The Good Dirt

May 30th, 2016

This delightful fruit salad uses its lemon basil vinaigrette as a marinade for the usually cool watermelon, pineapples and tomatoes. Crunchy greens provide a hearty bed for these fresh fruit, grilled smoky sweet. This recipe comes to us from Jenné of Sweet Potato Soul.

Serves 6

For the lemon basil vinaigrette:

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon Mirin*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the grilled pineapple and watermelon:

  • 1/4 seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 5 cups watercress or arugala
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*Mirin is a rice wine vinegar found in Asian markets or the Asian section or seasoning sections of most grocery stores.


To make the lemon basil vinaigrette:

Place the lemon juice, basil, agave nectar, mirin and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Blend until combined. Pour the mixture into a large shallow bowl.

To complete the Grilled Pineapple Watermelon Salad:

Preheat the grill medium-high.

When the grill is hot, dip the watermelon, pineapple and tomato slices into the vinaigrette to coat both sides. Place the fruit on the grill and cook on both sides for 3-4 minutes per side.

Spread the watercress or arugala on 6 plates. Top the greens with the grilled fruit. Drizzle any remaining vinaigrette over the fruit, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

May 30th, 2016

Firing up the grill this Monday? Toss these flavorful kebabs on for a change. The combination of Teriyaki marinated tofu and mushrooms, sweet bell peppers and juicy pineapple will set your taste buds ablaze. This recipe comes to us from Monica of Mommy and Love.

Serves 4

  • 7 oz tofu drained, cubed
  • 1 bottle favorite Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 medium orange bell pepper sliced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper sliced
  • 1/2 medium yellow bell pepper sliced
  • 1/2 medium purple onion sliced
  • 1/3 fresh pineapple cut into small chunks
  • 8 oz whole white mushrooms
  • 1 small zucchini sliced
  • 1 small avocado sliced, optional

Marinate tofu and mushrooms in Teriyaki sauce for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is best. (You can also marinate ALL veggies.)

Place tofu & veggies on skewers until full. If you run out of skewers, toss the remaining vegetables in tinfoil.

Oil grill and set skewers (and tinfoil pouch) on the rack to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until slightly charred. Be sure to drizzle any remaining marinade over top of skewers and rotate halfway for even cooking.

May 30th, 2016

Fresh spring peas are shelled and sautéed with onion and Thai chilies, then spiced with cumin and coriander. Eggs are baked to perfection in the oven, cradled in nests of the seasoned peas. This recipe comes to us from Prerna of Indian Simmer.

Serves 3

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1-2 thai green chilis, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh green peas, shelled
  • or
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • salt, to taste
  • bread of choice*, for serving


Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

Place the oil in a sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and Thai chilis and sauté for 3-5 minutes, or until they begin to become fragrant. Add the green peas to the pan and season all the veggies with ground coriander and curry powder and salt, to taste.

If using fresh peas, cook 2-4 minutes, or until the peas are just tender. If using frozen peas, cook for less than a minute, or until the peas have warmed through.

Place the pea onion mixture into a medium sized baking dish so that the peas cover the bottom of the dish. Make 3 wells in the bed of peas with a spoon, making sure there are still a few peas covering the base even where you made the depressions.

Break the 3 eggs into those 3 dents, taking care to ensure that the eggs are still sitting on a few peas in the depression and are not sitting on the bottom of the baking dish directly.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, poking a few holes in the foil with a fork so that the steam can escape.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to preference. Divide into 3 portions, serve with bread, if using, and enjoy.

May 30th, 2016

A grilled avocado is elegant in its simplicity – simply brush with lime juice and place on the grill to infuse the earthy fruit with savory smoke. The grill marks make for a delightful presentation and you can really up the ante in serving the salsa smack dab in the middle, replacing the pit. This recipe comes to us from Patrice of Circle B Kitchen.

Serves 12

For the salsa:

  • 1 15 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
    ¼ cup diced onion
    3 cloves garlic
    ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
    4 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • or
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 jalapeño*, stemmed and seeded

For the grilled avocados:

  • 3 avocados, halved
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • salt, to taste
  • low-fat sour cream, for garnish*
  • or
  • low-fat Greek yogurt, for garnish*



To make the salsa:

Combine the tomatoes, diced onion, garlic, pepper, salt, cilantro, vinegar or lime juice and jalapeño, if using. Pulse in a food processor or blender until the salsa is chopped and blended to preference.

