Cheap & Cheerful Recipes for the Mid-Winter Blues

Recipes from some of our favourite Edmonton chefs, featuring grains, beans, winter vegetables and fish — ideal for light and healthy meals that are easy on the wallet.

healthy recipes for the mid-winter blues

What do we want to eat in January and February? Food with fresh flavours and interesting textures yet a little lighter after the excesses of the holidays. The emphasis is on healthy, good food with less butter and cream. It’s time to enjoy some less familiar grains and winter vegetables like endive and thrifty beans. The bonus? Some of these recipes are super affordable and made with easy-to-find ingredients from the pantry.

Roast Beet and Squash Salad
“The chimichurri adds a nice freshness and brightness to the dish and the seed crunch is great for a little bit of texture. When I make this dish at home I like to top it with a few pickled rose buds for a little extra acidity and floral aroma. Pickled mushrooms are pretty tasty too,” –Tony Krause, Revel

Roast Salad

5 whole beets
1 kabocha squash
2 sprigs thyme
3 cloves garlic, smashed
grape seed oil

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Place beets on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until tender. Once beets are cool enough to handle, use an old dish towel to rub the skin off the beets. Quarter the beets.

Peel and rough chop squash and toss with grape seed oil, salt, thyme and garlic. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until tender and golden.


½ c red wine vinegar
1 t salt
4 cloves garlic smashed
1 shallot, quartered
1 t crushed chili flakes
½ c cilantro
¼ c parsley
2 T oregano
½ c olive oil

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on medium speed to make a chunky paste.

Seed Crunch

½ c sunflower seeds
½ c sesame seeds
½ c pumpkin seeds
½ c deep fried quinoa

Lightly toast all seeds in separate pans until golden brown. Let cool and toss together. Mix in fried quinoa.

To serve: Place spoonfuls of chimmichurri on a plate. Top with a mixture of room temperature beets and squash. Sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of the seed crunch.

Serves 4-6.

Fennel-cured Sea Bream Crudo with Crabapple and Elderflower Vinaigrette
“This is a nice light dish for after the holidays. Talk to your local fish monger to ask which fish they recommend if they don’t have sea bream. Always use fresh.” – Christine Sandford, Biera

For the vinaigrette

180 g nice cloudy farmer’s apple juice (Try Steve and Dan’s, or juice your own apples)
180 g apple cider vinegar (use good quality vinegar, it’s essential in this dish)
1 t elderflower syrup (if you don’t have this you can use a floral honey)
50 g thinly-shaved shallots
50 g small-diced crab apples (alternately you can slice them thinly on a mandolin)
5 g salt
200 g olive oil

Whisk the apple juice, vinegar, elderflower syrup or honey, shallot and diced crab apples together. Stir in the olive oil. Reserve a bit of the vinaigrette to lightly cure the fish. Let mixture sit to marinate the shallot and crab apples.

For the fish

45 g salt
45 g sugar
2 g cracked fennel seeds (use the back of a pan to smash the seeds)
16 oz (approx) piece of sea bream

Mix together. Wearing gloves, rub the mixture all over the fish and let sit in the fridge for 30-40 minutes, turning over once. Remove and gently rinse. Dry the fish with paper towel.

Take your fish and, using a very sharp, thin-bladed knife, make long thin strokes with the knife towards you. Place the slices into the reserved vinaigrette for 1 minute. Remove and place onto your plate. Season the fish with Maldon salt. Cover with the vinaigrette, getting lots of the shallots and diced crab apples over top. If you like extra crunch, you can add some fresh apples on top as well.

Garnish with a herb and shoot salad: Use a mixture of picked fennel fronds, popcorn shoots and nasturtium shoots (you can find most of these at Sunrise Organics in the Old Strathcona Market).

Serves 4 as a starter.

