ginger sweet potato dal // via @thefirstmesspin it!ginger sweet potato dal // via @thefirstmesspin it!ginger sweet potato dal // via @thefirstmesspin it!ginger sweet potato dal // via @thefirstmesspin it!
I’ve been making this recipe forever. Sometimes I change it up with other spices or different types of lentils/pulses, but the core remains as one of my weeknight dinner go-to’s. I love how it checks off all of those crucial boxes: easy, quick, economical, comforting and so, so good for you. I think there’s just the right amount of things to keep it interesting too. The little cubes of sweet potatoes still have a bit of bite. The leeks are sweet and bring that fragrant hit of coconut oil (I love drizzling a bit of the extra oil from cooking on top as well). Some juicy lime and a couple hits of something hot keep it all in balance. It’s a vibrant and easy thing to keep us in the light this time of year.

I have a hunch that a lot of us are thinking about changes and things we want to take on, either over the holiday break or into the new year. I know there will be some major ones in my house, all of which you’ll probably hear about in good time. I’m not really a juice fast kinda gal anymore, but my man and I have both acknowledged that we need to focus-up some of our tendencies in terms of health and self-care. We do eat well, but sometimes I just worry that we need to be a bit more intentional and selective with our choices. Protein-heavy bowls of food like this one definitely help. I’m going to turn 30 this winter and with that, there’s a lot of considerations coming into the circle nutrition-wise. I’m excited to explore those things and work some of them out here in this space.

So in the arc of self-care and intentional choice-making (and spreading holiday cheer!), I’m partnering up with the generous folks at Wine Country Ontario for a giveaway. I’m a passionate supporter of Ontario wine–I grew up in the birthplace of Canada’s wine industry after all. I’ve worked in farm to table joints and a few winery restaurants over the years. I’ve also been lucky enough to do tastings with wine makers and sommeliers, see production facilities and gain insight in terms of how the land and climate effects what goes into a bottle of VQA certified wine.

So naturally, when they asked me to partner up with their 12 Days of Wine Country Ontario promotion, I was all in. I got to hand pick the $150.00 prize from a variety of Ontario wine country businesses. I eventually settled on the gorgeous 4 diamond Oban Inn, Spa and Restaurant right in the heart of my hometown. It’s so quaint and gorgeous. I remember my first-ever fancy dinner was spent in their restaurant on my mother’s birthday when I was around 5 or 6 years old, and I was just so excited by the sugar cubes that they brought out for her post-meal coffee. Also, my mom’s birthday is this week so the timing of this is just too sweet for me :)

Full disclosure: for hosting this giveaway, I’ll be receiving the same prize from Wine Country Ontario and I’ll tell you right now that I plan on using it in their very chill spa for some optimum self-care. Fancy lady time!

To enter for your chance to win one (1) $150.00 gift card for the lovely Oban Inn, Spa and Restaurant in Niagara On The Lake Ontario, you can leave a comment on this post telling me how you practice self-care in this busy time. For me? It takes many forms: sometimes it’s my favourite turmeric shake as an afternoon snack, or taking an afternoon off to visit my parent’s dog, a bath with my hippie lavender bubbles, and sometimes it’s a glass of wine on the couch when I have a million other things to do. For a bonus entry, snap a photo on Instagram of your self-care in action and tag me (@thefirstmess) + Wine Country Ontario (@WineCountryOnt), using the hashtag #12daysVQA. This contest is open to Canadian residents only and you have until Sunday night (December 14th) at midnight to enter! Giveaway is now closed!

Last little notes: those sweet potatoes in the photo up top are stored in my new favourite thing: washable paper bags by UASHMAMA. I’ve been using them for plants, little trees, bread, storage, produce etc. They’re so handy and blissfully reusable. I really do recommend them. I also did an interview on Get the Gloss this week AND participated in a major cookie party on BAKED with some of my favourite Canadians. Lastly, I collaborated with Pure Green Magazine, Lindsey, and Claire for a holiday Pinterest board that focuses on celebrating in a way that’s kind to the earth and our bodies. Hope you dig! xo

ginger sweet potato dal // via @thefirstmesspin it!ginger sweet potato dal // via @thefirstmesspin it!ginger sweet potato dal // via @thefirstmesspin it!ginger sweet potato dal // via @thefirstmesspin it!

ginger sweet potato dal with coconut leeks recipe
print the recipe here!
serves: 4
notes: Every recipe I’ve read for dal tells you to add the salt at a different time (to avoid toughness or the lentils breaking down too soon etc). I add a solid pinch at the beginning when I pour the water and then adjust it at the end to my liking.

dal ingredients:
2-3 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of chili flakes
1 cup red lentils
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced small
1 two inch piece of ginger, peeled + minced
1 one inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled + minced (or substitute 1 tsp dried turmeric powder)
3 1/2 cups filtered water + extra if necessary
salt to taste

coconut leeks ingredients:
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 leek, white and light green part julienned
squeeze of lime juice
pinch of salt

to serve:
cooked, warm rice (I used black japonica rice from Lundberg)
chopped parsley, cilantro or mint (or a combination)
black sesame seeds (very optional)

Place a large pot over medium heat. Heat up the coconut oil in the pot and add the ground coriander, mustard seeds and chili flakes. Stir about until the mustard seeds start to pop just a little bit.

Add the lentils, diced sweet potato, ginger, turmeric, and a pinch of salt. Stir the whole mixture to combine/coat in oil. Add the filtered water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the mixture is creamy and soupy, stirring occasionally. The sweet potato pieces should still be intact with a tiny bit of bite. The lentils will be broken down, filling out the mixture. Add more water if you need to. Keep it warm while you sauté the leeks.

Heat the coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks to the pan and sauté until leeks are soft and very fragrant. Season with salt. Add a squeeze of lime if you like. Remove from the heat.

To serve: divide the hot dal over 4 portions of rice. Top the dal with sautéed leeks and a few dribbles of the coconut oil left in the pan. Garnish each serving with the chopped herbs and black sesame seeds.

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  • valentina - sweet kabocha11/12/2014 - 5:09 am

    This plate is sunshine in a winter and grey day! Sweet potatoes are not so common here in Italy, but luckily they are almost alway present in my organic food store…and I love them so much!ReplyCancel

  • Liz S.11/12/2014 - 5:44 am

    During this busy time, I practice self-care by granting myself daily “me time” (exercise, meditation, and reading a good book).ReplyCancel

  • lynsey // lynseylovesfood11/12/2014 - 7:42 am

    There is so much goodness in this post that gives the means to practice self care – warming comfort to, easy go-to meals to take the stress off, cookies, and of course wine. with the snow this morning this is all i want to eat! xoReplyCancel

  • Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine11/12/2014 - 7:53 am

    What an incredible combination of flavors! I always think dal looks so good- but I am allergic to lentils! Anything you can think of that would make a substitution?
    Laura: Hey Michelle, Can you eat dried split peas? That would be the easiest one-for-one substitution. Otherwise, some par-cooked little cannelini beans might be do-able. You would have to adjust and play around with the water amount though.
    -LReplyCancel

  • Carol11/12/2014 - 8:45 am

    This looks perfect for dinner any night! One question…the “carrot” bit of the recipe is missing? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright11/12/2014 - 8:49 am

