When I think of comfort food, the words that come to my mind include simple, warming, healing, piping, belly and nap. Usually in that order. It’s an offering we make to ourselves when the world is cold, our bodies and minds are feeling spent, or when we simply need to be good to ourselves. Warmth, taste and simplicity are the basic tenets of this healing gift. Recently, I’ve been trying to distinguish between my need for physical nourishment and the simple need to be comforted.
Until recently in mainstream North America, “vegan” has not been synonymous with “comfort food.” However, with a more discerning vegan palate and enough urban centres with cold winters like Montréal, vegan chefs such as Mike Makhan of local resto Aux Vivres have been inspired to conjure up comforting delectables to fill the stomach, warm the heart and soothe the spirit. “This recipe is of no particular origin,” explains Mike, “but it’s something I like to eat as an alternative to traditional comfort food.”
As for the choice of ingredients, Mike equally measures experimentation and imagination. “The first time I ate snow pea leaves was as a main dish in a Chinese restaurant. I had never tasted snow pea leaves before and thought they were absolutely delicious. Tempeh is made from cooked soybeans, and is cultured and easier to digest than tofu. It has a slightly sour flavour and is nice when prepared with this sweet marinade. Quinoa is a lovely grain, a nice alternative to rice and helps fill out the dish.”
Mike’s approach to food is a healthy sense of play coupled with a deep appreciation for good, simple food that is grown and handled with care. “I grew up in rural Nova Scotia, where my parents have a country home complete with gardens and animals,” says Mike. “Both my parents were good cooks and as a child I didn’t realize how lucky I was to be raised on good food.”
As a respite during the waning days of winter and a healthy kick for the approaching spring, Kuanyin’s Kitchen and Aux Vivres serve you this simple, tasty, hearty dish and invites you to be gentle to yourself.
quinoa with tempeh and snow pea leaves ingredients
4 T tamari
2 T tahini
1 t grated ginger
1 t grated garlic
1 t miso
2 T maple syrup
1 t sesame oil
2 T olive oil
marinade for tempeh
6 T tamari
1 t sesame oil
3 T maple syrup
4 T sunflower seed oil
splash of rice vinegar
tempeh (1 or 2 blocks) can be bought frozen
2 c quinoa
2 c water
snow pea leaves (1 bag or 4 cups)
- In a bowl with steep sides, whisk together first 5 ingredients.
- When blended, whisk in remaining ingredients and add water until creamy. Set aside.
- In a bowl with steep sides, whisk together all ingredients.
quinoa with tempeh and snow pea leaves
- Cut tempeh into bite-sized triangles. Place in bowl and pour marinade over tempeh. Let sit for 15 minutes, or up to an hour. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour tempeh and marinade onto baking pan and bake for 25–30 minutes until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
- While the tempeh is baking, wash and drain quinoa. Bring water and quinoa to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- Steam snow pea leaves for 5 minutes.
- To serve, make a bed of quinoa on a plate, top with snow pea leaves and baked tempeh. Drizzle raw sauce on top.
Aux Vivres is located at 4631 St-Laurent Blvd, Montréal, Quebec. tel: (514) 842-3479