To complete the grilled avocados with salsa:

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.

Remove the pit of each avocado by cutting into the pit with a large sharp knife and turning the knife counter-clockwise. Once the knife is properly wedged into the avocado pit, it should be easy to remove the pit from the flesh of the avocado, as you twist and remove the knife.

Whisk together the lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Brush each avocado half with the lime juice marinade.

Place each prepared avocado half, flesh side down, over the hot grill. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until grill marks appear and the avocado is warm, but not overly mushy.

Remove the avocado halves from the grill and fill the hole, left by the pits, with salsa. You will have salsa left over after all the holes are filled. Reserve the leftover salsa in the fridge for a future snack or entrée topping.

Squeeze the wedge of lime over the avocado halves and sprinkle lightly with salt. Top the salsa with a dollop sour cream or Greek yogurt, if using.

Consume with a fork or use baked pita chips as your utensil.

May 23rd, 2016

The 2016 Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) Meatless Monday Recipe Contest challenged teen chefs to “get the beef off their buns” by creating innovative veggie burger recipes. The grand prize winner is this kimchi tofu burger from Eubene Kim of Chatsworth Charter School in Los Angeles, CA.

Serves 6

  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 oz (200 g) cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 12 oz (340g) extra firm tofu
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup spinach roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups of kimchi
  • 1/4 cup kimchi juice
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1-1/2 cups (150gms/5oz) bread crumbs, extra
  • 6 whole grain bread rolls (or gluten free rolls)
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup red pepper paste
  • 2 oz baby spinach leaves, for garnish
  • 1 egg

In a pan, heat about a tsp of olive oil and sauce the onions until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 minutes and cool slightly.

In a food processor, blend the tofu with garlic and spinach.

Blend until smooth.

Transfer this to a bowl and stir in the onion- mushroom mixture, breadcrumbs kimchi, and kimchi juices.

Stir until well mixed and then refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Divide this mixture into 6 patties, pressing together well.

Coat them well all around with the extra breadcrumbs

In a pan add some olive oil to coat the pan and pan fry the patties.

Cook them 3-4 minutes on each side or until they are golden. Make sure to turn them carefully to prevent them from breaking up. Drain on paper towels. (you can also season them with salt now.)

Mix together the mayo and the red pepper paste.

Cook the egg in a pan and top on the burger.

Assemble. Add any spinach on top of the burger.

May 23rd, 2016

Asparagus blends brilliantly with sweet peas and mint finishes the dish with a refreshing finish. Serve this soup ice cold as the perfect antidote to a hot summer day. This recipe comes to us from Colleen of FoodieTots.

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup fresh peas, shelled
  • 6 leaves fresh mint, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup nonfat milk

Warm the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onion becomes translucent.

Add the asparagus, broth and a pinch of salt and pepper. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. When broth boils, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes.

Add the peas and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until the asparagus is just tender when pricked a fork. Remove from heat and let cool. Add the torn mint.

In small batches, puree in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir in the milk.

Pour soup into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour or set the bowl in a bowl of ice water in the fridge to accelerate the cooling process. When soup is thoroughly chilled garnish with additional mint leaves and enjoy.

May 23rd, 2016

These cinnamon-spiced waffles use vegetable oil instead of butter for a lower fat way to begin your day. Whole wheat flour creates a heartier texture than typical waffles and keeps you fuller, longer. This recipe comes to us from Toni of Toni’s Treehouse.

Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • your favorite fresh fruit, to top*


Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and sugar together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, egg, milk and vegetable oil.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, stirring until just combined.

Cook the waffles as directed by the waffle iron instructions until you are out of batter, top with fresh fruit if using and enjoy.

May 23rd, 2016

These vegetable tacos are so packed with springtime flavors, it’s worth the extra assembly time. This recipe comes to us from Chef Ivy Stark of Dos Caminos and appears on the restaurant’s new SPE Certified menu.

