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I was cleaning up one evening in the small kitchen at a community centre in the city. An after-school program held for teenage girls had just wrapped up. In the previous 3 hours, we had talked about the benefits of produce and whole grains for growing bodies, made hummus, wholewheat pita from scratch and a huge tabbouleh salad together. We had also discussed the disappointing aspects of school lunch programs and some simpler things on how their day had gone. I was wiping the counters down, filing away the knives and cutting boards, digging the crud out of the dishwasher strainer as the sun disappeared outside–just trying to finish up so that I could hop on the bus and have a quiet night at home.

As I was wiping the main island countertop, with its stacked pots, bowls and bins of donated wooden spoons + other necessaries stowed away underneath, the two women who ran the program were in discussion. One was holding a can of chickpeas. She led another program at the centre for women who had recently immigrated, where they would cook and discuss the transitions taking place in their lives. Leaning on the counter, she said something to this effect: “The women in my group, they tell me that they don’t know what to do with these. *gestures to can of chickpeas* They get them all the time from the food bank, and because they don’t know them, they throw them away.” This was a strange dilemma (and further proof that food banks are often a bandaid solution to issues of hunger and good health). The wholesome food was made accesible in a very physical and easy way, but the barriers to wellness and prosperity still shot up.

What followed was her strategy of trying to incorporate legumes into more of her sessions, to use encouragement and to approach the many-sided issue, as always, with respect. Something as simple-seeming as teaching individuals to cook and incorporate certain foods into family meals led to the conclusion that more support was needed from the community at large. It’s never enough to simply provide the food, wish the individual good day and move on with your life. That disappointingly frequent support paradigm is an exercise in isolation. The second that dignity is compromised, the road to health and vibrance becomes rougher and frustratingly longer for the individual. There is a disconnect between their life and the community that they are trying to thrive in. By asking questions and thinking on her feet, this woman was paving a way forward, for her program participants and their families.

This moment of realization and moving ahead is on my mind often and remains a motivation when I develop a recipe. It’s the reason why I would never, ever say that refined flour is inherently bad, that sugar/agave/any sweetener should be banned from your cupboard without question, that all of your stone fruit must be organic because the pesticide level deems a conventional version too toxic etc. It is wonderful to work with whole grain flour, natural sweeteners and organic produce, sure, and sometimes those things can be quite affordable (this depends on your priorities too). But you have to know what to do with them first. Food has the power to heal and nurture, but it is first and most importantly necessary for life. It gives you strength for everything else.

As humbly and deliciously as I can offer, I made you a salad primarily composed from chickpeas and stale bread this week. The vegetable component is 3 distinct alliums (just onions y’all). The grassy chives, the pungent red bulb onion and sweet charred leeks. These flavours epitomize early spring for me. We stuck a chive plant into an old pot many years ago, basically neglected it and have since been rewarded with emerald green, fresh blades every year when April rolls around. Low maintenance, supremely cost-effective flavour right outside my door. I am trying to work more towards dishes with this kind of feel–ones that anyone can make in whatever capacity so that they can go into other aspects of their lives with vibrance and capability, whether because of nourishment or a small shred of empowerment.

Hope you’re all seeing beautiful green, spring-y things in your little nooks of the world. Big hugs. xo

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chickpea + spring onion panzanella recipe
serves: 4-6
notes: If you have ramps or green onions popping up where you are, I would definitely slice up the greens of either and add them in. Also, I grilled some of the vegetables, but have included instructions for oven-roasting here, since that seems to be more of an option for people. If you have a grill, just brush the veg with some oil, salt + pepper and place them on a medium-high grill until charred a bit and soft.

salad ingredients:
2-3 cups roughly cubed stale bread
2 tbsp oil of your choice, divided
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 bunch of leeks, tough greens + roots trimmed away
1 small red onion, peeled + quartered
4-5 stalks of lacinato/tuscan kale
2-3 radishes, thinly slices
chopped chives for garnish
salt + pepper

dressing ingredients:
1/4 cup chopped chives
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
splash of water
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt + pepper
1 tbsp raw honey/agave nectar/brown rice syrup/maple syrup
1/3 cup grapeseed or other neutral tasting oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

On one sheet, toss the cubed bread with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season to your liking. Once all of the bread is coated, slide the sheet into the oven. Bake for about 13-15 minutes or until bread pieces are deep golden brown. Set aside.

Cut the trimmed leeks in half down the middle, lengthwise. Rinse them thoroughly to remove any grit between the layers. Place them on the other lined baking sheet. Place the quarters of red onion on the sheet as well. Toss the vegetables on the sheet with the remaining tablespoon of oil and some more salt + pepper. Slide the sheet into the oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are browning and getting tender. Toss the kale leaves onto the sheet in the last 5 minutes if you like, or leave them raw. Allow vegetables to cool slightly.

While vegetables are roasting/cooling, make the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor. Mix or pulse everything until a pale green and creamy mix is achieved. Taste it for seasoning, adjust if necessary and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas and toasted bread. Chop up the leeks, red onions and kale into bite size pieces and toss them into the bowl as well. Season the whole mix with salt + pepper if you like. Pour the dressing on top (you might have a bit extra). Toss everything together to combine. garnish the salad with chopped chives and sliced radishes. Serve immediately.


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  • Kathryn10/04/2013 - 5:24 am

    As ever, Laura, you are a total inspiration. I love the sincerity and accessibility of this post – it’s one of the reasons that I come back here again and again because you are so genuine. Plus you make pretty amazingly delicious sounding salads like this!ReplyCancel

  • Nicola @ Homegrown Kitchen10/04/2013 - 5:54 am

    Thanks Laura, another beautiful post. And yes sometimes it is the simple foods that nourish us. I like the idea of simple meals using what you have on hand. A lovely looking spring salad as we on the bottom of the world head towards winter.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny @ BAKE10/04/2013 - 6:15 am

    This is such a wonderful post to read! I must admit up until a few years ago I wouldn’t have known what to to do with a tin of chickpeas! this salad looks absolutely amazing and your photography is beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf10/04/2013 - 8:38 am

    This is a beautiful post in so many ways. Food is so important – you make it special and everyday in a completely unique way.ReplyCancel

  • michele10/04/2013 - 9:29 am

    So much love for this post- this kind of dish is why your blog is so wonderful. Simple, delicious looking, super accessible. I always leave with an “I could do that!” kind of feeling. This is the kind of food I like to cook every day. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Ashley10/04/2013 - 9:35 am

    Beautiful, beautiful, all the way around. From your words, to the food, to the photos. Your sincerity, kindness, and thought always shine through these posts!ReplyCancel

  • Betsy10/04/2013 - 9:40 am

    Beautiful salad and great post! A friend was recently telling me how the food bank gives her so many dried beans she ends up throwing some away. Its now my mission to give her more recipes to make with dried beans. Very thoughtfulReplyCancel

  • Alex10/04/2013 - 9:41 am

    Beautiful post Laura! All around.ReplyCancel

  • Amy10/04/2013 - 10:04 am

    What a wonderful post and gorgeous salad to accompany it. This post resonated with me a lot as I am a nutrition educator at a food bank and empower people with basic cooking skills and nutrition education each and every day. In fact, we just covered chickpeas in two of my classes this week! Such education is so necessary, especially here in CA as two thirds of what we distribute is fresh produce. Thanks for your post an for being an awesome culinary inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Heidi @foodiecrush10/04/2013 - 10:12 am

    Your commentary about educating others on how to prepare these healthy, but sometimes formidable foods, is right on the money. While organic and whole foods are a benefit to all, creating simple foods with accessible ingredients is what will help cure the hunger plight we face. Love this whole notion and tasty, healthy greens.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough10/04/2013 - 10:56 am

    Oh my goodness, beautiful, beautiful photos and words as always. This recipe sounds like the perfect thing to welcome in the springtime.ReplyCancel

  • Chandra10/04/2013 - 11:01 am

    This has to be one of the most, if not the most stunningly beautiful blog posts I have encountered in many years searching the internet…and then, the added bonus is your thoughtful, thought-provoking commentary. Your example is the one to emulate!ReplyCancel

  • Golubka10/04/2013 - 11:11 am

    It is such a beautifully written post Laura, and I agree with you on every word! I too came from far away and wasn’t familiar with the majority of the ingredients that I now use on a regular basis. And this panzanella – my favorite, just gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Sonja10/04/2013 - 11:36 am

    Wow. Stunning words and photographs, along with a humble, beautiful way of looking at the world and a passion for making the joy of food available to all. Kudos to you, Laura — this post is touching and lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany10/04/2013 - 1:21 pm

    What a great post. Something we don’t even really think about — HOW to use what we have. Education is so important, and you are doing a great thing.

