Navratan Pulao

1 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 green cardamoms
4 cloves
1-inch stick cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes (cut into a fine dice)
2 medium carrots (cut into a fine dice)
2 cups green beans (chopped into small bits)
1/2 small head cauliflower (separated into small florets)
1 cup green peas (frozen)
16 oz baked tofu (use my recipe linked here or use storebought)
1/2 tsp saffron strands
1/2 cup nondairy milk (I use almond)
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp sliced almonds
2 tbsp golden raisins

Bring a large pot of water to boil, lightly salt it, then add the rice and cook until the rice grains are almost tender but not fully cooked. Drain and set aside.

Mix the saffron with the nondairy milk and set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil. Add the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and cumin seeds. Stir-fry until the spices release their fragrance and begin to turn color.

Add the potatoes, saute for 2-3 minutes, then add the carrots and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the cauliflower and green beans and saute for a couple of minutes. Add green peas, then add some salt, cover the pot and let the veggies cook over a medium-low flame for about five minutes. Stir a couple of times to ensure they do not stick. You don’t want the veggies to brown.

When the potatoes are almost cooked and the cauliflower is al dente, mix in the rice, tofu cubes and the saffron in milk. Cover and let the rice continue cooking over low heat for 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 tbsp oil in a small saucepan. Add the cashews and raisins to it, and finally the blanched, sliced almonds. Cook until the nuts are a light gold, then pour over the rice and mix.

Serve hot.

NOTES
To make this recipe soy-free, leave out the tofu.

To make this recipe nut-free, leave out the nuts. You can use apricots or another dry fruit along with the raisins. Also use a nondairy milk that’s nut-free.

Vegetable Tehri

1 1/2 cups basmati rice (covered in water and soaked for at least 30 minutes. Drain before using)
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 cloves
4 green cardamom pods (whole)
1 bay leaf
2-inch stick cinnamon
2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
1 large onion (thinly sliced)
1 green chili pepper (like japeno or serrano. Leave whole with just a slit down the middle, or, for less heat, split into half, deseed, and then use. You can fish out the peppers before serving)
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 medium tomatoes (pureed. Or use 1 cup canned tomato puree)
3 medium potatoes (cut in a 1-inch dice)
1 large carrot (cut into chunky 1 1/2 inch slivers)
1/2 head cauliflower (separated into chunky but bite-sized florets)
1 cup green peas (I used frozen, but fresh work too)
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or water)
Salt to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot. Add the cumin first, then the cloves, cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add in the fennel seeds and stir quickly.
Add the onions and saute until they are soft but not brown. You can add a little salt to help this process go faster. Stir in the ginger garlic paste, green chili peppers and turmeric and saute another minute over low heat so the ginger and garlic don’t stick to the bottom.

Add the potatoes to the pot along with the carrots. Add a cup of the water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and let the potatoes and carrots cook about five minutes or until fairly tender but not quite done.

Add the cauliflower and tomato puree and continue cooking the veggies for a couple more minutes. Add the green peas and stir them in.

Add the remaining water or stock, followed by the drained rice, mix everything well and bring it all back to a boil. Once it looks like the rice has absorbed most of the water, give it all a good stir, cover with a tight-fitting lid, turn the heat to low, and set the timer for 15 minutes.

Avoid peeking while the rice is cooking, and let it stand, undisturbed, for 10 minutes after cooking. After 10 minutes, open the lid and fluff the grains of rice with a fork before serving.

Coconut Curry

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
3 medium tomatoes (finely chopped)
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 medium potatoes (boiled and diced)
14 oz coconut milk (canned or freshly made are both fine)
Salt to taste
2 tbsp cilantro (or scallions, for garnish)

Heat the oil. Add cumin seeds and as they start to darken, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Saute for a couple of minutes until the onions start to soften.

Add the tomatoes, cayenne and turmeric and continue to saute for a few more minutes until the onions are soft and pulpy.

Add the potatoes along with half the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Let the curry cook another minute for the flavors to meld, then turn the heat to low and add the remaining coconut milk. Check for salt. If the curry is too thick for your liking, you can add some water or vegetable stock to thin it out. Turn off the heat as soon as the curry has warmed through but before it returns to a boil.

Garnish, if you like, with cilantro. I love this curry with the carrot rice and a garnish of scallions.