Oatmeal-Crusted Smoked Trout Cakes
Shelley Robinson, Zenari’s

1 lb hot smoked rainbow trout; skin, bones removed, crumbled (or use diced cold-smoked char or salmon)*
½ c steamed yam, mashed
½ c smashed potato (leftovers work great)
½ leek thinly sliced, washed and sautéed until soft
1 clove garlic, roasted and mashed
1 egg, whisked
1 t capers, chopped
1 T cilantro, chopped
3 T corn meal
1 t horseradish
1 t lemon zest

Combine all ingredients except the trout; fold the fish in last. Form the cakes into desired size and chill on a sheet pan for 1 hour before breading.


1 c flour seasoned with salt and pepper
2 egg whites whisked to frothy
2 c large flake oatmeal, buzzed in food processor for 5 seconds to mulch up

Prepare breading station with 1 bowl each for the flour, the egg whites and the oatmeal. Dredge each fish cake in the flour, then dip in egg white and last, roll in oatmeal to coat. Repeat with all cakes. Chill.

Pan fry the cakes in oil with a small knob of butter until evenly browned on both sides and on the edges. Serve right out of the pan or cool and re-heat in the oven. Eat with corn relish and a big leafy salad.

Makes 4 small or 8 large fish cakes.

* Smoked trout is available at K&K Foodliner, 9944 82 Avenue.

Endive Salad with Anchovy and Lemon Vinaigrette
“This pungent salad is inspired by the classic Puntarelle Salad found throughout Rome during the cold winter months. You can eat this dish as a starter or with grilled meats such as lamb chops or sirloin steaks. I really like having all of the ingredients quite cold when eating this salad as it keeps the flavours fresh and the textures crisp.” –Daniel Costa, Corso 32.

4-5 heads Belgian endive, first layer of outer leaves removed and discarded
1 clove garlic, medium-sized, peeled
4 T freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3 fillets olive oil-preserved anchovies
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
1 T sparkling water
sm. handful freshly-picked Italian parsley leaves
Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
kosher salt
fresh-cracked black pepper

Mince the anchovies very fine and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Using a microplane, grate the garlic clove into the bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, sparkling water, a few cracks of black pepper and a pinch of salt. Whisk until emulsified. Season to taste. Set vinaigrette aside until ready for use.
Remove all of the leaves from the endive heads, trimming the base as you go. Using a puntarelle cutter, or a sharp knife, cut the endive leaves lengthwise in thin strips. Place a damp cloth or paper towel over the cut endive and chill in your fridge for at least 15 minutes to ensure the lettuce is crisp and cold.

Toss the endive, parsley and vinaigrette together. Season to taste with more lemon and salt. Grate a little Parmigiano over the salad and finish with a few cracks of black pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Daniel Costa’s Endive Salad
Daniel Costa’s Endive Salad

Spiced Bean Dip
Kelsey Johnson, Café Linnea

2 c dry white beans, soaked overnight
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stick
1 head garlic, halved
6 T olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1-inch fresh ginger, grated
1 t turmeric powder
1 t smoked paprika
¼ t cumin
¼ t cayenne
1 bunch fresh parsley

Drain beans of their soaking water and put in a stockpot with 6 cups of water. Add chopped vegetables, minus the lemon, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are nice and tender. Drain and discard the vegetables (or snack on them, whatever floats your boat).

Put your beans in a food processor and blitz to your desired consistency, thick and chunky, or a smooth puree, streaming in your oil and lemon juice at the last minute. Scoop your beans into a large bowl and stir in all your spices, lemon zest and ginger. Season to taste with salt and pepper and you’re done! It can be enjoyed with a crisp winter veg crudite, or spread on toast and topped with a poached egg. Finish at the last minute with fresh parsley and more lemon and olive oil.

Makes about 4 cups.

