This recipe from Real Simple is a tasty one-pot meal featuring chicken thighs, Israeli couscous (a small, pea-shaped pasta), shallots, olives, dates and spices. Brown the chicken and set aside. Combine couscous, shallots, olives, dates, spices and water in the same pan, bring to a simmer and add the chicken back to the pan. Bake until the chicken is done and the couscous is tender. Run under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the chicken and garnish with pomegranate seeds and cilantro. Cook’s note: I used chopped red pepper instead of pomegranate seeds and made the recipe with eight chicken thighs instead of six.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used President’s Choice garlic-stuffed green olives, which are additive-free. Parnoosh brand dried dates are additive-free. Check the dried spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Brown chicken and set aside

Add couscous, shallots, olives, dates, spices and water to skillet and bring to a simmer

Return chicken to pan and roast until couscous is tender and chicken is done

Chicken thighs with couscous and olives


6 6-oz. (170 g) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) kosher salt, divided

1 cup (250 ml) uncooked Israeli couscous

½ cup (125 ml) chopped shallots (from 1 shallot)

½ cup (125 ml) Castelvetrano olives, coarsely chopped

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped dried dates

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin

¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) ground cinnamon

½ cup (125 ml) finely chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup (60 ml) pomegranate seeds


Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C) with rack 8 inches (20 cm) from heat. Sprinkle skin of chicken thighs with ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt. Place chicken, skin side down, in a large, broiler-safe skillet. Cook over medium, undisturbed, until chicken skin is crisp and light golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a plate. Discard drippings in skillet.

Add couscous, shallots, olives, dates, cumin, cinnamon, and remaining 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt to skillet. Stir in 1⅓ cups (332 ml) water and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Nestle chicken, skin side up, in couscous mixture. Cover skillet with aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through, a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thighs registers at least 165°F (74°C), and couscous is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to broil. Uncover skillet; broil until chicken skin is crisp, about 5 minutes. Top with cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Serves 4.

From Real Simple

This Canadian Living recipe for pasta e fagioli—pasta and beans—is great comfort food on a chilly fall night. Cook pancetta, onion, celery, carrots, rosemary and garlic, mix in tomatoes, beans, pasta and broth and simmer until the pasta is done. Top with hot pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil and serve with crusty bread.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Look for pancetta or bacon preserved with celery salt instead of nitrates. Unico crushed tomatoes and white beans are additive-free. I used Imagine Organic chicken stock. Check the hot pepper flakes to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Genuine Parmesan cheese is additive-free—check for the name stamped on the rind.

Cook pancetta and vegetables

Add tomatoes, beans, pasta and stock and simmer

One-pot pasta e fagioli


2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

4 oz (113 g) pancetta or bacon, diced

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp/5 ml dried rosemary)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 18-fluid oz (540 ml) can crushed tomatoes

2 18-fluid oz (540 ml) cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz (225 g) shell pasta (about 2 cups/500 ml)

4 cups (1 L) sodium-reduced chicken broth

Salt and pepper

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) hot pepper flakes

Grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil leaves, chopped


In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; cook pancetta, onion, celery, carrots and rosemary, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Mix in tomatoes, beans, pasta and broth; bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until pasta is tender but still slightly firm, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with hot pepper flakes, Parmesan, and basil. Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

This recipe from NYT Cooking combines savoury chicken with sweet pears and spicy arugula. Rub chicken and pears with ginger and spices and roast on a sheet pan. Scatter the arugula on top and serve. Cook’s note: I served the arugula on the side and did not use sunflower seeds.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Make sure the spices do not contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Rub the chicken and pears with the spice mixture and roast

Sheet-pan roast chicken with pears and arugula


6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (2 ½ to 3 pounds/1.13 to 1.36 kg)

Kosher salt and black pepper

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) red-pepper flakes

1 teaspoon (5 ml) cumin

1 teaspoon (5 ml) coriander

1 tablespoon (15 ml) grated fresh ginger from a 2-inch (5-cm) piece

3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil

2 firm, semi-ripe Bartlett or Bosc pears, cored and quartered lengthwise

2 tablespoons (30 ml) raw, unsalted sunflower seeds

2 packed cups (500 ml) baby arugula

1 lemon, halved

¼ cup (60 ml) fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped (optional)


Heat the oven to 450 degrees F (232 degrees C) with a rack in the center.

