My personal favorites
1.Sugar snap pea and carrot soba noodles
Just bring two pots of water to boil: one for the noodles, and another for the edamame and snap peas, which you’ll cook briefly before draining. Then you just toss in the rest!
A healthy, vibrant soba noodle recipe full of fresh springtime produce. Feel free to trade in other seasonal vegetables for the sugar snap peas, like chopped bell pepper. This recipe yields about six servings and the leftovers don’t keep particularly well, so halve the ingredients if you’re not serving a crowd.
- 6 ounces soba noodles or spaghetti noodles of choice
- 2 cups frozen organic edamame
- 10 ounces (about 3 cups) sugar snap peas or snow peas
- 6 medium-sized carrots, peeled
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (about 2 handfuls)
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons quality peanut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon white miso*
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce or sriracha
- To prepare the vegetables: Use a chef’s knife to slice the peas in half lengthwise (or just roughly chop them). Slice the carrots into long, thin strips with a julienne peeler, or slice them into ribbons with a vegetable peeler.
- To make the sauce: whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified. Set aside.
- Bring two big pots of water to a boil. In the meantime, toast the sesame seeds: Pour the sesame seeds into a small pan. Toast for about 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning, until the seeds are turning golden and starting to make popping noises.
- Once the pots of water are boiling: In one pot, cook the soba noodles just until al dente, according to package directions (probably about 5 minutes), then drain and briefly rinse under cool water. Cook the frozen edamame in the other pot until warmed through (about 4 to 6 minutes) but before draining, toss the halved peas into the boiling edamame water and cook for an additional 20 seconds. Drain.
- Combine the soba noodles, edamame, snap peas and carrots in a large serving bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss with salad servers. Toss in the chopped cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. Serve.
STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: This dish keeps decently well, covered and refrigerated, for a couple of days, BUT here’s a better way, courtesy of Janet: make a batch, store the salad and dressing separately until ready to eat, and then grab one or two portions and add some dressing. Either way, you can serve leftovers chilled or gently rewarmed. Wake up leftovers with a dash of additional tamari or lime juice and fresh cilantro leaves.
2.Butternut Squash Linguine with Fried Sage
Spiced and creamy (yet cream-less) butternut squash sauce tossed with whole grain linguine. Top with fried sage for a healthy, comforting main dish. Serve with salad or roasted vegetables to further lighten up the meal. Recipe yields 4 large servings.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
2 pound butternut or kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into small ½-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (up to ¼ teaspoon for spicier pasta sauce)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
12 ounces whole grain linguine or fettucine
Optional additional garnishes: shaved Parmesan or Pecorino and/or smoked salt
Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the sage and toss to coat. Let the sage get crispy before transferring it to a small bowl. Sprinkle it lightly with salt and set the bowl aside.
Add the squash, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is soft and the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions, stirring occasionally. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
Once the squash mixture is done cooking, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender, but keep the skillet handy. Purée the mixture until smooth (beware of hot steam escaping from the top of the blender), then season with salt and pepper until the flavors sing.
In the reserved skillet, combine the pasta, squash purée and ¼ cup cooking liquid. Cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking water as needed, until the sauce coats the pasta, about 2 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve the pasta in individual bowls topped with fried sage, more black pepper and shaved Parmesan/Pecorino and/or smoked salt, if desired.
CHANGE IT UP: The squash purée is a killer bisque, which you could thin with vegetable broth if you’d like. You could also stir it into risotto at the end of cooking.
The best vegetable paella recipe! It’s loaded with vegetables, chickpeas, and savory, smoky rice. This Spanish dish is perfect for serving at dinner parties, since it’s vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. Recipe yields 6 hearty servings.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
6 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes (preferably the fire-roasted variety), drained
2 cups short-grain brown rice*
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
3 cups vegetable broth
⅓ cup dry white wine** or vegetable broth
½ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)
1 can (14 ounces) quartered artichokes or 1 jar (12 ounces) marinated artichoke, drained
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and sliced into long, ½”-wide strips
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus about 1 tablespoon more for garnish
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus additional lemon wedges for garnish
½ cup frozen peas
Arrange your oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, making sure that you have ample space between the two racks for your Dutch oven. You’re going to need a large Dutch oven (preferably 6 quarts/11-to-12” in diameter or bigger.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in your Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are tender and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and paprika and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until the mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 2 minutes Stir in the rice and cook until the grains are well coated with tomato mixture, about 1 minute. Stir in the chickpeas, broth, wine, saffron (if using) and 1 teaspoon salt.
Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the lower rack in the oven. Bake, undisturbed, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, 50 to 55 minutes.
Meanwhile, line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. On the baking sheet, combine the artichoke, peppers, chopped olives, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and about 10 twists of freshly ground black pepper. Toss to combine, then spread the contents evenly across the pan.
Roast the vegetables on the upper rack until the artichokes and peppers are tender and browned around the edges, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the vegetables cool for a few minutes. Add ¼ cup parsley to the pan and the lemon juice, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
For optional socarrat (crispy bottom—beware that you might have to scrub burnt bits from your pot later if you do this): Uncover the pot of baked rice, transfer it to the stovetop and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot as needed, until the bottom layer of rice is well browned and crisp.
sprinkle the peas and roasted vegetables over the baked rice, cover, and let the paella sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley (about 1 tablespoon) and serve in individual bowls, with lemon wedges on the side.
RICE OPTIONS: You can choose a different rice, but the baking time for the rice will vary according to the variety. White Valencia or arborio rice will be done baking at 25 to 35 minutes. Long-grain brown rice will be done baking at 55 to 60 minutes.
