Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl

This chia-centric Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl is an A-plus make-ahead blender breakfast.

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I spent a good chunk of time this week cooking beautiful Indian food from the recipes in Dishoom. With the air-quality in Los Angeles getting increasingly bad, staying inside to cook through a number of intensive recipes helped me take my mind off the increasingly heart-breaking situation here in California and West Coast. In addition to the bhel puri, multiple chutneys, mattar paneer, black daal, aloo sabzi, and a technicolor-flavored garam masala, I put a wonderfully sweet watermelon to use. It was a gift from a neighbor we’re lucky to have. I used little chunks of it in place of pomegranate seeds in the bhel puri, and then whipped up this chia-centric Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl in the blender.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl
You can see it pictured here topped with extra watermelon balls, toasted almonds, crushed freeze-dried raspberries, and a sprinkling of chia seeds. I can imagine a kid-friendly version where you serve it in a tall glass, and sink a bunch of whole watermelon balls into it. The whole recipe really takes on the flavor of the watermelon, balanced out by the tartness of the raspberries. The key here is getting your hands on a super-sweet, top notch watermelon.
Watermelon Balls in Weck Jar
I shaped the watermelon into balls with a melon baller tool probably as old as I am. I’ll forever love eating melons in this shape, but if you don’t want to go to the effort, seedless chunks, roughly bite-sized are what you’re aiming for. They go in the blender, but also make an easy topping if you want to double down on the watermelon front.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl Ingredients in a Blender
I like making a big jar of this sort of breakfast using whatever is seasonal because they keep nicely for up to 4-5 days. I mean, the jar is typically empty by day 2 or 3, but it’s a good make-ahead breakfast. It’s also a good way to kick off your morning with some fruit, fiber, and nuts.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl
One last thought, and this is a personal preference. I find that with breakfast bowls of this sort, I really enjoy having lots of crunchy components on top. Here, you can see toasted almonds filling that roll, but I tend to switch it up day to day. If I have a good homemade cereal blend on hand (like this Breakfast Magic, or this Triple Oat Breakfast Cereal) I use that. Basically anything dry with a good-amount of crunch is fair game and encouraged.
Watermelon Raspberry Breakfast Bowl

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Super Natural Vegan Sushi

This is homemade vegan sushi made with sweet potato fries, seasoned tofu, avocado, kale chips, and a whole grain sushi rice blend. A quick kiss of strong wasabi-spiked soy sauce is my preferred dipping sauce.

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I make this vegan sushi constantly. Especially anytime the weather is hot (read:now). It’s a recipe I planned to include in Super Natural Simple, but ended up leaving it out at the last minute. So! They’re making their appearance here where I have more room to talk through rices, rolling technique, and variations. And don’t worry, you don’t need any special tools to make it. This is homemade vegan sushi made with sweet potato fries, seasoned tofu, avocado, kale chips, and a whole grain sushi rice blend. A quick kiss of strong wasabi-spiked soy sauce is my preferred dipping sauce.
Super Natural Vegan Sushi

Let’s Talk About Sushi Rice

The key to your success here is choosing the appropriate rice. One way to be sure your sushi rolls hold together is to use white short-grain sushi rice. For this recipe you’ll combine cooked white sushi rice with other whole grains to “boost” it nutritionally. I’ve found that using a percentage of white rice really helps the rolls come together. More importantly, it helps them hold together, especially important for newbie sushi makers or if you’re having kids help out.

To cook the sushi rice, rinse the rice grains well before cooking. And if you have time to let them soak, even better. I use 2 cups of rice and 3 cups of water, and a bit of salt – scant 1/2 teaspoon. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes more. You should end up with perfect chubby, sticky grains of rice you can then combine with other quinoa, cooked grains, pearled barley, black rice, or brown rice. I’ll outline the ratio I like below, but you can experiment. This organic sushi rice is an example of the kind of rice you’re after for the white sushi rice component.

Seasoning: Traditional sushi rice also uses a vinegar and sugar mixture as seasoning. Sometimes I add it to my cooked rice, other times I skip it. I know this might be a controversial admission, but I’d encourage you to think through a range of different ways you can season, spice, or boost your rice. The rice in these sushi rolls is plain and simple. That said, once you get the hang of the basics, you can experiment if you like! Use strong broth in place of the water in your rice. You can add spices (turmeric, curry blends, etc.) or ingredients like minced garlic, ginger, or scallions. Play around!
Vegan Sushi Ingredients

No Sushi Mat, No Problem!

