I woke up craving cilantro. Strange, but true. As I planned a Sunday night barbecue for a few friends, I could only think of things that contained cilantro. After way too much deliberation, I decided to make a farro salad packed with heart-healthy beans, sweet mango and fresh corn. I pureed cilantro into a lime vinaigrette and poured it over my ingredients.

I thought this would be good, but I must say, it’s a “wow.” It’s destined to be my go-to grain salad for summer. It’s super easy to make, and the flavors really pop. If you like foods that combine sweet and tart, you’ll be a fan. And if you have a cilantro craving like I did, I promise it will be satisfied.


Farro is Emmer wheat, a nutty tasting and distinctively chewy grain. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute barley in this recipe. Or use quinoa for a gluten-free dish.

The salad is far superior if served the same day it’s made – preferably before any refrigeration. The flavors fade fairly quickly over time.

This recipe serves a big crowd. If you’re just feeding four or five people, halve it.

Farro Salad with Corn, Black Beans and Mango

1½ cups pearled farro (can substitute barley)
¼ teaspoon salt
2½ cups raw corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1½ cups cooked black beans
1 ripe mango, diced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

Cilantro-lime vinaigrette:

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ cup (packed) cilantro leaves (small stems ok)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt

Cook the farro with salt according to the package directions, then drain off any excess liquid. Be careful not to overcook – you want the farro to be very chewy.

Cool for 15 minutes, then place it in a large bowl and add the corn, beans, mango and scallions.

In a food processor, puree the olive oil, lime juice, cumin and salt. Pour over the farro salad and stir to combine.

Serve at room temperature (preferable) or refrigerate to eat later the same day. Refrigerated salad may need some additional lime juice, so taste before serving.

Serves 8-10

A quick post today to share with you a variation on my Caramelized Onion Tart with Greens and Cashew Cream. That tart was a game changer for me and has become a favorite among my friends. For this version I’ve cut down on the calories by using a layer of lemony pureed beans in place of the rich cashew cream. I also switched up the vegetables, and this combination of onions, red peppers, mushrooms and broccolini is another winner. Since it’s spring, maybe you’ll want to make a ramp and asparagus version – or use a fava bean puree as the base.

If you haven’t tried a tart like this before, I really urge you to, because the chickpea flour crust is incredibly flavorful, and the dish can be served warm or at room temperature. It’s perfect for your next luncheon (I always wanted to use the word “luncheon” – no one says that anymore!)

Vegetable Tart with White Beans and a Chickpea Crust

For the crust:

1 3/4 c. chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. cold water

For the bean layer:

1 can cannellini beans (use a BPA-free brand), drained and rinsed
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

For the vegetable topping:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chopped broccolini (also marketed as “baby broccoli”)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms (approximately 8 ounces before stemming and slicing)

To make the dough, mix the chickpea flour and salt. Drizzle the olive oil over the flour mixture and work together with your hands until crumbly. Add the water and mix very briefly, just until dough comes together (add an additional teaspoon of water if the dough seems too dry.)

Flatten the dough into a disk on a floured work surface.  Roll it out with a rolling pin to about 10 inches. Loosen the pastry by slipping a pastry lifter or metal spatula underneath. Fold in half and carefully transfer to a 9-inch tart pan, pressing it into the bottom and all the way up the sides.  (If the dough breaks, don’t worry – you can just piece it together in the tart pan and press to shape.)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the crust lightly with a fork and pre-bake for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly.

To make the bean layer, thoroughly puree the beans, lemon juice and salt in a food processor. If you have trouble making a smooth puree, add a teaspoon or two of water (I didn’t find this necessary but it depends on the type of beans.)

For the vegetable mixture, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet or Dutch oven. Cook the onions and salt over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft and starting to brown. Add the broccolini and red bell pepper, raise the heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until the broccolini is just starting to get tender. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Stir in black pepper.

To assemble, top the partially-baked crust with the bean puree, then the vegetable mixture.  Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

As much as I love my original granola, I’ve since come up with a streamlined version because I make it every single week (yes, we eat a lot of granola!) I ditched the orange zest, cardamom and coconut palm sugar, because people don’t always have those ingredients on hand. I’ve also used fewer nuts and less sweetener so the granola isn’t quite as fattening.  Best of all, this recipe is easy to make on a weeknight – it literally takes about three minutes to throw it together.

In the process of revising this recipe, I had several granola revelations I want to share with you today:

1. Adding a half-cup of water to the granola makes it bake up crunchier.

2. Black Mission figs are hands-down the best dried fruit to use in granola.

3. Less-sweet granola grows on you. If you’re used to commercial granola, try using a little more sweetener, but cut it down a bit each time you make the recipe. Soon you’ll think the regular stuff tastes too much like candy (because it is like candy!)

So make my simple granola, and see if it doesn’t become a weekly habit with you, too.

Simple Heart-Healthy Granola

6 cups rolled oats (if you are gluten-sensitive be sure to get oats marked gluten-free)
¾ to 1 cup whole raw almonds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4  teaspoon salt
1/2 c maple syrup
½ cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
or high-oleic safflower oil
2/3 cup (or more to taste) dried fruit (recommend diced black mission figs)

Heat the oven to 275 degrees.

Combine the oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the maple syrup, water, vanilla and olive oil.

Combine the two mixtures, then spread on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for one hour, stirring once. Add the dried fruit. Cool, then place in an airtight container for storage.

When I’m looking for an easy but flavorful dinner idea, I often think of dal. Served with a whole grain and some greens, it makes a delicious weeknight meal.

