Don’t know what to do with some fresh herbs lurking in the fridge or growing in your kitchen garden? Here’s a no-cook, very versatile topping to perk up a bowl of soup or a pasta or rice dish. Great also as a spread on a taco or pita pocket. For a little more substance, blend in some chickpeas or hummus.
lettuce leaves of choice (such as romaine, green leaf, or red leaf), coarsely chopped
In a blender, place the almonds, pine nuts, and garlic with a splash of broth. Blend until coarsely ground. Add the herbs, jalapeño, capers, and lettuce and blend together, adding more broth to make it creamy. Taste and adjust the flavor, adding more lettuce if too spicy.
Purple cabbage, red radishes, yellow sweet pepper, and green cucumber, fennel, and kale make for an eye-catching, tasty salad, and the beans and tofu make it substantial. For the eye-catching part, chop everything about the same size so they look like jewels. The rice-cake “croutons” add a nice crunch (feel free to use the crumbles at the bottom of the rice cakes bag!).
lacinato kale (aka dino kale or cavolo nero)
fennel bulb, chopped
radishes, cut into half-moons
green onion, thinly sliced
Asian, Mediterranean, or English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
yellow sweet pepper, chopped
red cabbage, cored and chopped
extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
cooked cannellini beans, pinto beans, or beans of choice, drained
toasted pecan pieces
chopped parsley or cilantro
mayonnaise of choice
mustard of choice
fruit vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, or vinegar of choice
brown-rice rice cakes (optional)
Remove and discard the large ribs from the kale. Chop the leaves into small pieces and place in a colander. Sprinkle with salt and massage until the leaves darken and begin to release their moisture. Rinse off the salt and drain.
In a large bowl, add the kale, fennel, radishes, green onion, cucumber, sweet pepper, cabbage, tofu, beans, caraway seeds, curry powder, pecans, and parsley and toss to combine. Add a spoonful each of mayonnaise and mustard and a splash of vinegar, crumble rice cakes on top, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, toss, and serve.
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!
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
small tomato, chopped, or cherry tomatoes, halved
pitted green olives, olive tapenade, or salt
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.
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.
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
freshly ground black pepper
chile powder (such as New Mexico, cayenne, or chipotle)
smoked salt or kosher salt
warmed corn tortillas
salsa and/or hot sauce
lime or lemon wedges
Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the batter: In a large bowl, add the milk, flour, and lime juice and whisk until smooth.
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.
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.
Serve inside warmed tortillas with cabbage, cilantro, salsa and/or hot sauce, avocado slices, and a squeeze of lime.
A one-pot dish made on the stove top using summer’s bounty—what’s not to like?
dried chile, such as chipotle, rinsed
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
mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, thyme, mint, basil, and rosemary), chopped
Kalamata or other olives
Slice the dried chile (I use scissors), discarding the seeds, and place in a heatproof bowl. Add hot water to cover and set aside.
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.
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.
dried chiles (such as chipotle, guajillo, and/or chile negro), stemmed
roasted unsalted peanuts
olive oil or coconut oil
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
fresh herbs of choice (such as parsley, mint, dill, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, and/or thyme), chopped
Cut the chiles into strips using scissors and seed if desired. Place in a heatproof bowl, cover with hot water, and set aside.
Grind the peanuts for a few seconds in a spice grinder or blender (if you grind longer, you’ll get peanut butter!). Set aside.
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.
To serve, spoon the stew into individual bowls and sprinkle with herbs.
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.
olive oil or oil of choice
spring onions, white and light green parts, chopped
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
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.
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.
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.
brown rice of choice
swiss chard, preferably rainbow chard
super-firm tofu, diced (optional)
nutritional yeast (optional)
sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
cilantro, chopped (optional)
Cook the brown rice according to your preferred method (see note above for flavoring ideas). Cover and keep warm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
fresh rosemary sprigs
fresh tomato, chopped, or canned tomatoes with juices
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
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.
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.
Drizzle with the vinegar, season to taste with salt and pepper, garnish with the fresh herbs, and serve.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, make or warm the tomato sauce. Keep warm.
Preheat the toaster oven or oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly oil.
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.
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.
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!