You don’t need to have a special sushi mat to make sushi. I tend to use parchment paper. A clean linen or cotton towel can also work. If you want to make reverse roll (where the rice is on the outside, line your parchment paper with a sheet of plastic wrap. Do a layer of rice, next add the sheet of nori followed by more ingredients and/or rice. You can see my set up for getting ready to roll sushi in the photos below. Basically this is a long way of saying, you don’t need a bunch of specialty equipment to make vegetable or vegan sushi.Tofu in Skillet for Vegan Sushi

Vegan Sushi Filling Ideas

As I mention up above, I’m highlighting my favorite “everyday” vegan sushi roll for you today. I’ve made them twice this week! I’ll talk you through the main components:

  • Seasoned Tofu: Marinate slabs of tofu in a simple soy sauce, water, sesame-chile oil mixture. You can grill the tofu or cook it in a skillet (above) until golden. Cool a bit, and use a sharp knife to slice into matchsticks. You can see the sliced tofu pictured below.
  • Sweet Potato “Fries”: Slice sweet potatoes into fry shapes. Skins on or off, your choice. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, a bake at 400F until golden, flipping once or twice along the way. I tend to use the sweet potato version of these oven fries, but Wayne sometimes buys pre-cut sweet potato oven fries in a freezer bag, and those work great too.
  • Avocado: Thinly sliced, and perfectly ripe is what you’re after.
  • Kale Chips: I like the crunch you get from adding a few kale chips. Consider adding them a bonus if you have some on hand.
  • Sesame seeds: In your rolls, on your rolls, whatever.
  • Wildcards: If I have them sometimes I add a bit of cucumber, spicy tempeh crumble, or I’ll make the sushi with this tempeh in place of the tofu. I love this all-natural wasabi paste, and mix it with soy sauce, shoyu, or tamari as a dipping sauce.

As I mentioned, on the rice front, I like a rice blend with a good amount of whole grains in it, and have had the best results using half white sushi rice mixed well with half whole grain rice. For the whole grain rice portions, I like to cook short grain brown rice with a good amount of quinoa in it. That said, any whole grain blend should work with the white sushi rice. It’s sticky and helps everything hold together nicely.

How to Assemble Your Sushi

Sushi doesn’t have to be perfect to be delicious. Keep that in mind if you’re new to this. I thought I’d post a play-by-play photo series of how these rolls come together. Before we get into it, one thing that is helpful to know if your sushi rice is sticky and hard to work with is this. Use cold water to wet your hands or spatula. It’s a game changer.

Ready to roll: Once you have all your ingredients prepared it’s time to make sushi. What you see in the photo below is a sheet of parchment paper in place of a sushi mat. On top of that a 8×8-inch sheet of nori is placed. About a cup of rice is spread across the bottom third. Pat it down with a spatula so it holds together. Now add strips of avocado, sweet potato, tofu, and whatever else you’d like in your sushi.

Preparing Vegan Sushi on Sheet of Nori
Working from the bottom, use your sushi mat or parchment paper to start gently (but confidently!) guiding and shaping everything tightly into a roll. You can see how it starts in the photo below. 
Demonstration of How to Start Rolling Sushi
Use your extra fingers to keep ingredients in place and to pull the roll in toward the sushi mat. See photo below. The goal is shaping and keeping things tight. Keep guiding and rolling.
Demonstrating Sushi Tuck-and-Roll Technique
Once the rice and fillings have been encircled by the nori, compress and pull things tight one more time. I basically run my hands along the length of the roll making sure nothing is loose. 
Using Sushi Mat or Parchment Paper to Roll Sushi
Continue rolling to the end of the nori at this point, guiding the sushi mat or parchment paper out of the way as you go. See above and below examples.
Finished Vegan Sushi Roll
At this point you should be able cut the roll into pieces of sushi. Use your sharpest knife, and keep it clean as you go.
Super Natural Vegan Sushi Recipe
It’s a lot of fun to explore the world of vegetarian and vegan sushi. Next up on my list is to make a roll using sushi rice version of Bryant Terry’s Amazing Green Rice. Basically, I imagine it will be very similar to this roll, but using his blender technique to green-ify the rice. Or maybe as we make our way into the fall a mushroom-centric roll. Excited to see your versions!

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Summer Berry Crisp

A favorite summer berry crisp – ripe berries cook into a thick, jammy, wine-spiked fruit sludge beneath a crispy, oat-flecked top.