    Plus, this sounds amazing. I think I will need to make me some.ReplyCancel

  • Kate10/04/2013 - 1:32 pm

    Gorgeous words. Gorgeous salad. I crave Spring tastes in phenomenal ways and this gives me hope, even as a mid-April snowstorm is bearing down on us. Panzanella salads are a favorite around here, and this one needs a green light in our kitchen.ReplyCancel

  • Very good, strong post. Food is so important. Since we don’t have problems with getting it, we forget how important it is.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen10/04/2013 - 2:56 pm

    What a great combination of vegetables! I love the idea of reimagining panzanella for the first vegetables of spring. :)ReplyCancel

  • sarah10/04/2013 - 4:06 pm

    Lovely, Laura. This struck such a chord. I so appreciate your honesty, and the way you are always looking both inward and outward. Your humble way of sharing always (always!) stirs something in me, makes me want to take care of not just myself, but of others. You are a gem, truly. xoReplyCancel

  • Nicole | Eat This Poem10/04/2013 - 5:30 pm

    First, my mouth is watering right now! Second, I love this story you shared. Just beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • […]     Love that Italian bread salad thing, panzanella. Here’s a different take: chickpea + spring onion panzanella from The First […]ReplyCancel

  • Beth | {local milk}10/04/2013 - 8:28 pm

    This might be my most favoritest riff on panzanella I’ve seen thus far. I’m kind of married to my admittedly staid and kind of traditional one. This is the first i’ve run across that has me shoving my old paramour out of the way in favor of mixing things up. I can’t wait to make this. Tomorrow. For dinner. Mixing up my starter right now. There is nothing about this I don’t love. Nothing.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar11/04/2013 - 10:01 am

    So gorgeous!! Yum!ReplyCancel

  • Claire Suellentrop11/04/2013 - 3:28 pm

    You hit the nail on the head in your discussion of the accessibility of food vs. knowledge about how to use it. Beautifully said.

    I’m currently back at home visiting family (who aren’t exactly clean-food-conscious) and am trying to incorporate more simple, whole foods into my parents’/siblings’ diets where possible–their ideas of “healthy” include chemical-filled protein bars and 45-calories-per-slice bread with ingredient lists a mile long. My mom is eager to learn about new and “foreign”-sounding ingredients, but is intimidated by the prospect of testing out new recipes on her own. We’re setting a mother/daughter hummus making date, for example, and I can tell how excited she is to no longer rely on purchasing the prepackaged stuff every week.

    It’s all about the baby steps, isn’t it? Phasing in new types of beans here, phasing out the boxed mac n’ cheese there. Baby steps to better food, baby steps to better health.ReplyCancel


  • tara13/04/2013 - 10:18 am

    Beautifully said, Laura, and beautifully actualized in your recipe. Inspired, as always.

    Now here’s hoping that spring decides to arrive soon. Cheers.ReplyCancel

  • Jacqui13/04/2013 - 2:46 pm

    Your words are so dead-on. And your many versions of panzanella always leave me with cravings!ReplyCancel

  • Michael Falso15/04/2013 - 3:13 am

    The content was as wonderfully composed as the salad. What a very powerful experience, and thank you for sharing. I’m very impressed, and I loved how simple yet refined the panzanella salad is. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne16/04/2013 - 1:22 am

    Love your message here, Laura. So important to keep in mind. This panzanella looks spectacular—your recipes always are.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah16/04/2013 - 5:11 pm

    I agree–this post is beautiful in many, many ways.ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen16/04/2013 - 6:34 pm

    This post was just gorgeous. I always appreciate when people are striving for good but can see the bigger picture! And also this salad is just the sort of recipe I need for when it feels like there’s absolutely no food in the house, but I still want something kinda nourishing and comforting.ReplyCancel

  • Dana17/04/2013 - 8:18 pm

    Laura! This recipe was so timely because I started a whole foods cleanse this week and I can have (pretty much) everything in it! I actually made it for a dinner party I attended and everyone RAVED about it! They kept asking me what was in it and how I made it. I gave you all the praise! Making it again now, sans croutons. Next time I think I’ll add beets! Thanks again – muah!ReplyCancel

  • Shira20/04/2013 - 8:00 pm

    So beautiful Laura, thank you! Reading this post made me feel as though I was reading my own thoughts – you expressed so beautifully precisely the dilemma we as a larger community are facing in terms of accessibility, know-how, and at the end of the day, dignity & respect.I work closely with programs that offer food & support to families that need it and it is amazing to hear the stories of food not being used simply because people do not know how to use it. Thank you, for this. I cannot believe I did not read this until now. xxReplyCancel

  • Arleigh22/04/2013 - 11:22 am

    A friend made this for a dinner party and I was scared I wouldn’t be able to recreate it, but it was so simple and tasted just as good in my kitchen. Wonderful recipe!ReplyCancel

  • […] 1. Chickpea, spring onion + tuscan kale salad – by The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] started learning about whole foods blogs that boasted amazing recipes like Blueberry oat cobblers, Tuscan kale salads, and superfood nut butter cups (just to name a few). Such a blog is A Couple Cooks, run by […]ReplyCancel

  • […] ♚ I love recipe that effortlessly combine healthy and delicious – Chickpea, Spring Onion, Kale and Panzanella Salad […]ReplyCancel

  • […] – Salada de Za’atar com grão-de-bico beringela e tomate, do Green Kitchen Stories (em Inglês) – Panzanella com grão-de-bico, couve e rabanetes, do The First […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Chickpea and Mixed Onion Panzanella (inspired by this recipe) […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 5. Chickpea, Spring Onion and Tuscan Kale Panzanella from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Lee Anne22/01/2014 - 10:26 am

    Just made a slightly tweaked (more wintery/crazy warm January) version of this for lunch, and man was it good!! Your blog is always such an inspiration, for food as well as thought. Thanks for what you have to say, Laura! XReplyCancel

  • Pat12/02/2014 - 8:49 pm

    This is one of the best hardy salads I’ve ever tasted. Every morsel satisfied the hunger for a hardy and heart-filled meal. It was easy, accessible and just down-right homey! Delicious not only in flavor but in texture. It satisfied my hunger into the next day and took an edge off of my wishing-winter-was-over mind. And on top of all that, my husband kept saying how great it was and he’s a pretty tough character when it comes to voicing his appreciation.

    I have been behind in writing a friend of about 45 years after we were finally able to exchange letters at Christmas. This recipe and your refurbishing brought back many memories of her generosity, creativity and love of good, healthy food. So tonight I’m sending her this recipe as a special thank you for years gone by.


  • […] Chickpea, Spring Onion + Kale salad 2. Lemon Chia Coffee Cake 3. Sesame Asparagus Salad 4. New Potato Hash with […]ReplyCancel

  • […] list. I mean how amazing does this Roasted Potato and Asparagus Lentil Salad look? And this Chickpea, Spring Onion + Tuscan Kale Salad… yup — it has to be made. Oh, and the Avocado Citrus Crunch Salad with Oat Croutons. Oat […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Chickpea, Spring Onion and Tuscan Kale Salad from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Chickpea, Spring Onion, and Tuscan Kale Panzanella Salad: I could eat this salad by Laura of The First Mess every day for the rest of my life and be one […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Chickpea, Spring Onion + Tuscan Kale Salad via The First Mess: “As humbly and deliciously as I can offer, I made you a salad primarily composed from chickpeas and stale bread this week. The vegetable component is 3 distinct alliums (just onions y’all). The grassy chives, the pungent red bulb onion and sweet charred leeks. These flavours epitomize early spring for me.” […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Chickpea, Green Onion and Tuscan Kale Salad by The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Golubka Kitchen05/05/2016 - 7:39 pm

    […] be drawn into the world of vibrant colours, fresh and seasonal food, unique and simple recipes and engaging writing. The First Mess makes me smile with every new post, and I often run straight to the kitchen to make […]ReplyCancel

  • Anastasia14/09/2016 - 3:46 pm

    This looks amazing. I love the ingredients you’ve used here. I’ll wager these are delicious. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…ReplyCancel

  • […] Adapted from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

pin it!pin it!

