Roasted Vegetable Pizza with Golden Tomato Sauce



There are few people I respect more than those who live each day in truth with their whole selves. I’m in awe of these folks and admire how they stubbornly live in their brassy, blunt, comfortably imperfect beings.

I am not of those personalities. I tend to be quiet, small, and gauge how much I share with how well it will be accepted. If feathers will be ruffled or judgement passed, I opt to keep my mouth shut. I’m one that avoids controversy and negative attention. I like to be perceived as put together.




These last few months I’ve been working on letting go a little: Being me without so much filter. Wearing less camoflouge. Going out in public in whatever I happen to have on. Saying things I mean. Sharing parts of me that I previously shoved away into dark little corners.




In my food-world, I liken this process to embracing the ugly vegetables.



William is working on an awesome organic vegetable farm this summer and he brings home bags of crooked carrots, too-ripe peppers, and weedy leaves.
If truth be known, I have a fondness for the most interesting produce cast-aways. A perfectly straight carrot? An apple that has more beauty than flavor? A purely symmetrical tomato? Perfection in the botanical world is boring, sterile, and dare-I-say-it, industrial. Blemishes have their own unique beauty and the taste, what’s inside that really matters, is rarely sacrificed.

If it’s so exciting to embrace ugly produce, why is it like hurdling mountains to get along with personal imperfection?

Tough experiences leave scars which make the good days shine all the more brightly. They leave a life rich with experience. And wisdom.

Exposure to another viewpoint and belief encourages acceptance and understanding.

Having a different opinion is some sort of individualistic awesome.

Critisism can be a catalyst for growth–Or expelling bad juju.

Casting aside worry of another’s judgement is liberating.

Self-acceptance is the best form of freedom.




Back in the kitchen, I’m working with golden heirloom tomatoes of an unknown variety–they were too ripe to sell. I’ve seedy, scarred eggplants, and yellow summer squash from my garden. My squash plant is dying so these are likely the last ones for the summer. I’ve Jimmy Nardello peppers that didn’t come up to size and missshapen bell peppers, still green, which came off with a broken stem from overenthusiastic weeding. There are gorgeous red onions too. I’ve no idea why but they didn’t pass the farm’s to-market test.




As for me, I’m working on being real,worrying less about measuring up or missing out. I’m working on embracing the ugly vegetables in my personality, the crooked roots and misshapenness. I’m working on letting the unique beauty that is the real me overpower the pursuit of being perceived as polished as a tasteless red apple.

We are all glorious in our imperfection. Let’s celebrate a little more of that today. And eat pizza loaded with a bunch of ugly vegetable cast-aways.
Roasted Vegetable and Golden Tomato Pizza, makes 2, serves 4-6
Roasted Vegetables:
1 medium eggplant, chopped
1-2 medium yellow summer squash, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1-2 sweet red peppers, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
8-10 kalamata olives, diced
extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
fresh thyme, optional
– Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large baking pan lined with parchment paper, layer in the chopped eggplant, squash, onion, and peppers.
– Drizzle the mixture with oil, and toss in the fennel seed, freshly ground black pepper, and salt.
– Give it all a good stir and then roast for about 20-25 minutes.
– When the vegetables are sizzling and soft, remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Golden Tomato Sauce:
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lbs. yellow or golden tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
– Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil sizzles, add the garlic and sauté until just golden.  
– Add the tomatoes and spices and turn to low. Simmer for 45-60 minutes.  
– Let the tomatoes cool for a few minutes and then puree in a blender for a smooth, pizza-sauce consistency. If the sauce is still quite thin, put it back on the stove and simmer a bit longer to thicken up.
The ingredients below make enough for two 10-12″ crusts. Each pizza usually serves two to three. You can refrigerate the dough for the second crust up to two days. Due to the differences in the flours, I like to weigh them with a kitchen scale to get an accurate ratio of 70 percent whole grains and 30 percent starches. I’ve then put those weights into cups so it will be easier to measure without a scale, but if in doubt, I’d use a “short measurement,” rather than an overflowing cup.
1 1/2 Tbs. flax seed, ground
3 Tbs. hot water
40 grams (a short 1/2 cup) garbanzo & fava bean flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) brown rice flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) sorghum flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) millet flour
40 grams (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. tapioca starch
40 grams (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. arrowroot starch
40 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
~2 Tbs. olive oil, separated
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/3 cup warm water, divided
– Combine the flax seeds and 3 tablespoons of very hot water in a small bowl until a slurry is formed; set aside.
– Combine the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the yeast, 1 Tbs. olive oil, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water. Allow it to rest for 3 minutes or so until the yeast is activated.
– Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, and stir it all up. Then add the flax seed slurry to the dough and a portion of the remaining water; mix until the dough comes together in a ball. If it is too dry, add enough water to for a tender, pliable dough.
– Cover the dough in the mixing bowl and set it aside to rest for 1 hour.
Putting it all together:
– Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Separate the dough into two equal portions. For each pizza, dust your pizza stone or baking sheet with a light sprinkling of cornmeal. Roll one of the dough portions out to desired thickness directly on a pizza stone or baking sheet. 
– Spoon a hefty couple of ladlefuls of the golden tomato sauce over the dough and smooth it out. Then, layer on the roasted vegetables followed by the kalamata olives. If desired, crumble a sprig of fresh thyme over the top. Fold the crust edges in when done, and with your fingers, lightly dab the edges with the last tablespoon of olive oil. Pop it in the oven and bake for about 16 minutes.

