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a frequent conversation + a favourite snack


I’ve gotten into the same conversation a bunch of times about my preference for locally procured food. It goes in the predictable, but still challenging, direction every time. So what do you do in the Winter? This query is usually delivered in a “Ha! Gotcha.” kind of tone. Well… I always source the best hoop-housed, hydroponic or stored/cellared option I can find for the cooler months in my region. I preserve the bounty of summer, freeze what I can and rely on grains, beans, split peas etc a little more once the woolies are on. I start to miss broccoli though. And citrus, little spheres of sunshine from Florida and California that remind us of the spring to come. It’s just really hard to resist in its peak months. I also have an undying addiction to avocado. So what to do? I mix some imported items into my daily eats without any guilt whatsoever.

When the Ontario produce is on, I’m in there snatching up every last piece, leaf and trimming I can get. Whether from my own garden, the local grocer or  the farmer’s market, I choose locally-sourced items whenever possible. For nutritional completeness and overall culinary satisfaction, I mix in some imported goods while the snow falls. If I’m making a stew with stored Ontario onions, carrots, garlic,potatoes, heirloom beans, and canned summer tomatoes, I’m not going to feel terrible about stirring some American chard and minced thyme into the pot. Balance, consideration and flexibility is delicious in food, but also in life.

So with that, I give you one of my favourite snacks. Rustic, simple and highly adaptable to whatever greens are available/what you have leftover from last night’s supper. I make an olive tapenade with herbs and almonds to give it some body and a roast-y heartiness, slather it on crusty bread and top all of that with some super garlicky cooked greens and a little sprinkle of toasted almonds. Satisfying, salty, crunchy, mushy; only good things can come of this. You don’t have to actually make a tapenade either. A smear of ricotta or some dijon mustard is nice too.


garlicky greens bruschetta with olive & almond tapenade
serves: 2
notes: The bread is a pretty central ingredient here, so make sure your loaf comes from a bakery of good repute. Leftover cooked greens work wonderfully for this. Just give them a quick heat-up in the saute pan with a splash of water.

tapenade:
1 cup pitted olives (I went for kalamata)
1 clove of garlic, chopped a bit
1/3 cup almonds, toasted + extra chopped for garnish
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
zest of 1 lemon (optional but fantastic)
ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

bruschetta:
4 slices of crusty bread
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 small cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
5-6 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of chili flakes
salt and pepper
lemon wedges

Make the tapenade: combine all tapenade ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse ingredients about 10 times to get everything chopped up. Put it on high and drizzle the oil in through the feed tube. Stop the machine, scrape down the sides and flip to high again. Mix until you have a smooth, uniform paste. Set aside.

Start toasting your bread. Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the cabbage and saute until slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach. Saute until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and season the mix with salt and pepper.Stir and toss around until spinach is wilted but still quite green. Remove from the heat.

Slather slices of toast with about 2 tbsp of tapenade each. Place a mound of cooked greens on top. Serve with lemon wedges either hot or at room temperature.

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Jen14/02/2012 - 12:10 am

I’m with ya. To bide my time, I’m ordering seeds and thinking summery thoughts!

Margarita14/02/2012 - 1:10 am

I try to be seasonal as much as possible, but sometimes there are things that are too good to pass on… Bananas, avocados, pineapple, mangoes, mushrooms, I buy them all without feeling guilty. Somewhere out there it is still business for other small time farmers. That’s how I like to think of it.

Meaghan15/02/2012 - 4:28 pm

I love your recipes! I am a big fan on food gawker. Do you have a google +? I run a google + that distributes food articles and recipes. I would love to start sharing your stuff right from google +!!

kels16/02/2012 - 1:20 am

love olive tapenade. oh yes. only GREAT things can come of this :)

Anna @ the shady pine16/02/2012 - 7:08 am

What a perfect lunch this would be….anything with olives has me won over!

adrienne22/02/2012 - 9:47 pm

I follow along the same philosophy when it comes to local food in the winter months. I love this snack!

[...] Garlicky Greens Bruschetta with Olive Tapenade by The First Mess  [...]

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 […]

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[…] Roasted Tofu and Kale with Pine Nuts //The First Mess […]

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 […]