing it with olive oil and sprinkling with a light coat of cornmeal.

  • To finish the dough, punch it with your fist and divide into two portions. If making one pizza, reserve one of the portions by wrapping in plastic wrap and freezing for later use. Lightly flour a large cutting board or wood surface, and flour a rolling pin. Roll the dough out into a roughly 1/4-inch thick round shape, making sure the edges are slightly thicker than the rest of the dough. Add flour when needed to keep from sticking, and pick up the dough and turn several times to stretch. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and form a ridge around the edges with your hands.

  • Preheat an oven to 500° and move the rack to the second-from-top position. Brush the dough with olive oil and lightly scatter 1/4 cup of the cheese over top.

  • Spread the olive tapenade evenly over the dough. Top with tomato sauce, followed by most of the remaining cheese, mushrooms, onion and jalapeños. Scatter the last of the cheese over top and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is starting to bubbling and the crust is crisp and lightly browned.

  • Remove from heat and lightly brush the edges of the crust with a little more olive oil. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, cut into wedges, and serve hot or warm.

Makes 4 to 8 servings
pizza slice

More cheese goodness from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Paneer Tikka Pizza on Naan Bread
Mushroom, Ricotta and Asiago Cheese Pizza
Mini Pizzas Served on Toasted English Muffins
Indian-Style Macaroni and Paneer Cheese with Spinach

On the top of the reading stack: No Treason by Lysander Spooner

Audio Accompaniment: Bonnie "Prince" Billy

Curried Potato and Cauliflower Pancakes

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
potato cauliflower pancakes

Crispy potato pancakes are always a classic comfort food, but with part of a fresh local cauliflower in hand I decided to go off in another direction and make some simple soft and fluffy potato and cauliflower pancakes instead. Cooking the potatoes and cauliflower before incorporating into the batter is what gives these pancakes their pillowy texture and enhances their eggy flavor. Seasoned with a gentle hint of curry and a few fresh green chilies, they're absolutely delicious served with a homemade coriander chutney, but they're wonderful topped with sour cream or even just ketchup too.

Read this recipe »

Zesty Black Bean and Avocado Salad

Black Bean and Avocado Salad

Summer is the season for making simple and undemanding but fresh and refreshing bean salads that provide necessary protein and nutrients without taxing either your digestive system or your time and patience in the kitchen. Fresh vegetables and herbs from your garden or local market create beautiful contrasts in color, taste and texture that please the eye and the palate. Crunchy celery and peppers and creamy avocado combine with tender black beans and a zesty cilantro, lime and chili vinaigrette to create this vibrant, healthy and refreshing salad that is certain to be a hit on your patio table this year.

Read this recipe »

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Call me crazy, but I baked this pineapple upside-down cake on one of the hottest days of the year in honor of my Mom. She used to whip this up all the time for my family when I was young, but I could never understand why she would always used prepared mixes for her cakes when she was an almost unparalleled master of homemade pastry and almost any other baked delight. Call me a puritan, but I adapted this wonderful sweet treat to use my own cake recipe from scratch, and modernized it with a mix of fresh pineapple and cherries and spelt and quinoa flours. This "grown-up" pineapple upside-down cake also cuts down on some of the usual sweetness, and is still moist, flavorful, a little decadent, and just about as easy.

I think my Mom would be proud. Such a lovely woman — talented, hard working, loving and quirky too — she was my earliest inspiration in the kitchen. I miss my Mom each and every day. I don't know how she managed to battle cancer for so many years before she finally succumbed to that awful illness. She was well loved and touched so many of the people that were fortunate to know her.

pineapple upside down cake

If you are listening, Mom, here is just one more tribute to your memory. I love you.

pineapple cake

Pineapple Upside-Down CakePineapple Upside-Down Cake
Recipe by
Published on July 23, 2012

Easy, moist and "grown-up" pineapple upside-down cake with fresh fruit

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  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 fresh pineapple rings
  • 1/4 cup fresh cherries, sliced
  • 2/3 cup unbleached white or spelt flour
  • 2/3 cup quinoa flour (or unbleached white or spelt)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Lightly grease a 9-inch pan with butter or walnut oil and preheat an oven to 350°.

