All posts by Mervin

Roasted Sweet Potato Baked Eggs

Close-up, overhead photo of roasted sweet potatoes with baked eggs nestled in among the sweet potatoes.

Some recipes are born from a love of making some of my recipes easier. I love to whip up a good quiche or frittata but sometimes I like to keep things simple (really simple). This baked egg dish is about as easy as it gets, once you get quick at dicing.

The Sweet Potatoes

Don’t throw this recipe out if you don’t like sweet potatoes. It’s really the concept of baked eggs that I would recommend. Any vegetable that goes well with baked eggs, and can be roasted, is a possibility here.

During the winter months, try different varieties of squash. During the spring, roasted asparagus is a nice touch (but I’d skip the first roasting step- no one likes mushy asparagus). And finally, in summer, roasted sweet corn and peppers rounds out the year. You could also mix two recipes and use something along the lines of this sunchoke hash.


There are a few items that you can tell I love, just by the amount I use them in recipes. Shallots are at the top of the list. Sure, they are can be more of a pain to prep but the flavor gets me every time. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and savory, all with a small hint of garlic.

Of course, you can go with something a bit more forward. Try a bit of minced garlic added in with the sweet potatoes. During the spring months, green garlic can also add a nice flavor (and a bit of color contrast!) Or, go with the solid stand-by of minced yellow onion.

Vegan (a complete overhaul)

For almost every recipe I give, I can almost always turn it vegan. That is, however, a bit harder when baked eggs are the star of the show. I’d say if you’re bent on doing something similar, roast the sweet potatoes and turn it into a tofu scramble. Not the same but still delicious.

Spicy Baked Eggs

Finally, switch up the herbs. I’ve made this with a bit more savory elements and it’s delicious. Coat the sweet potatoes in a bit of curry powder, berbere spice, or a simple mix of cumin/coriander. It takes a bit of reworking the herbs but the end egg bake is delicious.

Overhead photo of roasted sweet potatoes and baked eggs, topped with rosemary and goat cheese.

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A Simple Brown Rice Sushi Bowl

I first published this recipe in 2007, on page 156 in Super Natural Cooking – the Sushi Bowl. Looking back at the recipes included in that book, this is one that has remained a personal favorite of mine (top five for sure), and from what many of you have told me, it has long been a favorite for many of you as well. Simply stated, we are talking about a de-constructed sushi roll – brown rice, tofu, avocado, toasted nori and green onions served with a tangy, sweet citrus-soy dressing. When I don’t have toasted nori on hand, I swap in a handful of crushed kale chips. 
Brown Rice Sushi Bowl

The Citrus Dressing

This dressing rules. You do a quick simmer of a bit orange and lemon juice, and then season it with a bit of brown sugar and rice vinegar. I wrote the recipe calling for orange and lemon, but I often make the dressing with grapefruit or blood orange juice, and it is exceptionally good – puckery citrus sweetness coating the grains of rice throughout each sushi bowl.
Brown Rice Sushi Bowl
So! If you love avocado rolls, this is a tricked out version, in bowl form. So simple, especially if you have cooked brown rice at the ready. This is the sushi bowl from lunch today, made with kale chips in place of toasted nori. 

Sushi Bowl-ing

When I originally wrote this recipe, it was conceived as a lazy day way to enjoy my favorite sushi roll ingredients. In an attempt to pre-empt comments related to sushi & bowls, I’ll leave you with this. I think there is occasional confusion with the idea of a sushi bowl, because the perception is that sushi is the roll itself. But, as Haruhiko mentions in the comments down below, “Sushi is a term that technically refers to the seasoned rice itself. There’s makizushi, inarizushi, chiraishizushi, etc., and what they have in common is the seasoned rice. You don’t need raw fish for sushi to be sushi.” xo Haruhiko! Hope this helps!

