Spinach-tomato-rice casserole with pine nuts and olives (gluten-free, vegan)

Casseroles make it easy to use the vegetables and cooked grains that are calling your name from the fridge. The trick is to cut all the vegetables about the same size and add some zingy bits (olives and chiles) and richness (nuts and/or seeds).

  • olive oil, for greasing and drizzling
  • cooked brown rice
  • red onion, diced
  • spinach, finely chopped
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • pine nuts
  • green or black olives, sliced, or olive tapenade
  • jalapeño chile, minced, or sweet pepper, finely chopped
  • fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  1. Heat the oven to 400ºF. Lightly grease a baking dish with oil.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake uncovered until bubbling and vegetables are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  3. Turn on the broiler and broil until top starts to brown, about 7 minutes. Scoop out and serve.

Replace the spinach with chopped cauliflower florets, the pine nuts with pumpkin seeds, and the oregano with fresh basil leaves. Bake covered about 45 minutes. Uncover and broil as in the original recipe.

Summer polenta with tomatoes, zucchini, and corn (gluten-free, vegan)

Packaged, precooked polenta (the kind that comes in a log) makes it easy to cook creamy, soft polenta. Add diced summer vegetables and corn kernels, serve over leftover rice or pasta, and you have a meal on the table in no time.

  • extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil
  • red onion, diced
  • mushrooms, diced
  • zucchini, diced
  • jalapeño chile, minced
  • fresh tomatoes, chopped, reserving their juice
  • kosher salt
  • packaged, precooked polenta, diced
  • hot water or white wine
  • ears of corn
  • tomato paste (optional)
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped green olives or capers (optional)
  1. Warm oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, mushrooms, zucchini, and jalapeño and cook until softened but not browned. Add tomatoes with their juice and sprinkle with salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables give off their juices and create a sauce. Lower the heat and add the polenta, breaking up the larger pieces. Cover and cook, stirring and adding hot water as needed to thin the mixture so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, microwave the unhusked ears of corn until steaming or steam or boil the husked ears of corn, 2 to 3 minutes for either method. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool a bit, husk if needed, and cut the ears in half. Put the cut side down and cut the kernels from the cobs. Compost the cobs and add the corn kernels to the pan with the polenta.
  4. When the polenta is creamy and the consistency you like, add the tomato paste (if using), garlic, and pepper. Season to taste with olives (if using) or salt and serve.

Mediterranean salsa (gluten-free, vegan)

A salsa with a Mediterranean flair to serve with any soup, stew, pasta bowl, rice dish, breakfast eggs, taco, tostada salad, or, of course, with chips.

  • fresh tomatoes, diced
  • green onion, thinly sliced
  • fresh basil leaves, minced
  • fresh parsley, minced
  • dried or fresh oregano leaves, minced
  • green olives, thinly sliced
  • jalapeño chile or other fresh chile, minced
  • garlic clove, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix together all of the ingredients and serve!

No-fuss seasoned tofu (gluten-free, vegan)

A couple of steps (no marinating!), about a half-hour in the oven, and you have tasty tofu seasoned the way you like it for sandwiches, tacos, rice paper rollups, or any meal. This version uses Asian flavors, but you can globe-trot and use herbs, spices, and flavorings from other cuisines. To make this recipe gluten-free, use tamari instead of soy sauce. If you’re willing to take a chance, try replacing the tofu with tempeh and using the grill instead of the oven.

  • super-firm tofu
  • soy sauce, ponzu sauce, or tamari
  • fresh lemon or lime juice
  • toasted sesame oil
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • fruit vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • Sriracha chili sauce or hot sauce
  1. Preheat a toaster oven or regular oven to 400ºF.
  2. Slice the block of tofu crosswise into ½-inch slabs. Line a glass baking dish with aluminum foil, then set the tofu slabs in a single layer on the foil.
  3. Whisk together the soy sauce, lemon juice, sesame oil, olive oil, vinegar, and chili sauce. Taste and adjust. Pour the sauce over the tofu, tilting the dish to make sure that all of the tofu surfaces are covered with sauce. Pour off any sauce that doesn’t stick to the tofu and save extra sauce for another purpose (to dress a salad or season rice, for example).
  4. Bake the tofu until the edges turn brown and no liquid remains in the bottom of the dish, 25 to 35 minutes. Flip the tofu, turn on the broiler, and broil until the tofu slabs are firm and browned on top, about 5 minutes more.

Creamy broccoli soup with shredded coconut (gluten-free, vegan)

The coconut oil and coconut shreds give this blended broccoli soup a tropical flair, and the potatoes give it creamy heft. You will need an immersion blender or a regular blender to blend the soup.

  • coconut oil
  • onion, coarsely chopped
  • potatoes, coarsely chopped
  • jalapeño chile, chopped (optional)
  • kosher salt
  • broccoli florets and stems, coarsely chopped
  • unsweetened coconut shreds
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh basil leaves, slivered, or homemade or store-bought pesto
  • sliced toasted almonds
  1. Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, potatoes, and chile, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown.
  2. Add water to just cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.
  3. Stir in the broccoli and cook until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, whirl the soup until smooth but still chunky.
  4. Stir in the coconut shreds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the basil, top with almonds, and serve.

