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I read a passage in a book about arugula recently. It wasn’t a food-focused/cooking book. It was a novel, actually. The narrator of the moment is enjoying a bowl of pasta after being welcomed into an old friends home with some abounding and uneasy circumstances. He enjoys a bit of the dish, goes into a second helping, and the process of flavour/societal recognition begins: “…it had olives and some sort of salad green in it. Yes, arugula: he was safely back in the bosom of the gentry.”

I had a tiny laugh. I also felt like a piece of shit. The implications of yuppie-dom glaring from the page. My mind went to the organic arugula on the top shelf of my own fridge.

I generally dismiss most artisanal/gourmet foods as frivolous kitchen fodder, things that take up space and generally come in tiny/way too festered packaging. Gourmet food shops are a source of annoyance for me, watching people examine and buy small-batch jams, grinders, artisanal waffle mixes and ceramic crocks of herbes de Provence–things no one needs, thought-to-be foodie merit badges, the like. I will clarify that my annoyance lies with the thought that these items are somehow necessary/worth the money; not the consumer as a human being. I like people, seriously, I do.

Despite the presence of some semi-unusual ingredients that I sometimes call for here (‘sup extra virgin coconut oil and smoked paprika!), I’ve always enjoyed more down-to-earth food on the whole: things that are good in nature, made better by a bit of salt and some ability in the kitchen. My grandmother has always liked arugula and bitter/peppery greens. This fondness has worked its way down to my tastes over time. So having grown up with it, it’s carried the connotation of home-y/grandmotherly food. Greens have been a humble and easy thing, there on the plate just when you need them with a sprinkle of chili flakes; not some upper class bullshit thing to feel shameful about.

There are different lives, different approaches to nourishment and the thoughts that surround. Our world is vast and complex with many extremes; this is certain with food also, a necessary across all walks.

Accessibility with food is more widely discussed from a socio-economical perspective–perhaps a lower income neighbourhood with poor fresh food accessibility will see higher rates of type 2 diabetes in teenagers for example. Knowledge and development of skills is a more sensibly approached facet of the accessibility issue to me. It is a pursuit that requires time, certainly, but the reward is so great. The “teach a person to fish…” route. That’s the amazing thing about the computer age: every bit of knowledge is there for the taking. From guides to starting tomato seedlings at home to practical advice on how to serve them once they come into full, gorgeous ripeness (a heavy sprinkle of salt, maybe a chopped herb, some kind of soft cheese and good, toasty bread–just sayin’), there is a resource available to anyone.

So I guess that’s why I’m here? In some teeny way, I’m trying to teach a few people how to fish. Which is to say that I’m trying to teach you how to make a delicious and easy pasta with some humble squash and the noble greens of today’s discussion. There’s toasty nuts, pecorino, garlic, thyme and my favourite pasta shape: orecchiette. It’s not always the most practical shape choice, but it translates to “little ear” and that is just too sweet to pass on for me. It all comes together pretty easily once the squash is roasted, which is exactly what I was aiming for. Shall we go fishing?

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butternut orecchiette with arugula and pine nuts
serves: 4
notes: If you don’t have a blender/food processor for the sauce-pureeing step, just mash the squash and garlic up with a potato masher and the stock in the saute pan. Switch to a whisk to get it real smooth if you like.

sauce:
1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise
1 tbsp grape seed oil
salt and pepper
handful of thyme sprigs (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil (or more grape seed or whatever you like)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped
chili flakes (optional)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup vegetable stock

pasta:
2 cups dried orecchiette (or other small pasta)
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
big handful (1/2 cup) grated pecorino, or parmeggiano or grana podano etc.
2 big handfuls of washed arugula
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scatter the handful of thyme sprigs across the paper. Rub the halves of squash with the grapeseed oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay face down on the thyme sprigs. Place squash in the oven and roast until very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool.

Once you can handle the squash, scoop the cooked flesh from the skins into a bowl, discarding the thyme sprigs. Set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, thyme and chili flakes, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the roasted squash and stir it all up, mashing the squash down into the sautéing aromatics. Add the lemon juice and the vegetable stock, stir until roughly combined and remove from the heat. Puree the squash and garlic mixture in a blender or food processor, adding more liquid if necessary.

Return the squash sauce to the soup pot over medium heat. Season with a fat pinch of salt and lots of pepper at this point.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of cooking water before draining.

Once squash sauce is simmering, add cooked pasta, chickpeas, pecorino, arugula and pine nuts, reserving a bit of each for garnish if you like. Add some of the pasta water of you want to loosen the mixture up a bit. Serve hot.

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  • jaime @ sweet road02/11/2012 - 1:24 pm

    I love how the shape of orecchiette holds thick sauces and chunky ingredients so well.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen02/11/2012 - 2:09 pm

    Butternut squash and arugula sound like a perfect combination for fall! This pasta looks so good–super warming and hearty, and yet full of vegetable goodness. :)ReplyCancel

  • Adrienne02/11/2012 - 2:42 pm

    I have to admit, I’m an orecchiette virgin, BUT I’ve been intrigued by it for some time. I’m a lover of everything else in this dish, so this confirms I must purchase soon :)ReplyCancel

  • Veronica02/11/2012 - 5:52 pm

    YUM…unfortunately i have everything BUT the arugula on me. any recommendations for other greens i can substitute it with?ReplyCancel

  • Kris02/11/2012 - 7:28 pm

    You’re speaking my language! I was just dreaming about making a pasta with a squash-based sauce. I’m so looking forward to making this. P.S Gorgeous photos btw.ReplyCancel

  • Kasey02/11/2012 - 7:47 pm

    Great post, lady! I sometimes find myself engrossed in shelves of pricey gourmet foods – it’s hard not to! But when it comes down to it, these things make up a very small arsenal of pantry items I actually use. Like you, I rely on a lot of what the good earth gives us, and a handful of go-to spices and oils (though, I find the array of spices, grains, oils, nuts, and sweeteners to be like my little collection of fashion jewelery…it can play things up and make flavors you wouldn’t otherwise expect). Either way, I think the most important thing when it comes to food is that it’s nutritious, minimally processed or not at all, and good for the environment.ReplyCancel

  • sara02/11/2012 - 9:28 pm

    we were on the same pasta page! This looks SO good. For hormonal reasons (TMI for a blog comment?) my appetite is kind of sky rocketing, and creamy pasta and pizza is what I am craving lately. Maybe it’s the chill that’s just creeping into so cal. I hope I don’t make a habit of it, but as a lady who typically eats giant salads, these warm dishes are so great! I can’t wait to try yours. Beautiful photos as well, my friend.ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae02/11/2012 - 10:27 pm

    Oh lady! This dish is so great. I’ve been craving pasta and other heavy foods a lot lately (uhh, totally unlike me), and I’ve got a butternut squash just begging to be used. (I type this as I’m devouring a giant ass salad – but an hour ago I was eating through a bag of sea salt sweet potato chips.)

    Also, there are bearded men swimming on my bookshelf. And they keep asking me to join them. ;)ReplyCancel

  • victoria03/11/2012 - 10:18 am

    I agree with you about the importance of teaching people how to create good food that is good for you. I live in downtown KCMO, and many of the children and teenagers here suffer from obesity, diabetes, and being overdeveloped from hormones in their processed food. I’m glad there are community gardens and others who want to help low-income people learn to garden and create good food for themselves!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn03/11/2012 - 1:19 pm

    This post really resonated with me Laura, it’s so easy to get caught up in trying to look trendy or cool and follow the latest food fad. At the end of the day though, I know that all I really want to eat is simple food. Simple ingredients, simply cooked. It’s all you really need. Love this pasta and I love how you do teach us all to fish.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah04/11/2012 - 12:26 am

    Laura – this is so good, the recipe and the thinking behind it. Winter squash is here – my favorite time of year – and this is a perfect way to use it. Can’t wait to try it.

