Sunday, November 10, 2019

Pasta With Roasted Butternut Squash & Onions

Pasta With Roasted Butternut Squash & Onions is a lovely dish to celebrate the delicious and super nutritious butternut squash. Once you have the butternut and onions roasted, the rest of the recipe goes really fast. Roasting brings out the nutty sweetness of both the butternut and onions. 

Use non-wheat pasta for a Gluten Free recipe.

Pasta With Roasted Butternut Squash & Onions

1 small Butternut, peeled and cut into bite size chunks
1 large Onion, cut into largish dice
1 tsp Oil
2-3 pinches Red Pepper Flakes
1 big clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp dried Thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
3-4 Green Onions, thinly sliced

4 oz dried short Pasta, cooked
2-3 Tbsp pasta cooking water
Vegan Parmesan Or chopped Toasted Nuts and Seeds, to serve


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Place the butternut and onions in a single layer evenly. Sprinkle with a good amount of salt and pepper.  

Roast in the oven until the veggies brown a little and become tender. Remove from oven and reserve.

While the veggies are roasting, start cooking the pasta according to package directions. Drain when ready reserving a little of the cooking water.

Heat the oil in a skillet and add red pepper flakes. When the pepper sizzles add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more.

Stir the thyme and the  roasted veggies and mix well.

Tip in the pasta and a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Sprinkle the green onions on top.

Serve hot with a little vegan parmesan or the nuts and seeds sprinkled on top.


Roasted Butternut & Onions

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Warm Black Bean Salad With Limey Mojito Dressing

Here's lovely Warm Black Bean Salad With Limey Mojito Dressing with a Southwest flair; a delicious and filling meal in a bowl! Rich in phytonutrients of anthocyanins, antioxidants, black beans, vegetables, and the herbs provide a vitamin, mineral, and fiber rich fare. We love piling the salad into warm tortillas or Romaine leaves taco style or scooping it with chips. 


Instead of romaine, other greens or baby lettuce and herb mixtures maybe used.

This is an oil-free salad; if you wish you may add a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the dressing and for cooking the onion-chile mixture.

4 Servings


1 small clove Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped
Pinch of Salt
1-2 Limes, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Chili powder (the spice mix)
2-3 Tsp Maple Syrup

1-2 Jalapeno or Serrano Chiles, deseeded, and minced
2 large Shallots OR 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups freshly cooked Black Beans OR 1 (15-ounce) can, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn kernels, fresh from about 2 ears OR frozen
1 Red, Yellow or Orange bell pepper, diced
2 Carrots, diced small
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 small hass avocado, halved, seeded and diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
1/2 head Romaine Lettuce, cut into a fine chiffonade, about 3 cups

Optional ingredients for serving:
Warm Corn Tortillas
Whole Romaine Leaves
Tortilla Chips
Hot Sauce


Make the dressing: 

Smash the garlic clove and chopped cilantro with a pinch of the salt using a mortar and pestle OR with the flat side of a large knife, into a coarse paste. Whisk the garlic paste, lime juice, salt, cumin, and chili powder together in a small jar or bowl. Whisk in the maple syrup. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Set aside. If made ahead, cover and reserve in the fridge.

Make the salad: 

Heat the chiles and onions with a pinch of salt in a skillet or pan; cook stirring over low-medium heat until onions are softened  and begin to color a bit.

Tip in the black beans, corn, bell pepper, and the carrots. Add half the dressing and toss to coat evenly.

Remove from the heat when the bean mixture is just warm and gently fold in the tomatoes and half the cilantro. Adjust seasoning with lime juice, salt and pepper.

Reserve about 2-3 tsp of the dressing to drizzle on top of the salad before serving.

Add the rest of the dressing to the lettuce and the remaining cilantro; divide among 4 plates.

Pile the bean mixture on top of the lettuce.

Place the avocado on top, drizzle with the reserved dressing.

Serve immediately with the warm tortillas, romaine, or chips. Pass the hot sauce.