A few temporary deficiencies in the home-base kitchen means some more fresh, raw and vibrant salad goods are in store for us here (and lots of smoothies and bowls of granola seem to keep reappearing for myself especially). The stove is kind of a nonentity at the moment, so in the spirit of rolling with it I threw this together super quick like it was no thang (and photographed it before the electrical/plumbing dudes got here and thought I was a weirdo). Also, it secretly/not so secretly was a thang. The threat of frequent stove meals/snacks being taken away threw me into a bit of a cooking rager of sorts (very mature, right?). Let’s call it an adventure.

So now there’s a tupperware of quite lovely salad on the top shelf of the fridge. I’m feeling well and good about that being within reach. We’re getting pummelled with unseasonable cold and winds in my little ‘hood at the moment, but I still crave crunchy veg as much as ever so this is all fine by me as long as a full tea cup is nearby. Also, the sun is still bright and making itself known through the bitter winds. It’s a nice reminder of the good graces in store for us.

Whatever the season, whatever the weather, carrots are always lurking in our crisper–waiting for a simple steam, a little slice + hummus dip or a plunge into some stock. This humble and dependable root is cut into elegant and thin matchsticks here. I thawed some shelled edamames and tossed them into the mix for some protein tasty times. The dressing is completely bright with fresh orange and lime juice, a healthy dose of ginger and a couple drops of sesame oil. The salad tangles all up in that and a heavy hand of black sesame seeds. I love how they coat and fleck every little matchstick piece of carrot, veering away from garnish towards key textural component territory. The cilantro comes in all perfumed and light while creamy avocado bits offer a touch more heft and body.

I think you can buy carrots pre-cut all fancy like this in stores? No matter though because it’s super easy to do all by your fine self. After I peel the carrots, I take one and cut it into 3 even lengths. From here, I cut off one of the sides. Roll the carrot piece so that that flat side is facing down. Then I cut off another rounded side. I repeat this until I have a rectangular prism of carrot so to speak (it’s all geometry, guys). From here, I cut the carrot into slices so that I can cut those slices into matchsticks altogether in one move. After that, I slice up those previous round parts of the carrot too. Cutting the carrots into thin coins is an option if you’re more into that. You could even ribbon the carrots with your peeler–just make sure that the salad doesn’t sit too long in the dressing if you’re going that route.

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ginger, citrus + black sesame carrots w/ edamame and avocado recipe
serves: 6-8 as a side
notes: If you want to make this more of a main event sort of thing, you could serve it with some grilled tempeh/tofu and toss a couple handfuls of greens and cooked grains into the mix. Also, you bet this mix would be tasty rolled up into a rice paper wrap or a sheet of nori.

salad ingredients:
5-6 carrots (this was a bunch for me), peeled + cut into matchsticks
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
big handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped (mint or thai basil would also be delicious)
salt + pepper
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled + chopped

ginger citrus dressing:
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
juice of 1 lime
salt + pepper
1.5 tbsp agave nectar/raw honey
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated finely on a rasp/microplane
couple drops of toasted sesame oil
1/4-1/3 cup grapeseed or other neutral-tasting oil (I tend to like vinaigrettes on the more acidic side so I go with less)

Combine the carrot matchsticks, thawed edamame, sesame seeds and chopped cilantro in a large bowl. Season the whole mixture with salt + pepper and toss lightly with your hands. Set aside.

In a small-medium bowl, combine the orange juice, lime juice, salt + pepper, agave nectar, ginger and sesame oil. Whisk it all together until incorporated. While whisking with one hand, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil until you have a homogenous and unified dressing.

Pour the dressing over the carrot + edamame mixture. Toss to combine. Top with the chopped avocado pieces. Garnish the dish with more sesame seeds and cilantro if you like.

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  • Ai03/04/2013 - 5:29 am

    Yum!! I love sesame seeds, both in savory and sweet :)ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf03/04/2013 - 8:35 am

    Carrot and black sesame is one of my favourite salad combinations – love the sweetness, crunch and nuttiness combined. I love that you rushed to take photos before the plumbing guys arrived – I’ve taken food photos on my front porch before and got some very odd looks from neighbours!ReplyCancel

  • Betsy03/04/2013 - 8:45 am

    This is beautiful and delicious! New your blog….loving it!ReplyCancel

  • Christina03/04/2013 - 9:08 am

    This sounds wonderful! Just need to buy some cilantro to make this evening.ReplyCancel

  • Golubka03/04/2013 - 10:10 am

    So bright and fresh, and I have all of the ingredients needed for the salad! It will be delicious for lunch today, thank you Laura.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley03/04/2013 - 10:51 am

    Your photos are just so crisp and vibrant. Stunning! I love the simplicity of this and am always looking for new ways to eat carrots and salads! I bet the textures are perfection. This will be lunch.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen03/04/2013 - 1:11 pm

    This salad looks so good! Super fresh and springy and tasty. I especially love how the edamame and avocado makes it a full meal.ReplyCancel

  • Yohann03/04/2013 - 7:03 pm

    Your pictures are so sharp and colorful! Love it. I have never tried black sesame before, looks good!ReplyCancel

  • janet @ the taste space03/04/2013 - 8:29 pm

    Gah! Simply stunning. Gorgeous, healthy and tasty. Need to find me some edamame, avocados and cilantro. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Hannah03/04/2013 - 11:58 pm

    Those colors are so bright and pretty. Like tulips and springtime. My kids love carrots, edamame, and avocado – I’m wondering if I can turn them on to sesame with this one. So far tahini has not won any fans, but maybe the milder flavor combined with the pop and crunch would get them on board. Thanks for more gorgeous ideas sweet Laura. happy almost-spring (and here’s hoping you have a stove top again soon?)ReplyCancel

  • sara forte04/04/2013 - 1:13 am

    oh yes yes. I like this carrot situation. I find them dry when you buy them at the store cut like this. Better off to do it your way. Hope your kitchen is back in working order! But high five to year long salads on hand. Need those babies.ReplyCancel

  • carey04/04/2013 - 9:21 am

    This salad looks and sounds so awesome, and I would be totally OK with my oven not working if I had a tupperware full of it in my fridge. We’ve been dealing with the same worst.spring.ever chilly weather (and even had snow on Monday — harumph), but it’s not stopping me from craving fresh, veggie-laden things. And I’m marveling at how dang perfect and delicious that avocado looks, since they’re so hit-or-miss ’round these parts!

    Also, those carrots make me want to work on my julienning technique. Whenever I’m trying to meticulously cut anything, it feels like there’s a mental battle going on between my internal perfectionist and the part of me that has no patience for anything. (:ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen04/04/2013 - 3:04 pm

    Oh, if I had a dollar for every time a plumber or a flatmate’s friend or just SOMEONE quietly and unnerved watched me very seriously taking photos of my food. Thanks for this gorgeous recipe, I am always buying carrots because they’re so cheap but occasionally let them die in the fridge, unloved…so, glad to spy another excellent way to eat them!ReplyCancel

  • la domestique04/04/2013 - 5:55 pm

    I love how bright and fresh this raw salad looks. We are in Ireland now at a B&B till we find a home, and sick of eating out. Maybe a salad like this is something I can whip up without any mod cons!ReplyCancel

  • This salad looks PERFECT to me! Love the avocado and edamame – and the citrus/ginger dressing. . . SWOOOOON. So delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Clare05/04/2013 - 10:49 am

    This looks SO good! I don’t usually like carrots, but I love them in slaws and chopped up thin in salads – this looks great for spring!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth05/04/2013 - 12:16 pm

    Things with our oven are rather precarious right now, so I can totally relate. Judging from this amazing salad, you seem to be coming through it pretty well though! I love the sound of these flavors and textures – crunchy, warming, and fresh all at once. Exactly what I want to be eating on this cold/warm/cold again spring day.ReplyCancel

  • […] most beautiful salad […]ReplyCancel

  • Beck05/04/2013 - 9:22 pm

    This is goddamn gorgeous. All of my salads lately have had edamame and chia seeds in, but I really want to start adding fresh herbs to the mix. Def using this dressing!ReplyCancel

  • marla08/04/2013 - 8:55 am

    Such a beautiful & vibrant bowl of veggies!ReplyCancel

  • Beth | {local milk}08/04/2013 - 3:23 pm

    I’m feeling your fresh & vibrant food… kitchen deficiency motivated or no… I’ve been testing cake, bread, and cookie recipes as of late. So…um…vicariously healthy? I seriously feel like I need this right now before my body mutinies.ReplyCancel

  • Julianna11/04/2013 - 4:46 pm

    Laura, I am new to your site, but have already pinned loads of recipes! Many, many recipes pinned later, I realized I should just pin your site page (and subscribe), which is exactly what I did!