  • In a small saucepan, combine the butter and sugar and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Transfer to the prepared pan and smooth out with a spoon or spatula. Arrange the pineapple rings and cherries over the sugar.

  • In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Stir together, beginning in the center and gently incorporating the dry mixture from the sides of the bowl. Spoon into pan and smooth with a spatula.

  • Bake in the center the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto a plate or platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings
pineapple cake upside down

More treats from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Apple Pie Tart
Ancient Roman Cheesecake
Chocolate Nut Butter No Bake Fudge
Peanut Butter Cups

On the top of the reading stack: cookbooks

Audio Accompaniment: Sphingida-Origin

No Croutons Required - Vegetarian Soups and Salads for Hot Summer Months

As much of the world is experiencing extremely hot temperatures, this month I decided to challenge readers to come up with a soup or salad that is especially suited for hot summer months. We received lots of tempting submissions. Please vote for your favorite dish in the comment section or via email. Do note that neither my submission nor Jacqueline's is in the vote.

Janet of The Taste Space is up first with a Strawberry and Roasted Chickpea Salad with a Cinnamon Vinaigrette. This sophisticated salad makes ample use of local strawberries which are combined with cinnamon roasted chickpeas, fresh mint and almonds. This gorgeous salad is served over mixed greens and dressed with apple cider vinegar, fresh lime juice, Dijon mustard, cinnamon, ginger, a bit of sweetener and hazelnut oil. Such a complex blend of flavours and perfect for summer. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Brittany of Brittany Cooks is up next with this gorgeous Summer Vegetable and Summer Salad. Summer just wouldn't be right without our favorite potato salads, especially when it is all dressed up like this one. Comprised of many homegrown vegetables, here we have potatoes, corn, tomatoes and fresh basil dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallot, Dijon mustard, and a wee bit of sweetener. This delicious salad is then sprinkled with feta cheese and sprinkled with more fresh basil. How could I resist? (Beijing, China)

My submission this month is this rather unique Pear Soup with Homemade Raspberry Sorbet. Easy to prepare, pears, fresh clementine juice and zest, green chilies, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, honey and buttermilk are combined in a food processor and the soup is chilled for a while. Just before serving, a scoop of homemade raspberry sorbet with a hint of spice, made without an ice cream maker, adds the final touch to the soup along with sprigs of fresh mint. I certainly got rave reviews from my dinner guests. (London, Ontario, Canada)

Our next entry is from Lisa of We Don't Eat Anything with a Face. Here we have a Sunshine Vegetable Soup and Lisa tells us the title of the soup is ironic because summer in the UK has been slow to arrive. This bowl of goodness that makes me smile is comprised of carrots, sweet potato, bell pepper, butternut squash, celery, onion, garlic, vegetable stock, red lentils, ground coriander, turmeric and black pepper. The sweet taste of the veggies is balanced by the celery, onion and garlic. I would certainly enjoy this soup anytime of the year. (UK)

Dena from Oh! You Cook! serves up this elegant Vichyssoise Soup. Indeed, when the temperatures are soaring a cold soup is in order. Traditionally this soup is made with leeks, but this version includes garden grown scallions that come together with potatoes, garlic, vegetable broth, evaporated milk, seasonings and chives. An easy pureed soup to chill and serve on those especially hot days when you don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. (New Jersey, US)

Madge, the Vegetarian Casserole Queen celebrates local produce with this refreshing Peach Salad. Diced peaches are dressed with honey and fresh lemon juice and then garnished with feta cheese and mint. How easy and tasty is that? A great choice for a light summer lunch. (US)

