The Good Dirt

June 27th, 2016

Simple as it may be, spaghetti pomodoro is a meatless classic. But because of its simplicity, restaurant tycoon Joe Bastianich recommends using the finest ingredients available to you for maximum taste, such as San Marzano tomatoes.

Serves 4-6

For the Pomodoro Sauce:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 16-oz can whole Italian tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. oregano (optional)

Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Crush two garlic cloves with the heel of your hand. Add to olive oil and sauté until golden brown. While the garlic browns, pour the tomatoes into a bowl. Squeeze with your hands to break them up. Once the garlic is browned, add tomatoes and their juice to the sauce pan with the garlic. Add salt and pepper (and oregano if using).Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, adding water to keep the sauce from becoming too thick. Pomodoro sauce should be a rich red color. If it turns brick red, it’s too thick. Additional salt and pepper to taste if necessary.

Cook’s Note: For convenience, make up a large batch and freeze smaller portions in freezer bags.

For the Pasta:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb spaghetti or spaghetti alla chitarra (a specialty square-cut version)
  • A few basil leaves
  • Grana Padano for grating

Prepare pomodoro sauce as directed above. While it simmers, heat water for pasta. Add enough salt to the pasta to make it as salty as seawater. In a sauce pan, heat up olive oil. Add pomodoro sauce (one half cup per serving) and simmer. When the pasta water is at a full boil, add pasta. Two minutes before the pasta is ready, remove from boiling water and add to the pomodoro sauce. Cook pasta until tender in the saucepan, allowing it to absorb the flavor and color of the sauce. Add a little pasta water if needed to keep the sauce liquid. When the pasta is done, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with shredded basil leaves and Grana Padano.
Cook’s Notes: To turn pomodoro sauce into oreganata sauce, add several sprigs of fresh oregano to the pomodoro while it simmers. Remove before serving. To make arrabbiata sauce, add hot pepper flakes to basic pomodoro sauce and simmer.

June 27th, 2016

Okra is caramelized in the oven and tossed with tart lemon juice. Curry powder adds a kick to this simple side dish that highlights okra’s naturally savory flavor. This recipe comes to us from Jen of Domestic Divas.

Serves 8

  • 4 cups okra, halved diagonally
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees.

Place the okra in a large baking dish and toss with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until tender and beginning to caramelize.

Remove the okra from the oven. Toss with the lemon juice and season with the curry powder.

June 27th, 2016

Fresh strawberries are sprinkled with a little brown sugar to release their fruit juice in this grab and go breakfast. Yogurt and ricotta are naturally sweetened with honey then layered between brown sugar strawberries and crunchy granola. This recipe comes to us from Madelyn of Karma Free Cooking.

Serves 3

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 cups granola*
  • 1 cup part skim low fat ricotta
  • 1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
  • squirt of honey

*Many varieties of prepackaged granola are sold in grocery stores, but if time allows we suggest making your own.

Place the berries brown sugar together in a large bowl. Allow to macerate for 10 minutes.

Mix the ricotta, yogurt and honey together in a separate bowl. Mix well.

Pour a few tablespoons of the yogurt ricotta mixture in a glass. Place with brown sugar strawberry slices on the yogurt ricotta and then with the granola. Top with a few more brown sugar strawberry slices. Repeat the layering process in 2 other glasses and enjoy.

June 27th, 2016

Tomatoes are sautéed sweet with eggplant and seasoned with fresh basil and time in this one pan wonder. Try this sensational squash tomato medley on its own, over toast or as a pasta sauce. This recipe comes to us from Kristina of

Serves 6

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 cups bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 4 cups zucchini and/or yellow squash, cut into large dice
  • 3 cups eggplant, diced
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Add the bell peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes, or until the peppers begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes more, or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Transfer the sautéed onions, peppers and garlic to a bowl and set aside.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add the zucchini and/or yellow squash to the pan and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the squash becomes tender. Remove the squash and reserve in the same onion pepper bowl.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the eggplant and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the water to prevent the eggplant from burning after it absorbs the olive oil. Cook the eggplant for 5 minutes more, or until the water has absorbed and the eggplant has softened, adding additional olive oil or water if the eggplant begins to burn.

