Asian noodle salad entrée (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

A tasty main-course salad, this dish’s ingredients are very flexible. Feel free to add or replace with any other chopped raw vegetables that you have on hand—carrots, celery, radishes, daikon, jicama, snow peas or sugar snap peas—it just depends on how much energy you have to prep them. If you have the interest, consider adding chopped grilled vegetables, such as zucchini or roasted potatoes. Blanching the cabbage in boiling water and cooling it in ice water mellows the flavor a bit but retains the crunchiness.

  • small green cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • frozen shelled edamame
  • soba noodles or brown rice spaghetti
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • Asian, Persian, or English cucumber, quartered and sliced
  • mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • fresh corn cut from the cob or rinsed canned corn kernels (optional)
  • sweet peppers, chopped
  • jalapeño chile, thinly sliced (optional)
  • rice vinegar or vinegar of choice
  • toasted sesame oil
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • tamari or soy sauce
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • slivered toasted almonds
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • chia seeds
  • super-firm tofu or seasoned tofu, cubed
  • medium-boiled egg per person, peeled (optional)
  1. Have ready a bowl of ice water. Blanch the cabbage for 1 or 2 minutes in boiling water and immediately transfer to the ice water to stop the cooking. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cabbage to a large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the edamame according to the package directions and chill more ice water. Drain the edamame, submerge in the ice water, drain again, and add to the bowl with the cabbage.
  3. Cook the noodles according to the package directions and chill more ice water. Drain the noodles, submerge in the ice water, drain again, and add to the bowl.
  4. Add the green onions, cucumbers, mushrooms, corn, sweet peppers, and jalapeño to the bowl.
  5. Prepare the dressing by drizzling the salad with a little vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha, and tamari. Sprinkle with cilantro, almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and tofu.  Toss, taste, and adjust the seasonings.
  6. Serve in individual bowls with an egg and enjoy!

One-step tomato sauce (gluten-free, sugar-free, salt-free, vegetarian)

If you’ve never tasted homemade tomato sauce, you’re in for a treat. So easy, you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it before. Be sure to include cherry tomatoes, but be warned—their tomatoey intensity is addicting!

This sauce works over rice or vegetables, as an enchilada sauce, to enhance a soup, as a salad dressing base, or, obviously, with pasta.

  • olive oil
  • mixed shapes, sizes, and colors of fresh tomatoes, stems removed
  • kosher salt (optional)

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add whole cherry tomatoes to the pan. Halve medium-sized tomatoes and coarsely chop large tomatoes and add to the pan. Cover and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally to break up the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a bit of salt, if desired. Lower the heat to low, partially cover the pan, and cook until the sauce thickens a bit (the sauce will thicken as it cools). Use right away or let cool, transfer to an airtight glass container, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Tofu, cucumber + sweet pepper salad with pesto or hummus dressing (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free vegetarian)

A juicy, crunchy, sweet, savory, and refreshing summer salad with a choice of two very simple dressings for an easy lunch. Accompany with rice cakes alongside, if you like.

  • super-firm tofu, such as Wildwood brand, cut into cubes
  • Asian, English, or Persian cucumber, unpeeled and cut into cubes
  • red or yellow sweet pepper, chopped
  • mayonnaise of choice
  • store-bought or homemade basil pesto or hummus
  1. Mix together the tofu, cucumber, and sweet pepper in a bowl.
  2. Add a tablespoonful of mayonnaise and a tablespoonful of pesto or hummus on top of the salad. Toss until well combined and serve.

Potato–split pea rounds (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegetarian)

Lots of options for using these little, savory baked goodies: inside a pita instead of falafel, in a taco or burrito, on a pizza, with spaghetti marinara, inside lettuce cups or fresh spring rolls, on a salad, etc. Feel free to add or omit seasonings—the recipe is very flexible!

  • split peas, rinsed
  • potatoes, quartered
  • carrot, grated
  • onion, minced
  • granulated garlic or garlic, minced
  • ground cumin
  • dried thyme
  • chipotle chile powder or other chile powder (optional)
  • fresh lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard or prepared mustard of choice
  • tomato paste
  • tamari or coconut aminos
  • flour of choice (chickpea, rice, coconut, gluten-free, whole wheat, etc.)
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  1. In a large saucepan, bring water (1½ parts water to 1 part split peas) to a boil, add the split peas, and simmer, covered, until very soft, checking to see if more water is needed. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peas to a large bowl.
  2. Add the potatoes to the same saucepan plus water to cover and simmer until very soft. Drain, add to the split peas, and mash with a fork.
  3. Add the carrot, onion, garlic, cumin, thyme, chile powder, lemon juice, mustard, tomato paste, and tamari. With a rubber or silicone spatula, mix the ingredients together, adding enough flour to make the mixture sticky. Taste and adjust with salt, pepper, or any of the other seasonings.
  4. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Form the mixture into small balls and place on the prepared pan. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Pull the pan out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Bake, turning the pan as needed for even baking. When the balls are browned but slightly soft when squeezed, turn on the broiler and broil until completely crispy, making sure they don’t burn. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Zucchini stewed with tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers + spices (gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Here’s a salute to summer zucchini. For a main dish, add a large quantity of the vegetables to serve over your favorite grain or pasta; for a first-course soup, add more juicy tomatoes. Instead of the mix of spices listed, use any spice mix or grill rub that you enjoy.

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • red onion, chopped
  • sweet peppers, chopped
  • jalapeño chile, sliced
  • chopped fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes with juices
  • kosher salt
  • zucchini, sliced into thick rounds
  • super-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
  • mixed ground spices (such as cayenne, caraway, cumin, coriander, and garlic powder)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley
  1. Warm the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms in one layer and cook, without stirring, until browned. Lower the heat to medium. Stir in the onion, peppers, and chile, cover, and cook until softened. Stir in the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt, cover, and cook until the tomatoes are cooked through. Add the zucchini and tofu, cover, and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft. If the mixture becomes dry, add a splash of water.
  2. Stir in the mixed spices and cook a minute longer. Season with salt to taste and a few grinds of pepper, sprinkle with the parsley, drizzle with some olive oil, and serve.

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.

  • 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
  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)

  • 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
  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.

  • 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)
  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.

  • 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
  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.

  • baby bok choy
  • coconut oil, avocado oil, or other high-temperature cooking oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • toasted sesame oil
  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.