Up next is Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe with this wholesome and satisfying Orange, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad. This fresh no cook salad is surely a showpiece to grace your table. Fresh oranges are quartered above a bowl and the juice is whisked together with some walnut oil. Next, mixed greens are tossed with this dressing and topped with the orange slices, crumbled blue cheese and roughly chopped walnuts. This salad surely should be considered a superfood. I will also note that Johanna has written a must read article if you are interested in the history of the mighty orange. (Melbourne, Australia)

Michelle of the Tiffin Box contributes this delightful Home Grown Parsley and Potato Soup. I was sad to read that her garden was essentially whipped out by a massive hail storm. On a brighter note, we do have this recipe that really is ideal for hot summer months and at least some of the garden goodness was salvaged. This soup starts with sautéd onions and garlic. Potatoes are added next and after pan frying, vegetable stock, and this mixture is left to simmer until the potatoes are tender. Blanched parsley is added to the soup along with seasoning and some cream if desired. Serve hot or cold. Either way, you are in for a nourishing and tasteful soup. (Edmonton, AB, Canada)

Akheela of TorviewToronto never fails to please and I am sure those of us who want to beat the heat with a refreshing salad will be fawning over this Mango Salad. Simplicity in a bowl, mangos are combined with chili flakes, fresh cilantro, shallots or onion and some fresh lemon juice. Such a lovely side salad requiring minimal preparation. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Heather of Gluten-Free Cat treats us to this beautiful Creamy Kale and Cherry Salad. Such a delicious way to celebrate the cherry season and enjoy summer while it lasts. Russian kale, fresh basil leaves, cherries and green onion are combined and then dressed with mashed avocado, fresh lemon juice and a bit of cayenne pepper. This is my kind of salad. Packed full of goodness and flavour, this is a wonderful way to celebrate the season and to avoid turning on the oven. (Nashville, TN, US)

Entering next is Linzi of Lancashire Food with this light Green Garden Soup employing fresh garden goodness. Described as "sweet and very moreish" the diner is treated to a bowl of peas, broad beans, baby courgettes, rocket, lovage leaves, onion, potato and garlic all cooked in vegetable stock. Whiz the mixture together and serve with some fresh crusty bread. (Lancashire, England, UK)

From Rachel of the Crispy Cook we have her friend Laura's delightful Brown Rice and Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions. Described as exotic and earthy, this salad combines the goodness of caramelized onions, brown lentils or horse gram, fresh parsley, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, seasoning and balsamic vinegar. Easy and full of wholesome flavours for a lovely side summer dish. (Upstate New York, US)

Sweatha of Tasty Curry Leaf enters this month with this classic British Mint and Pea Soup that can be served hot or cold, depending on the season. Preferably made with fresh peas, these green delights are combined with scallions, potato, garlic, fresh mint, fresh lemon juice, some caster sugar and buttermilk or sour cream. What a wonderful way to use some fresh mint that grows like a weed and fresh peas are surely a treasured summertime veg. (Bangalore, India)

My dear friend Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes shares her Asparagus, Avocado, Blue Cheese and Beetroot Salad. Dang, I wish I lived next door to this talented cook. I want this divine dish right now. Mixed salad greens come together with avocado tossed with lemon juice, steamed asparagus, baby beets and blue cheese, topped with your favored salad dressing. Yes, please. A gourmet picnic salad indeed. (Scotland, UK)

Last, but certainly not least, we have this stunning Fava Bean Couscous Timbale Salad with Tahini Dressing from lovely Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook. Such a beautiful presentation, cooked pearl couscous is chilled in ramekins, then inverted onto serving plates, then surrounded by fava beans and dressed with tahini oil, tahini, fresh lemon juice, garlic, cumin and seasoning. For a final touch, each plate is graced with smoky grilled eggplant and the salad is garnished with fresh parsley. A very refreshing summer meal for sure. (New York, US)

Jacqueline will be hosting the August edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the challenge.

