I don’t really understand why vegetarian food gets a bad rap as “boring.”  I mean, boring food is boring, whether it’s a pathetic, limp side salad or an under-seasoned burger. Dessert, believe it or not, can be boring.  Just a vast, overly sweet beige-ness.  My point is, it’s not the ingredients that are boring, it’s the chef. There is no excuse for flavorless food, and I’ll always give points to places that over do it than under do it.  With the amount of ingredients, spices, and herbs available, you can turn almost anything into a delicious meal.  I’ll offer up the potato as an example. With very little imagination, this bland, watery starch can be transformed into basically all of my favorite foods (french fries are at the top of that list).  So the next time you find yourself pushing your meal around with your fork, sighing heavily with ambivalence…reach for the hot sauce, or salt, or spice, or fresh herbs.   You won’t regret it.

For today’s episode, I brought the flavor in a big way.  Veggie burgers packed with mushrooms, sautéed onions, black beans, chili powder and spice make an addicting main course, and no burger would be complete without some fries.  To pair with the smokey and spicy chipotle aioli I made sweet potato fries sprinkled with cumin and paprika, creating a nice balance of sweet and heat. My Asian Broccoli slaw is a super fresh side, filled with crunchy textures, toasted sesame seeds, and a sweet and bright miso dressing.  To finish the meal, I made a vegetarian take on my FAVORITE soup: Tortilla soup. Served with slices of avocado and some cilantro, it’s a delicious balance of bright, tart flavors, and toasted tortilla awesomeness.  Enjoy!




For 6-7 burgers

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking

1 yellow onion, chopped

8 ounces cremini or shitake mushrooms, roughly choped

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained, rinsed, and dried on paper towels

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 tablespoon finely chopped canned beets

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon barbecue sauce

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg white (optional, to bind)

4 slices white cheddar cheese (optional)


butter lettuce

sliced tomato

chipotle aioli


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan until very hot but not smoking. Cook the onions and mushrooms, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10-15 minutes.

Combine mushrooms, onion, beets, and beans in food processor.  Pulse until combined and slightly broken down (you don’t want mush). In a large bowl, combine the mushroom mixture with the brown rice. Stir in barbecue sauce and remaining ingredients — through egg white. Form into four 6 oz patties. Veggie burgers have a habit of falling apart a bit, so don’t sweat it if they don’t make it to the pan in one piece.  You can always smoosh them together with your spatula and no one will ever know.  If you want to help them hold up a bit, let them rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before cooking.

Heat olive oil in a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium. Grill burgers for 2 minutes on one side. Turn and top with Monterey Jack and grill for another 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.


1/2 cup mayo

1 tablespoon chipotle adobo sauce (from the can)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

pinch of salt


Combine all ingredients.




2 yams, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch thick wedges and slices

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder


Preheat oven to 425F. Slice up the yams place in a large bowl. Coat with oil, salt, pepper, and chipotle powder, mixing with your hands to dress. Spread the yam slices over one or two baking sheets (you want to make sure they aren’t touching). Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and tender.  If you want them quite crisp, turn on the broiler and broil for about 2-3 minutes, until the edges turn dark brown.




 Makes 2 quarts

1/4 cup olive oil

3 corn tortillas, chopped

2 cups onions, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 quart veg stock

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste


1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

sour cream

2 avocados, cubed

tortilla pieces, fried crisp


Heat oil in skillet over medium-high until hot.  Add tortillas and fry until crispy, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Add onions, cumin, chili powder, bell pepper, and garlic.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add stock and tomatoes and cook 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Puree in blender.  Add salt and pepper to desired taste.  Serve hot and add garnish as desired.




For 6

2 head broccoli

1/2 carrot, finely sliced into matchsticks

1/8 red cabbage, shredded (about 1 1/2 half cups, sliced thinly with a knife of mandoline)

2 teaspoons white miso

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoons sesame oil

I used the lightest sesame oil I could find, not the dark toasted oil.  If you can’t find a lighter oil, mix the toasted oil with canola oil until desired intensity.

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds


Chop broccoli into florets and blanche for 30 seconds (until bright green and a little tender) and immediately dunk in an ice bath.  Combine with carrots and cabbage.

For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients, except for the sesame seeds in a container.  With a fork, break up the miso.  Pop the lid on and shake to emulsify/combine.  Pour over the broccoli mixture and top with the sesame seeds and salt and pepper to taste.  Combine until everything is coated.