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Put your winter woes aside, friends. Spring is arriving in slow trickles, whispers, pops and things that go whooooosh. The sun is borderline blinding me as it streams down onto my desk and I cannot be bothered to draw that shade. We’ve waited too long. The grass is shifting from yellow-green-brown muck to actual fresh, emerald-hued blades (that rustle in the wind! So great.). There’s a mighty anticipation of what is surely wonderful–it’s just around the corner, the most minuscule shred of time longer.

Still, there’s nothing definitively “spring” available at the markets currently. It will be a while before the ground fully thaws and turns those seeds and roots into something nourishing and delicious (looking at you asparagus, breakfast radishes, wild leeks and peas). Until then, some more cool-weather items and sprouted goods will appease my craving for fresh, totally crisp, high-vibe things. Are you all kind of feeling this now too? The need for crunchy, fresh, higher-water-content kind of foods? I’ve been wanting giant salads and green drinks all the time. I think my body is ready for a seasonal warm up, so I’ve been giving myself what I need to move on to the next seasonal moment. Plenty of vegetables, fresh juices, herbal tea and So. Much. Water.

One of the local grocers always has a wonderful selection of fresh sprouts. There’s daikon radish, various herbs, pea shoots, wheatgrass and my favourite: sunflower sprouts. I picked up a pot of them for a radicchio salad with some cider-pickled beets I had made and a bit of sprouted wild rice. I decided at the last second to make these into more of a portable salad thing with a sweet, chive-flecked vinaigrette to take the bitter edge off of the radicchio wrap. They ended up being exactly what I wanted. The sprouted rice is chewy, the beets are still crisp and nicely acidic, sprouts for freshness and hemp seeds for nuttiness. If you enjoy cheese, a happy sprinkling of sheep’s milk feta would be quite pleasant I think.

I offer instructions for pickling the beets in the refrigerator style here. I love doing this with winter vegetables and it couldn’t be easier to rig up. Equal parts water and vinegar of your choice, spices, herbs, little salt and sweetening, all heated up. Pour it on top of vegetables packed in a jar, put the lid on and leave it in the fridge for 5-7 days. Super low maintenance and plenty of crunchy, tangy things for salads and snacks throughout the week. Sprouting the wild rice is similarly low key. Just place the rice in a jar, cover it with plenty of water and put a lid on it. Change the water twice a day for 2-3 days until you start seeing the white of the rice coming out and some curling up in the grains. Delightfully chewy complex carbohydrates are now at your disposal (back in the high life again, guys). If you can’t wait a couple days to sprout it, you could always stir in some cooked wild rice on the more al denté side. The chew-factor is so important.

I would love to know how you all ease into the warmer weather as it slowly seeps in. Do you cook up and eat anything special? Start going to yoga more? Do you obsessively seek out green things? Are you contemplating a juice fast/feast? (I feel like everyone around me is) Do you listen to awesome throwback 80s-style jams? I’m so curious about all of yous :)


Oh and! A lovely gal I know has started a thoroughly rad book blog called Algonquin Side Table. It’s wonderful for decidedly casual readers like myself because Rebecca’s voice is so approachable. This week, she asked me to take part in a bit of a bookshelf interview, all pertaining to cookbooks and works on food! If you’d like to sneak a look at my bookshelves and take in some of my favourites you can check it out here.

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sprout + crunch radicchio cups w/ honey chive vinaigrette and avocado recipe
serves: makes 8-12 cups
notes: If you don’t love the bitter quality of radicchio, you could sub a head of boston/butter lettuce in.

cider-pickled beets ingredients:
1 medium golden beet, peeled
1 bay leaf
black peppercorns
1 white from a green onion (I only used this because I had a few)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp raw honey or agave nectar

honey chive vinaigrette ingredients:
2 tbsp white balsamic or wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp raw honey or agave nectar
salt + pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped chives + extra for garnish

radicchio cups ingredients:
1 large head of radicchio, core removed
1 heaped cup of sprouted or cooked wild rice
3/4 cup chopped cider-pickled beets
big handful sunflower sprouts
1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds
1 batch honey chive vinaigrette
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled + pitted
salt + pepper

Make the cider-pickled beets: cut the beet in half lengthwise and then cut each half into thin slices. Pack them into a clean 2-cup+ capacity jar, leaving about a 1/2 inch of space at the top. Tuck the bay leaf, black peppercorns and green onion bulb into the jar too. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, salt + agave/honey. Bring it to a boil and pour the mixture into the jar with the beets until all of the slices are covered. Put a lid on the jar, place it in the fridge and let it do its thing for 5-7 days.