      Hey Carol! That was a teeny mistake. I originally planned to do this as a sweet potato AND carrot dal, but changed my mind last second. All fixed now. Good eye on that :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • JESSIEMARCEL11/12/2014 - 9:06 am

    Wow… i often make dal w/ red lentils, so comforting and warming and filling. But I’ve never thought of adding sweet potatoes to the mix!!!! Think i got dinner covered! My self-care these days is subbing herbal teas istead of my morning coffe durring the week(coffee makes me go nutts in so many ways its not even funny! But sooo good!!!) and treating myself to one single delish flavored (hommemade coconut milk creamers!) on sunday mornings!ReplyCancel

  • Bianca @ Sweet Dreaming11/12/2014 - 9:46 am

    a nice calming morning coffee or a refreshing run!ReplyCancel

  • Meg11/12/2014 - 9:52 am

    I’m a pediatric nurse, so self-care is hugely important, and sandwiched in between 12 hour shifts and all the other things I have on my to-do list. It usually involves a long run or yoga, but equally as often, a glass of wine and a netflix marathon. Plus I never say no to a little chocolate!ReplyCancel

  • Nik@ABrownTable11/12/2014 - 10:09 am

    Isn’t dal the best and red lentils are delicious! I love the flavors you used in this recipe, it reminded me of all the good things that make it so comforting. By the way, where did you get that little bowl, it is beautiful?
    Laura: Hey Nik, thanks so much! The bowl is from a Canadian book/gift store chain called Indigo. Although I’m not sure if they sell that particular one anymore. Link’s here anyway!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole11/12/2014 - 10:30 am

    What a fabulous giveaway! My husband grew up in Ontario’s wine country also and my in-laws still live there. I would love to win this prize and spend a night at the Oban Inn!

    This time of year, it’s essential for me to practise self-care by sticking to my exercise routine – that means making it to the gym as much as possible, even if it means stopping there on my way to a family get-together. It makes a world of difference both physically and emotionally.

    Happy holidays!ReplyCancel

  • liz11/12/2014 - 10:54 am

    I do tai chi and draw. I also bake bread.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley11/12/2014 - 11:26 am

    My simple, go-to meals never look quite this pretty. Definitely need to try this!ReplyCancel

  • Jillian Fontes11/12/2014 - 11:27 am

    Looks delicious! This time of year, I’m taking care by slowing down and cooking something everyday (the soba noodle soup was great). I used to waitress in NOTL, so this giveaway sounds fantastic!!ReplyCancel

  • Lynda D11/12/2014 - 11:36 am

    Thanks for this yummy recipe!

    How do I practice self-care? By sitting on my cushion as often as I can to meditate, whether for 3 or 30 minutes, no matter. I also just signed up for a 3-day silent treat over NY’s. A gift to myself where I create space to reflect on the past year and let it go, and ground myself for the year ahead. Yum. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Patricia Gaudet11/12/2014 - 11:47 am

    What kind of rice was prepared in this recipe?
    Laura: Hi Patricia, I used black japonica rice from Lundberg, which can be found here. I bought a big bag at my local Costco.ReplyCancel

  • Erin11/12/2014 - 12:06 pm

    Making time for daily exercise and making lots of the recipes from your blog helps keep me trued this time of year! And the occasional jacuzzi tub beer doesn’t hurt either. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan11/12/2014 - 12:19 pm

    Diggin this so hard! Girl, your photos are always on point annnd I need some of those reusable bags, stat. Self care usually comes in the form of pizza, cat cuddles and lots of tv.ReplyCancel

  • Jaime R11/12/2014 - 12:37 pm

    I practice self-care by getting a CSA box most weeks which encourages me to eat whole, healthy foods and experiment with new recipes without even having to head to the grocery store…plus it feels good to buy local and eat seasonal foods!ReplyCancel

  • Alex11/12/2014 - 1:29 pm

    Taking time to cook, go for extra long walks and getting some solid cardio!ReplyCancel

  • Shawna Green11/12/2014 - 1:39 pm

    My favorite self care routine is to attend my Pilates class regularly! I always feel centred and energized after a work out. I adore the Oban Inn!ReplyCancel

  • Saniel11/12/2014 - 1:46 pm

    Food looks very yummy and easy to assemble.
    I practice self care by standing on my porch and taking deep breaths Inhale-taking in all the world is offering me and Exhale out all negative thoughts I put on myself. Curling up with a good book and calming tea helps too. Thanks great giveaway getaway.ReplyCancel

  • Marlee11/12/2014 - 2:11 pm

    The store was out of leeks. Do you think Bok choi would be a fine substitute?
    Laura: Hi Marlee, I just use leeks because I like the mild, sweet onion-ish flavour they provide. I would go for thin slices of a sweeter onion, such as vidalia, and just sauté them a bit longer in the coconut oil. Just until they’re a bit soft. Shallots would work too! Or even some chopped up green onions/chives sprinkled on top of the dal at the end would be fine.
    ReplyCancel

  • Christina11/12/2014 - 2:23 pm

    There are so many ways I practice self-care as we near the holidays; hot tea, freshly baked snacks, and relaxing on the sofa. I think the most important one for me (which is harder to actually do) is getting in that cardio as well!ReplyCancel

  • CdnSyl11/12/2014 - 2:28 pm

    Eeek! I was just recipe dreaming about sweet potatoes and lentils but hadn’t yet figured out how to go about it. So excited to give this a try! I’m Niagara-bound for the holidays so I’ll put in my two cents on self-care: cooking, playing piano, curling up with a good book, and getting as much as exercise outside as possible!ReplyCancel

  • Colleen (@905Foodie)11/12/2014 - 3:01 pm

    Thank you for that recipe. I am starting to experiment with legumes. It looks really good!

    Self care can be tough. I took an unusual twist on it this year. I am completing tasks super early. All my shopping and wrapping is already completed. I still need to clean and decorate – and that will be done tomorrow.

    That means I get to relax in the lead up to Christmas – it’s a pretty amazing gift to me! LOL

    I will be enjoying glasses of wine on the sofa with a kitty on my lap. I will borrow my BFFs dog and take her for walks. My hubby and I will go for a drive out to our favourite cidery for drink, dinner and convo and we simply won’t be stressed! Who knew this could be possible?ReplyCancel

  • SUMMER PLEWES11/12/2014 - 3:31 pm

    I am actually not taking very good care of myself right now. I am mentally exhausted. I try to take baths though and read and I just recently bought a relaxation meditation for mindfullness cd that I need to be listening to.ReplyCancel

  • Ania11/12/2014 - 3:38 pm

    I get together with friends and family as much as possible, because being together is what really makes this season festive!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca@Figs and Pigs11/12/2014 - 3:46 pm

    What amazing colours just beautiful.I need to use more fresh tumeric.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle11/12/2014 - 4:04 pm

    Sweet potato dals have always been one of my favourite base recipes; thanks for a gorgeous variation.