    What makes food “fancy” is a complicated question – where and how and when and why we purchase things is complicated too. I am a simple food lover, and we avoid all processed food, and I am always surprised when people perceive our farmer’s market habit as a food-snob one. I am glad that you are here, showing us all how accessible and satisfying simply preparing our food can be – not to be fancy, but to be real. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Amy04/11/2012 - 12:35 pm

    Oh wow, I just stubmled on your blog and I am loving it to pieces! Your recipes are exactly the type that I cook, but offer new inspiration and combinations such as this wonderful pasta dish that I will prepare tonight.

    I love your analogy of teaching people to fish – it is so true! I also often find blogs a source of inspiration to keep cooking wonderful healthy meals when all around me people eat unhealthy and view cooking as a waste of time. So thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Alexandria05/11/2012 - 10:17 pm

    stumbled across this recipe on pinterest and tried it out this evening. so glad i did. it’s wonderful :) thank you! i’ll def be perusing your blog for more yummy recipes.ReplyCancel

  • Table for one, please |06/11/2012 - 5:29 pm

    […] Thorisson. This week I’ve found a couple more and some wonderful recipes on them; The First Mess, with a fantastic roasted butternut and rocket orecciette, and Palate/Palette/Plate, with an […]ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey07/11/2012 - 4:39 pm

    Keep teaching them to fish, my love. You’re doing such a great job. xoReplyCancel

  • Megan Gordon08/11/2012 - 3:43 am

    Ahh! Beautiful post. And beautiful recipe. As a maker of artisan foods (I have a small granola co. called Marge), I actually hear you loud and clear! I get so tired of “handcrafted,” “artisan” and “small-batch” on everything that I’ve started to slowly rewrite our copy, so we’re not all becoming one big ol’ cliche. Thanks for the thoughtful post, as always. ~mReplyCancel

  • Kathryne09/11/2012 - 10:05 am

    Good grief, Laura, these photos are phenomenal! This is precisely the kind of hot meal I’ve been craving lately. I didn’t grow up eating arugula, but I totally freaked out the first time I tasted locally grown arugula. So peppery and flavorful, I eat plain, undressed leaves like I’m eating potato chips. I am SO with you on accessibility and uppity ingredients. I refuse to use ingredients that are only available in fancy gourmet shops and get supremely annoyed by things like the word “foodie”, edible flowers as garnish on food blog plates (seems gimmicky) and overly priced, well-designed packages of preservative-laden pancake mix. C’mon!ReplyCancel

  • Helen11/11/2012 - 1:41 am

    Thank you so much for this fantastic post! I think that the groundswell of home cooking has unfortunately swayed towards the ridiculous – it’s now all about the most exotic, the most esoteric, the most ‘need to demonstrate that I am on the cutting edge of the food world’. It drives me bonkers! What happened to a decent tasty meal?? Keep restaurant food in restaurants – keep the idea of going out for a ‘special meal’ special. I love your recipes & love that your food is real… not to mention delicious! Many many thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Links | hecavanagh.org14/11/2012 - 11:00 pm

    […] ∞ A couple of links on foodie and “conscious consumerism” grossness: abandoned city farm animals, a food journalist writes scathingly about foodie vanity, and then a slightly differing perspective on how good food shouldn’t be elitist in an information age. […]ReplyCancel

  • Brandon29/10/2013 - 5:57 am

    Made this last night and my husband said it was the best thing I’ve ever made! He and our guests all LOVED it! Thank you so much for the fantastic recipe and the gorgeous photographs.ReplyCancel

  • […] Butternut Penne with Pistachio Pesto, Stuffed Portabellos with Herb Sauce, Butternut Orecchiette with Arugula, Stuffed Squash, Leek and Greens Tart with Cornmeal Crust, Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with […]ReplyCancel

  • Elliott02/02/2014 - 4:14 pm

    Thank you for speaking up a little about the yuppie-foodie thing and how gentrification affects all of the members of our community. With diabetes and other food related diseases on the rise just as much as the home cooking craze (and subsequent increase in price of all fresh foods), it is important to be aware of what’s going on around us and to figure out ways to make healthier food and healthier lifestyles more accessible. Currently, “being healthy” is only marketed as a lifestyle one can purchase – which attracts yuppies while pushing away those of us who are broke. Spreading the knowledge and wisdom of health as a way of life rather than an overpriced weedy green is a great way to reach out to our communities.

    Will definitely be making this recipe by the way.ReplyCancel

  • Chris22/03/2014 - 7:54 am

    “Arugula” isn’t a yuppie food, if there really is such a thing. Some of what people dismiss superciliously as yuppie food here is what common folk ate in other lands. I grew up eating rucola – which is my Italian relatives called it – in Sudbury Ont. and all my distinctly non-yuppie Italian relatives grew it in their yards. We would mix it with various forms of radicchio. There’s a leaf form of radicchio that never appears in the farmers markets that has a buttery texture when harvested young and a slightly sweet, nutty flavour that balances the bitterness of the rucola. Most people only know the red fall-harvested radiccchio head lettuce.ReplyCancel

  • […] Butternut Pasta with Chard and Sausage Serves 4-6 Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen and The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Katherine17/10/2014 - 6:45 am

    Made this last night, super tasty. I didn’t need all the stock, probably only 1/3 cup to get it to a nice thick ‘creamy’ consistency.ReplyCancel

  • katherine17/10/2014 - 7:07 am

    Meant to say I added a drizzle of balsamic to the rocket which worked really well and cut through the rich sauce.ReplyCancel

  • elisabeth20/10/2014 - 12:02 pm

    How much is one “small butternut” in grams, please? In austria i can only geht fairly large ones – they weight about 1,2 kilograms each.. Should i only use one half? I don’t want to produce soup ;)ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright21/10/2014 - 8:42 am

      Hi ELizabeth. I think you’re aiming for a squash in the range of 550-700 grams :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • […] the pureed vegetable (no cream added!). The inspiration for this particular dish came from The First Mess, but I made a few changes.  Mostly because I love sage and […]ReplyCancel

  • Links I Love | Lake Shore Lady28/05/2015 - 6:35 pm

    […] 20, 2013 1) You need to make this recipe immediately! I tried it out earlier this week and it was. awesome. I can’t wait to make it […]ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn17/12/2015 - 1:38 pm

    Hi Laura I’m totally digging your blog…my kind of food exactly ( but I’m not that creative or good with flavor meshing, so I need/love/respect you!) I’m thinking of bringing this to my Xmas party since there will be no vegan food, however I m working day of and won’t be able to make that day,so any suggestions for making it ahead of time? Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • […] I modified this recipe […]ReplyCancel

  • Chlow12/07/2016 - 9:56 am

    Hello, I loved this post! And will be making this recipe come fall when all the squash is in season :) I was wondering what the title and author of the novel you were referring to is? I am interested in checking it out.ReplyCancel

vegan chocolate cake with cookie butter glaze - The First Messpin it!pin it!

This is a chocolate cake you throw together real quick. It goes with tea and friends coming over on semi-short notice. It also goes with breakfast. You probably have everything in your cupboard to make it. It is vegan, with whole grain flour and unrefined sugar, sure. It’s not the healthiest thing you can make, but it’s a cake. The cake that understands.

I bake it in a loaf pan for that extra casual je ne sais quoi. Then I cover it in a glaze made with biscoff and little chopped almonds, cacao nibs, and coconut; drizzling and sprinkling my way to party time, all kind of on a whim. It’s an unassuming and humble cake that you dress up a bit for company (or yourself). I love that. There’s a feeling of spontaneity lurking in its potential when you bring it out.