Continue reading A Simple Brown Rice Sushi Bowl on 101 Cookbooks

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I’m going to argue that this is the type of soup that needs to be made to order. While many soups and stews get more complex and enticing after a day or so in the refrigerator, I don’t find that to be true when it comes to soup of the broccoli variety. Am I alone here?
A Favorite Broccoli Cheddar SoupDay-old broccoli soup always smells very strong (and not in a good way) and tastes overcooked, as if from a can. The good news is this version couldn’t be simpler to make, and it’s perfect for those times when I feel like I need something with a serious nutritional punch. I give the soup a bit of an unexpected twist by topping it with golden, crunchy, mustardy croutons. Which you can skip, but I wouldn’t.
Broccoli Cheddar Soup Recipe

Topping Ideas

Aside from the croutons, this soup likes crusty, toasted walnut bread, or olive bread. It likes a good sheep feta in place of cheddar if that’s what you happen to have on hand, or a kiss of harissa whisked into a bit of olive oil. I know people like to pair broccoli with blue cheese. Personally, I find that to be over-powering, but if you really love blue cheese, that might be another direction to explore. If you have any other ideas, let me hear them – I make this soup often enough that I need fresh angles to work!

Continue reading Broccoli Cheddar Soup on 101 Cookbooks

5 Ways to Cook Vegetables

Jerk Roasted Kuri Squash | Naturally Ella

Preparing vegetables will always demand some extra time and care. However, these days we’re all trying to get more vegetables into our daily lives. Knowing more general ways to cook them only works in our favor.

The transformation from raw to cooked never ceases to inspire and once you learn the overall cooking processes, you can tackle any vegetable like a pro. Below is just a start of ways you can experiment with vegetables but hopefully this inspire more vegetable cooking in your kitchen.


Blanching is a quick cooking process that involves submerging vegetables in boiling water for a short period of time. This process helps vegetables lose that extreme crispy bite that might be too much for some meals. Blanching works great for items like asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower but can also be great for greens.

How to blanch

To blanch, bring a pot of salted water to a boil with a bowl of ice water nearby. Drop in your prepped vegetables and let them cook for only a few minutes. The timing will depend on the heartiness of what you’re cooking. Spinach will take around 30 seconds while broccoli could be minutes. You want them to still be bright, colorful, and crisp but not crunchy. Strain the vegetables and transfer to the ice bath.

How to use blanched vegetables

I like to use blanched vegetables for vegetable cakes, stir fries, or if I plan on pan-frying the vegetables after blanching. Getting blanching under your fingers is also a good thing to have in your pocket if you ever plan on freezing vegetables (which helps seal in color, flavor, and nutrients.)

Example uses blanched vegetables:

Broccoli Melts
Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Garlicky Yogurt Green Beans



One of my favorite ways to cook harder vegetables like squash is by tossing them in oil and salt and popping them in a 425˚F oven. Let them roast under high heat for 30, 40, 50 minutes – I never really set a timer I just check them occasionally with a fork to test for softness and some good coloring.

How to use roasted vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a great way to lock in flavor and have a bit of char-flavor to the items. Roasted vegetables are perfect as a side but I love adding them to all kinds of meals including pizza toppings, tacos, pasta, and salads.

Example uses roasted vegetables:

Sweet Chili Roasted Sweet Potato Spring Rolls
Roasted Tomato Sauce
Einkorn Risotto with Roasted Asparagus
Chili Roasted Broccoli

Chile Roasted Broccoli | Cooking Component | Naturally Ella



I often times forget about this option when I am preparing vegetables. When I think about cooking a sweet potato or a hard winter squash, I sometimes get mentally cornered into thinking that turning on the oven is the only way to get the job done.

Steaming takes a fraction of the time, and is easier to clean up because there is no greasy oil or crusty bit of veg stuck to the pan. I highly recommend picking up a steaming basket. This makes steaming a bit easier because you can lift the vegetables out at the end of steaming.

