Fresh eating in the summertime: very superior salads!

Don't you get to the point on hot summer evenings when all you want to eat are fresh, crispy salads? Here's a deliciously special post from the archives with the salads of your dreams—and a fun video showing you chef's secrets for how to properly dress a salad. I'm telling you, this is a game changer!

Let’s talk salads.


I started making salads for my father when I was 7 years old. He was in the salad dressing business, and he liked his salads a particular way -- big, crunchy, crispy salads, full of vegetables, draped in dressing. Chopping up salad for him was a HUGE deal. I, Rebecca, was making salad for the Salad King!

Fast forward. When I studied cooking in Italy, I had to revamp my knowledge of salads and learn the refined art of dressing an elegantly simple salad -- lightly dressed and full of tender greens such as arugula, radicchio, and mache, varieties I wasn’t exposed to in the states. By European standards, my father’s salads were uber chunky, and way overdressed!

How do you go about dressing the perfect salad?

It’s really very, very simple.

First of all, your greens have to be dry and crisp. I like to spin them in a salad spinner then put them in a flour sack towel to pick up any moisture clinging to them. So you’re starting with the right texture, with the leaves ready to absorb the dressing and receive just a gentle coating. In contrast, if the greens are soggy the salad dressing will roll right off, down to the bottom of the bowl. This step is numero uno! Very important.

Continue reading

Ciabotta – Easy Summer Vegetable Stew from Abruzzo

Today we are continuing with our Abruzzo recipe series, in which we share traditionally plant-based dishes from Abruzzo, Italy. We are hosting a vegan/vegetarian retreat there this October (there are still a few spots left!), and our research of local ingredients and eating traditions has led us to cooking and trying some amazing plant-based meals from the region.


This simple summer vegetable stew is the perfect example of the genius simplicity and quiet elegance of Italian peasant food, which mostly depends on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Ciabotta (also known as ciambotta) is a common summer dish in Abruzzo, as well as all throughout southern Italy, and it’s everything we want to be eating this summer.


My aunt back in Russia makes something similar to ciabotta, a dish that she invented herself, and I’ve been craving it so much this summer. I was super excited when Anna, our retreat partner and Abruzzo local, told me that southern Italy has a similar dish that I should try making.

Continue reading

Summer Pasta with Cream Sauce

This is a recipe to help keep the summer heat from getting to you. It's fast and delicious. And it's lighter than you might think. Remember to use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Also remember that Pitta season runs from July to October. As soon as the first heat waves of summer roll around, most of us feel the effects of the increased Pitta in the atmosphere — perhaps a shorter fuse than usual, maybe more irritability and frustration, occasionally outbursts of anger. Whether you are predominantly Pitta by constitution or not, take measures to keep the fire element in balance during the heat of the summer.

Continue reading

Vegan Date Shake Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

While walking in Astoria, Oregon on a blustery, rainy day, I saw the most beautiful fern growing out of a derelict wharf. Although the wharf had been abandoned when the cannery closed, and the sea was reclaiming the remaining pilings, there was new life. Amidst the wind, rain, and neglect, the bright green fern had found a way to persevere. We humans like to see ourselves as different and separate from nature; yet, we, too, find ways to grow and thrive, even when there are outside forces fighting against us. Life always finds a way, no matter the obstacles…although it might not always be how or what we expected.

Do you remember the Rubix Cube? Every move affects a future move and every twist depends on the previous one. Just as in nature, everything is interconnected, which makes me wonder… Did the fern grow in spite of the harsh conditions or because of them?

When I was a child, my friend and I decided we could speed things up on the Rubix Cube by removing the colored stickers and repositioning them. Unfortunately, not all the stickers were easily detachable. So, instead of achieving our ultimate end, we made it so the game would never be winnable. There are times in life to break rank, and there are other times when more is gained from ebbing with the tide and allowing each action to be the building block for the following one.

Continue reading

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Donuts with a Coconut Glaze

We’ve got a subtly red-white-and-blue treat for you today. Donuts! First though, let’s get this out of the way: these donuts are vegan, gluten-free and baked, so there’s nothing classic about them. There will inevitably be textural and flavor differences, when compared to the (delicious) fried donuts that you would acquire at a donut shop. These baked donuts are so good in their own right though: they’re studded with blueberries, sweetened with maple syrup, and made extra special with a sunny tanginess from lemon juice/zest. There’s also a perfectly glossy, four-ingredient coconut glaze that’s completely irresistible. Making these guys is definitely a much easier venture than frying up proper donuts at home, so that’s another bonus. In fact, though they look impressive, they do not take long to prepare at all.

