Cast-Iron-Grilled Grape Tomatoes and Brussels Sprout CousCous Salad with Lemon Thyme Dressing

Here in the PNW, the transition from spring to summer can be a wild-ride of quick weather changes. Sometimes you have cozy, drizzly days like the one I’m having today, which inspires you to drink tea and build fires. The next day might be a scorcher requiring shorts and a trip down to the local ice cream shop. Never-the-less, I began my porch garden at the end of May and have been looking for excuses to begin cooking up summery flavors like basil and tomato. This recipe was inspired by the herbs in my modest little garden including a lemon thyme dressing and basil tossed into a couscous salad studded with grape tomatoes and brussels sprouts grilled in a cast-iron (still don’t have a mini grill to go with my mini garden).

The lemon dressing makes this salad bright, while the brussels sprouts and couscous help this dish feel hearty and satisfying enough to eat as a stand-alone meal. When choosing couscous, I went with the larger pearl variety, but finer couscous varieties would work just as well here.


serves 2 people as a main course


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

5 Sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 tsp honey

Pinch of salt (or to taste)

Pinch of black pepper (or to taste)


1/2 cup pearl couscous

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise

5 basil leaves chiffonade

3-4 cups spinach

Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare the couscous. Add olive oil to a saucepan and sauté the pearls until they turn a light golden-brown. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and couscous is al dente.

Add all dressing ingredients to a small jar, screw lid on tightly, and shake vigorously to combine. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a cast iron pan and heat to medium heat. Add tomatoes face down onto pan and add brussels sprouts on top, spreading everything out as evenly as possible. Leave the veggies to grill, not moving them too much in the pan. Once the tomatoes and brussels turn deep golden brown, shake pan and flip some of the brussels to brown on their other sides. Once the veggies have a grilled appearance, remove pan from the heat and set aside. The tomatoes should still hold their form, and shouldn’t break down into a mush.

Toss together the couscous, grilled veggies, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, add pile of spinach to plate. Top with a generous portion of the couscous salad. Complete by drizzling with the lemon-thyme dressing. This dish can be served warm or cold.


Warm Brussel Sprout & Kale Salad with Egg & Fakin’ Bacon

Do you have any dishes that you fantasize over? Maybe it was an amazing ravioli you had during your travels in Italy, or maybe it’s more close to home like your mom’s famous pear pie. Well, this recipe is mine. If you are from the Bay Area, you might know of a restaurant called Pizza Antica that serves a warm brussel sprout salad. Now being a vegetarian it’s off-limits as it has bacon in it. Also, the thought of ever making it at home scared me away as you have to pull apart the leaves of each brussel sprout. So here it finally is! My first attempt at making this dish. It is salty, sweet, and has those delicious fatty notes that come from bacon with the substitution of fakin’ bacon. The result—everything I remembered and maybe even better!

The Dressing:
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme and/or basil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
The Salad:
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes cut in 1/4 inch cubes
  • 2 cups brussel sprouts chopped or peeled (your choice)
  • 2-3 cups kale
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of 1/4 inch cubed artisan bread (such as sourdough)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4-5 strips of fakin’ bacon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


To start, make the dressing by combining all the ingredients together. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Lightly coat with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Take out a large cookie sheet and evenly place the sweet potatoes on the pan. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until desired tenderness. The potatoes should be lightly browned/crisp.

To prepare the salad, cut the brussel sprouts in half. Turn the sprouts on their back so the core is facing towards you. Make a v-shaped cut to remove the core. The leave should fall and separate easily now. Place in a large bowl with the kale.

Chop the onion. In a large skillet melt the butter. Add the onion to the pan and saute over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent and golden (about 10 minutes). Set aside.

To prepare the eggs, fill a small saucepan with water. Place the eggs (still in their shells) in the pan and bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. The yolks should be firm. Peel the eggs and cut them into 8 wedges. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover the bread with a light drizzle of olive oil and toss. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. They should be golden brown.

Cook the fakin’ bacon on medium heat. Transfer to paper towels to dab/drain if need be.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the brussels sprouts, kale and toss until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onion, bacon and sweet potato and cook until hot. Remove from heat and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the croutons, eggs and dressing. Gently mix together and serve immediately.

Chickpea Ketchup Curry

Adapted from the River Cottage Veg cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

I came across this recipe a couple weeks back when my sister and I were together. She had brought her copy of the River Cottage Veg cookbook and highly recommended I look through it. This was one of the first recipes I stumbled upon and immediately wrote down. Now finally having gotten around to making it, it is hands down one of my new favorite weekday meals. It is simple, quick, and feels a little bit fancy without the effort. The original recipe called for only curry powder, but in our version, we added cumin and cinnamon as well. Serve over rice, or your favorite grain and with a side of flatbread for dipping.

  • 1 cup basmati rice (or rice of choice) prepared
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 1 piece ginger grated
  • Pinch of red pepper and/or chili flakes
  • 1 garlic glove crushed
  • 2 tsp of curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 (14oz) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 5 tbsp of ketchup
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the rice using a rice cooker or over the stove in a saucepan. Set the rice aside or keep on very low heat. (Note, if cooking on a stove, most rice instructions note to use 1 cup rice with 2 cups of water. For a firmer/less sticky rice consistency, we suggest using 1 cup rice and 1 1/4 cups water)

Pull out a medium-sized saucepan (we like to use our cast iron skillet) and add the oil. Bring the pan up to medium heat and then add the onion. Cook the onion until translucent and golden brown around 5-8 minutes.