Add the tomatoes to the sauté pan with the eggplant. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and the eggplant is soft. Add the reserved onions, bell peppers and squash back to the pan, folding all ingredients together evenly with a wooden spoon.

Cook for 5 minutes more and add the basil and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste, divide into 6 portions and enjoy!

June 20th, 2016

In celebration of Pride Month and all the flavor, nutrition and delight that a rainbow of colorful veggies has to offer, we’re excited to share this fantastic recipe from Tawnie of Kroll’s Korner. Whip one up for a Meatless Monday meal to share tonight!

Serves 2-4

  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup broccolini
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
  • red, orange, and yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2-1 cup pizza sauce
  • Pre-made pizza dough or homemade
  • olive oil
  • Fresh Parmesan for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Chop all of your veggies and place in separate bowls to keep organized.

Brush the pizza dough with a little olive oil (1-2 Tbsp). Then, using a ladle swirl the pizza sauce around the dough right up until you reach the edges of the pizza. Then sprinkle with cheese.

Next, carefully arrange your veggies on the pizza. I started with a small amount of onion in the middle, then made rings around the with the remaining veggies. Order: onion, red bell, orange bell, yellow bell, zucchini topped with broccolini, and layered the perimeter of the pizza with the halved tomatoes.

Cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy with fresh Parmesan on top!

June 20th, 2016

Sometimes all you need for a delicious salad is to bring out the natural flavors of ripe fruits and veggies. Creamy avocado and crisp radish slices are seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper in this simple and satisfying salad. This recipe comes to us from Jen of Domestic Divas.

Serves 2

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pit removed, and sliced
  • 1 cup radishes, trimmed and sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Divide avocados and radishes in half and place each half in a medium sized bowl.

Drizzle each bowl with half the lemon juice and half the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

June 20th, 2016

Eggplant’s complex, savory flavor is infused with smoke in these mouthwatering grilled vegetable sandwiches. Garlic chile mayo gives the aubergine base a kick, topped with fresh tomatoes, grilled onions and fresh basil. This recipe comes to us from Patricia of Grab A Plate.

Serves 4

  • 1 small eggplant, sliced into 4 rounds, 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 large white onion, sliced into 4 rounds, 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divded
  • 4 slices crusty bread
  • 4 tablespoons lowfat mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic chile paste*
  • 1 large tomato, sliced into 4 rounds, 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh basil, chiffonade

*Garlic chile paste can be found in the condiment or Asian food section of most grocery stores. Your favorite hot sauce mixed with a mashed garlic clove can be substituted as a makeshift garlic chile paste.

Heat a grill to medium.

Lay the eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle with 1 of the teaspoons of salt. Let sit for 30 minutes, rinse and pat dry. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with the remaining teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Transfer the eggplant slices to the grill and cook, turning frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until soft.

While the eggplant begins grilling, pierce the large onion slices lengthwise with metal skewers. Drizzle another tablespoon olive oil over the onions. Add the onions to the grill about 7 minutes after you put the eggplant on.  Cook the onions for 4 minutes, flip and cook 4 minutes more, or until they achieve grill marks.

When the eggplant and onion have finished cooking, remove them from the grill flame. Transfer the crusty slices of bread to the grill and cook for about 2 minutes per side, or until the bread has toasted.

Mix the mayonnaise and garlic chile paste together in a small bowl. Spread about 1 tablespoon per burger on each slice of bread and top with a piece of grilled eggplant. Top the eggplant with tomato, followed by grilled onion. Sprinkle with sliced basil and enjoy.

June 20th, 2016

Bell pepper serves as a beautiful edible egg ring in this flower shaped beauty of a breakfast. This easily breakfast is easily adaptable no matter how you like your eggs, and is delicious served alongside whole wheat toast with your favorite berry jam. This recipe comes to us from Donna of Apron Strings.

Serves 3

  • 1 bell pepper, cored
  • a little cooking oil or nonstick spray, for preparing the pan
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the bell pepper from top to bottom in slices that resemble rings.

Prepare a skillet with a light layer of oil or nonstick cooking spray. Place 6 of the bell pepper rings on the skillet over medium heat. Crack an egg in each ring and allow it to spread out to fill the bell pepper ring. Season the eggs with salt and pepper, to taste.

