Miso Hungry Gravy pictured here with Sweet Potato Fries and a homemade veggie burger (recipe to come soon).
In trying to get healthier and perhaps stave off migraines, I’ve been trying to cook healthier foods that decrease carbs and increase all sorts of other wonderful vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
I’m never going to stop eating pizza because it combines many favourite things: cheese, fresh veg and herbs and bread. But since bread is a nasty vehicle for carbs, I’ve adapted this low carb, nutritious pizza crust from The Londoner.
You could make a pizza that will feed two people depending on their hunger level or you could add a light salad to round out the meal.
• 1 small cauliflower or about 2 ½ cups grated
• ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
• ¼ cup grated mozzarella
• 2 tsps fresh oregano, chopped
• 2 cloves crushed garlic
• Egg replacer for one egg or use an egg if you’re so inclined
• Salt & pepper
• olive oil, for spraying
• tomato-based pizza sauce, white pizza sauce, pesto or any other first layer your heart desires
• the rest is up to you: spinach, red pepper, chilis, mushrooms, feta, pineapple, pine nuts, more
oregano, olives, etc. (you know how pizza works!).
• more mozzarella and parmesan Or anything else you want to top your pizza with…or not.
Pre-heat your oven to 220°C/430°F. And preferably add your baking tray or pizza stone to also get warmed up.
Using a food processor on short spurts chop up the cauliflower until it’s rice-like. Alternatively, you can use a hand grater, but be careful!
Cover and pop in the microwave for 4-6 minutes, depending on your microwave. It will smell like cooked cauliflower and will no longer be raw, but also not fully cooked.
Transfer to a small-meshed sieve and let the water drain out. I added a weight to the top to help squish more water out. Let the cauliflower cool down. Then, to make absolutely sure you’ve drained all of the water you can press the back of a big spoon into the cauliflower. The original recipe drains out excess water by placing the cooked cauliflower in a teatowel. Either method works, both have drawbacks in terms of messiness.
Add your grated cheeses to a mixing bowl. Then, add the fresh oregano, egg replacer and cauliflower. Mix it all up. Yum.
Layout a sheet of baking paper on a counter or cutting board and spray/sprinkle it with a bit of olive oil. Shape your cauliflower ‘dough’ into a pizza-like circle.
Get that pre-heated tray/stone from the oven and carefully place the crust onto the pan. Pop it into the oven for about 10 minutes or until it looks like the top, right photo. Golden.
Add your pizza sauce base and all your ingredients, top with mozzarella and parmesan mix (if you wish). Back into the oven for another 10 minutes or until it looks done. You know.
Now, my first attempt (above) tasted incredibly delicious. You can’t get all handsy with this ‘pizza’ because the base is just not sturdy enough, so get your forkin’ knives out and plunge right into that deliciousness. I loved it and will make it again, but I have some changes in mind.
INDIA (I could very well just list India 10 times!)
I don’t recall the first time I ate Indian food, but I know how much of an impression it made on me. All of those unique spice combinations that I had never eaten before —cinnamon, garam masala, asafoetida/hing (Indian garlic), turmeric— and new textures, like paneer and dahl. And the naan bread! Oh, that bread!! When I eat Indian food, I am in a euphoric, utopic state of mind. I am so happy when I’m eating this food. Vegetable Korma, palak paneer, samosa, paneer butter masala, chana masala, bhindi bhaji…I could go on forever.
India is my number one choice for wanting to cook in another country —street carts, restaurants, homes…anywhere, please!
Three words: chili con queso. Okay, there’s more to Mexican cuisine than a big bowl of dip-able, hot cheese. There’s refried beans (no pork), tacos,salads, enchiladas, mole sauce, salsa verde, pico de gallo, quesadillas, guacamole, chilli rellenos, burritos… You can successfully eat as a vegetarian in Mexico!
I imagine cooking with the locals there while doing a little dancing-in-place, laughing, stirring pots of beans, flipping quesadillas, mixing spices, grating cheese and making a lot of stick-to-your-insides, homemade yumminess.
How could anyone not want to cook with the locals in Italy?! Drinking wine, sloshing around the olive tins, singing, laughing, layering foods, tossing linguini with sauce, making pasta, more wine, toasting bread…
I think my Italian-cooking skills are pretty good, but I am quite sure (and don’t mind admitting) that anything I already know about Italian cooking would be thrown right out the window. That’s okay! Teach me! teach me! Let me taste the difference in olive oils. Show me how to make tomato sauce from scratch. Feed me samples of cheese!
