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roasted tofu and kale with pine nuts + delicious surprises


Inspiration and big change is always floating around in the back of the mind, in the atmosphere, everywhere really. Like an iceberg that looks so small and unassuming on the surface of dark water, there’s a giant waiting to be seen underneath. It is impressive, surprising; its potential builds up over weeks and months. Maybe even years. Just waiting and growing.

…I saw roasted kale on a menu recently and was kind of taken aback at first. I thought it would be weird, nonsensical, all that; even though I absolutely love kale in any form I’ve tried. So I tinkered with it at home out of curiosity. Wow. Really good. Surprising. That reaction and the whole lead-up to it kind of summarizes life right now, lots of delicious surprises. They were kind of there all along in whispers and hums, developing and getting bigger and louder and then whoa. Right there. Hello.

Other than that, not much else to chat about. I just received Bryant Terry’s fantastic new book and was feeling so inspired flipping through the pages and looking at the gorgeous photos. I remembered a technique I learned from his first book Vegan Soul Kitchen for roasting tofu. I was so thrilled to see a new rendition in The Inspired Vegan. So here’s my take for you to play with and be inspired by (hopefully). Big hugs :)

chili, lemon and herb roasted tofu with kale and pine nuts
inspired by Bryant Terry
serves: 2
notes: I make this dish all on one sheet pan. Choose one thats big enough to accommodate everything and just add the components as time winds down. Also, any strong spice or flavour would be great here, this dish is pretty open to interpretation.

1 lemon, zest and juice
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
salt and pepper
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 package (227g) organic firm to extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 bunch kale, leaves removed and torn into 1.5 inch-ish pieces
small handful of pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the lemon zest, sliced garlic, chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind it up until a dry paste is achieved. Add the lemon juice and oil and grind until mixture is unified.

Pour about half of the oil and lemon juice mixture into a large bowl. Toss it with the cubes of tofu very gently. Place onto  the parchment-lined baking sheet in one tight section. Roast for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and gently toss the tofu cubes with a fork or spatula. Place back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes.

Toss the kale with the remaining oil and lemon juice mixture in the large bowl. Remove the tofu from the oven and place the kale on most of the remaining space of the tray. Roast for 10 more minutes. Place pine nuts on the tray and roast for another 2-3 minutes, until tofu is quite browned, kale has wilted and crisped a bit and the pine nuts are golden.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

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dana @ my little celebration09/02/2012 - 8:55 pm

I WILL be making this as I just picked up some tofu at TJ’s. Lovely!

Jacqui09/02/2012 - 11:12 pm

I’ve never thought to roast kale either! Sound absolutely delicious! I’ll definitely be trying this soon.

Michelle10/02/2012 - 12:26 am

Looks delicious lady! Totally my kind of meal on top of some brown rice!

Question: If one doesn’t have a mortar and pestle….what does one do?

Laura10/02/2012 - 6:40 am

Michelle, If you’re feeling lazy, blend it all. If not, just chop the herbs, garlic, zest etc all fine and stir it into the lemon juice and oil :)

Margarita10/02/2012 - 8:22 pm

Love all these ingredients… Never thought of using lemon to flavor tofu… So good!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar11/02/2012 - 12:07 am

I need this. For reals.

Judy12/02/2012 - 10:26 pm

oh wow this is beautiful.. I love tofu and am glad that everybody’s starting to get into it. There are just so many ways to spice up this wonderful treat and this chilli lemon recipe is awesome! Now only if I can get kale….

Love love love Bryant Terry! Just ate his creamy grits & tempeh last night for dinner. : ) (This looks amazing, ps.)

Diane16/03/2012 - 1:05 pm

I made this and will be remaking it for my daughter who is visiting this week. The kale is absolutely wonderful, the tofu delecious and the pine nuts were just another layer of flavor. Also easy to make once you get through the first part. This is definitely something I will be adding to favorite recipes.

[...] From The First Mess [...]

Elizabeth (Greens & Seeds)05/05/2012 - 8:47 pm

Roasting the entire meal on one baking sheet? Brilliant!

[...] for easy prep and clean up. I wish this brilliant idea was my own, but I first read about it on The First Mess. She roasts kale with the tofu, uses a different flavor profile all together, and credits Bryant [...]