Caldo Verde (Portuguese-style Mashed Potato Soup With Beans & Greens)

Caldo Verde is a classic Portuguese soup with luscious potatoes, hearty greens, and plump beans. I was intrigued by this soup when I saw a program where this soup was featured many years ago. It is a hearty and comforting soup to satisfy the hunger pangs with minimal ingredients and work. Although similar to Mess of Greens Soup, it is simpler and a bit different. It is a snap to prepare especially if you have leftover mashed potatoes and some cooked beans waiting in the fridge or freezer; canned kidney beans may be used as well. If you like to cook your own beans, check this post; it is quite easy, tasty, and economical!

I make two versions of Caldo Verde (at least): one with regular potatoes and another with sweet potatoes depending on what's available in my pantry! The bean choice can vary too - use any dry beans cooked until soft but not mushy. The potatoes may be left in chunks or mashed and added to the soup. I use different types of greens based on availability, variety, and taste; use your favorites - Kale, Swiss Chard, Collards, Turnip greens, etc. Hearty greens work best for this soup; depending on the greens you use, the cooking times will vary; the tougher greens will need more time to soften. If you really want to use spinach, stir it in at the last minute just to wilt.

  • I often roast the veggies for a robust flavored soup. Roasting may be done a day or two ahead which makes preparing the soup ever so quick. Only caveat with roasting the potatoes is that you may have to guard them from being eaten right out of the pan because they are so delicious! The roasted veggies may be stirred into the soup with or without mashing.
  • If you like a red, green and white soup with a high contrast of ingredients, use white carrots and peeled regular potatoes. Also, rinse the beans before adding to the soup to keep the soup from taking on color from the bean cooking liquid.
8 Servings


1 tsp Oil (optional)
1/2 tsp Red Chile flakes
1 Onion, chopped
1/2 tsp Turmeric (optional)
1 Bay Leaf, fresh or dry
5-6 sprigs fresh Thyme
2-3 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1 large Carrot, cut into thick coins
4-6 Potatoes, any type (about 1 1/2 lbs)
6 cups boiling Water
1 tsp Sea Salt, or to taste
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1 big bunch Kale or other Leafy Greens (about 1 lb)
2 Cups cooked Red Kidney Beans
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to serve
Red Chile flakes, to serve


Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place whole potatoes in a baking pan and bake until done. Alternately, cut potatoes into cubes and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes or until cooked and lightly browned, stirring to cook evenly once or twice during roasting.

Alternately, the potatoes maybe cooked or steamed, cubed or mashed before adding to soup.

Prepare the greens; wash, trim, and strip the leaves off from the stems; chop the stems and leaves and keep them separate.

Heat the oil (if using) in a soup pot and add the chile flakes; when they begin to sizzle or change color, add the onions, garlic with carrots and a pinch of salt. Stir in the stems from the greens if you wish to use them. Cook covered over low heat for about 4 to 5 minutes stirring as needed with a sprinkle or two of water as needed to keep the veggies from sticking or burning.

Add the boiling water along with the herbs and increase heat so the soup is boiling.

Stir in the chopped kale or the greens of your choice, cover, reduce heat so the soup is simmering gently, and simmer until the greens are tender.

Add the beans to the greens and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the potatoes. If you like a creamy soup, mash the potatoes while still hot with a potato masher with a little of the broth from the soup. Stir it back into the soup and heat through.

Check soup for seasonings and add salt and freshly ground pepper according to your taste.

Serve hot with a drizzle of the olive oil and a sprinkle of the chile flakes if you like.


Friday, November 8, 2019

Sizzling Tortilla Soup

Sizzling Tortilla Soup is a lovely rib-sticking, comforting, filling, and nutritious soup. Although called Tortilla soup, it is full of  plump beans, tomatoes, and sweet corn. If you like more veggies, carrots, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, etc maybe added for a veritable feast in a bowl.


I make this soup with Pinto beans; you may use your favorite beans like Lima, Black, Great Northern, Peruvian or Kidney beans, etc if you prefer. Canned beans maybe used also in a pinch.

Do include some fresh ingredients for toppings; they really brighten the soup.

Use frozen corn kernels for ease of cooking if you prefer. If using frozen corn, omit the step of simmering the corn-cobs in the broth.

If you prefer not to use tortilla chips, warm corn tortilla pieces are wonderful too as a topping or garnish.

