By Brack Johnson


We all know the New Year's-diet drill: broiled fish or boneless, skinless chicken breast accompanied by a spartan salad and a steamed vegetable.




Just because you're trying to eat healthier doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or style, especially when it comes to salads and side dishes.


The following recipes, from recent cookbooks, will help you get a fresh start on the year ahead. They'll dress up your plate with accents so delish and easy to prepare that you'll wonder why you ever subjected yourself to plain ol' broccoli.



The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook
67 Leafy Greens & 250 Recipes

Robert Rose







Greco-Roman Salad
4 ounces (about 3-1/2 cups loosely packed) romaine lettuce, trimmed and torn into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
2 ounces (1/2 cup) feta cheese or extra-firm tofu, crumbled
1/4 cup sliced red onion
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small roasted red pepper, sliced into strips
8 oil-cured black olives, pitted
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted


In a large bowl, toss romaine with dressing to taste (you will have some left over).


Transfer romaine to a serving platter or individual plates. Top with feta, onion, tomatoes, roasted red pepper, olives and pine nuts. Serve immediately.


Makes 2-4 servings


Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Using blender, mince garlic. Add basil, oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times until blended. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.


Makes 1/3 cup


Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
Poppyseed vinagrette
2 tablespoons liquid honey or vegan alternative
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons diced onion
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
1/2 cup oil (canola oil for classic flavor, but any neutral vegetable or seed oil will work)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

4 ounces (about 5 cups) baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion circles
1 cup thinly sliced button mushrooms
1 cup bean sprouts
2 hard-cooked large eggs, quartered, or vegan alternative (4 ounces smoked tofu cubes make a wonderful alternative)
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons silvered almonds, toasted (to toast, cook in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown)


In a large bowl, beat 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the salt with electric mixer on medium speed about 2 minutes or until creamy. Beat in 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. On low speed, beat in flour just until combined. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes.


Poppyseed Vinaigrette

Using blender, combine honey, vinegar, onion, mustard and salt. With motor running, drizzle in oil, blending until smooth and creamy-looking. Transfer to a small cup with a spout. Stir in poppy seeds and enjoy.



Divide spinach among serving plates. Drizzle with dressing to taste. Scatter onion circles and mushrooms evenly overtop. Arrange a small mound of bean sprouts in the center of each serving. Place egg wedges at edges. Scatter cranberries and almonds over greens. Serve immediately, with remaining dressing alongside.


Makes 4-6 servings




Eat Your Vegetables

Bold Recipes for the Single Cook
Joe Yonan
Ten Speed Press









Kale and Mango Niçoise Salad
1 small waxy potato, peeled and cut into
1-inch cubes
2 cups (about 4 ounces) lacinato or other
kale leaves, thinly sliced and massaged
2 to 3 tablespoons Lime Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 perfectly Creamy Hard-Cooked Egg (recipe follows) peeled and cut into eighths
Flesh from 1/2 small mango, cubed
2 small radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced


Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a simmer and add the potato. Simmer until barely tender,
6 - 8 minutes, then drain the pieces.


Toss the kale in a serving bowl with half the vinaigrette and a light sprinkling of salt. Top with the potato, egg, mango and radish, drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and eat.


Makes 1 serving


Lime Ginger Vinaigrette
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 4 - 6 limes)
1/2 cup sunflower or other neutral vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger (from a 2-inch piece of peeled ginger)
1 tablespoon honey, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, mint or cilantro leaves
Sea salt


Combine the lime juice, oil, ginger, honey and chopped herbs in a small jar fitted with a lid, close the lid tightly and vigorously shake to emulsify the dressing. Taste and add salt as needed plus more honey if desired, and shake again.
Makes about 1 cup


Perfectly Creamy Hard-Cooked Egg
1 egg, at room temperature


Prick the egg just barely through the shell on the rounded end, using a clean egg pricker or a thumbtack.


Bring a small saucepan full of water to a boil. Reduce heat so that the water is at a simmer. Use a slotted spoon to carefully lower the egg into the water, and stir it frequently for the first minute or so of cooking. (This helps set the yolk in the center.) Meanwhile, pour 2 cups of water into a large bowl and stir in a cup or so of ice.


Cook the egg for 9 minutes for a yolk that's still a little soft in the very center, or 10 minutes for one that's barely cooked through, then transfer it to the ice water. As soon as you can handle the egg, reach into the water and crack it all over, keeping it in the water. Remove a large piece of the shell at the rounded end, where an air pocket should be. (This helps water get between the egg and the shell to get peeling started more easily.) Slip off the rest of the shell, transfer the peeled egg to a countertop and use as desired. Store peeled eggs, covered with a damp paper towel inside an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.



Chickpea Pancake With Broccoli and Eggplant Puree
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 very small head or several florets
broccoli, sliced
1/4 cup store-bought baba ghanoush
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon crumbled feta
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.


Whisk together the chickpea flour, salt, water and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until smooth.


Put a small (preferably 8-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium heat, and when it's hot, pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil shimmers, pour in the chickpea batter and transfer the skillet to the oven.


Bake until the pancake is golden brown on top and pulls away from the edge of the pan, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, turn the oven to broil and set an oven rack so the skillet will be 4 - 5 inches from the flame.


While the pancake is baking, put the broccoli pieces in a steamer basket over an inch of water in a small saucepan, set over medium heat, cover, and steam for a few minutes until the broccoli brightens and becomes crisp-tender.


