Vegetarian Mains

Butternut Squash with Roasted Garlic and Spinach

This one-sheet-pan side dish comes together in a snap. You can use pre-cut butternut squash and bagged, clean baby spinach to make it even easier! I do like freshly-cut butternut squash, so here are my tips: choose a squash with a long, wide neck and narrow, small bottom. Use a heavy and very sharp knife to cut the neck and base in two pieces, and then use the knife to cut off the skin. You can then cut the neck into a one-inch dice, and then cut the base into half, cut away the skin and scoop out the seeds to continue to cut it into one-inch cubes. I like to use a spring-loaded scoop to scrape out the seeds, it gets down deep and the seed release quickly. After the muscle work, all you have to do is put it on a sheet pan!

Butternut Squash with Roasted Garlic and Spinach

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 whole butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into a one-inch dice, or a pound of fresh packaged diced butternut squash

5 cloves of garlic, skins removed

1 bunch of fresh spinach, washed and chopped, or one 12-ounce bag of washed baby lettuce

Good quality olive oil, kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the cut butternut squash on the sheet pan and drizzle with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper. Toss together and distribute evenly around the sheet pan.

Place the garlic cloves on a small sheet of aluminum foil, about 3-inches by 3 inches. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic up in the aluminum foil like an envelope, bringing the sides in and the top over. Place the aluminum packet on the sheet pan with the butternut squash. Place the sheet pan in the oven and roast for about 35-40 minutes, turning the butternut squash halfway through with a spatula and checking the garlic packet. If the garlic packet turns golden brown before the butternut squash does, remove it from the oven (this could depend on the size of your garlic cloves.)

When the butternut squash is evenly browned and the garlic is soft and golden, remove the sheet pan. Take the garlic out of the packet and place on a cutting board. Quickly chop the garlic and put it on the sheet pan with the butternut squash. Put the spinach on the hot sheet pan, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and turn it with the butternut squash using a spatula until the spinach has wilted. The heat of the sheet pan should be sufficient to wilt the spinach, but if not, place it in the oven again for a minute. Serve warm.  

Baba Ganoush with Fresh Herbs and Scallions

Endlessly scoop-able, silky and smokey, baba ganoush is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant (although there are so many ways to love eggplant!) What makes this one a family go to? First, it’s so easy; just score, season and roast the eggplant (no peeling required!) Second, your food processor makes it a cinch to create a creamy, lemony, nutty puree, perfect for dipping or spreading. I like to give it a hit of fresh flavor by adding whatever herbs I have in the garden or left over from other dishes, and there is no chopping required! Third, you can endlessly customize this as a snack, lunch or light dinner by adding pita bread or chips, fresh veggies, Mediterranean-style meatballs or grilled chicken skewers.

Baba Ganoush with Fresh Herbs and Scallions

Makes about 6 servings (about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized eggplant

Olive oil to drizzle over eggplant, plus 3 tablespoons to add to the eggplant puree

Kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in aluminum foil

1/2 cup tahini

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving

1/4 cup of fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, dill or basil

2 scallions, greens sliced, whites reserved for another use

1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds

Pita and veggies, for serving or serve spread on a platter with Mediterranean meatballs or grilled chicken skewers on top.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Halve the eggplants lengthwise, and then score hash marks with the tip of a knife into the flesh. Drizzle olive oil over the cut side, and generously season with salt and pepper. Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down. Place the garlic foil packet on the baking sheet with the eggplant.

Roast the garlic until lightly brown and soft. Roast the eggplant until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 40 to 50 minutes (this might take longer if you are using larger eggplants). Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes. Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh, discarding any seed pods, with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind. The eggplant should have very little liquid because of the oven’s heat, but should it be watery, place the flesh in a strainer and shake away the liquid.

Place the eggplant flesh (discard the skin), roasted garlic, tahini, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and fresh herbs in a food processor. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt and a few cranks of pepper, and then pulse until smooth. Taste for additional seasoning and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with pita and veggies or grilled or roasted meats.

Roasted Broccoli with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Packing in all of the summer goodness I can with my two favorite veggies that make perfect sense together: broccoli and cherry tomatoes. Throw in a bunch of basil and the tang of a good-quality Balsamic, and you’ve got an easy, and so tasty, summer side dish.