How to steam vegetables

For steaming, all the vegetables should be roughly the same size, to cook evenly. Place about 1” of water in the bottom of a pot. This water should not touch the steaming basket, though. Bring that water to a boil, add your vegetables, turn the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the vegetables are just-tender. The vegetables should be bright in color still (similar to blanching).

Remove the steaming basket and run the vegetables until cold water to stop the cooking process then season as desired! Steamed vegetables do well when finished with fats like olive oil, homemade aioli, or other types of rich sauces.

How to use steamed vegetables

Steamed vegetables make for great side dishes. I also like to use steaming if I plan on pureeing something into a sauce or soup. You could also use as a filling for enchiladas, frittatas, or grain bowls.

Example uses steamed vegetables:

Carrot Baked Barley Risotto (calls for roasting but could use steamed carrots)
Sweet Potato Pasta (calls for roasting but could use steamed sweet potato cubes)
Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese (calls for boiling but could use steamed sweet potatoes)


I used to be intimidated by the term sauté – I thought you were only doing it right if you managed to toss the food from your pan up into the air and back into the pan again with a graceful yet incredibly strong wrist action (luckily that’s not so).

How to sauté vegetables

Sauté simply means to fry something quickly in a little hot fat. Cut your vegetables into evenly sized pieces, heat a pan with some oil or ghee, and toss in the vegetables. Coat them in the hot fat, and let the magic of fat and heat work wonders. Shoot for even coloring and frequent stirring until everything is tender and ideally caramelized or tastefully browned.

How to use sauteéd vegetables

Sautéed vegetables work well if you’re already making a meal on the stove-top. Tacos, grain bowls, and egg skillets are all great ways to use sautéed vegetables.

Example uses sauteéd vegetables:

Pan Fried Turnips
White Beans and Potatoes in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Green Bean Stir Fry
Vegetable Lo Mein


This isn’t necessarily a ‘cooking method’ but the fermentation nerd side of me can’t overlook the ease and fun of quick pickling vegetables. There is no canning required, just some vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices if you wish. There are many different variations on pickling, which can be found along with instructions here.

How to use quick pickles

Quick pickles are great on sandwiches, as a topping for salads/grain bowls, or as a simple snack. Many different vegetables work well as quick pickles- just play around and find what you like!

Example uses pickled vegetables:

Hummus Sandwich with Pickled Carrots
Avocado Romain Wedge Salad with Pickled Radish
Caramelized Onion and Cheese Toast with Quick Pickles

Pickled Carrots |

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Most Popular Soup Recipes of 2018

No one loves a good soup or stew more than I do. That said, some soups get much more love than others when I post them here. Seeing as we’re deep in the heart of soup season, I thought I’d wrangle a list of the most popular soup recipes on 101 Cookbooks from last year, 2018. If none of those seem quite right, here’s where you can poke around this archive of past soup recipes

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

1. Best Simple Cauliflower Soup – If you are looking for a go-to simple soup with a short ingredient list. Boost it with a favorite yellow curry paste for a variation. 

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

2. Spicy Instant Pot Taco Soup – A family fave. This taco soup is a hearty melding of beans, and corn, and taco spices, and quinoa. A great main to build a weeknight meal around.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

3. Coconut Red Lentil Soup – A long-running favorite here. You’re looking at a special lentil soup, an Ayurvedic dal recipe from the Esalen Cookbook years ago. Red lentil based, curry-spiced coconut broth with back notes of ginger and tomato, with slivered green onions, and curry-plumped raisins.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

4. White Bean Soup with Pesto Herb Dumplings – Everyone loves dumplings. This is a hearty white bean soup topped with pillowy dollops of herb-packed pesto dumplings. Simple to make either vegan or vegetarian.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

5. Curried Tomato Tortellini Soup – Another family friendly fave – a lentil and tomato-based stew, dotted with plump, tender dumplings, spiked with a range of spices, and boosted with plenty of spinach. Perfect one-bowl meal.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

5. Vegetarian Split Pea Soup – Perfect for a busy weeknight, this delicious, simple vegetarian split pea soup is made from the shortest list of ingredients.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

7. Instant Pot Minestrone Soup – This was popular with Instant Pot enthusiasts. A fairly classic minestrone, made with dried beans, not canned. 