Once you’ve removed the core from the radicchio, carefully pull off whole leaves. Once you have 8-12 or so, wrap them in damp paper towel until you’re ready to fill them.

Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, honey/agave, salt and pepper until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you whisk the vinaigrette together. Add the chives and whisk once more. Check for seasoning and set aside.

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the sprouted wild rice, chopped pickled beets, sunflower sprouts, hemp seeds, all of the honey-chive vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Toss until everything is evenly mixed.

Place the radicchio leaves on a platter and spoon the wild rice + beet mixture into the cups. Dice the avocado and garnish the cups with it. Sprinkle some extra chopped chives on top and serve.

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  • Anouk27/03/2013 - 5:23 am

    Spring! Oh how I look forward to the flowers & trees showing of their colors again… For now, we’re still enduring frost here in Belgium. But: sun is shining today! Still enjoying soups though :) But also some salad of course (lamb’s lettuce – yum!). Juice fast not really my thing – smelly breath alert! – I prefer some crunch so would rather go on a salad feast & a juice/smoothie to start the day (you should really try the mango-mint smoothie from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook!).
    //warm hug//ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin27/03/2013 - 6:43 am

    what a perfect meal to ring in the beginning of spring. i love eating more salads during this time, too. unfortunately, it hasn’t felt like spring around here much, as it just snowed again on monday! i’m so ready to start gardening in the warm sun and eating delicious raw wraps like this one ;)ReplyCancel

  • erin27/03/2013 - 8:55 am

    BEAUTIFUL! Seriously, these look just perfect and make me even more excited for spring (even though there is still now where I’m at!)ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf27/03/2013 - 9:35 am

    I am SO ready for Spring. Sadly it’s 2 degrees centigrade in the UK and absolutely frosty as anything! Once Spring arrives though I’ll be feasting on beautiful salads like this!ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan27/03/2013 - 10:17 am

    Absolutely gorgeous, as usual!ReplyCancel

  • Angela27/03/2013 - 12:18 pm

    Creative,healthy and beautiful = perfect;)It’s snowing outside my window so a bowl of warm soup is what I need now. But I’m waiting impatiently for young spring vegetables and greens.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen27/03/2013 - 2:03 pm

    These little cups sound so refreshing and springy! I even have my own pickled beets all ready to use, hanging out in my kitchen cupboard–and golden ones, no less. :) Love it!ReplyCancel

  • teri c27/03/2013 - 3:25 pm

    So when you made the pickled beets, they were raw correct? look great but only have had them cooked…ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright27/03/2013 - 5:41 pm

      Hi Teri! Yes, the beets are raw when you pour the pickling liquid onto them. They stay nice and crunchy. I find the earthy flavour isn’t as pronounced.

  • Jacqui27/03/2013 - 5:38 pm

    These are so gorgeous Laura! I ease into warm weather by opening up every window in my house any chance I get! 60 degrees and sunny, yep! Nothing beats fresh air, but I definitely have been getting my salads on!ReplyCancel

  • Shira27/03/2013 - 10:20 pm

    Oh heavens me! This post has so many things I love….firstly I am with you and can’t wait for those first shoots to break through back home (yup we are still here on holiday!) – and sprouts are the most perfect solution for the waiting! I made something similar recently with radicchio as bowls – they are so, so beautiful. Currently planning the list of things I want to pickle…starting with those amazing looking beets. What a fantastic tip. thanks Laura!ReplyCancel

  • sarah27/03/2013 - 10:56 pm

    Lovely photos. I *love* sprouts.
    As for spring, I tend to eat more greens, and walk walk walk. I love walking, and we’ve been stuck inside all winter! Ugh. Also, I don’t pull out 80’s music, but I have been listening to a lot of Sarah McLachlin’s ‘Fumbling Toward Ecstasy’ (one of my most favorite albums, and terribly 90’s and nostalgic.) I spent lots of spring evenings driving around with that cranked, looking for cute boys…ReplyCancel

  • Nicola Galloway28/03/2013 - 3:30 am

    What a gorgeous idea, and your photos are stunning. We are at the other end of the planet so heading into autumn but still salad weather… just. Thanks, NicolaReplyCancel

  • carey28/03/2013 - 10:11 am

    The sun is doing the same, blinding thing through my desk window, and I am totally into it. And there are tiny tufts of grass on the lawn and the beginnings of tulips in the garden — hurray! About GD time.

