Harissa Farro Bowls with Spaghetti Squash and Hummus

A grey plate with brown rim topped with hummus, spaghetti squash, and farro.

When it comes to weeknight meals, some nights are a mash-up of all the components I prepped earlier in the week. My creativity takes a break, and I usually just toss items together, making something slightly weird but delicious. This recipe seems simple from the outset, but it’s the components that are the star.

Squash for days

I’m always a bit slow to pick up a spaghetti squash in the colder months. Give me butternut, acorn, or delicata any day. I think it might be because I always feel a bit limited by what I can do with spaghetti squash. However, I think it’s a wonderful ‘star of a dish’ kind of ingredient.

I will say, don’t feel limited by the spaghetti squash. I’m hard-pressed to think of a vegetable that wouldn’t work in place of the spaghetti squash. Try roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, root vegetables, asparagus, or summer squash.

Why green harissa

While any zippy green sauce would work for this dish (I told you this dish is simple!), I love harissa for the bit of herby punch it brings. This mix brings everything together in quick fashion.

Dietary swaps

This dish is already vegan, but if you want to make it gluten-free, swap out the farro. One of the delightful parts of this recipe is the texture the farro lends the whole dish. Without the chewiness, it would be rather one-texture. I’d highly recommend making this with sorghum.

Prep ahead

Everything in this dish could be prepped ahead and reheated on the day. The harissa and hummus are both staples I use throughout the week, and farro makes for an excellent grain-bowl base. Because farro can hold it’s texture well, I like to reheat heat in a pan. Place in a pan, add about ½ cup of water, cover, and cook over low until hot.

[tasty-recipe id=”38715″]

A white background with two grey plates topped with hummus, farro, and spaghetti squash. Two smaller bowls with herbs and crushed red peppers.continue reading

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Cozy Turmeric Porridge (1 Pot!)

Cozy Turmeric Porridge (1 Pot!)

When the weather cools down, warm and cozy breakfasts get added to our menu.

This 1-pot oat and turmeric porridge is perfect for satisfying that craving.

This porridge starts with an optional step of the soaking steel cut oats overnight to help improve their digestibility (a step we highly recommend for creamier texture, quicker cook time, and easier-to-digest oats).

The oats are then drained and added to a saucepan where they’re boiled in a blend of water and coconut milk, providing the perfect amount of creaminess.

Cozy Turmeric Porridge (1 Pot!) from Minimalist Baker →

Sweet Potato Noodle Bowls with Arugula

Black bowl filled with noodles, orange broth, arugula, and an egg sliced in half on a light grey background

In the cold, rainy (or snowy) days of January, there’s nothing quite like a comforting bowl of noodles. If I could, I’d eat at the excellent ramen places around town, but that’s not always an option. And so, I’ve made these cheater bowls that are big on flavor but light on time.

The base: vegetable puree

If you haven’t noticed by now, the concept of a vegetable puree is a workhorse in my dinners. The puree can turn into sauces, add creaminess to risottos, and in this case, help to make a silky broth for noodles.

I’ve used sweet potatoes for this particular recipe. Still, I’ve also used acorn squash (delightful and slightly earthy), butternut squash, carrot, or even beet (that color!) Depending on what else you’re making in a given week, swap out for whatever makes the most sense.

Noodles for days

I hesitated to call this a strict ramen bowl because I have extreme respect for the craft that goes into the ramen restaurants. And so, I go loose with the noodles. Bigger noodles are better, in my opinion.

Ramen, udon, or soba noodles have all worked in my bowls. If you can get fresh noodles, it takes this recipe to a ten. This is entirely optional, though. I usually buy noodles from the grocery store aisle.


For starters, make this vegan by swapping out the egg for your favorite way to make tofu. I like crispy pieces to top the bowl, but anyway, you want is fine.

In terms of greens, go wild. You can do microgreens, spinach, or fresh kale. You can also add cooked greens to the noodles!

[tasty-recipe id=”38706″]

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Fluffy Almond Butter Sweet Potato Muffins (GF)

Fluffy Almond Butter Sweet Potato Muffins (GF)

Many of you have enjoyed our Sweet Potato Almond Butter Muffins, but asked if they could be made gluten-free.

We thought so, but we knew they’d need a few tweaks. Spoiler alert: Major success!

These revamped sweet potato muffins are gluten-free, naturally sweetened, oil-free, and require just 10 ingredients to prepare. Let’s bake!

These start with roasting a sweet potato, peeling off the skin, and then mashing it to make a purée.