Pat the chicken dry and trim excess fat and skin. Sprinkle all over with 2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt, and season with pepper. In a small bowl, mix together the red-pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, ginger and oil.

On a sheet pan, rub the chicken and pears all over with the mixture. Arrange chicken skin-side up and pears skin-side down. Cook until the chicken is cooked through (165 degrees F/74 degrees C at the thickest part) and the pears are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, add the sunflower seeds to the pan. If there’s a lot of fat when finished cooking, tilt the pan and spoon it off until there’s a light coating on the surface of the pan.

Scatter the arugula on top and squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with herbs, if using. Cut the remaining lemon half in quarters and serve. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking

This recipe from is healthy, fast, tasty and baked on a single baking sheet. Place salmon and vegetables on the sheet pan and drizzle with a lemon-maple-garlic-cumin sauce. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve with additional sauce.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use freshly squeezed lemon juice and pure maple syrup. Check the hot pepper flakes and cumin to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents.

Place ingredients on baking sheet and drizzle with sauce

Sheet-pan salmon and bell pepper dinner


2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil

4 (3 ounce/85 g) fillets salmon fillets

2 red bell peppers, chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, sliced


6 tablespoons (90 ml) lemon juice

3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil

2 tablespoons (30 ml) water

1 tablespoon (15 ml) maple syrup

5 cloves garlic

1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) salt

1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cumin

½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1 lemon, sliced


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a sheet pan with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil or cover the pan with non-stick aluminum foil.

Place salmon fillets, red and yellow bell peppers, and onion on the prepared sheet pan.

Combine lemon juice, 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil, water, maple syrup, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, cumin, and parsley in a small bowl. Drizzle 2/3 of the sauce over the ingredients on the sheet pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve with lemon slices and remaining sauce. Serves 4.


This soup from NYT Cooking is soothing, delicious and perfect for a fall supper. Toast garlic slices and set aside. Brown ground pork, add broth, water and seasonings and simmer for about eight minutes. Add greens, ginger and onion. Ladle the soup over cooked and drained rice noodles and garnish with the toasted ginger, more onion and cilantro.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Check the hot pepper flakes to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. I used Imagine Organic stock and tamari instead of soy sauce.

Pork noodle soup with ginger and toasted garlic


3 tablespoons (45 ml) neutral oil, grapeseed, vegetable or canola

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 pound (454 g) ground pork

1 ½ teaspoons (7.25 ml) red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste

Kosher salt and black pepper

4 cups (1 L) chicken broth

3 tablespoons (45 ml) soy sauce or tamari, plus more to taste

1 large bunch pea leaves or spinach, thick stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon (15 ml) finely grated fresh ginger (from about a 1.5-inch/3.8-cm piece)

6 ounces (170 g) rice noodles (thick- or thin-cut), cooked and drained

½ medium red, yellow or white onion or 3 scallions, thinly sliced

1 cup (250 ml) cilantro, leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped


Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium.

Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the slices become nicely toasted and golden brown, 2 or 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove garlic and set aside.

Add pork and red-pepper flakes to the pot, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, using a wooden spoon or spatula to break up large pieces, until the pork is well browned and in small bite-size pieces, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add chicken broth, soy sauce and 4 cups (1 L) water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes or so, until the pork is very tender and the broth tastes impossibly good. Give it a taste and season with salt, pepper, red-pepper flakes and soy sauce, if you want. Add pea leaves, half of the onion slices and all the ginger. Stir to wilt the leaves.

To serve, ladle soup over noodles and top with remaining onion, cilantro and toasted garlic. Serves 4-6.

