Gluten-Free Spaghetti Squash Pizza

Low-carb, vegetable-based pizza crusts are all the rage, and I enjoy trying new combinations. So far, our household favorite is a crust made from spaghetti squash. The mildly sweet squash is very sturdy, and works well with lots of toppings.

Of course, the crust is gluten free, which makes it that much better.

Note that in the recipe below, I recommend squeezing as much liquid as possible from the squash. Really put some muscle into it as the drier the squash, the better the crust!

Basic Carrot Slaw

Carrots are the perfect vegetable to star in a salad. Flavor-wise, they can range from savory to sweet. Presentation-wise, they are perfect for every style: long ribbons, pretty julienned batons, shredded, or even cut into simple coins. For this salad, you can julienne the carrots or shred them — your choice (or, you know, do whatever works to get dinner on the table).

About half an hour before assembling the salad, lightly salt the carrots to draw out moisture — this helps keeps your slaw crunchy despite the addition of dressing. Rinse and pat the carrots dry, then toss. The dressing below is Just A Suggestion. Carrots can handle just about anything, and the notes to the recipe include other ideas.

Overnight Crockpot Baked Beans

While I will admit to a fondness for baked beans, I’ve always shied away from the canned version because I am not a fan of sweet foods. Sure, I’ll indulge if I encounter the canned version, but I won’t buy them unless I have a serious craving.

Yeah, I crave baked beans.

If the craving is minor and time is plentiful — or I know I need a killer dish to bring to a barbecue — I go straight for my crockpot and let the beans cook overnight. The slow cooker does all the work of cooking the beans through while developing a rich sauce that is just sweet enough with some tangy and spicy flavors to balance that sweetness. Best of all: no soaking required! I just toss everything into the crockpot, and let it work while I catch up on TV and much-needed sleep.

Spicy Pineapple Salsa

Many people believe the pico de gallo — a mix of tomatoes, onions, pepper, and cilantro — served in many Mexican restaurants is the only type of salsa there is.┬áSalsa is, quite simply, Spanish for sauce, and these sauces can be as varied as sauces in any other cuisine.

For fish tacos, nothing beats a fruit-based salsa. I love the flavor of this spicy grilled pineapple salsa. It comes together quickly, and can be used for other dishes as well!

Shakshuka-Style Greens and Eggs

I’ve never been a huge fan of tomatoes, though I am trying (and finding them to be less, well, icky than I tell myself). But when I tried an Israeli shakshuka — a dish traditionally made with tomatoes and peppers — in a restaurant, I fell in love. It’s a breakfast dish, but I’d eat it any time of day or night.

One evening, I was playing with tomatillos and greens, considering a chile verde type dish. I didn’t have a plan, and I didn’t have any pork handy. I did have eggs, and it made sense to add the eggs to the dish. Voila! Later, I poked around the Internet for ideas to improve this dish; weirdly, what I found came out as a cross between one of my favorite ways to prepare greens and this final dish. The real difference is the tomatillo, which adds a lot of tanginess to the dish (and makes it a bit juicier than the greens alone).

Serve this to vegetarians and they will think you’re a genius. Serve it for brunch. For dinner. Take leftovers for lunch. You will thank yourself. I promise.

Buffalo-Style Roasted Cauliflower

This recipe came about after some trial and error. A friend had a similar dish at a local restaurant, and raved about it. When we tried to recreate it, something was missing. We’re still trying.

In the meantime, I decided to try roasting cauliflower florets and drizzling them with a bit of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. One of the problems with the dish my friend and I made was that the cauliflower got soggy when doused in the stuff. I decided a good drizzle was all that was needed.

And so we have it — one of my favorite (and most likely to surprise guests!) side dishes. It’s easy, it’s gluten free, and the flavors of cauliflower and hot sauce mingle perfectly.

Strawberry, Kale, and Buckwheat Salad

This salad is great for parties, weeknight meals, or hot summer evenings. Buckwheat adds great flavor, especially since it’s dressed in a lemony sauce. I love that the whole thing is on the table in under thirty minutes — while the buckwheat cooks, you can prepare the strawberries.

I make this salad without cheese for a vegan option. If you like cheese — and it will add a salty component to the dish — ricotta is great. Feta works. Even blue cheeses are lovely. I also love to add toasted nuts or seeds, like pumpkin, to the dish for some crunch.

Note: start testing the buckwheat for doneness about twelve minutes into the simmer. You want the grains to be firm, not mushy. That way they hold their shape and add texture to this salad.