Easy breakfast tacos (gluten-free, vegan/vegetarian)

These tacos are a versatile, satisfying, and savory morning meal option and are great for a breakfast on the go or at home with your favorite morning beverage. The only filling that doesn’t work in these simple tacos is soup, but you can certainly slurp soup along with your breakfast tacos.

  • corn tortillas
  • possible fillings
    • hummus topped with tomato slices, sweet pepper strips, and/or cucumber spears
    • avocado slices or guacamole topped with tomato slices, cilantro sprigs, and/or a drizzle of hot-pepper sauce
    • store-bought or homemade nut butter, such as almond, pistachio, cashew, peanut, or tahini
    • cooked potato or sweet potato mashed with a pinch of kosher salt
    • roasted vegetables topped with fresh basil leaves
    • cooked lentils or beans topped with sweet pepper strips and a drizzle of hot-pepper sauce
    • tofu or hard-boiled egg mashed with chopped olives and mustard
    • any leftovers, such as fried rice, noodle dishes, vegetable stir-fries, etc.!
  • lettuce leaves, such as Little Gem, butter lettuce, or romaine
  1. Warm the corn tortillas in the toaster oven, toaster, or microwave.
  2. Warm your filling in the microwave, if desired. Add your filling to half of each tortilla.
  3. Top with lettuce leaves, fold, and enjoy!

Please let me know any ideas you have for breakfast taco fillings that are dairy-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free.

Steamed rice-paper dumplings (gluten-free, vegan)

Tiny, tasty clouds of vegetable loveliness—that’s one way to describe these dumplings. The filling is already cooked and the wrappers are already softened, so the steaming just increases the seal and heats the little pillows. Could be a fun do-it-yourself dinner party for family members or guests, albeit a little messy (you create each dumpling by hand). The dumplings go well with sides of steamed broccoli and black and brown rice.

  • several heads of baby bok choy*
  • coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion, diced
  • fresh ginger, minced
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • super-firm tofu, seasoned tofu, or a tofu burger, diced
  • fresh basil, cilantro, and mint, thinly sliced
  • green onion, thinly sliced
  • toasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • toasted sesame oil
  • soy sauce substitute, tamari, or soy sauce
  • small rice paper wrappers*
  • hot-pepper sauce
  • Sriracha chili sauce

* You can substitute sliced spinach or another green for the baby bok choy leaves. If you can’t find small wrappers, use rice-paper spring roll wrappers: Follow the dumpling instructions to soften each wrapper, use a larger amount of filling, fold over the sides, and pull the end closest to you over the filling to seal (like a burrito) before steaming.

  1. Trim the bottoms of the baby bok choy. Cut each head in half lengthwise and wash thoroughly. Cut crosswise into thin strips; separate the strips of green leaves from the strips of white stems. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger, stir, and cook, covered, until just softened. Mix in the mushrooms, bok choy stems, and tofu and cook until mushrooms release their juices and the vegetables are soft. Mix in the bok choy leaves, herbs, green onion, and seeds. Drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce substitute, stir, and cook until bok choy leaves are wilted and the mixture is heated through. Turn off heat.
  3. Fill a bowl with hot water. Dip one wrapper at a time once quickly into the hot water. Spoon a small amount of filling onto the center of the wrapper and secure by twisting together all of the ends (moisten with extra hot water to create a good seal). Put the sealed dumplings on a plate or a baking sheet.
  4. Meanwhile, fill a pot with an inch of water, insert a steamer basket, and bring the water to a simmer. Add the dumplings to the steamer basket in one layer (you may have to steam in batches). Cover and steam for a few minutes.
  5. Serve warm with soy sauce substitute, toasted sesame oil, hot-pepper sauce, and Sriracha chili sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.

Kale frittata with brown-rice crust (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Worthy of a Sunday brunch, this frittata bakes while you sip your favorite morning beverage and read the newspaper or a good book. To make the crust (inspired by a post on the An Ode To Mung Beans blog), you will need cooked rice—I used leftover brown rice.