Makes 12 tacos

For the tacos:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 12 oz. refried white beans
  • 12 spears grilled jumbo asparagus
  • 2 ripe California Hass avocados, sliced and grilled
  • 12 tsp. cucumber pico de gallo
  • 12 tsp. queso fresco

For the Cucumber Pico de Gallo:

  • 2 kirby cucumbers, peeled
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon olive oil
  • salt

For the Refried White Beans:

  • 1 cups dried cannellini beans
  • 2 serrano chiles, split
  • 2 pints of water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. lemon olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt

For the Refried White Beans:

Wash the beans in a colander. Bring water to a boil in a medium stock pot. Add the beans and the serranos. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook, skimming foam from the top occasionally, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid. Mash the beans, along with some of the bean cooking liquid, until creamy but not completely mashed.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion with the oregano and salt until golden brown. Add the mashed beans and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the beans form a mass that pulls away from the sides and bottom of the pan, about 10 minutes. Puree in a blender, while adding the lemon olive oil in a steady stream. Season with salt as needed.

For the Pico de Gallo:

Finely dice the cucumbers, combine with the remaining ingredients and season with salt. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.

For the Tacos:

Warm the corn tortillas by placing them on a warm griddle for 30 seconds. Place a spoonful of white beans into each of the corn tortillas. Cut asparagus in half and place on top of white beans. Place one slice of grilled avocado and 1 tsp. of cucumber pico in each taco. Sprinkle with queso fresco.

May 16th, 2016

These quinoa cakes are great for using up leftover veggies – just replace the spinach with any cooked vegetable you have on hand. This recipe was created by Kristin Uhrenholdt and Laurie David, co-authors of The Family Dinner and appears in Emily Abrams’ book Don’t Cook the Planet.

For the quinoa cakes:

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons tahini, almond butter, or peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup finely grated sweet potato (this is a secret ingredient, it holds the batter together)
  • 1 (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, or your favorite nuts), optional
  • ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, dill, or cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper, cumin, and/or cayenne to taste
  • Vegetable or grape seed oil

For the quick roasted red pepper sauce:

  • 1 ½ cups drained fire-roasted red peppers from a jar
  • ½ cup toasted almonds
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To make the quinoa cakes:

In your favorite mixing bowl mix the first 4 ingredients, then add all the other ingredients except the oil.  Stir until everything is well combined.  Let the mixture chill in the fridge for about a ½ hour.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Make the quinoa cakes by placing 3-4 tablespoons of the mixture into your wet hands and firmly forming it into a round flat “patty,” then put it onto a well-oiled baking sheet.

Bake, flipping halfway through, until lightly browned and just crisp, about 25 minutes.  Serve with quick roasted red pepper sauce (see recipes below), tzatziki, chutney, or tomato sauce.

To make quick roasted red pepper sauce

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

May 16th, 2016

Avocados make a great cream cheese substitute, because they bring a smooth consistency in addition to a healthy dose of fiber, potassium and vitamin B. Give your breakfast a boost by spreading avocado on toast then topping it with sautéed tomatoes and onions as well as fresh chives garnished with chive blossoms.  This recipe comes to us from Melissa of

Serves 2

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ onion, sliced
  • 15 grape tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ avocado
  • 2 slices bread
  • 2 springs chives, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chive blossoms*

*optional. Chives are easily homegrown and produce beautiful edible blossoms, so try picking some up at your local farmer’s market or growing them in your own backyard.

Place the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Combine the onions and tomatoes in the skillet and sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Toast the bread to preference.

Evenly smear avocado onto each slice of toast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Top the avocado evenly with the sautéed onion tomato mixture.

Garnish the toast with fresh chives and their blossoms if using.

May 16th, 2016

This veggie-packed pasta dish is protein-packed too with the help of fresh or frozen peas and chickpea-powered pasta. An irresistible pesto made with traditional basil, pine nuts and grated cheese rounds out the meal. This recipe comes to us from Banza.

Serves 4

  • 1 box penne pasta (such as Banza Penne)
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 3 bunches of basil leaves (about 6 cups loosely packed), washed and pat dry
  • 1/2 cup cooked peas, fresh or frozen (then thawed)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

As per pasta packaging instructions, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add Banza penne in and reduce heat a bit until it reaches a low boil. Cook for 4-6 minutes, then drain and rinse shells immediately with lukewarm water. Drain completely and pour pasta back into large pot.

Meanwhile, place the pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, and salt in the food processor and gently pulse a few times.

Add in half the basil leaves, and blend until combined.

Add in the remaining half of the basil leaves then the peas, and blend continuously, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Keep blending until well-combined.

With the processor running, gently pour in EVOO through the hole in the bowl’s cover (if your processor doesn’t have one, just open and pour in EVOO in small parts, blend, and repeat). Keep blending until pesto is uniform.

