Carrot salad with roasted chickpeas and pistachios

This salad is so good that if I were left to my own devices, I would eat all 4 servings in one sitting. Gulp.

Yield: 4 servings (or 1 really big one)



  • one can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and lightly dried
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin


  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • juice from 1 lemon, strained
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • to consider for next time: one crushed, smoked serrano pepper


  • 4-5 grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup of chopped pistachios (I usually find the roasted and salted variety, but this would work with the roasted and unsalted type as well)


  1. After tossing with the oil and spices, bake the chickpeas at 220C for 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the dressing and prepare the salad.
  3. Toss everything together. and serve with a bit of parsley as garnish. Alternatively, you can keep the chickpeas and pistachios separate until moments before you eat (so as to preserve the crunch)

Spaghetti with Pesto and Cherry Tomato Confit

One of the highlights of living in Europe is being closer to Italy. I like the other countries too, but… Italy! I recently discovered an Italian food mail order service: there is a farm in Tuscany, and they will send you Italian products via post. Since it’s from a farm, they only ship you products in bulk. And sometimes they give you recipes, too. This is one of those recipes. I had to try it since the times a girl comes across a vegetarian confit recipe are few and far between.

Yield: 2 servings


  • 250 g dried spaghetti
  • 500 g cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 250 g pesto


  1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and lay them on a piece of parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, thyme, oregano, sugar, garlic well. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spoon a bit of the spice mix over each tomato half.
  4. Bake this for 2 hours at 140 C. We want the tomatoes to be roasted but not dry/browned.
  5. Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
  6. In a skillet, lightly warm the pesto.
  7. Toss the pesto and tomatoes together with the cooked pasta in the skillet.

Swamy’s Bean Dip

Did you know bean dip can double as dinner? Don’t be shy, it’s not simply an appetizer!
Yield: a 9×12 in baking dish, as pictured above



  • 1 can of refried beans
  • 2 tbsp of taco seasoning mix to taste (unsalted)
  • 250 g Neufchatel cream cheese
  • 200 g shredded cheddar

Veggie mix

  • 1/2 of a diced onion
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 diced green bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 can of corn (optional)


  • 1 diced avocado or 1 cup of guacamole
  • 2 diced vine tomatoes
  • a handful of chopped cilantro
  • juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning (unsalted)
  • 1 diced jalapeƱo (if you’re feeling sassy)
  • salt to taste


  1. Mix the cream cheese with the taco seasoning
  2. As the bottom layer in the pan, spread the refried beans evenly around
  3. Next, spread the cream cheese over the beans
  4. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cream cheese
  5. Then sprinkle the veggie mix evenly over the shredded cheese
  6. Bake this in the in oven 375F/190C for 10 min or less – pull it out of the oven when it’s warm and melty
  7. Top with the salsa
  8. Tuck into this with tortilla chips



On one of our recent trips to Milan, we discovered this delicious holiday fruit bread. It’s a classic Italian Christmas staple. Strangely, it was priced pretty high as far as fruit breads go, so I decided to try making it at home to see what the fuss was about. It’s quite a bit of time (mostly waiting for the dough to rise), but not more work than making normal bread or pizza dough – definitely worth it to make at home. My favorite part is the candied orange peels. Normally, this is made with a special deep cake form so that the Panettone poufs over the top, but I used a 20 cm springform cake pan instead (who has time to get a special pan for one dish?).



  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/16 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup cool water


  • all of the starter (above)
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Delicious chunks (mix and match the fruits to your preference)

  • 2 tbsp orange zest (can substitute lemon zest)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup slivered dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup candied orange peels
  • 1/2 cup slivered prunes
  • 1/2 cup slivered dates


  1. Knead together the starter ingredients and cover in a bowl to rest overnight (8-12 hours).
  2. Combine all the dry dough ingredients in a large bowl: flour, salt, sugar.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
  4. In another bowl, mix together the yeast water, eggs, butter, and vanilla.
  5. Add all of the starter to the wet mixture and start kneading the flour mix in thirds.
  6. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 90 minutes.
  7. Knead in the fruits and zest.
  8. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a pan to rest for another hour.
  9. Bake at 205 C for 10 minutes.
  10. Reduce the heat to 190 C and bake for another 10 minutes.
  11. Reduce the heat to 175 C, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 minutes.
  12. Allow it to cool completely before cutting.


