Fresh herb + toasted-nut spread (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Once you make this spread, you’ll find a ton of uses for it: on sandwiches, crackers, or rice cakes; in tacos; to flavor a bowl of soup or salad; as a pasta sauce. Use about twice as much basil as mint and oregano, and if you have any leftover mild-flavored cooked vegetables lurking in the fridge, blend them with the other ingredients.  Inspired by a recipe from Julie Piatt’s This Cheese Is Nuts!

Ingredients
  • fresh basil leaves
  • fresh mint leaves
  • fresh oregano leaves
  • cooked vegetables, such as greens, zucchini, or cauliflower, drained (optional)
  • toasted macadamia nuts
  • toasted pine nuts
  • nutritional yeast
  • small tomato, chopped, or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • pitted green olives, olive tapenade, or salt
Method

In a food processor or blender, layer the fresh herbs, cooked vegetables, nuts, and nutritional yeast. Process until coarsely blended, adding tomato pieces or halves until the mixture reaches your desired consistency (if you don’t have tomato, use water). Blend in olives, olive tapenade, or your favorite salt and serve.

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Soft tacos filled with battered crisp-baked cauliflower (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

If you didn’t know better, you’d think these cauliflower florets were deep-fried because they are crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside—but instead they’re battered and baked until crisp. This recipe makes enough batter and topping for quite a large cauliflower. Fill soft tacos with these cauliflower nuggets, as on the Blissful Basil blog that inspired this recipe, accompanied by Seasoned Crispy Tofu either inside or alongside the tacos.

Ingredients

  • large cauliflower

For the batter:

  • 1¼ cups nondairy milk
  • ¾ cup brown rice flour
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

For the topping:

  • 1¼ cups mixed grains/seeds (such as gluten-free rolled oats, flax seeds, and quinoa) or only gluten-free rolled oats
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • chopped fresh oregano or dried oregano
  • green onion, very thinly sliced
  • smoked paprika
  • ground cumin
  • garlic powder
  • ground turmeric
  • curry powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • chile powder (such as New Mexico, cayenne, or chipotle)
  • smoked salt or kosher salt

For serving:

  • warmed corn tortillas
  • shredded cabbage
  • cilantro leaves
  • salsa and/or hot sauce
  • avocado slices
  • lime or lemon wedges

Method

  1. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. To make the batter: In a large bowl, add the milk, flour, and lime juice and whisk until smooth.
  4. To make the topping: In a food processor, process the grains/seeds until a coarse meal forms, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large, shallow bowl. Mix in the cilantro, oregano, green onion, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, turmeric, curry powder, black pepper, and chile powder and season with salt.
  5. Place a a handful of cauliflower florets into the batter. Using tongs, toss to coat and shake off any excess. Toss in the topping to coat and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining florets. Bake until crispy and golden, 25 to 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking. If not quite crispy enough, turn on the broiler and broil, watching carefully so they don’t burn, until done the way you like. Let cool slightly.
  6. Serve inside warmed tortillas with cabbage, cilantro, salsa and/or hot sauce, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime.

Tomato rice with summer squash, peppers, mushrooms + herbs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

A one-pot dish made on the stove top using summer’s bounty—what’s not to like?

Ingredients
  • dried chile, such as chipotle, rinsed
  • hot water
  • olive oil
  • onion, chopped
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • jalapeño chile or serrano chile, sliced
  • sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
  • summer squash (such as zucchini, Mediterranean, and patty pan), chopped
  • cherry tomatoes, halved, and regular tomatoes, chopped, with juices
  • brown rice
  • garlic, minced
  • tomato paste
  • mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, thyme, mint, basil, and rosemary), chopped
  • Kalamata or other olives
Method
  1. Slice the dried chile (I use scissors), discarding the seeds, and place in a heatproof bowl. Add hot water to cover and set aside.
  2. In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and mushrooms and cook, without stirring, until starting to brown. Stir in the chile, sweet pepper, summer squash, tomatoes, and brown rice, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables just start to soften. Add the hydrated dried chile along with the chile soaking water. Add enough additional water to just cover the vegetable-rice mixture. Cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered and adding more water if the mixture starts to stick, until the rice is cooked the way you like. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, and fresh herbs and serve with olives.

Peanut-vegetable stew with fresh herbs (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Ground roasted peanuts thicken this stew and, surprisingly, add a layer of flavor complexity more than a peanut taste. For nutty goodness, add more roasted peanuts to individual bowls when serving. No need to purchase specific vegetables and herbs because whatever is in your fridge works in this very forgiving dish.

Ingredients
  • dried chiles (such as chipotle, guajillo, and/or chile negro), stemmed
  • roasted unsalted peanuts
  • olive oil or coconut oil
  • onion, chopped
  • brown rice, preferably quick-cooking rice or regular rice soaked for a few hours and drained to shorten cooking time
  • mixed vegetables of choice (such as mushrooms, zucchini, daikon, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, celery, and beets), chopped
  • turmeric
  • minced garlic or garlic powder
  • greens (such as beet greens, chard, kale, collards, and/or cabbage), chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh herbs of choice (such as parsley, mint, dill, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, and/or thyme), chopped
Method
  1. Cut the chiles into strips using scissors and seed if desired. Place in a heatproof bowl, cover with hot water, and set aside.
  2. Grind the peanuts for a few seconds in a spice grinder or blender (if you grind longer, you’ll get peanut butter!). Set aside.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and cook until starting to soften. Add the rice, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Add the chiles and their soaking water. Add the chopped vegetables and the ground peanuts, cover, and cook until softened, adding additional water as needed. Add the turmeric, garlic, greens, and black pepper, cover, and cook until the greens are cooked the way you like.
  4. To serve, spoon the stew into individual bowls and sprinkle with herbs.

 

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.