Posts tagged with beans

Sometimes a delicious meal comes flying out of nowhere and totally wakes up your senses. This happened to me about a year ago when I was stuck at a local food court for lunch during a ‘real job’ training course. This food court (Scotia Square, for you Haligonians), has a massive range of eats; a mix of ma and pa stalls and big-box crap. I stay away from fast food for the most part…if I’m getting a burger somewhere you better believe that I’m hitting up local ivy-league burger joint, Ace Burger Co or another small biz that does it right.

On this fateful day at the food court I decided to roll the dice and hit up Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine. I love, love, love Lebanese food, and Ray’s had a seriously awesome spread going. What to get? Assorted plate? Absolutely. Aside from the usual suspects of tabbouleh  stuffed grape leaves, and a big ol’ dollop of beautifully creamy hummus, I went for a bit of mujadara – brown rice and lentils with caramelized onions. Sounded substantial and healthy; honestly, I was just expecting it to be a filler that would pack enough fibre and protein to fuel me through a painful afternoon in the classroom. I was SO wrong. That mujadara stole the show, and my hungry little heart.

Spiced perfectly with cinnamon and cumin, and just the right amount of olive oil, maybe even the slightest hint of garlic, holy mother it was crazy good. I was gobsmacked. Bless you little dish of food court happiness. So here I am a year later finally hell-bent on recreating this dish. In true-to-me fashion, I found a recipe online, buggered around with it based on what I had in my cupboard, and am feeling pretty pumped about how close this is to what I remember inhaling that day.

My guy and I had it for supper after only about 35 minutes of prep/cooking time, two hearty suppers with two lunches for tomorrow. *Note, due to the grains absorbing some more liquid overnight in the fridge, it may be smart to add a bit of broth/water if reheating the next day, just to keep it moist!

The bulgur and lentils in this dish are a mega one-two punch of nutrition. I topped mine with a generous blob of greek yogurt while Andrew went for the poached egg approach. We were both very, very happy campers.

Lentils, Bulgur and Caramelized Onions


  • 1 cup dried lentils (or about 3 cups cooked)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 1 cup dried bulgur, or rice, or quinoa
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Lemon juice, greek yogurt, pine nuts, for topping (optional)

Cook the lentils in a medium sized pot with enough cold water to cover them by about an inch. Bring them to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While lentils are cooking, grab a large skillet, preferably one with high sides. Heat the oil in this pan over medium-high heat. Allow the oil to warm for a minute, then add cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns and cook, stirring once in a while until the cumin seeds darken a touch, about 1 minute.

Add the onions, sprinkle with a dash of salt and cook until they turn dark caramel brown, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. They will get crispy and nice and brown. Gorgeous!

Once onions are caramelized, sprinkle in the ground cumin, cayenne and cinnamon; saute about 1 minute.

Now add the dry bulgur (or rice, quinoa, etc) and cook until some grains start to brown. Add the cooked lentils, 3 cups of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low so that the pan is at a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed and your grains are cooked through, this took about 20 minutes for me.

Once everything is all softened, turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow everything to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes.

Before serving, taste for seasoning, and if need be, add a little more salt, pepper, cinnamon, whatever suits your taste! Serve with toasted pine nuts and/or greek yogurt if using, and a little squeeze of lemon juice.

So, now that I’ve regained my composure, and am no longer in a blinding rage due to the original post for this recipe evaporating into cyberspace…let’s talk soup.

Soup and I have been on rocky ground as of late. I used to whip fantastic-tasting soups out of nowhere. In retrospect, I certainly took those strokes of culinary luck for granted, until I produced 3 batches of duds.  My ego was beaten down and not until now have I been ready to open my heart up to another bowl of warm, wintery lunchtime love.

Soups are hugely convenient for me, as I work close enough to my house to walk home for lunch. I can just pull a serving out of the fridge and heat it up in no time flat, that gives me ample time to watch The View….err….I mean, plan my afternoon’s work at the office. Riiiiiiiigghht.

Since my confidence in winging soup recipes out of nowhere was at an all-time low, I decided to consult my new favourite cookbook for guidance. It’s one that I compiled as a fundraiser for the Banook Canoe Club, where I’m a member and fundraising chair. If I do say so myself, it’s awesome. So many people from the community pitched in; it has an awesome selection of recipes, with over 200 in total.