    There are these little bags of sugar snap peas showing up on the shelves of our natural foods market, and they are SO tempting. But I resist, because I don’t know where they’re coming from, and I know they’ll only disappoint me. Right now, all I want are lots of fresh herbs and little baby greens. Sprouts are where it’s at. I’ve been a pea shot girl for a while now, but I’ll have to give those sunflower sprouts a try! Definitely no juice fasts for me. (I drink a juice and it just leaves me feeling annoyed because I’m still hungry, and I spent $8 on liquid instead getting a salad and a muffin, which is really what I wanted.) Lots of smoothies and walking. And pep talks to mentally prepare myself for the first bike ride of the season, which will make it painfully clear to me what a total lazeball I was all winter.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey28/03/2013 - 10:56 pm

    This was exactly what my body wanted today on this gorgeous 65′ day. You are the queen of veggies, my love. I bow down. To your reader inquiry… I am SO craving GREEN. Green everything. I can’t even look at a loaf of bread right now, which is odd. Smoothies consist of fresh turmeric, banana, and kale… can’t stop won’t stop. I’m not sure if this is quite 80’s throw-back, but I have had an unusual affinity to this song since returning from Chile. … I’m usually more for the moody acoustic stuff, but… SPRING. I tell ya. It shakes it all up.

    abrazos y besosReplyCancel

  • Lisa the Gourmet Wog29/03/2013 - 3:17 am

    What a beautiful colourful salad. I absolutely love golden beet, and this makes the vegetable shine.ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen30/03/2013 - 1:05 am

    Funnily enough, even though this recipe suits you for heralding spring, I think it’s just what I want to eat now that autumn’s nearly through and we’re coming into winter – just because I love all those bitter, sour, spicy flavours and I think they’ll be just what I need to counteract all the million stews and soups and so on that I’ll be eating this season. Just hope I can find some of those beauteous golden beets…ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne31/03/2013 - 12:26 pm

    YES! This is exactly what I want to eat this time of year. Spring is finally, finally here in Kansas City—Cookie and I just went on an epic walk in 60 degree weather, clear skies—and I’m ready to fill up on salads and green things. Be gone, winter fluff!ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae01/04/2013 - 1:46 pm

    I half-ass made these for lunch today and they were delicious. Just what the doctor ordered, in fact. As the warmer weather creeps in, I long for vegetable loaded eats and long morning runs. I eat a lot of big ass salads in the summer, but I think I could get used to fancy little wraps like these.ReplyCancel

  • Sonja03/04/2013 - 9:48 pm

    These look amazing! I’ve never tried a radicchio cup but it’s a perfect idea. Wonderful for pre-spring — before all the spring produce comes forth!ReplyCancel

  • Julia05/04/2013 - 10:52 am

    this recipe looks so fresh and delicious, i love working with radicchio!
    i have to admit that i love all your recipes, I have you on the inspiration page of my blog.ReplyCancel

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Saturday or Sunday lunch/brunch has historically been my least favourite shift to work in terms of service. It’s just way busy and if you try to have a shred of a social life on the weekend like a normal human being, you’re paying for it in some way as the day wears on. I’ve been parked behind a giant espresso machine for solid blocks of time hammering out lattes for fancy ladies. The day is a blur of flipping those tables over and over until the clock strikes 3. There are children and there are messes of ketchup. There are total, self-entitled douchebags that need coffee. Clatters, clangs, beeps, change clinks, sizzles + shouts. The fullest hours imaginable.

A couple years ago, I found myself on such a day catching a moment behind a vitrine all filled to the brim with pâté, pickles, cheeses and marinated items; my elbow supporting my chin and heavy gaze. Other hand firmly planted in the pocket of my faded navy blue apron. My boss came up behind me so silently and leaned up on the case as I did, looking out at the scene. After I made some throwaway comment on how crazy it had been all morning, he said something so great. He gestured out to the dining room and remarked “Isn’t it wonderful to look out and see everyone smiling and to get a sense that they’re all laughing together?” And it was actually nice. It made me feel better about my lack of sleep, not being able to have a leisurely  read + eat with my man, about those DB’s I mentioned earlier… I felt less like I was swept up in service and more like I was performing a necessary service for my community. I was part of the assembly that facilitated a weekly coming-together over something good to eat. Huge. People look forward to that time all week. Work became privilege.

Side note: I work in a fine establishment that only opens for dinners now, so this has become less of a thing. But! I appreciate languid breakfasts in and out of the home all the more now–for the happy chorus in a crowded dining room or the one, singular laugh of my handsome man. All of it a still new-feeling luxury for me.