Roasted Broccoli with Charred Cherry Tomatoes and Fresh Basil

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 head of broccoli, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut from the stem into florets

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, any variety

Olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

8 large fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Instructions:

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the broccoli on one of the sheet pans, the cherry tomatoes on the other sheet pan, and then drizzle generously with olive oil, salt and pepper. Distribute the broccoli and cherry tomatoes evenly on the sheet pans. Cook the cherry tomatoes for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes release their juice, shrink slightly and char on the outside, turning over at about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, place the broccoli in the oven, turning with a spatula occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the broccoli is tender and golden brown in places. When both of the vegetables are cooked and browned, remove them from the oven and mix together with the Balsamic vinegar. Transfer the broccoli and tomatoes to a serving platter and top with the freshly torn basil. Serve right away, or this dish can be served on a buffet at room temperature.  

Serve this up with a pasta dish, grilled chicken breasts or roasted salmon filets. You could make it a vegan main by adding pine nuts, white beans or a good quality vegan cheese.

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Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Pistachio Herb Pesto

When it’s summertime and you find gorgeous heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market, what do you dream of making? Here’s an effortless, no-cook recipe that uses all of your fresh-from-the-garden produce, perfect for those heat-wave evenings.

In between not-too-smooth and not-too-chunky, the trick to this gazpacho’s perfect body is the emulsifying combo of oil and vinegar. Serve chilled in icy glasses or bowls and top it off with an herbal, nutty Pistachio Herb Pesto for a vegan meal. Protein lovers could add in poached shrimp to make this summer soup a full meal or serve as an appetizer with grilled bread.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Pistachio Herb Pesto

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of heirloom tomatoes (I used green zebra and brandywine. The color of your gazpacho may change based on what you use), chopped into 2- inch chunks, seeds removed (just brush them out with your fingertip, don’t squeeze out the juice J )
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, or 4 mini sweet bell peppers, stem, seeds and membrane removed, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 English cucumber, cut into 2-inch chunks, 1/4 cup reserved for garnish
  • 1/4 of a red onion, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup of parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup of good quality olive oil…I used organic Spanish olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground pepper and sea salt
  • About 10 baby heirloom tomatoes, cut into quarters

Instructions

Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, red onion and parsley into the bowl of a high-speed blender or a food processor. Securely fasten the lid and blend, starting on low and increasing to high speed, until the mixture is completely smooth, about 2 minutes.

Add the olive oil, vinegar and about 10 cranks of pepper from a grinder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue to blend the mixture for about 1 minute, until creamy and emulsified. Taste the gazpacho for seasoning and add more pepper and salt if needed. Put the gazpacho in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to serve the gazpacho, divide into chilled glasses or bowls, then top with the reserved cucumber, baby heirloom tomatoes and Pistachio Herb Pesto.

Grilled Zucchini with Basil Pesto and Orzo Salad

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In my farm box came tender new zucchini and a sweet little box of brightly colored heirloom cherry tomatoes. Discovering a dreamy bundle of basil, I decided to combine two of my favorites: grilled zucchini with basil pesto and and a riff on orzo salad. Mediterranean orzo salad is a staple in my house, we make so many versions of it, sometimes adding roasted peppers, grilled eggplant, lots of lemon and zest, great olive oil, kalamata olives, thyme, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese; whatever is in the fridge that can tie it all together. My lovely spring zucchini with an herby, nutty pesto topped with one of our favorite salads is a perfect vegetarian main or side dish.

Let me know how you enjoyed this recipe, how it turned out for you and any changes you made! Please be sure to find me on Instagram to see more recipes and stories!! Or find me on Facebook Live for Kids Cook Along Classes.

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Grilled Zucchini with Basil Pesto and Orzo Salad

Ingredients:

1 bunch of basil leaves

1/4 cup of nuts (pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts all do well here!)

1-2 garlic cloves

2-3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil, plus more for zucchini

4 whole zucchini, stems and bottoms trimmed, cut in half lengthwise

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

1 cup of cooked orzo (just follow package instructions, rinse and drain, then coat with a light drizzle of olive to keep from sticking)

1 lemon, zested, then juiced

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Freshly ground pepper & sea or kosher salt

Method:

In a small food processor or blender, combine the basil, nuts, garlic and olive oil, and blend until combined but still a little chunky. It should look like a paste, if it’s too dense, add a little more olive oil, and process more. Taste for seasoning and add pepper and salt as needed. Remember, we are adding in feta cheese at the finish, so don’t make it too salty.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Drizzle the zucchini with olive oil to coat, and season with pepper and salt. When grill is hot, place the zucchini on with tongs. Grill until grill marks form and zucchini is slightly softened, then flip and grill until marks show on the other side. Remove from grill and arrange on a platter. Drizzle the pesto over the grilled zucchini.