Carrot Rice

1 tsp vegetable oil
2-inch piece cinnamon
5 pods green cardamom
5 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
2 tbsp raw cashew pieces (optional)
2 cups carrots (grated. Approx 2 carrots)
2 cups basmati rice
4 cups water (or vegetable stock)
Salt to taste

Heat the oil. Add the whole spices–cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf–and stir for a minute until fragrant.

Add the onions and cashews, if using, and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent but not brown.

Stir in the carrots and saute for another couple of minutes until they start to cook. Stir in the rice along with salt to taste and mix well. As soon as the rice starts to turn opaque, add the water and salt. Give everything a good stir and let it come to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook the rice 10 minutes. At the 10-minute point, open, give the rice a good stir, and cover and cook another 10 minutes.

Let the rice stand another 10 minutes before opening. Serve hot with any basic coconut curry.

TIPS FOR MAKING CARROT RICE:

Use the largest holes on your hand grater or food processor to grate the carrots. You want the carrots and the rice to be approximately the same size when they cook. Keep in mind the carrots will shrink as they express their juices, and the rice will expand as it absorbs them.
For the same reasons, slice the onions really thin. If the onion you use is big, cut the slices in half.

You don’t need to soak the rice for this recipe, which makes it come together even more quickly, since there’s no prep ahead of time.

Usually, when I share a rice recipe with you, I ask you not to stir the rice as it cooks. I will make an exception in this case. About halfway through the 20-minute mark when the rice is covered and cooked, give the rice a stir. This will help the carrots and rice mix better and cook more evenly.
I like adding a few cashew pieces to this recipe, but they are completely optional if you want it to be nut-free.

Masala Bhath

2 cups basmati rice (washed under running water or in several changes of water)
1 tbsp coconut oil
5 pods green cardamom (crushed slightly but left whole)
5 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 large potato (cut into 1/2-inch dice)
1 large carrot (cut into 1/2-inch dice)
1/2 small head cauliflower (separated into small florets)
1 medium zucchini (cut into 1-inch strips)
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional –the goda masala has some heat)
2 tbsp goda masala (you can substitute with garam masala; see my recipe tips above for details on how to do that)
1 heaping tbsp coconut sugar (or jaggery, or regular sugar. Piloncillo, if you have some, is a fine replacement for jaggery)
1/4 cup coconut (grated. I don’t mean the dry shredded coconut you use for baking, but either freshly grated coconut, or grated coconut available in frozen packets. The coconut shreds have to be juicy, not dry)
1/4 cup cilantro (minced)
Salt to taste

Heat the oil. Add the cardamom, cloves and bay leaves and saute until the bay leaves start to change color and become lightly golden.

Add the potatoes and carrots and saute, stirring frequently, until the potatoes have a light brown crust.

Add the cauliflower and zucchini and continue sauteeing another couple of minutes.

Add the powdered spices–turmeric, coriander powder, cumin and goda masala–and saute for a minute to coat the spices with the oil and toast them.

Add the washed rice and stir until the rice begins to turn opaque.

Add 4 cups water to the rice, and add enough salt to make the water a bit saltier than you’d like your final dish to be.

Stir well, bring to a boil, then cover the rice with a tight-fitting lid. Let the rice cook over medium heat for five minutes, then lower the heat and continue cooking for 10 more minutes, never opening the lid once during cooking.

Turn off the heat and let the rice stand another 10 minutes. Open and sprinkle on the coconut and cilantro.

Serve hot or warm.

Sheet Pan Chicken Marbella

1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 head garlic, peeled and pureed
1/4 cup dried oregano
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 cup pitted prunes
1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/2 cup capers
3 tablespoons juice from capers
6 bay leaves
4 whole chickens, 2 1/2 pounds each, quartered
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine

Garnish:
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

In a large mixing bowl (large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces), whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic puree, oregano, and salt and pepper. Mix in prunes, olives, capers, caper juice, and bay leaves. Add the chicken, cover, and marinate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On 2 rimmed baking sheets, arrange chicken pieces in a single layer; spoon marinade evenly over chicken. Sprinkle chicken with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

Carefully place baking sheets in preheated oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting often. Bake until chicken is done, or an instant-read thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, reads 165 degrees.

