Marinated tomatoes (vegan, gluten-free)

It’s summer here in Northern California, and the farmers’ markets are chock-full of gorgeous, colorful ripe tomatoes. Marinating them is a way to preserve the harvest a bit longer. Serve them strained or with the marinade. Below are some ideas for using them, but can you think of other ways?

  • ripe tomatoes, diced, reserving their juices
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • garlic, minced
  • fresh mixed herbs (such as basil, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, and parsley)
  • jalapeño chile (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes with their juices. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the garlic, herbs, and jalapeño and toss until combined.
  2. Let marinate at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours. Store airtight in the refrigerator between uses.
Ways to use the marinated tomatoes
  • For appetizers, place some strained tomato on each cracker.
  • Toast a slice of bread, spread with avocado, and top with the strained tomatoes.
  • In a baking dish, add a layer of the tomatoes and their marinade. Top with thinly sliced onion, olives, and raw seeds and nuts of choice or breadcrumbs. Bake until browned.
  • For lasagne, use the tomatoes and their marinade instead of canned tomatoes.
  • Make a salad of lettuce, chickpeas, olives, green onions, and parsley and toss with the tomatoes and their marinade, olive oil, and either lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
  • Stuff a warmed whole-wheat pita with hummus, tahini, the strained tomatoes, sliced cucumber, arugula or lettuce, and hot sauce.
  • Toss the tomatoes and their marinade with hot pasta and parsley.
  • Spread a whole-grain pizza dough with pesto, the strained tomatoes, and roasted red peppers and bake.
  • Top a bowl of lentils and rice or your favorite summer soup with the tomatoes and their marinade and parsley and/or cilantro.
  • Warm a corn tortilla and fill with the strained tomatoes, avocado slices, beans of choice, cilantro, and lettuce.

Asian-inspired tofu salad (vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free)

This salad comes together quickly and can be made ahead to marinate in the fridge. It’s a great choice for a potluck because its flavors blossom at room temperature.

  • super-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • cucumber
  • fresh cilantro, minced
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • toasted sesame oil
  • tamari, coconut aminos, soy sauce, and/or ponzu sauce
  • rice vinegar
  • fresh lime juice
  1. In a large bowl, place the tofu cubes.
  2. Cut the cucumber in quarters lengthwise then crosswise into quarter-moons and add to the bowl with the tofu. Add the cilantro, green onions, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds and toss together. Drizzle in toasted sesame oil, tamari, rice vinegar, and lime juice. Toss again to combine. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve, or let marinate, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Colorful vegetable salad with beans + pecans (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan)

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)
  • kosher salt
  • 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
  • caraway seeds
  • curry powder
  • 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)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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.

  • 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
  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.

Creamy avocado-hummus dip or sandwich spread (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Just in time for Super Bowl 50, here’s an easy dip that uses avocados in a different way from your standard guacamole. Any extra is great stuffed in tacos, spread on sandwiches, or stirred into a bowl of soup or stew.

  • ripe avocados
  • store-bought or homemade plain or flavored hummus
  • one or more seasonings (optional)
    • thinly sliced green onion
    • dried or fresh chopped oregano
    • freshly ground black pepper
  • tortilla chips, crackers, or rice cakes
  • crudités (such as carrots, celery, sweet peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and sugar snap peas)
  • salsa (optional)
  1. Scoop out the flesh of the avocados and put in a bowl. Mash with a fork. Stir in the hummus and any optional seasonings.
  2. Serve with chips and crudités with a bowl of salsa alongside.

Chopped vegetable salad (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

This salad provides lots of crunch with no lettuce anywhere. You can include any raw vegetable—even ones you usually cook. The key is to cut them into small pieces (½ inch dice) so that every bite holds a combination of flavors. If you have one, a spiralizer makes an easy job of cutting vegetables into threads or half-moon slices.

Making salad dressing doesn’t have to be a chore—you can mix this one together right in the bowl with the vegetables. For an eggless mayo, consider Vegenaise, Earth Balance, or Wildwood spreads. All manner of mustards and vinegars work, from spicy to garlicky to citrusy to sweet. A splash of your favorite bottled hot sauce or a dollop of tapenade can give a salty kick.