So for those happy/lazy times at home, you would probably find me fixing up something like this. The quinoa in these provides crunchy textural contrast. It isn’t thrown in because of random “for your health!” kind of aspirations. They give the cakes heft and much visual interest. I toast it in cinnamon flecked coconut oil for lots of fragrance and use plenty of vanilla to warm up the largely almond meal-based batter. Cacao nibs give a wine-y chocolaty crunch and the bananas get sweet and caramelized on top of the cakes. A dollop of tangy yogurt and plenty of maple syrup finishes them off. Something wonderful to see us through to the end of winter, over some good reads and a pot of tea.

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coconut, almond + quinoa breakfast cakes recipe
Inspired by True Food.
serves: 3-4
notes: I blend everything except the spelt flour, salt, sugar and leavening agents to really smooth out the almond flour. That’s an optional step. Also, making the quinoa up the night before would cut down on prep time considerably if you’re planning on maximal chill times on a Sunday or some such thing. If you eat eggs, you could certainly add a whisked one to the batter for some extra leavening power.

2 1/2 tbsp melted extra virgin coconut oil, divided + extra for the pan
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup milk of your choice (I used light coconut milk)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup whole spelt flour (or GF all purpose)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or demerara, evaporated cane etc)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups almond meal
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 bananas, sliced + divided
2 tbsp cacao nibs + extra

to serve:
yogurt of your choosing (coconut, sheep, cow etc)
maple syrup

Cook the quinoa: in a small saucepan over medium heat, drop a 1/2 tbsp of the coconut oil. Once it’s fragrant add the pinch of cinnamon. Stir that around until it smells way good. Add the rinsed and drained quinoa and a pinch of salt. Stir it around in the oil a bit to toast. Add a scant cup of water to the pan. Bring the quinoa to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. You want the quinoa to be cooked, but kind of crunchy too. Drain off excess liquid and cool quinoa completely.

Add the lemon juice to the milk and set aside for 5 minutes to curdle/lump up.

In a medium bowl, combine the spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, coconut sugar and sea salt. Stir to combine. Combine the almond meal, vanilla extract, remaining coconut oil and curdled milk in the blender. Flip it to high and blend until the mixture is very smooth, about a minute. Scrape this mixture into the bowl with the spelt flour etc. Gently fold it all together with a spatula until just combined. Add the cooled quinoa and fold it in until it’s evenly mixed.

Heat a large sauté pan or griddle over medium. Brush with melted coconut oil. Drop 1/4-1/3 cups of batter onto the pan. Spread the batter out a bit with a spatula or the bottom of the measuring cup. Press banana slices onto the top of the cakes and sprinkle with cacao nibs. Once bubbles start to form on top and the bottom is golden, flip them over. Continue to cook until bottom side is golden/dry. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping cooked cakes warm as you go along.

Serve pancakes with extra sliced bananas + cacao nibs, maple syrup and yogurt dolloped on top.

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  • Caitlin20/03/2013 - 6:48 am

    what a beautiful story and breakfast! i used to work in a bakery, and i remember the craziness of the morning hours on saturday and sunday. sometimes it was quite overwhelming, but when i stepped back and looked at the joy the baked goods brought them, i felt honored to work at such an amazing place. like you said, work was a privilege.

    i love the idea of adding quinoa to breakfast cakes for some heft and staying power. i will definitely have to try it this weekend!ReplyCancel

  • Melting_pot20/03/2013 - 8:36 am

    Wow! These look so good! I am always looking out for healthy breakfast ideas. Sometimes I get bored of the usual: 5 cereal muesli , almond, raisins with soy milk. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Megan20/03/2013 - 9:13 am

    These are just beautiful, Laura! I’ve never worked in food service, but I love the outlook on Saturday/Sunday morning busy times that you shared. Also glad for you that you get to enjoy your mornings at home now, with those lovely cakes!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Crowder20/03/2013 - 9:41 am

    Never heard cacao nibs called “wine-y”…what an apt description!ReplyCancel

  • teri C20/03/2013 - 10:45 am

    Thanks so much for posting this..I will try it. I am a survivor of food service and my own catering business. Gads! There’s a forever foodie in me, but now I find growing heirloom veggies more relaxing and still try to sneek in interesting meals to friends and family that appreciate it! Love the blog and appreciate the time it takes to do this for us to enjoy!ReplyCancel

  • Carla20/03/2013 - 11:25 am

    Hey Laura! It’s Carla from JK. :) How are you? I have a slight feeling that your story might be about him? Haha. Let me know if I’m right. But the meat and pickle vitrine and faded blue apron sound way too familiar.

    I’ve always been a fan of your blog but it has recently come in more handy. I’m finding myself in a bit of an eating rut and am trying to reconnect with good food. It’s so easy to let oneself go in this industry! Especially in the winter.