The biscoff finish is sweet, nutty, luxurious, and actually rife with guilt in a very special bad-but-feels-good kind of way. You’re essentially glazing a simple cake with a butter made out of cookies. Another reminder seems necessary: it’s a cake.

I had seen biscoff appear on a lot of blogs in the last year or so. Only when I saw it on one of my faves, the amazing Oh, Ladycakes, did I start to get kind of anxious about finding some (ingredient-driven anxiousness, yep that happens). Instead of performing a basic google search, I decided to inquire with Ashlae herself. And you know what that fancy lady did? She asked for my mailing address (in a non-creepy way, trust) and she sent me a jar. In the mail.

There was homemade vanilla extract in a sweet little burlap bag too, all carefully bubble wrapped. It was genuine and generous, much like Ashlae herself. It was an instance of honest kindness that made me excited for the world at large. I always feel good to be right here, but this reminded me of the islands of sanity that do exist in this bizarre, but still big and beautiful, world.

I can get caught up in the mire of the crazy a bit and in turn, can be the worst at responding to things in a general way. Comments on the blog, social media things, invitations to whatever, personal emails, calling people back etc etc. I’m a talk-it-out-in-the-real kind of gal for the most part, so it just takes me a bit longer to completely sort the right response most times. In this instance, cake was a natural approach. It’s my way of reflecting that kindness back at a few more people. Easy chocolate cake sweetness for all :)

pin it!pin it!pin it!
vegan chocolate cake + biscoff glaze recipe
barely adapted from The Post Punk Kitchen
serves: makes 1 regulation loaf-sized cake
notes: I used some cultured coconut milk for this cake. You could easily substitute that with buttermilk, kefir or 1 cup of whatever milk you like with a big squeeze of lemon added ahead of time to make it curdle. Also, some all purpose or whole wheat flour would sub in for light and whole spelt just fine. If you can’t find biscoff spread, peanut butter would be delicious in its place.

cake-dry:
1/2 cup light spelt flour
1/2 cup whole spelt flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp instant espresso powder or finely ground coffee
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

cake-wet:
1/4 cup muscovado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cup cultured milk of some kind (kefir, buttermilk, cultured coconut etc or the aforementioned lemon juice curdling method)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or any oil you like-sunflower, grapeseed etc)
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

biscoff glaze:
1/4 cup biscoff
1 cup powdered sugar (if you use the organic/not super refined kind, make sure you sift it a couple times)
2 tsp maple syrup
a splash of vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk of your choice (I went the cultured route again for some tang)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with some of the coconut oil. Line it with parchment paper and then grease the paper lightly as well. Set aside.

Sift all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Push through any lumps of cocoa powder with your fingers.

In a separate, smaller bowl combine all of the wet ingredients. Whisk to combine, making sure there are no demerara sugar lumps in the mix. It should be smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones in the large bowl. Gently mix everything together with a spatula until just combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the biscoff, powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir with a spoon until the sugar is kind of mixed up with the biscoff like a homogenous paste. It shouldn’t become runny at all. You just don’t want too much loose powdered sugar in the bowl. Add the milk of your choice, stir a bit to get things going. Switch to a whisk and stark whisking firmly until a smooth glaze is achieved. It should make ribbons that last in the bowl when you lift the whisk.

Assemble: Spread the glaze over the cooled cake and top with dried coconut, cacao nibs and chopped almonds if you like. Slice and serve :)

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  • Kathryn26/10/2012 - 4:51 am

    This kind of throw it all together cake is my very favourite kind. A cake doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy to be delicious and to make me happy – especially when it looks as good as this one does.ReplyCancel

  • Erin26/10/2012 - 8:43 am

    This cake looks delicious! And it sounds like such a fantastic flavor combination.ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae26/10/2012 - 8:58 am

    Laura! Waking up to this post made me smile so big. I know I’ve said it before, but.. YOU RULE. Hard.

    My dad comes to town tonight, and I can’t think of a better way to greet him than with this humble chocolate cake drenched in speculoos glaze. It looks so great, lady.ReplyCancel

  • erin26/10/2012 - 10:47 am

    Um- this sounds absolutely amazing! I’ve actually never seen biscoff around here but I’d totally smother a cake in peanut butter. And homemade vanilla? You can’t go wrong!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar26/10/2012 - 11:30 am

    That glaze makes me swoon!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy26/10/2012 - 12:28 pm

    I love simple cakes more than I can say. I have a vegan chocolate one that I love as well, but I do believe I’ll be giving YOUR recipe a go next time I’m in need of something of this sort! Looks delicious, and lovely to boot!ReplyCancel

  • Jacqui26/10/2012 - 5:56 pm

    Um, where have I been. I had to google “biscoff” because I had no idea what it was. Sounds like something I would probably constantly have my finger in though : ) And this cake is gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • jaime @ sweet road27/10/2012 - 1:06 am

    I have yet to find biscoff, but when I do come across it I will definitely bake something up with it. Until then I have no problem throwing together this chocolate cake recipe and whipping up another glaze… it looks too good!ReplyCancel

  • Elenore Bendel Zahn28/10/2012 - 3:04 am

    Personally I cannot think of a better way to response to that kind of love then THIS particular cake.

    Oh, I really just want to hug you right now! (and do that crazy dance we talked about)… and be the one how comes over for that semi-short notice fika (fika means kind of like meating up for tea and talk and laughter and an occasional cake)

    xoxo ElenoreReplyCancel

  • Kelsey28/10/2012 - 12:48 pm

    Can you come to Colorado and join forces with Ashlae and teach me how to be as cool as you two? M’kay. Great. Thanks. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne28/10/2012 - 11:34 pm

    Oo girl, this is my kind of dessert. Kinda healthy but definitely indulgent, yep. That’s so sweet of Ashlae to send you some Biscoff (and so much more heart-warming than, say, one of those fleeting tweets). I don’t know how to keep up with all the comments and emails and social media stuff and also get stuff done, so it seems like I have to let one thing or another go by the wayside at all times! It can really make a person crazy, can’t it?ReplyCancel

  • Courtney29/10/2012 - 5:12 pm

    I, too have been very skeptical of Biscoff spread but this cake has sparked my interest. I have plans to pick some up and make/devour this cake post haste. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • […] Humble Chocolate Loaf Cake + Biscoff Glaze […]ReplyCancel

  • I heart holiday food17/11/2012 - 12:19 am

    […] chocolate cake with cookie butter glaze […]ReplyCancel

  • […] salad (I purchased cashew cream cheese and doubled the amount of avocado) and finished with the humble chocolate cake (using peanut butter instead of biscoff for the glaze). Those dishes plus walnuts, dried pears, and […]ReplyCancel

  • Zia14/05/2013 - 8:04 am

    I’d like to make this vegan…can I use almond milk in both the cake and the glaze?

    Looks incredibly yummy!