    I just finished making this salad ^ (seriously, just 10 minutes ago), I can’t believe how beautifully simple and bright it is! I added some grapefruit mint that I had on my patio. Simply divine.

    Thank you for being so amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Carla12/04/2013 - 9:24 pm

    Amazing picture! This looks beautiful. Have you been to ? I get all my black sesame seeds there. They roast them fresh and grind them into a powder. They are amazing! Great recipe, I need to try this!ReplyCancel

  • Katie @ figgyandsprout13/04/2013 - 2:04 pm

    Absolutely stunning recipe and photos, Laura! I have been searching town high and low to find edamame, but I haven’t had any luck. Its moments like this I really miss home for Trader Joes.ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne16/04/2013 - 1:27 am

    Ha, I’ve felt so rushed to take photos before the maintenance guy shows up. Once my landlord knocked on my door when I was experimenting with coconut oil as a hair moisturizer… I looked like a total greaseball. This salad is precisely the kind of food I’ve been craving lately. Lastly, super impressed by your carrot cutting skills.ReplyCancel

  • […] Carrot-Edamame-Sesame Seed Salad, via the first mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […]  *Inspired by Laura from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Andrea22/04/2013 - 5:05 pm

    Can’t wait to make this at home with our beautiful local avocado varieties! So simple, and yet so lovely.ReplyCancel

  • Miscellany |24/04/2013 - 3:28 pm

    […] Ginger, citrus and black sesame carrots with avocado and edamame by The First Mess. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] The First Mess via Sapphire on […]ReplyCancel

  • […] From […]ReplyCancel

  • Golubka Kitchen21/09/2013 - 3:20 pm

    […] with her blog, head over and prepare to be amazed. You will be drawn into the world of vibrant colours, fresh and seasonal food, unique and simple recipes and engaging writing. The First Mess makes me […]ReplyCancel

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  • Glenda Sutherland14/01/2014 - 3:28 pm

    I cannot wait to try this…. looks incredible!ReplyCancel

  • […] – Ginger Citrus Black Sesame Carrot Edamame Salad – we agreed that this dish was the favorite. Instead of using edamame we used broad beans (make sure you shell them first). If you don’t already have a mandoline, I’d recommend getting one. You can grab inexpensive ones from a number of shops in China Town. Another tip is to prepare this dish first so the dressing has time to marinate. […]ReplyCancel

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  • […] 16th, (Vegetarian, optional Vegan) Portobello and Zucchini Tacos, recipe from Martha Stewart Carrot Slaw with Edamame and Avocado, recipe from The First Mess Tuesday, December 17th, Vegan Tuscan Bean Soup, recipe from Saveur […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Protein-packed Black Sesame and Edamame Salad […]ReplyCancel

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Put your winter woes aside, friends. Spring is arriving in slow trickles, whispers, pops and things that go whooooosh. The sun is borderline blinding me as it streams down onto my desk and I cannot be bothered to draw that shade. We’ve waited too long. The grass is shifting from yellow-green-brown muck to actual fresh, emerald-hued blades (that rustle in the wind! So great.). There’s a mighty anticipation of what is surely wonderful–it’s just around the corner, the most minuscule shred of time longer.

Still, there’s nothing definitively “spring” available at the markets currently. It will be a while before the ground fully thaws and turns those seeds and roots into something nourishing and delicious (looking at you asparagus, breakfast radishes, wild leeks and peas). Until then, some more cool-weather items and sprouted goods will appease my craving for fresh, totally crisp, high-vibe things. Are you all kind of feeling this now too? The need for crunchy, fresh, higher-water-content kind of foods? I’ve been wanting giant salads and green drinks all the time. I think my body is ready for a seasonal warm up, so I’ve been giving myself what I need to move on to the next seasonal moment. Plenty of vegetables, fresh juices, herbal tea and So. Much. Water.

One of the local grocers always has a wonderful selection of fresh sprouts. There’s daikon radish, various herbs, pea shoots, wheatgrass and my favourite: sunflower sprouts. I picked up a pot of them for a radicchio salad with some cider-pickled beets I had made and a bit of sprouted wild rice. I decided at the last second to make these into more of a portable salad thing with a sweet, chive-flecked vinaigrette to take the bitter edge off of the radicchio wrap. They ended up being exactly what I wanted. The sprouted rice is chewy, the beets are still crisp and nicely acidic, sprouts for freshness and hemp seeds for nuttiness. If you enjoy cheese, a happy sprinkling of sheep’s milk feta would be quite pleasant I think.

I offer instructions for pickling the beets in the refrigerator style here. I love doing this with winter vegetables and it couldn’t be easier to rig up. Equal parts water and vinegar of your choice, spices, herbs, little salt and sweetening, all heated up. Pour it on top of vegetables packed in a jar, put the lid on and leave it in the fridge for 5-7 days. Super low maintenance and plenty of crunchy, tangy things for salads and snacks throughout the week. Sprouting the wild rice is similarly low key. Just place the rice in a jar, cover it with plenty of water and put a lid on it. Change the water twice a day for 2-3 days until you start seeing the white of the rice coming out and some curling up in the grains. Delightfully chewy complex carbohydrates are now at your disposal (back in the high life again, guys). If you can’t wait a couple days to sprout it, you could always stir in some cooked wild rice on the more al denté side. The chew-factor is so important.

I would love to know how you all ease into the warmer weather as it slowly seeps in. Do you cook up and eat anything special? Start going to yoga more? Do you obsessively seek out green things? Are you contemplating a juice fast/feast? (I feel like everyone around me is) Do you listen to awesome throwback 80s-style jams? I’m so curious about all of yous :)


Oh and! A lovely gal I know has started a thoroughly rad book blog called Algonquin Side Table. It’s wonderful for decidedly casual readers like myself because Rebecca’s voice is so approachable. This week, she asked me to take part in a bit of a bookshelf interview, all pertaining to cookbooks and works on food! If you’d like to sneak a look at my bookshelves and take in some of my favourites you can check it out here.

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sprout + crunch radicchio cups w/ honey chive vinaigrette and avocado recipe
serves: makes 8-12 cups
notes: If you don’t love the bitter quality of radicchio, you could sub a head of boston/butter lettuce in.

cider-pickled beets ingredients:
1 medium golden beet, peeled
1 bay leaf
black peppercorns
1 white from a green onion (I only used this because I had a few)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp raw honey or agave nectar

honey chive vinaigrette ingredients:
2 tbsp white balsamic or wine vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp raw honey or agave nectar
salt + pepper
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped chives + extra for garnish

radicchio cups ingredients:
1 large head of radicchio, core removed
1 heaped cup of sprouted or cooked wild rice
3/4 cup chopped cider-pickled beets
big handful sunflower sprouts
1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds
1 batch honey chive vinaigrette
1/2 ripe avocado, peeled + pitted
salt + pepper

Make the cider-pickled beets: cut the beet in half lengthwise and then cut each half into thin slices. Pack them into a clean 2-cup+ capacity jar, leaving about a 1/2 inch of space at the top. Tuck the bay leaf, black peppercorns and green onion bulb into the jar too. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the apple cider vinegar, water, salt + agave/honey. Bring it to a boil and pour the mixture into the jar with the beets until all of the slices are covered. Put a lid on the jar, place it in the fridge and let it do its thing for 5-7 days.

Once you’ve removed the core from the radicchio, carefully pull off whole leaves. Once you have 8-12 or so, wrap them in damp paper towel until you’re ready to fill them.

Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, honey/agave, salt and pepper until combined. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you whisk the vinaigrette together. Add the chives and whisk once more. Check for seasoning and set aside.

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, combine the sprouted wild rice, chopped pickled beets, sunflower sprouts, hemp seeds, all of the honey-chive vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Toss until everything is evenly mixed.

Place the radicchio leaves on a platter and spoon the wild rice + beet mixture into the cups. Dice the avocado and garnish the cups with it. Sprinkle some extra chopped chives on top and serve.

