vegetarian bolognese

once upon a time, i used to make bolognese with chicken livers. i also experimented with pork, veal, and even lamb. they were all delicious, but these days, i make it completely without meat. and you know what? i don’t miss it, and neither will you.

many italian recipes like bolognese include 2 or 3 kinds of meat, and the differences between them add a depth of flavour and richness that i thought would be difficult to achieve if i left out the meat. i’m happy to say i was very wrong, and this recipe, perfected over time has become one of my fail-proof stand-bys.

this recipe takes some time, so i’ve made the recipe large so you can freeze half.

vegetarian bolognese

2 cans san marzano tomatoes, crushed (i use my hands)
2 cups red wine
2 cups half and half
2 onions, minced*
4 ribs celery, minced*
4 carrots, minced*
8 cloves garlic, minced*
½ cup olive oil
1 package vegetarian ground round (i use Yves)
2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. thyme leaves
4 bay leaves
1 tsp crushed dried chilis
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

*i use a food processor to mince everything nice and fine

in a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring very often, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables start to get slightly caramelized. add the veggie ground round, breaking it up and mixing well with the vegetables. add the wine. raise heat to high. bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated. add the cream and cook until almost evaporated. add the tomatoes, basil, thyme, bay leaves, and chilis. season with salt and pepper. reduce heat to a low simmer and cook stirring often, for 30 minutes, or until thickened.

serve with really good spaghetti or a thick, tubular pasta like rigatoni rigate and shaved parmesan or pecorino romano cheese.

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torta di risotto bambini

torta di risotto bambini

for years i have been moulding risotto into various shapes, and serving slices of the resulting torta on buffets and summer party tables. i love to eat and serve risotto, and this allows us to enjoy it in a completely different, make-ahead kind of way.

these little rice babies are so adorable and perfect for a dinner party and especially for your vegetarian guests. if you know you’re having vegetarians over for dinner, make risotto a few nights before and do up some individuals. you can reheat them in just 20 minutes and serve a special dinner without any fuss.

feel free to experiment with vegetables too. rounds of roasted yellow and green courgettes or a fat slab of grilled eggplant would be divine in the bottom of the mould. and your risotto can change with the seasons as well.

torta di risotto bambini

torta di risotto bambini

1 pint little tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup white wine
6 cups water or vegetable stock
salt and pepper
2 cups grated parmegiano reggiano
aged balsamic vinegar
white truffle oil

preheat oven to 450f. toss the little tomatoes with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast on a parchment lined tray for 15-20 minutes, or until starting to colour and shrivel. set aside.

heat the water or stock to simmering. in a large pan, heat the 1/2 cup olive oil with half of the butter over medium heat. add the onion and garlic and cook stirring for 4 minutes. increase heat to high and add the mushrooms and some salt and pepper, stirring and cooking until mushrooms have released their water and have begun to colour, about 6 minutes. add the rice and stir to coat with the oil and butter. after drinking half the wine, re-measure, and pour it in the pan (you know you do this!) bring to a boil and stir until the liquid is almost gone. start adding hot water or stock to the pan, a couple of ladle-fuls at a time, stirring and cooking in typical risotto-making fashion. i taste throughout the process and stop adding water when the ice has some bite, and the rice is still rather soupy. it will thicken and cook further as it stands. add the cheese and remaining 2 tbsp. of butter. add a few drizzles of balsamic and some truffle oil. stir a few more times and then allow it to cool until the risotto has become less saucy and firmer. taste again and season as needed adding salt, pepper, or more truffle oil or balsamic or cheese.

line 6-8 single-serve vessels with plastic wrap and leave an overhang. i use ramekins, or stoneware timbale molds, or indian dahl bowls, whatever i have on hand. arrange the little tomatoes in the bottom, then spoon over the rice, right to the top. fold over the plastic, then chill until firm. overnight is best.

when ready to serve, preheat oven to 400f and line a baking pan with parchment. turn out the tortas and remove the plastic wrap. bake for 20 minutes, or until the little bambinis are hot and the bottom are sizzling and turning golden brown. serve hot with a nice salad, or some tomato sauce on the side.

