Brown rice sauté with asparagus, fresh fava beans + fresh herbs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Made all in one pan, this dish is an homage to spring. Although the ingredient list includes spring onions and green garlic, it’s perfectly fine to use regular onion and garlic cloves. One cup of rice will cook up to quite a bit. Fresh green fava beans have an outer pod and an inner shell, and although most recipes ask you to blanch the beans and then peel away the inner shell, you don’t need to do that extra work for this dish.

Ingredients
  • olive oil or oil of choice
  • spring onions, white and light green parts, chopped
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • brown rice
  • fresh fava beans, pods removed but inner shells unpeeled
  • asparagus, bottoms trimmed, spears sliced into 1-in pieces, and 2-in tips reserved separately
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, chopped
  • mixed fresh herbs (such as mint, basil, cilantro, parsley, and dill), minced
  • freshly ground pepper
  • green chile hot sauce or salsa of choice, tamari, or balsamic vinegar for serving
Method
  1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and cook for a minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and leave brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Stir in the rice, cover, and cook for a minute or two. Add enough water to cover the mixture, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, adding more water as needed so the rice doesn’t stick, until the rice is almost done.
  2. Stir in the fava beans, asparagus spears, and garlic. Cover and cook until the fava beans and asparagus are barely soft, then add the asparagus tips. Continue cooking until the vegetables are done to your liking.  Stir in the fresh herbs, pepper, and hot sauce and serve.

Brown-rice bowl with garlicky chard, sun-dried tomatoes + walnuts (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Rainbow chard, with its multicolored stems, makes eating your greens very enticing indeed. Consider flavoring the brown rice by cooking it with a knob of coconut oil and stirring in some green onion slices when the rice is done but still steaming. Nutritional yeast sprinkled on top of your bowl adds a nutty, cheesy flavor and is worth a try. Because chard has a natural saltiness, you might not need to add any salt to your bowl, but smoked salt is almost always a good choice.

Ingredients
  • brown rice of choice
  • garlic cloves
  • swiss chard, preferably rainbow chard
  • olive oil
  • super-firm tofu, diced (optional)
  • nutritional yeast (optional)
  • sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • walnuts
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
Method
  1. Cook the brown rice according to your preferred method (see note above for flavoring ideas). Cover and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and set aside. Cut the stems from the chard leaves and thinly slice. Separately, stack the leaves and cut into ribbons.
  3. In a large pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the chard stems, cover, and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the chard leaves and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly wilted. Move the chard to the side of the pan and move the pan so the chard is off the heat. Pour a little bit of oil on the uncovered part of the pan that is over the heat, add the garlic, and cook for a minute or so. Shift the pan back onto the heat, stir the garlic into the chard, and cook until the chard is done to your liking. Cover and remove from the heat.
  4. To serve, add a mound of rice to your bowl. Top with chard, tofu, a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, a few sun-dried tomatoes, a handful of walnuts, and some cilantro, and you’re ready to eat.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Ingredients
  • 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
Method
  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.

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.

Ingredients
  • 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
  • prepared mustard of choice
  • mayonnaise of choice
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method
  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.

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.

Ingredients
  • 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
Method
  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.

Cauliflower “steaks” with tomatoes, leeks + olives (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

This Mediterranean-inspired dish begs to be served alongside white beans seasoned with herbes de Provence (or rosemary, thyme, and fennel) or served on top of hummus mixed with fresh-cooked brown rice. Yum.

Ingredients
  • leeks, white and light green parts only
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • chopped fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes with juice
  • cauliflower
  • minced garlic or garlic powder
  • pitted green olives
  • dried basil
Method
  1. Halve the leeks lengthwise, rinse clean, and slice into thin half-moons. Warm the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the leeks, stir, and cover. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. When the leeks have softened a little, add the tomatoes, cover, and cook for a few minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, halve and core the cauliflower. Slice each half crosswise into thick “steaks.” Place the cauliflower steaks on top of the vegetable mixture in the pan. Top with garlic and olives. Cover, turn the heat to medium-low, and steam undisturbed for several minutes. Add water if the mixture is dry. Cook until the cauliflower is soft.
  3. Season with lots of basil, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.