"What makes these taste so good?" my husband Ted asked, after the first bite of these mushroom quesadillas with goat cheese and greens went dribbling down his chin. I started to explain about the gooey, melty goat cheese and how it holds the greens together while they wilt from the heat, but he didn't care. He was halfway through the quesadilla by then, bite after oozy bite. Nontraditional though they are, these quesadillas bundle the texture of mushrooms (sautéed to remove most of their excess liquid) with smooth goat cheese and a hint of dark leafy greens (use your favorite, spinach or kale or chard). I like to keep the theme going with spinach tortillas, though you can use whatever type of tortilla you like.... Read more →


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 →


When readers of my old soup blog asked me for bouktouf, I winced just a little bit. The recipe for this Algerian vegan soup calls for two bunches of cilantro, and I am one of those people to whom cilantro tastes like soap. It turns out that the bright orange color isn't the only surprising thing about this soup; the addition of a large amount of lemon juice tames the flavor of the cilantro, in a good way, and gives the soup a lovely freshness. Here's the original recipe from The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups, word for word (because nobody could improve on it). I halved the recipe and ended up with five cups of soup, which I cooked in a Dutch oven.... Read more →


Generally, I think of myself as a person who has not led a fear-based life. And yet, I spent decades living in fear of pressure cookers (once you see green beans plastered to the kitchen ceiling, you cannot unsee them). So I owe this risotto to my friend Kalyn, who nudged me back into pressure cooking, which turned risotto from nearly an hour of stirring (and upper arm exhaustion) to a quick six minutes at high pressure in my fail-safe electric pressure cooker, making this spinach and kale risotto officially fast food. Sun-dried tomatoes bring a little sweetness to balance the bitter greens, creating a risotto that's both easy and healthy. If you have your own slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, use those instead, and... Read more →


A couple of years ago, I wouldn't have been caught in the same room with raw Brussels sprouts, let alone encourage you to make a salad with them, but here I am. With practice and determination, I've become a Brussels sprouts believer. Roasted or sauteéd, sprouts become soft and sweet. Raw, the sprouts keep their crunch. Mustard in the vinaigrette dressing helps to tenderize them a bit, without turning them to rubber. In the past, I've combined Brussels sprouts with bacon (always a winning combination), and with blueberries, but for the colors of the season, I love these raw shaved Brussels sprouts dotted with bright red dried cranberries. Feta adds tang, though you can omit it for a vegan side dish. This salad would be... 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 →


My husband Ted and I maintain a Little Free Library on the front stoop of our Boston home. Little Free Libraries, more than 32,000 of them around the world, are free community book exchanges where anyone can take a book, and then return it or pass it on, and leave another book for someone else to enjoy. We opened our library in July, and it's become hugely popular, with some neighbors stopping by every day to see if new books have come in, or to leave books in the library for others. One man came almost the first day, and has come often since. At first, he was homeless, living in a local shelter, but he's since found housing nearby. I learned that he used... Read more →