Roasted Butternut & Eggplant with Tahini Miso Dressing {vegan}

roasted eggplant & butternut miso tahini sauce

Roasting brings out amazing qualities in vegetables – especially with squash and eggplant. High heat creates little cubes of excellence – caramelized and golden on the outside and meltingly soft on the inside.

This tahini miso dressing is vegan luxury. Savory and creamy, it’s a lovely way to tie together a salad of warm roasted vegetables and fresh green herbs. I used cilantro, but you can use parsley or a combination of the two.

This salad makes a great side dish or a whole meal when served over a bed of rice or quinoa with some toasted flaked almonds.

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Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Salad with Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

b-sprouts pomegranate 

My brussels sprouts default is a toss up between some roasting action or pan-frying. Either way, they’re cooked until golden, almost charred in places and caramelized.But sometimes it’s nice to keep it simple.Raw brussels sprouts have a really nice delicate flavor and a great yielding crunch, when sliced thin.

Ideally you’d use a mandolin for this thin-slicing, but if you’re like me and don’t have one because you’re afraid that: a.) superfluous kitchen tools will one day swallow your kitchen, or, b.) you might seriously hurt yourself on one; you can just use an old fashioned knife and give it your best shot at “thin.”

I mixed the thinly sliced b-sprouts with some cooked and cooled barley for a nice chew factor, along with toasted pecans for an almost-caramel-ly nutty crunch and pomegranate seeds for color, pop, and tartness.

To round it all out I drizzled a simple maple Dijon vinaigrette over the thing and called it lunch.

vv4

Za’atar Chickpea and Grain Salad

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I always seem to be carrying too much stuff.

I take public transport to work, so everything I need to make my day comfortable, I have to carry on my shoulders. I’ve begun to consider a backpack but there’s part of me that’s too vain to do that. It’s the part of me that used to work at a fashion magazine. She feels shame from even thinking about a backpack.

The other part of me is all, girl, get yourself a backpack and stop complaining!

For now, I’m still rocking my awkward too-heavy leather handbag and extra tote bag combo because I still need all of the things every day.

I need entertainment, so there’s usually a book (please don’t start talking tablets – I like my books with tangible and sometimes pre-owned paper pages.) I need to be protected from the elements and office air conditioning, so there’s always a cardigan and/or scarf, sunglasses and sometimes an umbrella. I need to be hydrated during my 50 minute commute, so there’s usually a water bottle an occasionally a coffee thermos.

And, of course, I need to be well-fed. There are a few decent lunch options around the office, but I prefer to bring my own most days. And snacks. I need the snacks.

voraciousvander

Sometimes organizing a lunch to bring can be annoying in the evening when all I want to do is plant myself on the couch and eat popcorn by the fist full. But most often, I like to see it as an opportunity to get creative with new spices and combinations of vegetables, grains, cooking methods and textures.

This salad was one of those finer combinations. I made a big batch of it on a Sunday night. We had it as a side dish with baked snapper that evening and I had it for lunch the following two days. It held up perfectly.

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Summer Lentil Salad

lentil summer salad #voraciousvander

What’s your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

On a rainy Sunday are you inclined to a.) curl up on the chaise lounge with a good book b.) scribble in your journal for an hour or two c.) have a movie marathon d.) bake something that fills the house with a crazy-good smell of butter and sugar and spice (?)

I’m not very inventive when it comes to the lazy Sunday. I’m all about tackling a TV series or two. I mean, this is really the only way to watch Homeland, in my opinion. Downton after Downton episode? Oooh yes please.

Catfish? Ugh, I might be addicted in a this-makes-me-nervous-and-I-can’t-stop-watching kinda way.

I also enjoy copious amounts of cookies and tea with my embarrassing entertainment  choices. And maybe a lunch that involves a baguette, at least two types of cheese and some sort of pesto.

I love when I can fully enjoy being lazy. Not feeling like I should be doing anything else besides hanging out on the couch with my man.

This Monday, I’m starting the first full-time office job I’ve had in a long while. Of course, I’m a little nervous. I’m concerned about what to wear, wondering what my co-workers will be like, and just plain eager to get that first day behind me.

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White Bean, Mint and Cilantro Salad

Food 2012 009

Timing is a funny thing.

Not funny ha-ha. But funny-strange.

You can time a dish in the oven to perfection, you can catch the train right before the doors close, you can be in the right place at the right time with the right person.

You can also burn a batch of cookies, have similar train doors slammed in your face, miss opportunities, or get pooped on by a bird. (Which, I can tell you from experience, actually does fall into the funny ha-ha category.)

It’s all a matter of timing.

I guess what makes it funny (non-ha-ha) is that we can’t control it.  Things happen when they happen and we can’t do much about it, other than use our own time wisely.

We can put time into hanging with the people we love, caring for ourselves, and into the goals we want to achieve.

But cooking in summer? Well, ain’t nobody got time for that.

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Spiced Chickpea and Carrot Salad

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This salad is brought to you by: the insane heat that blanketed Sydney yesterday and my favorite skirt that’s a little tight after the long holiday season.

Seriously, it was shockingly hot. Like hotter than your average person’s body temperature. Clearly, seeing 43 degrees (109 Fahrenheit) on my phone weather left a big impact on me.

Anyway, turning on the oven wasn’t an option, nor was boiling or simmering anything. I needed something refreshing but also something with substance to get through the mid-day slump.

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Pan Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

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Merry post-Christmas!

You look lovely today, btw.

I could have brought you a cookie recipe but that just seems wrong now. I can’t be bothered to turn on the oven, let alone throw measuring spoons and flour sifting into the mix. Ugh.

For me it was a Christmas filled with warm days, mangoes, pavlova, prosecco mimosas by the pool and lots of ham. Not too shabby.

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