This time I wanted to include a green vegetable right in the dal for even more nutrition, so I adapted a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey that combines red lentils and cabbage. I’ve given the dish more complex spicing, with the addition of mustard seeds, asafetida and fenugreek, but it’s still a mild-ish, kid-friendly dal. If you don’t have the asetfetida and fenugreek don’t fret, it will still be fine – but those spices are worth seeking out, as they provide a nice authentic Indian flavor.

I served this dal with quinoa and a simple arugula salad with a lime and cilantro vinaigrette. Not exactly an Indian spread, but it all went together really well.

Of course, red lentils are an excellent source of protein – without the fat of meat – and they’re rich in fiber, folate, Vitamin A and other nutrients. The protein and fiber of lentils makes you feel fuller longer, so in addition to being heart-healthy, they are also a great choice if you’re watching your weight. All of which makes me wonder, why do Americans seem to ignore lentils, while they’re ubiquitous in many other cultures? Get on the lentil train, people!

Red Lentil Dal With Cabbage
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey, Indian Cooking

11/2 cups red split lentils (masoor dal), picked over, washed and drained
5 cups water
3 tablespoons high-oleic safflower oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 small dried red chili peppers
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
½ small head of green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced or shredded (4-5 cups)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin (preferably freshly ground)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon coriander or garam masala
Pinch asafetida (see note above)
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (see note above)
1 cup finely chopped or crushed tomatoes (I used Pomi chopped tomatoes)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly squeezed lime juice, optional

Put the lentils and water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are very soft.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add ginger, garlic, mustard seeds and red chili, and cook for 1 minute. Add onion and cabbage and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes until slightly browned. Stir in cumin, turmeric, coriander or garam masala, asafetida, fenugreek and salt and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the cabbage mixture to the cooked lentils. Simmer 5 minutes. Taste, and if you want to add a bit more zip without adding more salt, squeeze in a little lime juice. Let the dal sit and thicken for 10 minutes or more, and reheat as necessary before serving.

Serves 4

The hint of spring we experienced this weekend made me look forward to the summer ahead, and our annual trip to Downeast Maine. And from there it wasn’t a big jump for me to think about baking something with blueberries. However, I’m seriously cutting back on sweets – so my usual muffins were out. It had to be something a bit more on the savory side.

So with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I thought I’d try a riff on my whole-grain Irish soda bread. I stepped away from tradition with the addition of dried Maine blueberries and olive oil. I also used a combination of Greek yogurt and skim milk instead of the usual buttermilk. Worked like a charm, and added protein to boot.

Best of all, this bread is chock full of whole grains including steel-cut oats and toasted wheat germ. And there’s very little sugar – so enjoy it without guilt.

Irish Soda Bread with Wild Blueberries

3 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
¾ cup steel-cut oats
¼ cup toasted wheat germ
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 cup fat-free milk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons molasses (I used blackstrap)
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup dried wild blueberries

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the flour, oats, wehat germ, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the yogurt, milk, olive oil, molasses and sugar. Stir into the dry mixture along with the blueberries, mixing only until the dough just comes together. Transfer to a floured surface and gently form into a round loaf.

Place on a lightly greased cast iron skillet or baking sheet (if you use a skillet, the loaf shouldn’t be quite as large as the pan.) Score a deep X in the top of the dough. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. Cool before slicing.

My best recipe ever? The stats sure say so.

It’s my third blogiversary, so I thought I’d share with you my top posts of all time. Five recipes are reader favorites, and five are mine.


Vegan Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

This must be a common Google search, that’s all I can say, as over 28,000 people have viewed this recipe. It’s a great basic one to have in your repertoire – easy, hearty, and delicious. Don’t forget the Tabasco on top!

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache
It doesn’t surprise me at all that this is one of my most popular recipes. It’s a cake that never fails to wow people, whether they are vegan or not. With a deep, dark chocolate flavor, it’s my go-to recipe for birthdays. I’ve recently been substituting Guinness for the water, and it’s even more awesome.

Vegan Apple Crisp
I should just devote a whole blog to apple crisp, and it would probably be very popular. Sweet and homey, this crisp recipe will make you wonder why people think butter is so essential in desserts.

Serious Vegetarian Gumbo
If it were up to me, this would be higher on the list. If you’re a gumbo lover, you really have to try this! It’s not one of those wimpy vegetarian gumbo recipes, people. Again, Tabasco is essential.

Vegan Thanksgiving Gravy
I’m obsessed with Thanksgiving, and I’m not willing to sacrifice a bit of flavor, despite my heart-healthy diet. This rich gravy lives up to my high Thanksgiving standards.


These are five gems that are every bit as good as the ones above – but for whatever reason, have been slightly ignored. So please, do yourself a favor and go back to these. You’ll thank me later.

Vegan Oatmeal Pecan Cookies
I recently made these again, and added about a third cup of 72% dark chocolate chunks. I highly recommend this variation – these are probably my best cookies ever. (But note that it was really hard to choose between these and my Decadent Lowfat Brownies.)

Soba Noodle Salad with Avocado and Mango
This noodle dish is incredibly refreshing and flavorful. Easy to throw together, too. Of course, I love anything with lime and mint.

Vegetarian Pozole
I never thought I’d find a meatless version that satisfied my pozole cravings, but this is it. Just get your hands on some dried hominy and make this. Don’t skimp on the toppings, they are essential.

Spaghetti with Vegan Bolognese Sauce
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a plate of spaghetti and meat(ish) sauce. That’s why I come back to this recipe so often. Rather than relying on faux ground beef, this version includes nutritious tempeh, mushrooms and lentils.

Chipotle and Chocolate Vegetarian Chili
Of course I had to include a chili here, as it’s one of my signature dishes. This one is very distinctive, with layers of intense flavor. It’s worth hunting down the ingredients, such as Field Roast sausages and ancho chili powder.

That’s it for this anniversary post. Thanks for reading my blog, and keep the comments coming!