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rainbow ratatouille

this pretty version of ratatouille is called confit byaldi, made famous by that chef of beautiful masterpieces, thomas keller. here, my version, maybe a bit less impressive but still quite edible! thinly sliced vegetables are layered in a spiral pattern over super-easy oven-roasted tomato sauce, and slowly baked. i finished mine with chopped garlic and fresh thyme, both sprinkled on top before baking.

the result is meltingly delicious, and despite it’s complicated appearance, the only skill needed is to slice the vegetables thinly. i bought my plastic mandoline for $29.99 at my local asian grocery 8 years ago. It’s still razor sharp. you can also use a sharp knife or the slicing attachment on your food processor.

i made this up in a large, straight-sided stainless steel pan. this way, i could bake it up, then put it over a flame to reduce the juices, which I found a little too thin for my liking at the end. i finished it with a little vinaigrette made with some of the sauce mixed with olive oil and vinegar, which added a nice acidic hit.

ratatouille is essentially a peasant dish, so don’t be too finicky about the presentation (unless you want to be). i would also think it would be delicious to finish the plate with a bit of gremolata or a drizzle of pistou sauce.  Next time.
we ate this up with some sage/garlic buttered baguette, loaded with some good mozzarella and broiled until crispy, and ate it on a cloudy sunday. and despite the fact it wasn’t baked in a lovely aga, it was pretty perfect!

rainbow ratatouille

rainbow ratatouille

1 recipe oven roasted tomato sauce
1 large green zucchini
1 large yellow summer squash
1 large eggplant
3 tomatoes (i used a mixture of green, orange, and red from the garden)
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

make up the sauce, or pull a jar you’ve already made. heat oven to 450f. using a mandoline, thinly slice the zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and use a sharp knife to thinly slice the tomatoes. spoon sauce into a large, straight sided stovetop and oven-safe pan, and arrange the vegetables in concentric circles, making sure they are tightly fitted, and standing up straight, leaving only about 1/8 inch of each slice exposed. sprinkle chopped garlic and thyme over the vegetables, and drizzle with the 2 tbsp. of olive oil. bake for 20 minutes. reduce oven to 350F, and cover pan. bake 1 hour longer, or until vegetables are tender. uncover and bake for 30 minutes more.transfer pan to stovetop and bring to a boil. reduce liquid until it nicely coats the back of a spoon. remove 2 tbsp of the sauce from the ratatouille and place in a small bowl. whisk in oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. to serve, remove nice stacks of the vegetables and arrange in a pasta bowl. drizzle vinaigrette around plate.

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orzo verde

orzo verde

when the beginnings of spring tease at your psyche, there’s an instinctive longing to forego the heavy, stew-y dishes of winter and make something light and fresh and green. orzo verde is teeny, elongated egg-shaped pasta (israeli couscous is also an option) toasted until golden then all tossed up with lovely green things, olive oil, and lemon. perfect on it’s own, or maybe you’re feeling adventuresome and have ventured out to the barbecue grill. in that case, it makes a lovely side dish for something grilled. i like to make tofu skewers on the grill, or serve this with a nice vegetarian burger.

orzo verde

orzo verde

2 cups orzo pasta
3 tbsp. olive oil, plus a little extra for drizzling
1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth or stock
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
juice and zest of 2 lemons
4 cups arugula packed arugula leaves, finely chopped (you’ll end up with about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups packed baby spinach, finely chopped (you’ll end up with about 3/4 cup)
2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
2 tbsp. capers, coarsely chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

in a large frying pan with a lid, heat the 3 tbsp. olive oil over high heat. add the orzo and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the grains are a light golden brown and some are turning a deeper golden, about 4 minutes. add the onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. pour in the stock, and add the salt, pepper, and lemon zest and juice. bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cover. cook for 15 minutes, stirring very frequently (orzo is sticky stuff) until orzo are nearly tender and the liquid has been nearly absorbed. stir in arugula, spinach, peas, and capers. if mixture seems too thick, add a 1/4 more water to loosen it up. stir over low heat for 2 minutes, or until peas are hot. stir in 3/4 of the feta. serve hot, and top with a light drizzle of olive oil, the remaining feta, pine nuts, and parsley.