GREECE + LEBANON
So many of the same ingredients and flavours between these two countries, I thought I’d just teem them up. I think the best ingredient is tahini. I love it in so many recipes and it is good for you! I love spanikopita, tiropita, (just) pita, the heavy use of pomegranate and other fresh ingredients, olives, baba ganoush, hummus, tabbouli salad, Greek salad, fatyre, feta, samosa, baklava, dolmades, falafel…
I think this is another area where meat is quite prevalent in meals, but it doesn’t have to be. You can eat well as a vegetarian —and with great variety!
Again, it’s a whole new mouthful of different spices, like sweet basil, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, chilis, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, coriander, lemon basil ! I love pad thai, nasi goreng, spring rolls, green coconut curry, noodle bowls…
I also love eating with chopsticks! No matter how adept you are at eating with chopsticks they still cause you to slow down when you’re eating –to savour and appreciate what you’re eating. Maybe engage in conversation while you’re trying to scoop up a slippery mushroom!
Miso is one of my favourite ingredients out of Japan, it is so versatile and very nutritional! Rice vinegar is another favourite of mine and also panko! I can’t believe how much I use panko I use even for non-Japanese meals.
Gyoza, spinach gomae, tempura, edamame, veg sushi rolls (especially with avocado!). I picture myself in Japan learning from a mild-mannered, but sassy cook who loves cooking vegetarian meals. I see hundreds of ingredients surrounding me that I have never seen before and cooking apparatus and utensils that I’ve never used. I think great patience comes with cooking Japanese meals. I don’t know why I don’t try more often. I think I’ll go make some gomae!
(sorry, I had to mention it again…but just look at all of these vegetables, spices and colours and imagine the aroma!)
I don’t know how one thing equated to another, but at 21, I got my nose pierced as a vow to myself that I would one day spend time (week or months, not days) in India. Devouring the food, meeting the people, wandering through the streets, riding through the countryside, listening to music, petting cows, going to the markets and learning to cook all of those incredible dishes that haunted me for so long. I have since cooked a lot of Indian meals, from cookbooks, of course, but I still want to sidle up next to a master and cook my heart out. For some reason, I picture myself outdoors, surrounded by sacks of brightly-coloured spice sacks, vibrant vegetables, mounds of grains and lentils, voices everywhere and laughter. It also makes me cry thinking it may never happen. But I want to make it happen…some day. I would like to keep one promise to myself.
It can tend to be on the meaty side, but ask for bayenetu, a collection of meat-free portions. Their vegetarian fare is very tasty, very interesting, not too spicy, but spicy enough. Interesting concoctions of spices like korarima (Ethiopian cardamom), chili peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek. And it’s a meal you share with your table mates —like really share and you eat with your hands. How is that not fun!?! Go easy on the bubbly pancakes (injera) though, they can fill you up very quickly!
Because Canada is so multicultural, there isn’t really Canadian food (except for poutine, maple syrup, Nanaimo Bars and dill pickle chips), but they have managed to conjure up incredible vegetarian meals in some unexpected places. I’ve had tofu scramble, miso gravy with yam wedges, noodle bowls, fusion meals from all sorts of country-combinations and I’ve never been bored with experimenting with all of the ingredients readily available in big, multicultural cities!
The first time I ate this amazing meal was at my friend Barbara’s. She’s from Peru. We had so many amazing things to eat that day…she even made a vegetarian version for me!
I have since re-created it a couple of time and would love to share the magic with you.
- French fries or potatoes cut into friet-sized strips, 4 large potatoes
- Sunflower oil – 2 tablespoons
- Grilled vegetarian meat substitute – 1 package (or ungrilled…it’s up to you)
- Garlic, crushed – 3-4 or to taste
- shallots, julienned – 4-5 depends on size
- red pepper, julienned- 1
- tomatoes, thinly sliced – 4-5 medium
- white vinegar, 1 tablespoon
- soy sauce, 1.5 tablespoons
- red chiles, fresh – 1 or more to taste
- salt + pepper, to taste
- cilantro, fresh, chopped
- Bake frozen friets according to package directions or fry in the pan with very hot oil, remove friets with a slotted spoon and set aside, covered to keep them warm.
- Pour oil in a wok and turn heat on high. Once the oil is very hot add the gegrilde filet and cook until brown. This will only take a minute or two. You don’t want the filets to soak in the oil, but rather to be cooked very fast.
- Remove the filets with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- If necessary, add more oil to pan and heat to very high. Add shallots and garlic, cook to browned/fried.
- Toss in red pepper, chiles and tomatoes and fry until mixture is hot.
- Add filets back to pan.
- Add white vinegar and soy sauce to pan and mix.
- Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- Top mixture, in the pan, with warmed fries and cilantro. Serve in the pan. Dish out with tongs.