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 :)

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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

delicata squash and lime tabbouleh-style salad - The First Messpin it!pin it!
What is it about seasonal change that is so emotional?

This hunch seems especially true for fall, but especially pertinent in my little nook of Canada. Another 6-7 months of briskness is coming. The booties have been dusted off and wooly scarves have cozied around my neck on more than one occasion already. We seem to brace ourselves and turn into each other so readily. The community feels strong wherever cold winds sweep through and my dwelling spaces have been no exception.

I heard a rustle of slowly decaying leaves from the apple tree in the middle of our garden at dusk and I swear it was fraught with emotive… like, vibrational THINGS. You know?! The fallen fruits laying in the dampness, some rotting and sunk in, kind of threw me. I was taken aback by the whole scene. Strange beauty in the cool mud before dark.

Mark and I were in Montreal a couple weekends ago and passing by an old church in the morning hours, I could hear the choir of voices inside just slightly muffled by ages-old bricks and mortar, the congregation’s joy barely contained. I felt like my chest would explode, just walking on by.

I’ve been laughing harder too. So many things giving me that riot of hearty laughs where the sides of your eyes are all misty wet and crinkled from the inability to contain that big, smiling mouth. Just one little gesture or phrase from Mark and I’m senseless with that gasping-for-air-kind of laugh, face blindly pointed to the sky trying to catch a moment, a breath, only to fall into it again.

Needless to say I’m drinking this atmospheric goodness up fairly greedily. That lushness seems abundant all around. I’m gently savoring it in some ways; the slower sipping of morning coffee, lingering over a book or magazine in a warm spot of the house, craving anything that can possibly be roasted or caramelized… In other ways, I’m much more eager to get my fill with a sense of haste; spontaneous road trips, all kinds of indulgence, permitting myself some laziness on a whim. It’s all keeping me in the moment.

My appetite has been pretty strong through all of this, as per usual. I wanted to make something that would serve as a very complete side dish at dinner that could gracefully turn into a perfect lunch addition for a few days longer. Leftovers. I wanted some damn good leftovers to eliminate any  doubt around lunchtime for a bit. We had some gorgeous delicata squash forming in the garden, one of my favourites.

I started thinking about a sort-of tabbouleh salad with roasted squash and super sweet, sun-ripened tomatoes, barely clinging to the dried up vines at this point. Lots of herbs and citrus in the form of a whole lime vinaigrette is in the mix, an awesome technique I’m borrowing from Brooklyn Supper. You get the acidity of the juice and all the fragrance of the zest in a couple little blitzes of the blender. It’s the perfect accompaniment to sweet, roast-y squash, cracked wheat and a bounty of parsley and mint. This comes together so easily once you get the squash roasting, which is completely by design. I wanted to leave you with plenty of time to fill your heart up with the excitement of change and coziness :)

pin it!pin it!pin it!
delicata squash and whole lime tabbouleh
vinaigrette from Brooklyn Supper
serves: 6-8
notes: Make sure you let the cooked bulgur cool down completely before tossing it with all of the other ingredients to avoid major grain-clumping. Feel free to use quinoa or millet for a very similar gluten-free option too. Don’t eat grains? Try some cauliflower pilaf technique. Also, I recognize that some limes might be more juicy or pith-y than others, so in light of this I have some suggestions for whole lime vinaigrette success/trouble shooting. First, zest the lime onto a cutting board, aiming to only grate off the green part (the white/pith is rather bitter). From here, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into your blender. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of the zest to start and go from there. You might want more if you like the fragrance/essential oils of the peel.

salad:
1 medium delicata squash, split in half lengthwise, seeds removed
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sea salt
black pepper
1 cup dry bulgur
5-6 roma-sized tomatoes, cut into small wedges
8 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped roughly
8 sprigs mint, leaves chopped roughly

vinaigrette:
1 lime, halved and chopped into smaller pieces (preferably a juicy one)
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/3 cup grapeseed (or olive) oil
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the delicata halves crosswise into 1/2 inch thick half moons. Toss them with the 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Arrange on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes or until squash is tender and lightly browned. Remove and set aside to cool.

While squash is roasting, combine bulgur and 1.5 cups water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Add a splash of oil and stir it around at this point to prevent clumping.

Combine the chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, roasted squash and cooked bulgur in a large bowl.

Make the vinaigrette: Combine the chopped lime, garlic clove, water, oil, salt and pepper in a blender pitcher. Blend on medium-high speed until lime is liquified and you have a creamy, homogenous mix. Taste for seasoning.

Pour vinaigrette over vegetables and bulgur. Stir to combine and add any salt or pepper if you like. Serve at room temperature or cold.

