Yellow split peas with red peppers + greens (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

This recipe works with yellow or green split peas, any split legumes (aka dals), lentils, or a mixture. If you live near an Indian market, you have a wonderland of dals from which to choose. Although not required, soaking in hot water, covered, for a couple of hours reduces cooking time. You can stir in the greens as detailed below, or you can steam or sauté them and serve them alongside with hot cooked rice, quinoa, another grain, or pasta.

Ingredients
  • olive oil
  • fresh or jarred red sweet peppers, chopped
  • jalapeño chile or other fresh chile, thinly sliced
  • yellow split peas or legumes of choice, soaked in hot water and drained
  • bay leaves
  • fresh rosemary sprigs
  • fresh tomato, chopped, or canned tomatoes with juices
  • turmeric
  • greens (such as beet tops, kale, collards, Swiss chard, spinach, turnip tops, or a mixture), stemmed and leaves cut into ribbons
  • balsamic vinegar or vinegar of choice (optional)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • chopped fresh cilantro and/or fresh parsley
Method
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the peppers and chile and cook until softened and fragrant. Add the legumes, water to cover by ½ inch, the bay leaves, and rosemary sprigs. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, until soft, adding water as needed to keep the legumes submerged.
  2. Stir in the tomato and turmeric and simmer until the tomato breaks down into the liquid. Stir in the greens and cook until the greens are done to your liking.
  3. Drizzle with the vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with the fresh herbs, and serve.

Onion soup with white beans + cabbage (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Probably the last wintery soup recipe, as spring ingredients are starting to appear at the farmers’ market. For easier peeling of cipollini onions: trim the tops and bottoms, soak the onions in hot water for a few minutes, slip off the outer skin, and chop.

Ingredients
  • olive oil
  • bay leaves
  • fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced or grated
  • cipollini onions or onions of choice, chopped
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, thinly sliced or garlic cloves, minced
  • leeks, white and light green parts, halved and sliced into half-moons
  • fresh tomato, chopped, or tomato paste (optional)
  • cabbage, cut into 1-inch dice
  • cooked white beans, rinsed if canned
  • super-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
  • fennel seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • dried chipotle flakes or red pepper flakes
  • miso or your vegetable broth mix of choice
  • hot water
  • fresh or dried oregano
  • fresh parsley
  • black pepper
Method
  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the bay leaves and ginger and cook for a minute. Stir in the onions and cook for a minute, then turn down to medium-low, and cook until very soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and leeks and cook until softened. Raise the heat to medium, add the tomato, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato breaks down and creates a sauce. Add the cabbage, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage wilts. Lower the heat to medium-low, stir in the beans, tofu, fennel, caraway, and chipotle flakes, and cover.
  2. Meanwhile, put the miso in a small heatproof bowl. Add a small amount of hot water and whisk until the miso is well combined into the water. Pour the miso mixture into the soup. Taste the soup broth and, if needed, repeat to add more miso. Remove from the heat (do not let the soup boil after you add the miso).
  3. Remove the bay leaves. Season the soup with oregano, parsley, and black pepper and serve.

Baby bok choy with tofu, green garlic + miso over ginger rice (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Here’s a very satisfying one-bowl meal with layers of Asian flavors. If you can’t find green garlic (also known as spring garlic) at your farmers’ market, you can substitute dried garlic cloves. Use your favorite type of miso and the smallest, most tender baby bok choy you can find.

Ingredients
  • brown rice
  • fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • baby bok choy
  • coconut oil
  • super-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, thinly sliced and parts kept separate
  • miso
  • hot water
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Method
  1. Soak the rice for as long as possible, then massage it in several changes of cold water. Cook the rice with the ginger in a rice cooker or in a saucepan on the stove top until soft.  Keep warm.
  2. Pull the bottom leaves off of the bok choy and slice the stems diagonally. Swish in cold water to remove any grit. Set aside.
  3. In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the tofu and cook without stirring for a minute or two. Add the green parts of the garlic and stir to mix and scrape up the tofu browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium, add the white parts of the garlic, and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Spoon the miso into a small heatproof measuring cup, add a few tablespoonfuls of hot water, and whisk vigorously until the miso is combined with the water. Pour the miso mixture into the pan with the tofu and garlic and stir. Add the bok choy and toss until well combined. Cover for a minute or two to allow the bok choy to steam, then toss again. When the bok choy is softened but still bright green, remove from the heat .
  5. Spoon the rice into bowls; top with the bok choy mixture; sprinkle with hot sauce, green onions, and sesame seeds; and serve.