[...] Preheat the grill to medium-high. Place the tofu pieces onto the grill. Wait for about 2 minutes or until good char marks appear. Flip the pieces over. Cook until char marks appear on the reverse and tofu is browned to your liking. Remove from the grill and set aside. Don’t have a grill? You can always roast it. [...]

Meg26/09/2012 - 9:20 pm

I just wanted to say that I had been eyeing this recipe for sometime. Finally made it this evening, and it was the perfect combination of flavors. The only change was that I added half the kale for 10 minutes and the other half for 5 minutes so there was a nice mix of crispy and soft kale. Delicious!

Katie (The Muffin Myth)03/10/2012 - 10:51 am

You know, I had some kale in my hands yesterday (which is *extremely* tough to find in Sweden) and I was going to toss it in the oven along side a spaghetti squash I was roasting, but I thought, nah, roasted kale? That sounds crazy. Now I’ll definitely come back to it. The tofu looks great as well! Thanks for the recipe.

[...] Spice Kale & Tofu Recipe (inspired by The First Mess) [...]

Reesa19/10/2012 - 1:57 pm

How am I just finding your website now?! Shame on me. I’d better get moving through the archives stat… there are so many wonderful things to try!

[...] and roasted kale adapted from The First Mess. The rest is from my [...]

Reeve13/08/2013 - 10:44 am

Oh man, this sounds good! QUick question though, do you press the tofu first for this recipe? My gut says yet, but I’ve never roasted tofu so I thought I would ask.

Laura Wright13/08/2013 - 11:07 am

Hi Reeve! You can if you want, but I don’t think it’s necessary. The high heat of the roasting takes most of the moisture away. Super easy! :)
-L

[…] or raw (teach yourself to make baked tofu and never have a boring salad […]

Yeeeeaaah!! Roasted foo is da bomb!

[…] Adapted from The First Mess  […]

[…] Chili, lemon, and herb roasted tofu with kale and pine nuts […]

hot cocoa pancakes + valentine’s day


Healthy chocolate pancakes friends. I know, I can’t believe it either, but let’s talk about the events at hand. I actually  kind of like Valentine’s Day. I know it’s cool to hate on February 14th because it’s just.., like, a meaningless marketing shill instigated to drive capital to the card/gift companies maaaaan. Why do you have to prove your love on only one day of the year? Scoffs, grumbles, negativity, silliness.

I actually don’t care. Remember when you were young and we all gave valentines and treats to everyone in the class and it was cute, delicious, sparkly, corny, pink and red all over? It was such a fun write-off kind of day. Warm fuzzies. You got to make a pouch out of construction paper, decorate it with glittery paint and take it home all full of chocolate, marshmallow-y things, ju-jubes and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, California Raisins, Strawberry Shortcake etc punch-out valentine cards. It was, in sum, the best ever. Chocolate and paper goods are still totally my jam 18 years later so why wouldn’t I love Valentine’s Day?

Something I don’t exactly love: big, shiny, monumental dinners on Cupid’s big night out. Meeeeeh. I usually can’t swing it because I’m working anyway but! I feel kinda bad for the service and cooking staff at any given restaurant, surrounded by so much lovey dovey-ness while being away from their special guy/gal. I don’t particularly aspire to contribute to that cruddy feeling while I’m picking away at some sort of heart-shaped root vegetable or cake or something in the candle light. I like going out for an amazing meal, don’t get me wrong. But for V day, home dates just feel right.

Enter these delicious pancakes. They’re chocolate (duh), wholesome, easy to whip up and perfect for lazing about with your lovey in jammies with some fresh fruit, the newspaper, a thick wooly blanket, maybe some Curb Your Enthusiasm on in the background (SUCH a romantic choice, right?) and a hot, cozy pot of earl grey steeping away. Comforting, warm, close and sweet (and somewhat awkward at any given moment if Larry David is on your TV screen…). It’s perfect. These are also totally fine to make just for yourself. I make a single serving of pancakes about as often as I crave pancakes. Which is… crazy often. Whatever. It starts with self love, guys!


hot cocoa pancakes
This recipe was originally developed for the Toronto Vegetarian Association
serves: 2 (generously)
notes:
Heart shapes! Go on. Do it.

