I’m trying not to eat sweets lately. But I had tons of rhubarb in my garden…now tell me, what was I supposed to do?!

I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie last week, and it was a bit of a letdown for some reason. So this week I decided to turn to one of my favorite crust recipes for inspiration and came up with this tart. With olive oil, hazelnut meal and sugar, this crust is like a sweet shortbread cookie – and surely one of the most delicious crusts ever, vegan or not.

I used rhubarb, raspberries and blueberries because I had them on hand. But you can make this tart with most any fruit combination you like. Since the crust is nicely sweet, I didn’t add nearly as much sugar to the filling as I normally would. So it’s an inversion of the usual unsweetened crust-sweet filling approach. I just love it.

This recipe makes two medium tarts, serving four to six people each. Or do as I did and make one larger one and one small. I took the extra tart to work for my colleagues. (Yes, they would really miss me if I left!) For the best crust texture, eat the tart the same day it’s baked. If saving leftovers until the next day, just throw a paper towel over it rather than covering tightly.

Rhubarb, Raspberry & Blueberry Tart

1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup all purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
½ cup hazelnut meal
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup hazelnut oil (or high-oleic safflower oil)
¼ cup cold water
3 cups sliced rhubarb
3 cups raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger, optional
1 teaspoon raw (turbinado) or demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the flours, hazelnut meal, 2/3 cup sugar and salt. Gradually drizzle oil on top, mixing with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Gradually add water until the dough comes together (add a little more water if necessary.) Divide into two balls and set aside.

Roll out each ball of dough directly on a rimless baking sheet, to about a 10-inch diameter.

In a medium bowl, mix the fruit, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch lemon zest and ginger (if using). Do not let the mixture sit for long – get it into the crust immediately.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer half the fruit filling onto each crust round, leaving an inch or more of dough uncovered. Spoon  the liquid from the bottom of the bowl onto the fruit, but don’t use quite all of it – you want to moisten the filling but not to the point that a lot of juice starts running off the edge of the crust. Quickly loosen the dough all around the edge with a pastry lifter, then fold over gently with your hand. Sprinkle the dough edges with the raw sugar.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the dough is deeply golden and the filling is bubbling. Cool before serving.

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.

Notes:

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.