Chopped vegetable options
  • bok choy, leaves and stems
  • fennel bulb
  • kohlrabi, peeled
  • daikon
  • sweet pepper
  • carrot
  • cauliflower
  • green beans
  • sugar snap peas or snow peas
  • green onions
  • red onion
  • radishes
Salad dressing options
  • mayonnaise
  • prepared mustard of choice
  • vinegars
  • lemon juice
  • toasted sesame oil
  • olive tapenade
  • basil pesto
  • hot sauce
  • tamari soy sauce or coconut aminos
Garnish options
  • extra-firm tofu or seasoned tofu, diced
  • chia seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • slivered almonds
  • pitted olives
  • chopped fresh herbs
  • pickled jalapeño chiles or peperoncini
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the diced vegetables you want to include in your salad.
  2. Add the dressing options and toss with the vegetables to coat. Garnish, toss again if you like, and serve.

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

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
  • prepared 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.

Radish, fennel, and baby arugula salad with tahini dressing (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

How about a winter main-course salad without the usual suspects? No lettuce here.

  • red radishes, sliced
  • fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
  • baby arugula leaves, washed and dried in a salad spinner
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • super-firm tofu or seasoned baked tofu, cut in ½-in. dice
  • hard-cooked eggs
  • orange juice
  • lime or lemon juice
  • salt
  • tahini (sesame paste)
  • toasted sesame oil
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • pepper
  • toasted sliced almonds
  1. Put radishes, fennel, arugula, green onions, and tofu into a large serving bowl. Peel and slice eggs; add to bowl.
  2. Make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together juices, salt, tahini, sesame oil, Sriracha, and pepper. Adjust seasonings.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss thoroughly. Top with almonds and serve.

Butter lettuce, fennel + mandarin salad with tahini dressing (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Soft green lettuce, a faintly licorice fennel crunch, sweet and tangy citrus, and a sesame dressing create a standout combination. A friend’s garden provided small, seedless mandarins—but seedless tangerine or navel orange sections cut in half work too. Sriracha chili sauce adds a hint of sweet spiciness that balances the tahini’s slightly bitter nuttiness.

  • butter lettuce leaves, washed and spun dry
  • fennel bulb, trimmed top and bottom
  • seedless mandarins
  • tahini (sesame paste)
  • garlic, smashed and minced
  • parsley, minced
  • lemon juice
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sriracha chili sauce
  • smoked paprika or chile powder (optional)
  • mild vinegar, such as white balsamic, rice vinegar, or fruit vinegar (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • toasted almonds, slivered or sliced
  1. Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and put in a large bowl. Quarter fennel bulb lengthwise and slice thinly crosswise; add to bowl. Peel mandarins, removing and discarding pith; separate into sections and add to bowl.
  2. Whisk together tahini, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and oil in a glass measuring cup or small bowl until well blended. Add water, if needed, to thin the mixture. Season with Sriracha, paprika and vinegar if using, and salt and pepper.
  3. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Adjust seasonings. Top with almonds and serve.

A microwave love story

You might not have heard anyone admit to loving a microwave, but I am an unabashed admirer of what my microwave can do.

Here are some of the tasks that I employ my microwave to do in record time—and, I suspect, with less energy than conventional methods:

  • Steam ears of corn in their husks, which has the added benefit of making it easy to remove their silks.
  • Cook winter squash completely (see microwave instructions in a previous post) or soften the squash so you can cut it in half to bake or add cut pieces to soup.
  • Make a bowl of tomato soup or stewed tomatoes by chopping tomatoes or piercing cherry tomatoes and microwaving.
  • Soften whole leaves of kale, Swiss chard, and collards and then chop into a serving of soup or stew.
  • Shorten the soaking time of beans and legumes by microwaving in water until hot and then soaking.
  • Cook cellophane or rice noodles.
  • Prepare grains, like oatmeal, couscous, bulgur, and quinoa.
  • Heat a moist washcloth for an instant facial spa treatment!

I’d love to know how you use your microwave.