    Self-care for me is returning home to St. Catharines, waking up before the rest of my family, brewing a pot of coffee and heading out for a run in the Escarpment. And then warming up with a cup of said coffee and chatting with my mom on the couch upon return :)ReplyCancel

  • Riley11/12/2014 - 4:07 pm

    That recipe looks deeelicious! During this time of year I try to maintain my physical and mental health by getting good rest, fitting snuggle time in with my man and guinea piggies, and by going to the gym regularly. Bean and veggie soup is also a great pick-me-up. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jessie11/12/2014 - 4:21 pm

    This post is gorgeous — and I especially loved all your links at the end, you’ve been busy girl! That interview was fun to read through, I love your philosophy and outlook and overall personality, and wish I could go grab a cup of coffee with you! Have a great weekend – xoReplyCancel

  • Margaret Brady11/12/2014 - 4:24 pm

    I would love to winReplyCancel

  • Brooklynn11/12/2014 - 4:34 pm

    I love to bake for self-care. Following the structure of a recipe when everything else around me is hectic helps to calm me down.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Ann11/12/2014 - 4:35 pm

    I am so looking forward to making this dal! But first, time on the floor with my 7 collies, that’s right, just 7 and then, why of course, a bubble bath, then more time on the floor with our collies. Bliss, sweet bliss!ReplyCancel

  • Matt11/12/2014 - 4:37 pm

    I practice self-care through my woodworking. I love getting lost in the details.ReplyCancel

  • Brittany11/12/2014 - 5:23 pm

    This past year I’ve been struggling with eczema and trying a bunch of methods to soothe my skin, one of them being eating better. I find it very rewarding to spend time alone in the kitchen or at my computer, search for and discovering new recipes or new takes on old recipes. I’ve really cleaned up some of my favourite foods and I love discovering new ways of making a food I’ve always eaten even better for me!
    For me this kitchen-therapy has been a two fold for self-care, feeding my body and my soul=)ReplyCancel

  • Eileen11/12/2014 - 6:33 pm

    This dal looks so blissfully orange and warming! You have to love it. Also, as the proud owner of something like six leeks, I am looking forward to the coconut leeks especially! I’m not Canadian, so best of luck to the winner!ReplyCancel

  • Susi Brust11/12/2014 - 6:46 pm

    I will definitely try this dal recipe very soon. During stressful times, I try to get outdoors for a run or at least a brisk walk. Healthy eating helps as well. Susi.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly11/12/2014 - 7:07 pm

    I like to sit back with a glass of red wine for a little self care and relaxation.ReplyCancel

  • Marlee11/12/2014 - 7:55 pm

    Made this tonight and I licked the bowl clean. Don’t be afraid to try this- it’s officially a weeknight regular on my meal planner. This dish is good for the soul. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Brown11/12/2014 - 9:01 pm

    At this busy time of year, I make sure to go to a weekly yoga class, as well as putting aside a little time every night to read the novel on my bedside table!ReplyCancel

  • Carol Cormier11/12/2014 - 9:01 pm

    For self care I’ve been starting my mornings with a smoothie made from kale, frozen berries, almond milk and a bit of protein powder. I’ve been trying to walk more and have been keeping track of my steps and sleeping patterns with my Jawbone Up.ReplyCancel

  • Leahanne Alexander11/12/2014 - 9:06 pm

    I schedule time for Christmas movies on the couch with the hubby. Gets us in the spirit, while keeping us from being Grinches. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Elena11/12/2014 - 9:44 pm

    I made this for dinner tonight :) Exactly what I wanted! Bonus – picked up some naan from the indian restaurant to make it even more comforting for this freezing cold night! Thanks!!!ReplyCancel

  • Linda11/12/2014 - 11:24 pm

    Self care I go to hot yoga or take a relaxing epson salt bath with candles & soft music.ReplyCancel

  • Jess R.12/12/2014 - 3:00 am

    The best self-care for me has to involve laughing – I sometimes need call my sister for some giggle/self-care therapy. Thank you for creating this wonderful blog!ReplyCancel

  • Teffy @ Teffy's Perks12/12/2014 - 7:28 am

    Oh wow this looks so delicious! Just showed this to my partner and we are both drooling! This has to happen in my kitchen soon!!

    {Teffy’s Perks} XReplyCancel

  • I’m not eligible for the giveaway, but I’ll chime in anyway. I can identify with eating healthy most of the time (like, really healthy in comparison to most people I know), but feeling like it’s not focused or conscious enough (maybe because I broke down and ordered a pizza this week?). Looking forward to more posts on that, as I turn the big 3-0 this year as well!ReplyCancel

  • Dillon Tisdel12/12/2014 - 10:09 am

    This is my kind of meal. It looks absolutely perfect.ReplyCancel

  • Stephen12/12/2014 - 11:32 am

    I like to go for a run at night when all is quiet and peaceful for self careReplyCancel

  • Erica B12/12/2014 - 12:44 pm

    exercise!ReplyCancel

  • Sheila Lavell12/12/2014 - 1:07 pm

    My self care routine now includes your Green Drink. I find if I know i have a busy, stressful calendar I have the ingredients in the house to do a wonderful favour for myself. It energizes me and reminds me that I need to take care of myself. As a proud Niagara native too I love your wine country give away and enjoy seeing all your well deserved success.ReplyCancel

  • Suzan12/12/2014 - 1:31 pm

    On days when I would like to relax, I practice self-care by creating my own home spa at the end of the day (facials, manicures, meditative music, etc.).ReplyCancel

  • jennifer12/12/2014 - 8:47 pm

    The sauteed leeks are brilliant!ReplyCancel

  • Siren12/12/2014 - 9:14 pm

    Why must you tempt me with the chance of winning fancy lady time? If only Boston were in Canada. My favorite thing to relax with this season is making paper. I collect flowers and leaves over the fall to make them into greeting cards. I love the feeling turning what would be trash into something beautiful.
    The dal looks amazing though. I love the contrast between the dark purple rice and the sunshiny lentils. I’m so making that tonight for dinner.ReplyCancel

  • Cristina12/12/2014 - 10:20 pm

    Beautiful recipe.
    When in feeling super indulgent I take a bath with a bath bomb from Lush.ReplyCancel

  • Craig Green12/12/2014 - 10:34 pm

    Self care over the holidays involves running outdoors- fresh air and some daylight always raises spirits! Love the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Bonnie13/12/2014 - 9:21 am

    Christmas self care – watching a classic movie (or two or three)….ReplyCancel

  • Yemie13/12/2014 - 10:10 am

    I practice self care, with my yoga practice. Pranayama, Aasana, and then Meditation. This balance my body and mind and soul.ReplyCancel

  • Laura13/12/2014 - 11:00 am

    I get some fresh air….snow shoeing, hiking, etc. :)ReplyCancel

  • mar13/12/2014 - 12:23 pm

    I will make myself a cup of organic hot chocolate and spices :) i’ll try this recipe sounds deliciousReplyCancel

  • jodye @ whole pure recipes13/12/2014 - 8:26 pm

    It’s a good thing I have plans to go to an Indian restaurant tonight, because I am seriously craving these flavors! The photos are beautiful but, I’m sure, don’t even do justice to how wonderful this dish must be!ReplyCancel

  • Marisa Coyne14/12/2014 - 1:16 am

    I head over my local self-care studio for a sauna. Love the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen14/12/2014 - 7:36 am

    This is such an unbelievably beautiful dish, Laura! Comfort in a bowl without being loaded with fat and sugar. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • Justyna14/12/2014 - 10:55 am

