Tomatoey Romano bean spread (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegetarian)

Romano beans are a snap bean similar to green beans but are flat, long, very crunchy, and sweet. Beware: They are addictive, whether eaten raw, steamed, roasted, or in a spread like this one. Serve this spread to friends with the usual dipping suspects (tortilla chips, cucumber spears, sweet pepper strips, carrot sticks) and your friends will be shocked when you tell them it’s green beans!

  • unpeeled garlic cloves
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • whole cherry tomatoes or regular chopped tomatoes
  • Romano beans or other fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped parsley leaves
  1. Put the unpeeled garlic cloves in a large dry pan over medium heat and cook without turning for a minute or so. Turn and cook until brown spots appear on all sides and the cloves start to soften. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Peel and chop.
  2. Warm some oil in the same pan. Add the tomatoes and cook, covered, over medium heat until soft and saucy. Add the beans and a pinch of salt, cover, and cook until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the parsley and remove from the heat.
  3. Use an immersion or regular blender and whirl the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chopped cauliflower in cherry-tomato sauce over roasted polenta slices (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

I hope you can find cherry tomatoes where you are. If you haven’t cooked with cherry tomatoes, ooh la la, you’re in for a treat! They have a more intense flavor and are less watery than regular tomatoes, so they make a tangy and intense tomato sauce. Precooked polenta that comes in a roll makes it easy to cut and roast the polenta slices.

  • garlic cloves
  • precooked packaged polenta
  • extra-virgin olive oil or oil of choice
  • onion, chopped
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • jalapeño chile, minced
  • cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • minced parsley
  • cauliflower, chopped
  • condiments (olive tapenade, green chile sauce, hot sauce, soy sauce), for serving (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mince the garlic cloves and set aside.
  2. Slice the polenta, toss with oil, and set on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Roast until beginning to firm up, then broil, flipping over several times until both sides are crispy. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, warm oil in a large frying pan. Add onion, mushrooms, chile, tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables soften and the tomatoes turn into sauce. Add the garlic, some parsley, and the cauliflower, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is completely soft.
  4. Season with condiments of your choice, sprinkle with more parsley, and serve over the polenta slices.

Chopped vegetable salad (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

This salad provides lots of crunch with no lettuce anywhere. You can include any raw vegetable—even ones you usually cook. The key is to cut them into small pieces (½ inch dice) so that every bite holds a combination of flavors. If you have one, a spiralizer makes an easy job of cutting vegetables into threads or half-moon slices.

Making salad dressing doesn’t have to be a chore—you can mix this one together right in the bowl with the vegetables. For an eggless mayo, consider Vegenaise, Earth Balance, or Wildwood spreads. All manner of mustards and vinegars work, from spicy to garlicky to citrusy to sweet. A splash of your favorite bottled hot sauce or a dollop of tapenade can give a salty kick.

Chopped vegetable options
  • bok choy, leaves and stems
  • fennel bulb
  • kohlrabi, peeled
  • daikon
  • sweet pepper
  • carrot
  • cauliflower
  • green beans
  • sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • green onions
  • red onion
  • radishes
Salad dressing options
  • mayonnaise
  • mustards
  • vinegars
  • lemon juice
  • toasted sesame oil
  • olive tapenade
  • basil pesto
  • hot sauce
  • tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos
Garnish options
  • extra-firm tofu or seasoned tofu, diced
  • chia seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • slivered almonds
  • pitted olives
  • chopped fresh herbs
  • pickled jalapeño chiles or peperoncini
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the diced vegetables you want to include in your salad.
  2. Add the dressing options and toss with the vegetables to coat. Garnish, toss again if you like, and serve.

Hot cereal with raisins, coconut, applesauce, and nuts (gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegetarian)

Made from brown rice, corn, sorghum, and buckwheat, Bob’s Red Mill’s Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal is gluten-free and worth a try. But you can use these ideas with your favorite hot cereal. The secret ingredient is applesauce, to thicken and sweeten the cereal without sugar.

  • hot cereal of choice
  • soy milk, nut milk, or rice milk
  • raisins
  • coconut flakes
  • unsweetened, organic applesauce
  • sliced or slivered nuts of choice
  • chia seeds
  • fresh fruit (optional)
  1. Prepare the hot cereal according to the package instructions. Instead of using all water to cook the cereal, considering using half milk.
  2. Add the raisins, coconut flakes, and applesauce while the cereal is cooking. When the cereal is done, turn off the heat and let the cereal rest for 5 minutes or so.
  3. To serve, stir in the nuts and chia seeds and add more milk and fresh fruit, if desired.

Lemony panfried broccoli over oven-crisped rice (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

These simple ingredients turn out complex flavors, with the crispy rice adding a satisfying crunch. To get the crunchy texture, you’ll need leftover rice or freshly cooked rice that’s been chilled so that the rice is dry.

  • cooked brown rice
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion, sliced into half-moons
  • tofu, diced (optional)
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • broccoli, chopped
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • parsley, minced
  1. Heat the broiler in a toaster oven or regular oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the rice to the baking sheet in one thin layer and broil until toasted and crispy. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and tofu and cook without stirring for a minute or two, then stir occasionally until lightly browned.
  3. Add the garlic and broccoli, stir, and cook, covered, until the broccoli begins to turn bright green. Add the lemon zest and juice, stir, and cook, covered, until broccoli is done the way you like it. Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parsley, and serve over the crisped rice.

Polenta with caramelized onions + herbs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Using packaged precooked polenta (the type that comes in a log) simplifies the process because the polenta requires only a warming in the microwave or on the stovetop.