Continue reading

The Ultimate Guide to Hosting or Attending A Healthy, Plant-Powered 4th of July Celebration (Or Other Summer Party)

Want to have a summer party that is both festive and healthy? These tips, foods, and healthy July 4th recipes will help you enjoy get-togethers that nourish your body and support your health deliciously.

 

Sitting in the sunshine all day, burgers and hot dogs sizzling on the grill, plates piled high with mayo-drenched potato salad, fireworks shooting across the sky, and red, white, and blue everywhere you look.

 

For many Americans, this is an annual tradition. And like most holidays, the 4th of July — U.S. Independence Day — is known for some unhealthy practices. You probably don’t expect to find healthful foods at most parties. But what if you want to host a summer get-together, or attend one, without sacrificing your health?

 

The following tips and recipes will help you create (or participate in) a 4th of July celebration or another summer party that won’t disrupt your healthy lifestyle.

Continue reading

Yellow Split Pea Chowder from Power Plates

Today we are cooking the creamiest, most perfect chowder from a new cookbook that we are completely in love with, called Power Plates. If you frequent the high-vibe recipe blog world, you probably already know the author of the book, Gena Hemshaw, who is the nutritionist and author behind The Full Helping, and a glowing light in the world of plant-based cooking.

 

Gena’s new cookbook has the most brilliantly simple concept behind it: each recipe features a complete meal, in the sense that it has a balance of complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein, all provided by a variety of whole food ingredients. Thus, each recipe results in a true plate of power. This dreamy chowder, for example, calls for corn and potatoes, as most chowders do, but also includes protein-rich yellow split peas, which take the soup to a complete meal territory, and blend in seamlessly with the rest of the ingredients. It is so good.

Continue reading

Perfect Potluck!

My dears, we are approaching picnic season! Including the grandaddy of picnics, 4th of July. I've got you covered with potluck etiquette, recipes and strategies to help make hosting or participating a delicious—and delightful—success!

 

It’s that time of year! We’re invited to block parties, 4th of July fests, family reunions, picnics, and potlucks of all shapes and sizes. This is when we’re supposed to show up with the PERFECT dish that everyone loves, something that won’t wilt in the heat, will go with whatever everyone else brings (or at least out shine all those other dishes).

 

Here’s my favorite potluck story ever.

When I moved in with my husband on his street in San Rafael, California, no one in the neighborhood knew about me yet. I was working really hard doing heavy-duty cancer retreat cooking at Commonweal at the time, and, well, I was like the shoemaker with holes in her shoes! The summer party invitation arrived, asking us to bring something for the grill, and something for the cooler. I thought, corn! I bought a whole blue bag full from our farmer’s market. Gregg brought a bottle of wine and some fish for the grill. We walked a few doors down to the Burford’s home, and on the counter were ALL these gorgeous dishes, the most AMAZING spread. Frittatas, tarts, grain salads, gorgeous vegetables. It was like, oh my God! I did not get the memo. I’m a trained chef, I had just come out with my first cookbook and I’m walking in with a bag of corn. Granted, it was shucked! And it wasn’t a bad thing to bring, actually. But ouch! Not the ideal first impression. I could have brought a million more sophisticated things!

Continue reading

Ginger Cannellini Bruschetta

Summertime means lots of gatherings with family and friends sharing good food and drinks. Whether it's a pool party, block party or just because party, a weekend free is always an opportunity to play hostess.  Chips and charred salsa is always a good fall-back plan but having a a few new ideas in your back pocket can create a new experience. 

This is a great quick recipe for an appetizer to a larger meal. It is substantial and piquant. Serve at a group gathering along with crudités and your other favorite hors d'oeuvres.

Makes approximately 16

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. garlic ghee
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Approx. 2 cups (16 oz.) small white beans (cannellini), soaked and cooked until tender
  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. ginger preserve
  • 1 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 very fresh baguette, cut lengthwise and in 3-inch slices (approximately 16 slices)
Continue reading

Follow Your Passion and Live Your Life

Follow Your Passion and Live Your Life

I was 23 years old when I started teaching French at a small boarding school in Maine. Just three days after submitting my master’s thesis in Paris I was settled into a small, white clapboard, steps away from a salt marsh on the New England coastline.

