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Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Imagine a Shepherd’s Pie with the flavors of an Indian samosa – that’s what’s going on here. Vegan, make-ahead, one-dish meal with a split pea (or lentil) base, mashed potato crust, and spices.

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This recipe uses a number of my favorite techniques: mashing, slathering, and drizzling. Imagine a Shepherd’s pie meeting the flavors of an Indian samosa. That’s where we’re headed. Shepherd’s pies are typically lamb or meat based, but this is a veg-friendly version.
Make Ahead Vegan Samosa Shepherd's Pie

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie: The Process

Here’s how this shepherd’s pie comes together. It’s pretty straight-forward. You make a hearty, flavor-packed, vegan base using split peas (or lentils), chopped mushrooms, spices, and crushed tomatoes. Layer this under a thick slather of mashed potatoes and baked until the top is golden and a bit crusted. If I know the week ahead is going to be a crusher, I’ll assemble everything over the weekend, and all I have to do is pop it in the oven a bit later in the week. Give it a go, this has been on repeat all winter.

Individual Pies!

You can certainly create smaller, individual pies – they’re cute, and people love getting their own individual pie.

Sweet Potato Variation

You can absolutely swap in sweet potatoes here, just give them a quick peel first.

More Pie Recipes


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Winter Penne Pasta

An inherited produce box packed with greens inspired this simple, one-pot winter penne pasta with a sauce made from a full bunch of kale, shallots, garlic, and goat cheese.

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This winter penne pasta was inspired by the contents of a produce box. I seem to inherit CSA boxes. Friends and neighbors forget to put holds on their subscriptions before leaving town, and sure enough, they end up in my kitchen. When I was a kid there was a house that was always happy to take in stray animals, I’ve become the equivalent for CSA boxes. And I have to say, it’s pretty great.

penne pasta made with winter greens like kale and goat cheese on a floral plate

That said, cooking through a box is always a challenge of sorts. I mean, you want to cook your way through it before things start to go bad, sad or wilted. This always forces me to adapt and try out ideas I might not have considered otherwise. You also have the element of surprise that comes along with each box because you never know exactly what will be inside each one. Although, there is one thing I do know. The box, whichever farm it comes from, usually includes lots and lots of greens – kale, spinach, lettuce, chard, arugula. If I’m lucky, all of the above.

Winter Penne Pasta: Inspiration

Tonights box? A quick glance told me I would need to put a dent in the greens right away. That was the tone setter. Everything else I grabbed from staples in nearby cupboards and the refrigerator. It all came together into this simple, one-pot, winter penne pasta. The sauce is made from one bunch of kale, shallots, garlic, and goat cheese blended.  It creates a vibrant green sauce to coat the penne, offering a nice alternative to tomato sauce, mushroom ragù, or pesto.

green sauce in food processor to pour over penne pasta

Winter Penne Pasta: Variations

You might tweak it with a different cheese – Parmesan or pecorino, for example. Or even ricotta. You could top it with a some chopped black olives or toasted nuts. I kept it simple here. You can reheat any leftovers the next day, with a splash of water. The pasta holds up nicely. Penne is a nice shape to hold the green sauce, but a second favorite choice is actually a version with gnocchi in place of the pasta.

I know a lot of you subscribe to CSAs and I’d love to hear your favorite ways to use up your greens. I have a bunch of go-to green-intensive recipes I rely on, but if you’re doing something unique or unexpected with them on your end please share. I suspect Melissa Clark’s kale salad will continue to be in high rotation around here all winter. I keep making it, in part because unlike other green salads that go south shortly after being dressed, this kale salad likes to party. It’s delicious, and just gets better as it sits around, fully dressed, waiting for people to notice it. Other favorites? You can’t go wrong with a hefty pot of Ribollita – I trade off between that and various takes on this lentil soup to which I add lots of chopped kale.

penne pasta made with winter greens like kale and goat cheese on a floral plate

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Harissa Spaghetti

A unique and flavor-packed spaghetti recipe. Whole wheat pasta noodles, olives, kale, and toasted nuts are tossed in a pan for a tangle with a garlic-charged harissa and olive oil sauce. This one is an easy weeknight win!