1 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup light spelt flour (or whole wheat, all purpose etc)
2 tsp baking powder
¼ cup + 2 tbsp cacao/cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
3 tbsp maple syrup (or agave nectar) plus extra for serving
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil (or other oil)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to curdle, about 5 minutes.

Mix the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl until combined. Add the curdled milk, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. It should be a tad loose-seeming.

Heat a large, non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Drop ¼ cup measures of the batter into the pan (not too many at a time!). When bubbles start to peak through the surface and you see a bit of light browning/crisping up on the underside, flip the pancakes over carefully, about 1-2 minutes. Repeat for the other side, remove from the pan and set aside on a covered plate to keep warm.

Serve with maple syrup, sliced bananas, berries or whatever other accompaniments you like.

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar05/02/2012 - 11:28 am

Whoa. These are so yummy looking!

Courtney Jones05/02/2012 - 12:48 pm

These pancakes look fantastic. Yum!!!! I have book marked the recipe to make next Sunday for my sweetie. Thanks for the idea :)

Jennifer05/02/2012 - 2:04 pm

These look amazing! Beautiful photos too.

adrienne05/02/2012 - 5:23 pm

Ahh I miss those days of homemade construction paper Valentine’s too. Who didn’t love those chalky hearts with messages on them? This is perfect for the casual Valentine’s Day we’ll have. Breakfast for dinner, yes please :)

Margarita05/02/2012 - 9:29 pm

I think this can be Valentine’s dinner and my man will be happy! Thanks for sharing this!

Anna06/02/2012 - 11:41 am

I’ve always thought of Feb 14 as more of a share love and homemade valentines with everyone, rather than a big date night. The pancakes look wonderful!

dana @ my little celebration06/02/2012 - 10:44 pm

These look fantastic! Lovely photos, too. And I love your blog design. So simple and clean!

Anna @ the shady pine07/02/2012 - 5:44 am

Oh yum! I just need to get hubby to make these for v day for me :)

myfudo07/02/2012 - 6:41 am

Oh my! These are heavenly treats…I don’t need to wait for Valentine’s Day to make these, I am making a bunch today. Yummy!

hannah@ bake five07/02/2012 - 9:59 am

oh my oh my…… if only a guy would make this for me…or anything!

Sarah07/02/2012 - 11:50 am

Would regular milk work for this recipe?

Laura07/02/2012 - 11:52 am

Hi Sarah,
Regular milk would work just fine. Or you can swap out the non-dairy milk and the apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of buttermilk if you have some :)
-L

sara07/02/2012 - 12:09 pm

i am a terrible gift giver but i love love spoiling hugh with good food for holidays. I’m excited for chocolate pancakes!!

Koko07/02/2012 - 1:31 pm

Gorgeous photos! Mmmmm delicious looking pancakes

Danielle07/02/2012 - 5:49 pm

These look SO good. I love pancakes and I love chocolate, and I can’t imagine anything better than these two things together!! Thanks for the inspiration. And btw, I love valentine’s day too, and I don’t care who knows it :)

XOXO
D

Zita07/02/2012 - 6:21 pm

This recipe stole my heart! :) I’m a huge fan of vegan pancakes (I have many recipes on my blog) and this one is definitely on my list of what I’d love to make. Wonderful photography too!

Amanda08/02/2012 - 1:56 pm

Yum! Can’t wait to make these on St.Valentines day…or every other day of the week! Our Food Lovers would love to read about this on our community page! http://bit.ly/yI0sZU

Ani09/02/2012 - 7:51 pm

These look delicious. Curious, though: What does the curdled milk bring to the table?

Laura09/02/2012 - 8:09 pm

Hi Ani, the curdled milk thing is meant to evoke buttermilk because it seems to be pretty classic in the realm of pancakes. It adds moisture, a little tang and helps with the rise too! Hope that clarifies!
-L

Javelin Warrior10/02/2012 - 10:20 am

Your pancakes are incredible! They’re so intensely dark and layering with bananas is perfect… I have featured this post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup. Let me know if you have any objections and thanks for the inspiration

sarah14/02/2012 - 6:36 pm

This.is.beautiful. I love the picture with the fork and last bite. And the heart! Love.

nib15/02/2012 - 10:49 pm

We made these w/strawberries & syrup, they were like molten chocolate cake for breakfast. Highly recommended. Next time we’ll try them with bananas & coconut whipped cream. Thank you for the post!