8 Servings


2 cups Dried Pinto Beans
3 cups vegetable broth or water
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeño, minced (discard white pith and seeds for a mild soup)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dry Mexican oregano
1 tsp cumin, freshly ground
1 tbsp New Mexico Chile powder
1 lb can tomatoes, crushed well
2 cups corn kernels, cut off the cob (about 3 medium ears)
1/2 cup corn tortillas/Tortilla chips
1 cup coarsely crushed Tortilla chips, warmed for sizzling soup


Avocado, diced
Diced fresh tomatoes
Chopped jalapeño or serrano chile
Cilantro, chopped
Diced onion
Sliced green onions
Tortilla chips, warmed


Sort, wash and soak the dried beans overnight or do a quick soak - check this Post on cooking dried beans. Cook the beans until soft but not mushy.

Place the broth or water in a pan with the corn cobs if using fresh corn and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the broth through a strainer; discard the solids including corn cobs. Omit this step if using frozen corn.

In a large soup pot add onions garlic and jalapeños with salt and turmeric; cook over low heat adding a sprinkle or two of water until softened.

Add herbs and spices. Cook for about 30 seconds.

Crush tomatoes and add to soup pot along with the juices. Tip in the cooked beans with cooking liquid and the corn broth or water.

Simmer for about 30 minutes over low heat.

Stir in the toasted tortilla pieces and bring back to simmer. Add more broth or water if the soup is too thick. Turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes.

For sizzling tortilla soup, warm the chips until hot and carefully add to individual bowls of hot soup at the table.

Pass your favorite toppings and garnishes.

Enjoy!! Buen provecho!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019


Tofu Tikka Masala is a hearty dish and although it sounds like a lot of work, it can be done in steps. Both the tofu and the sauce maybe prepared a day ahead and assembled the next day. Making the sauce one day ahead helps to make it a lot easier; and the sauce is fabulous after it gets a chance to meld all the flavors. Do try it; when you taste and see how delicious it is, you will agree it is worth the effort.

Serve with plain rice, any pulao or biriyani, roti, naan etc. accompanied by a platter of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions or a raita.

Notes: Tandoori Masala may be homemade or purchased.

4-6 Servings


1 block of extra-firm tofu (16 oz)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek Leaves)
2 tsp Ginger, grated
2 Tbsp Tandoori Masala
2 Tbsp Cornstarch
Oil for coating the pan

2 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp raw cashew nuts
1 tsp Oil  
1 large Onion, Divided - one half into 1-inch dice, the other half finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 large green or red Bell pepper, diced into 1-inch pieces
1Tbsp Ginger, grated
1 Tbsp Tandoori Masala
1 tsp paprika or Kashmiri chile powder OR Paprika
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Coconut Milk (canned)
1 tsp Maple syrup, Jaggery or Brown Sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1Tbsp Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek Leaves)
1Tbsp Lemon juice
4-6 Tbsp Coriander/Cilantro, finely chopped


Prepare tofu: Remove tofu from package and rinse. Dry off  to remove excess water. Cut the tofu into 12 - 16 pieces.

Marinate the tofu: Crush the Kasoori Methi in the palm of your hands with your fingers into a powder and put into a bowl. Add the salt, Tandoori Masala, corn starch and ginger. Mix well. Dredge the tofu into the spice mix to coat well on all sides. Place the tofu in a container/pan that can hold all the tofu in a single layer. Add any spice mix left in the bowl. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Make the sauce: The sauce maybe made one day ahead. Blend the tomatoes and the raw cashews with 1/2 cup of water into a smooth paste.

Heat a large skillet, wipe with a little oil, and add the finely chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Stir often and cook covered until onion starts to color, about 5-7 minutes or so. Sprinkle with a little water to keep from burning or sticking.

Add garlic, ginger, tandoori masala, turmeric, and paprika or Kashmiri chile powder (or paprika). Cook for a minute then add tomato puree. Swirl about a 1/2 cup of water in the blender to collect every bit of the puree and add to the pan.

Stir in the coconut milk and jaggery or maple syrup if using, stir well, and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened.

Cook the tofu: Heat a large non-stick skillet wiped with oil. Cover and cook tofu until it is slightly and evenly browned on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side or so; this can be done in batches if the tofu pieces do not fit in the skillet in one layer. Remove the tofu to a plate.

