I have to tell you the story of this dish…because it was inspired by something I ate in Ottawa. Holy cow, I cannot believe it has been six weeks since I wrapped on Urban Vegetarian. It seems like yesterday and forever ago. Actually, that’s the story of my 2016 in a nutshell.
Anyway, my last day on set was a photo shoot and when we finished, I felt like I needed to do something to celebrate. But I was also so bone-tired that being social seemed entirely out of the question (introvert alert!).
So, after debating the point in my head for a half hour, I ventured out at 5:30PM to this little wine bar that was literally around the corner from my home-away-from-home and proceeded to celebrate. By myself. In blissful silence. I think the server probably thought I was insane. I ordered a ridiculous amount of food and wine for one person (and almost finished it all!!)
In the midst of the feast, I ate this spiced chèvre that was like other level good. So I decided to recreate my own version for the holidays…because who doesn’t like a good cheese plate around the holidays???
Never fear, my plant-based friends. This recipe works no matter what your poison: goat cheese, cream cheese or a lovely nut-based option would all be delicious. This is holiday entertaining, Desiree-style: lovely flavour, crazy easy to make.
Happy Holidays everyone…I hope you have the most wonderful close to your year.
This will be my last post of 2016 as I start gearing up for a jam-packed January. My new show will air on Gusto early in January, the paperback edition of my book launches January 3rd and I hope you’ll join me for a totally diet-free January mindful eating challenge, starting January 2nd. xo

Za’atar Spiced Chèvre-style dip

Super simple and easily adjustable chevre! A great dish for the holiday parties!
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  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup vegan ricotta, or chevre-style store-bought cheese
  • 1-2 dates,, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon z'aatar


  • Bring orange juice and spices to a boil. Reduce temperature to a
    gentle boil until the orange juice is reduced to the consistency of light syrup (about ten minutes). The mixture will reduce by half but still look like liquid.
  • Let cool to room temp and the mixture will thicken further.
  • Spread your fave cheese across a serving bowl or plate,
    drizzle with orange reduction and top with dates and almonds. Serve with your favourite bread or crackers.


Note: if using vegan ricotta, whip in a little more water as it processes to have a lighter, creamier texture!

Photo Credit: Melissa Quantz