This tart is a showstopper. Smooth and creamy cashew cream is paired with the bright tang of cranberry compote for an unforgettable finish to any festive meal. Cranberries, skin on, are very high in beneficial bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants. Berry swaps This tart is also yummy with other types of berries in place of the cranberries. Blueberries, raspberries, or cherries all work well. Just take note that you may need to cook the filling a little longer and add a bit more arrowroot powder or cornstarch to achieve a very thick filling.
Subbing Middle Eastern dukkah for classic toasted almonds with your green beans is like taking your first international trip (or the first in a long time …) and (re)discovering that there’s a world of flavour out there. Dukkah is a blend of toasted nuts and spices that varies from region to region and home to home, so feel free to substitute pistachios (which you might already have for the glazed oyster mushrooms and caramelized parsnips), almonds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, or sunflower seeds for some or all of the hazelnuts, and play with the type and amount of seeds. Dukkah also makes for a crunchy, nutty addition to the persimmon salad. You probably won’t mind that this recipe makes a little extra. Don’t blend your nuts! If you’re using a blender to chop the seeds, you’ll be tempted to use it to crush the hazelnuts, too, but don’t! The blender will grind the nuts to a meal instead of coarse pieces, making for a much less fun texture.
This dish is a plant-based showstopper, with tender mushrooms in a sweet-and-sour glaze soaking into ultra-thick roasted parsnip purée. The parsnip is extra savoury and sweet thanks to a quick dunk in a pot with baking soda, whose alkaline nature makes for a stronger Maillard reaction, a.k.a. more caramelization when the parsnips are roasted. Balsamic swap Pomegranate molasses or Turkish or Iranian grape molasses are excellent replacements for balsamic vinegar and don’t need to be reduced before using.
This delicious appetizer is a terrific hors d’oeuvre for the holiday season. Dungeness crab is just being harvested at this time of year, and it’s a light delicacy that’s so easy to transport. For extra freshness, carry the crab filling and Belgian endive leaves in separate containers, and simply spoon filling into spears when you arrive. Seafood substitutions If crab is scarce, feel free to substitute with shrimp, smoked salmon, or tuna. Looking for a vegan twist? Replace mayo and yogurt with equal amounts of vegan mayo, and sub out seafood with chopped jackfruit, hearts of palm, or canned artichokes.
Many of us are familiar with age-old sweet and sour meatballs, regular fare on the buffet line or served from a slow cooker or fondue pot with long-handled forks. Roasted meatballs anyone? This version is definitely upscale and will have everyone hovering with forks in hand. Marvelous marmalade Red Onion Marmalade is a delicious accompaniment to many different dishes. For the vegetarian, warm it up and serve over Camembert or goat cheese. And for a vegan touch, cube and brown tempeh or tofu and spoon warmed onion marmalade overtop.
This spice cake is the perfect accompaniment to any holiday gathering. It’s not only deliciously perfumed with orange and a heady mixture of spices, reminiscent of gingerbread, but also perfect for those who have food sensitivities, as it’s gluten free and vegan. You can use your favorite brand of dairy-free yogurt for the frosting, but keep in mind that, for this recipe, the thicker the better. For added thickness, you can strain your yogurt through some cheesecloth set in a colander placed over a deep bowl. Depending on how loose your yogurt is, it may take up to overnight to drain. Garnish with ganache For a little more indulgence, forgo the frosting and instead drizzle with some chocolate ganache made by whisking together 1 cup (250 mL) warmed coconut cream with 10 oz (285 g) chopped dark chocolate.
Puréeing ripe persimmons into a creamy dressing makes for a sweet and juicy salad without excess oil. Persimmons are a seasonal treat with a local heritage. Native to the southeastern US and Asia, but able to be grown in Canada, and now grown around the world, much of what’s available in this country comes from California, Spain, and South Africa and starts appearing in markets in late fall and early winter. The most common cultivars are Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons, and either can be used for this recipe. Just keep in mind that Fuyus are ripe when firm whereas Hachiyas are ripe when their skins are begging to break and their tongue-tying astringency has turned to sugar-sweet juice. The only downside of being so juicy is that Hachiyas can be tricky to slice at that point, so if you’re going for presentation, choose Fuyus instead. If you can’t find persimmons, use sliced grapes. And feel free to top this salad with dukkah for a nutty, crunchy touch. A multitude of greens You can use any greens you like for this salad, from tender Boston lettuce to arugula to hardy kale, massaging the greens as much or as little as needed to soften them. Tender lettuces need just a gentle toss in the dressing (think relaxation massage) while kale needs something akin to deep-tissue. For tender greens, dress the salad just before serving so the leaves don’t wilt; hardier greens can be dressed well in advance.