From the ‘Soups and Sides’ section, one in particular caught my eye. It was a submission from my friend/owner of Core Essentials Fitness Studio, Laurissa Manning. She and I spend a good portion of her classes chatting (in between gasps and grunted profanities) about restaurants, recipes, and products that we love or would like to try. She’s super knowledgable about nutrition and fitness; her contributions to the book are clean, and easy to make. Just the kind of recipe I needed to restore my faith in the power of a good soup.

The ingredients are pretty simple, but one in particular, the garam marsala spice, really sets this ahead of the pack. I’ve never used garam marsala before, so I picked some up a the Bulk Barn (many grocers likely carry it too, if not in the spice aisle check ethnic/indian section). It’s a warm spice, with a hint of cinnamon and cumin, and would do wonders for a curry or even sprinkled atop roasted sweet potatoes. It’s gonna get a lot of love in my kitchen!

The raita is optional, but adds a nice little contrast in flavours. Raita is similar to tzatziki, and is made simply of a yogurt base with diced cucumber and spices. I used mint and cumin. Not sure how authentic that is but it was friggin tasty. The cool, fresh flavour balanced nicely with the mellow earthiness of the soup.

Nutritionally, this soup is the bomb. Lentils are a great source of belly filling fibre and protein, and iron, which ladies, we can always use more of. Butternut squash has got loads of Vitamin A and C, as well as a nice little dose of fibre too. With only a tbsp of (healthy!) coconut oil, this soup has a negligible fat per serving and if made with low-sodium broth, will put store-bought soup brands to shame.  Spend a little time making it this weekend and you’ll be SOUPER happy you did!

Whomp whomp!

Indian Spiced Lentil Soup

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (olive or other vegetable oil will do)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garam marsala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional, omit for a mild soup)
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup dried lentils (or about 3 cups canned)

Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic, onions, and spices. Heat until onions are soft and fragrant. Add broth, lentils, and squash. Bring the soup to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 35-45 minutes, or until squash and lentils are soft. Once everything’s cooked through, remove from heat and let it cool a bit before pureeing, in batches, in a blender or food processor. I think it could be great without blending too, I’d love to hear some feedback if anyone tries it chunky!


  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, preferably whole-fat.
  • 1/2 cup english cucumber
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh mint or 1 tbsp dried

Add ingredents to a small bowl and mix with a spoon. Serve as a dollop on top of hot soup. Also is a great dip for pitas or naan bread!

Nutrition Facts
Calories  254
Calories from Fat  37
% Daily Value*
Total Fat  4.1g   6%
Saturated Fat  0.7g   4%
Cholesterol  0mg   0%
Sodium  140mg   6%
Total Carbohydrates  42.0g   14%
Dietary Fiber  14.9g   60%
Sugars  5.2g
Protein  14.5g
Vitamin A 298% Vitamin C 55%
Calcium 10% Iron 24%


I spent last Tuesday evening cozied up at Two If By Sea cafe in Dartmouth, just after it had turned off its fancy-schmancy coffee machines and welcomed some local foodie guests in for a Feisty Chef cooking class.

The Feisty Chef, aka Renée Lavallée, is a local chef, blogger, mom, and self-proclaimed cheese-junkie who hosts cooking series for home chef-wannabes of all experience levels. I was stoked to hear that she was planning a class focusing on meat-free meals as part of a January cleanse that she, and many others (based on the class’ fantastic attendance) are doing to get the holiday gunk out.

The food and company was great – Renée whipped up some awesome eats, including a soba noodle and veg dish with a decadent peanut sauce, a lovely lentil soup, and a crazy delicious warm salad using pretty humble ingredients (potato and cauliflower!) dressed with a tahini sauce — it was anything but traditional. All three dishes were awesome! And got me to thinking…

My last few batches of soup have been good; none of them I’ve been crazy enough about to post though. I always puree my soups, thinking that I like them better that way. But I was definitely inspired by Renée’s lentil sweet potato soup to mix things up a bit,  and get my chunky soup on.

I came across this recipe on Naturally Ella, and knew it was exactly what I was looking for. I tinkered around with it a bit, and the resulting dish was awesome! If you’re someone who hasn’t delved into using quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) yet, what are you waiting for? Thankfully, it’s slowly starting to lose its reputation as a trendy/novelty/hippie food, and is a staple on my grocery list. It’s majorly good for you, and is just as easy (if not more so) to whip up as rice on the stove.

The true testament to this dish’s mega-tastiness –> carnivorous BF loved it and went back for seconds. No ‘his’ and ‘hers’ meals from now on when this is on the menu!