Walnut Mushroom Spread

Seems us melting puddles living in Southwestern Ontario have been living through a prolonged heat wave for weeks. I don't mind the heat, but with the humidity on top of the high temperatures, it can be a bit much to bear. This of course requires simple to prepare meals without much use of the stove and certainly not the oven. The easy way would be to order out I suppose, but that is expensive and I much prefer food from my own kitchen because I can control the quality and quantity of ingredients.

Walnuts are a superfood, especially when combined with legumes and vegetables. Walnuts are high in protein, making them a good choice for vegetarians and vegans, and an excellent source of essential amino acids, fat, dietary fiber and other vitamins and minerals. The best part is they taste wonderful and can be combined with a variety of foods or if you prefer, just snack on them throughout the day. Shelled walnuts should be stored in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness and goodness.

open faced sandwich

Now for my recipe. I served this paste on a lightly toasted ciabatta bread over mixed greens with a simple homemade olive oil dressing. Any crusty bread would work just as well. Essentially an open-faced sandwich, you can't do much better for a simple and nourishing meal that is perfect for summer. The addition of black-eyed peas lend an earthy flavor to this spread that also goes well with chopped fresh vegetables. If you don't think healthy food can taste great, just give this recipe a try and your taste buds will tell you otherwise.

Walnut Mushroom SpreadWalnut Mushroom Spread
Recipe by
Published on July 18, 2012

Creamy and delicious spread made with toasted walnuts, plump cremini mushrooms, black-eyed peas and herbs and spices — great for serving on toast or with crisps or raw vegetables

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Walnut Mushroom Spread

  • 3/4 cup cooked black-eyed peas (1/4 cup dried)
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh green or red chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme, small leaves removed from the stem
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch or two of cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons soft goat cheese
  • cold water as needed
  • If using dried black-eyed peas, rinse and soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan. Cover with several inches of fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are soft. Drain and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, dry roast the walnuts in a small pan or skillet over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside. At the same time, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes, then drain and chop.

  • Using the same skillet in which the walnuts were dry roasted, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and stir for 5 minutes. Toss in the shallots, garlic, chili, thyme, tarragon, cumin, coriander, cayenne, sea salt and black pepper. Stir for another minute. Raise the heat slightly and add the chopped mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 8 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to squeak. Add a few teaspoons of water to deglaze the pan and remove from heat.

  • In a food processor, pulse the walnuts into a fine texture. Now add the mushroom mixture, black-eyed peas, sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and goat cheese. Process until you have a thick paste, adding cold water if necessary.

  • Serve on lightly toasted crusty bread or with toasted pita triangles or raw vegetables.

Makes approximately 3 cups
black-eyed pea spread with crusty bread

More summer dips and spreads you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Corn and Pinto Bean Dip
Cream Cheese and Caramel Strawberry Dip
Olive Hummus

On the top of the reading stack: Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi

Audio Accompaniment: exploring various artists

Peach Lime Lassi

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe

The first baskets of fresh brightly-colored local peaches may have coincided with a spell of intensely hot and humid weather, but the way the summer in southwestern Ontario is going this year the introduction of every kind of local produce will be met with the same. Time for some simple recipes to beat the heat and to keep me out of the kitchen as much as possible, and a cold peach and yogurt lassi does just both those tricks.

Fruit lassis are an invention of India, where they know a thing or two about hot weather. Made from blended ice, yogurt, fruit and frequently a little Indian spicing, lassis are ridiculously simple to make and they're delightfully cold, smooth, and creamy — satisfying like an ice cream milkshake but lighter and easier on the stomach with the added refreshing tang from the yogurt and fresh lime juice. Lassis are a perfect vehicle for sweet fresh peaches, and I've added a dash of cardamom for a hint of spicy-sweet flavor and fragrance.

The beautiful color, aroma and flavor of fresh peaches makes this lassi a perfect drink to serve on the patio during an afternoon summer, but it's also great for breakfast too!