In this plant-based stuffing, fresh herbs and dried fruit replace the depth of flavour usually infused by chicken juices, so use fresh thyme and rosemary if possible to maximize the flavour return. By baking the stuffing in a shallow dish, the bottom stays wonderfully soft and moist while the top becomes addictively crunchy, as opposed to an in-bird stuffing that ends up monotonously mushy. Sweet and not-too-salty For a more exotic flavour, skip garlic and add small pieces of dark chocolate. To keep sodium levels down, be careful that you don’t add too much salt. If your bread already contains a decent amount of sodium, you might not need to add extra, but taste stuffing before baking to make sure it won’t be bland. And err on the side of under-seasoned if you plan to eat it with a salty gravy or sauce.
Our delicious rice side dish will complement any main course. Standard holiday fare typically includes fluffy mashed potatoes, but our rice medley is a perfect update. Bonus: it’s vegan! Make-ahead tips Cook rice. Sauté onion and add cooked rice. Cool and refrigerate in covered container. Chop spinach and store in refrigerator in sealed bag. Chop herbs and store in refrigerator. Prepare almonds, chop, and cool. Store in tightly covered container. Shortly before serving, heat a little oil in large wok and stir-fry rice mixture until piping hot, then fold in spinach until wilted. Fold in fresh herbs, lemon juice, and candied almonds and scatter pomegranate arils overtop.
Cookies are a holiday staple, and these are sure to become a fast favourite. Experiment with your favourite nut or seed butter here to make it your own new family tradition. Picture perfect Make quick work of shaping cookies by using a cookie scoop. They come in a variety of sizes and help ensure picture-perfect cookies every time.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this roasted vegetable appetizer platter. High quality ingredients, a variety of textures and colours, fresh herbs, and a flash of lemon make it shine. Not all olive oils and balsamics are created equal Use your good, fruity, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil to accompany this appetizer platter, since the quality and flavour will shine through. You can use a more neutral and affordable olive oil for roasting the vegetables, if you prefer. As for the balsamic vinegar, use either an aged one that’s thick and sweet, or reduce a young balsamic in a small saucepan until thick, optionally adding a pinch of sugar to sweeten it (see the oyster mushrooms with caramelized parsnips recipe for helpful directions). A store-bought balsamic glaze that’s already been thickened works as well, but check the ingredients for unwanted preservatives and sweeteners.
Spooned over hearty fall greens such as kale or chard, this delicious side dish can also double as a main meal; its flavours absolutely pop with our zesty herb topping. The beets are packed with amazing nutrients, plus they’re delicious served hot, at room temperature, or cold. Add some crunch This dish is a meal in itself. Scatter toasted pine nuts or pecans overtop for some added crunch.
“One of my favourite stir-fry meals is broccoli beef, so when I found myself with several hundred pounds of Yukon Mountain caribou this past fall, I figured a ’bou backstrap would be an excellent game replacement,” says Cosco. “Paired with a side of rice, this quick game meal is ready to go.” Note to those afraid of cranking the heat: “The pan needs to be ripping hot to give an immediate sear,” says Cosco. Take a deep breath, and go for it. What’s backstrap? Backstrap comes from the caribou’s longissimus dorsi, the muscle that runs along the spine. Beef striploin would be a good substitution for the lean meat, says Cosco. The slices should be cut to the classic length of fajita strips, about 1/2 in (1.25 cm) wide.
Simple and quick, this spot prawn pasta combines local, juicy seafood with a touch of heat. If you can’t find a fresh Fresno chili pepper, use a red jalapeño or a tiny bit of fresh cayenne pepper instead. Heads or shells—on or off? Cosco serves the prawns with the shells and heads on, but if you’re not catching your own spot prawns, buy ones with the heads removed. Prawns and shrimp release an enzyme from their heads when they die that makes the flesh black and mushy. Cooking prawns in their shells adds flavour, and the shells come off easily once cooked, but they can be a bit messy—especially when camping—so feel free to remove them before cooking or buy a smaller quantity of shelled prawns or shrimp if you’re worried about everyone’s fingers smelling of seafood all night.
Delicious for breakfast or even an afternoon snack, this breakfast bowl is so thick and creamy, it looks and tastes like dessert! The real kick is the essential reishi mushroom powder, which is thought to contribute immune system support. On its own, it can be a bit bitter, but locked into this chocolatey dish, it’s definitely a winner. Reishi health benefits Reishi mushroom powder is well known for its immunomodulating components. This may be the reason that many people opt to include reishi powder in their diets to boost their health during cancer therapies. In Asian countries, it’s been used for thousands of years because of its suggested well-being and longevity effects.
There’s nothing better to nosh on than a sandwich with oodles of fresh herby flavours. This herbed version of an egg salad sandwich is perfect for a midday brunch. It’s laced with a jazzed-up spicy mayo and topped with plenty of fresh herbs and zingy lemon. Choose a quality sourdough bread, such as rye or sprouted buckwheat, for a chewy and fibrous crunch when toasted. Chiffonade how-to To chiffonade fresh herbs, stack leaves on top of each other and then roll up tightly. Thinly slice perpendicular to the roll.
