My Aunt Genevieve makes the tastiest food. She has all sorts of tricks up her sleeve and her cooking always inspires me to try new ingredients and flavor combinations. For example, in this recipe she uses Japanese-style soy sauce (Shoyu) and sunflower seeds to give rosemary lemon potato salad an unbeatable umami flavor. It’s the perfect side for a picnic or fall dinner in the yard. Thanks Auntie Genevieve, and please send some more recipes my way!
- 2 lbs. red potatoes
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 lemons
- 3 tbsp. Shoyu (substitute with regular soy sauce or Braggs)
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 3 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
- 1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
- About 1½ cups of chopped fresh kale
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces (skins on), coat with olive oil, and pop in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, stirring once half-way through, until crisped and brown. While the potatoes are roasting, whisk together olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice from about two lemons (about 3 tbsp. of juice), Shoyu, and honey.
Chop the potatoes into bite-sized cubes and add to the dressing. Sprinkle with rosemary, sunflower seeds, and kale. You can also add about a teaspoon of lemon zest for an extra zing. Combine all the ingredients and let the salad sit for about an hour so the potatoes and kale can absorb the dressing. That’s it!
About 6 people
This dressing is versatile and nutritious. It is velvety smooth and develops a rich nutty umami flavor with the addition of nutritional yeast. It works well in salads with bulky roughage, such as kale or spinach, and pairs nicely with toasted sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, and cucumbers. You can also serve it as a dip with fresh veggies and crackers or spread it on a sandwich with whole wheat bread. Delish!
- 2 large avocados
- 3 cloves garlic
- 6 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp. salt
- 4 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
- 6 tbsp. water
Scoop the meat of the avocado into a food processor or blender. Peel and add the garlic. Add nutritional yeast, salt, and citrus juice. Slowly stream in the water while processing/blending. Easy breezy.
6 to 8 as a salad or dip
This recipe is a lesson in patience, and it is absolutely worthwhile. Pick up a couple cold bottles of white wine, invite your closest friends, and start chopping. It’s time for Summer Veggie Bake therapy.
My sweet friend Mayme taught me this recipe over five years ago. At that point in my life, I only barely understood the value of patience, and was totally unable to exercise patience without support from others. I remember waiting in frustration for the onions to caramelize, and then anxiously again for the veggies to bake. 2 hours just seemed like a ridiculous amount of time to spend on dinner. But in the meantime we told stories, played card games, and had a beautiful evening. When the dish was finally done it tasted like heaven. Summer Veggie Bake has lessons to teach. Check it out.
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 large sweet onions
- 3 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 3 tsp. paprika
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 or 5 zucchini
- 3 or 4 large tomatoes
- A ball of fresh mozzarella cheese
- 2/3 cup roughly chopped basil
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the onions and place them in a large sauté pan with the butter, olive oil, rosemary and a little salt to caramelize. This takes about 45 minutes. You can start the onions on medium-high heat to get them going, but be sure to turn them down to low after about five minutes. Stir occasionally.
Toast the breadcrumbs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop the garlic. Mix the caramelized onions with toasted breadcrumbs, chopped garlic, paprika, and Parmesan cheese. Add more olive oil if the mixture seems overly dry.
In a deep baking dish, layer zucchini, tomatoes, and sliced fresh mozzarella. You can really add or substitute with any veggies that roast well. Sprinkle each layer of mozzarella with basil, olive oil, and a generous amount of salt and fresh cracked pepper. Top the layers of veggies and mozzarella with bread-parm-onion mixture. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes on 350 degrees.
Let’s just be honest about kale right now. It’s good for you, so you feel good about eating it. It can be delicious, but only when prepared properly. When prepared raw in a salad it can be woody and dry. When cooked it can become soggy and sad.
This recipe does kale right. By briefly sautéing the kale with garlic it becomes soft and flavorful but maintains some of its structure and crunch. Stock and fish sauce give the dish just right amount of salt and are balanced out with rice vinegar and sesame. Yum!
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil or peanut oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 large bunch of kale
- 3 large carrots
- ½ cup of chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger*
- 1 tsp. fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Chop the garlic and de-stem the kale. Tear the kale into small pieces and rinse in a colander. Peel and shred or thinly slice the carrots.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until garlic is soft but not brown (you may need to lower the heat to prevent browning). Add the kale, carrots, and stock and raise heat to high. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and add ginger and fish sauce. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in rice vinegar and sesame seeds at the very end.
3 to 4 people as a side
* ½ tsp. dried ginger can substitute in a pinch, just be sure to add it towards the end of cooking with the vinegar and other ingredients rather than at the beginning.
I am totally addicted to this lentil salad. Maybe it’s that punchy garlic-balsamic dressing, or those cute little French lentils with the creamy interior, or the burst of sweetness from the grape tomatoes that has me hooked. But mostly likely it’s the combination of all of the above.
I really recommend using fresh ingredients for this recipe – i.e. garden fresh tomatoes and parsley, fresh feta from the cheese counter, etc. Believe me, it makes all the difference. And you don’t have to feel bad spending a couple extra bucks on fresh produce, because the recipe is quite affordable otherwise. Make it on Sunday and you have lunch for the week!
- 1 and ½ cups French Lentils
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 and ½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes
- ⅓ cup kalamata olives
- ¾ cup of crumbled feta cheese
Fill a medium saucepan about halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, finely chop or better yet press the garlic and add to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and salt. Finely chop enough parsley to fill a cup. Half the tomatoes and quarter the olives.