    Anyway, bottom line, you have such a beautiful blog! Your words and pictures are super inspirational and I’m so happy for your success. Keep up the fabulous work!

    – Carla
    P.S. HI MARK! :)ReplyCancel

  • Shira20/03/2013 - 11:49 am

    Gorgeous as always and love love the list of ingredients. I spend my work days sharing stories with folks in the restaurant business who do exactly what you describe: provide that special experience that people so look forward to all week/month – I couldn’t agree more that it is worth seeing it as a privilege. Awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Heather20/03/2013 - 12:34 pm

    I absolutely adore your photos and recipe. I look forward to reading your posts every Wed. It’s the first thing I do when I get up.ReplyCancel

  • Emma20/03/2013 - 1:44 pm

    Oooh these are beautiful with the red quinoa. I love all the flavours too- almonds, bannana, coconut. I actually made almond and coconut crusted banana pancakes yesterday which were suberb. This pancake fiend will be trying your version very soon!ReplyCancel

  • Kris20/03/2013 - 1:49 pm

    I love this post both because I used to work in the service industry and can relate to both views and because breakfast (well, brunch really) is my favourite meal of the day. Cozy mornings spent lingering with good people over delicious food is one of life’s best gifts. These pancakes are stunning. I’m looking forward to trying a GF version over here in the near future.ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan20/03/2013 - 2:08 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous, as usual!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne20/03/2013 - 3:05 pm

    Oh boy, can I ever relate to having a little too much fun the night before a morning shift. I used to get jealous of everyone’s good times on the weekend, but I did enjoy being a part of their fun. You make healthy and humble breakfast foods look SO appealing, Laura, love it.ReplyCancel

  • Sophie {The Cake Hunter}20/03/2013 - 4:53 pm

    Your blog makes me so happy. I really love the idea of these breakfast cakes. I bet they’d be a great start to the day.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney20/03/2013 - 5:13 pm

    These breakfast cakes are pretty much all of my favorite flavors rolled into one. I think you just created my ideal breakfast! Can’t wait until the weekend to try them out :)ReplyCancel

  • dana20/03/2013 - 7:20 pm

    GORG. I love these photos! And the recipe looks to die for. Bravo, friend!ReplyCancel

  • Liren20/03/2013 - 7:32 pm

    This gives me such an appreciation for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, that gives us as diners the opportunity to linger and laugh over tables of delicious food. I’m glad you are able to enjoy calmer mornings, and with these beauties. I love the quinoa!ReplyCancel

  • carey21/03/2013 - 8:11 am

    Ahh, this makes me miss waiting tables. :) I was serving breakfast in a small town sap house, and most of the people were nice and super friendly (perhaps because we all kind of knew each other!). But I dealt with my fair share of DBs that were spending the weekend out of the city in their upstate homes. Those were always the women that ordered two pancakes for their 5 year olds, ignoring my warnings that they were enormous and one would suffice. The look on their faces when I triumphantly dropped off a dinner plate with two pancakes overhanging the edges all the way around was THE BEST.

    And I am loving the idea of quinoa in pancakes! Especially with bananas + cacao nibs + yogurt. Oh my. (One of my newest flavor combo obsessions is bananas + cacao nibs. I don’t know what took me so long.)ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa | Queen of Quinoa22/03/2013 - 8:16 am

    I love, love, love starting my day with quinoa. Whether it’s granola, hot cereal, or pancakes, quinoa never disappoints. This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to whip up a batch this weekend. And your photos are gorgeous!

    I would love for you to share this recipe on this week’s Thank Goodness It’s Quinoa, the bi-weekly link party that celebrates all things quinoa. I know our readers will fall in love with this recipe just as I have!

    Happy Friday!


  • Beth | {local milk}22/03/2013 - 10:25 pm

    you’re killing me with these photos and this recipe. a while back, like a year ago, I got obsessed with pancakes. i mean seriously obsessed. and then i got obsessed with making healthy pancakes, like how much nutrition could i hide in a cake. i no longer make pancakes with the zeal I did then (don’t get me wrong, they’re still in regular rotation) but this takes me back to my days of superfood purple okinawan sweet potato pancake days. I think I need to revisit them with these. My other half would freak the freak out for them.ReplyCancel

  • sarah23/03/2013 - 10:59 am

    Laura, your photographs have been just dynamite lately! So gorgeous.