Pour pea pesto sauce over the pasta in the pot, and stir to thoroughly coat penne. Plate, and serve!

May 16th, 2016

Tender mache lettuce is the backdrop for this fruity salad that offers yet another way to highlight luscious strawberries—rich in sweet flavor and antioxidants—during their spring through summer harvest.  This colorful salad is pretty enough for a buffet or holiday meal, yet it can also grace your lunch box or dinner table just as easily. This recipe comes to us from Sharon Palmer, The Plant-Powered Dietitian.

Serves 4

  • 4 cups packed mache* greens
  • 1 ½ cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sliced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Brazil nuts

*Mache, also called lamb’s lettuce, is grown in California and may be available at many supermarkets.  If you can’t find it in your supermarket, substitute any other tender lettuce green, such as butter lettuce of mesclun mixed greens.

In a large salad bowl, combine mache, fresh strawberries, red onion, and fresh basil.

In a small dish, whisk together blueberry juice, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and black pepper.

Toss the salad with the dressing.  Garnish the salad with Brazil nuts and serve it immediately.


May 9th, 2016

Biryani is an Indian dish usually made with spiced lamb, raisins, eggs and vegetables layered with perfectly cooked basmati rice and steamed together in a sealed pot. This version is meatless but still just as flavorful, seasoned with cinnamon , cloves, ginger and garlic. Look for ginger-garlic paste in Indian markets or make it yourself with a mortar and pestle and equal parts peeled ginger and garlic. This recipe was created by Riddhima, who writes the blog Culinary Vibes.

Serves 6

To make the basmati rice:

  • 1 green chili
  • 2 whole cardamom pods
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed

To complete the Vegetable Biryani:

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, shelled
  • 4 green chilies, divided
  • 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ghee or unsalted butter
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

To make the basmati rice:

Cut a 1 inch slit along one side of the green chili. In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring 3 cups water with the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, salt and 1 of the green chilies to a boil. Add the rice to the pot, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or until the rice is about halfway cooked. Drain and set aside.

To complete the Vegetable Biryiani:

Cut a 1 inch slit along one side of each of the hard-boiled eggs and the remaining 4 green chilies.

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, salt, turmeric and allspice. Add the hard boiled eggs; stir gently to coat eggs completely. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the onions to a medium bowl. Stir in the mint, coriander and 2 more of the remaining chilies.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt the ghee or butter. Add the pepper strips and cook 5 minutes, or until softened. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the peas, marinated eggs and onions in layers. Sprinkle with lemon juice and top with the parboiled rice.

Cover and cook for about 30-40 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked. Stir to combine ingredients before serving.

May 9th, 2016

This breakfast gets its seasonal sweetness from orange marmalade and vanilla straight from the bean. You’ll never think of oatmeal the same way again once you eat it in these golden baked slices. This recipe comes to us from Kelly of The Pink Apron.

Serves 6

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2 inch piece vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade
  • or
  • 1/2 cup orange confit, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, sugar, salt and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, egg, melted butter and vanilla extract. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the egg mixture and reserve the bean for future use.

Stir the oat and milk mixtures together. When combined fold in the chopped orange confit or marmalade. Pour mixture into a medium sized pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until oatmeal has developed a nice crust and is lightly brown around the edges. Serve warm.

May 9th, 2016

Rather than heavy cream, this recipe pairs plain yogurt and soy milk with spring’s finest asparagus to create a light, seasonal soup that’s rounded out with onion, shallots, garlic and chili flakes. This recipe comes to us from Tawnie of Kroll’s Korner.

Serves 4

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 5.3oz. container of plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. red pepper chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper – 1 tsp. of each

Wash asparagus and cut an inch or two off from the bottom of them. Place the asparagus, shallot, garlic and onion in a saucepan with 1 cup vegetable broth. Bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the asparagus is tender.

Remove a few asparagus tips to garnish the soup when you serve.

Place the rest of the veggies in a blender and blend until smooth.

Melt butter in the same saucepan the asparagus cooked in and mix in flour, salt and pepper and whisk for 30 seconds. (Don’t let flour burn!) Stir in remaining vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

Take the pureed veggies and soy milk and stir into the saucepan. Next, whisk in the siggi’s yogurt, lemon juice and red pepper chili flakes. Bring to a boil again, serve hot with fresh Parmesan on top and garnish with asparagus tips.