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  • Anouk27/03/2013 - 5:23 am

    Spring! Oh how I look forward to the flowers & trees showing of their colors again… For now, we’re still enduring frost here in Belgium. But: sun is shining today! Still enjoying soups though :) But also some salad of course (lamb’s lettuce – yum!). Juice fast not really my thing – smelly breath alert! – I prefer some crunch so would rather go on a salad feast & a juice/smoothie to start the day (you should really try the mango-mint smoothie from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook!).
    //warm hug//ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin27/03/2013 - 6:43 am

    what a perfect meal to ring in the beginning of spring. i love eating more salads during this time, too. unfortunately, it hasn’t felt like spring around here much, as it just snowed again on monday! i’m so ready to start gardening in the warm sun and eating delicious raw wraps like this one ;)ReplyCancel

  • erin27/03/2013 - 8:55 am

    BEAUTIFUL! Seriously, these look just perfect and make me even more excited for spring (even though there is still now where I’m at!)ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf27/03/2013 - 9:35 am

    I am SO ready for Spring. Sadly it’s 2 degrees centigrade in the UK and absolutely frosty as anything! Once Spring arrives though I’ll be feasting on beautiful salads like this!ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan27/03/2013 - 10:17 am

    Absolutely gorgeous, as usual!ReplyCancel

  • Angela27/03/2013 - 12:18 pm

    Creative,healthy and beautiful = perfect;)It’s snowing outside my window so a bowl of warm soup is what I need now. But I’m waiting impatiently for young spring vegetables and greens.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen27/03/2013 - 2:03 pm

    These little cups sound so refreshing and springy! I even have my own pickled beets all ready to use, hanging out in my kitchen cupboard–and golden ones, no less. :) Love it!ReplyCancel

  • teri c27/03/2013 - 3:25 pm

    So when you made the pickled beets, they were raw correct? look great but only have had them cooked…ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright27/03/2013 - 5:41 pm

      Hi Teri! Yes, the beets are raw when you pour the pickling liquid onto them. They stay nice and crunchy. I find the earthy flavour isn’t as pronounced.

  • Jacqui27/03/2013 - 5:38 pm

    These are so gorgeous Laura! I ease into warm weather by opening up every window in my house any chance I get! 60 degrees and sunny, yep! Nothing beats fresh air, but I definitely have been getting my salads on!ReplyCancel

  • Shira27/03/2013 - 10:20 pm

    Oh heavens me! This post has so many things I love….firstly I am with you and can’t wait for those first shoots to break through back home (yup we are still here on holiday!) – and sprouts are the most perfect solution for the waiting! I made something similar recently with radicchio as bowls – they are so, so beautiful. Currently planning the list of things I want to pickle…starting with those amazing looking beets. What a fantastic tip. thanks Laura!ReplyCancel

  • sarah27/03/2013 - 10:56 pm

    Lovely photos. I *love* sprouts.
    As for spring, I tend to eat more greens, and walk walk walk. I love walking, and we’ve been stuck inside all winter! Ugh. Also, I don’t pull out 80’s music, but I have been listening to a lot of Sarah McLachlin’s ‘Fumbling Toward Ecstasy’ (one of my most favorite albums, and terribly 90’s and nostalgic.) I spent lots of spring evenings driving around with that cranked, looking for cute boys…ReplyCancel

  • Nicola Galloway28/03/2013 - 3:30 am

    What a gorgeous idea, and your photos are stunning. We are at the other end of the planet so heading into autumn but still salad weather… just. Thanks, NicolaReplyCancel

  • carey28/03/2013 - 10:11 am

    The sun is doing the same, blinding thing through my desk window, and I am totally into it. And there are tiny tufts of grass on the lawn and the beginnings of tulips in the garden — hurray! About GD time.

    There are these little bags of sugar snap peas showing up on the shelves of our natural foods market, and they are SO tempting. But I resist, because I don’t know where they’re coming from, and I know they’ll only disappoint me. Right now, all I want are lots of fresh herbs and little baby greens. Sprouts are where it’s at. I’ve been a pea shot girl for a while now, but I’ll have to give those sunflower sprouts a try! Definitely no juice fasts for me. (I drink a juice and it just leaves me feeling annoyed because I’m still hungry, and I spent $8 on liquid instead getting a salad and a muffin, which is really what I wanted.) Lots of smoothies and walking. And pep talks to mentally prepare myself for the first bike ride of the season, which will make it painfully clear to me what a total lazeball I was all winter.ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey28/03/2013 - 10:56 pm

    This was exactly what my body wanted today on this gorgeous 65′ day. You are the queen of veggies, my love. I bow down. To your reader inquiry… I am SO craving GREEN. Green everything. I can’t even look at a loaf of bread right now, which is odd. Smoothies consist of fresh turmeric, banana, and kale… can’t stop won’t stop. I’m not sure if this is quite 80’s throw-back, but I have had an unusual affinity to this song since returning from Chile. … I’m usually more for the moody acoustic stuff, but… SPRING. I tell ya. It shakes it all up.

    abrazos y besosReplyCancel

  • Lisa the Gourmet Wog29/03/2013 - 3:17 am

    What a beautiful colourful salad. I absolutely love golden beet, and this makes the vegetable shine.ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen30/03/2013 - 1:05 am

    Funnily enough, even though this recipe suits you for heralding spring, I think it’s just what I want to eat now that autumn’s nearly through and we’re coming into winter – just because I love all those bitter, sour, spicy flavours and I think they’ll be just what I need to counteract all the million stews and soups and so on that I’ll be eating this season. Just hope I can find some of those beauteous golden beets…ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne31/03/2013 - 12:26 pm

    YES! This is exactly what I want to eat this time of year. Spring is finally, finally here in Kansas City—Cookie and I just went on an epic walk in 60 degree weather, clear skies—and I’m ready to fill up on salads and green things. Be gone, winter fluff!ReplyCancel

  • Ashlae01/04/2013 - 1:46 pm

    I half-ass made these for lunch today and they were delicious. Just what the doctor ordered, in fact. As the warmer weather creeps in, I long for vegetable loaded eats and long morning runs. I eat a lot of big ass salads in the summer, but I think I could get used to fancy little wraps like these.ReplyCancel

  • Sonja03/04/2013 - 9:48 pm

    These look amazing! I’ve never tried a radicchio cup but it’s a perfect idea. Wonderful for pre-spring — before all the spring produce comes forth!ReplyCancel

  • Julia05/04/2013 - 10:52 am

    this recipe looks so fresh and delicious, i love working with radicchio!
    i have to admit that i love all your recipes, I have you on the inspiration page of my blog.ReplyCancel

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Saturday or Sunday lunch/brunch has historically been my least favourite shift to work in terms of service. It’s just way busy and if you try to have a shred of a social life on the weekend like a normal human being, you’re paying for it in some way as the day wears on. I’ve been parked behind a giant espresso machine for solid blocks of time hammering out lattes for fancy ladies. The day is a blur of flipping those tables over and over until the clock strikes 3. There are children and there are messes of ketchup. There are total, self-entitled douchebags that need coffee. Clatters, clangs, beeps, change clinks, sizzles + shouts. The fullest hours imaginable.

A couple years ago, I found myself on such a day catching a moment behind a vitrine all filled to the brim with pâté, pickles, cheeses and marinated items; my elbow supporting my chin and heavy gaze. Other hand firmly planted in the pocket of my faded navy blue apron. My boss came up behind me so silently and leaned up on the case as I did, looking out at the scene. After I made some throwaway comment on how crazy it had been all morning, he said something so great. He gestured out to the dining room and remarked “Isn’t it wonderful to look out and see everyone smiling and to get a sense that they’re all laughing together?” And it was actually nice. It made me feel better about my lack of sleep, not being able to have a leisurely  read + eat with my man, about those DB’s I mentioned earlier… I felt less like I was swept up in service and more like I was performing a necessary service for my community. I was part of the assembly that facilitated a weekly coming-together over something good to eat. Huge. People look forward to that time all week. Work became privilege.

Side note: I work in a fine establishment that only opens for dinners now, so this has become less of a thing. But! I appreciate languid breakfasts in and out of the home all the more now–for the happy chorus in a crowded dining room or the one, singular laugh of my handsome man. All of it a still new-feeling luxury for me.