    ZiaReplyCancel

  • […] what better way to start a mess than with a cake? Okay, while I could probably handle the whole Humble Chocolate Loaf Cake myself I opted to cut the recipe in half. Yeah, I’m just trying to be not so much of a […]ReplyCancel

  • […] glaze + topping// (barely adapted from Laura) […]ReplyCancel

  • […] salad (I purchased cashew cream cheese and doubled the amount of avocado) and finished with the humble chocolate cake (using peanut butter instead of biscoff for the glaze). Those dishes plus walnuts, dried pears, and […]ReplyCancel

  • Freja17/02/2015 - 11:18 am

    Just made this: so moist and delicious :):):) I added an extra tbs of coconut powder (chocoholic!) and it turned out super yammi :) + 1/2 and 1/2 kefir and oatly (oatmilk). Thanks for a tasteful cake recipe!
    xxReplyCancel

  • orlando04/03/2015 - 2:37 pm

    Where can I find the biscoff glaze.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright04/03/2015 - 10:43 pm

      I usually pick it up at Trader Joe’s! But some of the larger grocery stores sell biscoff spread in the aisle with the peanut butter.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Gayatri25/04/2015 - 12:51 am

    Hi! This cake looks so incredible, I’m trying it right now! Just wondering if I could use only whole wheat flour instead of both versions of spelt? Spelt flour isn’t available here in India. I’m worried regular whole wheat might make it too dense though…should I mix it up with all-purpose? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laura25/04/2015 - 7:51 am

      I think you could do a half and half mix of whole wheat flour and all purpose with pretty much the same results!
      -LReplyCancel

      • Gayatri26/04/2015 - 8:32 am

        So my internet died, and I took a chance using half barley and half whole wheat flours and the cake was perfect! Even added some speculoos to the batter itself, so good! Thank you for an amaaazing recipe :)ReplyCancel

  • sam06/06/2016 - 4:13 am

    Hi! I was thinking of making this cake for a friend’s birthday but I do not have time to bake it on the day itself. If I bake the cake in advance, should I also glaze it and refrigerate it? Or would it be better if I left the glazing part to the actual day, just before serving? Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laura06/06/2016 - 7:02 am

      I would leave the glazing to the day of, but not right before serving. You want the glaze to firm up a little bit before you slice it. I would glaze th ecake a few hours before I was bringing it out :)
      -LReplyCancel

warm veggie rice bowl with ginger miso gravy (vegan) - The First Messpin it!pin it!
I’ve been a bit of a busy bee lately, but I wanted to give you something good and easy this week. The kind of thing you can just jump into with no reservations, using whatever you have. That is the heart of cooking for most of us, right?

This warm rice bowl with chard, avocado, almonds and unbelievably good (+ super easy) ginger miso gravy is synonymous with my solo, city living days. I was in school full time studying nutrition and culinary arts, had 2 jobs, volunteered at a community food centre’s after school program, helped with school functions constantly, worked a line shift 3 times a week for my internship at a high end vegan restaurant AND managed to fit in a shred of a social life. I would come home and wilt onto the couch, gazing towards the kitchen of my teeny bachelor apartment thinking about what I could possibly motivate myself to make.

More often than not, the prospect of this meal lifted my tired body over to the stove: warm brown rice or quinoa with a mix of steamed/raw/leftover roasted vegetables, some kind of sauce/vinaigrette and crunchy topping things. Here’s why: I could always have cooked grains around pretty easily, I made sure my fridge had a good selection of veggies (my school was right by an awesome market–huge help) and when I had a spare 2 minutes I would make a batch of some kind of sauce/dressing in my blender for the week. I learned how to prepare myself/ just have good ingredients around and whoa, my body thanked me for it big time. Twenty minutes of jumping around the kitchen and back on the couch watching Curb Your Enthusiasm with a giant bowl of goodness? Happiest girl.

The vegetables and grains are always interchangeable but a good sauce is so key. This gravy is fresh with ginger and lemongrass, bright with lemon, a fragrant hit of coconut oil, there’s a bit of chili paste to keep it interesting and the miso makes it salty and perfect. I generally always have vegetable stock on hand for cooler weather meals because it makes an appearance in soups, pots of beans, mushroom sautes, curries and wonderful warm sauces like this. They sell decent quality tetra-packed versions so even if you don’t have time to make it, there’s an alternative for you.

I’ve given you a miso-ish gravy recipe before (with mushrooms, white beans and SWEET POTATO BISCUITS, guh I know), but this version is a million times easier. No blending, super straightforward, chop, pour, whisk, strain (optional) and go. It calls for spelt flour too, but if you don’t eat gluten, you could use a teaspoon of arrowroot powder in its place.

pin it!pin it!pin it!
warm veggie rice bowl with ginger miso gravy
serves: 1
notes:  I reach for light miso because that’s what I have, but I imagine darker, stronger varieties would be so good here. Also, the lemongrass is certainly optional. There’s plenty of freshness happening with the fresh lemon juice and ginger.

gravy:
1/2  cup vegetable stock
1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp agave nectar/maple syrup/honey
1 tsp chili paste (or sriracha)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
2 inch piece of lemongrass, bashed up with the back of your knife
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 tsp light miso
1 tbsp spelt flour
2 tbsp water

bowl (just what I used for this one–use whatever you have/like):
1 heaped cup cooked rice, warm (I used a mix of brown basmati and black rice = purple rice!)
handful of string beans or broad beans, trimmed
3 chard leaves, stems removed and chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small carrot, peeled into ribbons
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 avocado, sliced
chopped almonds
hemp seeds

Make the gravy: Combine all of the gravy ingredients except the miso, spelt flour and water in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Stir the miso, spelt flour and water together until most lumps are dissolved. Add this slurry to the pot and whisk. Let the gravy simmer and whisk it here and there until it has noticeably thickened, about 3 minutes. Strain the gravy with a fine sieve if you like (but definitely remove the lemongrass stalk). Return gravy to the small pot, cover and put keep warm.

Set a medium pot with an inch of water over medium heat and cover. Place the string/broad beans in steamer basket. Once the water is boiling, put the steamer basket in and cover. Cook until beans are crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Add the chopped chard and cover again. Steam greens until wilted slightly, about 1 minute.

Place the cooked rice in a serving bowl. Top with the steamed greens and beans, bell pepper, carrot, green onion, avocado, almonds and hemp seeds. Give the gravy a quick whisk (just in case some lumps form) and pour it over the veggies and rice. Serve warm.

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  • Lena19/10/2012 - 3:11 am

    This bowl looks really good!
    I think I should really get into the habit of having cooked grains on hand. They really would make cooking dinner so much quicker.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn19/10/2012 - 4:50 am

    This is exactly the kind of meal that I need to start making especially with that gravy which sounds so incredibly delicious and full of flavour.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica19/10/2012 - 7:21 am

    I’m reading the list of gravy ingredients and don’t see the miso!ReplyCancel

    • Laura19/10/2012 - 8:31 am

      So silly of me! I put the amount in. Thanks for being astute, Jessica :)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle19/10/2012 - 9:14 am

    Girl, you know we’re on the same page here. Rice bows are pretty much how I got through grad school + work + trying to live on the cheap in NYC.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanine19/10/2012 - 9:46 am

    your ginger miso gravy sounds amazing! Go bowl food!ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae W.19/10/2012 - 9:47 am

    I, admittedly, live off of soup or smoothies in the winter. They’re easy, require very little work, and are ready in a jiffy. But! I get so (sooooo) sick of soup and smoothies – they become the bane of my existence by January. Busy lady bowl, to the rescue!