Creamed corn with potatoes, peppers + fresh basil (gluten-free, vegan)

Savory and sweet, this recipe makes a tasty side dish, a dip for chips, or a sandwich spread on tortillas or toast.

  • extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • onion, chopped
  • potatoes, chopped
  • green chiles, such as Anaheim or jalapeño, or sweet peppers
  • kosher salt
  • ears of fresh corn, unhusked
  • chile powder
  • turmeric powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh basil leaves, slivered
  • hot sauce or Sriracha chili sauce (optional)
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook until just softened. Stir in the potatoes, peppers, and a sprinkle of salt and cook until vegetables are cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, microwave the unhusked ears of corn until steaming or steam or boil the husked ear of corn, 2 to 3 minutes for either method. Let cool some, husk if needed, then using a box grater, grate the kernels into a bowl. Use the back of a knife to scrape off all of the kernels and the corn “milk” from the cobs. Compost the cobs and add the corn to the pan with the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, blend the vegetables to the consistency you prefer, adding water or your favorite kind of unsweetened milk. Stir in the spices, pepper, fresh basil, and hot sauce. Season to taste with salt and serve warm or at room temperature.

Pasta with green beans, potatoes + pesto (gluten-free, vegan)

If you’re a fan of pasta, potatoes, and pesto, you’ll love this combination. Inspired by a recipe from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen.

  • garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • seed/nut butter, such as sunflower seed butter or almond butter
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • green beans or Romano beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • red or yellow potatoes, diced
  • gluten-free pasta, such as brown rice pasta
  • pitted green olives
  • olive brine (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • toasted pine nuts
  1. Toast the unpeeled garlic cloves in a dry pan over medium heat, turning occasionally, until slight char spots appear on all sides of the cloves. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool, peel and chop the garlic. Whirl the garlic, fresh herbs, seed or nut butter, and oil in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt to taste and add water, as needed, to thin the mixture. Set aside.
  2. Steam the green beans until tender. Transfer to a colander, rinse briefly with cold water, drain, and transfer beans to a large bowl. In the same pot, steam or boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and add the potatoes to the large bowl with the beans. Cover to keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and add to the large bowl with the vegetables. Stir in the pesto and the olives. Season to taste with salt or olive brine, if using, and pepper. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

Soft breakfast polenta topped with charred vegetables + eggs (gluten-free, vegetarian)

Here’s a most satisfying summer breakfast that has the smoothness of polenta, the smoky-toasty flavor of charred vegetables and chipotle powder, and the richness of cooked eggs. If you don’t have fresh corn and peppers, use chopped vegetables of your choice and cook them until charred in spots.

  • ears of corn
  • coarsely ground cornmeal
  • avocado oil, coconut oil, or your favorite high-heat oil
  • Padron, shishito, banana, or other thin-walled peppers or chiles, coarsely chopped
  • kosher salt
  • chipotle chile powder
  • eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • hot sauce
  1. Microwave unhusked ears of corn or steam husked ears of corn until barely cooked, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large cutting board, let cool, and cut kernels off the cobs.
  2. Cook cornmeal into soft polenta in the microwave or on the stovetop according to package instructions. Keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, warm oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add peppers and cook, without stirring, for a minute or two. Add corn, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring only occasionally, until char spots appear on the vegetables. Stir in chile powder, cover, turn off heat, and let sit.
  4. Cook eggs your favorite way.
  5. Scoop polenta into individual bowls, top with the charred vegetables, and an egg or two. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with hot sauce on the side.

Red and green coleslaw with fresh corn, green olives + pecans (gluten-free, vegan)

This colorful slaw is everything you’d want in a picnic or summer salad: tangy, crunchy, creamy, sweet, and spicy. To make it vegan and gluten-free, use an egg-free, gluten-free mustard and mayonnaise (Vegenaise is a tasty mayo choice).

  • ear of fresh corn, unhusked
  • red cabbage, shredded
  • green cabbage, shredded
  • fresh lemon juice
  • mayonnaise of choice
  • mustard of choice
  • caraway seeds, crushed
  • cumin seeds, crushed
  • pitted green olives, halved or sliced
  • toasted pecans, chopped
  • chile powder (optional)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Microwave the unhusked ear of corn until steaming or steam or boil the shucked ear of corn, 2 to 3 minutes for either method. Let cool and slice the kernels from the cob into a large bowl.
  2. Add the cabbage to the bowl and drizzle with lemon juice. Stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, caraway and cumin seeds, olives, pecans, and chile powder, if using. Toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill or serve at room temperature.

Panfried broccoli stems (gluten-free, vegan)

Broccoli stems?  Yes, indeed. Broccoli oftentimes has thick, long stems. Here’s a way to use them, especially broccoli stems from the farmers’ market with their just-picked freshness and their amazing sweetness. Even with chunky stems, no peeling is needed for this recipe!

  • broccoli stems
  • coconut oil or oil of choice
  1. Slice the stems lengthwise into quarters, then in half crosswise.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the stems and cook, covered, turning only occasionally, until the stems are soft and have some char spots on them. Season with salt to taste and serve.