When you set out to create a new recipe, where do you start? Seasonality of the ingredients? Color? Shape? Texture? Sweet versus tart? All of the above? In the case of this easy pan-made farro with butternut squash and pears and dried cranberries and feta, I began with pears so ripe and ready for action that they practically jumped into the frying pan. I diced and sautéed those pears along with a bit of leftover peeled butternut squash, added some of my new favorite ten-minute farro, and the dish began to come together. Tart feta cheese balanced the sweet fruit, and some acidity from the dressing brought everything together. Intended as a side dish, it became an irresistible main course, perfect for a meatless lunch.... Read more →

Many years ago, my husband Ted and I joined his sister and her friends for a Thanksgiving meal at a lakeside cottage in the Ontario (Canada) countryside. It was a bit of a potluck, and because we were from out of town, we were assigned celery and carrot sticks as our contribution. At first, I thought it wasn't much to ask of us, but when we arrived, we found that our little plate of celery sticks was the only green thing on the table. All brown --turkey, gravy, potatoes and more potatoes -- and orange (carrots and sweet potatoes), and a small bowl of red cranberry sauce. All the colors of the Fall foliage, replicated on the table top. There wasn't a salad or a... Read more →

You never know who's coming to Thanksgiving dinner, and what food allergies or aversions they might bring along. Vegans, gluten-free, dairy-free -- I've hosted them all, and often at the same meal. The holiday table can be a minefield for the cook! It's great to have a few please-all side dishes on the menu. This cabbage with warm dressing takes minutes to prepare (the cabbage can be shredded ahead of time), and it's free of gluten, dairy, meat, nuts -- free of everything except flavor. Cabbage is undervalued on the holiday table; it's economical, easy to prepare, and adapts well to sweet or savory seasonings. (I just used some cole slaw mix in a Chinese stir-fry last night.) This simple side dish can be prepped... Read more →

Have I told you about my love affair with my electric pressure cooker? I never thought I'd say this, but I can't imagine life without pressure cooking some of my own homemade pantry ingredients: beans, lots of beans, and chicken broth. I make other things, like risotto, soups, and roasts, too. I adapted the recipe for these Pima "baked" beans from a small booklet of Southwest Indian recipes. (The Pima people currently live primarily on two reservations in south and central Arizona.) It almost looked like a traditional New England baked bean recipe, except that it called for corn syrup. Usually I don't keep corn syrup in the house, but I had a bottle left over from Ted's gummy-bear making episode with our grandson a... Read more →

Great for potlucks or picnics, this black bean salad comes with an Asian twist: a sesame-ginger dressing. Make it a few hours ahead, and serve as a side salad with anything from the grill. Read more →