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  • Kittee-Bee Berns27/09/2012 - 11:29 pm

    heck, this looks so great i’ll be making this with quinoa just as soon as i get my hands on a delicata. super brilliant

    xo
    kitteeReplyCancel

  • Hannah28/09/2012 - 12:14 am

    Laura this is perfect! Those last sweet tomatoes meet fall’s fairest harbinger, the delicata. I love it. And leftovers, yes, yes.

    You can put those seeds in the toaster oven and sprinkle a nice crunchy topping over it all too, you know. Just sayin’ ;)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn28/09/2012 - 4:18 am

    I love this; I feel almost giddy about fall at the moment. As much as I love the summer, I walked home from work last night in the dark and the rain and the cold and I couldn’t believe how happy it was making me. This kind of hearty salad is perfect for this time of year. Delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar28/09/2012 - 11:39 am

    This salad is stunning! Awesome photos :)ReplyCancel

  • Stacy28/09/2012 - 12:13 pm

    This is a beautiful essay, and, per usual, you have crafted a unique and delicious-looking dish. This is on my dinner list, to be sure!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey28/09/2012 - 3:26 pm

    Hi friend! I totally know what you mean about the emotional nature of seasonal change. I absolutely adore this time of year..when the air gets crisp, and the leaves turn, and all those beautiful squashes come into play in our kitchens. This sounds like a fabulous dish -delicata is probably my favorite fall squash! xoReplyCancel

  • Kelsey28/09/2012 - 10:07 pm

    Emotional is right. Holy moley. I can imagine you laughing to the sky, and it makes me smile. One day, one day. This looks crazy good, btw.ReplyCancel

  • sara30/09/2012 - 2:36 am

    you! so good! the photos on this one are magnificent, my dear. can’t wait for fall squash foods once it cools down around here!ReplyCancel

  • Jacqui02/10/2012 - 2:24 pm

    I’m right there with you on the seasonal mood shift. I’ve been loving it. And this dish is definitely on my must make soon list, I love the list of ingredients!ReplyCancel

  • Cookie and Kate07/10/2012 - 11:06 pm

    Gah, so with you on this one. The change in seasons has been an emotional one for me, for sure. I’m not so happy about the brisk weather. I would be very happy eating this salad, however. It looks perfect and I love that you used Elizabeth’s lime vinaigrette technique. That was a great night.ReplyCancel

  • Elisa mcfarlane19/04/2013 - 12:09 pm

    Love the fresh look and I am presuming great tasteReplyCancel

  • Reeve25/07/2013 - 7:54 pm

    so excited to have found your beautiful blog. I mean, seriously excited! But sad that this recipe isn’t in season right now:( Any suggestions for making a summer version?ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright26/07/2013 - 8:38 am

      Hi Reeve,

      Thanks for leaving such a kind note! I would probably grill or roast some summer squash in place of the delicata to make the dish more summer appropriate. :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Hannah20/09/2013 - 1:45 pm

    This looks gorgeous and your words so perfectly describe this time of year!
    You say you had this as a side – I’m intrigued what flavours it matched with?

    P.s. I love your site so so much thank you for sharing so much deliciousness!xReplyCancel

  • The Big Salad: November28/11/2013 - 9:39 pm

    […] was inspired by the Delicata Squash Tabbouleh at The First Mess, but ended up making some significant substitutions, such as millet for the […]ReplyCancel

  • […] First Mess Delicata Squash Tabbouleh – A love letter to the seasonal changes written by Laura, a good gracious greenylicious rock […]ReplyCancel

  • David Moses18/10/2014 - 10:33 am

    My girlfriend and I are huge fans of your website. We’ve tried many of the dishes and enjoyed them thoroughly.

    Tonight we made this dish, and honestly the lime vinaigrette was overpoweringly bitter. Given the deliciousness of your other meals however, we figure this must be something on our end.

    What could have made the dressing so bitter? Does source of the produce matter when it comes to using this technique??ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright18/10/2014 - 12:19 pm

      Hey David,

      I’m so bummed out that this recipe didn’t work for you guys! So since this vinaigrette uses the whole lime, I’m going to guess that your lime might have had more white pith in it than mine? That’s the most bitter-tasting part of the fruit typically. Or maybe your lime wasn’t as juicy and the bitterness of the peel + pith overpowered the actual juice.

      If you try this one again, instead of chopping up the whole lime and putting it in the blender, I might zest it with a fine grater onto a cutting board first. From there, you can cut the lime in half and use all the juice and then add the zest in to taste. I hope this is at least a little bit helpful + my apologies too. I’ll make a note on the recipe for others.

      -LReplyCancel