Farro and Winter Vegetable Salad
“This vegetarian dish is economical, easy to prepare and packed with colour and flavour. Farro is high in fibre, protein and calcium and it has a nice firm texture when cooked.” –Tracy Zizek, Kitchen by Brad

1 c farro (uncooked)
2 c vegetable stock
1 pomegranate
toasted pumpkin seeds
2 carrots, large dice
½ small acorn squash, large dice
2-3 small red beets, quartered
1-2 T fresh chopped herbs (your choice)
cold-pressed canola oil
kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450ºF. Lightly oil and season vegetables and place of a sheet pan. Save beets for last and keep separate on the pan to avoid bleeding colour on the other vegetables. Place in oven and roast until vegetables are tender, about 30-40 minutes. While vegetables are roasting, bring vegetable stock to a boil, add farro, reduce heat to low and cook until tender (about 40 minutes). While vegetables and farro are cooking, remove arils from pomegranate and set them aside. When everything is ready, place farro, root vegetables, pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds and fresh herbs in a bowl. Toss. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little cold pressed canola oil and toss again. Just before serving, drizzle again with cold pressed canola oil. You can serve this dish hot or warm and it’s good cold for lunch on the go.

Serves 4-6.

Holy Roller Fruit Salad
“This fruit salad makes a refreshing lunch. Add some nuts such as pecans for texture if you like and, for a more substantial meal, top with a piece of grilled salmon. In the summer, use fresh strawberries and blueberries, whatever looks good at the farmers’ market.” –Rafael D’Alcazar, The Holy Roller

½ c sliced pear or apple
½ c quinoa
½ c orange segments
2 kiwis sliced
mint leaves
pinch cinnamon to add to quinoa water

Take 1 part quinoa, 2 parts cinnamon and water and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Take a portion of cooked quinoa and add to the centre of the mixing bowl. Fold in the fruit, then plate, taking care to distribute colour throughout the dish. Garnish with mint and drizzle with your favourite vinaigrette or serve with yogurt and honey.

Serves 1.

Gold Forest Grains Wheat Berry Seafood Risotto
“This seafood risotto uses local wheat berries instead of rice.” –Andrew Fung, XIX

1½ c wheat berries
1 qt chicken stock
½ c dry white wine
1 med shallot
3 T butter
1 T vegetable oil
¼ c grated Parmesan (optional)
1 T chopped Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz tiger prawns, diced
8 oz salmon belly, diced
8 oz clam meat
8oz cod fillet, diced

Sweat shallot in butter and oil for few minutes. Add wheat berries and coat with fat. Deglaze with the wine. On medium heat add stock mixture, one ladle at a time, constantly stirring. As grains absorb stock, add more and continue stirring, Cook until grain is soft, about 20 minutes.

In a separate frying pan, sauté seafood in butter, oil, salt and pepper. Strain and set aside.

Check wheat berry seasoning, then gently stir in seafood and parsley. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired and chopped chives.

Serves 6 to 8.

Potatoes with Arugula and Tomatoes and Caper Vinaigrette
“This is the perfect side dish to have with grilled chicken, salmon, scallops, shrimp, flat iron steak, or grilled vegetables.” –Larry Stewart, The Hardware Grill

1½ c baby tomatoes
2 c potatoes
2 c arugula
1¼ c caper vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Use any small potato (red, white or fingerling) boiled to knife tender (when you poke a knife into a potato it falls off slowly). Cool until they can be handled, then cut in half.

Place potatoes cut side down in a hot pan with a little bit of olive oil and cook until golden and crispy. Toss in tomatoes and arugula; add caper vinaigrette and toss a few times to warm veggies (should hear a sizzle). Mound on a plate. Place your protein on the side. Garnish with pine nuts, chopped bacon or grate some Parmesan over.

Serves 6.

Caper Vinaigrette

1 c canola oil
⅓ c maple syrup
⅓ c apple cider vinegar
3 T lemon juice
chopped zest of 1 lemon
1 T capers, drained
⅓ c chopped parsley
1 t salt
1 t pepper
¼ c toasted pine nuts (optional)
¼ lb. diced cooked bacon (optional)

Combine all ingredients (except the optional pine nuts and bacon) and blend well with a hand emulsifier.