 

Continue reading

The Simplest Lentil Soup from Abruzzo

Today we are continuing with our Abruzzo recipe series, where we share traditionally plant-based dishes from Abruzzo, Italy. We are hosting a vegan/vegetarian retreat there this October (there are still a few spots left!), and we’ve been having a ton of fun researching local, plant-focused recipes for our menu. Our co-host and Abruzzo local, Anna, learned this recipe from Nonna Aida (pictured below while carefully sorting lentils) from the village of Santo Stefano. Nonna Aida, who has since passed away, cooked this soup over the course of her whole life, so this is a solid, time-tested, and absolutely delicious recipe.

Continue reading

Transition time

We think of seasons: Fall. Winter. Spring. Summer… but it’s really more like transition to spring, late spring… summer… then late summer. Memorial Day feels like the pivot point, marking the start of summer; but you really never know what transition times will bring. Right now in the Bay Area, we’re having unseasonably cool temperatures and rain is predicted. For us, that’s like a blizzard coming! It’s a big deal. We may have harbingers of summer, but we’re not quite there yet.

 

Food-wise, I’m thinking spring soups, when you want something that whispers of late spring, honors the gorgeous spring harvest, and that’s bright and refreshing! Fresh pea soup… carrots… fennel… asparagus…cream of celery. Easy to put together, with the fresh, tender spring veggies.

Continue reading

Zucchini Bread (Ayurveda Recipe)

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."  - Jim Davis

Summer squash typically called "zucchini" were developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century. Zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a backyard garden and can produce a copious amount. Zucchini has a delicate flavor and requires little more than quick cooking with butter or olive oil, with or without fresh herbs.

zucchini BreadThis recipe uses grated zucchini to make a moist and delicious sweet bread. Enjoy!

Continue reading

The Best Vegetarian Bun Free Burger Ever!

There’s nothing more satisfying than a burger... especially when it is a hashtag juicepulp burger! Pulp from juicing can be used for all sorts of food and beauty recipes. Try using cucumber pulp for cleansing the skin, carrot pulp for carrot cake and beetroot (beet) pulp for these delicious burger patties. Whatever your everyday life throws at you these beetroot burgers are designed to restore your depleted energy levels.

Makes 4 burgers

Continue reading

Tofu Saag Paneer, Spring Style

Saag paneer was always my number one choice when ordering food at an Indian restaurant. What could be better than spiced, creamed spinach, studded with soft cheese cubes and served over perfectly cooked rice? Heaven. The way I would feel the day after eating it for dinner was the exact opposite of heaven, though. I eventually came to the conclusion that the saag paneer hangovers were not worth it, especially when I realized that I could make delicious saag paneer at home, with tofu replacing the cheese and coconut milk standing in for the heavy cream. Nowadays, I honestly prefer my version. It tastes just as satisfying, but also nourishes me in that energizing, life-giving way that only plant-based food can.Just a quick note to say that I realize that this recipe is nothing close to authentic, starting with the use of extra vegetables, to the tofu, and even the spices. Saag paneer is more of an inspiration here, a really great one at that, and I definitely don’t mean to offend any real Indian cooks.This particular recipe is brightened up with the use of seasonal vegetables, mainly because I cannot contain my excitement for all the spring produce around right now. I also figured that tender spring things like asparagus, broccoli, and peas would mingle well with creamed spinach, and they really do. The tofu works very well here, too. The thing I love about tofu is that it’s able to become so many things. It’s particularly perfect as a paneer stand-in because it looks similar and has a similar texture. A quick sear in the pan and a toss in some spices, and it becomes totally irresistible.Now about the spices. Traditionally, garam masala is the spice blend that’s used to flavor saag paneer. The thing is, I rarely have garam masala on hand, but I pretty much always have curry. So, I use curry in this saag paneer, and it works really well (see what I mean when I say not traditional?). I think the reason it works is because both garam masala and curry are spice blends, and both contain powerful spices like cumin and coriander. Curry has turmeric while garam masala doesn’t, and garam masala is usually sweeter and includes spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, but generally, they are both complex and delicious. Anyways, I point all of this out to say that it’s totally ok to use curry here and generally to work with what you’ve got in your pantry. I’m a big believer in making recipes your own. If you do have garam masala though, feel free to use it in this recipe and maybe adjust the amount if needed.The curry that I always have on hand comes from our amazing partner, Nuts.com. It’s made with noticeably fresh spices and lasts forever, because I keep it refrigerated. Since curry is a blend of strong spices, it’s basically an express way to flavor, and it’s instantly able to enhance so many dishes, like this tofu saag paneer, as well as soups, stews, sauces, etc. It’s definitely one of my favorite pantry staples. I also used Nuts.com chili powder in this dish for even more complexity.For other great ways to use curry powder, check out these dishes from our archives: Our Favorite Weeknight Curry, Mango Curry, Curry Coconut Ice Cream, Lemongrass Curry Noodles, Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprout Gratin, Savory Vegetable Crumble.CLICK FOR TOFU SAAG PANEER, SPRING STYLE RECIPE

Be still my heart: Radishes!