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

8. A Simple Carrot Soup – Another simple blender soup makes the list. The base of this carrot soup is spiked with dollop of red curry paste, and then pureed into silky oblivion.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

9. Ten Ingredient Alkalizing Green Soup – The quintessential wellness soup. A unique mix of spinach, herbs, garlic, with silky coconut cream, and some green split peas for staying power delivers a potent, alkalizing green soup.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

10. CAP Beauty No Bone Broth – This mineral-rich alternative to animal bone broth was super popular. 

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

11. The Creamiest Vegan Soup (Cauliflower) – This soup is different than most “creamy” vegan soups I come across. It uses a clever trick to achieve its texture.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

12. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup – Put in the effort to prep the baked tortilla matchsticks, which act as a perfect contrast to the full-bodied, spicy brothy vegetarian soup.

A List of the 2018 Most Popular Soup Recipes on 101 Cookbooks

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Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Chickpea Casarecce

Side angle photograph of a chickpea pasta tossed in a broccoli pesto, served in a large white dish.

Post sponsored by Barilla. See below for more details.

There is nothing quite as delicious as a simple bowl of pasta tossed with a bit of pesto. This take with an easy broccoli pesto pasta is one of the ways I keep the pasta/pesto combination alive during the colder months when basil isn’t as abundant. Best of all, this dish is gluten-free (thanks to Barilla chickpea pasta) with a suggestion on how to make it vegan!

Broccoli pesto

About the pesto:

One of my favorite items to play around with is the concept of pesto. A few herbs, some cheese, garlic, and lemon juice. It’s simple but the possibilities are endless. This broccoli version is a favorite of mine in the cooler months, especially when basil isn’t in season and it can get quite expensive at the store.

How else to use it

This pesto version can be used in all the same ways traditional pesto is used. Slather it on grilled cheese sandwiches. Use on grain bowls. Or, try it in one of my favorite’s, a broccoli melt.

Swaps you can make

Of course, you don’t have to use broccoli. I also love to make a similar pesto using hearty greens such as kale or chard. You could also add nuts, such as pine nuts (traditional), almonds, or walnuts (a good choice with the broccoli!)

Close-up, overhead photo of a bowl of chickpea pasta tossed with a broccoli pesto.

Make it vegan

Cheese swap

There are a couple things you need to change to make this vegan but it’s not terribly difficult. First, swap out the cheese. For the pesto I’d recommend using a sprinkle of nutritional yeast in place of the parmesan and just leave the parmesan off the topping.

Cream swap

As for the cream, play into the pesto a bit and use a nut-cream of a nut that would work well with the broccoli. Try almond or walnut cream. Or, if you happen to have it on hand already, cashew cream would work well in place of the heavy cream.

Photograph of a full, large white bowl of pasta tossed with a broccoli pesto.

Barilla’s Chickpea Casarecce Pasta

This chickpea casarecce pasta is part of Barilla’s new line of legume-only pasta. I love this fun shape and it’s the perfect pasta for saucey pastas. If you’re using this pasta as a swap for traditional pasta, you might need a bit extra sauce- it soaks up the sauce fast. I like to keep a bit of extra pasta water on hand to thin the sauce as needed!You can find all four varieties (Red Lentil Penne, Red Lentil Rotini, Chickpea Rotini and Chickpea Casarecce) on Amazon

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Chili Chickpea Smothered Toast

Overhead shot of chickpeas in a rich tomato sauce, all on a piece of toast.

I like every recipe I post on this site. There are countless recipes that never see the light of day. They are probably good, I just don’t like them. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are recipes I love. Like, I could eat this everyday kind of love. These chili chickpeas get that kind of love.