Margarita25/02/2012 - 3:43 pm

Made this today and it was absolutely delicious. Thank you!

[...] 11. Laura from the First Mess: Hot Cocoa Pancakes (from her site) AND Chilled Double Chocolate Torte from Oh She Glows [...]

Afrina khan08/02/2013 - 11:23 am

Hi these look delicious …what kind of whole wheat flour would they work with ? Like whole wheat pastry flour right ? Or How can I make this gluten free ? What flours should I use ? Thank u !

Laura Wright08/02/2013 - 11:31 am

Hi Afrina,
Yes, wholewheat pastry flour would be a good substitute for the light spelt. Alternatively, if you’d like to go gluten free, this homemade GF flour mix has worked out great for me in almost everything I’ve tried it in: http://www.artofglutenfreebaking.com/2009/11/the-story-behind-my-gluten-free-flour-mix/ Hope that helps you :)
-L

Decking Ipe16/02/2013 - 6:27 am

Looks so delicious. My BF loves it when I make pancakes for him. He also loves chocolate, and he loves peanut butter on his pancakes. This might be a match made in heaven.

Nikolina04/05/2013 - 11:15 am

Hi Laura!
We just polished these delicious pancakes off and wanted to thank you for sharing your amazing creations with the rest of us. I have used chocolate hazelnut milk and hazelnut oil to round out the flavor and it was just great! Thank you SO much!

diesen Inhalt20/07/2013 - 2:35 am

Delicious pancakes! I’ll try to make them tomorrow morning.

[…] Hot Cocoa Pancakes from The First Mess […]

little lemon coconut cakes + creamy coconut glaze

Okay so I don’t love cupcakes. Even when the craze hit big time, I wasn’t totally on board. All of those gorgeous sweet little cakes, ornate and decorated just so… had way too much frosting for my taste. It seems to me that there is an inherent issue of ratios with this handheld treat. This is especially true if the frosting is piped on top, as opposed to being smeared rustically. Giant, sweet clouds were distracting me from my favourite part– the actual cake! Then the boutique bakeries were selling frosting shots. Actual shots! Glorified gluttony. And there was a tv show with cupcake shop proprietors competing and snapping at each other about non-rising cakes, time winding down, fillings not jiving with icings, trivial matters completely. Catty. Terrifying. Cupcakes and their whole scene was, without exaggeration, scaring the crap out of me. So I avoided them for a bit. I opted for cookies and actual slices of cake, a tart here and there. I felt fine about it.

But sweet, little snack cakes with just a bit of glaze-y coconut cream on top? I’ve talked myself into a bit of that action. It has a different feel. A bit more casual, but certainly refined. The ratio of sweet topping to lemony and light cake is ideal for someone like me. It’s just a nice little snack to go with tea. A cup-sized cake shouldn’t make you feel like you’ve gone over the edge with indulgence right? It’s individually portioned out of reason, out of fairness and in the interest of an individual’s right to an equal portion of the dozen. It is just. These spelt-based cakes are rich with coconut milk and have a crunchy little dusting of nutty sesame seeds for fun because individual cakes, at their heart, are totally about fairness and super cute fun time with sparkles and everything else great in life. And this is totally one of those throw-it-all-in-one-bowl-and-mix kind of cakes! Everyone wins here.

lemon coconut cakes with coconut glaze and sesames
serves: makes 10-12
notes: Feel free to mix up the citrus a bit! Meyer lemon or orange or lime would all be quite good. Also, as soon as you use 1/2 the can of coconut milk in the batter, put the remaining milk in the freezer so that it can firm up and become more cream-like.

1/2 cup natural sugar
1/3 cup melted coconut oil + extra for greasing
1 14-ounce can coconut milk, divided
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup), divided
2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 cup white spelt flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
small pinch of fine sea salt
2 tbsp agave nectar
small handful toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 tin muffin pan and set aside.

Mix the sugar, coconut oil, half the can of coconut milk, lemon zest, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp of vanilla in a medium-large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.

Sift in the white and whole spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix into the wet mixture until just combined.

Portion the batter into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cake springs right back when you push on it and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack thoroughly.