Read this recipe »

Product Review and a Giveaway

I recently received a sample of a few snacks from Navitas Naturals. Based in California, Navitas produces a variety of healthy and wholesome snacks, seeds, powders and sugars. All of their superfoods are certified organic, Kosher, with minimal processing and designed to increase energy and enhance health. Free of additives, when you reach for a Navitas product you are in for a good dose of antioxidants, protein, essential fats, vitamins and minerals. Be sure to check out their website and explore the range of products offered. There are plenty of recipe ideas worth looking through too.

Of the two things I was sent to sample, the first I tried was the Blueberry Hemp Super Food Power Snack. Goodness in a bag, these chewy bites are organic, gluten and dairy free, high in fiber with no refined sugar, artificial colours or flavours added. If you are busy and need a quick snack between meals, then you will want to try this flavorful burst of blueberry, dates, nuts, seeds and natural powders. I maintain the healthiest treats are also the most pleasing to the taste buds.

hemp treat

The other wholesome product I had a chance to try was a bag of 3 Berry - Cacao Nib - Cashew Trail Mix. This antioxidant superfood will keep you going throughout the day and makes for a perfect snack to take along for outdoor adventures. Say goodbye to overly processed sugar-laden granola bars and hello to wholesome raw goodness. Consider tossing some of this mix into your favorite salads for an extra burst of flavour and nutrition.

trail mix

In addition to enjoying the samples, the company is working with me to offer a giveaway to my Canadian and US readers. A random winner will win a bag of Cacao-Goji Power Snack, Blueberry Hemp Power Snack (OR the Citrus Chia) and a sample of organic trail mix. Entering is easy. All you need to do is "like" Navitas on Facebook and leave a comment on this post indicating the power snack you would most like to try from the ones offered. I would also appreciate it if you "liked" Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen on Facebook. If you do not have a blog, please also include your email address with your comment so I can contact you in case you are the lucky winner. The contest begins today, July 15th, and ends on August 1st. Good luck and happy eats.

*Note, I do not have any affiliation with Navitas Naturals. Samples were sent to me to try and review if I enjoyed them, and I did. Thanks to the company for the snacks and for the opportunity to offer this giveaway.*

Puy Lentils with Spices and Tamarind

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
If you want an easy dish to whip up for a mid-week meal, you may want to consider this recipe if you enjoy some spice with your lentils. Just plain good for you, especially when served with a whole grain. I had a craving for brown rice and that is what I paired the dish with. Earthy and spicy, with a hint of sweetness from the addition of tamarind, you may also want to consider serving this with a raita. Because of the ease of preparation, this dish is especially welcome as the temperatures continue to soar here in southwestern Ontario. Don't let the rather long list of ingredients discourage you.

tamarind lentils

Puy Lentils with Spices and Tamarind Puy Lentils with Spices and Tamarind
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on July 13, 2012

Spicy and tangy French lentils cooked with Indian seasonings — simple but full of flavor

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  • 1 cup Puy lentils, or any other lentil you have on hand
  • 2 tablespoons sesame or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 2 - 3 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • pinch of asafetida (optional)
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 5 - 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste, seeds removed
  • 2 teaspoons honey, agave nectar, maple syrup or other sweetener (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh parsley for garnish
  • Pick over the lentils for stones and rinse thoroughly in a strainer.

  • Heat the oil in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and cook until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Immediately add the onion and stir for a few minutes to soften the onion. Now add the garlic, ginger and chilies, and continue to stir for another minute. Add the spices and asafetida if using, and stir for another minute.

  • Pour the stock or water into the pan and add the lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender — about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the kind of lentil you use. Add more water if necessary.

  • Meanwhile, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain and chop. In a small bowl, combine with the tamarind, sweetener if using, and salt.

  • When the beans are tender, stir the sun-dried tomato and tamarind mixture into the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley.

