This Middle Eastern-inspired soup packs a flavourful punch thanks to a roasted cauliflower base plus cilantro, tahini, and lemon.
After a period of indulgence, I naturally gravitate towards meals with an abundance of greens. I often start to crave these meals at the seasonal transition from winter to spring, too. It stands to reason: after months of warm, grounding, nourishing meals, I think all of our bodies are in want of lighter, greener foods.
I don’t believe in cleanses per se, but I do believe in eating foods that naturally support our bodies’ natural detoxification processes on a daily basis. Because we are exposed to so many toxins and pollutants in our daily lives, it is incredibly important to make sure that we are regularly consuming an abundance of organically grown cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower) and fresh herbs (cilantro is particularly good at cleansing the body of heavy metals).
This soup fits the bill when the days are still just cool enough to justify a warm meal, but not cold enough to warrant, say, a chili. It’s a vibrant green colour (hey cilantro!); ultra creamy thanks to roasted cauliflower; and it gets a hit of complexity from tahini. Lemon juice adds brightness, and I’ve intentionally kept the spices simple here to really allow the simple trifecta of tahini, lemon, and cilantro to shine. Chickpeas roasted with extra virgin olive oil and za’atar (a middle eastern spice blend made with sumac, oregano, thyme, and sesame) add not only texture, but a boost of protein, too.
While it’s pretty nutritionally balanced as far as soups go, a bowl of soup never constitutes a meal for me- I always need some good sourdough bread, homemade flatbread, and/or salad to round out the meal. (But then again, I’m a volume eater, lol.) I served this soup with braised purple cabbage and bread, and we found it to be the perfect combination!
Oh, and a note to all the cilantro haters out there: if you must, feel free to substitute an equal amount of fresh parsley for the cilantro.
A creamy roasted cauliflower soup with a boost of green from a whole bunch of cilantro.
Course: Dinner, Main Dish, Soup
Cuisine: Middle Eastern, Vegan
Servings: 4generous bowls
1large head cauliflower, chopped into florets
2.5tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1heaping cup chopped yellow onion
5large cloves garlic, minced
3stalks celery, chopped
Generous pinch fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5cups vegetable broth
1large bunch cilantro
3tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1.5cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 14-oz can, rinsed and drained)
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4tsp fine sea salt
Preheat oven to 400 F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower on one baking sheet and drizzle with 1.5 tbsp of the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for 30-40 minutes, or until browned and crispy around the edges.
Place the chickpeas on the second baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and za’atar. Roast until browned and crispy, about 25-30 minutes, keeping in mind that they will crisp up more once out of the oven.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Add the celery, a pinch of salt and pepper, and spices, and cook a few minutes more. Add the broth and bring the soup to a low simmer.
Once the cauliflower is ready, add it to the pot and remove from heat. Stir in the tahini.
Blend the soup in two batches. Add half of the soup to the jar of the blender and place half of the cilantro on top (we are adding the cilantro now instead of earlier to allow it to retain its beautiful green colour!). Blend until smooth, pour it into a a large container or bowl, and repeat with the second half of the soup. Return the soup to the original pot and warm it up more, if desired. Right before serving, add the lemon juice.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with roasted chickpeas.
Happy spring! We made it through another winter, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with some lentil tacos that fuse east African and Mexican cuisines.
Before we get into discussions of food, though, let’s chat briefly about setting some intentions. I prefer to set my ‘new year’s resolutions,’ at the beginning of spring. It just feels more natural to hit the reset button when the earth is, quite literally, springing back to life, than it does during the darkest time of the year at the beginning of January.
Here are some of my goals for the next 12 months:
1) Graduate from university (for once and for all). 2) Continue working towards my dream of living and working on an organic farmstead/owning a tiny home/working as a chef at retreats. 3) Grow this website into a community of friends who simply love wholesome, vegan food and living a healthy life. 4) Run a sub-3:20 marathon in the fall. 5) Practice gratitude every day. 6) Live in the present moment and get out of the habit of overthinking.
I used to be excellent at setting goals, but poor at following through with them. For the past couple of years, I have fallen out of the habit of setting lofty goals or even writing to-do lists, because I would overthink them and inevitably come up short. But that, I’ve come to realize, isn’t the best approach, either: I thrive on working towards a goal. This year, my focus is on incremental progress every day rather than perfection. I’m also going in with the mindset that none of my goals are set in stone. They may evolve as the year progresses, and I’m okay with adapting them as necessary.