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giant lima beans with crispy crumbs

giant lima bean ragout

gigantes, or giant lima beans, are very different beans from their little green cousins. i actually love all lima beans, but if you are one of those who declares they hate limas, may i gently suggest you give these a try? gigantes are fat and meaty, with an almost creamy texture and pair up with a flavourful sauce like nobody’s business. cooked up in this zingy ragout, they turn rich and satisfying.

this is a fast and delicious vegan meal which is on heavy rotation around here, a) because it’s really good and b) it only takes 30 minutes to make. it starts with humble ingredients (corn and beans) which are elevated by a few sophisticated ingredient additions. fennel seeds add a lovely licorice note to the saucy tomato broth, and the simple breadcrumb topping gets extra flavour and crunch from using panko crumbs and a few toasted pine nuts. i’ve thrown in some moroccan olives at the end for a smoky, salty kick. the ragout gets even better after a day or so and makes a great next-day lunch. we love it paired with some simple crusty bread and a side of wilted rapini or a kale salad.

giant lima bean ragout

giant lima ragout with crispy pine nut crumbs

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 19-oz cans giant lima beans, undrained
or
4 cups cooked dried limas +1 1/2 cups reserved cooking liquid
3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. whole fennel seed
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch red chili flakes
1 cup passata (tomato puree)
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup moroccan oil-cured olives, pitted and roughly chopped

crumbs:
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. pine nuts, roughly chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup panko crumbs
1/4 tsp. salt
grated zest of 1 lemon

in a large pan, heat the 1/4 cup olive oil to medium. add the onion and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring here and there, until softened and fragrant. increase heat to high. add lima beans and reserved liquid, corn, basil, marjoram, fennel seed, pepper, chili flakes, passata, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a healthy simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until sauce is just thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. taste and add salt if needed, which you may not if you used canned beans. stir in olives.

meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat the 4 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. add the pine nuts and green onion, then the panko and the salt. reduce heat to medium, and toss the mixture until the crumbs are light golden brown. remove from heat, dump into a small heat-proof bowl, and stir in the lemon zest.

serve ragout in a shallow bowl, and top with a generous sprinkling of the crispy crumbs.

serves 4-6

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tofu with spicy salt

tofu with spicy salt

i remember first time i ate tofu with spicy salt, in a little dumpling house close to my old office in toronto, maybe 4 years ago. the dish was so simple, just cubes of tofu dusted in some crazy spice blend, deep fried, then cooked again with peppers and onions. the very nice people who ran the restaurant always threw a little container of dark soy and vinegar blend, and some chili paste in my take out bag and i’d douse the whole lot with it before consuming like a madwoman. the slick of oil at the bottom of the styrofoam take-away box this was a good indication i should not be eating this once a week, but heavens to betsy, it was a thing of deliciousness!

on the days i decided to pop in for some, i thought about it all day. seriously, i could barely work. my meat-eating friends could not imagine how something made of soybean curd could have me in such a tizzy, until they tried it. right? that look on their face said it all. vindication! they are all vegetarians now! (no they’re not.)

when i moved jobs, i left the dumpling house behind. but like poe’s beating telltale heart, it haunted me regularly. i knew if i didn’t have some, and soon, i was going to snap like a desiccated twig.

i also knew if i managed to nail this recipe, i would want to eat it all the time, so it needed to be healthier. not even i will sacrifice my favourite jeans for a bowl of tofu.

so here we are, and this version is lightly pan-fried vs. deep-fried. the bonus? it cooks up in like, 15 minutes, and makes a great lunch, or pair with brown rice and a big bowl of stir-fried vegetables and cashews for a larger meal.

for the spice factor, i’ve used shichimi, which you can buy at most asian stores. you can also check back here on sunday for a feature on spice blends and how to make your own shichimi.

tofu with spicy salt

tofu with spicy salt

1 250g brick of firm tofu
1 egg white muddled with 1 tbsp water
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp shichimi
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
1 tsp. white sesame seeds
2 tbsp peanut or canola oil
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp tamari
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sambal oelek or other chili paste

slice the brick of tofu in half horizontally. place the cut sides down on a double thickness of paper towel and allow to drain for 10 minutes. cut each half into 1″ cubes. in a small bowl, stir together the tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sambal oelek. set aside.