    PS – I admire your dedication. I turn into a whiny woman if I work more than three days a week, while attending University.ReplyCancel

  • Stacy19/10/2012 - 10:49 am

    I love recalling single lady days and busy seasons past — there’s something so GOOD about remembering times that were hard or perhaps a bit melancholy. It reminds me to be more present in whatever I’m experiencing right now, as I’ll surely reflect on it in the same way someday. ALSO, this gravy looks delicious, and I’m always a fan of the one bowl meal!ReplyCancel

  • Eileen19/10/2012 - 5:40 pm

    That bowl looks amazing! I clearly must get my hands on some avocado and sesame seeds immediately. That gravy sounds excellent too.ReplyCancel

  • Becs @ Lay the table21/10/2012 - 7:10 am

    There’s nothing better than a big comforting bowl of rice and veggies! Normally I’d just cover it all in soy sauce but miso is a great alternative :)ReplyCancel

  • Beth {local milk}21/10/2012 - 1:46 pm

    I have been so busy lately that I eat exactly the same thing everyday. I have boring personal habits… especially when I’m stressed! This looks like a perfect departure from my rote eating habits. I want to make this tonight! And I love the idea of being able to pretty much have everything on hand, ready to go. Life can get overwhelming… this seems like eye of the storm food! That gravy is calling my name…ReplyCancel

  • Hannah24/10/2012 - 1:12 am

    Rice, veggies, sauce … perfect home alone, and also a life-saver when cooking for little people! When my husband is out of town, I will make a pot of grains and set it out with all the leftover veggies from the fridge and a bowl of toasted nuts – my little guys put soyu or ketchup or maplesyrup (geh, I know! but they get to choose!) over top — now I know what I can have on mine. I don’t do much with miso but now I’m inspired. … Thanks Laura :)ReplyCancel

  • la domestique24/10/2012 - 3:10 pm

    These types of meals are the best and I’m so saving your miso gravy! Love the combination of colors in this dish too.ReplyCancel

  • sarah24/10/2012 - 3:57 pm

    This sounds fantastic. We’ve been making noodle bowls like crazy here – I tried to make a good lemongrass/coconut milk sauce, but it was just okay. I’m going to try yours this week! Lovely photos as always.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey25/10/2012 - 1:13 pm

    This busy-lady bowl is 10x more sophisticated than my go-to comfort food (brown rice, miso, and seaweed). You’re right, the sauce is clutch. And I’m obsessed with this one.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne28/10/2012 - 11:38 pm

    Busy busy busy. I love bowl food. Thanks for giving me another use for the miso in my fridge! I’ve never been a big fan of regular gravy but something tells me I’ll go nuts for this stuff.ReplyCancel

  • Katie (The Muffin Myth)30/10/2012 - 4:21 pm

    I love miso gravy! It reminds me of being a teenager in Vancouver and spending all my time eating sesame fries with miso gravy at the Naam. I’ve made my own plenty of times, but this version sounds extra special. I’ll definitely give it a go, and I’m sure it’ll become a staple in my kitchen. Thanks for the recipe!ReplyCancel

  • […] new ingredients around here, but I just loved this ginger-miso gravy from Laura’s blog The First Mess. It was so easy, fast and incredibly delicious. I didn’t have lemongrass, so the only thing I […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Ginger Miso Gravy 1 delicata squash, sliced into approx. 1/4 inch slices 1/2 package tofu, cubed 1 cup crimini mushrooms, if you don’t have these, other varieties work well also splashes of rice vinegar 1 bunch kale (6 leaves or so), you can also use spinach olive oil salt & pepper 1 cup (or so) cooked brown rice pinches of red pepper flakes toasted almonds and sesame seeds a few scallions, chopped […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Ginger Miso Gravy 1 delicata squash, sliced into approx. 1/4 inch slices 1/2 package tofu, cubed 1 cup crimini mushrooms, if you don’t have these, other varieties work well also splashes of rice vinegar 1 bunch kale (6 leaves or so), you can also use spinach olive oil salt & pepper 1 cup (or so) cooked brown rice pinches of red pepper flakes toasted almonds and sesame seeds a few scallions, chopped […]ReplyCancel

  • Garlicia14/05/2013 - 11:45 am

    This is what I like to all “clean” food – fresh, tasty, simple – and it’s gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • After the Harvest09/06/2013 - 4:14 pm

    Can you use whole wheat flour rather than spelt flour in the gravy?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright11/06/2013 - 1:29 pm

      You can! And probably with better results since wheat flour will have more gluten :)
      xoReplyCancel

  • After the Harvest24/06/2013 - 8:18 pm

    Ok, this was seriously delicious! Not in the habit of making any type of gravy but this was so healthy, so satisfying, easy to make, and so tasty! It is definitely going into the regular rotation.ReplyCancel

  • […] and Spaghetti Squash Bowl with a Peanut-Miso Sauce was delicious and I have had my eye on her Busy Lady Veggie Bowl for a […]ReplyCancel

  • Penny25/08/2013 - 6:49 pm

    Wow! We made this last night, the gravy is incredible!! We have some leftover so are going to use it tonight as a dipping sauce for some fresh spring rolls….mmmmmm.
    Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • […] Ginger Miso Gravy recipe, from The First Mess (click to go to it) 1 delicata squash, sliced into approx. 1/4 inch slices 1/2 package tofu, cubed 1 cup crimini mushrooms splashes of rice vinegar 1 bunch kale (or use the chard in this week’s box!) olive oil salt & pepper 1 cup (or so) cooked brown rice pinches of red pepper flakes toasted almonds and sesame seeds a few scallions, chopped […]ReplyCancel

  • […] {miso-ginger sauce} adapted from the first mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Rick Stain02/12/2013 - 5:08 pm

    We made this meal at our place tonight..sensational!
    Thank you for a great recipe.

    N.B – We didn’t have any miso paste so we ended up using Tom Yum paste instead and it worked a treat!ReplyCancel

  • […] gravy from The First Mess. Tempeh from The […]ReplyCancel

  • Halli Welsh31/05/2014 - 3:32 pm

    Thank-you Laura for sharing this super tasty miso gravy recipe! I love how versatile and easy it is. Every single recipe I’ve tried from your blog has been delicious – and there are so many more to try. Thanks again!ReplyCancel

  • […] Ginger Miso Gravy 1 delicata squash, sliced into approx. 1/4 inch slices 1/2 package tofu, cubed 1 cup crimini mushrooms, if you don’t have these, other varieties work well also splashes of rice vinegar 1 bunch kale (6 leaves or so), you can also use spinach olive oil salt & pepper 1 cup (or so) cooked brown rice pinches of red pepper flakes toasted almonds and sesame seeds a few scallions, chopped […]ReplyCancel

pin it!
Acceptance. Autumn is the season where we go home. 

There are blankets, hot beverages to wrap your little fingers around, old sweaters, all of those warming foods that remind us of our childhood or ones that just make us feel good. Everything seems like a joyous reunion; the biggest hugs, the wide smiles that say “HIIII!” when you come near, the familiar notebooks with the blank pages, your favourite scarf comes out of the closet, the light is friendlier at any given moment of the day… There is intent and warmth in every move.

There are more inclinations to bring us into the kitchen, that beating heart of pure goodness and love. There’s stock to be made for soup, squash and roots to be roasted, more languid breakfasts to be had with the ones you like to hold close. The food takes a bit longer and we never mind. Steam rises and falls out of heavy pots. The dog cuddles in a blanket on the warm spot beneath the oven. Slower time, coziness, that intimacy with all of our surroundings. It’s here, it’s here.

People always say that time slows down in the summer and really, I couldn’t disagree more. I feel like we’re always shipping off here and there for whatever excursion or event from June to August. Fall is a return to comfort in routine and more simplified time spent in each other’s company. It is dependable. The leaves turn like clockwork and we turn into each other around the table, under a wooly blanket, across the classroom, wherever we may be. It is the season that brings all of our communities into focus.

So I wanted to make a salad. A warm one with hearty greens and sticky balsamic roasted beets. Some quinoa fills it all out and the pecorino gives a salty bite. You toss the whole mess of it with a muscovado sugar-tweaked balsamic and oil mix that sloshes around the beets while they roast away. There was a version of this in the latest Donna Hay magazine and I was pretty jazzed to even conceive of all my favourite things in one bowl. Party time!

