lola rugula asparagus and scallion frittata recipe

papaya seed dressing

Spring has officially arrived here in Northern Illinois and yet they’re calling for an inch or two of snow tonight. Sigh.

We had a week or so of nice 50+ degree weather though and we even grilled out a couple of times, so I know these latest flurries won’t stick around long.

Thinking spring thoughts, I was excited to see a display of gorgeous papayas on my last trip to the grocery store. As the weather starts to warm up, I’m always looking for delicious ways to amp up the flavor in my green salads so that they don’t get boring. This is an easy, nutritious, delicious salad dressing that I quickly threw together in my blender. Papaya seeds are high in protein and a good source of calcium and magnesium. You may not suspect it but their flavor is similar to black pepper and they add a definite kick to this dressing.

Salad dressings are so easy to make at home and if you’re trying to stay away from processed foods, dressings are a good way to start. Most store-bought dressings are loaded with junk – read the labels and you might be surprised at everything that’s in them.

lola-rugula-papaya-seed-dressing-recipepapaya seed dressing recipe

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup roughly cut onion (I used about 3 large slices)
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 heaping tablespoons papaya seeds
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place everything except olive oil in a blender and blend on high speed for a couple of minutes. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until everything is well blended.

You can certainly play around with this recipe quite a bit. If you don’t have ground mustard, add a bit of dijon. If you don’t have rice vinegar, try champagne or tarragon vinegar. If you want some extra color, add some chopped chives or scallions. Use raw honey instead of agave nectar. Add a bit of garlic to the mix. Never be afraid to play with your food.

Oh, and how to tell if a papaya is ripe? Ideally, buy them at the store while they’re still partially green. Let ripen at home for a few days and then enjoy! The skin of the papaya will turn yellow as it ripens and have a little bit of give when you touch it. You don’t want it overripe, so don’t let it get too soft.

Keep thinking spring and enjoy!

lola rugula asparagus and scallion frittata recipe

bean and veggie salad with cumin dressing

Happy Labor Weekend all! I hope everyone is having a fun and amazing summer. I’ve been canning and freezing up a storm from my garden, but it’s always worth it when the days become shorter and colder. Brrrrrrrrr.

Thought I’d share one of my easiest salad recipes with you this holiday weekend. I’m not even going to try and give you measurements on this, because it’s different every single time I make it. The only constants are the cilantro, cumin, cider vinegar and olive oil. There are always beans, veggies, garlic and onion involved, but the beans, veggies and even the onion vary, depending on what I have on hand or what I’m in the mood for.

Give it a whirl and see what you think!


bean and veggie salad with cilantro, cumin and cider vinegar dressing

  • beans of your choice (I personally love to mix them – black beans, garbanzo beans, dark red kidney beans, etc.)
  • diced veggies of your choice
  • minced garlic
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • ground cumin
  • cider vinegar
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Toss the beans, veggies, garlic and cilantro together in a large bowl. Sprinkle on some ground cumin, to taste. (remember, you can always add more, so go easy at first) Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle on a bit of olive oil and cider vinegar. You just want to coat everything well, without drowning it all. Toss everything well – best when it sits at least an hour.

As a side note, using a great cider vinegar here is worth it. I highly recommend Bragg‘s  which can be found at most markets and grocery stores. It’s organic, live and raw, so it’s very good for you.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend! Bon Appetit!

lola rugula asparagus and scallion frittata recipe

grated raw beet and carrot slaw

My husband, beet lover that he is, put our beet seeds in the ground in late March. We just harvested the bulk of them about a week ago (early July) and oh, what a harvest it was! Beets are so good for you – they’re rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and, especially in their raw form, are great for cleansing your body.


If you’re only familiar with beets in their cooked state, I really hope you’ll try them raw. They’re crunchy and delicious, with an earthy flavor all their own. Their greens are great in salads and juices, too, so don’t toss those beet greens!


raw grated beet and carrot salad slaw recipe

  • 4 medium washed, peeled and grated beets
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients together. Let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Easy recipe, right? Are beets messy to work with? Yes. Will they stain just about anything they come in contact with, including your hands? Yes. Are they super great for you and delicious and totally worth the mess? Absolutely!

I know it’s impossible to tell that there are even carrots involved here, but there are; the beet juice stains them before you’re even done mixing, but they add a special flavor and sweetness of their own.

Oh, and the lovely plate the slaw is on? It’s from the set of my grandmother’s china that I inherited. Beautiful, isn’t it?

If you want to eat more raw food recipes and are looking for way to amp up the nutrients in your side dishes, this is it. If you’re looking for other slaw or salad recipes that are made with oil and vinegar, and no mayonnaise, check out my Asian-style slaw and my slaw with Dijon mustard and cider vinegar. Enjoy!

lola rugula asparagus and scallion frittata recipe

mediterranean quinoa salad

Quinoa is one of those foods that became super trendy, for a while. Super trendy until a lot of people actually tried it and decided they didn’t like it. The first way I ever made it was as a savory side dish, with mushrooms, veggie stock and fresh thyme and it was love at first bite.

My first recommendation on preparing quinoa is this: make sure you rinse it, rinse it and rinse it again, Or, better yet, buy the pre-rinsed stuff, which they happily sell now, but didn’t at the time I first started making it. I’ll admit I still rinse it briefly though…habit, I guess. If quinoa isn’t rinsed thoroughly enough, it tends to have a soapy taste to it. This is what I’ve heard, at least. I’ve always been a big rinser.