in a lidded container or a plastic bag, mix up the cornstarch, shichimi, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. in a medium bowl toss the tofu cubes with the egg white mixture, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the cornstarch mixture. shake to coat. in a large-ish ceramic non-stick pan, heat the 2 tbsp. oil until almost smoking. shake the excess cornstarch from the tofu and add to the pan. shake and stir the pan to lightly brown the tofu cubes on all sides, about 5 minutes. add the peppers and onions, reduce heat to medium, and cook until the onions are wilted and the pepper is slightly softened but still a bit crisp, about 4 minutes. add the tamari mixture, and give the pan a few shakes to coat the tofu. serve immediately.

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sunflower life bowl

sunflower life bowl

“sunflower life bowl” is hands down the most hippie name i’ve ever given to a recipe. it fits though, because when i haven’t been eating as well as i should, i make this. when i’m chowing down on all those good late-winter veggies, greens and living sunflower sprouts it feels like i’m giving a gift to every cell in my body. it just feels good to eat this. i buy the living sunflower sprouts at my local natural food store. they are only a few dollars and i keep them on the kitchen windowsill. bonus: with regular watering, they keep producing. pea shoots too, will go on forever.

this is less of a recipe and more a combining of ingredients. the recipes are the really the preparing of the individual components, so make any or all of them that you like. it can be made with any vegetables that are fresh and seasonal or that you just feel like eating, but i have to say this combo is really nice together

i try to keep containers in my fridge of cooked grains, roasted root vegetables, greens, some marinating tofu or tempeh and a few dressings so i can throw together a veggie grain bowl like this for dinner or an easy lunch. beets can be cooked anytime, peeled, and then kept in the fridge for whenever you want them.

i’ve used tempeh here, but if you’re a meat-eater by all means feel free to use any protein you like.

as for the cheese, i chose this lovely mild brebis frais from best baa dairy, but leave it off for a vegan bowl.

namaste.

Sunflower Life Bowl

sunflower life bowl

1 cup farro*
2 cups water
3 small golden beets
2 small red beets
1 small butternut squash
8 oz tempeh or tofu
2 tsp tamari
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. canola oil
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
4 cups mixed greens
2 cups sunflower sprouts
200 g (7oz) soft sheep or goat cheese

dressing

1 small clove garlic, finely minced
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
2 tsp. tamari
2 tsp. rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sriracha or hot sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil

bring the water to a boil. add a pinch of salt, then stir in the farro. bring back up to a boil. cover, remove from hear, and allow to stand for 1 hour, or until farro has absorbed all the water.

preheat oven to 400F. place beets in a glass dish and add 1″ water. cover tightly with foil and cook until tender, about 1 1/2-2 hours, depending on size of beets. cool, then peel and set aside.

peel squash and cut in half lengthwise. scrape out seeds, and cut into 3/4″ thick slices. arrange on a parchment-lined pan. sprinkle with alt and pepper and drizzle with some olive oil. roast for 10 minutes, flip pieces, and roast 10 minutes more. set aside to cool

slice the tempeh or tofu into 1/2″ thick slices. whisk together tamari, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. marinate for 30 minutes or up to overnight. cook in a hot non-stick pan or grill pan for 2 minutes per side, (or use the bbq). Set aside.

heat the 1 tsp. canola oil to high. toss in the chickpeas and cook for 2-3 minutes or until hot and a little brown. remove from heat, add the paprika and nutritional yeast and toss well.

whisk together all dressing ingredients and pour into a glass jar with a lid.

to assemble, divide the greens among 4 bowls, and top with 1/4 of the farro. arrange the beets, squash, tofu, chickpeas, and a spoonful of the cheese on top. drizzle with the dressing, and mound with a handful of the sunflower sprouts.

*farro may also be called spelt grains or emmer. whatever you call it, its a nutty, chewy, tasty little variety of wheat!