So for those happy/lazy times at home, you would probably find me fixing up something like this. The quinoa in these provides crunchy textural contrast. It isn’t thrown in because of random “for your health!” kind of aspirations. They give the cakes heft and much visual interest. I toast it in cinnamon flecked coconut oil for lots of fragrance and use plenty of vanilla to warm up the largely almond meal-based batter. Cacao nibs give a wine-y chocolaty crunch and the bananas get sweet and caramelized on top of the cakes. A dollop of tangy yogurt and plenty of maple syrup finishes them off. Something wonderful to see us through to the end of winter, over some good reads and a pot of tea.

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coconut, almond + quinoa breakfast cakes recipe
Inspired by True Food.
serves: 3-4
notes: I blend everything except the spelt flour, salt, sugar and leavening agents to really smooth out the almond flour. That’s an optional step. Also, making the quinoa up the night before would cut down on prep time considerably if you’re planning on maximal chill times on a Sunday or some such thing. If you eat eggs, you could certainly add a whisked one to the batter for some extra leavening power.

2 1/2 tbsp melted extra virgin coconut oil, divided + extra for the pan
pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup milk of your choice (I used light coconut milk)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup whole spelt flour (or GF all purpose)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or demerara, evaporated cane etc)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups almond meal
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 bananas, sliced + divided
2 tbsp cacao nibs + extra

to serve:
yogurt of your choosing (coconut, sheep, cow etc)
maple syrup

Cook the quinoa: in a small saucepan over medium heat, drop a 1/2 tbsp of the coconut oil. Once it’s fragrant add the pinch of cinnamon. Stir that around until it smells way good. Add the rinsed and drained quinoa and a pinch of salt. Stir it around in the oil a bit to toast. Add a scant cup of water to the pan. Bring the quinoa to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. You want the quinoa to be cooked, but kind of crunchy too. Drain off excess liquid and cool quinoa completely.

Add the lemon juice to the milk and set aside for 5 minutes to curdle/lump up.

In a medium bowl, combine the spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, coconut sugar and sea salt. Stir to combine. Combine the almond meal, vanilla extract, remaining coconut oil and curdled milk in the blender. Flip it to high and blend until the mixture is very smooth, about a minute. Scrape this mixture into the bowl with the spelt flour etc. Gently fold it all together with a spatula until just combined. Add the cooled quinoa and fold it in until it’s evenly mixed.

Heat a large sauté pan or griddle over medium. Brush with melted coconut oil. Drop 1/4-1/3 cups of batter onto the pan. Spread the batter out a bit with a spatula or the bottom of the measuring cup. Press banana slices onto the top of the cakes and sprinkle with cacao nibs. Once bubbles start to form on top and the bottom is golden, flip them over. Continue to cook until bottom side is golden/dry. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping cooked cakes warm as you go along.

Serve pancakes with extra sliced bananas + cacao nibs, maple syrup and yogurt dolloped on top.

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  • Caitlin20/03/2013 - 6:48 am

    what a beautiful story and breakfast! i used to work in a bakery, and i remember the craziness of the morning hours on saturday and sunday. sometimes it was quite overwhelming, but when i stepped back and looked at the joy the baked goods brought them, i felt honored to work at such an amazing place. like you said, work was a privilege.

    i love the idea of adding quinoa to breakfast cakes for some heft and staying power. i will definitely have to try it this weekend!ReplyCancel

  • Melting_pot20/03/2013 - 8:36 am

    Wow! These look so good! I am always looking out for healthy breakfast ideas. Sometimes I get bored of the usual: 5 cereal muesli , almond, raisins with soy milk. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Megan20/03/2013 - 9:13 am

    These are just beautiful, Laura! I’ve never worked in food service, but I love the outlook on Saturday/Sunday morning busy times that you shared. Also glad for you that you get to enjoy your mornings at home now, with those lovely cakes!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Crowder20/03/2013 - 9:41 am

    Never heard cacao nibs called “wine-y”…what an apt description!ReplyCancel

  • teri C20/03/2013 - 10:45 am

    Thanks so much for posting this..I will try it. I am a survivor of food service and my own catering business. Gads! There’s a forever foodie in me, but now I find growing heirloom veggies more relaxing and still try to sneek in interesting meals to friends and family that appreciate it! Love the blog and appreciate the time it takes to do this for us to enjoy!ReplyCancel

  • Carla20/03/2013 - 11:25 am

    Hey Laura! It’s Carla from JK. :) How are you? I have a slight feeling that your story might be about him? Haha. Let me know if I’m right. But the meat and pickle vitrine and faded blue apron sound way too familiar.

    I’ve always been a fan of your blog but it has recently come in more handy. I’m finding myself in a bit of an eating rut and am trying to reconnect with good food. It’s so easy to let oneself go in this industry! Especially in the winter.

    Anyway, bottom line, you have such a beautiful blog! Your words and pictures are super inspirational and I’m so happy for your success. Keep up the fabulous work!

    – Carla
    P.S. HI MARK! :)ReplyCancel

  • Shira20/03/2013 - 11:49 am

    Gorgeous as always and love love the list of ingredients. I spend my work days sharing stories with folks in the restaurant business who do exactly what you describe: provide that special experience that people so look forward to all week/month – I couldn’t agree more that it is worth seeing it as a privilege. Awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Heather20/03/2013 - 12:34 pm

    I absolutely adore your photos and recipe. I look forward to reading your posts every Wed. It’s the first thing I do when I get up.ReplyCancel

  • Emma20/03/2013 - 1:44 pm

    Oooh these are beautiful with the red quinoa. I love all the flavours too- almonds, bannana, coconut. I actually made almond and coconut crusted banana pancakes yesterday which were suberb. This pancake fiend will be trying your version very soon!ReplyCancel

  • Kris20/03/2013 - 1:49 pm

    I love this post both because I used to work in the service industry and can relate to both views and because breakfast (well, brunch really) is my favourite meal of the day. Cozy mornings spent lingering with good people over delicious food is one of life’s best gifts. These pancakes are stunning. I’m looking forward to trying a GF version over here in the near future.ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan20/03/2013 - 2:08 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous, as usual!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne20/03/2013 - 3:05 pm

    Oh boy, can I ever relate to having a little too much fun the night before a morning shift. I used to get jealous of everyone’s good times on the weekend, but I did enjoy being a part of their fun. You make healthy and humble breakfast foods look SO appealing, Laura, love it.ReplyCancel

  • Sophie {The Cake Hunter}20/03/2013 - 4:53 pm

    Your blog makes me so happy. I really love the idea of these breakfast cakes. I bet they’d be a great start to the day.ReplyCancel

  • Courtney20/03/2013 - 5:13 pm

    These breakfast cakes are pretty much all of my favorite flavors rolled into one. I think you just created my ideal breakfast! Can’t wait until the weekend to try them out :)ReplyCancel

  • dana20/03/2013 - 7:20 pm

    GORG. I love these photos! And the recipe looks to die for. Bravo, friend!ReplyCancel

  • Liren20/03/2013 - 7:32 pm

    This gives me such an appreciation for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, that gives us as diners the opportunity to linger and laugh over tables of delicious food. I’m glad you are able to enjoy calmer mornings, and with these beauties. I love the quinoa!ReplyCancel

  • carey21/03/2013 - 8:11 am

    Ahh, this makes me miss waiting tables. :) I was serving breakfast in a small town sap house, and most of the people were nice and super friendly (perhaps because we all kind of knew each other!). But I dealt with my fair share of DBs that were spending the weekend out of the city in their upstate homes. Those were always the women that ordered two pancakes for their 5 year olds, ignoring my warnings that they were enormous and one would suffice. The look on their faces when I triumphantly dropped off a dinner plate with two pancakes overhanging the edges all the way around was THE BEST.

    And I am loving the idea of quinoa in pancakes! Especially with bananas + cacao nibs + yogurt. Oh my. (One of my newest flavor combo obsessions is bananas + cacao nibs. I don’t know what took me so long.)ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa | Queen of Quinoa22/03/2013 - 8:16 am

    I love, love, love starting my day with quinoa. Whether it’s granola, hot cereal, or pancakes, quinoa never disappoints. This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to whip up a batch this weekend. And your photos are gorgeous!

    I would love for you to share this recipe on this week’s Thank Goodness It’s Quinoa, the bi-weekly link party that celebrates all things quinoa. I know our readers will fall in love with this recipe just as I have!

    Happy Friday!