Balsamic-glazed roasted brussels sprouts with mushroom-thyme polenta (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Winter brussels sprouts are a treat because chilly weather brings out their sweetness, which is enhanced by the balsamic glaze. As a shortcut, this dish uses packaged cooked polenta that comes in a log, but you can make polenta from scratch instead.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • red onion, half diced and half thinly sliced
  • mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • jalapeño chile, thinly sliced (optional)
  • olive tapenade or chopped olives
  • store-bought cooked polenta in a log, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh or dried thyme leaves
Method
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the diced onion, mushrooms, and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned. Stir in a heaping tablespoonful of the tapenade, the polenta cubes, and enough water to almost cover. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often and mashing the polenta cubes against the side of the pan, until the polenta becomes a porridge.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Toss the sprouts and sliced onions with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the brussels sprouts and sliced onions until browned in spots, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave, warm the balsamic vinegar until it thickens slightly. Pour in the brussels sprouts and sliced onions, sprinkle with the thyme, and toss to coat.
  4. Scoop the polenta into bowls, top with the brussels sprout mixture, and serve.

Crispy baked brown-rice “meatballs” with chunky tomato sauce + fresh spinach (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Flavored with Mediterranean herbs, these crunchy nuggets definitely satisfy. Feel free to sub seasonings from any world cuisine. To form the balls, you need to use short-grain rice because it turns sticky when cooked (leftover cooked short-grain rice works, too). You can broil the balls instead of baking them, but keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Ingredients
  • short-grain brown rice
  • homemade tomato sauce or store-bought
  • olive oil
  • dried rosemary
  • dried thyme
  • dried oregano
  • fennel seeds
  • dried sage
  • red pepper flakes or chile powder
  • smoked paprika
  • kosher salt
  • baby spinach leaves
Method
  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stove top according to the package directions. Set aside until the rice is cool enough to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, make or warm the tomato sauce. Keep warm.
  3. Preheat the toaster oven or oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly oil.
  4. Place the cooked rice in a large bowl. Season with rosemary, thyme, oregano, fennel, sage, red pepper flakes, paprika, and salt and stir to combine.
  5. Using moist hands, roll a tablespoonful or so of the rice mixture into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rice mixture. Bake until the balls are crispy all over, checking and turning them every 10 minutes or so.
  6. To serve, place a handful of spinach leaves in the bottom of individual bowls and top with the warm tomato sauce and several rice balls.  Enjoy!

Tortilla pie with greens, homemade sauce + pepitas (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Here’s a simple way to enjoy the taste of enchiladas while using any leftover cooked beans or cooked or raw vegetables hiding in your fridge (almost any bits work). If you have a round casserole dish about the size of the corn tortillas, the finished product resembles a deep-dish pie. For a milder allium flavor, use green onions or leeks, or sauté the onion and garlic before blending with the other sauce ingredients. To add a hot, smoky flavor, use chipotle chiles with or instead of the dried chiles. For crunch when serving, toast some additional tortillas and break into chips or serve with store-bought tortilla chips. Inspired by recipes from Decolonize Your Diet.

Ingredients
  • dried chiles, such as guajillo or ancho
  • onion, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • tomatoes, fresh or canned, chopped
  • cauliflower florets, chopped
  • firm tofu, chopped
  • jalapeño chile, chopped
  • cooked beans (optional)
  • cumin powder
  • dried oregano
  • chopped pitted briny olives of choice (optional)
  • kosher salt
  • corn tortillas
  • greens (such as beet greens, chard, kale, or collards), stemmed and slivered
  • raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Method
  1. Toast the chiles whole in a dry pan over medium heat for a minute or so. Transfer to a heatproof container and submerge in hot water until soft, about 10 minutes. Stem, seed, and coarsely tear them, then add to a food processor or blender, reserving the soaking liquid if needed to thin the sauce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375º. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, cauliflower, tofu, jalapeño, beans, cumin, oregano, and olives to the food processor. Whirl into a coarse sauce, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl and to add some chile soaking liquid if needed to thin the sauce. Season to taste with salt.
  3. In the bottom of a casserole dish, spread a generous layer of sauce, top with a layer of tortillas, then continue layering with greens, sauce, and tortillas to fill the dish, ending with a layer of tortillas. Cover, place on a baking sheet, and bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Uncover, flip over the top layer of tortillas, sprinkle a solid layer of pepitas over the soft sides of the tortillas, and bake until the pepitas are toasted, watching carefully that they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Warm cauliflower salad with almonds, pepitas + mustard-mayo dressing (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

A quick, tasty vegetable side dish or snack. If you love cauliflower and haven’t tried Romanesco, a green heirloom cauliflower available at farmers’ markets and now at well-stocked grocers, you are in for a treat. Any prepared mustard (such as Dijon, yellow, hot and sweet, etc.) works with a dollop of mayonnaise to dress this warm salad.