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mushroom pie + stilton biscuit crust

mushroom pot pie

pot pie is a pretty humble dish, but one i think most people love. meat pies are ubiquitous, but a good veggie pie is not always easy to find.

the recipe is straightforward, but i did dress it up a little bit. stilton pairs so well with mushrooms, so it gets crumbled up in a biscuit crust, and i added some caramel-y onions, white wine, and fresh thyme to the filling. you can do it up in a large pan, or make up some individual ones for a perfect meal for one.

you may be looking at the picture and thinking, wait, that looks like cheddar cheese in those biscuits! you’re right, and i included that option in the recipe, because the truth is, there are some weird people out there who don’t like blue cheese. probably the same people who don’t like kittens, or happiness. i have nothing against some good old cheddar cheese, and it works equally well.

mushroom pot pie

mushroom pot pie with stilton biscuit crust

3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
3 tbsp. vegetable bouillon powder
4 oz (1 stick) butter
3 onions, halved and sliced
4 carrots, cut into 1/2″ dice
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
4 large stalks celery, cut into 1/2″ dice
4 cups small button mushrooms, cut in half
1 cup flour
1 cup white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup 35% cream
2 cups frozen peas

biscuit crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup crumbled stilton or grated extra-old cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
flour for dusting
egg wash for brushing (1 egg yolk + 2 tbsp milk, cream, or water)

place stock in a small pot and heat to simmering. add the vegetable bouillon and stir to dissolve. keep hot while you prepare the filling.

in a large pot, melt 1/2 the butter over medium high heat. add the onions and cook, stirring, for 7 minutes, or until the edges just start to colour. turn heat to medium-low, and cook onions another 10 minutes, or until they are well-coloured. remove to a bowl and set aside.

increase heat to medium high. add remaining butter and the carrots, potatoes, celery, mushrooms, and thyme sprigs and cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are slightly softened and mushrooms have released most of their liquid. return onions to the pan, along with any juices form the bowl. sprinkle the mixture with the flour and stir briefly. add the wine, and stir to make a thick paste. slowly add the hot stock, stirring well so no lumps form (don’t worry if you get a few small ones). and basil, and season with salt and pepper. reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. remove from heat, fish out the branches from the thyme, and stir in the cream. pour into a 13×9″ baking pan and set aside while you prepare the biscuits.

preheat oven to 375f

in a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut in the butter until the pieces are smallish, the size of baby peas. add the cheese and toss to coat in the flour. make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk all at once. stir a few times just to combine, then scrape dough out onto a floured surface. lightly dust with flour. it will be very sticky. turn and fold the dough 4 or 5 times, then form into a rough square shape. cut into squares, rounds, or whatever shapes you like, and place on top of the mushroom mixture. re-roll any scraps and cut. the biscuits do not have to cover the filling completely but they can. be as creative as you like!

brush the biscuits with egg wash and bake the pie for 35-40 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown and puffed and the filling is bubbly.

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pretty pizza

pretty pizza

i make pizza about every other week using a techinque i’m happy with, dough that behaves itself and a simple sauce that tastes really good. pizza at my place is good fun, with everyone throwing on what they want. it’s delicious, but it ain’t exactly pretty.

i like the idea of a composed pizza. like a composed salad, you can taste each ingredient on its own. usually each piece winds up having 1 or 1 ingredients on it. the next piece is something completely different.

this antipasto pizza is topped with sundried and fresh tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, fresh basil, zucchini sliced on the mandoline, and some marinated mushrooms from a recipe i posted on the blog. cheese goes on the bottom to you can see the patterns and colours of the ingredients.

i didn’t take too much time arranging it all. i’d love to see someone go really nuts with this idea and make the world’s most beautiful pizza. the angelina jolie of pizza. today we’ll go with pretty, and that’ll do just fine.

pretty pizza

pretty pizza

make it pretty and compose your ingredients, or just throw them on there.

the starter for the dough needs to be made the night before, but if you want to be eating pizza in the evening, start in the morning and you’ll be fine.

olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
easy and flavourful pizza sauce (recipe follows)
rustic pizza dough (recipe follows)
toppings of your choice

easy and flavourful pizza sauce

1 can plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 400F. dump tomatoes into a 9″ glass baking dish and squish them with your hands. stir in the garlic and the basil. roast in the oven for 1 hour, or until tomato juice is reduced and thickened. place in food processor, and process until smooth. drizzle in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. makes 1 pint.