  • Beth | {local milk}22/03/2013 - 10:25 pm

    you’re killing me with these photos and this recipe. a while back, like a year ago, I got obsessed with pancakes. i mean seriously obsessed. and then i got obsessed with making healthy pancakes, like how much nutrition could i hide in a cake. i no longer make pancakes with the zeal I did then (don’t get me wrong, they’re still in regular rotation) but this takes me back to my days of superfood purple okinawan sweet potato pancake days. I think I need to revisit them with these. My other half would freak the freak out for them.ReplyCancel

  • sarah23/03/2013 - 10:59 am

    Laura, your photographs have been just dynamite lately! So gorgeous.

    I was a barista for 10+ years, so I totally felt everything you wrote about. Fancy ladies! douche bags! messy children! There were moments of so much resentment, and then those moments of so much love. It was always such a weird meeting ground.ReplyCancel

  • marlies23/03/2013 - 9:23 pm

    do you think this recipe would work with brown rice flour instead of spelt? it looks sooo good i would love to make it :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright24/03/2013 - 8:38 am

      Hi Marlies! I think the brown rice flour would sub in fine, but you may have to introduce some kind of binder like arrowroot powder or ground flax seeds (a tablespoon or so of each). The gluten in the spelt kind of helps to hold it all together, so adding one of those 2 things would help. Alternatively, if you eat eggs, you could add a beaten one to the batter to help with binding too. Hope that helps!

  • Roos24/03/2013 - 3:15 pm

    Love your blog, great rcipes and beautiful photography!!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley25/03/2013 - 10:12 am

    These look OUTstanding. What gorgeous photos…per usual. Your words and the creativity of this recipe are just so lovely. Well done! — I also wanted to thank you for your incredibly sweet comments you left on my blog last week. They truly meant so much and were just what I needed. Thank you! xoReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen26/03/2013 - 5:08 am

    1: I love what your boss said! Especially as I was expecting them to growl at you or something.
    2: I hope I’m pretty friendly and non-stressful already, but this post makes me really want to consider the people serving me brunch and be particularly considerate of them.
    3: I adore the food thesaurus, I use it all the time.
    4: This recipe sounds wonderful, and I really like that you explained exactly why the quinoa is there. Aaaand I do believe I have all the ingredients…ReplyCancel

  • Sophia27/03/2013 - 5:42 am

    What an absolute gorgeous stack of pancakes – amazing photos and the pancakes look absolutely delicious! And I loved the little insight you gave us into what it’s like to stand on the other side of the counter. Despite having had a number of tedious jobs since being a teenager I never actually did any kind of waiting or working in a bar as I always thought it must be horrible to work where other people go to have fun – despite being an avid people watcher, it never occurred to me how nice it could be to be part of that (leaving aside the douche bags and messy children). So thank you for that! And also an important reminder to be kind to those standing on the other side of the till/counter, you name it.ReplyCancel

  • Haleigh Robbins05/04/2013 - 8:27 am

    These look so good! I’ve never thought of putting quinoa in pancakes. It’s a great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Eli's Mom15/04/2013 - 11:35 am

    I will try to make this for myself and the little one. The photos are so gorgeous, by the way!ReplyCancel

  • Abbie18/04/2013 - 12:58 pm

    I made these this morning and they are delicious! I am not gluten-free or vegan, so I just substituted regular flour and regular milk for the batter. The cakes didn’t hold up too well when it was time to flip them, so I added an egg like you suggested and a tablespoon more flour and they firmed right up! I love the lemony flavor.ReplyCancel

  • […] The First Mess: Vegan Coconut, Almond + Quinoa Breakfast CakesThese vegan breakfast cakes look like perhaps the best kind of pancake I’ve ever seen. They can be made gluten-free by using all-purpose GF flour. With healthy quinoa, bananas, cacao, and 3 different coconut-derived ingredients, your belly is going to be just as happy as your taste buds. […]ReplyCancel

  • Cheri Litchfield20/04/2013 - 5:51 pm

    Made these this morning and they were absolutely perfect!! Thank you SOOOO much!ReplyCancel

  • southernspoonbelle27/04/2013 - 12:39 am

    These look incredible, thank you for sharing. Re-thinking my own post on banana pancakes that I’ve just put up after seeing these interesting beauties! Will have to try experimenting with toasted quinoa added to breads and cakes. Happy Spring to you.ReplyCancel

  • Apolline08/05/2013 - 4:54 pm

    this looks absolutely amazing! have to try it asap :)ReplyCancel

  • Deborah Dyson20/06/2013 - 7:15 pm

    So glad I found the link to this site – the recipes sound fantastic, as are the photos and background stories. I’ve been adding quinoa to my pancakes for a while now, but your version sounds heavenly. I haven’t done much with coconut oil, although I’ve had it in my pantry for a while. This recipe inspires me to go cook!ReplyCancel

  • […] of the day. I have tried these crepes, these eggs, these mueslis, these oats, this frozen yoghurt, this pancake, this omelette, these […]ReplyCancel

  • […] of the day. I have tried these crepes, these eggs, these mueslis, these oats, this frozen yoghurt, this pancake, this omelette, these […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Coconut Almond and Quinoa Breakfast Cakes […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Recipe to try :: Vegan Coconut Almond Quinoa Breakfast Cakes Recipe […]ReplyCancel

  • […] 23. Coconut, Almond and Quinoa Breakfast Cakes Recipe […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Inspiration from The First Mess Get Recipe here […]ReplyCancel

  • Giulia18/05/2014 - 1:52 pm

    Was so excited to try this recipe (have been looking for an excuse to use almond meal for some time)! I mixed up the batter as described, but unfortunately I couldn’t get the pancakes to keep shape in the pan – they came undone as soon as I tried to flip them. Tried adding a little more water to make the batter more pancake-like, didn’t work. VERY sad considering that despite ending up in a lumpy brown pile, they still tasted delicious… any idea what might have gone wrong? Or could you propose an alternative (maybe baked) that would be harder for me to mess up? :) I want to give this another go for sure.ReplyCancel

    • Laura Wright02/06/2014 - 2:13 pm

      Hi Giulia, I’m so sorry on the lateness of this reply. So truthfully, I’ve found these pancakes to be a little fragile as well. The batter is quite stiff and it is intended to be that way to help them stay together in the pan. Once you drop the batter in the pan, you kind of have to spread it out a bit more manually with a spatula to get a nice flat pancake. So on that note, I don’t know if adding water to the batter would have helped. I think my best advice is just to gently spread them out a bit with the back of a spoon or spatula once the batter goes on the heat, and to use the biggest flipper you’ve got to handle them. I’m glad you thought they still tasted delicious though! And I really hope you do try them again.

  • […] […]ReplyCancel

  • Caty05/06/2014 - 9:23 am

    I absolutely love these! Instead of placing the banana slices on top, I mash them up and add them to the batter which makes the cakes a bit lighter. Wonderful photos, you’re such an inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • […] The First Mess: Vegan Coconut, Almond + Quinoa Breakfast Cakes These vegan breakfast cakes look like perhaps the best kind of pancake I’ve ever seen. They can be made gluten-free by using all-purpose GF flour. With healthy quinoa, bananas, cacao, and 3 different coconut-derived ingredients, your belly is going to be just as happy as your taste buds. […]ReplyCancel

  • Fancy Friday08/01/2015 - 3:57 pm

    […] Pots // Gold and Florals // Breakfast Cakes// Planters // Succulents // Hand Painted Scarf Speaking of our home, I actually have four of the […]ReplyCancel

  • […] via Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen Lemon Blueberry Quinoa Flour Muffins via The Honour System Coconut, Almond, and Quinoa Breakfast Cakes via The First […]ReplyCancel

  • anonymous13/05/2015 - 5:51 am

    I had the same problems as GIULIA. I mixed up the batter as described, but pancakes came out terrible. When i tried to flip them the batter fell apart, the inside was still liquid while the outside was ok.
    At the end i decided to make something like keiser schmarrn and it tasted delicious :)ReplyCancel

  • […] Coconut, Almond, and Quinoa Breakfast Cakes // The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Voy20/08/2015 - 5:25 am

    Hi there
    I’m a bit confused as to whether you should use almond meal or almond flour in this recipe?
    Thanks, VoyReplyCancel

    • Laura20/08/2015 - 8:00 am

      I think both would work, but almond flour is probably preferable.