4.Crunchy Thai peanut and quinoa salad
This Thai-flavored salad recipe is made with carrots, cabbage, snow peas, and quinoa, tossed in delicious peanut sauce. This healthy salad is vegan, gluten free, and packs well for lunch. Recipe yields 4 salads.
¾ cup uncooked quinoa or millet
1 ½ cups water
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup thinly sliced snow peas or sugar snap peas
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
¼ cup chopped roasted and salted peanuts, for garnish
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (I love ginger so I used 2 teaspoons)
½ lime, juiced (about 1 ½ tablespoons)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Cook the quinoa: First, rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander under running water. In a medium-sized pot, combine the rinsed quinoa and 1 ½ cups water. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer the quinoa until it has absorbed all of the water. Remove the quinoa from heat, cover the pot and let it rest for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool. (Here’s how to cook millet.)
Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce: Whisk together the peanut butter and tamari until smooth (if this is difficult, microwave the mixture for up to 30 seconds to loosen it up). Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. If the mixture seems too thick to toss into the salad, whisk in a bit of water to loosen it up (I didn’t need to do this).
In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, shredded cabbage, carrot, snow peas, cilantro and green onion. Toss to combine, then pour in the peanut sauce. Toss again until everything it lightly coated in sauce. Taste, and if it doesn’t taste quite amazing yet, add a pinch of salt and toss again. Divide into individual bowls and garnish with peanuts.
This salad keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for about 4 days. If you don’t want your chopped peanuts to get soggy, store them separately from the rest and garnish just before serving.
5.Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowl
This spaghetti squash burrito bowl recipe is easy to make and so good for you, too! These beautiful vegetarian burrito bowls are also vegan and gluten free, but above all, delicious. Recipe yields 4 burrito bowls.
Roasted spaghetti squash
2 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds each), halved and seeds removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cabbage and black bean slaw
2 cups purple cabbage, thinly sliced and roughly chopped into 2-inch long pieces
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, chopped
⅓ cup chopped green onions, both green and white parts
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Avocado salsa verde
¾ cup mild salsa verde, either homemade or store-bought
1 ripe avocado, diced
⅓ cup fresh cilantro (a few stems are ok)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 medium garlic clove, roughly chopped
Optional garnishes: chopped fresh cilantro, crumbled feta and/or seasoned toasted pepitas (not shown)
To roast the spaghetti squash: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up. On the baking sheet, drizzle the halved spaghetti squash with olive oil. Rub the olive oil all over each of the halves, adding more if necessary.
Sprinkle the insides of the squash with freshly ground black pepper and salt. Turn them over so the insides are facing down. Roast for 40 to 60 minutes, until the flesh is easily pierced through with a fork.
Meanwhile, to assemble the slaw: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, black beans, bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and salt. Toss to combine and set aside to marinate.
To make the salsa verde: In the bowl of a blender or food processor, combine the avocado, salsa verde, cilantro, lime juice and garlic. Blend until smooth, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary.
To assemble, first use a fork to separate and fluff up the flesh of the spaghetti squash. Then divide the slaw into each of the spaghetti squash “bowls,” and add a big dollop of avocado salsa verde. Finish the bowls with another sprinkle of pepper, cilantro and optional crumbled feta or pepitas.
STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: Store burrito bowls, covered, for up to 3 days. There should be enough lime in the avocado salsa verde to keep it from oxidizing, but if you want to be sure, store it separately in a small bowl with plastic wrap pressed against the surface.
6.Burrito Stuffed sweet potatoes
Fresh sweet potato burrito bowls from The First Mess Cookbook! This is a fun, hearty dinner recipe that happens to be vegan and gluten free. Recipe yields 4 stuffed sweet potatoes, enough for 2 to 4 servings.
4 small sweet potatoes (mine came to about 2 ½ pounds total)
½ cup uncooked brown basmati rice, rinsed
1 cup cooked black beans (I used canned, rinsed and drained)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Pinch of salt
1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ small red onion, chopped (mine came to about ¾ cup chopped)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ripe, medium avocado
½ clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Generous pinch of salt
Shredded cabbage (Laura used green; I used purple) or romaine lettuce
Hot sauce (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking dish with parchment paper.
Place the sweet potatoes in the baking dish, and prick each one a couple of times with a fork. Slide the sweet potatoes into the oven and bake until very tender, about 45 minutes (mine took 5 to 10 minutes extra since they were a little bigger than specified).
In a medium saucepan, combine the basmati rice, black beans, cumin, garlic, olive oil, tomato paste and salt. Pour 1 ¼ cups water into the pot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Cover and set aside to keep the rice warm.
Make the rustic salsa: In a medium bowl, combine the bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, red onions, lime juice, cilantro and olive oil. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Set aside.
Make the guacamole: Peel the avocado and extract the pit. Place the avocado flesh in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Once you’ve broken it up a bit, add the garlic, lime juice, cilantro and salt. Mash the avocado until the seasoning is evenly distributed and you have a chunky paste. Set aside.
Place each baked sweet potato in a shallow bowl. Cut along the top of the sweet potato and pull back the skin. Spilt the sweet potatoes a little bit to make room for the fillings.
Divide the rice and bean mixture among the sweet potatoes (spillover is fine!). Top each bowl with ¼th of the rustic salsa. Finish each plate with a dollop of the guacamole and some shredded cabbage on top. Serve with hot sauce on the side if you wish.
Reprinted from The First Mess Cookbook by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Laura Wright.
Recipe courtesy of cookieandkate.com
Thank you very much for reading.Have a great day!