    I was a barista for 10+ years, so I totally felt everything you wrote about. Fancy ladies! douche bags! messy children! There were moments of so much resentment, and then those moments of so much love. It was always such a weird meeting ground.ReplyCancel

  • marlies23/03/2013 - 9:23 pm

    do you think this recipe would work with brown rice flour instead of spelt? it looks sooo good i would love to make it :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright24/03/2013 - 8:38 am

      Hi Marlies! I think the brown rice flour would sub in fine, but you may have to introduce some kind of binder like arrowroot powder or ground flax seeds (a tablespoon or so of each). The gluten in the spelt kind of helps to hold it all together, so adding one of those 2 things would help. Alternatively, if you eat eggs, you could add a beaten one to the batter to help with binding too. Hope that helps!

  • Roos24/03/2013 - 3:15 pm

    Love your blog, great rcipes and beautiful photography!!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley25/03/2013 - 10:12 am

    These look OUTstanding. What gorgeous photos…per usual. Your words and the creativity of this recipe are just so lovely. Well done! — I also wanted to thank you for your incredibly sweet comments you left on my blog last week. They truly meant so much and were just what I needed. Thank you! xoReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen26/03/2013 - 5:08 am

    1: I love what your boss said! Especially as I was expecting them to growl at you or something.
    2: I hope I’m pretty friendly and non-stressful already, but this post makes me really want to consider the people serving me brunch and be particularly considerate of them.
    3: I adore the food thesaurus, I use it all the time.
    4: This recipe sounds wonderful, and I really like that you explained exactly why the quinoa is there. Aaaand I do believe I have all the ingredients…ReplyCancel

  • Sophia27/03/2013 - 5:42 am

    What an absolute gorgeous stack of pancakes – amazing photos and the pancakes look absolutely delicious! And I loved the little insight you gave us into what it’s like to stand on the other side of the counter. Despite having had a number of tedious jobs since being a teenager I never actually did any kind of waiting or working in a bar as I always thought it must be horrible to work where other people go to have fun – despite being an avid people watcher, it never occurred to me how nice it could be to be part of that (leaving aside the douche bags and messy children). So thank you for that! And also an important reminder to be kind to those standing on the other side of the till/counter, you name it.ReplyCancel

  • Haleigh Robbins05/04/2013 - 8:27 am

    These look so good! I’ve never thought of putting quinoa in pancakes. It’s a great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Eli's Mom15/04/2013 - 11:35 am

    I will try to make this for myself and the little one. The photos are so gorgeous, by the way!ReplyCancel

  • Abbie18/04/2013 - 12:58 pm

    I made these this morning and they are delicious! I am not gluten-free or vegan, so I just substituted regular flour and regular milk for the batter. The cakes didn’t hold up too well when it was time to flip them, so I added an egg like you suggested and a tablespoon more flour and they firmed right up! I love the lemony flavor.ReplyCancel

  • […] The First Mess: Vegan Coconut, Almond + Quinoa Breakfast CakesThese vegan breakfast cakes look like perhaps the best kind of pancake I’ve ever seen. They can be made gluten-free by using all-purpose GF flour. With healthy quinoa, bananas, cacao, and 3 different coconut-derived ingredients, your belly is going to be just as happy as your taste buds. […]ReplyCancel

  • Cheri Litchfield20/04/2013 - 5:51 pm

    Made these this morning and they were absolutely perfect!! Thank you SOOOO much!ReplyCancel

  • southernspoonbelle27/04/2013 - 12:39 am

    These look incredible, thank you for sharing. Re-thinking my own post on banana pancakes that I’ve just put up after seeing these interesting beauties! Will have to try experimenting with toasted quinoa added to breads and cakes. Happy Spring to you.ReplyCancel

  • Apolline08/05/2013 - 4:54 pm

    this looks absolutely amazing! have to try it asap :)ReplyCancel

  • Deborah Dyson20/06/2013 - 7:15 pm

    So glad I found the link to this site – the recipes sound fantastic, as are the photos and background stories. I’ve been adding quinoa to my pancakes for a while now, but your version sounds heavenly. I haven’t done much with coconut oil, although I’ve had it in my pantry for a while. This recipe inspires me to go cook!ReplyCancel

  • […] of the day. I have tried these crepes, these eggs, these mueslis, these oats, this frozen yoghurt, this pancake, this omelette, these […]ReplyCancel

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  • […] Inspiration from The First Mess Get Recipe here […]ReplyCancel

  • Giulia18/05/2014 - 1:52 pm

    Was so excited to try this recipe (have been looking for an excuse to use almond meal for some time)! I mixed up the batter as described, but unfortunately I couldn’t get the pancakes to keep shape in the pan – they came undone as soon as I tried to flip them. Tried adding a little more water to make the batter more pancake-like, didn’t work. VERY sad considering that despite ending up in a lumpy brown pile, they still tasted delicious… any idea what might have gone wrong? Or could you propose an alternative (maybe baked) that would be harder for me to mess up? :) I want to give this another go for sure.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright02/06/2014 - 2:13 pm