Transfer chicken pieces to a serving platter then top with prunes, olives, and capers. Spoon pan juices on top. Sprinkle with parsley

Quinoa Pilaf with Lemons, Shallots, and Herbs

1–2 shallots ( or 1/4 of an onion) – very thinly sliced – see notes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed, drained ( rinsing removes bitterness)
2 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or use 1–2 minced garlic cloves with the shallot)
1 teaspoon dried oregano ( or italian seasoning, or herbs de Provence, or similar)

Garnish:

lemon zest from one small lemon,
sprinkling of fresh herbs ( italian parsley, dill, basil, cilantro)
2 tablespoons slivered almonds ( optional- other nuts & seeds are ok, or just leave off)
sautéed shallot ( see notes) or crispy shallots
drizzle of good olive oil– optional but good.

In a medium pot, over medium heat, sauté the shallot in the oil, until golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. If you want, set half aside for the garnish. Add rinsed/drained quinoa, water, salt, cumin, granulated garlic and dried herbs, and give a good stir. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover well, and cook for 15 minutes. Check to see that quinoa has soaked up all the water. If not, continue cooking 2-5 more minutes. If it has, turn heat off and let it sit covered 5-10 more minutes.

Fluff with a fork, place in a serving bowl and toss gently with lemon zest, sprinkle with fresh herbs and, sauted shallots and optional nuts. Don’t over mix.

For extra richness a drizzle of good quality olive oil is really nice touch.

notes

When serving this as a side dish all on its own, I like to use two sautéed shallots, half for cooking with the quinoa, and the other half for sprinkling over the top as a garnish. If batch cooking for the week, you may not need the garnish.
Rinsing the quinoa is imperative. It really does help remove the bitterness.
If making a smaller batch or bigger batch, my general ratio of water to quinoa = 1 cup quinoa to 1.5 cups water.

Play around with this and embellish it as you please.

A easy way to turn this quinoa into a meal….is to serve it with simple roasted veggies and tahini sauce. Or these roasted parsnips! Add this make-ahead kale salad if you like. It really doesn’t have to be complicated! Simple real food -the best kinds of meals!

Perfect for meal prepping and batch cooking!

Chicken Soup (with Slow Cooker and Pressure Cooker Variations)

1–2 tablespoons olive oil
one large onion, diced (or sub 2 fat shallots, or two leeks)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
4–8 garlic cloves, rough chopped (I like 8)
4 cups chicken broth or stock
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (or use regular)
1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, boneless, skinless ( or use breasts- if very large, cut in half)
——–
lemon juice to taste
pinch chili flakes
scallions, cilantro or Italian parsley
drizzle of toasted sesame oil (optional, tasty)

Optional: 2-3 cups of cooked grain or starch of your choice like… Quinoa, rice or soba noodles, pasta, rice, 1 can whitebeans.

STOVE TOP INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat oil in a big pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Lower heat to med- low and continue sauteeing until golden, 3-4 more minutes.

Add the chicken stock, water, salt, white pepper, bay leaves and skinless chicken. Bring to a boil. Cover, and lower heat so it’s gently simmering, covered for 20 mintues. If using breasts, check at 15.

Test a piece of chicken for doneness by pulling meat apart with two forks. It should come apart easily and look opaque. If done, shred the rest of the chicken, then return to the pot and simmer gently for 5 more minutes.

Squeeze with lemon, taste and adjust broth. You can add more salt of needed, or if too salty for your taste, water down with a little water. I prefer ours salty, lemony and unctuous, especially if adding a starch (like rice, noodles or beans) which will temper the salt quite a bit. Up to you. If the soup tastes bland, it needs salt.

Ladle it over cooked rice or noodles or just on it’s own.

Garnish with scallions or cilantro (or both) a drizzle of sesame oil if you like and chili flakes (or chili paste or sriracha). Or you could add some cooked or leftover rice or quinoa. You could add white beans or cooked pasta.

Or if going low-carb- leave all the starch and grains out keep it simple and keto-friendly. Cauliflower rice would also work well here too!

Notes:

Soup will keep 4 days in the fridge, or freeze.

You could ladle it over a mound of rice noodles, then finish with sesame oil, sesame seeds, scallions and cilantro

Feel free to add 1/2 cup rice or quinoa to simmering soup. Or add a can of whitebeans. You can also add pasta ( about 4 ounces) but I prefer to cook pasta and rice noodles separate and ladel the soup overtop cooked noodles. Up to you. Feel free to toss in veggies, kale, spinach, etc.