Fluffy Almond Butter Sweet Potato Muffins (GF) from Minimalist Baker →

Pasta with Etruscan Sauce

I thought it might be fun to cook some recipes together this year. Recipes that are new to me, and likely new to you as well. I keep an ongoing list of recipes I want to try from cookbooks, magazines, websites, and e-books, and this Pasta with Etruscan Sauce has been at the top of it for a while. I spotted it while watching Vicky Bennison’s Pasta Grannies series on You Tube. It was the sauce in the video with nonna Luigina at La Vialla, an Agriturismo near Arezzo, Italy that got me. A quick puree of sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, parsley, and garlic, is tossed with pasta. It’s fast, strong, adaptable, and doesn’t disappoint.

Pasta with Etruscan Sauce
The Pasta Grannies video demonstrates how to make a handmade pici pasta to serve with the Etruscan sauce. If you have the time and inclination, by all means make the pici! It’s one of my favorite pasta shapes, easy to do even if you’ve never tried making fresh pasta before. That said, I was a bit pinched for time when I cooked this and reached for a box of ruffled radiatori pasta instead. The Etruscan sauce got wonderfully caught up in all the ridges and curves, and there were no regrets. If you’re Italian, and upset about my pasta choice, I apologize in advance. It might not be “right” but it sure was delicious.
Pasta with Etruscan Sauce
I’ve watched my way through much of the Pasta Grannies archive ( I love them all!), and was lucky to meet the series creator, Vicky, when she came to Los Angeles to promote the Pasta Grannies cookbook at Now Serving. If you haven’t seen it yet, keep your eyes peeled. I’m so inspired by these women, and the book with its stories, is such a nice companion to the video series. If you’re more of an Instagram person vs. You Tube, you can also find Vicky & Pasta Grannies here
Pasta with Etruscan Sauce

Etruscan Sauce

Back to the recipe – the sauce is a tapenade of sorts, it gets thinned out (a bit) when you add it to the pasta along with a bit with reserved pasta water. The way the recipe is written below, you’ll have a good amount left over, so here’s a quick brainstorm of other ways to use it.

For starters, this is a sauce that is A+ slathered on all things flat and bread-y or toasted – crostini, flatbreads, pizza, paratha, sandwiches, etc. You can add a dollop to a bowl of beans, for a quick bean salad. I tossed a spoonful with some sturdy lettuces for a side salad at lunch, so good. And you won’t be sorry if you pair it with pan-fried artichokes. Let me know any other ideas you have in the comments.
Pasta with Etruscan Sauce

Let’s Cook!

I like the idea of taking this site back to its roots – cooking from inspiring recipes and cookbooks, vintage & contemporary. So that’s going to be the theme this year. And, I think it’s going to be more fun if we cook recipes together! If you end up making this pasta in the next week or two, send a note, or tag a photo or video on Instagram so I’ll see it (@heidijswanson // #101cookbooks) ! I’ll regram helpful tips, photos, insights, ideas, and riffs we collectively come up with. I’ll also posting some video clips in my “highlights” tomorrow, if you want to see how Pasta with Etruscan Sauce came together for me.

For more pasta recipes, for more vegetarian recipes.

Continue reading Pasta with Etruscan Sauce on 101 Cookbooks

Midwinter I Meal Plan

Blue bowl with carrot polenta on a white background with parsley oil and walnuts.

I find meal planning to be a fun puzzle and it’s where I get extensive use out of my components and base recipes. I think in terms of meal planning/prepping, recipes are too limiting. It’s much easier to mix and match based on what you already have on hand. There’s a freedom that comes from tossing big recipes out the window.

What do I mean by components and base recipes?

Components: small recipes that produce an item that is used in various meals/forms. Sauces are an excellent example of this and simple roasted vegetables are both solid examples.

Base recipes: generic recipes that you can use components in. Master the basic concept of a recipe and use it across seasons and flavor profiles. Good examples of this are frittatas, grain bowls, and pasta.

And so, each week, I’m planning to share four ideas/recipes that work well together in a week. These recipes are often made from base recipes and use components I prep on the weekend. Use as-is or riff on endlessly (because the end goal is for you not to have to use recipes!)

January: Midwinter I Meal Plan

Weekend Prep

Carrot Puree
Parsley Oil
Cashew Cream

Featured Ingredients


Close-up image of amaranth polenta with carrot puree and topped with parsley oil and walnuts.

Recipe 1: Carrot Amaranth Polenta with Walnuts and Parsley Oil

This is one of those funky dishes that uses one of my favorite components: carrot puree. Once you prep the puree, this dish comes together quickly. Make a batch of carrot puree and use for this recipe and the carrot pasta.

Polenta swaps: This recipe uses non-traditional amaranth for the polenta base, but you could easily use traditional polenta or go a slightly different route by using millet.

Veg Puree: Swap out the carrot puree for sweet potato, butternut squash, or even beet puree.

