Easy Red lentil Soup

Red lentils are the easiest of the lentils to cook, requiring only about 15 minutes in the saucepan. And this is the most simple soup to make use of those red lentils- it’s hearty, healthy, and delicious, brightened by the orange zest, which makes a bright counterpart to the earthy lentils. This recipe originally posted two years ago, during my first winter on Maui. I needed all the cozy I could get in the colorful, drafty house that I shared in Makawao.


easy red lentil soup

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger (or ½ tsp dried ground ginger)
  • 2 cups broth (or simply more water)
  • ¼ cup soymilk
  • 1 tbsp dark miso
  • 1 tsp orange zest (optional but surprisingly delish)
  • pinch each cayenne, black pepper, caraway, and nutmeg
  1. Add lentils and water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute the onion and garlic until browned (add the fresh ginger too, if using)- about 15 minutes.  Add the cooked onions, garlic, broth, soymilk, miso, zest, and herbs & spices to the lentils and simmer for 10 minutes longer at very low heat. Serve with brown rice and steamed greens or maybe some nice garlic bread and sauteed veggies.

noodles with miso tahini sauce

This recipe features hearty buckwheat or udon noodles, Asian style noodles that offer a nice change of pace from regular semolina pasts. Use whatever random mixed vegetables you might have around and drown it in this creamy sauce to make a fast, wholesome meal- something that I eat at least once a week as my favorite bowl food!


Noodles with Miso-Tahini Sauce

  • 1 eight oz package soba or udon (pictured) noodles
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
  • ½ cup sliced onion
  • 4 fresh shitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup sliced red cabbage
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 cup shredded carrots

Miso-Tahini Dressing

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons miso
  • dash of honey
  • 2 Tablespoons water (more to taste)
  1. Cook the noodles according to instructions on package. Drain, rinse with cool water, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat peanut oil until hot, then add onions. Sauté until translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms, peppers, and carrots to the pan. Cook for 5-10 more minutes. Add to cooked noodles.
  4. Mix all dressing ingredients in a small bowl until very smooth and pourable. Add more water for taste.  Pour over vegetables and noodles and toss to combine.

Yield: 2-4 servings noodles and about ½ cup dressing

*Some of you might have seen this post as Soba Noodles with Miso Tahini, but I changed it this morning when I realized that most of my posts from the past week didn’t have photos! This is the photo I have, but I had to change the name of the post to include udon noodles, which are pictured above*

Red Pepper and Pumpkin Soup

Now that all the bloggers and readers of the world have had a chance to recover from their month of posting, I’ve come back with a delicious and warming soup that is easy to prepare. This is one of my favorite soups ever- sweet, creamy, and light, perfect for this time of year. This recipe was originally published two years ago, during my first winter on Maui. I was inspired by the chef at the small health food store where I worked for a short time. Featuring sweet Kabocha pumpkin, homegrown herbs, and vibrant red pepper, this soup is perfect for autumnal potlucks or any holiday feasts.


roasted red pepper and pumpkin soup

  • 3 cups kabocha pumpkin, or other sweet squash, skinned and chopped
  • 1 medium white potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup shallots, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup onions, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium red peppers, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp honey or agave
  • handful of fresh sage leaves (about 1/4 cup chopped), or 1 tsp dry rubbed sage
  • 2 cups veg broth
  • 1/4 cup soymilk (or other milk)
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  1. Add pumpkin and potatoes to a large stockpot with enough water to cover and boil for about 15-20 minutes (see note below). When fork-tender, drain and set aside.
  2. Add shallots, onions, garlic, and red pepper and place in a big bowl. Add the olive oil, salt, peppers, nutmeg, and 1 tsp honey and toss until veggies are well coated. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and add the rest of the honey/agave and sage. Toss again, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the sage is wilted. It should smell delicious just as is!
  3. When the veggies are finished cooking (peppers and onions should be starting to blacken and sizzle), add to processor along with pumpkin and potatoes. Blend with broth until totally smooth, blending in batches if necessary. Return to stockpot, add soymilk and sesame oil, then simmer over low heat for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld. Add more salt/pepper/cayenne to taste.
  4. This soup keeps for a few days in the fridge, and is great over rice, with leftover lentils, or with greens for a very tasty quick lunch.

Thanks for reading.