Instant Pot: Set Instant pot to “saute” function and heat the oil. Add onion, garlic and ginger and saute 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Add broth, water, salt, pepper, bay, white pepper and chicken thighs, give a stir. Pressure cook on high for 12 minutes. (If using breasts, pressure cook 8-10 minutes depending on size). Manually release. Shred chicken with two forks. Season with lemon juice. Taste, adust salt. Follow the rest of the instuctions above.

For a slow cooker version, cook as stated above then cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or on High for 3 hours.

Quick Pickled Zucchini and Summer Squash

1 lb patty pan, crookneck or zucchini squash-or enough to fill four small 4 oz jars- (pick squash no bigger in diameter than the width of the jars you will be using).
1 small onion or shallot, sliced thin
1 tablespoon salt
1 garlic clove, sliced – per jar
1 T fresh dill -per jar
1 tsp mustard seeds– per jar
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns– per jar
1 small red chile, sliced thin

Pickling Liquid

1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar (or sub more white vinegar)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Using a mandolin, carefully slice the summer squash. If using a knife, make sure to cut pieces as evenly as possible, to the same thickness. Thicker slices will result in a crunchier pickle. Paper-thin will be softer.

Slice the small onion, or shallot. Toss both onion and squash in a bowl with a tablespoon of salt and let drain in a colander or strainer over a bowl for 2 hours or overnight. Pat dry.

Make the pickling solution: In a small pot, bring white wine vinegar, water, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves, let cool slightly.

In each 4 oz jar, add about a tablespoon of fresh dill, a teaspoon of mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp peppercorns, a few slices of chile pepper and sliced garlic cloves. You could also try experimenting with other seeds like whole coriander, cumin, or fennel seed. Then layer the squash and onion in jars, and top off with the pickling liquid.

Press down on the squash. Seal, and let cool in the fridge.

notes

These will keep for up to 2-3 weeks.

Harissa Paste (Regular and Quick)

4 oz dried chilies – (an assortment mild, med, hot, smoked)
6–8 garlic cloves
1 T cumin seeds
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 T coriander seeds
3 T olive oil
1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 T fresh lemon juice ( or finely minced preserved lemon, and you can add more to taste)
1 tsp smoked paprika ( optional)

Bring chilies to a boil in a large pot of water, turn heat off, cover, let sit 1 hour or overnight.

Toast spices and grind them. When the chilies are soft and rehydrated, drain and remove seeds and stems ( you can rinse them under running water to get them cleaned up . Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until desired consistency. If you like a “looser” style add more oil.

To store, place in sealable jar and drizzle olive oil over top after each use, to preserve. It will last 1-2 months in the fridge.As long as it’s covered with a layer of oil , it should keep well.

notes

The preserved lemon, is especially authentic and delicious if you can find it.

FOR a Quick harissa paste, simply mix the following together in a bowl. Not authentic, but a tasty quick option!

3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine)
2 tablespoons plus two teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons plus two teaspoons smoked paprika
1 3/4 teaspoons cayenne or chipotle powder
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
10 garlic cloves, finely minced

Quick Pickled Vegetables

Enough Fresh Raw Veggies to fill 2 Quart size mason jars (about 5-6 cups)- beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, cucumbers, okra, green beans, asparagus, red onion, zucchini or summer squash, cauliflower florets, bell peppers, garlic scapes, fennel bulbs, cabbage, rainbow chard stems

1 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoons mustard seeds
6– 10 cloves garlic- sliced thickly
1/2 an onion sliced (optional)
few sprigs fresh dill ( optional) or other herbs

Other optional additions- whole cloves, dill seeds, whole allspice, fresh ginger slices, fresh chilies or chili flakes, celery seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds, star anise, other fresh herbs.

Pickling liquid:

2 Cups vinegar- white, red wine, rice wine, apple cider (any of these, or a combination)
2 Cups water
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
4–6 Tablespoons sugar ( sugar is added for flavor, so feel free to cut back you like)

Prep your veggies. Wash them well and slice, quarter, or cut into spears, or leave whole ( like with green beans, asparagus, okra etc)

Bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil in a small pot, and in the mean time pack the jars with the prepped veggies.

In two quart size mason jars, divide the garlic and whole spices.

