The Good Dirt

May 28th, 2018

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.

May 28th, 2018

Portabella mushrooms and red pepper strips are seasoned simply and infused with an irresistible smoky flavor from the grill. Blue cheese and romaine lettuce balance the smoky grilled veggies with tang and crunch. This recipe comes to us from our friends at The Mushroom Council.

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2 inch slices
  • 4 portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup your favorite vinaigrette
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Whisk the oil, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Brush the red pepper and mushroom slices with the oil mixture. Place the red pepper pieces on a skewer.

Place the kabobs on the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the kabobs and cook 5 minutes more.

Toss the lettuce with the vinaigrette and transfer on a shallow serving platter. Arrange the mushrooms, roasted peppers, eggs and blue cheese across the bed of lettuce and enjoy!

May 21st, 2018

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 21st, 2018

The chana bean, or chickpea, is a staple of the Maharashtrian diet, used in a variety of forms and variations. This Chana Masala is considered by many to be the most popular curry in India. In fact, this is one of the dishes that the women in the Masala Mamas collective make for the children in the Love2Learn school in Kalwa every week. The recipe is fairly straightforward to make, though you have to remember to soak the beans overnight. This recipe is full of aromatic Maharashtrian flavors and has a nice spicy kick. Serve with chapattis or over rice, the way the children love to eat it. This recipe is by Ranjana Ramchandra Gaiakwad and is from the cookbook Masala Mamas.

Serves 4


  • 1 ¼ cup/ 250 gr dry chickpeas, soaked overnight in a generous amount of water
  • ½ tsp/ 2.5 ml baking soda
  • ½ tsp/ 2.5 ml turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp. / 30 ml neutral oil
  • 2 tsp/ 10 ml whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp/ 5 ml mustard seeds
  • 4 fresh green chili peppers, chopped
  • 2 tsp/ 10 ml fresh curry leaves
  • 1 tsp/ 5 ml asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 tsp/ 5 ml finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp/ 10 ml garam masala
  • 2 tsp/ 10 ml ground coriander
  • 1 tsp/ 5 ml turmeric
  • 1 tsp/ 5 ml cumin
  • 1 tsp/ 5 ml red chili powder
  • Salt to taste


Drain the soaked chickpeas and rinse well in a colander. Fill  a  medium  or  large  saucepan  with  6  cups  of  water,  along  with  baking  soda  and  and  turmeric.  Bring to a boil, and add the soaked chickpeas.  Cook  for  1  ½  hours,  or  until  chickpeas  are  thoroughly  cooked.

When the  chickpeas  are  done,  heat  oil  in  a  frying  pan  over  medium    Add cumin,  mustard,  chili  peppers,  curry  leaves,  hing,  and  ginger,  and  cook  until  fragrant,  around  3-4  minutes.

Add the cooked chickpeas. Stir until the chickpeas are coated with spices.  Add  garam  masala,  coriander,  turmeric,  cumin  and  red  chili  powder  and  mix    Sauté  over  medium  heat  for  a  minute  and  add  salt  to  taste.

Serve over rice or with chapattis.

May 21st, 2018

The complexly flavored kiwi pairs beautifully with sweet banana, tart grapefruit juice and the unexpected herbal basil finish. This tropical smoothie can serve as a light dessert or a breakfast to refresh you as you begin your day. This recipe comes to us from Kathy of Healthy, Happy Life.

Serves 2

  • 6 kiwis, cut into cubes and frozen
  • 2 bananas
  • juice from 2 pink grapefruits
  • 2 tablespoon agave nectar*
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • handful of ice cubes

*Found in health food stores or the health food or sweetener section of most grocery stores.


Place the kiwis, banana, grapefruit juice, agave nectar, basil and ice cubes together in a blender. Puree, pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!

May 21st, 2018

Crunchy chayote is tossed with sweet mango, crisp bell pepper and red onion. A cilantro lime vinaigrette dresses the chayote mango micro green salad, topped off with toasted sunflower seeds. This recipe comes to us from Karen of Sprouts in the Hood.

