Potato Crust Spinach Pie

My sister, except for a brief period of time, has been vegetarian her whole life. When I took over Thanksgiving duties from my mother — something that made both of us happy — I made it a point to include a main dish that worked with my sister’s dietary restriction. That dish was a riff on spanakopita, a phyllo dough-wrapped spinach dish. I made mine as a casserole, featuring rice.

What I didn’t know at the time was that I was feeding my sister — and me — something that was making us very sick. We are both now gluten free and much healthier for it!

But I do miss that dish. It was a perfect vegetarian (though not vegan) main course, packed with flavor and nutrition. I’ve finally taken the time to recreate the dish, this time using thinly sliced potatoes in place of phyllo. As with that long-ago dish, this one was a hit (and gone the next day!).

Falafel

Is there a better food than falafel? No, I say, there is not. Except maybe mashed potatoes. It’s a close call.

Finding gluten-free falafel out in the wild is hard. Making it at home is so easy, you won’t miss going out for this wonderful food at all. As a bonus, falafel makes a great vegan option for those times you need one.

One huge note, that I’ll repeat in the Notes section as well: do not use canned chickpeas when making falafel. They have absorbed too much liquid in the can, and will create a heavy, less fluffy falafel. You will thank yourself for soaking your garbanzo beans the old-fashioned way!

Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya

Jambalaya is most strongly associated with Louisiana, though friends from Mississippi claim it as their own. Every person who makes jambalaya has his or her own secret recipe — and, if you spend about five minutes searching for recipes on Google, you will discover dozens of variations of this classic dish.

Put another way: this recipe is just a starting point for your own version of jambalaya. My recipe anticipates you will have plenty of time to cook this dish…but, as you will see, there are plenty of opportunities to speed up the meal if time is short.

There are two major types of jambalaya: Creole, which contains tomato and is often associated with New Orleans, Cajun, which relies upon browned veggies and meat for a wonderful smoky flavor. My recipe blends the best of both styles, featuring chicken, spicy andouille sausage, and, when it’s on sale, shrimp.

Needless to say, jambalaya is a great party dish because the recipe can easily be doubled. It’s also a great dish for crockpots.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Over the holiday season, I find myself eating way more chips and dip than is healthy. The fault is mostly mine since I’m the one who makes this fantastic and addictive caramelized onion dip.

Caramelizing onions changes their flavor — they become mellow and sweet. The amount of heat you use informs the speed of this dish (and the attention required — higher heat requires much more stirring to prevent burning!). I like to cook my onions low and slow while I’m preparing other dishes.

The amount of onion in this recipe seems insane, but they will cook down considerably.

Quick Pickled Carrot Sticks

I started craving pickled carrots after a great chirashi at a Japanese restaurant. A chirashi is, essentially, a dish of sushi rice topped with an assortment of fish. This particular meal came with about four tiny pickled carrots…and, oh, they were good.

So while I was making my own chirashi, I thought “I have carrots, I have time, I want pickled carrots.” And they were so easy. I served them that night, but they keep for about a month in the refrigerator, meaning that lovely pickly flavor keeps building over time.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]You can use this basic recipe to pickle other kinds of vegetables as well[/box]

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