Big hugs,
Laura

pin it!warm kale + quinoa salad with roasted balsamic beets // The First Messpin it!pin it!

warm kale salad with quinoa + balsamic roasted beets
Inspired by Donna Hay Magazine, Winter 2012 issue
serves: 4
notes: You could use chard or actual beet greens for the salad as well. If you only have access to bigger beets, just cut them into quarters or sixths pre-roasting. Some crunchy, toasted hazelnuts would be a nice garnish here too.

beets:
2 bunches of baby beets (about 12 beets total), scrubbed and trimmed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp demerara sugar
2 tbsp grape seed oil
salt and pepper

kale + salad:
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch of curly kale, stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper
handful of pecorino shavings (parm or grana padano would be great too)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the trimmed beets in a 2 inch deep ceramic or glass dish. Pour the balsamic vinegar and grape seed oil in. SPrinkle the muscovado sugar, salt and pepper around the beets. Cover dish with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the beets up a bit and continue to roast, uncovered, for 20 more minutes. They should be quite tender. Remove from the oven and allow dish to cool.

In a small saucepan, place the rinsed quinoa and 1 cup of water. Add a pinch of salt. Place pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa is mostly cooked and the little tails start to pop out. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the 2 tbsp of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and smoked paprika. Stir around until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the quinoa, a splash of water and half of the kale. Stir around until kale begins to wilt a bit. Add the remaining kale, season with salt and pepper and keep stirring. The kale should all be slightly wilted, but still firm. Take off the heat and transfer kale and quinoa mixture to your serving bowl.

Arrange roasted beets on top of the greens and quinoa. Drizzle salad with the balsamic cooking liquid in the pan (there should be about 1/4 cup of it left). Scatter  the pecorino shavings on top and serve.

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  • Shanna11/10/2012 - 10:51 pm

    Oh, fall. Can I just say that reading your first paragraph gave me a big smile on my face? Love this time of year. (and gorgeous salad!)ReplyCancel

  • Kimberley12/10/2012 - 1:16 am

    Ah yes! All of it! I have been getting all cozy and enjoying the grey days and sweaters and quiet music and cups of tea and bowls of oatmeal …. and just loving fall. You nailed it. Plus those photos are stunning!ReplyCancel

  • Katie (The Muffin Myth)12/10/2012 - 3:00 am

    I totally agree with you about summer’s pace being so fast. Fall is mellow! This warm salad looks just right, and has many of my favourite things as well. And, lucky me, there is a new shop around the corner from my apartment that actually has kale! Thanks for sharing the recipe, and the fall mix. Downloading now!ReplyCancel

  • Kassia12/10/2012 - 8:50 am

    This looks phenomenal! I’m so so hungry now, and sad because we don’t get kale here in India. :(ReplyCancel

  • Wholesome Hedonist12/10/2012 - 9:12 am

    Your photos make the beets look like precious jewels…I just want to dive in to all that balsamic-y goodness (but then, you know, I’d spend the next week scrubbing the beet stain out of my skin!)

    http://www.wholesomehedonist.comReplyCancel

  • Felicia12/10/2012 - 9:54 am

    A combination of my favorite ingredients! Looks amazing. Putting this down on my things to make. Gorgeous. Thank you. xFReplyCancel

  • J'Val Shuster12/10/2012 - 11:13 am

    Hello First Mess! I absolutely love your recipes and the beautiful photographs you take to go with them. I am trying to figure out when in the weekend I can make this recipe. It is the perfect blend of my favourite Fall ingredients. Thanks for such a great blog – you inspire me!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar12/10/2012 - 1:24 pm

    This salad is a beauty!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth A.12/10/2012 - 4:02 pm

    I’m not usually a huge fan of beets, but these pictures have convinced me to try again. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • sara12/10/2012 - 7:50 pm

    doesnt the donna hay mag make you want to dive in. I get so envious and inspired when looking through those pages. This looks fabulous.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn14/10/2012 - 5:33 am

    “Autumn is the season where we go home”…I love that and I totally didn’t realise that was how I was feeling until I read it. Love the earthy flavours of this salad.ReplyCancel

  • Spring14/10/2012 - 12:43 pm

    Made this for dinner last night. It was sooooo delicious! Thanks for sharing, and I love your blog :)ReplyCancel

  • Liz16/10/2012 - 12:49 pm

    I found your blog through Pinterest the other day. I have been looking for a blog like this for months! Thank you for posting such thoughtful vegetarian recipes – easy enough for weeknights but beautiful for company too.ReplyCancel

  • CSA Box Week 19*17/10/2012 - 12:15 am

    […] Warm Kale, Quinoa, and Balsamic Beet Salad from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • val17/10/2012 - 11:23 am

    This is great, and worked well with golden beets. It also converted my quinoa-phobic husband!ReplyCancel

  • Ana J17/10/2012 - 4:54 pm

    Your salad looks delicious!!!! I love the spin on a “fall” salad. What exactly is “muscovado sugar-tweaked balsamic”?ReplyCancel

    • Laura17/10/2012 - 4:59 pm

      Hey Ana,
      It just refers to the mixture I use to roast the beets in. It’s mostly balsamic vinegar that’s been sweetened by muscovado sugar (similar to brown sugar). Hope that helps :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • muppy09/01/2013 - 5:05 pm

    we have made this many times – love it :)ReplyCancel

  • […] Warm Kale, Quinoa and Balsamic Beet Salad […]ReplyCancel

  • Julia06/02/2013 - 12:21 pm

    I’m vegan, so I left out the Parmesan. I also used beet greens instead of kale and used regular beets and regular sugar (I’m out of raw sugar). Anyways, this was incredible!ReplyCancel

  • Mary13/05/2013 - 10:36 am

    At what point do you peel off the beet skins? In the pictures it looks like you didn’t, but does that make eating them problematic?

    Can’t wait to try this!ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright14/05/2013 - 8:18 am

      Hi Mary,

      I did not peel the beets in this dish. They were baby beets, so the skins were a bit thinner. I generally don’t find eating the skins of a roasted beet too bothersome. But it’s all personal preference :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Linda Wilson22/06/2013 - 4:18 pm

    Wow, I am impressed and cannot wait to try your recipes. I have an abundant garden and weekly organic CSA delicacies to use up and enjoy, and your recipes are supplying my needs! Thanks Laura!ReplyCancel

  • Christine10/08/2013 - 9:09 pm

    I just discovered your website as I was looking for a recipe for the kale, baby beets and garlic I bought at the farmer market this morning… The recipe was delicious and your website is absolutely amazing. I just subscribed to your feed too and will definitely try your most recent recipes in the future!ReplyCancel

  • […] Beet, Satsuma Plum & Green Zebra Lacinato Kale Salad (inspired by this beauty from The First Mess) serves […]ReplyCancel

  • Rachel18/12/2013 - 2:59 pm

    trying this tonite- thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • […] Warm Kale, Quinoa + Balsamic Beet Salad by, The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Erika01/02/2014 - 11:52 pm

    So delicious. Thank you for gathering all my favorite things into one amazing (and easy) recipe’ReplyCancel

  • Mohana10/08/2014 - 6:13 am

    CAN I THANK YOU FOR INTRODUCING ME TO BEETS? I hope through all the caps you see how excited I was about this recipe. I’ve had tons of quinoa (as a new pescatarian): this was an excellent new way to add flavor and make the make of random ingredients in my fridge. Linked to the recipe on my blog so I hope that helps you get even more notice.ReplyCancel

  • […] me, if you’ve never had marinated beets (which I can’t say that I had before this) this Kale Beet Quinoa Salad will be a revelation. Start them first because the roasting does take a while (50 minutes) but you […]ReplyCancel