  • olive oil
  • cooked brown rice
  • salt
  • 1 or 2 egg whites, yolks reserved
  • onion, diced
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • green garlic, diced, or garlic cloves, minced
  • ground spices of your choice, such as turmeric, cumin, smoked paprika, and chipotle or other chile powder
  • kale, center ribs discarded, leaves torn or sliced thinly
  • whole eggs, including the reserved yolks, beaten lightly
  • black pepper
  • green onions, sliced thinly (optional)
  • fresh cilantro or parsley, minced (optional)
  1. Preheat the broiler (set to low, if you have that option), making sure that the rack is about 6 inches away from the heat. Grease a baking dish with the olive oil.
  2. Add enough rice to the prepared dish to cover the bottom. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and mix into the rice. Flatten the rice into the bottom of the dish to create a crust. Brush some more oil on top of the rice. Broil for a few minutes until golden, remove from the oven, and set aside. Turn off the broiler and preheat the oven to 375º.
  3. Meanwhile, heat more olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and mushrooms and cook until softened. Mix in the garlic and ground spices and cook for a minute or two. Add the kale leaves in handfuls, stirring after each handful. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for a few minutes until the kale is wilted. Pour the beaten whole eggs and reserved yolks into the pan with the kale mixture and stir. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly, until the eggs are just barely set.
  4. Pour the egg-kale mixture on top of the rice in the baking dish and spread into a level layer. Bake the frittata, checking every 20 minutes to see if the eggs are cooked. When almost done, sprinkle green onions on top, if using, and return to the oven for a minute or two. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle with cilantro or parsley, if using, cut the frittata into pieces, and serve.

Spaghetti tossed with garlicky olive oil and herbs (gluten-free, vegan)

You’ll want to add this pasta dish to your springtime repertoire—when fresh herbs are abundant.  For the sauce, I used both olive oil and ghee for richness; for a vegan version use olive and/or coconut oil.  Round out this meal with a green salad and steamed (or microwaved) asparagus. Yay, spring!

  • brown rice spaghetti or your favorite spaghetti
  • extra-virgin olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, chopped, or garlic cloves, minced
  • jalapeño chile (optional)
  • mixed fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, or mint, minced
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • red chile flakes (optional)
  1. Start cooking the spaghetti according to the package directions.
  2. When the spaghetti is almost done, heat a large pan over medium heat and add enough oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic and the chile, if using. Stir, cover, and cook until softened but not browned.
  3. Drain the cooked spaghetti, reserving a cup or two of the pasta-cooking water. Raise the heat to medium, add the cooking water and the herbs to the pan, and stir. Cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix in the cooked spaghetti. Adjust the seasonings, stir in the chile flakes, if using, and serve.

Polenta with spring onions, green garlic, and fresh fava beans (gluten-free, vegan)

A quick-and-easy way to make tasty soft polenta: Use a packaged, precooked polenta “log” cooked with homemade vegetable stock or store-bought broth and springtime vegetables. If you’ve never used green garlic, you’re in for a treat: It is milder and easier to use than dried—you chop the fresh garlic head without having to peel individual cloves. Most people double-shell fresh fava beans, available at farmers’ markets in spring, but I remove only the outer pod, which makes them much easier to prepare (you can substitute edamame or peas for the favas, if you like). Serve the polenta over a bed of garlicky greens and/or your favorite grain.

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • spring onion or regular onion, sliced into half-moons
  • green onions, white and green parts, cut into 1-in. lengths
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, diced, or dried garlic cloves
  • tomato paste
  • packaged precooked polenta, diced
  • fresh fava beans, edamame, or peas
  • homemade stock, store-bought broth, or water
  • chipotle chiles (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the spring onion and the white parts of the green onions and cook until softened and beginning to brown. Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the tops of the green onions, the green garlic, tomato paste, polenta, and fava beans and cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add the broth and the chiles, if using, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the polenta is creamy and all of the vegetables are soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with parsley.

Springtime vegetable soup (gluten-free, vegan)

April vegetable soups are light and brothy compared to winter’s dense stews. Here is a favorite, highlighting spring’s fennel, leeks, romaine lettuce, sugar snap peas, spinach, fava beans, and dill. What’s lovely about this soup is the unexpected crunchiness of the romaine ribs and the creaminess of the avocado. For extra richness, I cooked the vegetables with both olive oil and homemade ghee. Inspired in part by a March 2014 recipe in Sunset magazine.

  • extra-virgin olive oil and/or ghee
  • potatoes, diced
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • fennel bulb, diced
  • romaine lettuce
  • leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly
  • lemon zest
  • chopped fresh dill
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • homemade vegetable stock, store-bought broth, or water
  • sugar snap peas, sliced thinly
  • fava beans, single-shelled
  • spinach, sliced thinly
  • avocado, cut into cubes
  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the potatoes, mushrooms, and fennel. Cook until vegetables are softened. Meanwhile, cut the ribs from the romaine leaves and finely chop the ribs and leaves, keeping them separate.
  2. Add the ribs to the pot along with the leeks, lemon zest, dill, and salt and pepper; stir and cook a minute or two. Add the stock, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Stir in sugar snap peas and fava beans and cook for a minute or two until fava beans are completely soft. Add spinach and lettuce leaves and stir until just wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, top each bowl with avocado and more fresh dill.