      Hi Giulia, I’m so sorry on the lateness of this reply. So truthfully, I’ve found these pancakes to be a little fragile as well. The batter is quite stiff and it is intended to be that way to help them stay together in the pan. Once you drop the batter in the pan, you kind of have to spread it out a bit more manually with a spatula to get a nice flat pancake. So on that note, I don’t know if adding water to the batter would have helped. I think my best advice is just to gently spread them out a bit with the back of a spoon or spatula once the batter goes on the heat, and to use the biggest flipper you’ve got to handle them. I’m glad you thought they still tasted delicious though! And I really hope you do try them again.

  • […] […]ReplyCancel

  • Caty05/06/2014 - 9:23 am

    I absolutely love these! Instead of placing the banana slices on top, I mash them up and add them to the batter which makes the cakes a bit lighter. Wonderful photos, you’re such an inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • […] The First Mess: Vegan Coconut, Almond + Quinoa Breakfast Cakes These vegan breakfast cakes look like perhaps the best kind of pancake I’ve ever seen. They can be made gluten-free by using all-purpose GF flour. With healthy quinoa, bananas, cacao, and 3 different coconut-derived ingredients, your belly is going to be just as happy as your taste buds. […]ReplyCancel

  • Fancy Friday08/01/2015 - 3:57 pm

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  • […] via Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Flour Muffins via The Honour System Coconut, Almond, and Quinoa Breakfast Cakes via The First […]ReplyCancel

pin it!pin it!
You’ll have to forgive me for paraphrasing on this one. I remember reading this passage when we were away, on the beach in the glorious sun, a few months ago. I can’t for the life of me remember where I first took those words in. I’ve flipped through all of the sand-filled books and print publications that I toted along and simply cannot spot it. Some serious googling or more page flipping wouldn’t be too hard, but my eyes have been watering up and un-focusing involuntarily with some frequency lately. It might be time to step away from any and all screens for the day and spend less time focusing on tiny things. The vibrance of this thrown-together dish (with some outstanding local + hydroponic eggplant), against a grey mid-March backdrop, had me thinking of that lost passage. So here we are.

There is a woman in the back of a cab, somewhere in India. From memory, she is most definitely North American. She is travelling through the country in a way that suggests leisure, waiting for inspiration while cultural immersion takes place and seeming “otherness” surrounds. She notices prayer flags of every hue and condition flying from pointed rooftops, hanging off of farm gates, tangled in the streets, strewn over doorways of run-down homes, whipping in the wind on the tops of mountains and trees. They’re everywhere. She asks her cab driver about the flags, why the everywhere-locales, why the variety in appearance. His response is calm and straightforward, without a trace of glorification or pomp: God loves colour.

pin it!pin it!
crispy eggplant + harissa flatbread recipe
serves: 4-6
notes: I followed a harissa recipe from Food 52 pretty much to the letter (I left out the all spice + nutmeg) and was rather pleased with the results. I do use it sparingly since this Tunisian spice paste is quite fiery. If you make the whole recipe, there’s lots of other things you can do with it. Add a dab to a simple vinaigrette, use it as a marinade for proteins, mash it into some cooked sweet potatoes with a dollop of yogurt, drizzle it onto your avocado toast–many possibilities.

scant 1 lb whole grain pizza dough (I purchased a really great locally made one, but I have a recipe here too)
1/4 cup of harissa (I used this recipe from Food 52)
1 small eggplant
1 shallot
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tbsp raw honey or agave nectar
4 cups baby arugula
big handful of mint leaves
big handful of flat parsley leaves
squeeze of lemon juice
salt + pepper
1 tbsp dukkah spice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Rip a piece of parchment big enough to fit the sheet pan you want to use. Lay it on the counter and begin rolling out your dough on top of it. Aim for a 10-11 inch circle, about 1/3 inch thick. Transfer the dough and parchment to your sheet pan. Apply the harissa to the dough evenly.

Trim the ends off of the eggplant and slice it into thin rounds. Arrange the rounds on the dough.

Peel and trim the shallot. Slice it as thin as you can. Scatter slices on top of the eggplant.

Drizzly the top with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Slide the sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the bottom seems brown and crisp and the eggplant has shrivelled up a bit.