Store covered at room temperature. Can be refrigerated too. Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

Torched Sockeye Salmon with Goat Cheese, Fried Horseradish and Chilled Beet Sauce
“There is no butter or alcohol in this recipe. Healthy and will add a different approach to using your juicer.” –Shane Chartrand, Sage

1 side sockeye salmon, deboned
2 pieces fresh horseradish
1 lb. fresh purple beets
1 sm. container goat cheese (3 oz.)
1 head garlic
2 whole shallots
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1 litre canola oil

Juice the beets, garlic, shallots in a juicer, then run through a fine strainer. Heat up gently in a pot and season with salt and pepper.

Peel the horseradish and discard the outside skin. Keep peeling and try to make long thin ribbons, until you can’t peel anymore. (There will be a bit you can’t physically peel when it gets very narrow.)

Blanch the peels in boiling water for about 30 seconds then chill in an ice bath (50 per cent cold water, 50 per cent ice).

After it’s cooled, take the horseradish out of the ice bath and pat dry. If it’s wet, it can cause oil to flare up.

Heat up a pot of canola oil and fry the ribbons at 275ºF.

Once crispy, set on a paper towel to absorb some excess oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Take the salmon and pat dry. Remove the skin and discard. With a small torch, torch the salmon gently and evenly until a nice charred, cooked outside forms. Cook both sides until the salmon is about medium rare to medium. It will have a torched flavour, common in many sushi restaurants. Adds an interesting roasted flavour.

To serve: Spoon the warm beet sauce on to a coupe bowl, or choice of plate. Gently place the salmon on top. Crumble the goat cheese around the salmon and top with the fried horseradish.

Serves 2-3.

Pork Sausage
“This recipe for pork sausage is easy to make using a meat grinder.” –Lindsay Porter, London Local

1 kg pork shoulder
12 g salt
5 g allspice
4 stems sage (¼ cup chopped)
½ white onion

Cube the pork into chunks that will fit through the meat grinder, about 1 inch. Grind the pork through the meat grinder keeping as chilled as possible. Lightly sauté the onion in a bit of oil to soften and mix the salt, allspice and chopped sage. When cool, mix with the pork. Fry a bit to check for seasoning. Then, either run through sausage casings or make sausage patties for serving.

Makes 4-12 patties, depending on size.

Family-style Roasted Leg of Lamb with Wild Rice-Potato Latke, Sautéed Spinach and Garlic Yogurt
“Leg of lamb, served family style for a Sunday supper. The latke is like a rosti potato, cut in wedges, rather than individual latkes.” –Blair Lebsack, Rge Rd


1 semi-boneless leg of lamb, aitchbone removed, fat trimmed and lamb tied.
3 T kosher salt
canola oil
3 cloves garlic
¼ c red wine
½ c beef broth

Using the tip of a knife, make a tiny pocket in the lamb leg. Push in whole clove of garlic, do this in 3 separate places. Rub the lamb with the salt and oil.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Put lamb in a roasting pan and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before putting in the oven. Roast lamb until instant read thermometer reads 130ºF or about 90-110 minutes. Pour red wine and beef broth into the roasting pan to deglaze, then strain into small pot. Reheat and reduce before serving.

Allow to rest for 15-25 minutes before slicing.

Wild Rice-Potato Latke

2 lg. russet potatoes, grated, soaked, drained and excess liquid rung out (reserve potato starch if you can)
2 c cooked wild rice
1 med. onion, sliced, sautéed, cooled
2 lg. eggs
2-3 T all-purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together. Pan fry up a little bit to check for seasoning, adjust if necessary. Start when you take lamb out of the oven. Heat a 12-inch cast iron or heavy-bottomed pan to medium-high heat on burner. Add ¼ c canola oil. Put in the wild rice-potato mixture. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, then carefully shake pan to make sure latke is browning and loose in pan. Cook another 3-4 minutes. Flip, cook another 5 minutes on burner then put in 350ºF oven for 5 minutes. When done it will be crispy on the outside and very soft in the middle. Cut into 6 wedges.


1 bunch washed and dried
½ t cayenne pepper
2 T pickled onion (chopped), buy from farmers’ market
1 T canola oil
1 T butter

Heat sauté pan to medium, pour in oil then add spinach, chopped cayenne and pickled onion. Season with salt, add butter and wilt. Take out of hot pan until plating.

