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So last weekend was a bit indulgent: heavy lazing in the sun, plenty of imbibing, swirly soft serve ice cream, wood-fired pizza, countless coffees etc. I was feeling a bit tired and, oh I don’t know, shameful by the end of it all. In an attempt to set my jaded body straight, I’ve been eating a lot of greens. We’ve got a few types of kale, spinach and chard in the gardens. In the midsummer heat they’re producing rather prolifically so they have to be eaten up anyway.

Fixing up some greens seems to be one of those things that people can get mystified over. This is roughly the technique/recipe my grandmother has used over the years and they’re always delicious, whatever the type used. Generally when she makes them for us, she throws in a handful of cooked flat or string beans for a bit of interest. It makes sense because they kind of grow together and produce consistently throughout the summer. I’ve never been one to question grandmotherly cooking logic. It just works.

The greens and beans get an initial cooking in boiling water to remove any toughness. Then they get sloshed around in a garlic and chili infused oil, a bit of salt and pepper and a good squeeze of lemon. The acidity at the end really makes them; not as noticeably cabbage-y and so bright.

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good greens and beans
serves: 2
notes: This whole thing comes together really fast! It’s good to have everything nearby, at the ready.

1 large handful yellow, green or flat beans, trimmed at the ends
1 bunch greens of your choice, cut into slightly larger than bite-size pieces
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1 clove of garlic, smashed or cut into 4 rough pieces
pinch of chili flakes (or to your taste)
salt and pepper
juice of half a lemon

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Once boiling, add a big pinch of salt and the beans. Simmer until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from the water and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process, set aside.

With the large pot of water still boiling, heat a large saute pan over medium. Add the oil to the saute pan, followed by the large pieces of garlic and chili flakes. Stir that mixture until it seems nice and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove garlic pieces from the pan and discard.

Drop half of the greens into the boiling water, stir them around a bit just to submerge them quickly. Remove from the water with tongs or a spider strainer and drop into the saute pan. Repeat with the second half of greens. This process should take about 20ish seconds. So fast!

Once all the greens are in the saute pan, add the beans in, season the mixture with salt, pepper and the lemon juice. Turn off the heat, toss everything together and serve immediately.

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Tomatoes have been on for a while and I couldn’t be happier. I know everyone goes gaga over the heirlooms (the colours, the shapes, the irresistibly old-timey names!), but they take the whole summer to come into maturity! It’s a long time to wait if I’m being frank. Thankfully, homegrown and humble cherry or grape varieties are plentiful early on. I made this as part of a dinner with lovely friends over the weekend and it was the star of the show, no easy feat considering what else was on the table: David Chang’s fried chicken and octo vinaigrette, Thomas Keller’s  Ad Hoc buttermilk biscuits, a super moist chocolate cake with peanut butter buttercream… But this little salad managed to shine right through.

In Canada, our answer to the Bloody Mary is the Caesar. The main difference: instead of straight tomato juice, we use Clamato, a potent mix of tomato juice and clam broth. Either way, the complex, spicy flavour is pretty universally appealing and obviously translates well in salad form. I skip the booze (and the clam juice), make a little flavour reduction, quick pickle some onions (any sort of pickled garnish on a caesar/bloody mary is the best thing) and voila, familiar and new all at the same time. Perfect, right?

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bloody mary salad
adapted from Anna Olson’s In The Kitchen with Anna
serves: 4
notes: Reducing all the vinegar and juice from the tomatoes gives this salad the oomph that it needs. And make sure you save those little, pale green leaves from the heart of the celery! They’re so tasty and beautiful, all mixed up with the forest green parsley on top.

2 pints small tomatoes, cut in half
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of salt
3/4 cup red wine vinegar, divided
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin half moons
2 tsp natural sugar
2 ribs of celery, small dice (about 1/2 cup) + leaves from the inner heart, finely sliced
1 tbsp celery salt
a few dashes of worcestershire (Annie’s brand is vegan)
1 tbsp horseradish
ground black pepper to taste
3-4 sprigs of parsley, finely sliced

Combine the tomatoes, minced garlic, salt and 1/4 cup of the red wine vinegar in a bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.

Combine the remaining red wine vinegar and sugar in a small bowl, making sure the sugar is dissolved. Add the red onions, checking that they are submerged in the vinegar. Allow them to get soft.

Once tomatoes have sat long enough, drain liquid from the bowl into a small sauce pan. reduce liquid over medium heat until there’s about 2 tbsp left and set aside.