Serves 4

For the cilantro dressing:

  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • juice of 3 limes

To complete the Mango Chayote Sunflower Seed Salad:

  • 1 chayote*, cut into julienne
  • 1 mango, diced
  • or
  • 1 papaya, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 8 cups micro greens
  • 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds

*Found in Mexican markets or the produce section of most grocery stores.

To make the cilantro dressing:

Place the cilantro, garlic, red onion and lime juice into a food processor. Puree and set aside.

To complete the Mango Chaoyte Sunflower Seed Salad:

Place the chayote, mango or papaya, red pepper and red onion into a medium sized bowl. Season with the lime juice and salt. Refrigerate and let sit for 2-3 hours.

Divide the microgreens into 4 portions. Top with the Mango Chayote mixture and dress with the cilantro dressing, to taste. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top and enjoy.

May 14th, 2018

This savory dish perfectly pairs portabella mushrooms with smoked paprika, garlic and cumin, which compliment the mushrooms’ natural umami flavors. Recipe courtesy of Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, author and photographer of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible.

Serves 2

For the Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Spanish smoked paprika
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • salt and fresh black pepper to taste

For the Portabellas:

  • 6 large, cleaned portabella mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Potatoes:

  • 3 1/2 pounds peeled new potatoes, roughly quartered into irregular-sized pieces (insert a knife point into each potato, and twist until broken)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ground cumin and salt to taste
  • fresh chopped parsley

In a large bowl, add the marinade ingredients above and whisk together. Add portabella mushrooms and coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for six hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Sear the marinated mushrooms in hot olive oil, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Then add the potatoes, vegetable stock, smoked paprika, and cumin and/or salt (to taste), and simmer, uncovered, until tender.

Ladle mushrooms and potatoes into serving bowls. Reduce sauce over high heat for 2-3 minutes to thicken, and spoon over mushrooms and potatoes. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve in shallow bowls with your favorite crusty bread and glasses of red wine from the Toro region of Spain — ideally, a Gran Colegiata Crianza or another red wine from Bodegas Farina, which enhances this dish perfectly.

May 14th, 2018

This twist on hummus is a favorite at Datz in Tampa, Florida. Their executive chef, James Williams, says: “You can say this dish is perfect for Meatless Monday because it isn’t just meatless but it takes it one step farther using the hemp hearts — it’s unique and a healthier option for the veg-head looking looking for more interesting items to eat. We joke, but it’s all ‘cool beans, man.'”

Serves 6

  • 15 oz. chickpeas
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 1½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • 3 tablespoons turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons garlic
  • ½ cup garlic oil
  • 9 oz. tahini
  • Water as needed



1. Sautee garlic in oil until golden brown.

2. Place all ingredients into mixer. Set to mix while slowly adding water until smooth.

3. Hemp-mus is ready to serve with your choice of crackers!

May 14th, 2018

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 14th, 2018

This refreshing salad is simple, flavorful, filling and the perfect introduction to quinoa. The nutritious super grain is elevated with fresh flavors of lemon, mint, garlic and green onion, with a handful of almonds thrown in for an additional protein boost. This recipe comes to us from Marti of Tofu ’n Sprouts!

Serves 2.

  • 1 cup quinoa*, rinsed & cooked to package directions
  • 3 green onions, sliced with tough ends removed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt and lemon-pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped

*Feel free to substitute brown rice if you can’t find quinoa.

After quinoa has finished cooking, remove from heat and cool on a cookie sheet.

Place the cooked and cooled quinoa, green onions, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice together in a large bowl. Stir until combined. Season with mint, salt and lemon-pepper. Mix well.

Top the salad with the chopped almonds. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

May 7th, 2018

Peas, avocados, lime juice and cayenne pepper come together for a pea centric spin on guacamole. The sweet pea guacamole is balanced by spicy sliced radishes and whole grain bread in this bright tea sandwiches. This recipe comes to us from Donna Kelly and Anne Tegtmeier of Apron Strings.