Make the glaze: remove the remaining coconut milk from the freezer and give it a little stir. Whisk it up with the remaining lemon juice, vanilla and the 2 tbsp of agave nectar. Spoon on top of the cooled cakes and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar29/01/2012 - 9:14 pm

What a lovely treat! These sound so yummy!

Courtney30/01/2012 - 11:42 am

I agree with you about the whole cupcake thing! I can’t stand tons of icing and people seem to think that is crazy. These little cakes look absolutely delicious!

Jacqui30/01/2012 - 2:17 pm

I have never really liked cupcakes/cake all because of the frosting; way too sweet! But your’s sound just my style! And I love the sesame seed sprinkles too!

MyFudo31/01/2012 - 2:44 am

I love the mix of coconut and sesame seeds…The glaze looks really interesting! I have always loved mini cakes!

CulinarilyCourtney31/01/2012 - 3:22 am

While I have to admit that frosting actually is my favorite part of a cupcake, haha, these little cakes are just too cute not to want to eat them! I love your idea of sprinkling them with sesame seeds–nature’s sprinkles heheh :)

Zita31/01/2012 - 5:04 am

I’m vegetarian but I bake a lot of vegan cakes. These cupcakes are my kind of cakes! In most of my baking I also use whole spelt and white spelt flour. :)

I’ll definitely give a try and bake these muffins!

Jeanine31/01/2012 - 10:55 am

I can’t wait to make these! They’re so cute and what’s better than lemon and coconut?I’m with you on the frosting thing…

Jess @ littlegirlbigappetite31/01/2012 - 1:21 pm

Oh these look so cute and yummy! Glad to stumble upon your page and be a new follower :)

adrienne01/02/2012 - 10:42 am

Couldn’t agree more with cupcake culture. Wow, these little cakes sound dreamy! They’re the grown-up, educated version of the cupcake :)

Kels02/02/2012 - 4:16 pm

Love how you used newspaper for the drippings, can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that. These look like they pack quite a punch. And I agree, never was a cupcake gal myself, although these are something I could buy into.

Margarita03/02/2012 - 11:07 pm

Lovely little things! I, like you, have never gotten into the cupcake craze, but I do like muffins and delicious snackies like this.

Leah05/02/2012 - 10:45 pm

These look perfect – nice hint of coconut w/ sesame but not too sweet! Sounds like a fantastic combo.

rachel07/02/2012 - 8:24 am

New here… love this post. We must be soul sisters, because I couldn’t agree more about the horrors of cupcakes buried in frosting. I must try your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

Mary12/02/2012 - 5:12 pm

Would it be okay to substitute the two spelt flours in this recipe with 1.5 cups of an all-purpose gluten free flour (I use the Bob’s Red Mill brand). I’m new to the gluten free thing and have no idea how the different blends work.

Laura12/02/2012 - 7:06 pm

Hi Mary, I’m not totally sure how Bob’s would do in this recipe (it’s not my favourite blend to be honest). I really, really love this particular blend from another blog: http://www.ohladycakes.com/2012/01/how-to-make-gluten-free-flour.html. I’ve had a lot of success with it when making other treats (including cake). You might have to introduce a binder of some kind (a tbsp of ground flax seeds in 1/4 cup of water, an egg, 1/4 cup of applesauce or something similar) if you go with a GF flour blend in general though. Hope that helps!
-L

Judy @ Seven Second Rhapsody12/02/2012 - 10:29 pm

oh….wow. That just looks like it’ll make any rainy day fill with sunshine!

Mary15/02/2012 - 1:26 pm

Thanks Laura! That really helps. I’m definitely going to try the oh, ladycakes recipe!

Reb23/02/2012 - 6:19 am

Was searching for a sugar-free coconut milk glaze and came across your lovely blog, so glad I did! Your recipes and food philosophy are something I want to see more of– will be visiting often!

[...] Almost-vegan coconut lemon poppyseed cupcakes Very loosely adapted from The First Mess – 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature – 1/2 cup sugar – Half of a 398 ml (14 oz) can of [...]

Cookie and Kate25/02/2012 - 2:15 pm

Well, I don’t know how I missed these when you posted them last month, but they look absolutely perfect. Your little coconut cakes are my kind of indulgence.

[...] learned a few valuable lessons today when trying to transform Laura Wright’s Little Lemon Cakes + Creamy Coconut Glaze into doughnuts [...]