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.

Baby bok choy with tofu, green garlic + miso over ginger rice (dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian)

Here’s a very satisfying one-bowl meal with layers of Asian flavors. If you can’t find green garlic (also known as spring garlic) at your farmers’ market, you can substitute dried garlic cloves. Use your favorite type of miso and the smallest, most tender baby bok choy you can find.

Ingredients
  • brown rice
  • fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • baby bok choy
  • coconut oil
  • super-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
  • green garlic, white and light green parts, thinly sliced and parts kept separate
  • miso
  • hot water
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced
  • toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Method
  1. Soak the rice for as long as possible, then massage it in several changes of cold water. Cook the rice with the ginger in a rice cooker or in a saucepan on the stove top until soft.  Keep warm.
  2. Pull the bottom leaves off of the bok choy and slice the stems diagonally. Swish in cold water to remove any grit. Set aside.
  3. In a large pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the tofu and cook without stirring for a minute or two. Add the green parts of the garlic and stir to mix and scrape up the tofu browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium, add the white parts of the garlic, and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Spoon the miso into a small heatproof measuring cup, add a few tablespoonfuls of hot water, and whisk vigorously until the miso is combined with the water. Pour the miso mixture into the pan with the tofu and garlic and stir. Add the bok choy and toss until well combined. Cover for a minute or two to allow the bok choy to steam, then toss again. When the bok choy is softened but still bright green, remove from the heat .
  5. Spoon the rice into bowls; top with the bok choy mixture; sprinkle with hot sauce, green onions, and sesame seeds; 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!

Tortilla pie with greens, homemade sauce + pepitas (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Here’s a simple way to enjoy the taste of enchiladas while using any leftover cooked beans or cooked or raw vegetables hiding in your fridge (almost any bits work). If you have a round casserole dish about the size of the corn tortillas, the finished product resembles a deep-dish pie. For a milder allium flavor, use green onions or leeks, or sauté the onion and garlic before blending with the other sauce ingredients. To add a hot, smoky flavor, use chipotle chiles with or instead of the dried chiles. For crunch when serving, toast some additional tortillas and break into chips or serve with store-bought tortilla chips. Inspired by recipes from Decolonize Your Diet.

Ingredients
  • dried chiles, such as guajillo or ancho
  • onion, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • tomatoes, fresh or canned, chopped
  • cauliflower florets, chopped
  • firm tofu, chopped
  • jalapeño chile, chopped
  • cooked beans (optional)
  • cumin powder
  • dried oregano
  • chopped pitted briny olives of choice (optional)
  • kosher salt
  • corn tortillas
  • greens (such as beet greens, chard, kale, or collards), stemmed and slivered
  • raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
Method
  1. Toast the chiles whole in a dry pan over medium heat for a minute or so. Transfer to a heatproof container and submerge in hot water until soft, about 10 minutes. Stem, seed, and coarsely tear them, then add to a food processor or blender, reserving the soaking liquid if needed to thin the sauce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375º. Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, cauliflower, tofu, jalapeño, beans, cumin, oregano, and olives to the food processor. Whirl into a coarse sauce, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl and to add some chile soaking liquid if needed to thin the sauce. Season to taste with salt.
  3. In the bottom of a casserole dish, spread a generous layer of sauce, top with a layer of tortillas, then continue layering with greens, sauce, and tortillas to fill the dish, ending with a layer of tortillas. Cover, place on a baking sheet, and bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 50 minutes. Uncover, flip over the top layer of tortillas, sprinkle a solid layer of pepitas over the soft sides of the tortillas, and bake until the pepitas are toasted, watching carefully that they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before 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.

Panfried balsamic-sesame baby bok choy (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

This vegetable dish is simple and quick with no stir-fry skills needed. Plus it is tasty served warm or at room temperature, so you can actually take it on a picnic. For faster cooking, select the smallest heads of baby bok choy you can find.

Ingredients
  • baby bok choy
  • coconut oil, avocado oil, or other high-temperature cooking oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • toasted sesame oil
Method
  1. Cut the baby bok choy crosswise to separate the leaves from the bottoms. Slice the bottoms in half lengthwise through the core. Rinse away any dirt and pat dry.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the bok choy bottoms, cut sides down, in one layer. Cook without moving until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, turn them over. Add the bok choy leaves. Cover and cook for another minute. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar (watch out for spattering oil), lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until softened but still bright green. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve.

