Vagabond Cookbook

The best you ate on vacation? Make it at home tonight.

Pesto chicken and summer vegetable salad

The Rest of Summer #5: Pesto SMASH!

Let me ask you: What’s green and smashy? Dr. Banner’s a given, but what’s green and smashy and delicious? If you said “pesto”, give yourself an awkward thumbs up. (Sorry, mushy peas. Your time will come.) Not today, li’l one. You’re likely all familiar with pestos, that class of sauces the tomato-haters have loved since the ‘80s (or the 1800s if you’re Italian). Unlike the rich and hearty ragùs that cover pasta and polenta the world over, pestos are bright and punchy dressings used to liven up noodles and vegetables that otherwise live in Bland City. Fusilli and potatoes are classic, but there’s rarely a wrong pairing for pesto in the savoury kitchen. “Yeah, dude, I know. I can also buy a jar of pesto at Safeway for $2.99. Why the hell would I make it?” Truth: You’re right. Ready-made pesto comes cheap. So do supermarket roast chickens. And lookie here, […]

Grilled lamb with ratatouille

The Rest of Summer #4: Deadly is the nightshade

Don your thinking caps, nerds, ‘cause it’s time for a botany lesson. Pop quiz: What do these things have in common?     That’s right! They’re all nightshades, the classic witches’ weeds known to cause madness, hallucinations, and even death. Find them growing wild throughout South America or stored behind posters for The Craft in goth girls’ bedrooms worldwide. Double Bubble, toil and trouble. Like that movie’s cast of ‘90s up-and-comers, some are toxic while others aretempting and delicious. Along with belladonna and tobacco, farmer’s market favourites eggplant, tomatoes, and bell peppers all join their creepy uncles at the nightshade family reunion. “Fascinating. What is this, dude, Grow Somethin’? I’m outta here.” Hold your horses. A little plant knowledge goes a long way when fixing dinner. For instance, plant families go well together. Think about it: peaches and plums, strawberries and raspberries, citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables. It’s true — just […]

Fig and prosciutto salad

The Rest of Summer #3: Salad days

It’s your mother’s fault, really. Remember dinners as a kid on a hot summer night? You happily munch hot dogs. Your father bites into a big, juicy burger. And your mom seethes with envy as she nibbles a dry lettuce leaf, calling it “salad”. “I’m watching my weight,” she moans. The real message rings out loud and clear: Salad is for girls and it sucks like Drusilla. Sunnydale would have been way better off if she did salads once in a while. This Tumblr says it all. Salads are food of the desperate (or deranged). They’re for rabbits and contestants on The Biggest Loser. They’re fine if you need to drop a few pounds fast, but no one actually wants to eat one (and certainly no men do). As Homer Simpson said: “Praise Odin! Finally, D, you say something I can get behind! Now, tell me about cheesesteaks!” Sorry to […]

Tropical coleslaw

The Rest of Summer #2: The Coleslaw Variations

Did coleslaw sick you out too? Growing up, I always thought the stuff brought Janet Jackson levels of nasty. Maybe it was me, but I suspect my revulsion lay in the tragic mess of “salad” dealt from the KFC drive-thru. Welcome to the Atrocity Exhibition. Sweet Jesus! It looks like someone ran a tennis ball through a wood chipper! And that’s the promo shot! Gak, Silly Putty, mutagen, ectoplasm — my childhood was full of wonderful green slime, but coleslaw had nothing to do with it. This green slime I can get behind. I thought all sorts of slaw disgusting until I first encountered the smoky siren’s song of pulled pork. There’s a reason coleslaw tops a pulled pork sandwich: the crunchy, tangy cabbage balances out the sweet and succulent meat, a near-perfect marriage of flavours like a big porky yin yang. (See also: The Rachel.) Since then, my slaw […]

Peach bruschetta

The Rest of Summer #1: The Teaches of Peaches

I’ll be straight with you — I hate summer. It’s hot outside. The movies suck. Dipshits fill the streets with shirtlessness and good times. And, don’t even get me started on the pumas. In short, summer’s the worst. These people love summer. Think about that. That said, even I’ll cop to the quality eats leading up to Labour Day. Grilled steaks, smoked chicken, charred corn-on-the-cob — they almost make beach season worth it. They all have one thing in common, though: They require a barbecue. This guy knows what’s up. If you’re like me, you don’t have a barbecue. You’re a hipster doofus living in an apartment downtown. You don’t have a backyard. You don’t have a patio. Hell, you don’t even have windows that open all the way. The best place you have to set up a grill is next to the tweaker having a seizure in the alley. […]