Brown rice fusilli with asparagus tips, English peas and pesto (gf + v)

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I hope you are well and that your week is off to a good start. Here’s a quick n’ easy pasta dish that is sure to be a hit even with pickier eaters! Simple enough for a weeknight dinner but elegant enough for a festive meal, It features my homemade vegan pesto which is super-versatile and can easily be made up to about a week in advance (keep in fridge), or longer if you freeze it. Fully of bright green, springy veggies and the wonderful herbal scent of basil, it won’t weigh you down the way that some greasy pesto dishes do. I use brown rice pasta but there’s no reason you couldn’t use regular or whole wheat if you prefer. Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 if it’s a side.

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Simple white bean salad with fresh herbs (gf + v)

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At my new place, I finally have a little outdoor space and can actually grow fresh herbs – so exciting! (I have grown fresh basil indoors in sunny windows in the past, but it’s not the same…) – so now I have a little potted basil plant as well as fresh parsley and thyme growing on my balcony, all which feature in this recipe. This is a quick and super tasty salad you can throw together in just a few minutes to complement any number of wonderful Mediterranean-themed meals. Definitely an upgrade from those soggy canned three-bean salads of yesteryear.

I try to always keep a can of cannelini (white kidney) beans in the pantry because they are so versatile and recipe-friendly. Though hearty and filling, their flavor is very mild and unassuming, but this salad is quite lively thanks to a variety of aromatic fresh herbs and a little bit of purple onion for bite. Serves 2-3, but can easily be scaled up for larger crowds. Can be made 1 day ahead and pre-chilled, and will keep 1-2 days in the fridge.

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Balsamic roasted eggplant (gf + v)

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Things got crazy over the past few months what with taking my boards and moving from NorCal to SoCal, but I am happy to finally be back in the kitchen cooking! I hope you’ve had a great and delicious summer! This recipe was inspired by a visit to my new local farmer’s market, where I was absolutely thrilled to find a large variety of eggplants for sale: lovely green Thai eggplants shaped like eggs, slender lavender Chinese eggplants, deep purple Italian eggplants, pale green Filipino eggplants…thanks to my husband “egging” me on, the next thing I knew I was buying one of each! Eggplant is a finicky vegetable, as I have mentioned in past recipes – the key is to cook it into sweet tender submission (undercooked eggplant is just bitter and gross!). While there are many ways to cook eggplant, my personal favorite to oven-roast it. I was very lucky to have been recently gifted a lovely bottle of seriously delicious balsamic vinegar as a graduation present from a dear coworker, so that also featured in this recipe. I hope you enjoy this versatile summer dish, which tastes great on its own, is lovely over a green salad or a bed of simple pasta marinara, or would also be great as an hors d’oeuvre served with toasted baguette slices or pita triangles. Serves 3-4.

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Caramelized onion focaccia (dairy and gluten free!)

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This recipe was inspired by some gorgeous purple onions (complete with lovely green leaves) that I found at the farmer’s market. There are few things that make your kitchen smell more mouth-wateringly delicious than onions caramelizing on the stove, and I think I have found one of them: the smell of fresh bread baking WITH caramelized onions on top of it! I have great news for you: this is one recipe where you will definitely not miss the gluten at all – this easily rivals any regular focaccia I have had. It takes a little bit of advance planning so the dough can rise, but this recipe is overall pretty easy and very well worth the impressive and delectable result. The trick to a very fluffy dough is the use of both yeast AND vinegar + baking soda for double rising power.

Makes one 9×13″ dish of focaccia (at least 4 servings). Recipe adapted from GreatBritishChefs.com. 

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Roasted quinoa-stuffed tomatoes (gf + v)

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This is the perfect recipe for when there are a few too many lovely tomatoes threatening to go past their prime on your counter – an elegant guest-worthy dish full of fresh spring flavors and it’s gluten-free, super healthy and Passover friendly too! Not to mention, the stuffing is so delicious that it can easily be a quinoa pilaf side dish all on its own, if you like! Serves 3-4 as an entree.
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Spicy vegan nacho cheese sauce

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The concept of a vegan, cashew-based nacho sauce had been intriguing me but it took me a while to try to make it. Mostly this was because a lot of recipes I’d seen call for pre-soaking the cashews overnight, which requires too much planning for my spontaneous cooking style.  But the desire for gooey cheesy goodness prevailed, and luckily, after a few messes, I have come up with a shortcut technique for this sauce that takes no pre-soaking and is pretty spot on! Rich, creamy, just the right amount of umami and spicy, and quite satisfying. You won’t miss the cheese version, really! Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

The possibilities for using this remarkable substance are endless: drizzle it over your nachos, flavor your cooked veggies, serve it as a dip for chips and crudites…let me know if you come up with any creative new ways to use it! And here’s a teaser for next time: stay tuned for an upcoming super yummy dinner recipe featuring this sauce.

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Butternut squash, arugula, and pesto galette (v + gf)

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Here is a fun weekend project for when you want to put in a little extra effort to make an impressive and memorable dish. A rustic French-inspired free-form tart with roasted butternut squash and shallot, arugula and my homemade super-easy vegan pesto. Each layer hits your palate in a symphony of yumminess – so many delicious ingredients all in one savory little pastry! Makes a beautiful centerpiece for a weekend brunch, or an elegant main dish for lunch or dinner (smaller slices could also be served as hors d’oeuvres). Makes one medium sized (~8″) galette, enough for 2 people as an entree or for 4 as an appetizer. There will also be plenty of extra roasted butternut squash to enjoy!

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