Add the ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic, curry powder, cumin, and cinnamon to the saucepan. Combine with the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Next, add the prepared chickpeas, ketchup, and lemon juice to the onions. Stir until combined and then add a little bit of water to help loosen the mixture. Bring to a simmer until the mixture is loose but still thick. Feel free to add a little bit more water to reach desired curry consistency.

To plate, place rice at the base on the bowl and top with the chickpea curry. Feel free to add a garnish of your choice and accompany the dish with naan or your favorite bread.


Masala-Spiced Cauliflower Bowl with Feta Dressing

adapted from Delish Knowledge

Masala-Spiced Cauliflower: 
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (or ground is fine)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons Garam Masala spice
Feta Dressing:
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt/pepper 
  • Garam Masala spice to taste if you would like
Turmeric Rice:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, yogurt, ginger, garlic, lemon zest and juice, masala spice, and salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to toss the cauliflower until the florets are well coated. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, or until tender and slightly golden brown.

While the cauliflower bakes, you can begin making the rice. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the onion is tender or translucent. You can then stir in the rice, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon. Cook the rice until toasty (be careful not to burn).

Next, add in the water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook the rice until tender (around 17 minutes). Once complete, remove from the lid. Let the rice sit for an additional 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Make the feta dressing by mixing everything together and set aside.

To plate the dish, divide rice among 4 bowls and top with a scoop of cauliflower. Drizzle the feta dressing over the rice and cauliflower. Decorate the top of the dish with pomegranate seeds and a mint leaf if desired.

Ginger Tofu Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

adapted from Choosing Chia

Tofu Marinade:
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 block tofu (extra-firm), cut into cubes 
  • 2 tbsp oil for frying
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
Bowl Base:
  • 1/2 pack vermicelli noodles
  • 1 cup lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1/4 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Mint and/or basil
  1. Drain the tofu and cut into cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Cover the tofu with the marinade. Let sit for an hour minimum (for ultimate flavor let sit overnight).
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat with the oil. Place the tofu in the pan and pour in any remaining marinade. Cook until desired crispness (ideally until a light black coating appears).
  3. Mix the dressing ingredients together set aside.
  4. Place the noodles, salad, and tofu alongside one another in the bowl. Pour the dressing over the dish and garnish with mint and/or cilantro.

Vegan Chowder with Wild Rice and Cashew Cream

adapted from Vegetarian Heartland cookbook by Shelly Westerhausen

Curl up with a bowl of this comforting, creamy, hearty, VEGAN chowder.

I was gifted the cookbook Vegetarian Heartland by Shelly Westerhausen a few holidays ago. People who know me know that cookbooks are ALWAYS an acceptable gift for any occasion. Shelly Westerhausen is from the midwest and describes seeking ways to re-create her favorite local staples with a vegan twist. Yes, it is possible to cook in a hearty, satisfying way and not utilize meat product! Her recipe for vegan chowder quickly became a staple in our house, and was frequently requested week after week. Since making Shelly’s original recipes, we’ve probably made the original and variations over ten times or more. It’s the perfect meal for a cold day, for a reheated quick lunch, for a shared bounty with friends and family. It’s adaptable, it’s dependable. You can make it on a Sunday night and keep eating it throughout the week.

VEGAN CHOWDER with wild rice and cashew cream

adapted from Vegetarian Heartland  

The lovely thing about this recipe is you can adapt it with different potatoes, veggies, grains, and herbs depending on what you feel (or what’s in your cupboard). We like it with sweet potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, mushrooms, parsley, kale, wild rice, or barley! There isn’t a lot of spice added to this, but the vegetables and cashews sing well on their own. Feel free to get creative and add any spices that you think would jive well.

Cashew Cream:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cashews

Add cashews to a bowl of water and soak overnight, or for at least 3-4 hours. If you don’t have that kind of time (I often don’t), then you can pour boiling water over the cashews and soak for 15-30 minutes.

Add soaked cashews to a high-speed blender with 1/2 cup of water and blend until smooth and creamy.

  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 white or red onion chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 4 medium yukon gold potatoes chopped into bite-size chunks (you can peel the potatoes, but why would you want to miss out on all that good fiber?)
  • 8 oz baby bella mushrooms sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour (for a gluten free, just don’t add the flour – the soup won’t be as thick, but more like a cream soup once the cashew cream is added)
  • 4 cups broth
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup (dry) wild rice, prepared according to the package (cook before adding to chowder)
  • 2-3 cups kale (depending on your preference)
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Follow directions above for prepping the cashew cream. You can leave the cashews soaking until you’re ready to add them to the chowder, blending them into a cream right before adding.

Prep the wild rice according to the package directions. We like to cook the rice in a rice cooker for easy, hands-off cooking while we’re focusing on the chowder.

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add your onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes, sautéing until the veggies begin to soften (10-15 minutes). Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper the veggies to taste.

Add the flour and mix until the veggies are coated and the flour turns a light brown color. Add the broth and water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Stir intermittently. We find that the soup likes to thicken and get a little stuck to the bottom of the pot, so you want to loosen this up every so often.

After its done simmering, mix in the wild rice, kale, and parsley. Then add the cashew cream. Cook for about 5 minutes more as the soup thickens just a bit more. Adjust the salt and pepper levels to taste.

Serve in bowls and garnish with any left-over cashew cream and chopped parsley.

Will keep up to a week in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and reheats well.