rustic pizza dough

makes enough for 4 12-inch pizzas. can be frozen after portioning. i’ve scaled it in grams for accuracy.

make the poolish (starter): in the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together 300g flour, 400mls of warm water, and 3g of instant yeast (about a teaspoon). Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. cover bowl with plastic or a towel and allow to ferment overnight, or 8 hours, minimum.

for the dough: to the bowl, add 1 kg of flour, 23g of salt, and 20g yeast. pour in 600mls warm water. place in mixer with the dough hook attachment, and stir on medium-low speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. remove bowl from mixer and cover with a clean towel. proof in the bowl for 1 hour.

turn onto floured board and divide into 4 equal pieces, shaping into round balls. each piece will be roughly 530g. allow the dough to rest 10 minutes. (if freezing, wrap each piece well in plastic wrap, then pop into a freezer bag)

tear off a piece of parchment to cover a 12-inch round pizza pan with an overhang. press the dough to cover the pan. brush with olive oil and sprinkle the edge with salt, pepper, the dried basil and the dried oregano. spread with about 1/4 cup of the sauce (or more, if you like lots of sauce). add your toppings of choice. trim the parchment close to the pan.

preheat your oven as hot as it will go. mine goes to 550f, but many only go up to 500f. this is fine. place pizza on the lowest rack.

bake for 10 minutes. rotate pan and move from low rack to the higher one. Reduce heat to 400F and bake another 5-10 minutes or until bottom of crust is browed and feels firm.

rest pizza for 5 minutes, then slice.

chef’s note: i’ve had success cooking these on the bbq. heat grill as hot as it will go. divide the dough into eighths, and roll out. brush rounds with oil and season as above. place un-topped on grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. flip over, add sauce and toppings, and grill another 3-4 minutes, closing lid to melt the cheese.

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chickpea burgers with smoky red pepper spread

chickpea burger

sometimes, what you want is a burger. and burgers can be made from anything, really, so a burger made from chickpeas, is every bit a burger. meat does not hold a monopoly on burgers!

vegetarian burgers come in so many incarnations. this one is not a meat substitute. it’s made with chickpeas, flavoured with garlic and herbs, and is almost like a fritter, so it holds together when you cook it. it’s a bit wet, so use floured hands to shape them.

it’s smeared with a smoky feta and red pepper spread, and piled with greens and avocado on a handmade brioche bun. le yum.

if you have a flat-top or a non-stick pan, use it for this recipe, and you’ll be happy, not swearing.

you can make these up and fry them in advance, up to 2 days, then reheat on a sheet pan. yay! we love do-aheads…

chickpea burger

chickpea burgers with smoky red pepper spread

makes 4

1 14-oz can chickpeas, drained
salt and fresh pepper
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. cilantro leaves
2 tbsp, mint leaves
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 green onions, roughly chopped
1 thai chili, roughly chopped
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
canola oil for frying

place the drained chickpeas, a dash of salt and a few grindings of pepper, the garlic, cilantro, mint, lemon zest and juice, green onions, and thai chili. blitz a few times to break up the chickpeas so that some are mashed but some chunks remain. add the egg and butter and pulse a few times to combine. turn out into a bowl. mix together the flour and baking powder and stir into chickpea mixture. chill completely.

divide into 4 portions (you can make them smaller and divide into 6 if you wish). use floured hands to form into balls, and flatten slightly. heat a flat-top griddle or non-stick pan to high. brush with canola oil. place burgers on hot griddle, reduce heat to medium-high and cook 3-4 minutes per side or until golden and firm.

serve on split, toasted buns with tomato slices, avocado, and smoky red pepper spread.

smoky red pepper spread

1 red pepper
1/2 cup feta cheese, broken up
1 tbsp. hot smoked paprika
squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp. plain, natural yogurt

char the pepper over a gas flame, on the grill, or under the broiler, until blackened and blistered on all sides. place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and cool completely. use a paper towel to rub off the skin. pop the pepper open and remove the seeds. don’t rinse the pepper! place in the bowl of a food processor with the feta and the paprika. process until smooth-ish. add the yogurt, 1 tbsp at a time, until mixture is spreadable. add lemon juice. scrape into a covered container and chill.

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