“This was a surprisingly straightforward and delicious way to warm up on a chilly lakeside outing,” says Cosco. “Polenta requires only a little bit of heat, a 1:4 cornmeal-to-water ratio, and a generous portion of Parmesan to be delicious. I like to add a bit of ‘luxury’ by adding a stock cube and a knob of butter to the boiling water.” His twist on a classic gremolata uses fish-friendly dill and parsley and cuts through the creamy richness of the polenta, itself a counterpoint to the crispy-skinned salmon. Crispier salmon skin The trick to getting that perfectly crispy skin is to sprinkle fillets with salt as soon as you’ve cleaned them. While you prep the vegetables, the salt removes excess moisture, which you can wipe off with paper towel (to be used as fire-starter) just before searing. Better bouillon Look for a low-sodium stock cube without preservatives.
Fall is plenteous mushroom season. Mushrooms, both fresh and dried, are available all year round, but fall brings out the best of the best with a myriad of varieties. Whether you cook with fresh or dried, the healthy components of mushrooms provide a compendium of antioxidants, no matter what the season. Did you know? Shiitake mushrooms boast antioxidants more powerful than many other plants. Specific to mushrooms, these antioxidants are being studied for their antiaging health benefits and are even being cited by some as “master antioxidants.” Many flavours of balsamic Balsamic vinegar comes in varying degrees of sweetness. This dish requires a rich, flavourful balsamic, not too acidic. Add a pinch of dark brown sugar, if needed, for a full-bodied flavour. Using dried mushrooms In this recipe, dried mushrooms are an excellent alternative. Simply soak dried mushrooms in hot water until plumped. Strain, using soaking liquid in the recipe in place of stock, or reserve for a soup. Pat plumped mushrooms dry before using in your recipe.
Root soups are hearty and healthy go-tos during the colder months. A couple of often overlooked roots, rutabagas and turnips are sometimes thought to be bitter. One quick way to take the bitterness out of these roots is to add a bit of sweetness. In this recipe, we’ve upped the ante with sweet potatoes and carrots to create a delicious soup with an abundance of healthy ingredients—plus plenty of flavour for everyone. DIY Chinese five-spice powder Although readily available in most grocery stores, you can easily make your own. In small, heavy skillet, combine 6 star anise pods, 2 Tbsp (30 mL) fennel seeds, 2 1/2 tsp (12 mL) black peppercorns, and 3/4 tsp (4 mL) whole cloves. Toast over medium heat just until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Transfer to mini blender. Add 1 Tbsp (15 mL) ground cinnamon. Whirl until mixture is finely ground. It can be stored in an airtight small jar; use as needed. It’s equally delicious on roast chicken or pork.
This quick curry is great with a variety of proteins, including fish, says Cosco. You can use as much or as little trout as you like. Seasoning the fish as soon as you’ve cut the fillets ensures the salt permeates the flesh, making for a more delicious result. Don’t toss that fish skin! There’s no point leaving it on the trout in this recipe because it won’t be crispy, but Cosco uses it to make fish skin chips. “I’ll cut it into little triangles, put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, layer parchment paper overtop and another cookie sheet , and put them in the oven until they’re crispy. It makes these perfect Dorito-like chips,” he says. Don’t knock ’em till you try ’em!
This plant-only recipe may look like it required a lot of fuss, but it comes together easily. Tender zucchini is loaded with a hearty and satisfying bean mixture and then finished off with a drizzle of cheesy tasting sauce. What’s nutritional yeast? Not to be confused with brewer’s yeast or the active dried yeast used to make bread and pizza crust, nutritional yeast is a deactivated form of a micro-organism that is dried into flakes with an abundance of naturally occurring glutamate. Glutamate is an amino acid that interacts with specific taste cells in the tongue to unleash an umami, cheesy wave of flavour. Blend it with silky tofu and some seasonings and … bingo … vegan cheese sauce.
Reminiscent of the stuffed cabbage of yore, the flavour profile of these stuffed chard smacks of cozy fall. It looks all fancy, but everything comes together surprisingly quickly. If desired, you can use turkey or pork sausage and brown rice. Time-saver tip For larger grains, such as wild rice and spelt, it’s a very good idea to soak them for several hours before cooking. This will slash the cooking time by about a third. If not soaking the wild rice, add roughly 20 minutes to the simmering time.
This stuffed eggplant is built upon layers of Middle Eastern flavours: smoky freekeh, tender chickpeas, and a herbal tahini sauce. The quick-pickled raisins add a sweet vinegary pop. Sweat it out Salting eggplant before cooking enhances the flavour by allowing eggplant to sweat out its bitterness and breaking its spongy texture.