Black Pepper Tofu Curry

As my diet has become increasingly plant-based, I find my self paging through my favorite magazines and mentally substituting plant-based proteins for the animal proteins. It’s actually a great exercise, if only because I love messing with recipes.

I’m also trying to add more vegan recipes to my diet, so this recipe also checks that box. I’ll admit to be intimidated by vegan cooking in the past, but now that I’ve wrapped my head around the basics, I’ve discovered that cooking vegan meals isn’t as hard as I’d once thought…though, yeah, the meal prep does take a bit more time.

Thus, this fantastic (and fast!) black pepper curry. The original recipe calls for chicken, and you can certainly use chicken if you prefer. The black pepper gives a hint of heat and loads of flavor, and it’s a great way to add vegetables to a meal.

Oh, like all curries, it’s even better as leftovers!

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.

Broccoli and White Beans with Goat Cheese and Lemon Dressing

If you’d asked seven-year old me how I often I’d eat broccoli as an adult, I’d have probably put the number at about “never”. Poor, deluded seven-year old me. It turns out I eat broccoli (and its relatives) all the time.

I love this salad. It has roasted broccoli (fact: all vegetables are better roasted), beans, cheese, and a lemony dressing. It’s basically a summer salad that happens to be filling, delicious, and vegetarian if you omit the anchovies (plus, ahem, gluten free!).

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!).

Roasted Potatoes

Needless to say, when it comes to carbs, potatoes are my first (and second!) choice. I love them in all forms, but since I’ve given up most restaurant french fries due to the possibility of gluten cross-contamination, I tend to eat my crispy potatoes at home.

The key to a perfect roasted potato is this: parboil before roasting. Parboiling starts the cooking process, meaning the potato will be cooked on the inside when the outside is done. Parboiling also releases starches necessary for crispy exteriors.

This recipe works equally well for oven fries! Note that you can season your potatoes with anything, from a simple salt and pepper with olive oil glaze to an aioli crust. Mmm, that sounds so good right about now.

Tip of the Week

Roasting vegetables requires high heat, making your outdoor grill perfect for this task. To make it easier to turn the veggies on a hot grill, place them on skewers before grilling. And remember that denser veggies like potatoes will require more cooking time than vegetables like asparagus (here’s a quick reference guide).

Menu of the Week

In Southern California, it’s almost always grilling season, so I tend to think about cooking outside whenever I cook certain cuts of meat. A flank steak with a chimichurri sauce is a perfect signal that it’s time to set up the outside table!

While I like to dip my potatoes in the chimichurri, you can make a quick creamy ranch-style dressing with mayonnaise, sour cream or greek yogurt, and a bit of seasoning. This can offset the garlicky, peppery heat of the chimichurri sauce!

  • Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
  • Roasted Salt and Pepper Potatoes
  • Grilled Corn on the Cob or Grilled Stone Fruit

Persian-Style Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

One thing I don’t love about gluten-free baking is the amount of effort required to “recreate” the properties and flavors of wheat. It is inevitable that I’ll be missing that one obscure gluten-free flour required to make a perfect cookie.

Of course, I always have plenty of rice flour on hand. I use it constantly for various recipes, so when I encountered this cookie recipe featuring rice flour, I was thrilled. I was even more excited by the short list of ingredients. Talk about easy to whip together!

But even better, these are delicious (if a bit crumbly) cookies. I brought them to the office..and they were gobbled up quickly. One co-worker confessed to eating more than a few all by herself. These would be great for afternoon tea, holiday parties, or even as a dessert after a dinner of small plates.

Gluten-Free Pulled Pork

I think of pulled pork as the beginning of a very good week of leftovers (see this article for ideas on what to do after you’ve made delicious pulled pork). It’s also a truly bargain dish — pork shoulder (also known as pork butt) goes on sale frequently, in quantities that make leftovers a no brainer.

If I were Southern, I suspect I’d be appalled at my version, but since I’m Californian with a full-time job, I will confess the ease of throwing pork into the crockpot and letting it simmer away all day is my idea of a good time. Walking into the house after a long day and smelling dinner? Priceless.

Since I’m committing heresy left and right with the recipe, I’ll confess to another secret: I don’t brown my pork before putting it into the crockpot. Phew! So happy to get that off my chest. I simply toss it, well seasoned (salt generously and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight), into the crockpot. The rest of the seasoning is in the braising liquid.

(Yes, pulled pork is naturally gluten-free, but some people add soy sauce to their braising liquid. I like the idea of adding that additional level of umami, but will remind you to use to GF soy sauce or tamari!)

See notes below for ideas on making pulled pork in your pressure cooker!