Secondly, for the love of all that’s holy, do not overcook quinoa. This one I have done and, trust me, it’s better to under-cook it just a tad, then to overcook it. This point is especially important when you’re going to make a salad out of it, because the quinoa is going to continue to soak up any liquid as it sits. If this happens with overcooked quinoa, you’re just going to end up with mush within a day or so.

Now that I’ve got all that out of the way, this really is just a basic Mediterranean salad with a quinoa base. You can make this with pasta as the base, lentils as the base, rice as the base, beans as the base, barley as the base…you get the idea.

lola-rugula-mediterranean-quinoa-salad-recipemediterranean quinoa salad recipe with veggies

  •  1 cup of quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup black beans (if using canned beans, rinse them well and drain)
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 cup diced, de-seeded cucumber (slice the cuke in half and then run a spoon down its center, to remove the bulk of the seeds)
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow pepper
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups halved or quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely-chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Juice from one lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

In a small saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Add quinoa. Stir well and return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove lid and remove pan from heat. Fluff with a fork and let sit for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, cut of the veggies and parsley and place in a large bowl. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss well. Add cooled quinoa and toss well, again.

Easy, right? Oh, and it’s truly delicious. So delicious that I’m loathe to tell you, in case you weren’t aware of it, that quinoa is super good for you. Just a one cup serving has almost 50% of your RDA of protein and fiber. Quinoa is actually a complete protein, meaning it contains all of your essential amino acids. That’s a pretty rare trait in the plant world.  It’s also loaded with iron, magnesium and potassium. Not bad for a little seed, right?

Here’s the part where I encourage you to play with your food: I love to mix up the veggies and beans in this. Add steamed asparagus or broccoli, garbanzo beans, snow peas, roasted red peppers, black olives….it’s so easy and versatile. Have fun with this and enjoy!

lola rugula asparagus and scallion frittata recipe

asian-style no mayo coleslaw

If you’ve been with me on this journey for a while, then you’ve seen my no-mayo coleslaw recipe, made with cider vinegar and Dijon mustard. In that post, I mention another no-mayo coleslaw recipe that I make and this, finally, is that recipe.  If you’ve never had coleslaw without mayo, I hope you’ll give this a whirl. Personally, I find coleslaw that’s made with an oil and vinegar base, instead of mayonnaise, a crisper, more refreshing dish. Let me know your thoughts.


no-mayo asian coleslaw recipe

  • 5 cups shredded cabbage, broccoli and/or carrots
  • 3 scallions, whites and greens, sliced (or red onion)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon white and/or black sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Mix everything together thoroughly in a large bowl and refrigerate. Best if made at least one hour ahead of time.

This is such a simple recipe but it’s just packed with flavor. I always tell you, though – don’t be afraid to play with your food. Toss in some sliced almonds or peanuts for added crunch. Add some finely-chopped jalapeno for a bit of heat. Mix up your cabbages – napa, red, green or even some bok choy. Amp up the vitamin content with some steamed asparagus, broccoli, snow peas, and/or bell pepper. Hate cilantro? Try fresh mint or parsley, instead. Make it colorful and make it your own.

Also, if you’re into sprouts, this is great salad to throw some in to…bean, radish, broccoli…any or all of them would be wonderful.

Good, fresh, clean food doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. This is such a great salad, bursting with all kinds of good stuff. Cheers to coleslaw with no mayo! I hope you love it! Enjoy.

lola rugula asparagus and scallion frittata recipe

black pearls of deliciousness

Lentils have made a serious comeback in the last year or so. Okay, maybe not a kale-style comeback, but a comeback, nonetheless. I don’t want to turn you off from lentils by telling you this, but lentils are pretty darned good for you. Lentils health benefits include being a good source of soluble fiber and protein, along with being a great source of folate and magnesium. The beauty of black lentils is that they have a nuttier taste than regular legumes, plus their black coloring is thanks to anthocyanins, which is a powerful antioxidant.

Black Lentils are not the easiest thing to find, at least where I live, but I consistently find mine now at Bushel and Peck’s, in Beloit, WI.

Lentils are a member of the legume family but here’s the real beauty: you don’t need to soak lentils before cooking them. This makes them an easy and healthy side (or main, depending on how you prepare them) dish to compliment a quick meal. You can change this recipe up by adding different veggies, just keep the cooking of everything to a minimum, so you don’t end up with mushy veggies and lentils. If you’ve ever wondered how to cook lentils, this recipe is a great way to start.


Black lentils are also called Beluga lentils, due to their resemblance to the much pricier and brinier Beluga caviar. But here’s another bonus: black lentils are much, much cheaper. Do I have you loving these little black pearls yet?

braised black lentils with garlic, carrots, celery and herbs recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced or diced carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • pinch fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 cup black (beluga) lentils
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized sauce pan, over medium heat. Add garlic, onions, carrots and celery and cook just until onions begin to become translucent and carrots begin to soften, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add thyme and lentils and stir well, to coat lentils. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs. Remove from heat, remove lid, let sit about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

You don’t want to over-stir these once the lentils have cooked, or you’ll end up mushing them up, which isn’t very attractive. (But they’re still delicious!)

how-to-cook-black-lentils-recipe-lola-rugulaI really hope this post inspires you to try black lentils. They really are easy and delicious and this is a very easy black lentil recipe to prepare for a weeknight dinner.

how-to-cook-black-lentils-recipe-lola-rugulaI made these the other night as a side to Moroccan-spiced duck breast and braised leeks and they were a perfect, nutty foil to the richness of the duck breast.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and never, ever be afraid to play with your food. This recipe is also great cold, as a side salad. Just add the fresh herbs after you’ve removed the lentils from the heat, so you get the real “fresh herb” flavor.