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Earmark this harissa spaghetti for an easy weeknight meal. You won’t be sad about it! The inspiration? One of the condiments that survived my recent refrigerator scouring was a three-quarters full tube of harissa. It’s the beautiful brick red, earthy, and often potent North African spice paste. I earmarked it for a spaghetti dish I had in mind. Whole wheat spaghetti, inky black olives, kale, and toasted nuts tossed in a pan to tangle with a garlic-charged harissa and olive oil sauce. Little flecks of lemon zest brighten each bite. I did it, and it’s wonderful.

spaghetti tossed with harissa oil, kale, and walnuts served on a platter

Choose your Spaghetti

You can use whatever spaghetti you love here, of course. Keep in mind, there are many interesting pastas to explore these days. They’re made with everything from red lentils or chickpeas, whole wheat to quinoa. I love the added nutritional punch you get from using some of these. The spaghetti below is made from farro and add wonderful dimension to the overall dish (this one).

harissa spaghetti ingredients arranged in bowls on counter

Let’s Talk Harissa

Keep in mind as you head into this recipe that the range of harissas available for purchase is vast – trust your taste buds, and if any of you have favorite brands, give a shout in the comments. One tube might be tastelessly tomato-y, the next tongue-torchingly hot. That being said, the best road to a great harissa is to make your own, but I’d be lying if I said I’m religious about it – hence, the tube of red in my refrigerator door.
spaghetti dinner tossed with harissa oil, kale, and walnuts on a table being served

Make Your Own Harissa

I don’t have a homemade harissa on 101 Cookbooks at the moment. But a number of people have mentioned favorite recipes in the comments.

  • ValHalla: “I use Deborah Madison’s recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. (There’s also an amazing stew with harissa in that book.”
  • Bryan: “I swear by the Zuni cookbook recipe for harissa. it’s totally labor intensive but totally worth it. Plus, it’s a great excuse to finally use up a significant number of spices from the pantry. It’s full flavored, well balanced, a little spicy, and the recipe makes a ton. Perfect for freezing.”
  • I’ve also had good results with this recipe.
  • Kitty also mentioned the following about buying harissa in jars instead of tubes. “There are many kinds of harissa, and many degrees of “heat” for the paste. I would recommend purchasing a jarred harissas rather than the one in the tube. I have always found the latter to have a metallic aftertaste.”

If you have a favorite harissa, give a shout in the comments!
spaghetti tossed with harissa oil, kale, black olives and walnuts served on a platter

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Quinoa Power Bowl

A quinoa power bowl makes the perfect working lunch. The base is simply quinoa and mung bean, and the magic comes from the deeply sautéed and spiced celery. This bowl welcomes as many, or few, toppings as you like – roasted cherry tomatoes, salted dill yogurt, quick pickled red onions, chopped olives.

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This quinoa power bowl is the kind of lunch I liked to pull together back in the days we would work in our studio in San Francisco’s Chinatown. It was something I would make regularly because it checks all the boxes — interesting, seasonal, filling, and nutritious. The base is simply mung beans and quinoa topped lots of good stuff. I’d argue, the magic *really* comes from deeply sautéed and spiced celery. The celery brings an incredible amount of flavor and depth to the rest of the dish, and welcomes all sorts of other toppings – roasted cherry tomatoes, salted dill yogurt, quick pickled red onions, chopped olives.

quinoa power bowl topped with tomatoes, yogurt, onions

The Key to an Easy Power Bowl

I tend to keep a range of cooked beans and grains on hand, and that is one little trick that makes something like this easy to pull together. So, if you want something like this quinoa power bowl to come together quickly, the key is to make components ahead of time. Do a bit of meal prep. I tend to cook components for the week on the weekends, in big batches, and then keep an amount I think we might eat in the refrigerator.  Freeze the the rest after allowing it to cool completely. This way I always have cooked quinoa, barley, brown rice, mung beans, just a quick thaw away.

quinoa power bowl topped with tomatoes, yogurt, onions

Keep it Simple or Load it Up!

