Polenta cakes with green onions, sugar snap peas + sweet peppers (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Not a lot of prep because there’s no need to cook the polenta. Say what? Yes, this recipe uses precooked organic polenta that comes in a log.

In order to form patties that stick together, you’ll need to add some kind of binder-thickener, such as a fresh egg, soaked chia seeds, chickpea flour, mashed potatoes, ground flaxseeds, or a thickener of your choice.

If you don’t have the vegetables in the ingredient list, experiment with almost any vegetable that you enjoy raw—maybe thinly sliced spinach or finely shredded carrots or daikon radish.

To serve, pour a chunky tomato sauce over the patties or stuff the patties inside pita bread with hummus and lettuce or wrap a tortilla around them to make tacos with cabbage slaw, guacamole, and salsa. They are very versatile, indeed.

  • precooked polenta log, coarsely chopped
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • sweet pepper, finely diced
  • jalapeño chile, finely diced (optional)
  • sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
  • toasted sesame oil
  • tamari or soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • binder-thickener (see introduction)
  1. Preheat the toaster oven or regular oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the polenta log until you have a dough-like consistency. Stir in the green onions, sweet pepper, jalapeño, and peas. Sprinkle with sesame oil, tamari, flaxseeds, and black pepper. Add the binder to the mixture and stir until well combined.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Shape the polenta mixture into small, flat patties and place on the prepared baking sheet so that they are almost touching.
  4. Bake, checking every 15 minutes, until browned, fragrant, and movable when you nudge them. Carefully flip the patties. Turn on the broiler and broil, checking frequently, until the patties are crispy.  Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Green garlic, leek, mushroom, asparagus + potato soup with fresh herbs + almonds (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

April and May bring all of the fresh alliums—green garlic, spring onions, and leeks—which meld perfectly with baby shiitake mushrooms, potatoes, and a variety of just-cut fresh herbs. Leftover brown rice adds some heft, and cauliflower offers its cruciferous-vegetable health benefits. To increase the soup’s nutrition even more when serving, consider adding shredded kale leaves to the bottom of each bowl (the hot soup will wilt the leaves so you don’t need to cook the leaves separately).

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • baby shiitake mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, or button mushrooms, chopped
  • spring onions, white and light green parts, chopped
  • leeks, white and light green parts, sliced
  • potatoes, cubed
  • cauliflower, cut across into steaks
  • asparagus, bottom ends trimmed and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, chopped
  • cooked brown rice
  • minced fresh mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage leaves
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of turmeric
  • prepared mustard of choice
  • thinly sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)
  • slivered almonds, for garnish (optional)
  • pitted olives of choice, for garnish (optional)
  1. Warm the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned. Stir in the onions and leeks and cook until softened. Stir in the potatoes, cauliflower, and water just to cover. Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the asparagus, garlic, and rice and cook until the asparagus is done the way you like it.  Stir in all of the fresh herbs, a few grinds of pepper, and the turmeric. Season to taste with mustard.
  2. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with green onions, almonds, and olives.

Garlic-ginger poached tofu with greens + brown rice (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Why not try poaching tofu with garlic and fresh ginger and see what happens? The inspiration for this recipe comes from the Spring 2016 issue of GFF: Gluten-Free Forever magazine, available at newsstands now. To cut down the cooking time of the brown rice, soak the rice in water for an hour or two before proceeding with the recipe.

  • brown rice or rice of choice, rinsed and drained
  • garlic cloves (several for the poaching liquid and 1 for the dressing), thinly sliced
  • large piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • super-firm tofu, cut into bite-size pieces
  • tamari or soy sauce
  • dried chiles (optional)
  • greens (kale, Swiss chard, collards, or beet greens), stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
  • toasted sesame oil
  • fresh lime juice or lemon juice
  • fruit vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • fresh chile (jalapeño, Fresno, or serrano), thinly sliced (optional)
  • cucumber (Asian, Persian, or English), thinly sliced
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • fresh mint leaves
  1. Cook the rice the way you usually do or per the package directions. Cover and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, add water to a saucepan and add the garlic and ginger. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the tofu, tamari, and dried chiles. Stir and cook, uncovered, at a simmer until the tofu has the degree of flavoring you like. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tofu to a bowl, reserving about ¼ cup of the poaching liquid.
  3. Return the remaining poaching liquid to a boil in the same pan. Blanch the greens in the liquid until tender. Drain and set aside.
  4. In a bowl, add more tamari and whisk together with the sesame oil, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, fresh chile, and the reserved poaching liquid. Adjust the seasonings.
  5. To serve, add warm rice to individual bowls. Top each with chard, tofu, slices of chile and cucumber, and cilantro and mint leaves. Drizzle the dressing on top and serve.

Kale salad of sugar snap peas, cucumber, fennel + almonds with toasted sesame oil (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Juicy, crunchy, sweet, and tangy—this salad has it all. You can use any salad veggies you like, such as radishes, carrots, and sweet pepper. For bean lovers, add cooked beans, such as pintos or chickpeas. For egg lovers, add a hard-cooked egg. This salad was inspired by a friend (thanks, JS!).

  • Tuscan kale (also known as lacinato, dinosaur, or black kale)
  • kosher salt
  • fruit vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • sugar snap peas, strings removed and thinly sliced
  • cucumber, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • super-firm tofu, diced (optional)
  • chia seeds (optional)
  • toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • toasted unsalted slivered or sliced almonds
  • toasted sesame oil
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Strip the kale leaves from their stems (compost the stems). Rinse and dry the leaves (using a salad spinner if you have one). Coarsely chop or cut the leaves into strips and transfer to a large bowl. Lightly sprinkle the leaves with salt and massage with your hands until the leaves wilt and darken. Sprinkle vinegar over the leaves and massage some more.
  2. Add the snap peas, cucumber, fennel, green onions, tofu, chia seeds, sesame seeds, and almonds and toss well.
  3. Drizzle sesame oil over the salad, add a few grinds of pepper, and toss again. Season to taste with salt, vinegar, and sesame oil as needed and serve.

Indian-spiced potato + golden beet salad with pistachios + kalamata olives (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

An exotic yet homey combination of flavors and textures—no doubt!  And easy prep because the potatoes and beets don’t need cleaning or peeling before cooking. The potatoes and beets take up the yummy seasonings, so shake on more spices than you usually would. If you don’t have sugar snap peas or sweet pepper on hand, improvise with other salad veggies hiding in your crisper drawer, and if you would like a heartier salad, garbanzo beans would make a great addition. Consider serving roasted broccoli alongside as a smoky, green complement.

  • golden beets
  • yellow potatoes, such as Yukon gold or Yellow Finn
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • sugar snap peas, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • sweet pepper, diced
  • toasted pistachios
  • pitted kalamata olives
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • assorted powdered spices (such as chili, chipotle, coriander, curry, garam masala, cardamom, garlic, ginger, and turmeric)
  • mustard of choice
  • vinegar of choice or fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Halve the beets if small or quarter them if large. Put in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and cover with cold water in the same pan. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins, cut into bite-size chunks and put in a large serving bowl.
  2. Halve the potatoes if small or quarter them if large. Steam them until easily pierced with a fork. Cut into bite-size chunks and add to the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, toss to combine, and serve.

Egg salad with veggies, sunflower seeds, green olives + herbs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Great for filling tacos, stuffing an avocado half, or topping a mound of salad greens, this dish is quick to put together for lunch, an afternoon snack, or a light meal if you have hard-boiled eggs or tofu in your fridge waiting to be eaten. If you like a tangy salad, squeeze in some lemon juice or drizzle in a favorite vinegar.

  • fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped, or celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • greens (such as kale, collards, chard, or beet greens), massaged or lightly steamed/microwaved, then thinly sliced
  • green onion, thinly sliced
  • sweet pepper, chopped
  • hot chile, thinly sliced
  • fresh oregano, cilantro, and/or parsley, minced
  • pitted green olives, chopped
  • hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped, or plain or seasoned tofu, mashed or diced
  • mustard of choice
  • mayonnaise of choice
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. In a large bowl, combine the fennel, greens, green onion, sweet pepper, chile, herbs, and olives.
  2. In a small bowl, mash the eggs with the mustard and mayonnaise. Add the eggs and sunflower seeds to the veggie mixture and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Millet cauliflower “grits” topped with soft-boiled eggs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

An alternative to grits at breakfast or in place of mashed potatoes at dinner, millet and cauliflower, when cooked together, create a mild-flavored mixture with many possibilities. To cook the millet, use 3 parts liquid to 1 part millet for a mashed potato consistency; for a creamier version, add additional liquid at the end of the cooking.

In this brunch version, a jalapeño chile, chipotle powder, and a tomato season the grits-like dish, and each serving is topped with soft-boiled eggs, hot sauce, and avocado cubes. Inspired by a blog post by Patricia Joy Becker.

  • coconut oil or olive oil
  • onion, diced
  • unsweetened plant milk (soy, rice, or almond milk), water, vegetable broth, or a combination
  • kosher salt
  • millet, rinsed
  • cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • fresh chopped tomato or canned tomatoes
  • jalapeño chile, sliced
  • minced garlic or garlic powder
  • ground chipotle powder
  • freshly ground pepper
  • eggs
  • hot sauce or salsa
  • avocado, peeled and cubed
  1. In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until softened. Add the milk (3 parts liquid to 1 part millet) and season with salt. Bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the millet and cauliflower. Cover, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the millet and cauliflower are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Mash the cauliflower into the millet. Add the tomato, jalapeño, and garlic and cook until the tomato becomes saucy. Add more milk, as needed, to create the consistency you want. Sprinkle with chipotle powder and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the eggs the way you like them. To serve, scoop a portion of millet-cauliflower mixture into each bowl and top with eggs, hot sauce, and avocado.

Golden beet salad with fennel, pumpkin seeds + avocado (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

This salad contains the full spectrum: sweet, tangy, crunchy, herby, creamy. There’s no need to rinse or scrub the beets—just trim off the greens, put the beets in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer until soft when pierced. Let them cool, then slip off the peels with your fingers. For the thyme sea salt, grind dried thyme with coarse sea salt in a small grinder—a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices works well. (Thyme sea salt is also tasty on warm freshly popped popcorn!)

  • golden beets or Chioggia beets, boiled and peeled
  • fennel bulb, diced
  • red sweet pepper, diced
  • pumpkin seeds
  • avocado, cubed
  • freshly ground pepper
  • orange champagne vinegar or vinegar of choice
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • thyme sea salt (or dried or fresh chopped thyme and kosher salt)
  • fresh lemon juice (optional)
  1. Halve the beets and thinly slice crosswise. Add the beets to a large bowl. Stir in the fennel, sweet pepper, pumpkin seeds, avocado, and a few grinds of pepper and toss just to combine.
  2. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil, sprinkle with thyme sea salt, and toss with the lemon juice. Adjust the seasonings and serve.

Pineapple, kiwi + apple salad with raisins + coconut (gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Here’s an easy, tart-sweet fruit salad that will win kudos at a weekend brunch or anytime as a refreshing, healthy dessert or snack. Thank you to Joyce and Lucy from Sweet Annie’s Farm, near Fresno, California, for the ripe kiwifruit (find their fruit, veggies, and eggs in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturdays at Sunnyvale’s farmers’ market and Sundays at Mountain View’s farmers’ market).

  • pineapple
  • kiwifruit
  • apple
  • raisins
  • fresh lime juice
  • unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
  1. Trim away the top and bottom of the pineapple. With a sharp knife, peel the skin from top to bottom following the curve of the pineapple. Cut the pineapple into bite-size pieces and put in a large bowl, reserving any extra in a covered container in the refrigerator for another purpose.
  2. Peel the kiwi and core the apple. Cut into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl. Stir in the raisins and sprinkle with lime juice.
  3. Let the fruit salad sit for 15 minutes before serving to allow the raisins to plump up. Sprinkle with coconut and serve.

Polenta soup with potatoes, greens + herbs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

The packaged precooked polenta that comes in a log thickens this healthy, quick, and comforting soup. If you add red beets as part of the chopped seasonal vegetables, the soup will turn pink, unless you use varieties that don’t bleed, like golden or Chioggia beets.

  • avocado oil, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • onion, chopped
  • potatoes, sliced
  • jalapeño or serrano chile, sliced (optional)
  • chopped seasonal vegetables (such as carrots, celery, fennel bulb, cauliflower, and beets)
  • kosher salt
  • chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
  • packaged precooked polenta, sliced and cubed
  • greens (such as chard, kale, collards, or beet greens), stems removed and leaves finely sliced
  • herbes de Provence or fresh or dried rosemary and thyme
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the mushrooms in one layer and cook, undisturbed, until sizzling and browned. Move the mushrooms to the side of the pot, add the onion and potatoes, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened. Stir in the chile and chopped vegetables, season with salt, cover, and cook until the vegetables are softened. Add the tomatoes, cover, and simmer until the tomatoes become saucy.
  2. Add the polenta and water just to cover the contents of the pot. Cover and bring the soup to a simmer. Let the polenta cook for a few minutes so that it softens, then mash the polenta against the side of the pot. Cook until the polenta is well integrated into the soup and the vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Stir in the greens until wilted. Then add the herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.