After 20 minutes of cooking, drain the lentils and let them cool for about 10 minutes. Give the dressing another quick whisk and add the lentils to the bowl. Gently combine the lentils and the dressing. Mix in the tomatoes, parsley and olives. Lastly, once the entire salad has cooled to room temperature, crumble in the feta cheese and give the salad one final stir. The salad can be eaten right away, but the flavors will enhance if you let it sit for 30 minutes or more.
About 6 people
Sweet potatoes don’t need to be loaded down with butter and sugar to taste good. In fact I much prefer making the most of their natural sweetness by caramelizing them in the oven. I simply roast them on high heat with a couple complementary vegetables, such as leeks and turnips, and lots of garlic until fragrant and brown. Serve with greens and a simple protein, such as a fried egg (as pictured here). No need to overthink the rest of the meal, these roasted vegetables are plenty flavorful on their own!
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- 1 turnip
- 2 large leeks
- 6 to 8 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel the sweet potatoes and garlic and chop into half-inch pieces. Chop the leeks into half-inch rounds. Put the veggies in a large mixing bowl and douse with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon, adding more olive oil as needed to ensure that all veggies are lightly coated. Distribute the veggies between two large baking sheets.
Peel the garlic and place on a large piece of tinfoil. Fold up the edges of the tinfoil to create a little packet in which to roast the garlic. Just before cinching the packet, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Seal the tinfoil packet and place in the corner of one of the baking sheets.
Roast the veggies for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and stir thoroughly. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes (I usually reverse the positioning of the pans at this point). Remove the veggies from the oven and return them to the mixing bowl. Open the garlic packet and mash or chop the roasted garlic cloves. Add the garlic to the mixing bowl and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4 to 6 people
This pea soup is simple and scrumptious. It’s best with really fresh and vibrant ingredients, but still quite tasty with good quality frozen peas (preferably organic). I like serving it café-style in a cup with a sandwich or a salad on the side.
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1 large onion
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 20 ounces fresh or frozen peas
- ¼ cup fresh mint
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- 1 large lemon or 1 ½ small lemons
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt to taste
- Toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for garnish
- Crumbled feta cheese for garnish
- More parsley for garnish
Set up your workstation in advance because this recipe moves fast. In addition to the above ingredients, you will need a blender, a large saucepan, a cutting board, a lemon zester, and a good sharp knife.
Chop the onion. Add the butter to the saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble (but before it browns) add the onion and cook for 5 to 8 minutes until translucent. Add the stock and bring to a boil. While the stock is heating, chop the herbs. Also, zest the lemon into the pot then cut it in half and squeeze in all of its juices.
Once the stock is boiling add the peas. Be careful about timing here – you do not want to overcook the peas. If you’re using fresh peas I recommend cooking for 3 minutes. For frozen peas don’t cook for more than 2 minutes. In the couple minutes while the peas are cooking, add the chopped herbs and pepper to the pot. Pour the soup mixture and the Parmesan cheese into a blender and blend for about a minute. Add salt to taste and blend until smooth.
Top with toasted pepitas, feta, and/or chopped parsley.
6 – 8 people
Fried sweet plantains, made with platanos maduros, are delicious. They are traditional in many Latin cultures, and are so versatile they can be eaten with almost any meal. Do yourself a solid and learn how to make them at home. It’s super easy, cheap, and requires just a few simple ingredients.
- 3 very ripe plantains (platanos maduros)
- About one cup canola oil or peanut oil (or a blend of the two) for frying
- 2 tbsp. maple syrup
Peel and slice the plantains into ½ inch slices and put them in a large bowl. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or medium frying pan. Ideally you will have about a half-inch of oil in the pan. While the oil is heating, drizzle the plantains with your choice of sweetener and sprinkle with salt. Gently roll the plantains around in the bowl to coat with the syrup mixture.
Test the heat of the oil with a small plantain slice. The plantain should sizzle when you add it to the pan. Once you are satisfied with the heat of the oil, add more plantains to the pan until full without crowding. Depending on the size of your pan you may have to cook in two batches. Fry the plantains for six minutes on each side. When you are satisfied with the caramelization on each side, remove from pan and dry on a paper bag (free of dyes) or paper towl.
6 people as a side or dessert, 8 people as an appetizer with toothpicks
Homemade coleslaw is worth the effort. This version is light, flavorful, and a great refreshing side dish in the summer. I developed this recipe to pair with the Grilled Chicken with Ginger & Soy recipe, but would be delicious alongside any grilled meat.
- ¼ cup sesame oil (to save money, cut with vegetable or canola oil)
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp. gluten free soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
- 2 tbsp. honey
- Hot red pepper sauce
- About 1/4 of a large cabbage
- About 2 cups worth of crisp shredded vegetables, such as carrots or broccoli stalks
- One Granny Smith apple
- Scallions or chives
- ¾ cup roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or really any roasted nut or seed
- Scallions or chives for garnish
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, vinegar, soy or Braggs, honey, and healthy squirt of hot sauce. Using the mandolin blade for the cabbage (or a mandolin) and the grater blade for the vegetables and apple (or a grater), shred all the produce and pour into the mixing bowl with the dressing. If you’re using broccoli stalks be sure to cut of and peel the entire woody exterior. Chop as much cilantro and scallions as you think looks good, and add them to the salad. Mix thoroughly.
Just before eating chop the nuts (no need to chop seeds), add to the salad, and stir. Taste the coleslaw to see if the flavors are too your liking. Add a little more of any of the dressing ingredients if you find yourself wanting more. Sprinkle with chopped scallions or chives and serve.
6 – 8 as a side