I try not to talk too much about the weather on the blog because I think it’s a topic that everyone – especially us Canadians – discuss a LOT. But today I have to tell you about the weather in Vancouver as of late because it’s been quite amusing.
For a bit of background, one of the many reasons I moved here was because of the mild winters. I know hate is a strong word and I don’t use it often, but can genuinely say that I hate the cold. My goal therefore, was to move to the warmest location possible while still being in Canada. We have beautiful mountains covered in snow which I can see by standing outside of my apartment and by looking out my office window. On the mainland it’s generally mild and we don’t have to deal with much more than a bit of frost in the mornings. It’s my kind of winter – snow to look at from a distance, but none to shovel.
Rain is the norm here during the months when it snows throughout the rest of the country, so Vancouverites are pretty accustomed to carrying umbrellas absolutely everywhere. When leaving the house, the daily default thought process sounds something like, “Phone? Check. Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. Umbrella? Check.” Sometimes it rains for so many consecutive days that it’s a total shock to walk outside, push up one’s umbrella and realize that there is, in fact, nothing falling from the sky. But those novel occasions have been few and far between this fall.
Last week we had weather warnings from Environment Canada about in-land snowfall. Granted there were only a couple of centimeters expected, but for a city and population that is far from equipped to handle anything beyond rain, this was big news. Roads were blocked off, the streets and bridges were riddled with accidents, local universities closed and from what I heard, transit was a bit of a mess. I spotted someone using a plastic bag as a makeshift snow brush, and plenty of people turned to their trusty umbrellas as the snow shield of choice. To their credit, while at first I thought this was ridiculous, I now think it’s perfectly valid. Vancouver snow is more like a frosty shower and sitting at work in soaking clothes isn’t much fun.
This whole experience has made me realize how quickly my definition of ‘winter’ has changed. I don’t think it’s been much colder than about -8C but I’ve already been sporting the same down-filled parka that defended me through several sub-minus 20 degree snowstorms of winters past in Ontario. Yep, I’m a wuss, and I don’t think I’d stand a chance in a proper Canadian winter any more!
Regardless of whether you’re experiencing Vancouver cold, Ontario cold, or any other kind, I’ve got a delicious warm dinner recipe to share. It involves warm zucchini noodles, sauteed mushrooms, chickpeas and super flavour-packed pesto, and as far as weeknight dinners go, it’s definitely one I look forward to on my drive home from work.
While basil is still a key ingredient, this pesto is different to the traditional kind. I’ve swapped hemp seeds in for pine nuts because they’re mild in flavour, have a great ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, and are a fantastic alternative for anyone with nut allergies. This dish is brought to you by the colour green, and in the midst of the celebratory, often over-indulgent holiday season, it could be just what your body needs for a quick and easy re-boot.
Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Mushrooms and Chickpeas
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 9 mins
Ingredients (2 servings)
For the hemp seed and kale pesto:
- 2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 cups chopped curly kale, tough stems removed
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
For the rest:
- 3-4 tbsp pesto (above)
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1 1/2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 large zucchinis, spiralized
- 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
Make the pesto: Puree all ingredients in the food processor until smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor down as needed. Portion out 3-4 tbsp and store the rest in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze in ice cube trays.
Mist a frying pan with olive oil and place it over medium-high heat for 1 minute.
Whisk the pesto and balsamic vinegar around in the pan for 1 minute, or until the pesto starts to thin out a bit.
Mix in the mushrooms, chickpeas and red onion, stirring occasionally to coat.
After 2 minutes of cooking add the zucchini noodles and half of the parsley. Stir again, and continue stirring occasionally for 4-5 more minutes or until completely warm throughout. (Avoid overcooking as the zucchini noodles will start to release too much water – you want them to be warm and tender, but not wilty.)
Divide between 2 dishes and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Season with a dash of freshly ground pepper if desired before serving.
So tell me…
- Are you escaping to any warm, sunny vacation spots to escape the cold this winter?
- Are you a pesto fan? Any fun variations to share?