Cook the diced onion and bell pepper to the same skillet with a little sprinkle of water and cook stirring until slightly softened but still has some bite.

Alternately, bake the tofu and  the veggies for 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tofu and the veggies in a signle layer on a parchment lined or well-oiled baking pan. When the tops of tofu cubes start to brown - about 15 minutes; flip them to brown the other side and stir the veggies to cook evenly.

Add a couple of spoonfuls of water to any remaining marinade masala in the pan to make a slurry, mix thoroughly, and add to the sauce; stir well and bring it back to a simmer. The sauce should be creamy; if it is too thick, add a little water or coconut milk.

Finish Tofu Tikka Masala: Gently add the tofu and veggies to the simmering sauce and mix well. Crush the kasoori methi into a coarse powder with your fingers and sprinkle on top along with the garam masala. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let rest for 10 minutes.

Stir in lemon juice and chopped coriander/cilantro before serving. Serve hot with rice, your favorite grains, roti, or naan.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Salsa Roja (Emergency Salsa!)

Salsa Roja or Emergency Salsa is a great go-to recipe when one runs out of fresh tomatoes or when they are out of season. Can you imagine that we do not have any fresh tomatoes sometimes? This salsa tastes just like the cooked salsa roja that one encounters in some Mexican restuarants. Serve this salsa just like you would the fresh Salsa I or II, with chips or meals.

Years ago, out of sheer necessity for some lively accompaniment, I used a can of tomatoes to make salsa! It turned out so well that it has become a keeper for those times when fresh tomatoes are all used up in salads or sandwiches or someone forgot to check the list :-).

About 2 cups


1 (15 oz) can Organic Diced Tomatoes
1/2 medium Red Onion, finely chopped
1 clove Garlic (optional)
1 Jalapeño Chile, cored and minced
1 small bunch fresh Cilantro/Coriander, finely chopped
1 Lime/Lemon, juiced
Salt and Pepper to taste


Place half of all the veggies - half the tomatoes, garlic clove if using, half the onion, and the Jalapeño - in a blender and pulse until finely chopped.

Add the rest of the veggies and pulse once or twice just until combined. Add salt and pepper, cilantro, and some lime juice; pulse once or twice. Taste and adjust the seasonings and lime juice.

Tip into a container and serve or chill in the fridge until needed.


Serve with your favorite meals, baked potatoes, chips, beans, etc. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Pasta with Lemony Ricotta Basil & Thyme

Pasta with Lemony Ricotta Basil & Thyme is a quick and easy dinner especially on weeknights or when one needs a quick but hearty and comforting meal. Make the vegan ricotta a couple of days ahead. The only cooking involved is cooking the pasta. Once the pasta is ready, mix everything, plate, and enjoy!


If fresh gluten free pasta is not available, use dried. This pasta dish maybe prepared with your favorite dried pasta but the short shapes such as gemelli, fusilli, penne, etc work especially well.

Leftover pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and gently reheated.



8 oz. fresh Pasta (Gluten free)
1 clove Garlic, mashed
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh Basil leaves, torn
3-4 sprigs fresh Thyme, leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 large Lemon, zest and juice
1/2 cups non-dairy Ricotta cheeze*
1 cup vegan Parmesan cheese
1 pinch kosher Salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1 Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
Good-quality olive oil, for drizzling (optional)

Non-Dairy Ricotta Cheeze*:
1/4 cup raw Cashews or Almonds, soaked in warm water for 2 hours 
1/2 block (~7-8 oz.) Firm Tofu, drained well
1 pinch Salt
Fresh Lemon Juice to taste


Make Non-Dairy Ricotta Cheeze: If using almonds, it is aesthetically pleasing to remove their skins; but if brown specks of the skin are not a problem, use without peeling. Drain and rinse the nuts, process using a food processor until finely ground. Add the drained tofu, salt and lemon juice and process until combined. Spoon the vegan ricotta into a container and store in the fridge until needed. Vegan ricotta will stay fresh for about 5-6 days.

Prepare Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. 

While the water is boiling for the pasta, prepare the sauce:
Combine the garlic, herbs, ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. 

When the pasta is al dente, drain, ans add it to the ricotta bowl and mix well to coat the pasta in the sauce. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes, if using, and serve immediately. Drizzle olive oil over each serving if you wish.