If you like your eggs soft, cook over low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to preference.

If you like your eggs hard, break up the yolk with the skillet for even cooking. Cook 6-9 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to preference.

Serve 2 bell pepper egg rings per person and enjoy!

June 13th, 2016

This dish features quinoa seasoned with lemon juice, mint and parsley, served in a steamed artichoke. You’ll have extra quinoa after you’ve stuffed all the artichokes so stretch your leftovers to make a chimichurri salad featuring this heart healthy grain. This recipe comes to us from Erin of Living and Loving in LA.

Serves 4

  • 4 artichokes, cleaned, stems and tough pointy leaf tops trimmed off
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice from 3 lemons
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon low sodium seasoned salt*
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • extra mint leaves, for garnish

*low sodium seasoned salt is sold in the spice section of most grocery stores, but if time allows we suggest making your own low sodium seasoned salt.

To cook the artichokes:

Place the trimmed artichokes stem down in a large in a large heavy-bottomed pot on the stove. Fill pot half-way with water. Add the 2 cloves of garlic and the juice from one of the lemons. Turn heat up to high and cover, bring water to a boil and reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook for 40 minutes-1 hour, or until leaves pull out easily from the artichoke. Set aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.

To cook the quinoa:

Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 12 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

To make the chimichurri sauce:

Place parsley, mint, vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper, seasoned salt and red pepper flakes and the juice of the remaining 2 lemons in a blender or food processor. Liquefy.

To complete the chimichurri quinoa stuffed artichokes:

Season the diced tomato with salt and pepper to taste. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and combine with the diced tomatoes and chimichurri sauce from the blender.

Using tongs or your fingers, remove the center leaves from the artichokes. Scrape out the fuzzy “choke’ with a spoon. Be careful to avoid scraping out the artichoke heart when you remove the choke.

Stuff each artichoke with chimichurri seasoned quinoa until full. Garnish with any extra mint leaves and enjoy!

June 13th, 2016

Hearty kale is topped with sweet strawberries for a refreshing contrast. A basil shallot vinaigrette tenderizes the kale while almonds add a nutty crunch. This recipe comes to us from Sarah and Lydia of Apples and Onions in LA.

Serves 6

For the basil vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 10 grinds freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 bunch basil
  • 2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

To complete the Strawberry Kale Salad with Almonds:

  • 1 bunch kale, cleaned and cut into chiffonade
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade

To make the basil vinaigrette:

Place the shallot, red wine vinegar, pepper, salt, basil and mayonnaise together in a food processor or blender. With the blender or food processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until the dressing is emulsified.

To complete the Strawberry Spinach Salad with Almonds:

Toss the kale with the basil vinaigrette. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, or until the kale begins to become tender.

Divide the salad into 6 servings and top with berries, almonds and sliced basil. Enjoy!

June 13th, 2016

This grilled salad is perfect for summer, whether you’re barbecuing, throwing a picnic or just staying in! The charred flavors of grilled corn compliment the sweet mangoes and crunchy jicama. This recipe comes to us from Tiffany of Parsnips and Pastries.

Serves 6

  • 2 ripe but firm mangoes, diced
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 ear corn, grilled
  • 1 1/2 cups jicama, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Zest of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Grill the ear of corn, slice corn off ear, and set aside to cool.

Peel and dice the mango and jicama. Rinse the black beans and add beans, jicama, mango, and corn in bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine lime zest, juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper in a mason jar. Shake well to combine. Drizzle over the salad and gently toss with the chopped cilantro.

Top with sliced avocado.

Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight (without the avocado) and serve at room temperature. Top with avocado when ready to serve.


For some heat, add in a diced jalapeno.

June 13th, 2016

Succulent soysage is grilled between 2 toasted English muffins and sliced bell pepper. Sweet meets spicy as boysenberry jam contrasts with habanero salsa and roasted pumpkin seeds. This recipe comes to us from Kathy of Healthy. Happy. Life.

Serves 2

  • a little olive oil, for preparing the soy sausage
  • 1 small purple bell pepper*, sliced thin and long
  • 1/2 cup of soy sausage, formed into two round patties
  • 2 spelt English muffins, sliced and toasted
  • 2 teaspoons habanero red salsa
  • 2 tablespoons boysenberry jam
  • 2 teaspoons spicy roasted pumpkin seeds
  • black pepper, to taste

*check your local farmer’s markets for purple bell peppers. Feel free to use red, yellow or orange bell peppers if purple peppers aren’t available.