NYT Cooking

I love pasta salads and this one from Half Baked Harvest is full of my favourite ingredients: fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, deli meat, fresh mozzarella and arugula. This salad, which can be made ahead, is bursting with flavour and would make a great lunch or light dinner. Cook’s note:  I used prosciutto instead of salami.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Eden Organic red wine vinegar, Unico artichoke hearts, Unico roasted red peppers and Savor sun-dried tomatoes. All are additive-free. Genuine prosciutto and Parmesan are additive-free—look for the cheese’s name stamped on the rind. Check the pine nuts to make sure they don’t contain preservatives. Tre Stelle fresh mozzarella is additive- and colour-free.

Toss warm pasta with dressing and basil

Add remaining ingredients and top with arugula and basil

Antipasto pasta salad with herby Parmesan vinaigrette


1 pound (454 g) short cut pasta

1/3 cup (82 ml) extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup (60 ml) champagne or red wine vinegar

1 small shallot, grated

1 tablespoon (15 ml) fresh thyme leaves

Zest of 1 lemon

¼ cup (60 ml) grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons (30 ml) toasted pine nuts, finely chopped (optional)

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 cups (500 ml) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

2 roasted red bell peppers, sliced

1 jar (14-ounce/396 g) marinated artichoke hearts, drained

½ cup (125 ml) oil packed sun-dried tomatoes oil, drained and chopped

4 ounces (113 g) spicy salami, thinly sliced

8 ounces (226 g) fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella, torn

1-2 cups (250-500 ml) baby arugula


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, to a large serving bowl, add olive oil, vinegar, the shallot, thyme, lemon zest, parmesan, pine nuts (if using), and a pinch each of crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add half the basil and the hot pasta and toss vigorously to combine.

Add the bell peppers, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, salami, mozzarella, and half the arugula, tossing to combine. At this point, the salad can be served warm or cooled and kept in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.

To serve, bring the pasta to room temperature. Top with the remaining arugula and basil. Season with freshly cracked pepper and salt. Serves 6.

From Half Baked Harvest

This recipe from is a lovely way to cook fish. Sauté onions, garlic and tomatoes. Stir in wine, olives, capers and hot pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and add the fish. Cover and gently simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. Remove fish, add butter to the sauce, simmer for a few minutes, stir in cilantro and serve the sauce over the fish. I used branzino fillets, but you could use any firm whitefish.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used a white wine from Frogpond Farms that had a sulfite level of less than 10 parts per million. I used President’s Choice garlic stuffed green olives and Unico capers—both are additive-free. Check the hot pepper flakes and the butter to make sure they don’t contain colour.

Sauté onion, garlic and tomatoes before adding fish.

Sea bass with tomato and caper-olive sauce


2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups (375 ml) thinly sliced white onions

2 tablespoons (30 ml) minced garlic

4 cups (1 L) seeded, chopped plum tomatoes

1 ½ cups (375 ml) dry white wine

⅔ cup (165 ml) sliced stuffed green olives

¼ cup (60 ml) drained capers

⅛ teaspoon (0.6 ml) red pepper flakes

4 (6 ounce/170 g) fillets sea bass

2 tablespoons (30 ml) butter

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions until soft. Stir in garlic, and sauté about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften. Stir in wine, olives, capers, and red pepper flakes. Heat to a simmer.

Place sea bass into sauce. Cover, and gently simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Transfer fish to a serving plate and keep warm.

Increase the heat and add butter to sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickens. Stir in cilantro. Serve sauce over fish. Serves 4.


This excellent baked pasta from NYT Cooking combines sausage with spices, tomatoes, pasta and lots of cheese. Brown the sausage and add spices. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer. Add the pasta, then remove from heat and top with the cheese. Bake until the pasta is cooked and then run under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

I used Free From hot Italian sausages and Unico tomatoes. Check the spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking agents. Look for fresh mozzarella and ricotta without additives or preservatives. Genuine Parmesan cheese is additive-free – look for the name stamped on the rind.