Ingredients
  • cauliflower (Romanesco, yellow, purple, or white)
  • prepared mustard of choice
  • mayonnaise of choice
  • caraway seeds
  • ground turmeric
  • freshly ground pepper
  • slivered almonds
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Method
  1. Trim the cauliflower, separate into florets, and cut into bite-size pieces. Steam or microwave until soft. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. While still warm, toss the cauliflower with mustard and mayonnaise a tablespoon at a time until the cauliflower is dressed the way you like. Season with caraway seeds, turmeric, and pepper. Toss again, top with almonds and pepitas, and serve.

Chickpea salad with tofu, avocado, peppers, nuts, seeds + pesto (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

No cooking is required for this refreshing main-course salad.

Ingredients
  • cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained if canned
  • super-firm tofu or seasoned tofu, cut into cubes
  • mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • Asian, English, or Persian cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and thinly cut crosswise
  • red or yellow sweet pepper, chopped
  • jalapeño chile, thinly sliced
  • store-bought or homemade pesto of choice or mayonnaise of choice
  • toasted slivered almonds
  • raw or toasted pumpkin seeds
  • balsamic vinegar or vinegar of choice
  • avocado
  • rice cakes, preferably brown rice
Method
  1. In a large bowl, add the chickpeas, tofu, mushrooms, cucumber, sweet pepper, and jalapeñol. Add a tablespoonful of pesto and the nuts and seeds, season with vinegar and more pesto, and toss well.
  2. Cut the avocado into cubes and place on top of the salad. Break the rice cakes into tiny bits. Gently toss the salad until just combined and serve.

Olive, garlic + rosemary grits topped with greens in spicy tomato sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Here is a hearty, simple weekday meal, or turn it into a weekend brunch by topping with an egg or two. You can make the sauce a day ahead and cook the greens in the sauce just before serving. Any leftover tomatoey greens taste great over grains or pasta. Inspired by the grits at Kafe Leopold in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Ingredients
  • One-Step Tomato Sauce
  • red pepper flakes
  • garlic cloves, minced, or granulated garlic
  • water and/or unsweetened milk of choice (such as coconut, soy, almond, or rice milk)
  • white or yellow corn grits, such as Bob’s Red Mill brand, or coarse polenta
  • olive tapenade or pitted Kalamata olives or green olives, chopped
  • fresh rosemary leaves
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard, or beet tops), stems discarded and leaves cut into ribbons
  • fresh basil, shredded
Method
  1. Make the tomato sauce. Stir in the red pepper flakes and half of the garlic, turn the heat to low, and keep warm, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a saucepan, bring water and/or milk (3 parts liquid to 1 part grits) to a simmer. Stir in the grits and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the olive tapenade, the rosemary, and the remaining garlic and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits are completely soft. Stir in half of the parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and keep warm, stirring occasionally.
  3. Raise the heat on the tomato sauce, add the greens, and cook to your preferred doneness. Stir in the basil and remaining parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. To serve, ladle the grits into individual bowls and top with the tomatoey greens.

Soft tacos filled with browned onions, peppers + mushrooms (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Do you have leftover rice, grains, beans, or lentils in your fridge? These tacos are a perfect way to use them at any meal and are oh so good, even if a bit messy.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • serrano chile or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced (optional)
  • onion, chopped
  • Padron, Guindilla, or green bell peppers, cut into small dice
  • mushrooms, chopped
  • cooked rice, grains, beans, or lentils or a mixture
  • fennel seeds
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • corn tortillas
  • avocado slices
  • store-bought or homemade salsa (optional)
  • hot-pepper sauce (optional)
Method
  1. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the serrano, if using, in one layer and cook, undisturbed, until sizzling. Stir in the onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until completely soft and browned in places. Stir in the cooked rice, grains,  beans, and/or lentils. Add the fennel seeds and cook until the mixture is heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. During the last few minutes of cooking, warm the tortillas in a toaster or toaster oven or wrap in a kitchen towel and microwave. Fill the warm tortillas with the vegetable mixture, top with avocado slices, salsa, and hot-pepper sauce, and enjoy.