Serves 4

  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 Haas avocado
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 large radishes, thinly sliced
  • 8 slices whole grain bread

Pulse the peas, avocados, lime juice and cayenne pepper sauce together using a food processor. Stop the processor, taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spread half the bread slices with the pea avocado mixture, top with a radish and close with the other slices of bread. Cut each sandwich into triangles and enjoy.

May 7th, 2018

Onion and tofu crumbles are seasoned with thyme, paprika and turmeric for a savory smoky taste. Lemon juice and sliced radishes infuse this fragrant scramble with tart flavors and a refreshing crunch. This recipe comes to us from Meg of Yoga Saves the Day.

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 bunch spinach, washed well and chopped
  • 1 pound firm tofu, drained and crumbled
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast*
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 4 radishes*, sliced for garnish



Place the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4-6 minutes, or until the onion becomes soft. Season with thyme, paprika and turmeric. Stir to coat the onion evenly. Cook for 1 minute more, or until the spices become fragrant.

Add the spinach and toss until coated. Cover and cook for 3 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted.

Uncover and stir in the crumbled tofu. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 8 minutes more.

Add the lemon juice and nutritional yeast, if using. Stir well, taking care not to mash the tofu. Taste for seasoning and adjust to preference.

Serve the tofu scramble on plates in 4 equal portions. Garnish with sliced radishes, if using, and enjoy!

May 7th, 2018

This simple salad makes the most of all the naturally sweet vegetables which shine in summer. Sugar snap peas and bell peppers are tossed with sesame oil and lemon juice for a refreshing finish. This recipe comes to us from Jen of Domestic Divas.

Serves 4

  • 2 cups raw snap peas, larger ones halved
    2 yellow, orange or red bell peppers, julienned
    1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
    1 lemon, juiced
    1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
    salt and pepper, to taste

In a large serving bowl toss the snap peas and julienned bell peppers together. Season with sesame seeds, sesame oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

May 7th, 2018

There’s nothing better than a spring risotto. It requires a lot of stirring, but don’t let that intimidate you. You can substitute your favorite vegetables, such as fresh peas in spring or butternut squash in the fall, in place of the mushrooms and asparagus for a great meal any time of the year. Don’t let risotto’s notorious difficulty scare you—it’s all about stirring regularly! This recipe comes to us from Kristie Middleton’s cookbook, MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live—One Meal at a Time.

Serves 2

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/2 cup Arborio rice
    1 1/2 cups water, 1 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, or 1 1/2 cups water plus low sodium bouillon paste
    sufficient to make 1 1/2 cups per package instructions
    Half bunch—six or so stalks—asparagus, ends trimmed off and cut into 1-inch lengths
    1 cup chopped white button or cremini mushrooms
    1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Spring of thyme for garnish


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Reduce heat to low.

Add the rice, and then slowly begin adding water or broth 1/4 cup at a time, stirring regularly. Once the water is absorbed, add more. Once you’ve added 1 cup of the water, add the asparagus, mushrooms, thyme, oregano, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the rest of the water and continue stirring regularly. Serve once all the water has been absorbed and the risotto is soft and creamy, about 30 minutes. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

April 30th, 2018

This recipe cooks the black rice simply on the stove before tossing it with salt, olive oil and sliced scallions. Try using this simple preparation of an exotic grain as a base for Kale Ratatouille. This recipe comes to us from Stefanie Sacks.

Serves 8

  • 2 cups black rice*
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste

* Forbidden or black rice is a short grained variety which can be found in the grain or ethnic food sections of most grocery stores.

Place the rice and 4 cups of water in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. When mixture boils, turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes more, or until the rice is cooked through.

Transfer the rice to a serving bowl. Stir in scallions and oil. Season with salt to taste and enjoy!