When it comes to power bowls, you can make things simple, or flared them out with as many toppings as you like (as pictured). This was a late summer version, but I imagine an autumn version with roasted delicata squash, or baked mushrooms, or herb jam would be great later in the year. Or do a homemade labneh in place of the yogurt.

quinoa power bowl topped with tomatoes, yogurt, onions

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Caramelized Fennel on Herbed Polenta

A creamy, herb-flecked polenta spiked with Pecorino, and topped with caramelized slabs of pan-seared fennel. A favorite recipe from Sarah Britton’s beautiful My New Roots cookbook.

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Like many of you, I’m a fan of Sarah Britton. Her site My New Roots is a beautiful blend of inspired cooking and nutritional insight, punctuated with genuine positivity. I’m sitting here with her eagerly-awaited first cookbook – a substantial hardback filled with her signature plant-based recipes and vibrant photos.

Herbed Polenta Recipe

I’ve had the manuscript for months, and expressed my enthusiasm with a quote on the inside cover. I could have written a lot more if I’d been allowed to edge in on Sara Forte or Deborah Madison’s endorsement space 😉 Here’s what I wrote, “My New Roots is beautiful proof that eating with nutrition in mind need not be a compromise. This is an unabashedly enthusiastic riff on the food-as-medicine approach to cooking and eating. Sarah’s playful and encouraging voice is infectious; you get the sense that she is waiting on the other side of each recipe to give you a high five.” I think the high five is the key, and part of what I love so much about Sarah’s work. At a time when many food choices work against us, Sarah wants your food and cooking to work for you. And she works hard at communicating the hows and whys – riding that line of inspiration and coaching, with the just the right amount of nutritional context.
Herbed Polenta Recipe

There are a lot of great recipes in her book, but I cherry-picked this gem to highlight. It is a creamy, herb-flecked polenta spiked with Pecorino topped with caramelized slabs of pan-seared fennel. You can see the fennel in the skillet down below getting browned and silky. So good over the herbed polenta.

More Polenta Recipes

  • Creamy Polenta (a great basic recipe & technique for stovetop polenta)

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Kale Rice Bowl

A quick lunchtime brown rice bowl with kale, capers, salted yogurt, za’atar, toasted sesame seeds – and a poached egg for good measure.

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My lunch, at least a few days a week, is some sort of rice bowl or grain bowl. I love a feel-good lunch, and using rice as the foundation, I can usually grab other components from the refrigerator to make something quick and satisfying. This Kale Rice Bowl, for example, is worth a shout out. You have grains plus greens, dollops of creamy salted yogurt, blistered capers, and plenty of homemade za’atar. So good!

Rice bowl made with brown rice and kale, topped with an egg and yogurt

Kale Rice Bowl: Make Ahead Plan

Most of the components here can be made ahead. They’re also good travelers – work lunches, picnics, etc. So you could meal prep on a Sunday for meals through out the week. For that approach here’s the plan.

  • Cook the rice.  Then allow it to cool and then refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. At that point you can either heat it, or allow it enough time to come up to room temperature.
  • Cook some eggs.  If you like an egg on top of your rice bowls, make a few hard-boiled eggs or fried eggs and refrigerate those as well.
  • Choose your spices: I use za’atar as my seasoning here, but if you have another favorite spice blend, no problem. Have that at the ready.

