Chunky fig-apple jam with dates + lemon (vegan, gluten-free)

A new crop of apples has arrived at local farmers’ markets, and ripe figs abound on local trees in Northern California, so why not cook up a simple refrigerator jam? Spread it on toast or however you enjoy a little sweet-tart goodness. If you can’t find fresh figs, how about trying persimmons (firm-ripe Fuyu or very soft Hachiya varieties)? Because this is a chunky jam, there’s no need to peel any of the fruit! You will need an airtight container for storing the jam in the fridge.

  • fresh soft-ripe figs, cut into small chunks
  • apples, seeded and cut into small chunks
  • date sugar or pitted dates, cut into small pieces
  • ground cinnamon
  • grated lemon zest
  • lemon juice
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the figs and apples. Cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until heated and sizzling. Sprinkle with date sugar or date pieces and cinnamon. Stir, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit starts to soften and the sauce bubbles. Turn the heat to low, add lemon zest and juice, and cook, covered and stirring occasionally and adding more lemon juice to taste, until the fruit is mostly broken down. At any time if the pan becomes too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time just to moisten. Using a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, mash the fruit into the sauce.
  2. When all the fruit is fully cooked into the sauce, turn off the heat, cover the pan with a kitchen towel then with the pan’s lid leaving some space for the mixture to breathe and thicken. When cool, transfer to the airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Roasted sweet pepper spread with walnuts + tahini (vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free)

Although great to enhance pizza/pasta sauce, to top bowls of soup, rice, and noodles, or on its own as a dip, this spread will likely find other ways to become part of your repertoire. Look for a brand of roasted peppers that are seasoned with salt, garlic, and olive oil, such as Trader Joe’s brand; otherwise, consider adding those seasonings to the ingredients below. Inspired by a post on the Green Kitchen Stories blog.

  • jarred roasted red and/or yellow peppers, preferably Trader Joe’s brand Fire-Roasted Yellow & Red Peppers (see note)
  • walnuts
  • almond meal or almond flour
  • tahini
  • ground cumin
  • jalapeño chile, chopped (optional)
  • tomato, chopped
  • nutritional yeast (optional)
  1. In a blender, add the roasted red peppers, a handful of walnuts, some almond meal, a couple of tablespoons tahini, some ground cumin, jalapeño, tomato, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
  2. Taste and adjust the seasonings to suit your palate.

Vegan dried fruit + nut bread with date syrup (no sugar!)

Chockful of flavor — dried fruit sweetness, nutty richness, citrus tang, homey spices — and plenty of room to be creative. The recipe makes a lot, so you might want to halve the recipe the first time. Kitchen shears work well to cut the dates and dried fruit (if you find the fruit sticking to your knife). Adapted from

  • 8 ounces chopped pitted dates
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 16 ounces mixed dried fruit (such as raisins, pineapple, prunes, and apricots)
  • ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ cup almond meal or ground almonds
  • 1 teaspoon or more pumpkin pie spice (ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves)
  • grated lemon zest or orange zest
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • chopped nuts (such as pecans, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, and/or almonds)
  • Sliced raw almonds, for topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, add the dates and the hot water. When cool, mash the dates into the water.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the dried fruit. Add to the mashed dates along with the two flours, baking powder, almond meal, pumpkin pie spice, citrus zest, orange juice, and nuts. Mix until well combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top and press gently into the batter.
  4. Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean, checking after 40 minutes to avoid overbaking. Transfer to a rack to cool, lift out of the pan, and serve warm.

Pineapple, kiwi + apple salad with raisins + coconut (gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Here’s an easy, tart-sweet fruit salad that will win kudos at a weekend brunch or anytime as a refreshing, healthy dessert or snack. Thank you to Joyce and Lucy from Sweet Annie’s Farm, near Fresno, California, for the ripe kiwifruit (find their fruit, veggies, and eggs in the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturdays at Sunnyvale’s farmers’ market and Sundays at Mountain View’s farmers’ market).

  • pineapple
  • kiwifruit
  • apple
  • raisins
  • fresh lime juice
  • unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
  1. Trim away the top and bottom of the pineapple. With a sharp knife, peel the skin from top to bottom following the curve of the pineapple. Cut the pineapple into bite-size pieces and put in a large bowl, reserving any extra in a covered container in the refrigerator for another purpose.
  2. Peel the kiwi and core the apple. Cut into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl. Stir in the raisins and sprinkle with lime juice.
  3. Let the fruit salad sit for 15 minutes before serving to allow the raisins to plump up. Sprinkle with coconut and serve.