Begin adding the veggies and if your are including the onion ( which I recommend), layer a few slices in with the veggies along with any fresh herbs you would like to include ( you can also layer the garlic this way too, or put it in first, your choice) leaving about an inch at the top of the jar.
Using a funnel, carefully pour the hot liquid into the jars, making sure to submerge all the veggies, pressing down on them with the end of a wooden spoon. You may be able to add more veggies at this point, just make sure the liquid completely covers the veggies leaving at least a half inch of room between the liquid and lid.

Cover and let sit on the counter to cool, and after an hour or two, place in the fridge. These will taste good after 6-8 hours, but much better after a couple days.

notes

These keep up to 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

If pickling firmer veggies like carrots or beets, feel free to simmer the veggies in the pickling liquid (in a pot) for a few minutes to soften them slightly. Don’t over cook them!

If you are planning to can your pickles for long-term storage, bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize 2 wide-mouth pint jars and their metal lids.

Place the pickling liquid in saucepan over high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Pour the brine over the veggies filling each jar to within 1/2-inch of the top. Remove any air bubbles. Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles. Top off with more pickling liquid if necessary. Tighten the lids. Place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight. For longer storage, place the filled jars in a boiling pot of water to can them. When the water comes back to a boil, boil the filled jars for 5 minutes then remove the jars immediately. Make sure the lids pop down.

Pickled Red Onions (with Variations)

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup white vinegar, or use apple cider or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 –2 tablespoons sugar (or honey or other substitute)
1–2 teaspoons whole spices (optional- one or any combination of peppercorns, fennel seed, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, caraway, star anise, juniper, allspice.)
optional additions:
1–2 garlic cloves, cut in half
a couple bay leaves
a teaspoon dried or fresh oregano ( if using on Mexican food)

Thinly slice 1/2 red onion. (Feel free to double the batch).

Place the onion along with the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and whole spices and any optional additions in a small pot on the stove and bring to a simmer. Simmer 1 minute, stirring.

Remove from the stove and let cool.

Place onions and liquid in a clean jar and store in the fridge.

Add fresh herbs if you like.

This will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

notes:

For a Mexican version of pickled onions, add sliced jalapeno and whole cumin and coriander seeds plus Mexican oregano to the pickling liquid.

For a Nordic version of pickled red onions, add fresh dill, caraway and peppercorns.

For an Indian version of pickled onions add fennel seeds, coriander and either fenugreek or cilantro!

Chermoula

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 cup cilantro (small stems ok)
1 cup Italian parsley ( or sub more cilantro)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (a thin slice about the size of a quarter)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (optional)
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
Zest from 1/2 lemon (about 1-2 tsp)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon aleppo chili flakes -add more for more heat
1/4 teaspoon salt, adding ¼- 3/4 teaspoon more if using as a marinade ( see notes)

Toast seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring until fragrant and golden.

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined, but not too smooth.

Keep in an air tight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.

Fresh Tomatillo Sauce

1 lb Tomatillos, husked, rinsed ( in warm water) and quartered
1/2 bunch cilantro- leaves and tender stems OK ( 1 cup, packed)
1–2 jalapeno (or more, for more spicy) or 1–2 serano chilis ( I like 2 seranos)
1 small garlic clove
1/3 cup diced white or yellow onion
3 tablespoons lime juice plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sugar ( or agave or honey)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 T olive oil (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until uniformly combined.

Taste, then adjust salt, heat and lime. ( I find it helpful to taste with a chip, or whatever you are serving this with.)

Refrigerate until serving.

notes

This fresh tomatillo salsa will keep 4 days in the fridge.

If you like extra heat, serrano chilies are a great option.

If it ends up too spicy for your taste, you can temper it by adding cucumber or more tomatillo. Re-adjust with salt and lime.

Poblano Pepita Sauce

1 large poblano pepper
1 cup cilantro ( small stems ok)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coriander
squeeze of lime

Roast the poblano chili directly over a gas flame on the stovetop, until blackened and blistered on all sides – or broil (or roast at 450F) in the oven, turning often, until skins blister.

Place in a paper bag or wrap in a towel to steam for 10 minutes (this will help soften the chili).

Remove the stem and seeds and most of the charred bits- a little char is good here.

Place in the food processor with the rest of the ingredients- cilantro, pumpkin seeds, oil, water, garlic, salt, coriander and a tiny squeeze of lime.