I typically fry up the capers and salt the yogurt at the last minute, but you could also do that in the morning if you’re packing a lunch for later.Three small bowls filled with rice bowl toppings - sesame, za'atar, and fried capers


You can certainly take a rice bowl like this one in many different directions. I mentioned exploring a spice or seasoning swap up above. On the grain front, you see brown rice here, but farro would be nice, or a quinoa / rice blend. When it comes to the kale, my original intent was to bake the shredded kale (massaged with olive oil and za’atar), so it had more of a crispy texture (kale chips), but didn’t want to wait for the oven to heat. I ended up sautéing the kale instead. This is a long way of saying, play around!

Rice bowl made with brown rice and kale, topped with an egg and yogurt

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Lentils with Wine-Glazed Vegetables

These simple, wine-glazed lentils, from Deborah Madison, saw me through my twenties, and then my thirties. I made them often in my first solo apartment in San Francisco.

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As promised – the Deborah Madison lentil recipe. They’re the ones you see on the table in the background of this post, a recipe I know by heart. These simple, wine-glazed lentils saw me through my twenties, and then my thirties. I made them often in my first solo apartment in San Francisco. And, because they travel well, they’ve kept me well-fed on a range of flights – Dar es Salaam and Bangkok included. When asked to call out one favorite recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone – this was the recipe I chose.

Deborah Madison's Lentils with Wine-Glazed Vegetables

The Details:

You have some options with this recipe! I go the butter / tarragon route (as opposed to olive oil / parsley), and always use either French or Umbrian green lentils. Deborah calls for red wine, but I sometimes do white (whatever is open, really), and I’ve even swapped in Belgian ale on occasion. What I mean is, red is best, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a bottle open or on hand – use what you have!
Deborah Madison's Lentils with Wine-Glazed Vegetables

Serving Ideas!

Many of you have cooked this recipe over the years and have noted favorite serving ideas. Here are a few stand outs.

  • Baked Potatoes: There are a lot of ways to enjoy these lentils, I love them over a perfectly baked potato along with a generous dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream and a shower of finely snipped chives.
  • Pockets: Kelly mentioned she might wrap the lentils in filo pastry with some goat cheese for a potluck. Brilliant!
  • Donna mentions, “I served it with creme fraiche and arugula over new potatoes. Leftovers were brought to a friend’s to add to the farro she made.”

More Lentil Recipes

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Pierce Street Vegetarian Chili

The best pot of chili I’ve made in years. A vegetarian chili recipe Inspired by a bunch of little bags of remnant grains and pulses collected in my cupboards – bulgur, farro, and lentils, join chile peppers, crushed tomatoes, some chickpeas, and a secret ingredient.

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I think its safe to say, we are long overdue for a good vegetarian chili recipe. I kept waiting until I had a pot in front of me that I was giddy about, the kind of chili that has you leaning over the pot, spoon in hand, shaking your head once or twice, saying mmm-hmm. And believe me, I never thought the best pot of chili I’d made (in years) would be inspired by a bunch of little bags of remnant grains and pulses collected in my cupboards. But that’s what happened. This chili is made with bulgur, farro, lentils, chile peppers, crushed tomatoes and the chickpeas I had hanging around. Beyond that, you’ve got chili powder, and the wildcard – a bit of grated ginger.

Vegetarian chili in a bowl with chopped onion on top

What To Do With Leftover Chili

Like most chili, or stews, this vegetarian chili is even better the day after! This makes an XXL pot of the stuff, so you’ll have plenty left over. If you are feeling adventurous, you can ladle some of it into a shallow baking dish, make a few indentations with the back of a large spoon, crack eggs into the hollows, drizzle generously with olive oil, and toss it into a 375F degree oven until the eggs set up – a twist on baked eggs.

To Freeze Chili

This chili freezes brilliantly. Allow it to cool completely before ladling into freezer safe containers. I like to divide the chili into meal-sized allocations which will be different depending on your family size.