Beets simmered with dried fruit and citrus (gluten-free, vegan)

Many recipes simmer carrots with dried fruit and citrus, so why not try beets in place of the carrots and see what happens?  If you don’t want your mixture to turn red, use Chioggia or golden beets instead of red beets. Serve with brown rice or your favorite grain and a side of greens (spinach, chard, kale, or collards) cooked with olive oil and garlic.

  • coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, or ghee
  • onion, cut into half-moons
  • beets, diced
  • dried fruit, such as prunes, apricots, raisins, cherries, and/or cranberries
  • fresh lemon juice
  • orange zest and juice
  • walnut pieces
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • pepper
  • parsley, chopped
  1. Heat oil in a large covered saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and beets and cook until slightly softened. Cut prunes and apricots into small pieces and add to pan. Stir in citrus juices with an equal amount of water. Add orange zest, walnuts, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Turn down heat and simmer, covered, until all ingredients are soft and integrated, adding water as needed so the mixture doesn’t burn. Adjust seasonings. Serve with more walnut pieces and parsley on top.

Baked potatoes topped with tomatoey mushrooms + onions (gluten-free, vegan)

Instead of your classic butter, sour cream, and chives to accompany a baked potato, why not try flavoring your potato with Italian-influenced ingredients—mushrooms, onions, tomato paste, and basil—and serve it with optional toppings to make your baked potato into a complete meal?

  • large potatoes, scrubbed
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion, cut into half-moons
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • tomato paste
  • spinach, cut into strips
  • fresh basil, cut into thin strips, or dried basil
  • optional toppings for serving: thinly sliced green onions, white beans, steamed or microwaved mashed cauliflower, steamed or microwaved sliced zucchini, crumbled tofu, chopped fresh herbs, capers or chopped olives, walnut pieces, toasted sunflower seeds
  1. Preheat the toaster oven or standard oven to 375ºF. Pierce the potatoes and bake until completely soft. Keep warm.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, then add the mushrooms. When the mushrooms have released their juices, stir in the tomato paste, spinach, and basil. Remove from heat but cover and keep warm.
  3. Put toppings in small serving dishes. To serve, slice open and mash the potato inside its skin, add mushroom-onion mixture, and add desired toppings to the potato or on the side.

Pasta with sugar snap peas and herbs (gluten-free, vegan)

Here you make a pasta sauce by reserving and flavoring some of the pasta-cooking water (inspired by foodnetwork.com).

  • extra-virgin olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil
  • onion, diced
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • jalapeño chile, minced
  • salt
  • sugar snap peas, strings removed and chopped
  • brown rice pasta or other gluten-free pasta
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • Swiss chard, center ribs removed and leaves thinly sliced
  • fresh parsley and dried herbs, such as thyme, fennel seed, or herbes de Provence
  • pepper
  • vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, mushrooms, chile, and salt. Cook until softened. Add sugar snap peas and continue cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 to 2 cups of pasta-cooking water. Set aside.
  3. Add garlic and chard to the pan and cook for a minute or two. Transfer vegetables to a serving bowl; reserve the pan. Toss pasta with vegetables in the serving bowl.
  4. Heat reserved pasta-cooking water in the pan. Add oil or ghee and reduce the liquid. Add herbs and cook for another minute or two. Pour sauce over pasta and vegetables. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar if using.

Creamy lentils with garlic, rosemary, and beets (gluten-free, vegan)

What makes this dish creamy is the chana dal (split baby garbanzo beans). If you can’t find them, use yellow split peas. Why add beets? They give texture plus sweetness to balance the savory in the garlic and rosemary, but you can substitute potatoes, carrots, zucchini, or another vegetable if you like.

  • extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or ghee
  • beets, preferably Chioggia or golden beets because they don’t bleed, cut into ½-in. dice
  • green lentils
  • chana dal* or yellow split peas
  • homemade vegetable stock, store-bought broth, or water
  • rosemary sprigs or dried rosemary
  • garlic, minced
  • salt
  • pepper

* Find chana dal online or at Indian markets.

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add beets for a minute or two and then the lentils and chana dal. Cook, covered, stirring often, until beets begin to soften.
  2. Add stock (about 3 parts stock to 1 part lentils/chana dal) to pan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, until the legumes are almost soft. Stir in rosemary and garlic and cook until rosemary has fallen off the sprig and legumes are completely soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper.