Nut + brown rice loaf with tomato-balsamic glaze (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

A hearty main course, this loaf isn’t difficult to make, even though the ingredient list looks intimidating. The recipe is forgiving—you can flavor it with whatever seasonings and herbs you enjoy. Instead of the chia seeds, you can crack in an egg to help bind the loaf together. Inspired by posts on Vegan Richa and Naturally Ella.

Ingredients
  • chia seeds
  • rolled oats (gluten-free, if desired)
  • raw walnuts
  • raw pecans
  • raw sunflower seeds
  • cooked brown rice
  • onion, minced
  • fresh cilantro or parsley, coarsely chopped
  • granulated or fresh garlic
  • herbes de Provence or dried herbs (such as thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, and fennel)
  • nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Dijon mustard or prepared mustard of choice (optional)
  • fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • tamari or soy sauce
  • chili sauce or paste (optional)
  • smoked paprika
  • freshly ground pepper
  • tomato paste
  • balsamic vinegar
Method
  1. In a small glass measuring pitcher, combine 3 parts water to 1 part chia seeds: to replace 1 egg, combine 2 fluid ounces water with 10 grams chia seeds. Whisk to blend well and place in the refrigerator to gel.
  2. In a dry pan or in the toaster oven, toast the oats, walnuts, pecans, and sunflower seeds until fragrant and lightly browned (watch so they don’t burn). Let cool slightly.
  3. Add the toasted oats and the rice to the bowl of a food processor and process until a coarse texture. Add the walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, onion, cilantro, garlic, dried herbs, nutritional yeast, mustard, lemon juice, tamari, chili sauce, paprika, pepper, and chia mixture. Process, adding a tablespoonful of water at a time and scraping down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Process until the nuts and seeds release their oils and the mixture becomes sticky.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overhang on the sides to make handles for easy loaf removal after baking.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and level the loaf’s surface. In a small bowl, whisk together some tomato paste with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar until well blended. Pour the glaze on the loaf and spread with a spatula or spoon to completely cover the top.
  6. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake until the loaf edges begin to brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the glaze dries and darkens a bit, about 10 minutes longer.
  7. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Lift out the loaf using the parchment paper handles and cool on the rack until you can lift the loaf off of the parchment and onto a cutting board without it crumbling in the middle. Let sit another 5 minutes, then cut into slices with a large serrated knife. Serve right away or keep the loaf slices warm in a low-temperature toaster oven until serving.

Panfried polenta topped with fresh tomato sauce, herbs + pine nuts (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Using store-bought precooked polenta in a log, all you need to do is slice and panfry (or broil oil-tossed slices) until crispy. The fresh tomato sauce comes together in no time and is poured over when ready to serve. This dish is tasty as is, but it is also versatile, taking on a different flavor profile depending on which additional optional topping you choose. (Inspired by a recipe by Naturally Ella)

Ingredients
  • packaged precooked polenta log
  • avocado oil, coconut oil, or other high-temperature oil
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh parsley
  • mixed fresh regular, grape, and cherry tomatoes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • toasted or raw pine nuts
  • toppings (optional): hummus, lemon juice, avocado, olive tapenade, salsa verde, harissa, Sriracha, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, yogurt, cheese
Method
  1. Line a plate with paper towels.
  2. Thinly slice the polenta, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the avocado oil. Carefully add the polenta slices (watch out for the oil spattering). Panfry, undisturbed—very important or the polenta slices will turn to mush—until the oil no longer bubbles around the slices (indicating that the liquid in the slices has evaporated) and lifting a crispy slice with a spatula is easy, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side until both sides are crispy. Place the slices on the paper towels to drain.
  4. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the herbs. Cut the regular tomatoes into eighths and halve the grape and cherry tomatoes.
  5. In the same frying pan over medium heat, add the tomatoes with a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. When the tomatoes release their juices, stir in some red pepper flakes, the chopped herbs, and a few grindings of black pepper.
  6. Arrange the polenta slices on a serving platter in a single layer. Pour the tomato-herb sauce evenly over the polenta, top with pine nuts, and serve, allowing each person to choose from the optional additional toppings.

Creamy cauliflower-corn chowder with kalamata olives + miso broth (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegetarian)

It might be a little late for fresh peas at the farmers’ market, but frozen work fine, along with fresh or frozen corn. This summer, consider freezing fresh ears of corn to make this chowder anytme—just steam or microwave the frozen ears in the husk for a minute or two, shuck the ears, cut the kernels from the cobs, and add to whatever you’re cooking.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion, chopped
  • cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • white miso
  • hot water
  • fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • fresh or frozen peas, snow peas, or sugar snap peas
  • pitted kalamata olives (optional)
  • thinly sliced green onions (optional)
  • hot-pepper sauce (optional)
Method
  1. Warm the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown. Stir in the cauliflower and cook until the cauliflower is soft. Add a splash of water, if needed, to deglaze the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the corn and continue cooking, covered.
  2. Meanwhile, in a heatproof glass measuring cup, whisk the miso a teaspoonful at a time into a cup or two of hot water until the miso is fully integrated to make a broth. Pour the broth into the soup pot.
  3. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend the soup to your desired creaminess. Return the soup to a simmer. Add the peas and cook until heated through.
  4. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with olives, green onions, and hot-pepper sauce.

Eggs poached on potato-cauliflower mash (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

A twist on the American egg-and-potato breakfast combo, here the eggs are cooked atop potato-cauliflower mash flavored with caramelized onion and sweet pepper.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion, sliced
  • sweet pepper or chile, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • potatoes, cut into chunks
  • cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • butter (optional)
  • eggs
Method
  1. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and cook, without stirring, until sizzling and slightly browned. Stir in the sweet pepper. Season with salt and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, making sure the vegetables don’t burn.
  2. Meanwhile, steam the potatoes and cauliflower until completely soft. Mash the potatoes and cauliflower together with a few tablespoonfuls of their steaming water and butter (if using). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the mash to the frying pan with the onion and sweet pepper and stir to combine.
  3. With a spatula, spread and smooth the mash. Make a well in the mash for each egg and crack one egg in each well. Cover and cook, undisturbed, lowering the heat so the mash doesn’t burn, until the whites are set and the yolks are cooked to your desired doneness. Scoop an egg along with the mash onto warmed plates and enjoy.

Panfried balsamic-sesame baby bok choy (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

This vegetable dish is simple and quick with no stir-fry skills needed. Plus it is tasty served warm or at room temperature, so you can actually take it on a picnic. For faster cooking, select the smallest heads of baby bok choy you can find.

Ingredients
  • baby bok choy
  • coconut oil, avocado oil, or other high-temperature cooking oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • toasted sesame oil
Method
  1. Cut the baby bok choy crosswise to separate the leaves from the bottoms. Slice the bottoms in half lengthwise through the core. Rinse away any dirt and pat dry.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the bok choy bottoms, cut sides down, in one layer. Cook without moving until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, turn them over. Add the bok choy leaves. Cover and cook for another minute. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar (watch out for spattering oil), lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until softened but still bright green. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve.

Indian-spiced Romano bean, zucchini, mushroom + tomato sauté (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Late spring or early summer, you might see Romano beans and zucchini at the farmers’ market. If you can’t find Romano beans, use green beans instead. Consider serving over cooked legumes or brown rice topped with your favorite pesto.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion, chopped
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
  • Romano beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • curry powder
  • chile powder
  • turmeric powder
  • cumin powder
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fennel seeds
  • caraway seeds (optional)
  • fresh, chopped tomatoes, jarred tomatoes, or pasta sauce
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice or favorite vinegar (optional)
Methods
  1. Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until starting to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook until starting to brown. Add the zucchini and cook for a minute or two without stirring until the squash starts to soften. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Stir in all of the spices and seeds and cook until the vegetables give off their liquid. Stir in the tomatoes.
  2. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. Stir in the parsley. Adjust the seasonings, add lemon juice, if desired, to brighten the flavors, and serve.

Green cabbage, tomato + mushroom sauté over coconut brown rice (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

For a shorter cooking time, soak the rice in hot water for an hour or two first, then drain and rinse before cooking. Serve with kidney beans or other cooked legumes to make a heartier meal.

Ingredients
  • brown rice or rice of choice, rinsed and drained
  • coconut oil
  • mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • red onion, sliced in half-moons
  • sweet pepper, cut into strips
  • fresh chopped tomatoes or canned tomatoes
  • green cabbage, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • fennel seeds
  • caraway seeds (optional)
  • hot-pepper sauce (optional)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • tamari soy sauce (optional)
  • toasted sunflower seeds
Method
  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker, on the stovetop as you usually do, or as directed on the package, adding a knob of coconut oil to the cooking water to flavor the rice.
  2. In a large frying pan, warm more coconut oil over medium heat. When shimmering, add the mushrooms in a single layer and cook, without stirring, until browned. Move to the edge of the pan. Add the onions to the center of the pan and cook, without stirring, for several minutes until browned. Stir to combine. Add the sweet pepper. Cover and cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, stir, cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the vegetables create a sauce. Stir in the cabbage, cover, and continue to simmer until softened. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, and caraway seeds and stir to combine.
  3. Taste the sauce and season to taste with hot-pepper sauce, pepper, and tamari. Fluff the rice, divide the rice among bowls, add the cabbage mixture, top with sunflower seeds, and serve.

Charred corn + roasted potato salad with sugar snap peas, cucumbers + fresh basil

This refreshing salad is perfect to enjoy as daytime temps warm in early June and when both spring and summer vegetables are available at farmers’ market stalls.

Ingredients
  • small potatoes of choice, halved
  • ears of fresh corn, shucked
  • sugar snap peas, strings removed and quartered
  • Asian or Persian cucumbers, quartered and sliced thinly
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • fresh basil, cut into shreds
  • mayonnaise of choice
  • prepared mustard or aioli of choice
  • vinegar of choice
  • freshly ground pepper
  • toasted sunflower seeds
Method
  1. Roast the potatoes at 400ºF until browned on the outside and soft in the middle. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut each half into smaller pieces and put in a large bowl.
  2. Place the ears of corn in a large dry frying pan over medium heat or over an open flame on a gas stove top and cook, turning frequently with tongs, until corn kernels darken and some are charred. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, cut each ear in half. With the cut end sitting on the cutting board, cut the kernels from each cob and add to the bowl.
  3. Add the snap peas, cucumbers, green onions, potatoes, and basil to the bowl. Add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, and pepper and toss well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the sunflower seeds, toss again, and serve.

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.

Ingredients
  • 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)
Method
  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).

Ingredients
  • 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)
Method
  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.