Slow cooker recipe: Summer soup with white beans, kale, butternut and sweet corn

wheat bean kale corn soupA slow cooker is a great way to turn summer produce into a robust meal–without heating up the kitchen! This is one of my stand-bys


1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 small butternut squash, cubed
1-2 ears sweet corn, cut off cob
1 bunch kale, torn into pieces
1 onion, diced
1 quart stock (or water)
2 vegetarian chorizo sausage
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Garnish: Chopped parsley or cilantro, grated parmesan, good quality olive oil


Place all ingredients into a 4 quart slow cooker. Add water if needed to cover by 1 inch. Cover and cook on high 6-8 hours or until beans and squash are tender. Garnish with herbs and cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Makes about 3 quarts.

Summer stew



Recipe: Pesto Grilled Asparagus

imageAs I pinched back my basil plants this morning, I suddenly realized that I still have a couple of packets of pesto in the freezer from last year’s harvest. Obviously, I can’t start making this year’s pesto until last year’s is consumed!

Yet, in the midst of a several-day stretch of hot, humid weather, I just couldn’t see putting a pot of pasta on to boil. Instead, I thawed out some pesto and tossed it with some asparagus I picked up from the farmer’s market this week and threw it on the grill for 15 minutes. The results were too good not to share.

I use this Epicurious recipe for basic pesto as a template, but often substitute other greens (such as arugula) or nuts (such as walnuts).

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Avocado and grapefruit salads are a familiar theme but the added texture of the celery and a piquant chili-lime dressing add new life to an old favorite. Pack it for lunch with a hard-boiled egg for protein. The lime juice in the dressing will keep the avocado from browning.



  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and cubed. (See The Easy Way to Cube and Avocado)
  • 1 cup celery hearts, sliced in 1/2″ pieces

In a large salad bowl, whisk together lime juice, oil, honey, and chili powder until emulsified. Add grapefruit, avocado, and celery in large bowl and toss gently to combine. Serves 4.

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing

Cocoa-chia Pudding Recipe

Chia-Via PuddingI usually hesitate to use the word “superfood,” but here’s one that truly might qualify. Made with flavanol-rich cocoa powder and chia seeds, this rich and decadent-tasting dessert is a great source of fiber, omega-3s, and polyphenols. Oh yeah, it’s also vegan, gluten free, and 100% awesome.

Cocoa Chia Pudding

For each serving:

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T. chia seeds
1/2 banana, cut up

Whisk first 4 ingredients together until cocoa is well blended. Then, stir in bananas and pour into serving glasses or cups and refrigerate 1 hour to allow pudding to thicken. Stir once again before serving. Can be made two days ahead.




Gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe

Gluten Free_Pumpkin-PieChances are good that someone at your Thanksgiving table this year will be avoiding gluten.  Here’s a fantastic no-bake option from Chef Jusin Swain of  REX 1516  in Philadelphia.

Pie Crust

2 1/4 cup ground raw hazelnuts
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut oil
9 dates, stoned

  1. Place hazelnuts and cocoa powder in a large bowl and mix well, breaking up any lumps.
  2. Add coconut oil to powder mixture and mix well.
  3. Place dates in a small bowl and mash with a fork.
  4. Add dates to dough-like mixture and combine well with hands.
  5. Place crust into 9-inch round pie pan.
  6. Place crust in refrigerator while making filling.


1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
2 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

  1. Beat cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer until smooth and creamy.  Both fats should be well softened to ensure the filling is lump free.
  2. Add the powdered sugar to the mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, molasses, pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree and beat until thoroughly combined.  If you find that your filling is lumpy, pass it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
  4. Spoon the filling into the pie shell.  Let pie chill in the fridge overnight.  (very important that it chills overnight or it won’t set up.

Fresh Figs, Four Ways

Clockwise from top: Black Mission, Brown Turkey, and Sierra figs

The other day, I received a beautiful crate of fresh figs, compliments of the California Fig Advisory Board. Apparently, cool rainy weather slightly delayed the harvest of fresh figs this year. But these were perfectly ripe, and ripe figs don’t last long. The clock was ticking so I invited a bunch of friends and started planning a menu, with each course featuring fresh figs.

Next: Appetizers