Sweet Potato Chickpea Stew with Quinoa

4 Servings

Adapted from: Naturally Ella

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 29 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup milk* (I used unsweetened almond)
  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • Salt, to taste
*Use 1 cup of broth if you don’t have milk or would prefer a non-creamy stew.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan on the stove. Add quinoa, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender and fluffy. Set aside.

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium. Add in onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Stir in the garlic and spices, cooking for another minute or two. Next, stir in the sweet potatoes, tomatoes, vegetable broth, milk (if using) and chickpeas. If you are using canned, be sure to drain and rinse the beans. Let stew cook down for 20 minutes.

Finally, roughly chop spinach and stir into the stew. Continue to cook until spinach has slightly wilted, about another 1-2 minutes.

Serve in bowls with stew over the quinoa. Keep any extra sealed up in the fridge. Great leftovers!

Burrito Leftovers - Next day pita pockets! So. Good.

I have a fantastic group of friends. A night spent laughing around the dinner table with them rivals any ab-killing exercise I’ve ever experienced – you donkeys know who you are!

Last night I had the pleasure of hosting a little dinner fiesta with some of my buds; I am slowly getting brave enough to cook for larger groups of people. After years of cooking for one, and now two (although my boyfriend eats 3 normal-people-servings of most suppers), I have become accustomed to sizing thing up based on just the two of us. 4 serving dinners usually get the job done.

For me, cooking for a crowd comes with a few challenges. I have learned to pay extra attention to the timing of the meal’s separate dishes - nothing worse than having soggy roasted spuds while you’re waiting for the entree to finish baking, or having cold eggs to side that big stack of brunch pancakes. Planning  is  important!

The other thing that I’ve flubbed in cooking for a crew is the intensity of spices. Ask my boyfriend about the first time I made a meal for him and his friends! Major, painful, sweet-merciful-jesus pad thai failure.                                            

Lesson Learned #1 – Take chili pepper flakes very seriously. They don’t mess around.

Lesson Learned #2 – Taste test as you go, and add any additional spices to your recipe gradually! Slow and steady wins this race. Your colon will thank you.

So, back to last night’s fiesta. I’m eating vegan this month, so I decided it’d be fun to find an awesome vegan dinner recipe and really showcase how tasty eating animal-free can be. With 4 boys around the table, I thought I might have my work cut out for me.

I found this recipe while perusing Angela’s vegan genius on Oh She Glows. Burritos are economical, fun, and easy to whip up. And who doesn’t love a ‘build your own’ style dinner? Takes me back to my childhood days of english muffin pizzas – my signature ‘pie’ was hotdogs and cheese slices. Classy!

For this occasion, I doubled Angela’s recipe and served the burritos up with an array of toppings – salsa, shredded cheese, guacamole, sour cream, and cilantro. And they were a hit! There was lots to go around, and even some leftovers. I stuffed a pita pocket with them the next day for lunch and the filling was still amazing; so deadly good, I have been eating it out of the bowl in the fridge, cold. Don’t judge me!

Above and beyond all things, these burritos are a mega nutritious. Butternut squash are vitamin A and B complex jackpots, plus you get a serious fibre and protein load from the black beans and bulgur. These stick to your ribs, big time!

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Burritos

Yield – 4 burritos

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed, & roasted (takes time, so be mindful of this step)
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat (or brown rice, quinoa, millet, whatever you have!)
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • One 15-oz can black beans (about 1.5-2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (optional)
  • 4 tortilla wraps (large or x-large)
  • Toppings of choice: (avocado, salsa, vegan sour cream, spinach/lettuce, cilantro, etc)


Preheat oven to 425F and line a large glass dish with tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil on squash and give a shake of salt and pepper. Coat with hands. Roast chopped butternut squash for 45 mins. or until tender.

Cook your grain according to its directions

In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add oil, onion, and minced garlic. Sautee for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add in salt and seasonings and stir well.

Add chopped red pepper, black beans, and cooked rice and sauté for another 10 mins. on low.

When butternut squash is tender remove from oven and cool slightly. Add 1.5 cups of the cooked butternut squash to the skillet and stir well. You can mash the squash with a fork if some pieces are too large. Add cheese (optional) and heat another couple minutes.

Add bean filling to tortilla along with desired toppings. Wrap and serve. Leftover filling can be reheated the next day for lunch in a wrap, pita, or as a salad topper!