Choco Coco Peanut Butter Dates

This is my first vegan dessert, and it turned out amazing the first time I made it. How many times can I claim wild success the first time I make something? If I were to imagine what a “healthy” snickers bar should taste like, it would be these chocolate covered dates. And the best part is that there is no baking involved whatsoever! Actually the best part is the leftover peanut butter mousse – it is top notch on apples, celery, toast… the list goes on.

Yield: 33 chocolate covered dates


  • 300 g dates
  • 64 g crunchy peanut butter (about 1/2 cup)
  • 150 g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 can of coconut milk, refrigerated overnight


  1. Scoop out the fat in the coconut milk can (it will have separated from the liquid).
  2. Whip the coconut cream vigorously for a minute.
  3. Fold in the peanut butter and continue whipping.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. While you wait, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan or in a double boiler.
  6. Pit the dates. I made a small slice down the length of each date to remove the pit – without the pit, the dates could still be smooshed back together. I did not cut through the date completely.
  7. Fill the empty cavity in the dates with the peanut butter mousse and smoosh them back to their original shape.
  8. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  9. Dip the dates in chocolate. Place them on the parchment paper. A fork is very useful for this part.
  10. If it’s cold outside, put the dates outside to set. Otherwise, put them in the refrigerator. This took around 30 minutes.

Chocolate Turtle Cookies


This is is the cookie to end all cookies, although I have no idea what turtles have to do with it. The memory of eating this cookie for the very first time is seared into my brain. Some foods are just like that – I can vividly remember the very first time I tried this cookie in my high school cafeteria. Yup, this cookie brings back those kinds of memories.

Yields: 13 large cookies or 26 smallish cookies


  • 1 and 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 100 g butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (I have also tried walnuts and they work too)
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 80 g soft caramel candies diced into very small cubes


  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda
  3. In another large bowl, mix the wet ingredients: melted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, milk
  4. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with wet ingredients in thirds
  5. Fold in the caramel candies and the chopped nuts
  6. Form the dough into small balls and lay them out on a cookie sheet
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes (Around minute 8, I will press them down with a spoon to flatten them a little)

Kung Pao Cauliflower Tofu

The smoked tofu really makes this dish, and the dates add some natural sweetness while the smoked serrano pepper creates a playful, unexpected spicy twist.

Yield: 2 servings



  • 1 smoked serrano pepper (dried) – crushed
  • 1 fresh birds eye chili, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 7 dates, pitted and chopped (could substitute 2 tbsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground (make sure you only use the outer shell of the peppercorn because the black “seed” is very gritty)
  • 1/3 cup of water mixed with 1 tbsp of corn starch

Stir Fry

  • 2 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 package of smoked tofu, cubed (1 cm)
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • a handful of whole peanuts
  • oil



  1. In a saucepan, brown the garlic, ginger, serrano pepper, and birds eye chili.
  2. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, water, hoisin sauce, and dates. Stir well.
  3. After simmering for 5 minutes, stir in the Sichuan pepper.
  4. Add the water-cornstarch mixture, and stir well until the sauce thickens.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Blend smoothly.

Stir Fry

  1. Dry roast the whole peanuts in a wok or skillet. When they get toasty, set them aside to cool. Once cool, crush or chop them.
  2. Add some oil to the skillet, and fry the tofu.
  3. Once the tofu is quite golden, add the cauliflower and cook until they brown evenly.
  4. Coat in the sauce, and toss with the scallions and peanuts.