Now, on to the food. I created this recipe the week before the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, and the tragic coincidence was not lost on me that we had just finished eating these Ethiopian-inspired tacos the day before the plane crash. Out of sensitivity to the victims and the country itself, I held off on publishing the recipe in the week following. I just wanted to mention this, as I do not take the tragedy lightly, and my heart aches for all those who were affected.
This recipe evolved out of my attempt to recreate my friend Victoria‘s favourite dish: injera. Injera is an Ethiopian sour flatbread made with teff flour. Victoria loves Ethiopian food, and has scoped out almost every restaurant in the city to find the best injera. Well, let me just say that I’m going to have to leave injera to the pros: my first attempt fermented beautifully, and I was so excited to cook them. But the moment the batter hit the hot cast iron skillet, it adhered to it, and my hopes of removing it from the pan in one piece were dashed.
Fear not, though! I’m consciously trying to see every lemon life hands me as an opportunity to make lemonade. 😉 I already had a concept for my injera accompaniments, and I also had a pretty mean taco craving.
And that’s how Berbere-Spiced Lentil Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema were born!
These tacos are in “OMG you must make them now” territory. They contain the following components:
The Berbere lentils are a staple dish that can serve many purposes outside of tacos. Try them in a grains/greens/beans bowl with the cilantro lime crema as a sauce if you’re looking to change things up. They’re actually crave-worthy. Yup, I just referred to lentils as crave-worthy. You’re welcome. But seriously, I urge you to make them, because the flavours just work so well together. And the fragrant spice blend will make your kitchen smell divine!
Berbere-Spiced Lentil Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema
Your taste buds will do a happy dance for these Berbere-spiced lentil tacos with roasted sweet potato, cabbage slaw, pickled onions, and a cool and tangy cilantro lime crema!
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Ethiopian, Mexican, Vegan
Servings: 6people, 2 tacos per person
For the Berbere-Spiced Lentils:
1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or refined coconut oil
2medium red or yellow onions, finely diced
3large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3celery stalks, finely chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup vegetable broth
2tbsp coconut sugar or pure maple syrup (helps round out flavours; don’t skip!)
1/4tsp ground cardamom
1/8tsp ground cloves
1tsp dried thyme
3/4tsp fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4cups cooked green lentils (from 1 1/2 cups dry green lentils) OR 2 15-oz cans lentils, rinsed and drained
For the roasted sweet potatoes:
4small or 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch cubes
1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4tsp fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Simple Cabbage Slaw
3cups finely shredded purple cabbage
1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1large clove garlic, minced
Pinch of fine sea salt
For the Cilantro-Lime Crema:
1cup cashews, soaked in hot water for at least 45 minutes or cold water for 4 hours
1/4cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2tbsp nutritional yeast
1large clove garlic
3/4tsp fine sea salt
1/2cup filtered water
For the Quick-Pickled Onions:
1large or 2 small red onions
1/4cup apple cider vinegar
1/4cup red wine vinegar
1/2cup filtered water
1tbsp pure maple syrup
1tsp fine sea salt
1/4tsp red pepper flakes
126-inch corn or flour tortillas
Hot sauce of choice
Prepare the lentils: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add celery. Meanwhile, whisk together tomato paste, vegetable broth, and sugar or maple syrup in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the spices, salt, and pepper. Add the tomato paste mixture to the skillet, followed by the spice mixture. Add lentils and stir to combine. Then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until some of the liquid has absorbed/evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside until ready to use. This will allow the flavours to meld.
Prepare the sweet potatoes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the diced sweet potatoes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Roast for 25-35 minutes, or until fork-tender and crispy around the edges.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, you will have time to prepare the remaining components. To make the cabbage slaw, toss together cabbage, oil, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the Cilantro-Lime Crema: Blend cashews, cilantro, lime juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, salt, and water in a blender until smooth and a thick, sour cream-like consistency is achieved. If it seems too thick, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time.
Make the Quick Pickled Onions: Peel and thinly slice the onions. Place them in a 16-oz/500 mL glass jar. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegars, water, maple syrup, salt, and red pepper flakes over high heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and pour over top of the onions in the jar. Make sure that the liquid is covering all of the onions. Secure a lid on the jar and set aside to pickle for at least 10 minutes, preferably longer (the onions will soften and their sharpness will mellow the longer you allow them to pickle). Make ahead: Onions will keep in the fridge for at least a week.
Warm up the tortillas in a covered dish in a 300 degree F oven for 5 minutes prior to eating, if desired.
To assemble a taco, spoon desired amount of lentils, followed by sweet potato, cabbage slaw, pickled onions, and cilantro-lime crema onto a tortilla. Repeat as desired.
