Side Dishes

Homemade Olives

At the end of the summer I was down on Hastings in one of my favorite little stores–Como–it is run by a feisty Asian couple who speak Italian. They get in large sacks of fresh olives towards the end of the summer. This year I decided to buy one and try to figure out what to do with them. Just as I was heaving the sack onto the counter, a lovely lady behind me started asked me what I was going to do with them. I said, “Well I don’t know really.” She smiled and happily started telling me her recipe which had been handed down to her from her mother–a real traditional recipe (that’s why I love this area so much!). Her English wasn’t perfect, but I managed to get a pretty good idea of what she was saying and figured the rest out as I went along.

Wild Fennel and Eggplant Bake

This is a recipe I was meaning to post a couple months ago, and am now doing so I can add it to‘s Tenth day of Bloggi-mas that I have been doing my best to be a part of this year. Today is casserole day. I made this for our Canadian Thanksgiving this year and it was a hit. It is best when cooked the night before and re-heated as the flavors have a chance to age and deepen together divinely. I used the wild fennel I harvested from our alley. Wild fennel has a much more vibrant flavor than cultivated so just use more if you haven’t a place to forage for wild fennel seeds.

  • 2 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 coconut’s cream
  • 2 T wild fennel seeds, ground
  • 8 large tomatoes, skin off and sliced thickly across
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced

Local Apple Relish

This year, while searching through various old cookbooks for pecan pie recipes I came across a lovely fresh apple relish (Apple Kitchen Cook Book by Demetria Taylor), which I just had to try. It was fantastic! Especially tasty with fresh, local apples, it works particularly well as a relish with turkey, and really helps to digest a big meal as it has homemade dill pickles as well as probiotic mustard and a touch of homemade mayonnaise. This is my version…I should have posted it before Thanksgiving! Keep it in mind for your Christmas dinner.

Homegrown Antipasto

Everyone will recognize this old favorite! It is so simple and delicious–especially when made with the best homegrown ingredients. Who could resist? I grew my own balcony fingerling eggplants last year! This is a recipe that you can grow at home, even in an urban apartment with only a balcony :).

Serves 2

  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 sm eggplant, sliced
  • 2 lg balls mozzarella, sliced
  • 2 T e.v. olive oil
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Handful of fresh herbs i.e. mint, dill, basil, parsley, terragon…

Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles

This recipe is adapted from D. Mary’s recipe for Cucumbers in Jars on page 75 in the book Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning.

  • 1 1/2 T sea salt per quart (litre) of water
  • unchlorinated water
  • small handful fennel seeds
  • 6-10 black peppercorns
  • 1 T mustard seeds
  • 5-7 cloves
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 8-10 small to medium sized cucumbers, washed
  • dill flower heads and leaves
  • small handful of coriander seeds
  • clean jars with canning tops
  • 1 horseradish root, sliced (to keep cucumbers firm)

Fenugreek and Quinoa Salad

This was a lucky discovery. Tasty and amazingly good for you as well. Fenugreek greens can sometimes be found in an Indian food market and are often used in Ayurvedic cooking.

Serves 4

  • 1 large avocado
  • 2c quinoa (cooked)
  • 1/2 c green olives stuffed with garlic
  • 1/2 bunch fenugreek greens
  • 1/2 bunch mint
  • 1/2 lime’s juice
  • 1-2T e.v. olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper

This is great for using up leftover quinoa but other grains like rice, buckwheat, or bulgar could also be used. Dice the avocado, slice the olives, rough chop the fenugreek and mint. Toss together and add the lime juice, olive oil and season to taste.

Fenugreek has a very uniquely light maple syrup aroma/flavor which really brings out the mint and goes well with the quinoa and avocado. It also gets into your skin and you may notice that you are smelling like maple syrup for a few days after eating it. A nice bonus for your workmates if you have terrible B.O 🙂

Fenugreek and Fennel Salad

serves 4.
This refreshing and balancing salad will cool you down on a hot summer day.

  • 2 bulbs fennel, sliced as thin as possible and placed in ice water while preparing remaining ingredients
  • 1 bu fenugreek leaves, chopped (1c)
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 1 t harissa
  • 1 lg garlic clove
  • salt and pepper

Toss together. Taste. Adjust flavor.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Crispy Salmon and Avocado Spring Rolls

My mother taught me how to make cha gios when I was young. She learned how to make them when she was working as a linguist in Vietnam during the war. It was our favorite food as kids and whenever we came home from boarding school for Christmas or summer holidays she would make us a huge dinner of crab meat-stuffed spring rolls, wrapped in crispy lettuce and dipped in the salty-sour so good sauce.

I have adapted the recipe here, using smoked salmon instead of crab meat, avocado instead of mung bean sprouts and honey instead of sugar in the sauce, but the results are every bit as delicious as the original so I suggest you try it as many ways as you can. You won’t regret it! Video demo.

Summer Squash

Serves 4.
This is an excellent dish and unusual, but well worth it. It is especially tasty and nutritious if the summer squash is picked right out of your own garden!

  • 5-6 yellow squash, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 inch ginger, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch turmeric
  • pinch cardamom
  • pinch salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c gouda or edam cheese, grated
  • 2T dijon mustard

Heat a thick bottomed frying pan with a little oil until smoking hot.

Toss in the chopped yellow squash, add a bit more butter or oil, according to your preference. I like butter.

Spiced Two Bean Curry

This is delicious alone, with Toasted Sesame Buckwheat or with rice.

serves 4

Soak a bag of dried chickpeas until they are nearly sprouting. This may be 3 days in cold weather, or overnight in warm. Rinse the beans often while they are soaking. You can also add whey to the soaking liquid. This helps to get rid of the enzyme inhibitors.

Bring the chickpeas to a boil. Remove any scum from the surface. Drain the chickpeas and bring to boil again. (You can repeat this if you like a few more times.) Put the pot back on the stove, turn it on low, covered and allow to simmer slowly until the chickpeas are very soft.

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1/2 c diced pork sausage or bacon
  • coconut oil, lard or butter as necessary

Saute the above ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan until they begin to caramelize.


  • pinch hot chili powder
  • chick peas
  • 1/2 pound of green beans, cleaned and cut into inch long lengths
  • 1 can of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 T ground coriander
  • 1 T five spice powder
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • splash worchestershire sauce
  • salt

Turn the heat way down and allow this to simmer 5-10 minutes covered to cook green beans and marry the flavors.