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Heading into the holiday weekend, I thought I’d share this variation of my favorite summer berry crisp. I made it recently to finish a dinner celebrating my good friend Chanda’s birthday. Blackberries, strawberries, and cherries cook into a thick, jammy, wine-spiked fruit sludge beneath a crispy, oat-flecked top. It’s the good stuff, and silly simple. 
Summer Berry Crisp Recipe
If you’re heading out to do some camping, I bet you could do a brilliant campfire version in a cast iron Dutch oven. There’s a version of it in my last book, but I doubled-down on the topping for this one. No one ever complains about too much of the crumble top ;)…
Summer Berry Crisp Recipe
If you have an abundance of berries, this crisp is even better with a scoop of berry swirl ice cream.

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Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup

If you have both tomatoes and sourdough on hand, consider this. A spicy, saffron-smacked take on pappa al pomodoro, the bread-thickened Tuscan classic. A spicy, saffron-smacked take on pappa al pomodoro, the bread-thickened Tuscan classic.

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There are two things we have in spades right now – ripe tomatoes and sourdough bread. Inevitably, this time of year the variations on tomato soups and sauces coming out of the kitchen are many. The other night, I made this. Walking into the kitchen, I imagined building on the idea behind pappa al pomodoro, the tomato-centric, bread-thickened Tuscan classic. We ended up sitting down to a spicy, saffron-smacked stew with a tomato and sourdough foundation dotted with chickpeas. It was a big hit, so I made it again the next day so I could shoot and share it here. If there’s a place where summer eating meets comfort food, this is it.
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

The tomatoes!

Let’s talk details. Your choice in tomatoes here is key. It’s the flavor base of this soup. Go for the most flavorful, ripe, in-season tomatoes you can get your hands on. Ugly or not-perfect is fine, they’re going to get roasted and blitzed anyway. I save my cherry tomatoes for other uses – salads, roasting, pastas, etc. and opt for medium-sized varietals like Early Girl or San Marzano instead.  
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

Roasting For Flavor

Here’s roughly what your tomatoes, onions, and garlic should look like after roasting (below). I put the onions and garlic on their own baking sheet in case they cook faster. It makes it easier for you to remove them early if needed. You can certainly do a version of this soup without roasting, but the depth of flavor you get from this extra step is worth it.
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

The Bread Component

Our “house” sourdough bread is ~60 % whole wheat / rye flour blend, plus a good amount of cooked quinoa. It’s quite hearty and wholesome, and it’s great here. I use heartier whole-grain sourdoughs in soups like this one, or bread-thickened ribollita all the time. I think people worry that they need to use a white loaf (like a ciabatta or “Italian” bread), but you can totally experiment. It might not be typical, but it can be tasty (and more nutritious).  
Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

Variations

I was craving something invigoratingly spicy when I threw this together the other night. I was after a straight, direct shot of tomato & spice. That’s why you see a good dose of cayenne in the recipe. I added a bit of saffron because tomatoes and saffron are one of my favorite flavor combinations. That said, there are (of course) endless other directions you could explore! For example: 

  • A more classic flavor profile: dial back the spices, turn up the basil.
  • Add a dollop of harissa instead of cayenne.
  • Use yellow tomatoes + lots of black pepper & experiment with a turmeric-chive-garlic drizzle of some sort.
  • Use some of your corn by adding it with the chickpeas. And for the experimenting bread bakers out there – how about a sourdough with a percentage of cornmeal, whole corn, etc in the bread slot? I’d use something other than a quick bread style cornbread (not enough structure when it hits the soup). 

Roasted Tomato & Sourdough Soup Recipe

It’s wild how in my garden there will be a blast of tomatoes for a few weeks and then it’s over in a flash. If you’re looking for other ways to put a dent in your tomato supply right now – some ideas. Try to make the most of them while they’re here. Try a fresh version of this tomato sauce. Use them in a tomato tart. Make this favorite salsa. Or load them into a coleslaw. xx – h

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Rustic Tomato Tart

A beautiful tomato tart layered with jammy, caramelized onions, laced with fresh basil. A rustic free-form tart perfect for summer.