    Beautiful recipe, a must-try for me. Practicing self-care involves taking the time each morning to prepare a tasty breakfast and enjoy it while counting my blessings and being eternally grateful for what I have.ReplyCancel

  • Kaitlin14/12/2014 - 11:16 am

    Love Ontario wine country!
    My self care this time of year includes saying no, getting enough sleep, going to yoga and eating the extra cookie.ReplyCancel

  • Kris14/12/2014 - 11:52 am

    Exercise is my go-to self care strategy. It has the amazing benefit of making you feel good in the moment and keeping the stress lower over the long-term. Add to that the occasional glass of wine, lots of veggies every day, lemon water in the mornings, big belly laughs, and 8 hours of sleep on the regular, and it’s a dream life.ReplyCancel

  • Jillian Christine14/12/2014 - 6:25 pm

    I practice self-care a few different ways. I eat well – smoothies almost every morning. I like to mix it up using various fruits and vegetables. And I like to add turmeric to my smoothies like you do! :) I also do yoga – I find it both relaxing and rewarding. And my favourite – massages! I love pampering myself at the spa with a swedish or hot stone massage!ReplyCancel

  • TOva14/12/2014 - 9:24 pm

    Reflective…and significantly important…thank you for sharing. I too, am working to improve my self care and I find that keeping it at the forefront, on a daily basis has been instrumental in helping me to staying on track. Although it may sound boring, I choose to take a bath/have a quick shower every evening. While bathing, I always reflect on my day, and remind myself of my goals, focusing on my intentions and behaviours on the past day, and the next. I think about and visualize my next day, and set little goals that help me achieve self care. Some days it’s intentionally planning my menu, or focusing on ensuring I make an exercise class. Having a daily shower/moment of reflection helps me stay focused and intentional.ReplyCancel

  • Sherry15/12/2014 - 12:15 am

    Laura – what a lovely post (well, as always from you!), and an amazing giveaway too: I can’t resist entering with a comment – my husband and I spent a couple of nights at the Oban Inn last fall for our wedding anniversary and it was so delightful! You’re right about the potential craziness of this time of year, and also about the means for making it all go a bit better: for me it’s taking time to spend with important people – always the right thing to do, but it can still slip by the wayside when the mentality of that “busy” thing takes over. My husband and I hopped the train to visit my family for a couple of days last week, and last night he and I sat down to a film together (first time in a while!) … these small things (or not so small sometimes) can really give us back our perspective, can’t they? Thanks for the wonderful spirit your blog always conveys.ReplyCancel

  • Leanne15/12/2014 - 11:05 pm

    this was amazing. i just made it. it is exactly my style of meal. you’re great and i will be back again and again for more of your words and combos. thank you for dinner. :)ReplyCancel

  • Austin Bay17/12/2014 - 6:53 pm

    Love this recipe! I need another week night meal to add to my list + the idea of sweet potatoes + coconut oil sounds delicious to me. Thanks for sharing :)ReplyCancel

  • Mahee Ferlini17/12/2014 - 9:08 pm

    This looks colorful and delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Kim17/12/2014 - 9:24 pm

    Made this a few nights ago – simple and delicious! Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • […] This sweet potato dahl with coconut leeks looks warming! […]ReplyCancel

  • Jaclyn (Cinnamon Street)18/12/2014 - 7:26 pm

    These photos are amazing! Recipe looks right up my ally. YUM.
    ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley19/12/2014 - 2:19 am

    I am always so smitten with your clever combos. This is my kinda comfort right here.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie @ Veg Fiend21/12/2014 - 4:06 pm

    So elegant and simple. Jaw-dropping photography. I am utterly inspired by your blogging!ReplyCancel

  • Ava28/12/2014 - 7:26 pm

    This recipe is so perfect for a cold Chicago night. I have to thank you for opening up this former “obligate carnivore” to a world of inspiring and simple vegan dishes. I used the green lentils I had on hand, and tossed the leeks with a little quinoa flour and deglazed the pan with a bit of coconut milk to enhance the coconut flavor. It’s perfectly warming and delicious, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany31/12/2014 - 10:29 am

    FYI: you can make this with or without the garam masala. We made it once while looking at the recipe on our tablet (and so it’s not listed on the ingredients list there). And when we made it again I had printed it, and it’s in those instructions.
    Both ways were very tasty!ReplyCancel

  • […] This ginger and sweet potato dal.  Those photos…how can you not want to make this? […]ReplyCancel

  • Izzy11/01/2015 - 4:13 pm

    Do you have to soak the lentils beforehand??ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright11/01/2015 - 11:19 pm

      Hi Izzy, If you’re using red lentils you don’t need to soak them. A little rinse never hurt, but they cook up so fast that a soak isn’t necessary–definitely one of the reasons I like them so much :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • jim11/01/2015 - 4:17 pm

    Great recipe again. Just wondering if it’s OK to freeze and how long it would keep?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright11/01/2015 - 11:19 pm

      Hi Jim, you could definitely freeze this. When I freeze soup/stew of any kind, I always aim to eat it within 2-ish months.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Jenny Griffith13/01/2015 - 6:58 pm

    I LOVE YOUR BLOG. SO BEAUTIFUL!

    You choose the most beautiful ingredients. Please keep making wonderful recipes. You inspire me.

    -Jenny from Wild Vedic LivingReplyCancel

  • Hung Up On | bean + nash14/01/2015 - 8:29 pm

    […] Ginger sweet potato dal with coconut leeks. Now, please. […]ReplyCancel

  • Julia19/01/2015 - 1:57 pm

    this is such an awesome cheap, easy & nutritious weeknight meal! making it for the 2nd time tonight. rock on Laura!ReplyCancel

  • M25/01/2015 - 6:01 pm

    I’ve made this twice now and it’s phenomenal. So easy to put together and honestly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Missweb18/04/2015 - 3:04 pm

    can’t stop making this… so good… so, so good. added a can of full fat coconut milk. again, still really good.ReplyCancel

  • Renee21/04/2015 - 8:53 pm

    Been wanting to make this for a while now, and just finished my second bowlful. It is. so. good. Followed pretty much verbatim except for my choice in rice; used basmati. Fantastically easy and cheap, it will definitely be in frequent rotation. My almost 4 year old wolfed it down like nobody’s business. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

garlic pepper soba w/ chili-roasted tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!garlic pepper soba w/ chili-roasted tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!my vegetable stock process // @thefirstmesspin it!bay leaves // @thefirstmesspin it!herbs tied up // @thefirstmesspin it!my vegetable stock process // @thefirstmesspin it!

If you can believe it, this bowl was inspired by a packet of instant ramen we picked up at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago (along with some non-dairy, non-denominational holiday nog). The flavour pouch from that crinkly package with the crimp-y noodles was really good at providing a top note of salty. There’s a certain appeal to that for sure, but I knew I could do better with some noodles swimming in homemade broth. I have a couple methods for making delicious, hearty vegetable stock/broth, but the one I’m going to share here today is my most utilized for sure. It’s also the most versatile. Then, we’re going to salt that broth, pour it over soba noodles, puréed garlic and thin wisps of lacinato kale. We’ll top it all off with chili-roasted tofu, some sliced scallions, lots of black pepper, and lime juice.

