Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

Quinoa, Chickpea and Pesto

Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pesto

I’ve been feeling a little rushed lately; at work and at home… even my thoughts seem hurried and moments feel hastened.

I’ve never been a fan of this culture of busyness, what a truly bizarre way to live – It’s like everything I do is just so I can get to the next important thing,

I promised myself I’d have a real summer this year, so I’ve made a summer bucket list of sorts, of all the idyllic ways I want to spend this summer.

It’s not a crazy list, just a few perfectly ordinary things… like long hazy sundrenched days on the beach, impromptu picnics with old friends, lazy al fresco dining, endless road trips, and cozy evenings by a secluded lake alternating between naps and reading trashy novels.

Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pesto

With that in mind, I’m trying to step back from this constant itch to be dynamite and surge through everything.

I’m taking the slower approach and living more in the moment; the other day it occurred to me that we were already in the throes of summer and I hadn’t tackled my list yet.

So while I go off taking a shot at a memorable and slow summer, I’ll leave you with this ridiculously easy quinoa and chickpea tossed in pesto. It’s more of a concoction than a recipe, an addition to your ways-to-eat-pesto dish repertoire, especially if you’re as obsessed with making pesto as I am.

Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pesto
Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pesto Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pesto

This meal requires turning on the stove, which I guess isn’t a very summery activity when temperatures are high, but it’s quick, can be made ahead of time and ideal for dinner on the beach or enjoyed al fresco on your patio or balcony with a glass of rosé.

I always almost have a jar of pesto in the fridge; you’ll remember this marcona almond and mint pesto from a few posts ago.
It’s delicious with quinoa; I sauté onions and sundried tomato in olive oil, throw in some cooked chickpea, a generous heaping of pesto, and add cooked quinoa – and that’s it, a nice change from the traditional pasta.

I can’t wait to share my wonderful summer escapades, hope you’re having a wonderful summer too; even if it’s not summer where you are – savour the moment!

Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pesto
Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pesto


Quinoa, Chickpeas and Pesto

Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad

Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad

We spent last weekend getting our little balcony summer ready.We’ve had many wonderfully long sun-filled days – the neighbourhood is awakened, with the beaches and parks are bustling with people. It feels decidedly like summer now.

Our local farmers’ market started last weekend; that to me is the sign of summer’s start; the vibrant and cheerful energy of the open market, fresh local produce – colourful and abundant, it all just feels very summer-ry.

Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad
Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad

I snagged the most beautiful bunch of radish not quite sure what to make with them, I brought them home, saw my copy of Jerusalem and I just knew… I went back out and got tomatoes, cilantro and parsley – I was going to make Ottolenghi’s spiced chickpea and fresh vegetable salad again.

This is one of the very first recipes I tried from the Jerusalem cookbook; it seemed so simple and unfussy.
I was pleasantly surprised at how wonderfully the flavours melded.

I love this salad because it’s refreshing and tasty and plays well with the warm aromatic spices in the chickpeas.
I also love how easy it is to put together and the fact that it uses simple and nourishing seasonal produce.

Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad
Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad

Colourful meals eaten on lovely sunny balconies will make for happier people…

I want to stretch out on my little patio with salads like this, enjoy the lovely views and perhaps fall in love with my quirky neighbourhood again

That’s my wish for this summer, and for unending bright days that make everything seem possible.

Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad

Spiced Chickpea and Fresh Vegetable Salad

Plantain and Beans

Plantain and Beans

Plantain and beans; it sounds so exotic now, almost foreign, yet it used to be my favourite food not too long ago.

This beloved Ghanaian food of fried plantains and stewed beans holds a special place in my heart – sold by street vendors and a staple in homes, it’s one of the few meals I actually looked forward to eating when I was a child.

A dish so good it’s named twice – we call it ‘red red’, for the red palm oil and tomatoes that turns the bean stew red, and the golden red hue of the plantains when fried, or in this case, baked.

There are countless similar versions of this plantain and beans cooking in West African kitchens and all over the world.
Over here in our part of the globe, we typically wait for warmer weather when the plantains ripen better and sweeter just like back home.

Plantain and Beans Plantain and Beans
Plantain and Beans

I should mention that this is really my sister’s dish, she diligently chooses the finest looking plantains, let it ripen further and spend days planning this meal – I’m always super nice to her in the days leading up to ‘plantain and beans’

I should also mention that this recipe isn’t wholly plant based; apologies to my vegan buddies – although it can be easily be made vegan by swapping out the anchovies for mustard seeds, cumin and harissa to give the palm oil a flavour boost, and you probably won’t miss the smoked salmon if you omit it.