  • […] It’s definitely been a banner year for kale and beets, so why not finish the season out strong with this trendy, vitamin-packet side?! Add organic garlic and local honey to your delivery, which may contain the kale and beets now in season. Visit TheFirstMess.com for the full recipe. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Warm Kale, Quinoa and Balsamic Beet Salad by The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Josianne30/01/2015 - 12:37 am

    I am forever grateful to you, for such a wonderful recipe!!! I just discovered your website and am LOVING the winter section.. Again, thank you for sharing your insights and creativity!ReplyCancel

  • […] My favorite ingredients with which to cook include kale, smoked paprika, garlic, and beets. Guys, I think I’ve found the perfect meal. […]ReplyCancel

vegan dirty chai pancakes - The First Messpin it!
Guys, I’m kind of sniffly and head-full-of-gross-stuff this week, so a posting of my contribution for the Toronto Vegetarian Association October newsletter will have to do. And by “will have to do,” I actually mean “is an unbelievably awesome addition that you’ll love.” Added bonus: I’ve linked to a few of my Thanksgiving-appropriate recipes at the end for all of you Canadians celebrating this weekend. Big hearts to you all.

Have you tried a dirty chai? I’m a recent convert to this indulgent drink. It’s a cinnamon-y and creamy chai latte with a shot of espresso added. This drink has MY JAM written all over it. It’s complex, warming, lightly sweet, still spicy and shot through with caffeine for good measure. This could be easy enough to produce at home with a batch of homemade chai concentrate, some strong coffee and the milk of your choice. Heat it all up together and get cozy.

Once I’m jazzed on something I usually can’t leave it alone, so naturally I had to make a pancake version of this beverage (NATURALLY). Truth: I tried to make waffles first, but it was one of the messiest waffle failures of my life. The batter itself is hearty with spelt flour and strong with coffee, spice and vanilla. Best part: I decided to blanket them in a cranberry compote tweaked with maple syrup. It adds a sweet-tart dimension that fits these little cakes so well. So much fall on one plate. Perhaps a lovely Thanksgiving brunch option for my country peeps? You could swap in some leftover cranberry sauce instead of making up a whole batch of separate compote if you like.

I’ll be sipping some ginger tea over here and snuggling in with this book (finally got around to reading it) while I rest up a bit. Oh and here’s a shorter autumnal reading suggestion from the good people at McSweeney’s (salty language warning). Make some pancakes and have a cozy and warm Thanksgiving friends. I’ll be back with something more ambitious next week :)

pin it!vegan dirty chai pancakes - The First Messpin it!vegan dirty chai pancakes - The First Messpin it!
dirty chai pancakes with cranberry + vanilla compote
serves: 3-4
notes: I call for coffee extract, but ground coffee is just fine. Grounds give off a more intense flavour for sure, but they definitely get the job done (and leave beautiful little dark brown flecks in the batter). I would adjust the amount if you’re using ground espresso, like down to a teaspoon and half? If anyone tries it, I’d love to know how that goes. Also, if they sell that fancy cultured coconut milk at your local grocery store, you can use 1 1/3 cups of that and skip the whole vinegar-curdling-the-milk step.

compote:
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup (+ extra for serving if you like)
2 tsp vanilla extract

pancakes:
1 1/3 cup non-dairy milk (I use the So Delicious brand Unsweetened Coconut Milk)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
¾ cup whole spelt flour
½ cup light spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of fine sea salt
1 tsp coffee extract OR 1 tbsp finely ground coffee
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp melted coconut oil + extra for cooking pancakes
1 tsp vanilla extract

Make the compote: place the cranberries, water and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Add water as needed to keep the sauce moist. Mash the cranberries up here and there with the back of a wooden spoon to get a saucy consistency. Once you have a slightly wet, jammy texture, add the vanilla extract. Stir up the compote one more time and remove from the heat. Set aside.

Combine the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Stir lightly and set aside to curdle for at least 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground coffee, cinnamon, ground ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves. Stir to combine. Add the curdled non-dairy milk, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Stir gently to combine, taking care not to over mix.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Brush the pan with melted coconut oil. Drop 1/3 cup measures of the pancake batter into the pan. Allow the first side to cook for 1 to 11/2 minutes, or until bubbles pop on the surface and the edges appear dry and lightly browned. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another minute. Remove pancakes and keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve pancakes with cranberry compote spooned over the top and extra maple syrup if you like.

 

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  • Jeanine03/10/2012 - 9:06 am

    I hope you feel better!

    I really wish I had a plate of these right now… I could use a spicey coffee-ey pick me up this morning for sure!ReplyCancel

  • Stacy03/10/2012 - 10:10 am

    SUCH gorgeous photos! These look delicious. I don’t think you can go wrong with chai spices (almost) regardless of what you put them in. Hope you feel better soon and have a festive Thanksgiving celebration!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey03/10/2012 - 10:12 am

    You’re either going to love me or hate me for sending you this link (i.e WILD) http://bit.ly/MMMgmr — This pancakes look amazing! My goodness.ReplyCancel

  • Kristen03/10/2012 - 10:16 am

    These are some seriously beautiful pancakes!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle03/10/2012 - 10:30 am

    DAMN GIRL. These are blowing my mind. All my favourite flavours together, for real.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney03/10/2012 - 10:33 am

    This post has succeeded in doing 2 things: making me drool on my keyboard, and making me really wish I had a dirty chai. These seem like the perfect fall pancakes!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey03/10/2012 - 11:41 am

    I’ve never tried a dirty chai latte but wow, it sounds good…as do these pancakes! I hope you get better soon, lady! I’m excited to try this.ReplyCancel

  • Megan Gordon03/10/2012 - 11:55 am

    It is breakfast time and I’m sitting here checking emails and drinking coffee … dreaming, now, of these waffles! Happy Thanksgiving!ReplyCancel

  • Jacqui03/10/2012 - 12:22 pm

    That book is still on my to-read list too. And these pancakes! I love all things chai, so I’m going to love these!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique03/10/2012 - 12:54 pm

    I will always go for pancakes, and those look delicious! I hope you feel better soon. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn03/10/2012 - 3:07 pm

    You know how I feel about your food and this is just another example. Dirty chai pancakes is also probably the best name for a recipe ever. And I’m going to whip up a batch of the compote this weekend to have with yogurt. Oh I just love everything about this.ReplyCancel

  • sarah03/10/2012 - 3:36 pm

    dirty chai + pancakes = perfect.
    {I hope you feel better soon!}
    {ps. beautiful photos!}ReplyCancel

  • Erin03/10/2012 - 3:56 pm

    I do love a big stack of pancakes and I really love the sound of dirty chai- that’s right up my alley! Feel better soon!ReplyCancel

  • Elenore Bendel Zahn04/10/2012 - 3:12 am

    Oh my darling! Are you feeling any better yet? I´m sending you tons of snuggly, healthy, feel-good vibes and hugs <3

    The pancakes looks out of this world and the photos are -WOW-

    Earthsprouty love to ya!ReplyCancel

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious04/10/2012 - 6:40 pm

    Amazing! That compote really sealed the deal for me!ReplyCancel

  • Eileen04/10/2012 - 9:23 pm

    I’ve never heard of a dirty chai, but it sounds so good–sign me up! This compote sounds like a perfect match with chai spices too.ReplyCancel

  • Kim04/10/2012 - 9:47 pm

    I have to tell you, I think I just fell in love with your recipe as I’m a huge huge fan of pancakes. Definitly gonna try these and Dirty chaï (never heard of it…)ReplyCancel