While the flatbread is baking, place the arugula into a medium bowl. Roughly chop the mint and parsley and add to the bowl as well. Drizzle the remaining olive oil onto the greens, add the squeeze of lemon, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Once the flatbread is removed, drizzle with the honey or agave nectar. Cut flatbread into slices. Scatter the greens and herbs on top of the slices and sprinkle dukkah spice all over the greens. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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  • Angela13/03/2013 - 9:22 am

    simple, beautiful and surely delicious:)ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf13/03/2013 - 9:39 am

    Absolutely stunning. Simple but perfect and exactly the kind of thing I love to eat :-)ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin13/03/2013 - 10:19 am

    what a beautiful flat bread pizza. i love when non traditional toppings are used and these look so lovely and delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren13/03/2013 - 10:32 am

    This looks BEAUTIFUL! I can’t wait to make this! What a great way to change it up with eggplant… I love eggplant but sometimes I get bored of my regular recipes. Can’t wait to try this!

  • carey13/03/2013 - 10:37 am

    Oh, this speaks to me, in many ways. The dish feels so very similar to the something old, something new winter-meets-spring cravings I’ve been having lately. I’m not quite ready to let go of the earthy, hearty foods, but I will sure as heck brighten them up with lots of greens and fresh herbs. And that passage has inspired me to reconsider the direction in which I had taken my photos for an upcoming post. (:ReplyCancel

  • Nourish Your Roots13/03/2013 - 12:13 pm

    Yum! Looks heavenly. I haven’t seen eggplant in recipes in what seems like ages…so good that they have an appearance here. Reminds me of summer :)ReplyCancel

  • Heather13/03/2013 - 12:41 pm

    Beautiful photos – and color! I am really digging this recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Richa13/03/2013 - 1:51 pm

    gorgeous pictures! i love harissa and everything on this flatbread working beautifully.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen13/03/2013 - 1:56 pm

    So beautiful! And that amazing arugula is really making me crave a visit to the spring farmer’s market. :)ReplyCancel

  • Courtney13/03/2013 - 4:00 pm

    This looks like the perfect end of winter/beginning of spring meal! Now I’m curious about that passage, too :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley13/03/2013 - 4:40 pm

    This looks outstanding. I am obsessed with your photos + blog. The end.ReplyCancel

  • Kristy13/03/2013 - 5:18 pm

    I’m in love with the photos in this post! And the combination of flavors on this flatbread sound divine! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Shira13/03/2013 - 6:39 pm

    Absolutely stunning Laura! What a healthy and wonderful combo with those fresh greens. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! xoReplyCancel

  • Natasha13/03/2013 - 10:32 pm

    Gorgeous! Looks so comforting and delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar14/03/2013 - 10:22 am

    This is so cool! Love the sounds of this!ReplyCancel

  • sara forte14/03/2013 - 12:36 pm

    yes yes. a light pizza heavy on the greens. I love it. hope your eyes feel better. no fun.ReplyCancel

  • Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen14/03/2013 - 6:43 pm

    Oh yum, that looks so delicious! I love your photos!ReplyCancel

  • Isabelle @ Crumb15/03/2013 - 8:56 am

    This looks positively lovely – like a hybrid of pizza and salad, and yet something entirely its own. I don’t eat nearly enough eggplant, but this beautiful flatbread could very well change all that. :)ReplyCancel

  • meatballs & milkshakes15/03/2013 - 1:42 pm

    So beautiful! I would love some of this right now! Perfect friday afternoon snack!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne15/03/2013 - 10:35 pm

    That passage is perfect, Laura, and so is this flatbread. (Spicy sauce with greens? Yes!) I’ve neglected my google reader lately (boyfriend’s place doesn’t have wifi, which is mostly awesome) but have been out of touch with my favorite blogs. I want to stick a fork in all your latest posts! I mean that in a good way, of course. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn17/03/2013 - 12:26 pm

    Oh the colour and light and brightness of this post. Just what I needed to read on this gloomy Sunday. I love how you always offer a new and fresh perspective both here and elsewhere.ReplyCancel

  • kelly17/03/2013 - 9:19 pm

    god loves color! LOVE ITReplyCancel

  • Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen19/03/2013 - 3:09 pm

    Yum, your flatbread looks so delicious and I just love your photos!ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen20/03/2013 - 4:01 am

    This is a stunner, I feel like I could just reach in and grab it. Possibly because of how gorgeous and huge your photos are.

    I’ve never heard of that passage before, but it’s a nice one. Maybe you dreamed it!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey21/03/2013 - 7:19 pm

    So beautiful (the flatbread and your words). I want a slice. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Adri {Food-N-Thought}26/03/2013 - 11:12 pm

    This eggplant/arugula combination looks amazing!ReplyCancel

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