Pulse and blend until uniformly combined but not too smooth. A little texture is good here.

Taste. Adjust lime and salt. If your pepper happens to be too spicy ( they very in spicy level) you can mitigate the heat by adding more pumpkin seeds, water, oil, and then remember to reseason with more salt and lime.

Place in a bowl and serve at room temp.

notes

If making ahead, place in a sealed container and refrigerate for 2-3 days. The top (exposed to air) may discolor over time, so if making ahead, I like to pour a little olive oil over top to keep the herbs submerged and preserve the color.

Preserved Lemon Gremolata

1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped finely (about 1 cup packed)
1/4 cup chopped preserved lemons, rind and flesh
1/2 cup olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves, finely minced
pepper
chili flakes or aleppo or urfa

Place chopped parsley, preserved lemon, garlic, and olive oil in a bowl. Give a stir.

Taste and add pepper and chili flakes if desired.

For a more pronounced flavor, add more preserved lemon to taste.

For a “looser” sauce, add more olive oil.
notes

This will last 4 days in a sealed container in the fridge.

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin

ingredients

2 medium cauliflower heads (about 10 cups, 20 ounces florets)
2 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
——–
2 Tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 onion, diced or sub 2 fat shallots)
6–8 garlic cloves, rough chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped sage (or 2 teaspoons dry sage, or sub rosemary or thyme)
Bechamel Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gf flour)
2 cups milk, hot
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated is nice)
¼ cup grated gruyere cheese- (or mozzarella -plus 3 Tablespoons for the top)
¼ cup grated Parmesan or pecorino
Optional Additions:

¼ cup crispy bacon bits, or crispy pancetta
¼ cup vegan “bacon bits”
bread crumb topping (see notes)
instructions
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Roast the Cauliflower: Cut cauliflower into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil (just enough to lightly coat) salt and pepper and place on one (or two) parchment-lined sheet pans ( in a single layer) and bake until tender and golden, about 20-25 minutes.
Saute the onions: In an extra large skillet saute the onion over med- high heat in olive oil until tender and fragrant, stirring often, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sage and lower heat to medium and sauté 3-4 minutes, until fragrant, season with salt and pepper. Take your time here and make sure onion and garlic are golden and tender. Set aside.
Make the Bechamel Sauce: In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Stir until butter just begins to become golden and becomes nutty and fragrant. Add flour. Stir and cook flour for at least 1 minute. Whisk in ½ C hot milk making sure to whisk all the flour from the corners and sides of the pot. Add another ½ C milk, whisking well. Add the final cup of milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and just comes to a simmer. Turn heat to low and whisk in cheese and set aside.
Assemble: Use a greased, oven-proof 10 inch cast iron skillet, 8×11 inch baking dish or greased individual ramekins. Toss the roasted cauliflower with the Bechamel sauce and onions/garlic/ sage mixture. Taste for salt and pepper, adjusting to your liking.
Top with optional bread crumbs (see notes), optional crispy bacon or pancetta (or vegan bacon bits) a few sage leaves or a little more cheese. You could refrigerate this overnight at this point if making ahead (perhaps not in the cast iron). If refrigerating, be sure to bring to room temp before baking.
Lower heat to 375 F and bake uncovered in the oven, until golden and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes.

Mexican Pinto Beans

1 lb dry pinto beans (2 1/2 cups dry), soaked 6-12 hours, then drained
1 teaspoon salt
——-
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1 dry Mexican Guajillo Chile (optional, see notes), seeds removed, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves (optional)
2 quarts water
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotles)

Place pinto beans in a med bowl, and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and let soak overnight – or for a minimum of 6 hours. Drain.

After soaking: In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until tender and fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add the dried chili, cinnamon stick and all the spices. Saute one minute to toast the spices. Add the water, tomato paste and DRAINED beans. Stir in the 1/2 salt and bring to a rapid boil.

Lower heat to maintain a gentle simmer (on low or medium low) and simmer uncovered for 45-60 minutes, until beans are tender.

Stir in the tablespoon of Chipotle Adobo Sauce and the vinegar.

Taste, adjusting salt if needed.

Notes:
Feel free to substite 1-2 canned chipotle peppers (chopped) instead of the dried Mexican chili. Or leave out both for a milder version. Or experiment with other dried Mexican chilies taking not of heat level. One Guajillo chili makes this MEDIUM SPICY.