  • Anna05/10/2012 - 1:37 am

    Absolutely delicious! It looks wonderful with the jam.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar05/10/2012 - 1:43 pm

    LOVE this idea!ReplyCancel

  • Dirty Chai « Ellen Cherry07/10/2012 - 9:09 am

    […] looks tasty, but I’m really in love with the name: Dirty Chai pancakes with vanilla cranberry compote.  None of that uptight prude chai.  Nope, this one is a little […]ReplyCancel

  • Cookie and Kate07/10/2012 - 11:01 pm

    It’s 10 pm now but that is not stopping me from fantasizing about a steaming plate of these pancakes magically appearing on my coffee table. I’ve been on a Chai latte kick lately and I’m trying out this dirty chai concept next. No doubt I’m gonna love it.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa08/10/2012 - 12:50 pm

    So lovely!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany @thetriplecreme09/10/2012 - 4:53 pm

    Yum. I often find pancakes too heavy, but these look light and irresistible!ReplyCancel

  • […] In terms of things that sound delicious and quaintly fall: gluten-free pumpkin spice pancakes, pumpkin cinnamon rolls, peanut butter and chocolate cookie sandwiches, and dirty chai pancakes […]ReplyCancel

  • Mince&Type10/10/2012 - 11:29 am

    I’ve never been much of a pancake person, but I think these would totally change my mind! That compote sounds amazing too. Hope you’re feeling better!ReplyCancel

  • […] Chai Pancakes with Spiced Caramel Sauce | adapted from The First Mess and Foods of Our Lives | serves 3-4 | Printable […]ReplyCancel

  • Karmagh09/11/2012 - 2:03 pm

    These are AMAZING! Quite possibly the best pancakes ever! I whipped up a half batch for lunch and they’re delish. I swapped out the water in the compote for some chai I already had brewed & used a GF flour blend since I didn’t have any spelt. They turned out great. So glad to have stumbled across your blog. I’ve got a list of your recipes I’ll be trying soon!ReplyCancel

  • […] Dirty chai pancakes with cranberry and vanilla compote. You had me at dirty. And chai. She uses a homemade chai concentrate, but you could use a liquid concentrate from the store in a pinch. Cook down your cranberry sauce and throw a little maple syrup in there. Then throw ‘em down the hatch. […]ReplyCancel

  • Valeria09/02/2013 - 5:01 am

    I just finished eating these as part of an indulgent Saturday morning breakfast, and oh my, we are just in love with them. I never heard of dirty chai, but just following your instructions I can already tell I love it. I used fresly ground coffee beans (1 tbsp) and 100% whole spelt flour, with on top a blackberry compote (had leftover berries in the freezer from my summer foraging). Perfect, will make them over and over again.ReplyCancel

  • […] Frühstücks-Experiment gestartet: Pfannkuchen ohne Ei. Hat mit diesem Rezept (und einer himmlischen Mango) wunderbar funktioniert. Wer hätte gedacht, dass Apfelessig und […]ReplyCancel

  • […] this recipe for Chai pancakes with cranberry […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 3. Usa compota de fruta en vez de mantequilla y jarabe sobre tus hotcakes. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] this recipe for Chai pancakes with cranberry […]ReplyCancel

  • Inés06/07/2013 - 1:26 pm

    Hi Laura,
    I just made your pancakes and while eating them I suddenly noticed that there was no egg or egg-replacer in them. Then I checked whether I’d simply forgptten…but, no. This is amazing! Somehow I always thought something, like ground flax or anything else, had to be in pancakes to keep them together. Do you definitely taught me something! :-)
    I made your recipe with cashew milk and grain coffee and somehow the pancakes turned out looking like I had put cocoa in them ;-) Well, maybe the coffee powder dissolved … I guess so. I’d been looking forward to the speckles ;-)
    Apart from that I had a strawberry sauce with them.
    And to the pancakes: I liked them! At the first bite I thought the cardamom was too overwhelming and maybe I’d use less in future, but after a few bites and adding more sauce it blended it quite nicely. It reminded me a bit of what you can buy here in Germany as “Lebkuchengewürz”, which is a spice for gingerbread. It was different as I had expected, as I’d thought it would taste of coffee, but didn’t really. So, thank you! This is a nice flavour variation you created there! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Weekend Warriors! | Sous Style30/08/2013 - 4:21 pm

    […] Chicken Thighs with Nori Seaweed & Sesame Rice Boozy Bacon Jam, Honey Grilled Watermelon, Dirty Chai Pancakes, Baked Cheese with Rosemary Crackers, Chickpea Yoghurt Dip, Spiced Moroccan Wrap, Mint Chocolate […]ReplyCancel

  • Terry24/10/2013 - 4:10 pm

    These pancakes are divine and the photos are mouth watering.ReplyCancel

  • Jess24/11/2013 - 6:55 am

    These need to be in my life. Stat.ReplyCancel

  • caylee14/12/2013 - 5:16 pm

    Hi, I was just wondering…if I used a pre-made vegan soy protein drink as the sub for say other non-dairy milks would that affect this recipe in anyway?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright16/12/2013 - 8:42 am

      Hi Caylee, I think the recipe would be fine if you subbed the non-dairy milk with the protein drink. Is the protein drink thicker than normal non-dairy milks? You might have to thin it out a bit, but other than that–should be fine.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Dian31/12/2013 - 3:22 pm

    Great idea for pancakes! I’m going to try these except with some dairy + eggs.ReplyCancel

  • […] by recipes found on these lovely sites: The Roasted Root, The First Mess, and Joy the […]ReplyCancel

  • […] it was really good and now I’m inspired to make my own jam! I found the original recipe on The First Mess, a site with a lot of amazing […]ReplyCancel

  • […] frivolous, funny to prepare and a bit unusual for Italians’s taste. I drawn inspiration from this post of Laura. I really love her blog, her style and her […]ReplyCancel

  • Robin29/09/2014 - 11:09 pm

    Made these last week and they were absolutely perfect. Everything I was hoping for! Such a fun flavor profile. I sprinkled some extra espresso powder on top along with a drizzle of maple. Had plenty of cranberry compote leftover and I’ve been enjoying it in all sorts of ways! On oatmeal, mixed into yogurt, spread on toast, and dolloped on baked sweet potato.
    Thanks for the great recipe!ReplyCancel

  • thefolia23/10/2014 - 3:30 pm

    Viva la pancake…we love eating these in our nest and are always blending with whatever veggies and fruits we have on hand. These sound amazing…can’t wait to try! Happy Nesting.ReplyCancel

  • Steve Lassoff01/12/2014 - 11:54 pm

    Sounds amazing! I shared this on pinterest.ReplyCancel

  • […] Chai Coconut Ice Cream by Cookie + Kate 2. Dirty Chai Pancakes by The First Mess—Yes, tooting my own horn ¯_(ツ)_/¯ 3. Chai Masala Pumpkin Pie + Black […]ReplyCancel

  • Meldoy29/05/2016 - 12:22 am

    Can you use a different flour? Like Almond.ReplyCancel

    • Laura30/05/2016 - 7:23 am

      Hi Meldoy,
      I don’t think you could simply substitute all almond flour for both flours here because almond flour behaves quite differently. You would have to do a mix of almond and a GF all purpose flour or buckwheat flour I think. If you’re trying to make these totally grain-free, you would have to experiment with using almond flour and a very small amount of coconut flour in the mix.
      -LReplyCancel

  • […] Wright creates amazing recipes (the spring veg pizza with caramelized onion cream and dirty chai pancakes + vanilla cranberry compote look unreal), while showcasing her often home-grown creations with stunning photographs. Her work […]ReplyCancel