Toppings: Use whatever nuts/seeds you have on hand (pecan, sunflower, or hazelnuts), and you can easily use fresh parsley than the parsley oil.

Kale and Chickpea Stew | @naturallyella

Recipe 2: Chickpea Kale Stew with Parsley Oil

A classic from the archives, this chickpea stew is a solid favorite (as long as I have good bread to go with it). It’s also a wonderful way to use more of that parsley oil made to go with the amaranth polenta.

Recipe 3: Miso-Carrot Pasta

This is an odd little dish, but it is terrific for a quick, weeknight dinner. It uses the carrot puree from the polenta dish and made a bit creamier with the help of cashew cream (which can also be prepped on the weekend).

Veg puree: Similar to the polenta, you can swap the carrots out for something else. I love using sweet potato and butternut squash puree with pasta.

Greens: I mention this in the post, but arugula can be swapped out for other greens. You could use garlicky greens or go as simple as swapping spinach for the arugula.

Recipe 4: Falafel Bowls with Arugula + Hummus

Finally, a dish that gets made with some variance each week. Depending on if I remember or not, I’ll make falafel using pre-cooked beans (like in this recipe). I usually don’t add the quinoa, but the option is there.

If, however, I need to make hummus at the same time, I’ll soak two bowls of chickpeas (one for hummus and one for the falafel). Serve the bowl with arugula, hummus, and grains. I like to use bulgur for a quick-cooking option.

One other option: ditch the hummus for a simple cashew cream sauce. Add garlic and lemon juice into the premade cashew cream and let sit for a few minutes. This is a great option if you have leftover cashew cream from making the pasta!

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The Simple But Good Breakfast Bowl (20 minutes!)

The Simple But Good Breakfast Bowl (20 minutes!)

Need a little breakfast inspo? Check out the bowl we’ve been loving lately.

It’s loaded with veggies, protein, fiber, healthy fats, and so much flavor! Plus, it’s incredibly versatile and requires just 20 minutes to prepare. Let’s eat!

This bowl starts with our quick-sautéed 8-minute sweet potatoes!

Then mushrooms are cooked with a dash of coconut aminos and the cabbage is seasoned with curry powder and salt.

The Simple But Good Breakfast Bowl (20 minutes!) from Minimalist Baker →

Miso Carrot Pasta with Arugula

Close-up image of pasta topped in a carrot sauce and arugula.

When it comes to pasta, I’ll try almost anything as a sauce. It’s led to some interesting fails but also some fantastic, funky ideas. This carrot pasta uses two of my favorite components, which makes this an easy 15-minute meal during the week.

Carrot Puree

I always feel like I overdo on carrots but for good reason. The flavor is the perfect balance of earthy and savory, and I’ve yet to find a use for carrots I don’t like. This pasta might be a bit out there for some, but if you’re in love with carrots, I highly recommend you try this.

The Cream

There’s nothing quite a solid as a good cashew cream, which works well with the creaminess of the carrots. However, cashews can get a bit expensive. This carrot pasta works well with sunflower cream as well.

Greens with Carrot Pasta

I love the peppery-ness of the arugula, but different greens would work. Try kale (massaged with a bit of lemon and salt) or sautee chard/collards with garlic and olive oil. There’s no right or wrong way to go, but don’t skip the greens; they balance out the carrot/miso blend.

[tasty-recipe id=”38689″] continue reading

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Carrot Amaranth Polenta with Parsley Oil

Close-up image of amaranth polenta with carrot puree and topped with parsley oil and walnuts.

When it comes to January meals, I’m about as veg-forward as I can be. More hearty vegan meals, bright in color and full of flavor. This polenta is made with the help of amaranth, instead of traditional polenta. It’s not quite the same but delicious nonetheless.


It’s no secret that I love mixing up grains into traditional dishes. This amaranth polenta was sparked from my love of using millet in place of the traditional polenta. These pseudograins thicken up when cracked and make for a wonderful polenta/porridge like consistency.

When it comes to amaranth, don’t skip the toasting. I find amaranth to be a bit heavy on the grassy flavor but it lessens a bit with toasting.

Carrot Puree

In terms of components I use, this carrot puree is gold. This is one of the best uses but I love using the carrot puree as a base for beans, risotto, and pasta sauce. Depending on what I’m making, I’ll make the puree roasting the carrots or I’ll braise the carrots to make them tender (for times I don’t feel like turning on the oven).

The toppings

Finally, when it comes to this polenta, it really comes together with the toppings. Making parsley oil is a great option when you have a bunch of parsley you’d like to use. The color is beautiful and the flavor adds a nice herby punch. If you don’t want to take the time, just top with a bit of chopped parsley.

[tasty-recipe id=”38670″]

Blue bowl with carrot polenta on a white background with parsley oil and walnuts.continue reading

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