Remove onions from vinegar and rinse, saving some leftover pickling solution in case you want to make the salad a bit wetter.

In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, onions celery, celery salt, horseradish, worcestershire, black pepper and tomato/red wine vinegar reduction. Empty mixture onto serving plate and garnish with finely sliced celery leaves and parsley.

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  • Jill23/06/2012 - 10:33 pm

    Awesome salad but it was missing one important Bloody Mary ingredient, Tabasco!!! I added some and it went from delicious to amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Zee30/04/2013 - 10:14 am

    I made this last night and it was delicious! I saw Jill’s comment (above) and added Tabasco to the leftovers and put it over spring greens for lunch today. Awesome recipe.ReplyCancel

  • K.I.S.S. Salads | Sous Style27/06/2013 - 11:08 am

    […] Bloody Mary Salad from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] ilman alkoholia, vaikka joissain nettiresepteissä kastikkeeseen käytetään vodkaakin. Tässä The First Mess -blogista mukaillussa reseptissä tomaatteja marinoidaan hetki, ja kastike keitetään kokoon niiden […]ReplyCancel

  • 76 must-try salad recipes05/10/2014 - 7:58 am

    […] Bloody mary salad […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Bloody Mary Salad […]ReplyCancel

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I’ve been varying stages of vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, you name it-tarian, throughout my life, all in the pursuit of living a bit healthier. So it goes without saying that I’ve made and ate a lot of granola. It’s super filling, pretty wholesome and really easy to whip up at home. My warm weather breakfast generally goes like this: a big spoonful of thick, plain yogurt, a handful of granola, a swizzle of honey or agave and some sliced local fruit on top. Oh, and a nice cup of tea before the day gets too hot.

I’ve tried a lot of techniques and different add-ins over time, but this adaptation of Bryant Terry’s recipe is easily my favourite. His version is classic with rolled oats as the star ingredient. A huge variety of steamed and flaked grains are available at most bulk food stores so I like to switch it up. They all have different textures and colours and varying degrees of nuttiness. The pre-toasting of the grains is so key. It really develops all of those unique characteristics.

I used to work for a relatively well known Food Network Canada personality and one of the frequent tasks was bagging her made-up granola recipe for sale in the store. Good aspect: you got to snack on granola for a solid hour under the guise of working. Bad: you were so full of granola at lunchtime, the thought of a food break was gross. This stuff is hearty!

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multigrain pumpkin seed granola
adapted from Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen (one of my faves for sure)
serves: makes 9ish cups
notes: I use extra virgin coconut oil because of the amazing buttery taste it gives. It does have a bit of a coconut tang so if you aren’t into that, reach for a grape seed, sunflower or other neutral oil. This recipe makes a lot so feel free to half it if you can’t get through it fast enough.

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups rye flakes
2 cups kamut flakes
2 cups spelt flakes
1.5 cups raw, shelled pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup melted extra virgin (unrefined) coconut oil
1 cup maple syrup (or raw, dark agave nectar)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place all of the oat, rye, kamut and spelt flakes on 1 large or 2 medium parchment lined baking sheets and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove grains from the oven and lower temperature to 325 degrees F, setting lined sheet pans aside.

Mix toasted grains with pumpkin seeds, cinnamon and sea salt until combined. Pour coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla into mixture and stir to combine. Scrape granola onto lined baking sheets and bake for 40 minutes or so, until the granola is deep golden brown and dried out a bit. Stir and flip the granola a couple times throughout the baking process to promote even browning.

Allow granola to cool thoroughly before packing into jars, bags etc.

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Lemonade is one of those things that I definitely crave in the heat, but once I have a glass, I’m good for a while. It’s delicious and refreshing no doubt, but one serving is often enough. One little taste. Refreshed and ready to move on.

Not the case with this stuff. I was straight up pounding it once it was good and cold. Just the slightest mention of lavender in something is all I need to get really excited. It’s floral, delicate, soft, elegant, a bit country and well… kind of girly. But in the best way! It’s just a naturally compelling ingredient to me. It tastes really great with sweet berries and lemon so I thought I’d give it a go in a summery refreshment. Memories of super sugary, pink lemonade from my childhood were making raspberries an obvious choice for added flavour.