Tomatoey green bean, mushroom + quinoa stew (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

A farmer at my local farmers’ market still has green beans, hence this dish. If you have leftover rice, you can add it to the stew when the quinoa is done or serve the stew over the rice.

  • coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • mushrooms, halved
  • leek, white part only, halved, rinsed, and cut into half-moons
  • salt and black pepper
  • fresh or canned chopped tomatoes
  • quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • Romano beans, trimmed and sliced thinly, or green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • super-firm tofu, cubed (optional)
  • minced garlic or garlic powder
  • dried basil
  • turmeric
  1. Warm the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, undisturbed, until the mushrooms are sizzling and browned. Add the leek, sprinkle with salt, and cook until softened. Stir in the tomatoes, cover, and cook until the tomatoes are broken down and saucy.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small pan, toast the quinoa until golden. Add the quinoa, beans, and tofu to the tomato mixture, add water to just cover, and cook, covered, until the quinoa is tender and the beans are cooked the way you like.
  3. Stir in garlic, basil, and turmeric. Warm through, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Apple pancakes (gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegetarian)

These pancakes by the Sunday Brunch Chef are nice for a fall or winter weekend brunch, and any leftover cakes can be reheated for a weekday breakfast. Serve with eggs cooked to order, if you like, and your favorite pancake toppings—unsweetened applesauce, jam sweetened with fruit juice, or hydrated raisins (put raisins in a heatproof bowl, hydrate with boiling water until soft, mash a bit, and pour liquid and all over the cakes).

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tart apple, cored and cut into very thin matchsticks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (such as almond, coconut, or soy), plus more as needed
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil, vegetable oil, or melted butter, plus more for frying
  • 2 large eggs
  1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, almond meal, chia seeds, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the apple and lemon juice. Whisk in the vanilla, milk, oil, and eggs. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the apple mixture, adding more milk as necessary to reach the consistency of pancake batter.
  3. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet or on a griddle over medium heat. Pour on ¼ cup batter and cook until bubbles form. Flip pancake and cook until the underside is lightly browned. Transfer cooked pancake to a baking pan in a 175º oven or toaster oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve pancakes warm.

Summer-into-fall polenta (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

The last months of the year mean combining summer’s friends that are almost out of season with new cool-weather buddies. What could be better than soft, warm polenta prepared with the savoriness of leeks and shallots and the sweetness of cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, and peppers? You can cook the butternut squash in the oven, toaster oven, or microwave. To cook the squash in the microwave: Pierce it two or three times, put it whole and uncovered in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave for 3 or 4 minutes. Turn it over, microwave again 1 to 2 minutes at a time until the squash is shiny and completely soft; let cool before cutting in half and scooping out the seeds.
  • cooked butternut squash
  • extra-virgin olive oil or ghee
  • leeks, sliced
  • shallots, diced
  • sweet peppers, chopped
  • hot chiles, chopped
  • whole cherry tomatoes or chopped regular tomatoes
  • salt
  • dried or fresh rosemary leaves
  • coarse polenta
  • vegetable broth or water
  • pepper
  • pitted green olives (optional)
  1. Scoop the flesh from the cooked butternut squash, discarding (or composting) the seeds and skin.
  2. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, shallots, sweet peppers, and chiles. Cook, covered, until starting to soften. Add tomatoes and squash flesh; season with salt and rosemary. Cook, covered, for a few minutes, then stir the softened tomatoes into the mixture.
  3. Refer to the polenta package for ratio of polenta to liquid (use 1:4 if you purchased polenta in bulk). Add measured broth to pot and bring to a boil. Gradually add polenta while stirring constantly. Return to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, stirring every 5 minutes. Add more broth as needed so the polenta doesn’t burn. Cook until the polenta is soft and thick (no hard bits). Add a few grinds of black pepper and pitted green olives or salt. Add more oil or ghee to the pot or to each bowl and serve.

Pineapple, pomegranate, persimmon, + tangerine salad with fresh mint + cinnamon (sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

It’s fall and time for persimmons, pomegranates, and tangerines. Inspired by a friend’s recipe, this salad mixes local autumn fruit with imported fresh pineapple. Good for breakfast, a snack, or dessert. Use fuyu persimmons, which are round and squat, because they are sweet and ready to eat when firm, like an apple.

  • fresh pineapple, trimmed and cut into chunks
  • pomegranate seeds
  • fuyu persimmons, diced
  • tangerine (mandarin) sections, cut in half if you like
  • thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • juice of a lemon or lime
  • ground cinnamon
  1. Mix the pineapple chunks, pomegranate seeds, persimmons, tangerines, and mint in a bowl.
  2. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the mixture and stir. Season to taste with cinnamon, stir, and serve.