  • Anthea @ Rainbownourishments13/02/2016 - 7:40 am

    Oh wow, I love these! I can imagine the quinoa would add such a lovely and unique texture to the pancakes. I’m pinning this xoReplyCancel

  • […] Coconut Almond Quinoa Pancakes from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

pin it!pin it!
You’ll have to forgive me for paraphrasing on this one. I remember reading this passage when we were away, on the beach in the glorious sun, a few months ago. I can’t for the life of me remember where I first took those words in. I’ve flipped through all of the sand-filled books and print publications that I toted along and simply cannot spot it. Some serious googling or more page flipping wouldn’t be too hard, but my eyes have been watering up and un-focusing involuntarily with some frequency lately. It might be time to step away from any and all screens for the day and spend less time focusing on tiny things. The vibrance of this thrown-together dish (with some outstanding local + hydroponic eggplant), against a grey mid-March backdrop, had me thinking of that lost passage. So here we are.

There is a woman in the back of a cab, somewhere in India. From memory, she is most definitely North American. She is travelling through the country in a way that suggests leisure, waiting for inspiration while cultural immersion takes place and seeming “otherness” surrounds. She notices prayer flags of every hue and condition flying from pointed rooftops, hanging off of farm gates, tangled in the streets, strewn over doorways of run-down homes, whipping in the wind on the tops of mountains and trees. They’re everywhere. She asks her cab driver about the flags, why the everywhere-locales, why the variety in appearance. His response is calm and straightforward, without a trace of glorification or pomp: God loves colour.

pin it!pin it!
crispy eggplant + harissa flatbread recipe
serves: 4-6
notes: I followed a harissa recipe from Food 52 pretty much to the letter (I left out the all spice + nutmeg) and was rather pleased with the results. I do use it sparingly since this Tunisian spice paste is quite fiery. If you make the whole recipe, there’s lots of other things you can do with it. Add a dab to a simple vinaigrette, use it as a marinade for proteins, mash it into some cooked sweet potatoes with a dollop of yogurt, drizzle it onto your avocado toast–many possibilities.

scant 1 lb whole grain pizza dough (I purchased a really great locally made one, but I have a recipe here too)
1/4 cup of harissa (I used this recipe from Food 52)
1 small eggplant
1 shallot
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tbsp raw honey or agave nectar
4 cups baby arugula
big handful of mint leaves
big handful of flat parsley leaves
squeeze of lemon juice
salt + pepper
1 tbsp dukkah spice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Rip a piece of parchment big enough to fit the sheet pan you want to use. Lay it on the counter and begin rolling out your dough on top of it. Aim for a 10-11 inch circle, about 1/3 inch thick. Transfer the dough and parchment to your sheet pan. Apply the harissa to the dough evenly.

Trim the ends off of the eggplant and slice it into thin rounds. Arrange the rounds on the dough.

Peel and trim the shallot. Slice it as thin as you can. Scatter slices on top of the eggplant.

Drizzly the top with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Slide the sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the bottom seems brown and crisp and the eggplant has shrivelled up a bit.

While the flatbread is baking, place the arugula into a medium bowl. Roughly chop the mint and parsley and add to the bowl as well. Drizzle the remaining olive oil onto the greens, add the squeeze of lemon, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Once the flatbread is removed, drizzle with the honey or agave nectar. Cut flatbread into slices. Scatter the greens and herbs on top of the slices and sprinkle dukkah spice all over the greens. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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  • Angela13/03/2013 - 9:22 am

    simple, beautiful and surely delicious:)ReplyCancel

  • thelittleloaf13/03/2013 - 9:39 am

    Absolutely stunning. Simple but perfect and exactly the kind of thing I love to eat :-)ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin13/03/2013 - 10:19 am

    what a beautiful flat bread pizza. i love when non traditional toppings are used and these look so lovely and delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren13/03/2013 - 10:32 am

    This looks BEAUTIFUL! I can’t wait to make this! What a great way to change it up with eggplant… I love eggplant but sometimes I get bored of my regular recipes. Can’t wait to try this!

  • carey13/03/2013 - 10:37 am

    Oh, this speaks to me, in many ways. The dish feels so very similar to the something old, something new winter-meets-spring cravings I’ve been having lately. I’m not quite ready to let go of the earthy, hearty foods, but I will sure as heck brighten them up with lots of greens and fresh herbs. And that passage has inspired me to reconsider the direction in which I had taken my photos for an upcoming post. (:ReplyCancel

  • Nourish Your Roots13/03/2013 - 12:13 pm

    Yum! Looks heavenly. I haven’t seen eggplant in recipes in what seems like ages…so good that they have an appearance here. Reminds me of summer :)ReplyCancel

  • Heather13/03/2013 - 12:41 pm

    Beautiful photos – and color! I am really digging this recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Richa13/03/2013 - 1:51 pm

    gorgeous pictures! i love harissa and everything on this flatbread working beautifully.ReplyCancel

  • Eileen13/03/2013 - 1:56 pm

    So beautiful! And that amazing arugula is really making me crave a visit to the spring farmer’s market. :)ReplyCancel

  • Courtney13/03/2013 - 4:00 pm

    This looks like the perfect end of winter/beginning of spring meal! Now I’m curious about that passage, too :)ReplyCancel

  • Ashley13/03/2013 - 4:40 pm

    This looks outstanding. I am obsessed with your photos + blog. The end.ReplyCancel

  • Kristy13/03/2013 - 5:18 pm

    I’m in love with the photos in this post! And the combination of flavors on this flatbread sound divine! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Shira13/03/2013 - 6:39 pm

    Absolutely stunning Laura! What a healthy and wonderful combo with those fresh greens. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! xoReplyCancel

  • Natasha13/03/2013 - 10:32 pm

    Gorgeous! Looks so comforting and delicious.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar14/03/2013 - 10:22 am

    This is so cool! Love the sounds of this!ReplyCancel

  • sara forte14/03/2013 - 12:36 pm

    yes yes. a light pizza heavy on the greens. I love it. hope your eyes feel better. no fun.ReplyCancel

  • Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen14/03/2013 - 6:43 pm

    Oh yum, that looks so delicious! I love your photos!ReplyCancel

  • Isabelle @ Crumb15/03/2013 - 8:56 am

    This looks positively lovely – like a hybrid of pizza and salad, and yet something entirely its own. I don’t eat nearly enough eggplant, but this beautiful flatbread could very well change all that. :)ReplyCancel

  • meatballs & milkshakes15/03/2013 - 1:42 pm

    So beautiful! I would love some of this right now! Perfect friday afternoon snack!ReplyCancel

  • Kathryne15/03/2013 - 10:35 pm

    That passage is perfect, Laura, and so is this flatbread. (Spicy sauce with greens? Yes!) I’ve neglected my google reader lately (boyfriend’s place doesn’t have wifi, which is mostly awesome) but have been out of touch with my favorite blogs. I want to stick a fork in all your latest posts! I mean that in a good way, of course. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn17/03/2013 - 12:26 pm

    Oh the colour and light and brightness of this post. Just what I needed to read on this gloomy Sunday. I love how you always offer a new and fresh perspective both here and elsewhere.ReplyCancel

  • kelly17/03/2013 - 9:19 pm

    god loves color! LOVE ITReplyCancel

  • Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen19/03/2013 - 3:09 pm

    Yum, your flatbread looks so delicious and I just love your photos!ReplyCancel

  • hungryandfrozen20/03/2013 - 4:01 am

    This is a stunner, I feel like I could just reach in and grab it. Possibly because of how gorgeous and huge your photos are.

    I’ve never heard of that passage before, but it’s a nice one. Maybe you dreamed it!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey21/03/2013 - 7:19 pm

    So beautiful (the flatbread and your words). I want a slice. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Adri {Food-N-Thought}26/03/2013 - 11:12 pm

    This eggplant/arugula combination looks amazing!ReplyCancel

  • […] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, […]ReplyCancel

  • […] crispy eggplant + harissa flatbread with greens […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Crispy Eggplant and Harissa Flatbread with Greens from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Crispy Eggplant and Harissa Flatbread with Greens from The First Mess […]ReplyCancel

  • Emily02/09/2015 - 9:52 am

    I also cheated by using a premade pizza crust, but struggled a bit getting this to crisp up enough. Delicious flavor combos but next time I might pre-salt the eggplant to get them a little crispier. Tried the broiler without too much success. Also would recommend a pizza stone. Overall goodReplyCancel