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Free-form tarts are the savior of the unfussy cook. Unlike tarts baked in a pan, there’s no need to worry about trimming dough, rolling out perfect circles, or using pie weights. They’re the sort of thing I love to pull from my oven year round, but especially in conjunction with peak tomato season. A beautiful tomato tart layered with jammy, caramelized onions, laced with fresh basil alongside a simple green salad? Good lord yes.
Favorite Tomato Tart Recipe
This tomato tart recipe is a few personal winks, twists, and additions away from one of the classic versions you might find in France. I talk more about the crust I use down below, and the toppings as well. I love these sorts of tarts for picnics, beach days, and road trips, dinner gatherings, and potlucks – cut into wedges or grids. They show off the best flavors of the season, and once you make the dough (takes less than five minutes), the rest is a breeze.
Caramelized Onions for Tomato Tart Recipe

Let’s Talk Toppings

You can keep the toppings as simple or as complex as you like, and the version here splits somewhere down the middle. The version you see pictured (and featured in the recipe) combines caramelized onions and peak, in-season, tomatoes as the core components. Cooking the onions takes a bit of time, but to be honest, if you do a big skillet full and keep them in the refrigerator, they’re great on pizzas, in sandwiches, and in noodle & pasta bowls throughout the week.
Tomato Tart Recipe
To the onions here, I add a big pinch of turmeric and lots of black pepper, but you don’t have to. You can think of the onions as their own component and season them as much or little as you like – as long as you imagine your seasoning will go well with tomatoes, you’re likely fine. There’s basically a world of possibilities. I can imagine cinnamon, cumin, caraway, ground peppers, curry blends, etc. all being wonderful additions. I talk more about toppings down below, but the tart dough is basically a blank, buttery canvas to experiment with.

Make-ahead Friendly

With a bit of advance planning, these sorts of tarts are completely weeknight friendly. Especially if you think of the tart dough as one component. You can make it days in advance and refrigerate. Or make extra, double-wrap and freeze – thawing before using (but keeping cold). I think of the toppings as the second component and often do a big batch of them over the weekend. For tarts like this one, I might caramelize the onions in advance by a day or two. Or browse your refrigerator for other ideas. If I had extra pesto, perhaps slather it across the dough before topping with other ingredients. Or, if it was winter, maybe I’d grab some roasted winter squash.

A Rustic Tart Crust

The crust of this tart deploys a favorite baking trinity of mine –  rye, cooked quinoa, and all-purpose (or bread) flour. I use a blend of these three ingredients increasingly often – when I bake sourdough, when I make flatbreads (and pizza crusts), and for tarts like these. The butter brings richness and flavor while you get the nutritional boost of the whole grain quinoa and rye flour along with a bit of lightness from the white flour. If you nail the ratio correctly, you end up with goodness coming from your oven that is rustic, flavor-rich, and satisfying – with nice, flaky texture. AND the recipe introduces you to my favorite method for pulling a pie or tart dough together.
Tomato Tarts Before Baking

A Few Tart Tips

  • Make sure your toppings aren’t hot when you assemble your tart. Whether you’re making this tart, or riffing on it with another idea you have, make sure your roasted squash, or blistered mushrooms, or grilled squash are room temperature or colder. This way it wont melt the butter in your crust.
  • Work quickly when you’re rolling out your well-chilled dough. Make sure your counter and rolling pin are dusted with flour. If your dough is sticking at all and you get the sense it has become too warm, transfer it back to the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, and try again.
  • If you think your unbaked tart isn’t looking great, power through it. Look at my unbaked tart picture just above. It’s no prize winner, but have faith! They look exponentially better after they’ve been brushed with egg and baked until golden in a hot oven.
  • That also reminds me, resist the urge to under bake. I tend to go as long as I can in the oven, to get that nice color, and to give crispness and structure to the crust. You’re aiming for golden plus plus plus.

Tomato Tarts on Parchment Paper

Ideal Tomatoes for Tomato Tarts

I use a blend of whatever tomatoes are most flavorful at the moment. They don’t have to be the best looking tomatoes, and a tart like this is a great way to use slightly blemished tomatoes because once they bake you won’t know the difference. I like to use a mix of tomatoes of different sizes, and a mix of colors as well if I have them. Variety is all good here. Use what you’ve got as long as they taste good.
Close-up of Two Rustic Tomato Tarts
As I’m looking at this photo, I keep thinking to myself, “you should have kept it in the oven another five minutes.” It has good color as-is, but it had the potential to get really, really good. Next time!
Tomato Tarts with Green Salad

Enjoy the tart(s)! Let me know if you experiment with the toppings in anyway. You know I love your wildcards! -h

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