When the pancake has finished baking, smear the eggplant dip on top and lay the blanched broccoli slices on top. Grind on a generous amount of black pepper and sprinkle on the feta and Parmigianno-Reggiano. Slide the skillet under the broiler and broil until the cheese has melted and the broccoli has slightly browned, just a minute or two. Remove, let slightly cool and slide onto a plate. Cut it into wedges and eat.


Makes 1 serving



Eat Well Lose Weight

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt









Tomato-Basil Corn Pudding
1/2 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
2 teaspoons olive oil
One 10-ounce carton savory garlic
cream cheese for cooking
2 eggs, lightly beaten, or 1/2 cup refrigerated
or frozen egg product, thawed
One 16-ounce package frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed, or 8 ears fresh sweet corn, kernels cut from the cob (4 cups)
1 cup chopped zucchini (1 small)
1/2 cup chopped, seeded tomato (1 medium)
3/4 cup soft whole wheat bread crumbs (about 1 slice)
1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)

Shredded fresh basil (optional)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


In a large saucepan, cook onion in hot oil over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occassionally.


Reduce heat to low. Add cream cheese. Stir in egg. Stir in corn, zucchini, tomato, bread crumbs and snipped basil. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish.


Bake, uncovered, about 50 minutes or until center appears set. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.


Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with shredded basil just before serving.


Makes 10 half-cup servings



Crispy Parmesan-Roasted Butternut Squash
Nonstick cooking spray
1-1/2- to 1-3/4-pound medium
butternut squash, peeled,
seeded, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, sage,
or basil, crushed


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.


Coat a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place squash on the baking sheet; coat squash with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Spread squash in a single layer.


Roast for 15 minutes. Stir and roast for 5 minutes more.


Remove pan from oven. Stir in Parmesan cheese and dried thyme. Return to oven; roast about 5 minutes more or until squash is tender. Serve immediately.


Makes 4 half-cup servings



The Glorious Vegetables of Italy

Chronicle Books











Braised Sweet-and-Sour Savoy Cabbage
1 head savoy cabbage (about 1-1/2 pounds)
quartered, cored and coarsely shredded
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup best quality vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 to 1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar


Place the cabbage in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and boil the cabbage for 3 to 5 minutes, until it is wilted but still a bit firm. Drain in a colander and set aside.


In a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Cook, pressing down on the garlic cloves, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add the cabbage and toss to combine with the olive oil. Season with the salt and a generous grinding of pepper and pour in the broth.


Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 - 25 minutes, until the cabbage is tender.


Raise the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Let it bubble for about 2 minutes and then add the sugar and vinegar. Cook at a lively simmer for about 5 minutes, or until some, but not all, of the liquid is absorbed. Taste and add additional salt or pepper if you like. Serve immediately.


Makes 6 - 8 servings



Honey-Balsamic Roasted Carrots
1 pound carrots, cut in half crosswise, each half cut lengthwise into quarters
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon good-quality flavorful honey
2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 375 degrees.


Put the carrots in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey and 2 teaspoons vinegar. Pour over the carrots. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Toss gently to combine. Roast the carrots for 10 minutes; toss and roast for 15 minutes more or until the carrots are tender and browned in spots.


Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle a few more drops of vinegar and some sea salt on top. Serve hot or warm.


Makes 4 servings



Vegan Slow Cooking

For Two or Just For You – More than 100 Delicious One-Pot Meals for Your 1.5 Litre Slow Cooker

Fair Winds Press









Eggplant Tapenade
3 cups chopped eggplant
1-1/2 cups diced tomatoes or 1 can (14.5 ounces) undrained
1 can (6 ounces) pitted green olives, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons capers
1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste


Add everything above balsamic vinegar to the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.


Before serving, add the vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.


You can either leave it chunky for bruschetta or puree it in a food processor until you have tiny pieces for crackers or crostini.


Makes about 4 cups



Clean-Out-the-Fridge Veggie Curry
1 cup green beans
1 cup chopped potatoes
1/2 cup cauliflower in small florets
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup sliced okra
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
Salt, to taste


Add everything except for the salt to your slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.


Mix in the salt, taste and adjust spices. Serve with naan, roti or basmati rice.


Makes about 3 1/2 one-cup servings


Garam Masala
1/4 cup coriander seeds
10 cardamom pods
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1-2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
3 bay leaves


Toast all the spices in a nonstick pan over medium heat until they become fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Grind in a spice or coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container.


Makes about 1/2 cup



Peruvian Power Foods

18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes

Health Communications









Quinoa Risotto With Asparagus
1-1/2 cups asparagus, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry/raw quinoa
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese


In a medium saucepan, sauté the asparagus in olive oil over medium-high heat, roughly 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute. Be careful not to let the garlic brown and burn.


Add the quinoa and lightly toast until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to low.


Simmer until the quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes. Do not overcook the quinoa; you want it to have a bite and be al dente.


Add the Parmesan cheese just before removing the quinoa from the heat.


Makes 4 servings


Baked Sweet Potato Sticks
1 pound sweet potatoes, cleaned and peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.


Cut the potatoes into 3-4-inch strips lengthwise to create “sticks.” Toss the potatoes in a bowl with the olive oil to coat.


Layer the sticks on a baking sheet or roasting pan and season with salt. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the fries are crispy and golden brown.


Makes 4 servings