I don’t want to wander into the territory of utter preciousness talking about vegetable stock, but my method is pretty exact and I stand by it. I’ve read a few things on the internet that go along the lines of: “Just save all of your vegetable scraps in a Ziploc, freeze it for now and then dump those trimmings into a pot of boiling water when you’re ready for soup. ” I would not encourage this strategy. Good stock can become the base/backbone of soups, sauces, risottos etc. You can just sip it too! I would never utilize true scraps unless I wanted my food to taste like concentrated, simmered down waste bits. Sometimes I have half an onion in the fridge, a couple rubbery carrots, and I do save leek tops for stock-making as a general rule, but these are selective additions that are only scrap-like.

My point is that there is a certain advantageous vegetable combination to aim for when you’re making stock, and I would definitely recommend sticking to it for maximum diversity in usage. This is the closest I’ll ever get to being absolutist in terms of a food. You wanna make pizza crust with cauliflower? Yes, go for it. I’m fine with calling that pizza. Tiny bits of vegetables fronting as rice? Sure. Let’s even call it pilaf if we mix it with something. Vegan mayonnaise? Without eggs?! YES TOTALLY. Stock though? I refuse to mess around with that. Building blocks, dude.

The base of mine is onions, carrots and celery. Of that base, fifty percent should be onions with the papery skin left on (mostly for colour), followed by equal parts carrots and celery to form the whole. From there, I use leeks (white + green parts), a parsnip if I have one, smashed garlic cloves, black peppercorns, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, parsley stems, and maybe a fresh dill stem or two if I have them (but I mostly do this because Ina does it too). (also this) With the parsley and optional dill, you’re only adding the stems. The leaves of both have too much chlorophyll (normally the best thing ever), which will only contribute a damp, funky taste over time. A few black peppercorns and that’s the end of that. I don’t salt the stock because I know I’m going to be liberal on that front with whatever food I’m adding it to.

The onions get a good 7-8 minute browning for extra depth of flavour before the other vegetables are added. I drop everything else in one by one, sautéing for a good 20 minutes before any filtered water is added. Also, filtered water is important because consuming chlorine is never cool in my books. I simmer the whole works for an hour maximum. I know with meatier broths, the longer you can simmer it the better. But I don’t find vegetable-based broths really benefit from extra time, which is perfect because we want soup, like, yesterday. I make broths with shiitake mushrooms and ginger if I’m feeling kinda meh. Or ones with lots of different mushrooms, shallots, star anise, and a bit of tamari to season if I want something with extra heft. But this one that I’ve outlined above and below is the go-to. I hope it can be yours too.

And these noodles! Once you have the broth, you’re in business. Just an easy, slurp-y bowl of noodle soup with lots of feel-good ingredients. Quick, nourishing comfort for full days. Although these particular noodles aren’t gluten free, they’re easily my favourite ones to use. My favourite cooking method for tofu is roasting because the pieces get kind of crunchy/crisp-like, making a nice foil to the softer parts of this bowl. I slice kale thin, grate fresh garlic and grind tons of pepper into the bowls before pouring the hot, salted broth in and giving it all a stir. Deep immune power! You could make this your own in a number of ways: fine shreds of different vegetables, rice noodles, little dabs of miso dissolved in the broth, some chopped cilantro, cooked beans, or whatever you have on hand honestly. Just make sure your broth game is lined up first :)

my vegetable stock process // @thefirstmesspin it!tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!garlic pepper soba w/ chili-roasted tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!garlic pepper soba w/ chili-roasted tofu // @thefirstmesspin it!
garlic pepper soba with chili-roasted tofu + kale recipe (+ my vegetable stock method)
print the recipe (for noodles) here! // print separate vegetable stock instructions here
serves: 2 (with extra broth)
notes: As noted above, this recipe is fairly customizable just so long as you shred any additional vegetables fine enough to “cook” upon contact with the hot broth. Also, check the label of your soba noodles to ensure there is no presence of wheat if gluten is an issue. If you have a tofu press, using it prior to roasting the tofu would make for a nice, chewy texture.

stock ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium cooking onions, rough diced (with skin left on)
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and rough diced
2 stalks of celery, scrubbed and rough diced
1 large leek, cut lengthwise down the center
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed lightly
5-6 sprigs of thyme
3-4 parsley stems
3 bay leaves
6-7 whole black peppercorns
2 litres/8 cups filtered water

soba + chili-roasted tofu ingredients:
1/2 block firm-extra firm tofu, dried off with a paper towel
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
zest of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp lime juice
salt + pepper
2 servings-worth of dry soba noodles (as noted above, I use these ones–seek out a GF brand or use rice noodles for a GF alternative)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4-5 leaves of lacinato kale, thinly sliced
salt + lots of black pepper
lime wedges + extra chili flakes

For the stock: heat the oil in a large stock/soup pot over medium heat. Add the rough diced onions and sauté until you start to see deep brown marks on some of the sides, about 7-8 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté another 4-5 minutes, or until the edges seem a bit softer. Add the rough diced celery and stir.

Run the split leek under water to remove any grit, then chop it roughly and add it to the pot along with the smashed garlic cloves. Stir the vegetables until the leeks are bright, bright green and noticeably softer, about 4 minutes. Add the thyme sprigs, parsley stems, bay leaves and black peppercorns to the pot and stir. Add a good splash of water and loosen up some of the brown bits in the pot with your spoon.

Slowly pour the filtered water over the vegetables. Raise the heat to medium-high and cover the pot. Bring the stock to a boil, remove the lid, and then simmer stock for about an hour.

Allow stock to cool slightly before straining and storing in containers. Stock will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days and in the freezer for 6 months.

For the soba with chili-roasted tofu: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a small baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Once you’ve dried off the tofu, cut it into 3/4 inch cubes and place the cubes on the parchment lined sheet. Drizzle tofu with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and top with the chili flakes, lime zest, salt, pepper and lime juice. Toss to combine and slide the tray into the oven. Roast tofu until brown edges appear and there’s a detectable crispy-ness, about 25 minutes. Flip and toss the tofu cubes about halfway through.

Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, drain noodles and set aside.

Heat the 3 cups of vegetable broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a fat pinch of salt to the broth and bring to a boil. Keep at a medium simmer until ready to serve.

Very finely mince or microplane the garlic cloves into two separate soup bowls. Top the garlic with the chopped white parts of scallion, and ground black pepper to taste

Divide the soba noodles, sliced kale and roasted tofu among the soup bowls. Pour the hot broth over top. Garnish the soup with remaining chopped scallions and more salt and pepper if you like. Serve with lime wedges.