Brown sausage

Add spices and tomatoes and simmer

Stir in pasta and add cheeses

Bake until pasta is tender and then brown under the broiler


3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

¾ pound (340 g) bulk hot or mild Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried oregano

½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) fennel seeds, coarsely crushed

Pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving (optional)

1 (28-ounce/793 g) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices

1 (14-ounce/396 g) can crushed or strained tomatoes

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt

12 ounces (340 g) dried pasta, such as small shells, farfalle or other shaped pasta

8 ounces (226 g) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces

6 ounces (170 g) whole-milk ricotta (about ¾ cup/187 ml)

⅓ cup (82 ml) grated Parmesan

¼ cup (60 ml) basil leaves

Black pepper, for serving


Heat oven to 425 degrees F (218 C). Heat oil in a 12-inch (30-cm) ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Crumble sausage into skillet, using a spoon to break it into small pieces. Cook until starting to brown, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes (if using) and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in whole tomatoes and their juice, using a spoon to break them up. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and 2 teaspoons (10 ml) salt, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.

Stir in pasta and 1 cup (250 ml) water and return to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, pluck out the bay leaves, and fold in about a third of the mozzarella.

Top pasta with remaining mozzarella and dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then transfer to oven. Bake until pasta is tender when poked with a fork, and cheese is bubbly and lightly golden, 18 to 22 minutes. (If you’d like a more deeply browned topping, run the pan under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Top with basil, plenty of black pepper, and more red-pepper flakes, if you like. Serves 4.

From NYT Cooking

This recipe from Canadian Living is a perfect quick lunch or supper. Combine the mayo, lemon juice and mustard and add cooked shrimp and chopped pickles, dill, capers and shallot. Place arugula warmed buns and top with the shrimp mixture. Cook’s notes: For a lighter version, use yogurt instead of mayonnaise. I used a baguette instead of hot dog buns.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives.

I used Hellman’s mayonnaise, freshly squeezed lemon juice, PC Organic frozen shrimp, Putter’s dill pickles, Savor capers and an Ace Bakery baguette — all are free of additives, preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.

Tartar sauce shrimp rolls


¼ cup (60 ml) mayonnaise

1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice

1 teaspoon (5 ml) Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

12 oz (340 g) cold water shrimp, patted dry

2 tablespoons (30 ml) finely chopped dill pickles

1 tablespoon (15 ml) capers, rinsed, drained and finely chopped

1 tablespoon (15 ml) finely shopped shallot

1 cup (250 ml) arugula

4 hot dog buns, warmed


In bowl, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp, pickles, capers and shallot; mix gently. Place ¼ cup (60 ml) arugula in each bun. Divide shrimp mixture among buns. Serves 4.

From Canadian Living

This delicious cake from the Eat With Us cookbook is made in a cast-iron skillet. Pre-heat the skillet and then coat the hot pan with melted butter. Add the cake batter to the pan, top with strawberries and bake for about 35 minutes. Let cool, then remove the cake from the skillet. Dust with icing sugar, top with more berries and serve.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Use butter that does not contain colour. Astro Original Balkan-Style Yogurt is additive free. Use pure maple syrup and pure vanilla extract.

Spread batter in pre-heated cast iron skillet and top with berries

Bake about 35 minutes, cool, and top with icing sugar and berries to serve


2 cups (500 ml) flour

2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder

½ tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda

¼ tsp (1.25 ml) salt

½ cup (125 ml) plus 1 tbsp (15 ml) butter, room temperature

1 cup (250 ml) Greek yogurt

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup (250 ml) maple syrup

1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla

1 cup (250 ml) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise, plus additional for serving

Icing sugar, for serving


Place a 10-inch (25-cm) cast-iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 350°F (177°C).

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk ½ cup (125 ml) of the butter until it is soft and fluffy, then mix in the rest of the butter, yogurt and eggs. Stir in the maple syrup and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until just combined.

Remove the skillet from the oven and add 1 tbsp (15 ml) of butter. Using oven mitts to hold the skillet, swirl the butter around to coat the entire pan. Pour in the batter and use the back of a spoon to spread it into an even layer. Top with the strawberries.

Using oven mitts, place the skillet back into the oven and bake for 35 minutes, until the cake is lightly browned and a knife or toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Once the cake has cooled, place on a cake stand and dust generously with icing sugar. Top with additional strawberries. Serves 6-8.

From Eat With Us

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