Click here for some wine pairings for Ethiopian food. As far as beer goes, I would recommend a Saison or an IPA from your favourite craft brewery.
If you make these tacos, take a photo and post it on Instagram with #holisticallie and @holisticallie!
Ready for a meal that’ll satisfy your comfort food needs in the depths of winter? These Pulled Sweet Potato Tacos with Green Hemp Cream and Kale seriously do the trick! A couple of these tacos and a few episodes of The Office (or your favourite feel-good TV show) spells out bliss on a chilly night. I’m happy to announce that I am emerging from a slump that began over the holidays. Something about the frenzy of it all- and we don’t even go all-out at Christmas- put the brakes on my creative flow. Now that routine is once again present, I can feel my energy increasing and the inspiration to come up with new recipes and improve this space has returned.
Speaking of inspiration, the idea for this recipe came from a pulled sweet potato sandwich that I recently enjoyed at Pure Kitchen. While I’ve seen many recipes utilizing jackfruit for that ‘pulled meat’ effect, I’ve never tried making it myself, and we all know how obsessed I am with sweet potato (I feel like it’s more readily available in stores, too). Also, I’m definitely more of a taco gal than a sandwich gal, so I took the concept of pulled sweet potato, added lots of smoky and spicy barbecue flavours, whizzed up a cooling hemp-cilantro sauce with lime to provide flavour contrast, and even added a quick shredded kale slaw for your health! The flavours here are definitely southwestern, which is one of my favourite cuisines, especially when it’s so chilly outside!
I hope that 2019 has been treating you well so far. I’ve slowly been getting back into the running groove and am currently trying to decide between running a full marathon or a couple of half marathons in May. I’ve also been enjoying lots of yoga, HIIT, walking, and overall just embracing good people and good energy. School has started back up again, too, and although I’m not stoked about what I’m studying, I’m definitely enjoying the change of pace and am finding a lot more free time in my days to hit the pause button and relax- something I haven’t always been good at, but am always working on!
Pulled Sweet Potato Tacos with Green Hemp Cream and Kale
These southwestern-inspired tacos will transport you from the depths of winter to warmer and sunnier climes! Sweet and spicy ‘pulled’ sweet potato stands in for pulled meat, while a cool and tangy cilantro hemp sauce brightens and cools the palate. A simple kale salad brings it all together and provides an extra boost of green nutrition!
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Quick dinner, Tacos, Vegan Tacos
Pulled Sweet Potato
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1small red onion, finely diced
3cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 tspsea salt
6cupspacked shredded sweet potato (from about 2 large sweet potatoes)
3/4cupbarbecue sauce (preferably an organic vegan one)
3tbsp hot sauce (I used Frank’s original)
Green Hemp Cream
1/4 cupfreshly squeezed lime juice (from 2-3 limes)
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5tbsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1-2tbsp water, to thin, as needed
Simple Shredded Kale
1 bunchkale, thinly sliced
1 tbspextra virgin olive oil
1 tbsplime juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cupcrumbled goat or sheep feta (optional)
8-126-inch wheat or corn tortillas of choice (I used sprouted wheat)
2ripe avocados, sliced
hot sauce, for serving
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add onion and garlic. Add salt and spices. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant.
Add sweet potato. Cook for five minutes, stirring often to prevent sweet potato from sticking to the pan. Add barbecue sauce and hot sauce. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring often, until sweet potato has softened but still retains some crunch. Turn off stove and cover until ready to eat.
Next, prepare the Green Hemp Cream by adding all ingredients into an upright blender and blending until smooth. You want the consistency of a creamy ranch dressing, so add water as needed until proper texture is achieved.
Place the kale in a large bowl. Massage the olive oil into it until soft and bright green. Add lime juice and salt and massage again. Add feta, if using.
Warm up tortillas on the stovetop or in a covered dish in a 300 F oven for 5 minutes right before serving.
To serve, place desired amount of sweet potato, kale, and avocado on a tortilla and drizzle with cilantro cream and hot sauce.
exclamation & noun: a Hawaiian word used when thanking someone
As local produce starts to flood the farmers’ markets at this time of the year, my heart overflows with gratitude. Gratitude for the local farmers who work tirelessly to maintain the integrity of the land and put food on our tables. Gratitude for Mother Nature, who continues to provide for us in spite of the destructive forces that humankind exerts on her to no end. Gratitude for my family and chosen family. And even some gratitude for my healthy mind and body, both of which I now see as good friends and allies in my holistic health journey.