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  • valentina - sweet kabocha04/12/2014 - 4:30 am

    I love soba so much, especially in broth! It is time I buy a packet of soba, oh yesReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar04/12/2014 - 4:50 am

    This looks like such a comforting meal! I just love this.ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan04/12/2014 - 7:17 am

    I love your eyes of making broth! The times I have made it with scraps it ends up tasting like dirt, gross. As always, your words and photos are hella awesome : )ReplyCancel

  • Tori@Gringalicious.com04/12/2014 - 7:51 am

    Gorgeous photography and the soup looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • yum! looks incredible! I just started making my own veggie broths and there are so many different takes on it! I’ll have to try yoursReplyCancel

  • Aleksandra04/12/2014 - 9:08 am

    I love your in-depth approach to making broth. I think its these steps that we often forget in cooking and which can make or break the end result.I will definately be trying this very soon. I reflected recently on making Polenta and how simmering it slowly and stirring it for a long time made it all the more delicious. In the end you can feel all the love that went into it. You described it so well. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Grace04/12/2014 - 9:20 am

    This broth is liquid gold! I would love a mug full, straight-up to sip on!ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae04/12/2014 - 9:31 am

    GRRRRRL. <3 This is fucking awesome. I've only recently started making my own broth (shaaaaame on me) (but it's not from frozen scraps so THERE) and it blows the 365 stock outta the water. NO GOING BACK. We have all the ingredients for this in our kitchen, so I'm going all in for dinner tonight. But with rice noodles because soba would require a trip to the store and I'm so damn lazy these days it's pathetic.ReplyCancel

  • Maryna04/12/2014 - 10:45 am

    It looks so damn good!!!ReplyCancel

  • Liz @ Floating Kitchen04/12/2014 - 10:51 am

    This looks so warm and comforting. I’m ready to dive right in! And agree…homemade stock is a must. I just save little scraps of vegetables in freezer bags and then when I have enough stock-piled, I go for it!ReplyCancel

  • Ileana04/12/2014 - 11:07 am

    You make vegetables look so gorgeous. :)ReplyCancel

  • Vijay from NoshOn.It04/12/2014 - 11:32 am

    Love these tips for a good veg stock. Mine always come up super bland and boring!ReplyCancel

  • Kari @ Cooking with Toddlers04/12/2014 - 11:49 am

    This looks so yummy! Perfect for cold winter days. And I’m in love with your cutting board…so beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Kris04/12/2014 - 11:52 am

    I love your stock game!ReplyCancel

  • Julie04/12/2014 - 1:57 pm

    This looks amazing!

    Have you ever added prunes to your stock? I’ve started to based on a “Plenty” recipe and there is no going back! It adds such a beautiful color and sweetness to the stock. I love it.ReplyCancel

  • michelle04/12/2014 - 3:02 pm

    So beautiful! You never know where inspiration will strike! I love soba but with soba I gotta have wakame and edamame…ReplyCancel

  • renee (will frolic for food)04/12/2014 - 3:39 pm

    well this is perfect in every way. i love making stock at home. your recipe sounds just so delicious. and is there anything better than a steaming noodle bowl like this on a cold night? i.e. i’m gonna be making this soon. thanks for the recipe (and oh man, could those photos be any prettier?!).ReplyCancel

  • cynthia04/12/2014 - 4:16 pm

    So dreamy. This sounds like the perfect winter meal, Laura. And I second others — your stock game is on point!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth04/12/2014 - 9:41 pm

    I love me a little kitchen dogma, and your stock principles are right on. I do almost the same thing for my veg stock, but had never thought to add the onion skin. As it happens, I’m broth-ing the frozen remains of our Thanksgiving bird (totally not the same thing, but still), and your advice came at the right time –– onion skins added.ReplyCancel

  • Riley04/12/2014 - 10:17 pm

    This recipe has my mouth drooling and I just ate dinner, so that’s saying something. I can’t wait to try this broth too! It’s also nice to see another vegan out there appreciating the glory of Ina Garten. Seriously, classiest woman ever. :)ReplyCancel

  • kristie {birch and wild}04/12/2014 - 11:12 pm

    If I want a stand out vegetable broth, I make a version like this. Otherwise, I use vegetable scraps (totally freeze them in a ziploc)and seaweed to make a mineral broth, which I sip in the morning. Those scraps are full of minerals! This soup looks lovely. I am always impressed at your ability to construct a dish really well with lot’s of different elements. And you take insanely good photos, too!ReplyCancel

  • Lynsey04/12/2014 - 11:29 pm

    Good stock is heaven in all it’s slurpy goodness!! Thanks for sharing yours. xoReplyCancel

  • Ana @ The Awesome Green05/12/2014 - 6:16 am

    I have a similar way of preparing the veggie stock, but I always add celeriac, parsnip and root parsley to enhance the flavors. Your way of preparing the vegetable stock reminds me of the Italian soffritto which gives that fabulous taste to minestrone soups. I bet yours tastes fantastic too!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn05/12/2014 - 7:58 am

    You’re so right – stock is such a fundamental ingredient that it makes absolutely no sense to use the crappy odds and ends from the bottom of the fridge. Onion skin = perfect.ReplyCancel

  • […] I die. 4. Christmas in a cookie. 5. This is a galette I’d like to eat at a wedding! 6. This noodle bowl looks absolutely dreamy. (It’s gluten free and vegan to […]ReplyCancel

  • Mary05/12/2014 - 9:38 am

    Such beautiful photos and such a delicious recipe – a perfect soup to cheer up this dreary cold weather – thanks!
    MaryReplyCancel

  • Kathryne05/12/2014 - 1:16 pm

    Dang girl. Fantastic post! I’ve actually NEVER made my own vegetable broth, in part because I’m lazy but also because I doubted that simmered bits of bad vegetables would produce anything tasty. Thanks for confirming my suspicion! This soup looks marvelous.ReplyCancel

  • Wow! This looks SOO good! I love that it was inspired by a packet of ramen :) Cannot wait to try this!ReplyCancel

  • […] veg stock recipe/method is top notch. Plus did you see that soup?! It’s on […]ReplyCancel

  • Jessie05/12/2014 - 6:05 pm

    Tucking this recipe away for a cold snowy day when I’m feeling extra patient ;) your broth method is legit!ReplyCancel

  • […] garlic pepper soba bowl. […]ReplyCancel

  • Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy06/12/2014 - 9:06 pm

    oh my gosh this looks SO GOOD!!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah @ eating with alice07/12/2014 - 3:29 am

    I’m feeling a little bit under the weather tonight and this looks like exactly what I need!ReplyCancel

  • […] Garlic pepper soba. Yessss! […]ReplyCancel

  • Aysegul - Ice07/12/2014 - 10:07 pm

    Great information about making vegetable stock. You are so right about it. Since I started making my stock, I now know that nothing compares to the depth of flavor that it adds to the dish.
    I can only imagine how tasty this soba and tofu dish must be with your homemade stock.ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food07/12/2014 - 11:20 pm

    I need a whole pot of this stock in my life. Full of soba goodness, of course.