Using the The Adobo sauce from the Canned Chipotle Peppers really elevates and adds a lovely smokiness to the whole dish. Freeze the leftover chipotle chilies (individually) for later use!
You could also use a little smoked paprika for the smoky flavor without the spiciness.

INSTANT POT: Cook according to above, using the saute function for sauteeing. Reduce water to 4 cups. Pressure cook the soaked pinto beans on high for 25 minutes, naturally release. If you’d like to reduce liquid further, cook on saute function for a few minutes until it thickens up.

HAM HOCK: Feel free to add a smoked ham hock to the top of the simmering beans. After it’s tender, shred the meat and stir into the beans.

Basic Roasted Vegetables

2 large carrots, peeled, sliced into ½ in rounds, halved into half-moons
2 parsnips, peeled, sliced into ½ in rounds, halved
1/2 – 1 onion, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch chunks, or wedges
1 sweet potato cut into ¾ inch cubes
2–3 tablespoons olive oil
generous, 5 finger pinch of salt and pepper
optional additions: other veggies of course, fresh herbs -thyme, rosemary, sage

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

Cut veggies and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. If your sheet pans are small, use 2 pans.
Cut veggies and place them in rows.

drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and using tongs give a light toss.
Place in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, rotate, toss again, and continue cooking until fork tender, another 10-15 minutes.

Place in a serving dish and cover to keep warm.

Tips:

Choose veggies that take roughly the same amount of time to roast. Root veggies (vegetables that grow underground) like carrots, parsnips, beets, and potatoes, are relatively dense compared to other veggies and take the longest to roast, 30-50 minutes, depending on what size you cut them. Winter squash are medium-dense so take less time, when peeled and diced.

If someone were to ask me which veggies are best to roast? I would say, hands-down, root vegetables! Their natural sweetness and earthiness both get enhanced and elevated through roasting.
Cut veggies so they are the same thickness. This ensures they roast quickly and uniformly. I try to keep root veggies at ½ inch thick.

Roast vegetables on a parchment-lined sheet pan – and use an extra-large one! Or use two! They like space.

Group different veggies separately on the sheet pan (instead of mixing them all together) just in case you need to remove some and not others.

Keep it simple, with a light drizzle of olive oil, sprinkling of salt and pepper. This allows the flavors of the veggies to really shine.

Use a hot, 425 F oven, middle rack.

Check at 15 minutes, rotate pan and give a quick toss, continue cooking 5-15 minutes or until fork tender.

I always like to include an onion and bell pepper for flavor. (Just a personal preference)
Of course you can add a herb – thyme, rosemary, sage- all work well.

Basic Cauliflower Rice Pilaf with Variations

1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
2–3 garlic cloves ( optional, or sub 1–2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder)
1 shallot, finely chopped ( optional)
pinch salt and pepper
zest from one small lemon
1/8 cup fresh chopped parsley (or thyme, cilantro or basil, or sub other herbs, see below)

Trim the leaves and stem off the cauliflower and cut into smaller pieces. (If using a box grater, cut into quarters and see notes)

Working in 2 batches, place 1/2 the cauliflower pieces into a food processor and pulse until it is uniformly and coursely ground. Place in a large bowl, lined with paper towels. Repeat with the second half.

Pat the top with paper towels, squeezing out any excess water.

To cook, either roast or saute.

To roast, preheat oven to 425 F. Remove the paper towels and place the cauliflower on a parchment lined sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, chopped shallot, finely minced garlic and the zest of one lemon. Toss and spread out. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden, giving it good toss halfway though. Garnish with fresh parsley.

To saute on the stove top, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until golden and fragrant. Add cauliflower, garlic, salt and pepper and saute for a few minutes until you begin to smell the garlic. Turn heat down to low, cover and let this steam a bit until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Uncover, continue stirring, and add lemon zest. Cook until it starts to get golden. Sprinkle with herbs right before serving.

Feel free to make other variations to go with your meals:

Mexican – lime zest, cilantro, chili powder, cumin or coriander
Spanish – add smoked paprika
French – fresh thyme
Italian – garlic and basil
Indian – add curry powder
Asian – garlic and ginger, a small splash of soy and srircha at the end ( or Szechuan Sauce)