Indian-spiced Romano bean, zucchini, mushroom + tomato sauté (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

Late spring or early summer, you might see Romano beans and zucchini at the farmers’ market. If you can’t find Romano beans, use green beans instead. Consider serving over cooked legumes or brown rice topped with your favorite pesto.

Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion, chopped
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
  • Romano beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • curry powder
  • chile powder
  • turmeric powder
  • cumin powder
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fennel seeds
  • caraway seeds (optional)
  • fresh, chopped tomatoes, jarred tomatoes, or pasta sauce
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice or favorite vinegar (optional)
Methods
  1. Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until starting to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook until starting to brown. Add the zucchini and cook for a minute or two without stirring until the squash starts to soften. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Stir in all of the spices and seeds and cook until the vegetables give off their liquid. Stir in the tomatoes.
  2. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are cooked through. Stir in the parsley. Adjust the seasonings, add lemon juice, if desired, to brighten the flavors, and serve.

Indian-spiced potato + golden beet salad with pistachios + kalamata olives (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

An exotic yet homey combination of flavors and textures—no doubt!  And easy prep because the potatoes and beets don’t need cleaning or peeling before cooking. The potatoes and beets take up the yummy seasonings, so shake on more spices than you usually would. If you don’t have sugar snap peas or sweet pepper on hand, improvise with other salad veggies hiding in your crisper drawer, and if you would like a heartier salad, garbanzo beans would make a great addition. Consider serving roasted broccoli alongside as a smoky, green complement.

Ingredients
  • golden beets
  • yellow potatoes (such as Yukon gold or Yellow Finn)
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • sugar snap peas, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • sweet pepper, diced
  • toasted pistachios
  • pitted kalamata olives
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • assorted powdered spices (such as chili, chipotle, coriander, curry, garam masala, cardamom, garlic, ginger, and turmeric)
  • prepared mustard of choice
  • vinegar of choice or fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Method
  1. Halve the beets if small or quarter them if large. Put in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and cover with cold water in the same pan. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins, cut into bite-size chunks and put in a large serving bowl.
  2. Halve the potatoes if small or quarter them if large. Steam them until easily pierced with a fork. Cut into bite-size chunks and add to the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, toss to combine, and serve.

Indian-spiced mixed legumes (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

An Indian market has an endless supply of legumes to try, and this dish is a great way to experiment. This particular combination has sweetness and chew from the chana dal (split baby chickpeas) and the split peas, while the lentils  thicken the mix. If you don’t have an Indian grocery nearby, use whatever canned or dried beans, split peas, and lentils you enjoy. Soaking the legumes shortens the cooking time, and curry powder is a good substitute for the list of spices. Serve as a side dish or over rice or pasta.

Ingredients
  • chana dal or whole moong dal
  • split peas
  • red lentils or lentils of choice
  • avocado oil, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion, chopped
  • leek, halved and sliced, or shallot, chopped
  • halved cherry tomatoes, chopped regular tomatoes, or canned tomatoes
  • kosher salt
  • garlic, sliced or chopped
  • fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • jalapeño chile, sliced
  • fennel seeds
  • curry powder
  • ground turmeric
  • ground coriander
  • ground cumin
  • chile powder
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
Method
  • Wash and drain the legumes. Put them in a large bowl, cover with hot water by several inches, let soak for an hour or two, rinse, and drain.
  • Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and leek and cook until softened. Add the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, and cook until the mixture becomes saucy.
  • Stir in the legumes and cook for a minute or two. Add enough water to cover by half an inch, cover, bring to a boil, and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the legumes are almost soft. Add more water if the mixture becomes dry. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and jalapeño and cook for a minute or two. Add the spices and cook until the legumes are completely soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with fresh herbs, and serve.

Open-face breakfast taco with roasted broccoli, fried egg, + pesto (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian)

The toasty flavor of the broccoli complements the richness of the egg and the herby flavors of the pesto. To make this dish dairy-free, buy or make pesto without Parmesan cheese or sub in olive tapenade.

Ingredients
  • broccoli crowns, cut into small florets
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • eggs
  • corn tortillas
  • homemade or store-bought pesto of choice or olive tapenade, at room temperature
  • hot pepper sauce (optional)
Method
  1. Preheat the toaster oven or regular oven to 400ºF. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the broccoli with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the prepared pan and spread into a single layer. Roast until browned on the edges and cooked through, checking every 5 minutes or so. Keep warm.
  3. Cook the eggs to order. Toast the tortillas.
  4. To serve, place a toasted corn tortilla on each plate, mound with broccoli, and top with an egg, a dollop of pesto, and a few drops of hot pepper sauce. ¡Olé!