Close up photo of lentils


I should also note, you can swap in other grains if you like. That said, I think part of the success here was choosing grains that held their structure. And shoot for grains that cook in roughly the same amount of time as the lentils. Pearled grains cook much more quickly than whole farro or barley, although certain brown rices, perhaps a basmati, could work well. There are countless great ideas in the comments as well. For example someone swapped in hominy in place of the chickpeas and said it was the best part. Brilliant! French lentils pictured above, and pearled farro pictured below.

Close up photo of pearled grains

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More Great Bean Recipes


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Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

A top-notch pasta made with pappardelle, spiced butter and seasonal veg. Inspired by a great recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Plenty.

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I spent the better part of the afternoon paging through Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Plenty. I’ve been a regular reader of his New Vegetarian column in the, and discovered the first Ottolenghi cookbook published by Ebury (2008) while traveling years ago. It has been a love affair with these recipes from the start.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

I decided to do a riff on Yotam’s Saffron Tagliatelle with Spiced Butter. It’s a pasta dish tossed with vibrant Moroccan-inspired spice butter made from a blend of eight spices – ginger, sweet paprika, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, and chile pepper two ways. I do a version here adding asparagus to the mix to work a seasonal vegetable onto the plate. Later in the year, broccoli, sautéed cabbage, and/or roasted winter squash could all be great alternatives. 

pappardelle with spiced butter in a serving bowl

Fresh vs. Dried Pasta

Yotam uses fresh, home-made saffron tagliatelle. Wanting to throw together something quick, I opted for a good-quality dried pappardelle I had on hand. You can go either way. Making this with homemade pappardelle would be an absolute treat.
tangles of dried pappardelle pasta
assortment of spices on a plate

Let’s talk spices…

On the spice front, you definitely get a good amount of heat from the cayenne pepper. If you tend to be sensitive scale back a bit, and then add more to your liking as you get on with the recipe. Pro-tip: double up on the spice blend. I’ve been using the extra in all sorts of things – from eggs to vinaigrettes. This recipe makes quite a good amount of the spiced butter. Use as much or as little of it as you like. You can always reserve any leftover for drizzling on potatoes, crepes, vegetables, etc. later in the week.

pappardelle with spiced butter in a serving bowl

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter: Variations

A good number of you have enjoyed this recipe and left notes for future cooks suggesting successful variations. Here are a few that caught my attention.

  • Rosalind noted, “my boyfriend and I just made this with green peas instead of asparagus and toasted sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts and it WORKED. Wonderful!”
  • Francoise cooked it on Friday evening. “It was beautiful, very satisfying and something different! I adopted it a little and it worked very well: used broccoli instead of asparagus, fresh ginger instead of powder, did not have turmeric and instead of buying the powder stuff simply omitted it. Found some beautiful fresh pappardelle from a good shop. Used a little cream cheese instead of cream, and somehow the combination of flavors were spot on.”
  • And for anytime you’re feeling cost-conscious, Kristina mentions, “I made an inexpensive version of this dish tonight. Pine nuts were $8, asparagus expensive and woody-so I subbed in slivered almonds toasted and 10 oz. baby spinach wilted in. Everything else kept the same. I ended up using almost all of the spiced butter to get the dish as spicy as I prefer so next time I’d use 1/2 stick of butter with the current amounts of spice and use it all! The saffron salt and the mint and parsley added just the right touch!”

pappardelle with spiced butter served on a wood table

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Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Colorful and bright, this Mediterranean pasta salad is punctuated with bursts of flavor from briny olives, cherry tomatoes, and fresh herbs. The creamy dressing is tzatziki inspired with grated cucumber, garlic and salted yogurt. The perfect lunch!