Mix together the orzo, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, and feta cheese with a drizzle of olive oil. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt, then dish out over the grilled zucchini to serve.

Whole Grain Blend with Summer Vegetables and White Beans

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I was impressed with a friend’s choice for a “cleanse.” She wanted to get back on track with better eating choices, and started a program that, when it came down to the details, was just sensible eating: lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and no dairy. She asked for help with weekly food prep, so we whipped up a big batch of Turkey Chile with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans that sings with bright notes of cilantro and brims with good fiber. Then we made a veggie-centric tomato sauce to serve over quinoa and brown rice fusilli. Last, we put together one of my favorite grain and vegetable dishes that can utilize whatever is in season and transform into a whole meal with the addition of grilled chicken or a humble can of white organic beans. It’s a getting-back-to-basics formula: whole food=whole body=healthy happy lifestyle.

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Whole Grain Blend with Summer Vegetables and White Beans

Serves about 8 as a side dish, 4 as an entree

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 cup of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup of diced red bell peppers

1 cup of diced zucchini

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced onion

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 cups of brown rice blend (with quinoa, barley, millet, etc.)

4 cups of water or vegetable stock

1/2 cup of chopped basil

1 can organic white beans, rinsed and well drained

Instructions:

Heat a large Dutch oven or skillet with fitted lid over medium high heat until warm, then add half of the olive oil to the pan. Continue to heat the oil until it is warm, about 30 seconds, then add the broccoli, red peppers and zucchini to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, then cook until slightly browned and softened,  stirring occasionally. Remove the vegetables from the pan when they are cooked through but still crisp-tender and set aside.

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Sautee the mirepox and rice together until they are toasty and tasty.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, allowing it to heat, then add the carrots, celery and onions. Brown and soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and the rice blend, continuing to stir to toast the garlic and rice, about 30 seconds. Pour the water or stock over the rice mixture, season with salt and pepper, give one final stir, and bring to a boil. Once the rice mixture has come to a boil, cover the pan with the lid, placing slightly ajar to allow a bit of steam to release. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice mixture is tender but still firm. When rice is cooked, allow a resting time of 10 minutes with lid fully fitted, then remove the lid and fluff with a fork.

Fold the broccoli, red peppers, zucchini, basil and white beans into the rice blend. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Recipe notes: This is fantastic as a side dish to roasted or grilled chicken, with or without the white beans! It can be updated with whatever fresh, seasonal vegetables that you have on hand. In the winter, it is delicious with browned mushrooms, butternut squash, sauteed kale. The key is to cook the seasonal vegetables through, then remove them from the pan, and add the mirepox (carrots, celery, onion, garlic) and rice, then the fully cooked vegetables. That way, nothing gets overcooked and soggy!

Curry Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Almonds and Cilantro

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We have had a bounty of scrumptious cauliflower for months, and my recipe roster has been diverse: Cumin and Fennel Roasted Cauliflower and Potatoes, Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with Parsley Pesto, Cauliflower and Gruyere Souffle, and Ginger Turmeric Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes. But best of all, I’ve loved this Curry Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Almonds and Cilantro.

The goal of curry dishes is not to punch with heat, but create a warm glow. The key to that is balance. Sweet raisins, toasted crunchy nuts, piquant cilantro all mellow the heat to a low simmer, and wed perfectly with the char of well-roasted cauliflower. Curry can be made in all different manners, but using a good-quality curry powder with coriander, turmeric, coriander, cumin, mustard, black pepper and cayenne makes this a quick dish with packed with flavor and warmth. It also gives a nutritional boost, with the benefits of fiber and vitamin C from the cauliflower, bumped up with turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities

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 Curry Roasted Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Almonds and Cilantro

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

1 tablespoon good-quality prepared curry powder

Olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Heat an oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and pile cauliflower on it, seasoning with curry powder and generous olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss it all together, then roast in the oven, turning occasionally, until the cauliflower caramelizes and turns deep brown. Remove from oven when cauliflower is cooked through, tender and a rich golden brown. Toss with the almonds and raisins, then top with cilantro to serve.

Make your own curry powder: for the freshest, most authentic curry powder, make your own from whole spices. Toast 1 tablespoon each of whole cumin seeds, whole cardamom seeds, whole coriander seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Cool and put them into a spice blender, coffee grinder or bullet. Process the seeds until finely ground and add 2 tablespoons of ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard and 1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste if you like spicy) of cayenne pepper. Store in a sealed tight container for up to 3 months.