Vegetarian Tasting Plates

I would love to be able to say I know all the best veg place to eat in Vancouver, because I’ve eaten at all of them.

But I can’t guys. I just can’t.

You see, I’m just one girl, with one stomach, and we are quite blessed with an abundance of great vegetarian and vegan eateries in this city. On top of that, there’s new ones cropping up all the time.

Vegan Tacos La Cantina

It’s hard to keep on top of it all. I mean, sure, I can recommend the big ones; Heirloom, The Acorn, MeeT, etc. But I would like to be able to speak more intelligently about some of the smaller, lesser-known gems in the city.

So I was pretty stoked to get an invite to Richard Wolak’s (@vanfoodster) first Vegetarian Tasting Plates last week. I was equally as excited to discover I’d not been to any of the eateries on the list. Yeah. They were all new to me, although quite a few of them were ones that were on my list, but I hadn’t made it to yet.

It was a great opportunity to discover new favourites.

It’s worthwhile to note that at almost every place we went to, the options were overwhelmingly vegan. There were a few where cheese was an option, but you could keep it off, or choose a vegan cheese, and keep the dish vegan.

The Living Produce Aisle

Living Produce Aisle Microgreens

Yaletown isn’t really known for its plant-based options. The Living Produce Aisle is a really interesting business model that feels quite unique. They house many, many Urban Cultivators, some of which are growing microgreens for themselves, and some of which are producing for local restaurants. I’ve been a big fan of the Urban Cultivator since I discovered them a few years ago, and I wish I had enough kitchen space to own one. Here, you can get smoothies, juices, and grab some microgreens while you’re at it.

Firecrust Pizza

Firecrust Pizza

I used to work on Davie Street, so I was pretty familiar with the lunch offerings there, but since I no longer work in the neighbourhood, I get there shockingly little (especially seeing as I don’t actually live far from there). Firecrust was one of those places I’d driven past a million times and never gone into. They have a ton of vegan options. One of the things that’s most exciting about Firecrust is that they work with YamChops, so “meats” come from there. My Vegan BBQ Pizza was delicious, smoky, a bit spicy, a nice bite from the onions, and they make their own vegan mozza in house. I will be returning and bringing the kid.

Saj & Co

Saj and co

Right across the street from Firecrust is this weird hole-in-the-wall called Saj & Co. Malek Anouti, owner and chef, makes magic in a tiny little space that can hardly even be called a kitchen. The food here is Lebanese, and the joint is named after the saj, which is a domed oven on which Anouti cooks a flatbread to order. It’s kind of a reverse tandoor. When you order, he slaps one on the saj for you, so you get a fresh, hot flatbread with each order. Mezze plates include hummus, salad, and wraps/sandwiches, which are all super fresh, and tasty. I love how vegan-friendly Mediterranean food is. My favourite thing here was the squash hummus, which I will be attempting to recreate for my family’s thanksgiving dinner this weekend.

Davie Dosa

Davie Dosa

I was sad when Cafe Luxy closed. It was a favourite spot of mine for many years for delicious pasta. But then Sharv Ramachandran opened up Davie Dosa. If you’ve never had a dosa, it’s cool. I actually only just had dosa for the first time about a year ago, but I was immediately hooked. It’s a kind of pancake or crepe, made from fermented lentil flour, and then stuffed with vegetables. Maybe I didn’t do it justice with my description, but they are freaking delicious. Indian cuisine is another that loans itself so easily to being vegetarian and vegan, so there are tons of options for veg-heads here. One of my favourite things on the plate was medhu vada, a kind of savoury donut made with lentils. I know, it sounds weird, but just go with it. It’s delicious. The service, by the way, was really fantastic. I am looking forward to getting back again to try more on the menu.

La Cantina

La Cantina

Located just off of Granville in the heart of the Entertainment district, I imagine this Nacho Libre-themed cantina does a brisk business at 2 am. The place is frikkin’ adorable, with big murals and Mexican wrestling masks everywhere. The server spoke Spanish fluently, so that made me feel good, like I might be getting an authentic experience. There are 6 different vegetarian tacos to choose from, featuring meaty vegetables like jackfruit and portobellas, not just beans. The carrot tinga was spicy and good, and I also really enjoyed the more moderate smoky heat of the Poblano. It is such a fun location, it’s well worth a return visit.

Hooray! New veg options to love, Vancouver! Now get out there and support some local veg biz.

 

Roasted Squash Hummus with Turmeric {Vegan}

it’s Thanksgiving in Canada.

Despite the fact that most of my family lives right here in the Lower Mainland, we’re all busy with our lives and we don’t spend tons of time together. We do usually get together for Thanksgiving, though. It’s an easy, laid-back affair with way too much food, and containers of leftovers coming home.

I usually make a dessert at the request of the famjam, but this year, I want to introduce you to something a bit different.

Roasted squash hummus with turmeric

Now, as you know, chickpeas are my jam. Okay, so chickpea water, technically, is my jam, but you gotta do something with all those cans of chickpeas you’re opening for the aquafaba, so we eat a lot of hummus.

In my cookbook, I have no less than 6 different kinds of hummus. I thought, in fact, that I had discovered all the hummus combinations, but friends, let me tell you, I have not.

Last week, I attended VanFoodster’s very first Vegetarian Tasting Plates. I have written a whole post about what I discovered on that food tour, but one of the places we visited was called Saj & Co (on Davie) and there, we were served a roasted butternut squash hummus! It was fantastic–brightened with a touch of turmeric.

So of course I came home and started roasting squash to make it.

It’s an incredibly pretty dish, and the squash adds a creaminess and a sweetness that I think would make it an incredible appetizer for your Thanksgiving table.

I served mine with super-simple-to-make za’atar crackers.

Squash Hummus

Roasted Squash Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained, reserve the aquafaba
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed roasted squash (I actually used a kobucha, but I think anything will do, butternut, acorn, etc)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • optional garnishes: pepitas, balsamic reduction, olive oil, fresh herbs, smoked paprika, za’atar.

Method

  1. Cut the squash in half and dig out the seeds with a spoon. Chop into larger chunks, then drizzle all over with olive oil, and salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven until soft, about 30 minutes (depending on the size of the squash).
  2. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough so you can work with it. Remove the skins, and chop into chunks.
  3. In your blender or food processor, place all the ingredients, except for the water.
  4. Blend well until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.
  5. With the blender running, slowly drizzle the water into the top of the blender or food processor. If the hummus is still too thick, add a bit more water, or olive oil if you like until it gets to the right creamy consistency.
  6. To make the crackers: take two large tortillas and brush them with a little oil. Sprinkle with za’atar and then cut into strips. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 300 degree oven until crisp and a little brown around the edges.
  7. To serve: ladle the hummus onto the centre of a plate, and scatter the crackers around. garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of coarse salt, and a few dots of balsamic reduction.
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