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Let’s talk pasta salad. I know we’ve done a few versions over the years together, but this one has been a go-to recently. It is a Mediterranean pasta salad. Ish. And it fires on an engines. It is flavor-packed, nutritious, and the leftovers are legit amazing. You start with a base of good pasta. Beyond that, there’s a blast of green from fresh herbs, flecks of briny olives, and pops of tomato goodness. The creamy, tzatziki-inspired yogurt dressing is punctuated with garlic, grated cucumber and herbs and coats the pasta beautifully. The whole thing is  a shade over the top, admittedly a bit maximalist, but it’s a favorite feel-good lunch around here. 
Mediterranean pasta salad with tomatoes, black olives, cucumber, red onions with a creamy yogurt dressing in a wide pink bowl
A few more details. This Med-centric pasta salad is loaded with quick marinated cubes of tofu vamping for more typical feta cubes. Record scratch, I know. If this hurts your sensibility, no problem. Use feta. Or do a combination. I find using the tofu keeps me going throughout the afternoon, and the yogurt brings plenty of creaminess in place of a soft, salty cheese like feta. Lastly, this recipe makes a lot of pasta salad so it’s the perfect sort of recipe for Sunday meal prep.
pasta salad in a wide serving bowl in the middle of marble table with plates, drinks, and a napkin

Mediterranean Pasta Salad: The Main Ingredients

  • Pasta: Use whatever your favorite short pasta you like here. I love the Sfoglini Whole Grain Reginetti for pasta salads like this — it’s what you see pictured above. The texture and flavor is great and you get a good bump of protein and fiber over a white pasta. Penne, rigatoni, and farfalle are alternate pasta shape that work great here.
  • Cucumber: This recipe calls for two. You grate one and stir it into a tzatziki inspired, garlic-boosted yogurt sauce. The other is chopped into tiny cubes and tossed into a big bowl with the pasta and the other ingredients.
    all the ingredients for Mediterranean pasta salad arranges in bowls in a kitchen
  • Olives: Use dry, oil-cured black olives if you have them, but don’t sweat it if you don’t. I’ve done this pasta salad with a wide range of olives in the past, some are better than others, but you’re going to get that briny, salty punctuation whatever olives you choose. Big, meaty green Castelvetrano olives are another favorite, but a canned black olive can do the job as well.
  • Yogurt: As long as it’s plain, use what you’ve got in your fridge. Greek yogurt will make your sauce quite a bit thicker, but everything is getting well tossed together, it all works itself out. And low-fat yogurt is also fine if that is what you keep on hand. Long way of saying, don’t make a special trip to the store to get an alternate yogurt if you already have some. The spirit of this whole recipe is adaptability.
    two bowls side by side on a countertop - one with roasted cherry tomatoes, one with yogurt, grated cucumber, and dried herbs
  • Tomatoes or Other Seasonal Vegetables: If tomatoes are in season, use cherry tomatoes here. Bonus points if you make them roasted cherry tomatoes. For example, if it’s spring, swap in something equally colorful and seasonally specific – cooked favas, blanched asparagus, and or spring peas.
    multi-color cherry tomatoes halved and arranged on a baking sheet drizzle with olive oil
  • Herbs: The yogurt sauce calls for dried herbs, and the pasta salad calls for fresh. The more the better as far as I’m concerned. I often season the yogurt with a good amount of za’atar, but you might have dried thyme or dill and prefer to use that. Finishing the pasta salad with a pile or fresh arugula, basil leaves, or cilantro are all good options.
    a wonderful pasta salad incorporating tomatoes, black olives, cucumber, red onions with a creamy yogurt dressing in a wide pink bowl
  • Tofu or Feta: Making this with cubed tofu in place of feta will likely draw some sneers, but honestly, it’s not a bad way to roll. I like the added protein boost.

an individual plate of pasta salad including with a fork


The leftovers here are great. Especially the day after, and the day after that. Day three and the pasta texture changes and loses some structure. By day three, I’m a pass. Before that, the pasta holds up, the herbs and onions infuse the creamy dressing and cucumbers. It’s on par with a good day-old macaroni salad, but loaded with good stuff like tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and olives. a wonderful pasta salad incorporating tomatoes, black olives, cucumber, red onions with a creamy yogurt dressing in a wide pink bowl

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