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Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

September is here – one of my favourite times of the year in the produce section! You get the best of both worlds: the peak of summer produce like tomatoes and peppers, but also new Ontario apples and squash hinting at the beginning of fall.

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup infused with fresh rosemary. A delicious vegetarian soup!

As excited as I am to start making apple crisp and roasted butternut squash, I always want to make sure I fully enjoy the last of summer’s produce first. Caprese salads, buttered corn on the cob, juicy peaches eaten over the kitchen sink, and this roasted red pepper and tomato soup. This soup is one I’ve been making every September for the past few years as a sort of last hurrah to summer. Served with a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s the perfect dinner for those chilly late summer evenings!

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup infused with fresh rosemary. A delicious vegetarian soup!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 red peppers, halved and deseeded
  • 2 lbs tomatoes, halved and stem removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, skins left on
  • 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, no salt added
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • ¼ tsp salt, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup 18% cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the red pepper, tomato, onion, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Once cool enough to touch, slip off the skins of the tomatoes, red pepper, and garlic. Add to a large, high speed blender along with the onion and broth. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour soup into a medium to large pot and add the rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 5 minutes to let the flavour of the rosemary infuse into the soup.
  5. Season with salt before dividing into bowls. Stir a tablespoon of cream into each bowl if desired.

 

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Garlicky Kale Salad with Parmesan

One thing I love about my job as a dietitian in a grocery store setting is how I get to help people discover that vegetables can taste good. And not just good, but actually craveable.

Kale salad with parmesan, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and a garlicky lemon dressing. Kale never tasted so good!

My coworker from out East shared a great analogy with me that I use all the time now. She says “We don’t cook chicken by boiling the heck out of it and expect it to taste good, so why do so many of us give up on vegetables when they don’t taste good cooked this way?”

It’s so true!!!

Luckily my parents did a pretty good job of making vegetables taste good when I was a kid. Broccoli with cheese sauce, green beans with toasted almonds and brown butter, and Provencal tomatoes with herb butter breadcrumbs are just a few of the amazing vegetable dishes I grew up with and that I now make myself.

But I don’t always have time to whip up fancy vegetable dishes for weeknight dinners, so to add flavour in a pinch I rely on three ingredients: garlic plus salt plus fat.

Those three ingredients come to play in this kale salad to help tone down its bitterness and turn it into a delicious salad. To kick it up a notch I also throw in Parmesan cheese, toasted almonds (pine nuts are also good!), and dried cranberries for some sweetness. Vegetables never tasted so good!

Kale salad with parmesan, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and a garlicky lemon dressing. Kale never tasted so good!

Garlicky Kale Salad with Parmesan
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Kale salad with parmesan, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and a garlicky lemon dressing.
Author:
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of kale (~10-12 cups)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Heaping ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup sliced toasted almonds
  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries
Instructions
  1. Chop, wash, and dry your kale.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the dressing and kale. Use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale for 3-4 minutes until the leaves start to darken and wilt.
  4. Sprinkle on the salt and toss to mix. Taste and adjust flavours as needed.
  5. Add the Parmesan, toasted almonds, and dried cranberries and toss to mix again.

Kale salad with parmesan, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, and a garlicky lemon dressing. Kale never tasted so good!

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Pesto Naan Pizza with Bacon and Feta

Pesto naan pizza topped with a delicious combination of bacon, feta cheese, and caramelized onions. Good for an easy meal or a party appetizer!

Pesto naan pizza topped with a delicious combination of bacon, feta cheese, and caramelized onions. Good for an easy meal or a party appetizer!

Cheater pizzas and I go way back.

When I was a kid I went to summer camp up north every year. One of the highlights for me was always the week long canoe trips on remote lakes. They were hard work with 8 hour days of paddling and sometimes 4 km long portages! But gathering around the fire for dinner after a long day was one of the best feelings! Pita pizzas were a staple meal on these trips because of their simplicity. Still to this day, the combination of pita with pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni is a comfort food for me.

Even though these days I tend to make real pizza with homemade dough, sometimes I still crave the simplicity of a cheater pizza. Okay, that’s just my way of saying “sometimes I’m too lazy to make dough.” This pesto naan pizza is inspired by a pizza that I had a few years ago at a restaurant in Hamilton. Theirs used a more unique homemade pesto with mint and lemon in it. But given that cheater pizzas are a lazy meal, I decided to just go with a bottled pesto. Feel free to make this vegetarian by leaving off the bacon – it’s still just as good!

Pesto naan pizza topped with a delicious combination of bacon, feta cheese, and caramelized onions. Good for an easy meal or a party appetizer!

Pesto Naan Pizza with Bacon and Feta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Pesto naan pizza topped with a delicious combination of bacon, feta cheese, and caramelized onions. Good for an easy meal or a party appetizer!
Author:
Yield: 2 naan pizzas
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced thinly (makes leftovers)
  • 4 slices bacon
  • ⅓ cup pesto
  • 2 pieces whole wheat naan
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat up the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the thinly sliced onion. Saute for about 3-4 minutes, then turn down the heat down to low and cook for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside. *Note: this makes leftover caramelized onions.
  2. Lay out the bacon in a cold skillet and place over medium heat. Cook until starting to get crispy on the underside, then flip over and cook until the other side starts to get crispy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  4. Spread the pesto on each piece of naan and top with the bacon, caramelized onions, feta cheese, and mozzarella. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until cheese has melted. To brown the mozzarella, broil it at the end, keeping a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn.

Your turn: What’s your favourite pita or naan pizza toppings?

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