So cute, they’re adorable! But so brash. They can be a little bossy, a little assertive. A wake up call! Of course I’m talking about radishes, the charming but somewhat overlooked actors waiting in the wings of our kitchen stage. Let’s talk about their myriad facets, and the many roles they are ready to play on our plates!

A bit of radish history

Radish plants are native to China, and are thought to have been cultivated in Europe as early as Neolithic times (from around 9,000 to 3,000 BC). They were certainly eaten in Egypt since the beginning of civilization. The 100,000 builders of The Great Pyramid evidently ate enormous quantities of radishes together with onions and leeks. The mind boggles.

Today’s familiar red globe radishes first appeared on the food scene in the 18th century, and now there are more than 250 varieties in various shapes, sizes and colors. A veritable treasure trove of radishes!

Continue reading

Ayurvedic Walnut Veggie BrainBurgers

The English walnut has a rich, expansive history and the respect of modern science. Here's a veggie burger featuring the walnut from Chef Domnick Mason at the Raj Ayurvedic resort and spa in Fairfield Iowa. The Raj, for the last 25 years has provided a full range of authentic panchakarma treatments to clientele worldwide as well as meals for guests and the community that feature organic foods - much of it local.

This is the recipe for the famous Raj veggie-burger featuring the brain-nourishing, health-supporting walnut. Nuts are considered an important part of the vegetarian diet as they supply fiber, minerals, and vitamins. They contain beneficial phytochemicals. Some contain many different forms of plant sterols, which are believed to help moderate blood cholesterol. Some of the volatile oils in nuts contain antioxidants that help counter free radical damage. Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans contain no cholesterol. Most of the calories in nuts come from fat, but mainly unsaturated fat, and fat performs some essential functions in the body. A growing body of scientific research spotlights the health benefits of this delicious nut.

Continue reading

Why Giving from the Heart Can Be So Scary

What kind things do you think but don’t say? How would your life be different if you expressed your love, desire, and gratitude more often to those closest to you? What do you keep to yourself because it feels too scary to share?

The following is an example of a seemingly insignificant moment that I’ve never forgotten because I chose to be guarded rather than vulnerable. When I was in 11th Grade, a friend and I set off on a late afternoon stroll through some pastures in Vermont. There was a golden hue as the spring day was slowly turning to night, and I remember looking at my friend and thinking how beautiful she looked. However, instead of sharing from my heart and telling her what I saw, I bit my tongue and said nothing. How strange to be too shy to extend a compliment, but this happens more frequently than you might think.

Continue reading

Rhubarb Celli Ripieni – Old School Jam Cookies from Abruzzo

There are still a few spots left in our Abruzzo Forage and Cook Retreat in Italy this coming October! We thought we would talk a bit more about the vegan menu that we were able to develop for this retreat, as well as share a traditionally vegan cookie recipe from Abruzzo.


Traveling through Italy as a vegan (and in some cases even as a vegetarian) can be rough. Sure, you will be able to get by ok, but you will also inevitably miss out on a ton of truly authentic and delicious dishes, and may even end up eating more than a few mediocre vegan meals. We’re speaking from experience. That’s why we initially planned our retreat to be strictly vegetarian – we didn’t think we could pull off a vegan menu in such a remote region as Abruzzo. But so many of you expressed an interest in a 100% vegan menu, that we had to rethink the whole thing.



Continue reading

Arugula!

Arugula is my number one go-to green. I put it on EVERYTHING! I like a little bit of bitter, and it has good tooth—texture you can sink your teeth into. Arugula plays well with others, especially seasonal fruits like blueberries, roasted cherries, apricots. Throw it in with other lettuces, in a frittata, into a pesto. Throw it on top of soup! Top it with sardines. Throw it in at the last minute of scrambling an egg. On top of toast with smushed avocado. The topping looks like green hair! Like that girl in school who had that curly kind of crazy hair? Like that.

It’s kind of my savior.

What could be easier than grabbing a handful or two out of a bag, box or farm-market stash and plopping in whatever you’re doing? Drizzle on a little olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt. Done.

Continue reading