We’re planning on a solely plant-based version this summer, so stay tuned.

Plantain and Beans
Plantain and Beans Plantain and Beans

Like most Ghanaian dishes, there’s versatility to this plantain and beans, it can be tweaked and adapted to suit countless tastes and preferences.

My aunt S. cooks her beans very soft till they’re almost falling apart, then she sautés onions in palm oil and adds the beans to the oil with a little salt and let it simmer while she fries her plantains – simple, hearty and delicious.

We’ve been frying our plantains in the oven for a few years now, and it works superbly, yielding deliciously sweet plantains to go with the stewed beans.

I love this dish, it’s comforting and tastes like home, a meal for sharing with loved ones.
It’s the type of meal that is so much better with good company and good wine, perhaps an Argentinian Malbec.

Plantain and Beans Plantain and Beans

Plantain and Beans

Plantain and Beans

Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto

Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto

We’ve had a couple of really, really wonderful sun-filled days; I think if I don’t document them somehow, it’ll feel like they never happened when I’m back to trudging through puddles in my rain boots a week from now.

I’m talking tank-tops and flip-flop weather; it is as if we skipped spring and headed straight for summer. I even stopped taking my Vitamin D pills for fear I’d overdose.

Unfortunately, my week was inundated with mostly ‘stuff’ that didn’t include spending my free time outdoors – from the mounting pile of laundry to filing tax adjustments with the CRA and a million other tedious little tasks in between.

Thankfully I had pesto so dinners weren’t too much of a chore; I love pesto for this, I can quickly toss a spoonful with pasta, potatoes, couscous, quinoa… whatever, and hey presto, dinner is ready!

Whenever I’m making pesto, I make sure to double the recipe and freeze some for later, and boy, does it ever come in handy.

Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto

It took me a while to come around to making this marcona almond and mint pesto; I’ve become quite enamoured with these almonds in recent years, I went from not knowing they existed to wanting to put them in everything.

I get like that with certain foods sometimes, I discovered green raisins at the nut store last week and I’m having a moment with it also, I want to make soda bread with them badly.

I already love almonds in pesto, they impart a nutty savoury taste and make the sauce really shine.

Marcona almonds are a special kind of almonds, delicate and sweeter, they have a more buttery flavour than regular almonds. It’s my favourite nut to snack on at the moment.

Mint and marcona almonds make a wonderful pairing in this pesto, the buttery sweet flavours of the almonds compliments the mint’s refreshing and bright essences, and a nice fruity extra-virgin olive oil rounds out the pesto beautifully.

Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto
Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto

Marcona Almond and Mint Pesto

Spiced Quinoa and Lentils

Spiced Quinoa and Lentils

I’ve been neglecting this space lately, not giving it the attention it so deserves. The funny thing is, I’ve been cooking and rediscovering food and photography with renewed fervency, I just can’t seem to translate the passion on to this spot.

I have so many stories and discoveries to share – it’s a little overwhelming and I probably need to figure out how to take it one step at a time, just like the way I’ve learned with cooking… one ingredient at a time

Spiced Quinoa and Lentils Spiced Quinoa and Lentils

I put off finishing this post and spent the last few days in New York – eating and exploring, it’s a city that never fails to thrill, and I always come back inspired and rejuvenated, albeit with deep longing to remain there.

Then I got home and returned to this meal, this old thing that I’ve made about million times, and suddenly it looks fresher, like I could make it a million more times and it’ll be different each time.

I’ve been exploring spices lately; in this spiced quinoa and lentils, I tried pungent mustard seeds and warming cumin and coriander seeds with lots of red onions and finished it off with cooling mint.

Spiced Quinoa and Lentils Spiced Quinoa and Lentils

I make this quinoa and lentil combination quite often, variations of it, usually when I don’t have time for a proper meal, it’s an easy, one-pot dish, nutritionally dense and filling, I love the earthy and nutty flavours and quinoa is such a great substitute for rice.

It’s a protein, fiber and whole grain powerhouse and it’s comforting.

The mustard, coriander and cumin seeds are at their best here; they enrich the warm savoury flavours of the lentils and quinoa, and something magical happens when you combine lentils and onions in olive oil – it’s beyond delicious

This is an easy favourite, very satisfying with plenty of leftovers to come home to.

Spiced Quinoa and Lentils
Spiced Quinoa and Lentils

Spiced Quinoa and Lentils


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