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I am most certainly not taking any credit for this laughingly simple technique that impresses both in flavor, texture, and looks. My version coats a whole head of cauliflower in canola oil, and seasons it with smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until crispy and dark brown on the outside, and tender inside. Serve a wedge over a smooth squash puree* (in this instance, kabocha) and garnish with a bright, fresh gremolata.

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*I went all indulgent with butter and cream, but feel free to omit for a vegan version.

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Now, I take pride in featuring vegetables as the stars in a vegetarian/vegan meal. Once in a while, however, I do use meat substitutes in traditional meat-based dishes. Perhaps it is out of sadism, as my S.S. is a hardcore meat-eater (or perhaps it is masochism, because, well, so am I). But every so often, I enjoy experimenting with different non-meat meats to see if they are actually tolerable (take this recipe for vegan chili, which is actually very good). This recipe for meatless “bolognese” is, suprisingly, delicious, hearty, and satisfying.

What’s the Man-O-Meter on this one? 7. I’ll take it.

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, fine dice
3 medium carrots, fine dice (or pulsed in food processor)
3 stalks celery, fine dice (or pulsed in food processor)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz ground beef alternative (made from soy, wheat protein, or both)
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 5.5-oz can vegetable juice (or tomato sauce; I happened to have v8 on hand, one of the more random donations that my mother sent me home with the last time I visited)
1/2 tsp chili flakes, or more or less to taste
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 cups water

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, season with salt and epper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and meatless ground beef and cook for another minute.
3. Add tomatoes, vegetable juice, chili flakes, vinegar, sugar, and water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook to desired consistency, about 30-40 minutes.
4. Adjust seasoning and serve over pasta.

Makes enough for 1 pound of pasta.

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It’s still warm(ish) outside, and sweet corn and colorful tomatoes persist at farmers’ markets. Let’s make the most of it:

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corn cobs, kernels removed
cherry or grape tomatoes, halved/quartered/left whole, depending on size
kalamata olives, diced
red onion, thinly sliced, soaked in water and then drained
evoo
s&p
burrata, torn

Again, no recipe, just an idea. Make a simple salad with all ingredients, minus the burrata, which is served on top.

I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer, and neither should you. Make this dish as a side, or, better yet, an entree to celebrate this last day of summer.

1 pound green beans, trimmed
4 peaches, cut into wedges
Canola oil
1 pint sungold tomatoes, halved
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup goat’s milk Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp sumac

1. Blanch green beans in salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Shock in an ice water bath.
2. Lightly coat peaches in canola or other neutral oil and grill to desired char.
3. Place green beans on plate or platter and top with peaches and tomatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
4. Stir together yogurt and sumac, along with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Top salad with a dollop of yogurt.

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I originally made this soup for 300 people and with loads of butter. The curry flavor was subtle yet present enough to make people wonder why this soup was different from the previous version. Wanting to adapt this recipe to make it vegan and guiltless–yet still rich and satisfying–I swapped the butter for extra-virgin olive oil. By emulsifying it in at the end of the cooking process, the soup thickened and became creamy–much like a vinaigrette behaves once the oil has been added.

1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
4 stalks celery, medium dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

1. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, curry powder, and coriander and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, pour in 3 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Puree soup until smooth, while gradually pouring in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
6. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Notes: Could use a bit more coriander, and perhaps some cumin for some smokiness.

Another dish that’s “just an idea” and follows no particular recipe. I should really work on that. But I promise: just throw this stuff together in any ratio you prefer and it will come out just as lovely as you are.

Tuscan kale, rough chop
Lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pomegranate seeds
Almonds, toasted, chopped
Cauliflower, pickled

Massage the kale with lemon juice, oil, salt, and black pepper. Garnish with pomegranate, almonds, and cauliflower (I made my own, but feel free to purchase, or pick through jarred giardiniera). Great as a starter or side dish, but also enjoyed in copious amounts to qualify as an entree.

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I know, I know–I need to be focusing on recording ingredient quantities, but this one really doesn’t need much more than a list of ingredients. Crunchy raw vegetables are highlighted by a tart lemon vinaigrette, and the whole thing is soothed by creamy, gooey burrata. I love summer.

snap or snow peas, julienne
celery, thinly sliced on a bias
lemon vinaigrette (lemon juice, minced garlic or shallots, evoo, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper)
burrata
freshly ground black pepper

Toss the snap or snow peas and celery with the vinaigrette and plate. Tear burrata and arrange on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with more vinaigrette and garnish with black pepper. Consume ferociously and with fervor, either as a starter, a side, or main dish.

snap peas and celery with burrata