    Hope you’re doing well! Have a great week!!!ReplyCancel

  • Re08/12/2014 - 6:24 pm

    Your photography is so beautiful! Do you use Photoshop to edit?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright09/12/2014 - 8:25 am

      Hi Re, Thank you so much. I use a combination of Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom to edit the photos. I have several versions of VSCO film installed onto Lightroom, so I play around with that as well.
      -LReplyCancel

  • […] Mon amour pour la cuisine asiatique ne tarit pas. Surtout quand je vois cette recette. […]ReplyCancel

  • Ella09/12/2014 - 6:21 pm

    Every time you post a new recipe I am so grateful for you! Thank you for taking the time to stun us with your beautiful pictures and yummmyy recipes! You make my day each time I see somethin new.ReplyCancel

  • Anita10/12/2014 - 12:04 am

    Wow this recipe has changed my veg stock game for good I think! Was perfect and restorative on a snowy night.ReplyCancel

  • erin {yummy supper}10/12/2014 - 4:28 pm

    Laura, I am so feeling this. Everything about this recipe speaks to me. Yum!
    xoxo
    EReplyCancel

  • Weekend Links and Inspiration13/12/2014 - 7:45 pm

    […] ~  From now on, I am making my vegetable stock with Laura’s method. […]ReplyCancel

  • Sini | My Blue&White Kitchen14/12/2014 - 7:48 am

    Love this post; your description of the process of making your vegetable broth and, obviously, this soba noodle soup recipe. Feeling so inspired now. Thanks for sharing. xxReplyCancel

  • Oh Ina–everything is so easy for her! I imagine it would be when you have a staff of 13, haha. Thanks for sharing your stock method, especially the freezer vegetables everyone swears by. I have to say, I’ve had success using close to your vegetable mix, but frozen, BUT I also always include fresh garlic, onions, and parsnips.ReplyCancel

  • […] pepper soba with roasted tofu = […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Healthy+spicy+asian= my sweet spot […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Soba w/ chili roasted tofu […]ReplyCancel

  • Lyn29/12/2014 - 5:39 pm

    This is a great site. Totally agree with your post on making stock. And thank you for the note on the parsley stems. Can kale stems be added to the veg mixture for stock?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright04/01/2015 - 4:28 pm

      Hi Lyn, I generally avoid adding anything from the brassica family, even the watery kale stems, to stock because I find they impart a bitter flavour. I always juice or blend my kale stems into my daily smoothie if I need to use them up :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • […] Mushroom & Kale Grilled Cheese | Parsnip Fries Roasted Vegetable & Quinoa Bowls Garlic Pepper Soba with Chili-roasted Tofu + Kale | Steamed Potstickers BLTs | Rutabaga & Potato Salad Collard Greens in Asafetida *** | Basmati […]ReplyCancel

  • […] a little sick.  I decided to make my own vegetable broth for the first time using the recipe from The First Mess, and it’s so much more flavourful than store-bought vegetable broth! Plus I love that you can […]ReplyCancel

  • […] My new vegetable stock recipe from the first mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] palatable, but this time, for once, I took the time to cook it low and slow in some simple, rich vegetable stock, renouncing all former assumptions upon the first […]ReplyCancel

  • […] french or black lentils 2 tsp olive oil 1 small cooking onion, small dice salt + pepper 3 cups vegetable stock 1 cup raw millet, ground into flour/meal handful of flat leaf parsley, rough chopped couple stalks […]ReplyCancel

  • […] another exacting recipe for a warming vegetable stock (and a simple, cozy noodle dish) from The First Mess. She poops on my vegetable scrap idea, but her points are good and the broth looks rich and […]ReplyCancel

  • dedietrich19/03/2015 - 10:54 am

    Looks delicious. I’ll try this some day :)ReplyCancel

  • […] another exacting recipe for a warming vegetable stock (and a simple, cozy noodle dish) from The First Mess. She poops on my vegetable scrap idea, but her points are good and the broth looks rich and […]ReplyCancel

caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad // via @thefirstmesspin it!caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad // via @thefirstmesspin it!caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad // via @thefirstmesspin it!healthy holidays // @thefirstmesspin it!healthy holidays // via @thefirstmesspin it!
I am dead-set on a holiday decor extravaganza at my house this year. I’ve got some sweet garlands, birch trunks, old hydrangea blooms sprayed with GOLD, the lights, lanterns, a boxwood wreath, lime green osage oranges, grapevines, spruce cuttings, pine cones, and some jute rope and pretty ribbon to finish it off all nice. That’s just the outside stuff. It’s kind of soothing clipping branches and jamming them into frozen boxes of dirt in the name of merry-making. It’s definitely frivolous, but in the moment it feels way too important. Also, having a hot drink in your snuggy gear after–that feels way important too.

I need the light-hearted distractions of twinkle lights, gold spray paint and bow-tying this time of year. It’s easy to make yourself feel trapped by all the things you absolutely have to accomplish within the span of one hectic month. Everyone is busy and everyone will tell you how busy they are at least 5 times in any given conversation. I am guilty of this. Yesterday I had to cook and photograph something and re-make another thing because the first thing was unusable in a previously outlined context (so specific, right?!). But I hung out with my mom, sipped some piping hot decaf (wuss-level), and strung up garlands on my porch in the morning instead. I still got all of my work done, but I went into it with a bit more warmth and energy once I got started.

I mean, I think work should be taken seriously. But busy-work is pretty much the worst and really? It’s the essence of holiday crazy-making. I never post a gift guide on here and generally advise people on just loving each other instead if they ask me about one. I feel anxious when I see things like that. I worry about the world sometimes, the direction of society, gorilla populations, and I tend to take things a bit seriously on a good day, but that pressure is real. It takes form in sometimes nonchalant ways, and I think we all feel it a little.

I said this last week, but it bears repeating: I’m really going for calm and overall wellness in this mad season of life. I’m fixing up really nourishing eats, making the house smell good, trying with might to focus my eyes away from screens, and making small improvements to my daily motions–all in good time. If I go into 2015 with a focused, intentional whisper instead of a bang, I’ll be happy.

On that nourishing eats tip, there’s this bowl of vegetables with caraway and fresh horseradish dressing. I do love a good and crunchy broccoli salad stashed away to mix with greens and a bit of avocado or something. The best ones always seem to have sweet and sour components. This one is filled out with just a bit of cooked quinoa–enough to cling to the lightly cooked florets. I quick-pickle some shallots and add some crisp sweet apples to the mix as well. The dressing is a bit spicy and sharp with the horseradish and lemon, but grounded with the earthy anise-flavour of caraway. I’ve been adding just a bit of flaxseed oil to all of my dressings lately. I like the nutty taste, but also those anti-inflammatory, polyunsaturated fatty acid vibes too.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American pals this week. Salad and hugs to you all :) xo

caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad // via @thefirstmesspin it!caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad // via @thefirstmesspin it!caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad // via @thefirstmesspin it!caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad // via @thefirstmesspin it!healthy holidays // @thefirstmesspin it!
caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad recipe
print the recipe here!
serves: 6
notes: I steam the broccoli and cauliflower florets, but you could totally do this as a raw salad and bypass that extra step if you want. I use a bit of flax oil in the dressing (#foryourhealth), but straight olive oil all the way is just as well.

caraway + horseradish dressing ingredients:
2 tbsp grated fresh horseradish
juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2-3 tbsp)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt + pepper
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (+ extra for the salad)
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flaxseed oil (or more olive oil)

salad ingredients:
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
salt + pepper
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1-2 stalks of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 apple, small dice
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup marcona almonds, chopped

In a blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Check it for seasoning, adjust, and set aside.

Place the sliced shallots in a small bowl. Cover them with the 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the maple syrup. Let the mixture sit while you make the rest of the salad. You want the slices of shallot to be lightly softened.

In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa with 1/2 cup of filtered water and a pinch of salt. Bring the quinoa to a boil over medium heat. Then lower to a simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Steam or boil the broccoli and cauliflower florets for 3-4 minutes or until slightly soft. Drain the florets and run cold water over them. Dry lightly with a paper towel and transfer to a larger serving bowl. To the bowl, add the cooked quinoa, diced apple, chopped dill, marcona almonds, and extra caraway seeds.