Rub the soy sausage with a little olive oil. Place the patties on a grill pan or Panini press. If using a Panini press, cook soy sausage according to directions in the Panini press’ guide. If using a grill pan cook for 4-6 minutes per side, or until plump, tender and juicy.

Lightly toast the roasted pumpkin seeds on the grill pan or Panini press for 2-3 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant.

If using a Panini press, place the pepper strips on top of the patties and press down. Cook the sausage with the peppers on top for 2-3 minutes, or until the peppers are tender.

If using a grill pan, place the pepper slices directly on the grill over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, flip and grill on the other side for about another minute, or until tender.

Spread the salsa on one side of the muffin and jam on the other. Sprinkle the toasted, roasted pumpkin seeds to top the salsa and season to taste with black pepper.

Transfer each patty to the muffins and close the breakfast’wich with the other muffin. Slice with care and serve warm. Repeat assembly process with the other breakfast’wich and enjoy.

June 6th, 2016

This recipe reimagines the strawberry shortcake as a protein-packed breakfast with a purée of strawberries mixed right into the batter. This recipe comes to us from Tina Muir of the blog Fuel Your Future with Tina and appears in The Home Cook Breakfast Book, a collaboration between Meatless Monday and Earthbound Farm.

Makes 5 pancakes. Serving size: 3 pancakes

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 scoop cake batter flavored protein powder
  • 1 cup strawberries, pureed in a blender
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

Mix the wet ingredients into a large bowl, stirring until well combined.

Stir the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Slowly stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until well combined. The batter will be very thick.

Grease a pancake pan/sauté pan/frying pan with spray or butter as it heats up over a medium heat. Spoon the mixture onto the pan and spread it out a little with the spoon (they will still be thicker pancakes). Leave to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the underside is brown. Flip the pancake over and allow the other side to cook.

Serve with fresh strawberries and maple syrup.

June 6th, 2016

Strawberries bring summertime’s sweetness to balance refreshing grape tomatoes, carrots and yellow bell peppers. Balsamic vinegar is tempered with maple syrup and lemon juice to create vinaigrette which tastes complex, but is simple to prepare. This recipe comes to us from Christy, The Blissful Chef.

Serves 5

For the balsamic vinaigrette:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons maple syrup
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon black pepper
    1 clove garlic*, diced

To complete the strawberry tomato salad:

  • 1 head butter lettuce, leaves torn or cut chiffonade
    2 avocados, chopped bite size
    1 medium carrot, julienned
    10 grape tomatoes, quartered
    6 strawberries, ends cut off and sliced
    1 cup yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
    salt and pepper, to taste



To make the balsamic vinaigrette:


In a medium bowl combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, pepper and garlic if using. Whisk together until full blended.

To complete the strawberry tomato salad:

In a large bowl combine the lettuce, avocados, carrot, tomatoes, strawberries and yellow bell pepper. Toss salad together, dress with the balsamic vinaigrette and toss again until the salad is fully coated. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Enjoy!

June 6th, 2016

This tempting dish gets a healthy spin with tempeh bacon and a pumpkin seed-based creamy vegan ranch dressing. Serve it on its own or pair it with quinoa for a dose of protein. This recipe comes to us from our friends at the prostate cancer awareness organization, Blue Cure.

Serves 4

  • 8 cups romaine lettuce
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (or cashews)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp dill
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • Black pepper and salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1- package tempeh bacon

Wash and chop the veggies.

In a blender, combine the pumpkin seeds (or cashews) with water, garlic powder, onion powder, dill, celery seed, salt, and pepper. If using the cayenne and apple cider vinegar, you can add these too.

Start with less water and add more as needed. Avoid making it overly watery by just pouring a small amount of water in at a time. Blend the ingredients together until smooth.

Optional to lightly sauté the plant-based bacon in a skillet to crisp it up or just serve it raw.

Divide the veggies into bowls. Chop the plant-based bacon and add. Drizzle with the pumpkin seed ranch dressing.