Fresh Vegetable Enchiladas

These enchiladas were a serious test of my patience. Usually I am pretty good at throwing stuff together and having it taste great, but these enchiladas did not work the first, second, or third time I made them!Finally, on the fourth recipe rewrite I got it down… which is good because the recipes had already been printed for cooking class! Mostly I was being picky because I wanted them to taste exactly the way I imagined they could taste, but it just was not happening.  The sauce was too vinegary, too oniony; the tortillas were crappy; the vegetables were undercooked, and so forth. So, four trials later, I was able to share this wicked good version with my cooking class, my friends, and now you! Thank the enchilada goddess for smiling fortune upon me.


Fresh Vegetable Enchiladas

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 fifteen oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp each chili powder, oregano and honey
  • 1 tsp each coriander and cumin
  • 1 cup finely chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup finely chopped cauliflower
  • 1 cup corn
  • ½ cup diced red pepper
  • 2 cups cooked black beans
  • ½ cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1½ cups shredded mozzarella or pepper jack cheese, divided
  • 10 flour tortillas
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft. Lower heat and add garlic, tomato sauce, broth, vinegar, spices, honey, and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add broccoli, cauliflower, corn and red pepper to a large skillet. Cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked vegetables, black beans, yogurt, 1 cup shredded cheese, and ½ cup red sauce.
  4. Warm the tortillas slightly in the preheating oven, and dip into red sauce. Spoon about ¼ cup of the veggie mixture into the tortilla, and roll, placing the open side down in a 9 x 13 pan. Roll all enchiladas, and then cover with remaining red sauce.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes at 375; add remaining cheese to top and bake 5 minutes more. Let cool before serving.

Notes: The yield depends on what type and how many tortillas you use, of course. I used Rudi’s spelt tortillas (10 inches round), and could only fit 8 in my pan; the other two were baked in a small cake pan with equally good results. Also, the original recipe called for 1 cup red wine; I subbed broth and balsamic vinegar, but rock the vino if you have some on hand- it makes a really good sauce. BTW, this original recipe was shared by an old housemate of mine. She made these amazing creamy shitake mushroom enchiladas with this amazing red sauce. She got the recipe from the back of a shitake mushroom bag from Costco!

Polenta Pizza with Kale Pesto

These are a perfect little party dish! These ‘pizzas’ are bite-sized, cute, and full of wholesome ingredients- and they will make even your most omnivorous friends happy. Note that the polenta needs to cool for a few hours in the fridge before cutting, so make the polenta before putting on your party dress. And if you want to skip the Kale Pesto, a traditional basil pesto or red sauce can be substituted.


Polenta Pizza with Kale Pesto

  • 1½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup polenta (course-ground cornmeal)
  • ½ teaspoon each black pepper and dried basil
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan or Provolone cheese
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (more to taste)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 cups chopped, packed kale, de-stemmed and washed
  • 2 cups fresh basil, washed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To make the polenta pizza: bring broth and milk to a low boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta, pepper, and basil. Simmer over very low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn of heat and let stand 10 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted completely.
  2. Pour polenta into an 8×8 baking dish and spread evenly across pan. Chill for one hour, or until firm.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the pesto: blend nuts, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and kale in food processor until totally smooth. Add more oil (or water) if needed to achieve a smooth consistency.
  4. When polenta is firm, slice into squares (or cut using cookie cutters!), and place on serving plate. Spread pesto on top. Toast in oven to warm, or serve at room temperature.

Yield: 16 small servings

Mushroom Gravy – Chef’s Choice

This mushroom gravy is one of my favorite vegan comfort foods, perfect on simple mashed potatoes or poured over grilled seitan, tofu, or tempeh. It’s flavorful, creamy, and filling. I originally wrote about it here three years ago, presenting it as a perfect food to impress omnivores. Serve this at your holiday dinners or weekend feasts, omnivorous or otherwise.


Mushroom Gravy

  • 2 Tablespoons wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 Tablespoon organic cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup sliced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups mixed sliced mushrooms (shitakes, buttons, etc.)
  • 1½ cups unsweetened soymilk
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon each nutmeg and black pepper
  • pinch cayenne
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, water, and 1 Tablespoon olive oil until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet and heat on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add mushrooms to skillet and cook five more minutes, until mushrooms wilt and release water.
  4. Reduce heat to low and add soymilk, soy sauce, and herbs to skillet. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer, then add flour mixture. Stir constantly, until gravy is thick and creamy. Remove from heat.
  5. Gravy can be used as is, or pureed for a smoother texture.

Yield: about 2 cups gravy