Drain the shallots and add them to the bowl as well. Add as much dressing as you like and a good amount of salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

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  • valentina - sweet kabocha27/11/2014 - 4:29 am

    Flaxseed oil for President!! :DReplyCancel

  • Karuna27/11/2014 - 6:35 am

    Wooooh do you have a book coming out soon that you not allowed to announce just yet??? Can’t wait for it already!!

    Will have to wait till you get more specific about that:)ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright27/11/2014 - 7:54 am

      Hi Karuna, Those vague comments were actually about a recipe I had to make for a certain popular food site ;)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Aimee @ Simple Bites27/11/2014 - 9:50 am

    A beautiful sentiment for the holiday rush. I’m glad I’m not the only one who loves to play with pine boughs and branches with berries for outdoor holiday decor. Natural is best!ReplyCancel

  • Tieghan27/11/2014 - 10:13 am

    I am so with you on holiday decor and cheer. This is probably the busiest I have ever been, but I too have pines, lights and all the good stuff up this season! It’s my favorite!!

    Loving this nourishing plate, it’s the perfect thing to keep me going! :)ReplyCancel

  • Christina T27/11/2014 - 12:02 pm

    This looks great! Do you think it would pack up well? I’m thinking about making it for a potluck.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright27/11/2014 - 12:38 pm

      Hi Christina, I think it would pack up just fine–you could even dress it ahead of time. I would just add the chopped dill and marcona almonds to the salad when you arrive at your destination.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Christine27/11/2014 - 1:08 pm

    Laura, I am so with you on the intentional slowing down during this season and keeping an eye towards wellness and wellbeing instead of allowing oneself to be swept up in the crazyness. I love your holiday decor photos – I cannot wait to do my house (inside and out!). Horseradish always feels like a holiday condiment (to me, I guess? haha) so it feels particularly fitting in this salad as we approach December! this may be a funny question, but I really like your linens here – where are they from?ReplyCancel

  • Lane | Green Spirit Adventures27/11/2014 - 1:27 pm

    I love everything about this post. :) I totally agree with the whole slowing down for the holidays bit – and the decorating!!
    I’ve been craving broccoli for a couple of days now, so I think this recipe will absolutely hit the spot!ReplyCancel

  • hannah27/11/2014 - 2:07 pm

    This looks lovely and I’m totally feeling the same about trying to ease into 2015 in a really calm and positive place emotionally.. start as you mean to go on.
    Serves 6? Did you have it as a side dish?
    xxxReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright27/11/2014 - 5:09 pm

      Hey Hannah, I suppose it could be more of a serves 4-6 kind of thing, depending on what else is on the table etc.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Nicola27/11/2014 - 4:50 pm

    Love the thoughts! Horseradish & Caraway, two things I’ve been wanting to try lately, there not so common in Aus. Am definitely going to have to go hunting now. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn28/11/2014 - 6:40 am

    In my book, there is nothing so good at relieving stress than twinkly Christmas lights, preferably with a glass/mug of something hot and/or boozy. Love the punch of flavours in this salad too. I feel better just looking at your vibrant pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie @ Veg Fiend28/11/2014 - 8:58 am

    I am totally with you on being uneasy about the over-consumerism of this time. I do not have a TV at my house, and now that I am with my family for the holiday, and surrounded by the non-stop holiday commercials, I truly notice the pressure that large retail corporations put on consumers to buy, buy, buy at this time over year over spending time with their loved ones. When I am at my own house, I do come across the occasional holiday ad online or in the newspapers, but it is nothing like the ubiquity of tv ads. Glad to see you are feeling calm and well during this season :)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah28/11/2014 - 6:13 pm

    Thank you for this lovely post. This time of year it’s all too easy to get bogged down– both on a personal and big picture level– and lightness is definitely needed. This salad looks delicious. My stuffy head and weary body has been craving fresh, tangy, spicy grub like this… can’t wait to try!ReplyCancel

  • Millie l Add A Little29/11/2014 - 4:42 am

    This looks amazing Laura and love what you’ve written!!ReplyCancel

  • kristie {birch and wild}29/11/2014 - 12:23 pm

    I have a hard time slowing down during the holidays. I am always trying to make all of the food and make all of the gifts, furiously knitting away and baking for at least month. This year I decided to just do some basic homemade gifts, and then buy the rest from local artisans. That way, I can take a break and breathe, and I am also supporting the local economy.
    This salad looks lovely. I looks like the kind of clean eating I crave before the excess of the Christmas holidays.ReplyCancel

  • Bec30/11/2014 - 7:21 am

    such stunning photos.. I am not drooling and salad dreaming! I hope you had a great TG xReplyCancel

  • jaime30/11/2014 - 5:26 pm

    for real, your flavor combinations are incredible. i love caraway and always welcome a fresh way to incorporate it.

    re: busy-ness, have you read this?: https://medium.com/thelist/the-cult-of-busy-bbb124caed51ReplyCancel

  • Grace @ The Big Reveal01/12/2014 - 12:26 pm

    This looks so delicious! And, as usual, your photography blows me away! Love, love, love. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food01/12/2014 - 10:14 pm

    I’ve tried to balance out all the heavy, unhealthy dishes with flavorful and satisfying salads. This one is blowing my mind. Love all the textures and the use of horseradish (why don’t more people include it in recipes?)ReplyCancel

  • […] Il n’y a pas que les soupes dans la vie en hiver, et cette salade de saison a l’air dél… […]ReplyCancel

  • la domestique02/12/2014 - 6:12 am

    Oh boy I feel you. Been struggling with the same stuff and it’s nice to hear I’m not the only one. Love the sound of a healthy holiday and YES to horseradish dressing!ReplyCancel

  • Suzanne02/12/2014 - 12:39 pm

    Just made this. Ate the entire blow. This is probably one of the best things I have ever eaten! fresh horseradish on this is genius!ReplyCancel

  • Bethany Schimmel03/12/2014 - 6:38 pm

    Wow. Your photography is amazing. I love reading food blogs and this has got to be the best photography I’ve seen in one.ReplyCancel

  • Sherrie04/12/2014 - 1:46 pm

    Beautiful words, from one world concerner to another, I couldn’t agree more. So moving is happening!! And we’ll be packing straight through the holidays and I said I wouldn’t bring out the decorations this year, that might make things a little crazy. BUT you’ve inspired me to get my twinkling lights on, they always have a warm and comforting way to soothe my soul.

    so much love girl,
    xo sherrieReplyCancel

  • […] Laura has some beautiful words {+ a healthy bowl of goodness} on embracing the holiday season, you should read it. […]ReplyCancel

  • DebbieG04/12/2014 - 9:31 pm

    I made this salad tonight. My only change was to lightly roast the cauliflower and broccoli. It was gorgeous. Thanks for the recipe.ReplyCancel

  • […] 4. Full disclosure: I’m afraid of horseradish.  The story involves being fed a spoonful of horseradish as a child and me subsequently DYING.  Okay, feeling like I was dying.  But this recipe looks like a safe new beginning for horseradish broccoli quinoa salad. […]ReplyCancel

  • Sarah03/01/2015 - 8:16 pm

    2 stalks = 2 crowns?ReplyCancel