Garlic Yogurt

1 c plain Greek yogurt
1½ T garlic elixir (a juiced and fermented garlic liquid)
1 t kosher salt
1 T canola oil
1 T butter, melted

Mix together and reserve.

Serve family style: Platter of sliced leg of lamb with the red wine pan sauce.Round platter of potato latke, with a mound of wilted spinach in the middle and a drizzle of garlic yogurt.

Extra yogurt served on the side.

Serves 6.

* Beautiful Alberta lamb is available from Four Whistle Farm and Nature’s Green Acres.

Crab Tart
“In the summer we would serve this tart with a combination of edible flowers such as marigolds, mint, thyme, basil, rosemary, dill, fennel, carrot, and nasturtium or some of the some more uncommon wild herbs and flowers: shepherd’s purse, lemon Verbena, lemon balm, shiso, yarrow, bittercress, bedstraw.”–Scott Downey, The Butternut Tree

Rye Tart

2 c rye flour
7 T cold butter
3-4 T caraway seed
pinch salt
3 T buckwheat honey

Mix all dry ingredients and cut in cold butter until pea sized pieces remain then add water until incorporated.

Form in 6-inch tart pan until 1.5 mm thick all around. Use bottom of other pan to have indentation/frill of tart pan on edge. Cool for minimum 20 minutes prior to baking. Bake in convection oven at 400ºF for about 7 minutes until tart is cooked and begins to caramelize. Cool in shell for 3-5 minutes and transfer out of tart pan to rack to cool.

Smoked Crème Fraiche
In order for the fermentation of the cream to happen, we need this amount of liquid, which makes more crème fraiche than you’ll need for this recipe.

1 c heavy cream
1 T buttermilk
4-5 drops applewood liquid smoke

Combine heavy cream and buttermilk with a pinch of salt. Whisk together and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours +.

In a bowl whisk and add smoke simultaneously until a strong smoke flavour is embedded into the crème.

Makes 1 cup.

Pickled Unripe Crab Apple

2 unripe crab apple
1 T Riesling vinegar
2 g salt

Shave apples 1mm thick, remove all seeds.

Pour over vinegar and let sit for 1 day.

Toss 6 oz cooked crab meat with about a ¼-cup of the crème fraiche for each tart shell. Season with salt. Fill each tart shell to just below the top edge with crab meat mixture.

To serve: Add pickled crab apple coins and begin to build the bouquet of salad on top, alternating herbs and flowers (or whatever herbs you have) until all the crab is covered. Fill in with a few more pickled crab apples and season with a good oil and vinegar. At the restaurant we like to use a riesling vinegar and Mountain View canola oil.

Finish it off with a nice pinch of Salt Spring Island Fleur de Sel.

Makes two tarts.

Crusted Basa with Fennel

“We don’t need to eat expensive proteins every day of the week. More and more people are reaching for vegetables over steak. One protein that will won’t break the bank is basa, an underrated fish that you can pick up for under $5 to feed two people. Superstore sometimes has fillets for less than a dollar. To add some flavour and to help keep the fish from falling apart, I like to crust them in just about anything. The tops of radishes are my most recent favourite (a little trick I picked up from Israel Alvarez), but a long ways away in January. You can always get great arugula from the Italian Centre, or inexpensive spinach from No Frills. Serve with rice or quinoa.” –Eric Hanson, Prairie Noodle

4 basa fillets
2 cloves garlic
1 sm. knob ginger
handful any greens
1 glug olive or canola oil
juice of half a lemon
1-2 T seeds
salt to taste

*Add a fresh chili if you like things hot.

Mix all ingredients except the fish in a mortar and pestle until a paste-like texture forms. Pack it on top of the fish fillets. Get a pan get nice and hot and place the fish crust side down onto the lightly oiled pan. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, flip the fish for 30 seconds and its done.

If you use a thermometer at home, and I recommend you do, aim for 130ºF in the middle of the fish, which seems like a joke on a fillet as thin as basa, but perfection still tastes the best.