I made the fatal error of throwing the raspberries in a blender along with everything else and flipping it to high right off the bat. Not the best idea! The speed and friction resulted in about two inches of pale, pretty pink foam on top of considerably lessened usable drink. It wasn’t unlike a brilliant pink cappuccino, which is to say that it was exactly like drinking a brilliant pink, lemon-y cappuccino. It got a bit weird. So, learn from my humble mistake and steep the raspberries with the lavender and muddle them up a bit. Besides, how often do you have the opportunity to muddle?

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raspberry and lavender lemonade
serves: makes about 1.5 quarts
special equipment: A really fine mesh sieve. Those raspberry seeds are so tiny.
notes: Seriously, don’t put this stuff in the blender out of laziness like I did. Blueberries or strawberries would be equally good in place of the raspberries. Also, I get my lavender buds from here, but they can be found at farmer’s markets as well. Oh and a splash of gin would make this into a fine little tipple, just saying.

1/4 cup dried lavender buds
1 cup raspberries
6 cups of filtered water
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp light agave nectar or simple syrup

Combine the lavender and raspberries with 2 cups of the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, put a lid on top and remove from the heat. Allow this mixture to steep for 10 minutes.

Combine the remaining water, lemon juice and agave nectar in a pitcher.

Once steeped, muddle raspberries in the pot with the back of a wooden spoon just to get the juices happening. Strain the mixture into the pitcher with a fine mesh sieve to catch all the little raspberry seeds.

Chill lemonade thoroughly and serve on ice with a few raspberries, a little lavender flower, a slice of lemon, whatever you like!

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  • […] 1. Lemonade is just so refreshing and the perfect beverage for a little brunch. I am so intrigued by the use of lavendar in this recipe from The First Mess. I never quite know how to incorporate this fragrant herb and it just seems so fitting here. Find the recipe here. […]ReplyCancel

  • Jenna26/07/2015 - 12:51 am

    Hi Laura!

    Can I use fresh lavender instead of dried?ReplyCancel

    • Laura28/07/2015 - 8:54 am

      You totally can! It might be less potent, so play with the flavour and add more if you need to.

grilled/roasted fennel + quinoa crunch salad // the first messpin it!

Rather recently, I was talking to the man in my life about how my day went, happenings, weather… you know, small talk. Then he said something big, my idea of big anyway. He had bought himself some organic quinoa at Costco. This is awesome because A) he independently thought it would be cool to have some super grain kicking around and B) uuum, did you see A?

Suffice to say, I was rather pleased at this development and set out to make a little salad with some strong and fresh flavours that he could get into. I know quinoa salad recipes are ubiquitous to say the least, but this one’s a keeper for me anyway. Charred fennel, fresh dill, spicy radishes and a healthy dose of lemon… it’s a supreme combo. And the fennel loses a bit of its, I don’t know, fennel-y-ness once caramelized. It’s a bit softer and a lot less licorice tasting. Just nice.

Quinoa is pretty easy to cook and the rest of the vegetables need just a bit of chopping. I don’t even pre-whisk the dressing ingredients, just pour all of the components on top of the grain and vegetables and mix it up. Once you get the pre-soaking of the quinoa thing down, you’re off and running.

grilled/roasted fennel + quinoa crunch salad // the first messpin it!

grilled/roasted fennel and quinoa salad
serves: 4-6
notes: I soak quinoa for about 15 minutes before I strain and cook it, just to get some of the bitterness off. Also, you’re just grilling the fennel to soften it up a bit and get some char happening. Roasting would achieve the same thing more or less.

3/4 cup quinoa, soaked and strained (any colour)
1 small bulb of fennel, trimmed, cut in half + core removed (save some of the fronds for garnish)
4 radishes, halved and sliced thin
1/2 of an english cucumber, diced small
3 sprigs of dill or 1/4 cup chopped
2 green onions, sliced thin
2 tsp dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil + extra for grilling/roasting
handful of chopped, toasted nuts/seeds (optional)
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F if you’re roasting the fennel. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Cook the quinoa: combine quinoa with 1.5 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grill the fennel: brush the fennel with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place onto a grill heated to high, cut side down. Grill until char marks are achieved on both sides and fennel feels a bit soft. Remove and cut into a rough small dice once cool. I do this by placing the flat side of the fennel down, cutting into lengthwise slices and then cutting those slices into smaller pieces.

Or roast the fennel: slice the halves of fennel and toss them in a bit of oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them out on the lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until soft and there are golden, caramelized edges.

Fluff the cooled quinoa with a fork and place into a large bowl. Add fennel, radishes, cucumber, dill and green onions. Add dijon, lemon juice and remaining olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined. Plate as you wish, garnished with the fennel fronds.

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