  • coconut oil or oil of choice
  • yellow onion, diced
  • precooked polenta log, sliced and chopped
  • unsweetened milk of choice (such as soy, nut, or rice; optional)
  • herbes de Provence or dried or fresh chopped mixed herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage, or fennel)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Warm oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions, turn heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until soft. Uncover and continue cooking until lightly browned. Remove from the heat but keep the onions warm.
  2. Put the polenta into a large microwaveable bowl or in a saucepan, add a little water or milk, and mash it with a fork. Microwave or cook, covered, until heated through. Add more water or milk to get the consistency you want and cook until heated through.
  3. Stir the onions and herbs into the polenta. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Enchiladas stuffed with mole-inspired mashed potatoes (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Instead of cheese, these dairy-free enchiladas are stuffed with seasoned mashed potatoes, which can also be used to stuff sweet peppers or cabbage leaves. Dried chiles add an irresistible smoky flavor, and raisins bring a hint of sweetness. Leftover enchiladas are delicious reheated for breakfast or lunch.

  • raisins
  • dried chiles (such as chipotle, ancho, pasilla, guajillo, or New Mexico), stemmed, seeded, and broken into pieces
  • hot water
  • potatoes, quartered
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • red onion, diced
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • sweet peppers, diced
  • jalapeño chiles, minced
  • corn kernels, fresh, canned, or frozen
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • slivered almonds
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • homemade enchilada sauce or store-bought sauce
  • corn tortillas
  1. Put the raisins and dried chiles in a heatproof bowl. Cover with hot water and set aside to hydrate.
  2. Put the potatoes in a saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid, cover, and set the potatoes aside in the pan to keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown. Lower the heat to medium, add the mushrooms, peppers, and fresh chiles, and cook, covered, until cooked through.
  4. Add the potatoes to a large bowl. Coarsely mash the potatoes with a large fork or potato masher. Stir in the mushroom-pepper mixture. Add the corn and green onions. Mix in the reserved raisins and dried chiles plus their hydrating liquid. Stir in some of the reserved potato cooking liquid if the mixture is too dry. Stir in the almonds, sunflower seeds, and fresh cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Put a layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Microwave or steam the tortillas in small batches for a few moments to soften. Put a softened tortilla on a work surface, fill with some of the potato mixture (do not overfill), wrap one side of the tortilla over the filling, and roll up. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until the baking dish is full (save any remaining stuffing for another use). Pour the enchilada sauce over the stuffed tortillas, making sure the tortillas are completely covered, including any spaces between them and the sides of the dish. Bake, uncovered, until bubbling and browned on top, about 40 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes. Top with more cilantro and sunflower seeds and serve.

Chunky pan-roasted pepper + tomato enchilada sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Not only is this an effective enchilada sauce, but it works over rice or as a side dish alongside tortillas and eggs for breakfast. The surprise ingredient: Refried beans add both texture and flavor, thickening the sauce in a delightful but unobtrusive way.

  • olive oil
  • sweet peppers, seeded and quartered
  • cherry tomatoes
  • regular tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • jalapeño chiles or other fresh chiles, quartered and thinly sliced
  • refried beans or mashed leftover beans
  • cumin seed
  • turmeric
  • salt and pepper
  1. Warm the oil in a large frying pan. Panfry the sweet peppers without turning over medium-high heat until charred. Rotate to char on all sides. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool, and then coarsely chop.
  2. Add more oil to the hot pan. Add the cherry tomatoes, cover, and cook without turning for 5 minutes. Stir in the regular tomatoes, lower the heat to medium, and cook, covered, until all of the tomatoes are soft and have given off their juices. Stir in the fresh chiles and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the beans and roasted peppers and cook for another minute or two. Add water as needed to create a sauce and heat through. Stir in the cumin and turmeric and season with salt and pepper to taste.

End-of-summer vegetable pasta sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Here’s a sauce inspired by what was at the farmers’ market: fresh corn, mild green Spanish frying peppers, fresh regular and cherry tomatoes, and red onion. Browning the corn kernels and peppers a little first added a bit of a smokiness. Microwaving the ears of corn in their husks for a minute or two makes it easy to remove their silks. The surprise ingredient: several tablespoons of red lentils melt into the sauce to add body without affecting the flavor. Great over pasta, this sauce also works over rice, potatoes, polenta, or other vegetables.

  • ears of corn, shucked
  • olive oil
  • Spanish frying peppers, such as Padron or Guindilla, or sweet peppers, diced
  • red onion, chopped
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • cherry tomatoes, halved
  • red lentils, rinsed (optional)
  • dry white wine
  • tomato paste (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Cut the ears of corn in half crosswise. Put the cut end down on the cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cobs. Compost the cobs and reserve the kernels.
  2. Warm the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels and peppers and cook, without stirring, for a minute or two until starting to brown, then stir and cook for another minute. Stir in the onion and cook until softened. Stir in all of the tomatoes, lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook until the tomatoes soften and give up their juices. Stir in the red lentils and the wine. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until the lentils blend into the sauce. Add tomato paste and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spinach-tomato-rice casserole with pine nuts + olives (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Casseroles make it easy to use the vegetables and cooked grains that are calling your name from the fridge. The trick is to cut all the vegetables about the same size and add some zingy bits (olives and chiles) and richness (nuts and/or seeds).

  • olive oil, for greasing and drizzling
  • cooked brown rice
  • red onion, diced
  • spinach, finely chopped
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • pine nuts
  • green or black olives, sliced, or olive tapenade
  • jalapeño chile, minced, or sweet pepper, finely chopped
  • fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Heat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly grease a baking dish with oil.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake uncovered until bubbling and vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  3. Turn on the broiler and broil until top starts to brown, about 7 minutes. Scoop out and serve.

Replace the spinach with chopped cauliflower florets, the pine nuts with pumpkin seeds, and the oregano with fresh basil leaves. Bake covered about 45 minutes. Uncover and broil as in the original recipe.