The sauce is really where the recipe comes together. Dried chilis paired with tomatoes and finished with a boost of lemon; it’s hard to go wrong. Also, just a note. It could be chili or chile peppers (and there’s a fascinating read on this from the LA Times.)

Dried Peppers, your friend

If it wasn’t for having a husband and small child opposed to any level of heat in a recipe, I’d use dried chilis for every meal. I already kind of do this through adding crushed red pepper on top of everything I eat. At least with dried chilis, there is a myriad of flavor and heat.

I found when writing this recipe out I had a hard time landing on which chilies to include. I had picked up a bag at the market. The chilies in this bag were not labeled but I believe they were mild red hatch peppers. So, I’d like to just say: find dried chilies with mild heat.

Which chilis have mild heat, you ask? I’m not an expect on this but Saveur has a good base of what to look for in chilies. Once you find your dried chilis, you also need to know how to prep them for a recipe.

Bean Swap

Once you figure out which chili you should go with for the recipe, the rest doesn’t matter (just kidding, kind of). However, the chickpeas in this recipe are not paramount. Use what you have on hand. Big, meaty white beans would be the next logical choice followed closely by a creamy pinto.

Vegan it

You can swap the ghee for something vegan-friendly. However, and this is something I don’t say a lot: the ghee really adds to the sauce. There’s something magical that happens when chili peppers and ghee meet. But in swap pinch, olive oil would do. Also, drop the feta and probably add a bit more salt to make up for that.

Preserved Lemons

I lied when I said nothing else mattered because this dish isn’t the same without the lemon. I shared recently about preserving lemons and many people questioned me on uses. Preserved lemons are great as a finishing flavor when the overall dish needs a bit of pick-me-up.

Of course, if you’re not making your own preserved lemons or don’t want to invest in buying some, lemon will work. Give the final dish a squeeze and small amount zest lemon.

Overhead shot of chickpeas in a rich tomato sauce, all on a piece of toast.

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Two-ingredient Candied Citrus Lolipops

Get ready. These are my new favorite thing, and I suspect they might end up being your favorite thing too. Imagine plump, juicy, citrus segments coated in thin, crunchy, sugar shells. You bite through the crust, and the citrus explodes with a wave of sweetness. It’s a concept I wish I’d thought of myself, but it’s actually a recipe by Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen, featured in Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook. Amanda was inspired by a street food vendor in Beijing. And, it’s funny, there is a beautiful photo of her grapefruit pops in the book, but it was her description of the street vendor, and the way his slices lit up the entire street that charmed me into trying them.

Candied Citrus Pops

A couple things to note before making these. It’s helpful to have a block of foam from a package, or the kind of foam you might use to arrange flowers. This helps your pops stay upright after you candy them. The other consideration is how hot to let the sugar get. Amanda recommends going to 275 – 300°F – or until the mixture is light brown. I like the pops that go a bit darker than that, you get a lot of caramel and molasses notes that play of the citrus in magical ways. The blood orange segments I did in the darkest sugar mixture were a complete revelation. But this is all personal preference, so experiment to figure out where you’d like to be on the spectrum. One last thing I’ll mention, if your mixture doesn’t get hot enough, the candy shell won’t set.

Candied Citrus Pops

I found the easiest citrus to deal with was anything easy to peel, with minimal seeds, and small to medium in size. Some of the grapefruits were tricky to peel and keep intact. Kishu mandarins, on the other hand, are a dream to work with (pictured). Play around – this is peak citrus season and this make for a dramatic snack, treat, or dessert!

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Simple Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Simple Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Every cook should know how to make a simple side salad and lemon vinaigrette. It’s the easy side dish to pair with just about any entrée, comes together in 10 minutes with simple ingredients, and is incredibly versatile. Let me show you how it’s done.

Start with a base of greens. We went with spring greens, but I also love spinach as a base, as well as thinly sliced kale, arugula, and romaine.

Simple Green Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette from Minimalist Baker →