Makes 4 - 6 servings
spicy tamarind lentils

More lentil recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Spicy Lentil Quinoa Nut Loaf
Red Lentil and Toasted Walnut Tapenade with Olives and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Toor Dal Palak
Wild Rice and Asparagus Salad

On the top of the reading stack: The Hunger Angel by Herta Müller

Audio Accompaniment: James Holden

Spicy Indian-Style Hummus

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Blazing summer temperatures call for something simple with minimal amount of preparation and cooking. Hummus is always a summertime favorite and because I like a bit of kick to my meals, I present my readers with a spicy version. A great appetizer or a meal just on its own served with fresh vegetables, lightly toasted pita triangles or pappadams, this is a must try summer dip.

Spicy Hummus, Indian-Style

Spicy Hummus, Indian-StyleSpicy Indian-Style Hummus
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on July 11, 2012

Hummus made with Indian spicings

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  • 1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter (optional)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 fresh green or red chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • pinch of asafetida
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons olive oil (or more to achieve your desired consistency
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight covered in several inches of water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan. Cover with several inches of fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are buttery soft. Drain.

  • In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients and process until you have a thick, smooth paste. You may need to add extra olive oil or a bit of water if you want a thinner paste.

Makes approximately 3 cups
Spicy Hummus, Indian-Style

More dips and spreads from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Cream Cheese and Caramel Strawberry Dip
Marinated Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus with Olives
Turkish Yogurt Hummus
Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato Paste

On the top of the reading stack: various bits and pieces

Audio accompaniment: James Holden

Pear Soup with Raspberry Sorbet

pear soup with homemade sorbet

Yesterday, I wrote about Yamuna Devi's classic book, Yamuna's Table. As many of my readers will know, Ms. Devi is also the author of Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. This inspiring book has been a staple since I became a vegetarian and quickly changed the way I approached vegetarian food and healthy eating. As I have said in the past, that book is like a bible to me and offers traditional Indian creations and, just like Yamuna's Table, the recipes are mostly straightforward and easily made by cooks in both the Western and Eastern world.

As I mentioned in my last post, Yamuna's Table is a unique collection of over 200 traditional and fusion-style recipes that reflect the growing availability of ingredients for cooks to incorporate into their dishes, all guided by Ayurvedic principles of combining foods and flavors to promote good health and well-being. A characteristic feature of these recipes is the fascinating and unique blend of East-and-West flavors and pairings suggested that are for the most part refreshingly easy to prepare.

Helpful and informative introductions are included with each section and recipe, and a valuable appendix includes menu suggestions. All of the essentials, such as appetizers, salads, soups, grains, legumes, savory pastries and crepes, vegetable dishes and a multitude of desserts and other little gems you will find within the covers. No pictures but these brilliant ideas will inspire you to transform these elegant dishes into something even better than a gorgeous photo - after all, paper doesn't taste very good. You will admire the presentation on your plate and then you get to linger over your meal. Certainly preparing and serving healthy and nourishing meals does not mean you must sacrifice taste. Even those with the most refined palates won't believe how such simple creations can transform your dinner table into something special indeed.

A prime example is this pear soup that I served for dinner. When I first looked at the recipe, I didn't really know what to expect. However I was intrigued by such an interesting combination of fruit, buttermilk and Indian spices served with a dollop of homemade raspberry sorbet. Curious, I decided to give it a try. Another reason I chose this recipe is because it is supposed to be served cold. With blazing temperatures here in southwestern Ontario — especially the day I served it — I just couldn't resist giving it a try.

What a pleasant surprise! I have never tasted anything like it. So light, with a subdued sweetness and tang from the sorbet and a gentle spiciness that does not overpower the pear or buttermilk. I served this soup to my best friend Basil and my husband. They both loved it on such a hot day and Basil remarked that is was absolutely refreshing and good enough to serve in an expensive cafe or little bistro. What an honor to receive such compliments and rave reviews for my food.

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