Eggplant & Olive Caponata Pasta


I grew up eating a lot of meat and potatoes. Both sides of my family have strong Irish heritage, and spilling over from generations who cooked to feed many on less, those meat and potato dishes didn’t come with much by way of seasoning. My dad refused to eat rice without first spewing a gazillion complaints. Spicy food meant a dab of medium salsa and worldly cuisine meant eating tacos with corn tortillas (instead of flour) from the taco wagon, a feat that did not happen until high school.

During my sophomore year in college, the first year alone and off a meal plan, armed with loads of curiosity and roommates willing to branch out, I learned much of cooking, seasoning, and by trial and error, how to eat healthily. I learned to eat and cherish vegetable meals without meat. I discovered new cuisines.


It was then that I stumbled on a recipe in the food section of the Oregonian for Sicilian Caponata. My love for eggplants, kalamata olives, and Italian cuisine was firmly cemented.

Over the years, this slightly unusual take on caponata has become my favorite pasta dish. It’s the one I talk about when people ask me what to do with eggplant. It’s the one I think about in February when tomatoes and eggplants are all out of season, but the rich combination of heat-loving vegetables, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon and cocoa, capers and olives all stewed into a lovely sauce make me long for summer again. This is the dish I have made over and over this summer, eating it day after day, skipping a week, and then making it all over again. And it is perfect in this month when the garden (and markets) are teeming with eggplants and tomatoes in their end-of-summer glory.

My parents have come a long way since those adolescent days, and though I haven’t made this dish for them, I know they too, would eat it right up.

Caponata Pasta, adapted from the Oregonian, serves 4
olive oil
1/2 a large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. raisins
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. cocoa powder
1 tsp. fresh minced thyme
3 to 4 very ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted and sliced kalamata olives
2 Tbs. capers, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. tubular pasta (I used Ancient Harvest Gluten-Free rotelle)
  • In a large pan, saute onion, garlic, raisins, and pepper flakes for about 10 minutes or until the onions are soft.
  • Stir in eggplant, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder and cook 5 to 10 minutes more over medium-high heat.  You may have to add a drizzle of water to soften the mixture up.
  • Add the thyme, olives, capers, tomatoes, and vinegar.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes more.
  • While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta, taking off the heat and draining just before it is done.
  • Toss pasta with sauce until thoroughly combined and the pasta is al dente.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Olive-Raisin Roasted Cauliflower

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Standing over the cutting board, slicing olive flesh off the pits, I am drawn to contemplation once more.  My heart has felt heavy these last few weeks. For me, late winter has typically been a time of drawing in, folding the blankets of life around me, closing the curtains, blocking out drafts.  For whatever reason, this time of year leads me to risk less, to soak in my quiet hours of solitude, to ignore phone calls and invitations.  I have fallen into this pattern once more, and am in need of getting out of my head, putting my energy to use on a cause less related to my own.  I am reminded of my current tasks, the most important to listen for answers, though the urgency of the everyday often fiddles the knobs on my ears and speeds up the actions of my feet.

photo (28)

Yesterday was a warm and sunny late-winter afternoon. School was finally out for the week, spring break just around the corner. Ready for some dialing in to the right listening frequency and slowing down of the feet, I longingly looked out the window, ready to feel the sun.

One of my students walked in and in the space of only a few minutes, a forceful acknowledgement fell suddenly into my lap.

There are lives more challenged; basic needs going unmet. My own circle of worries bumps into other circles that are stretched further, weighted far heavier than my own.

photo (26)

In this moment, I willingly set aside my worries of the day-to-day. I set aside the fact that I cannot control the actions and decisions of others. I’m drawn back to focus on listening. Though I wish it weren’t so, these things, tough situations for undeserving people, happen for a reason.

Time, patience, understanding. Smoothing the blankets. Opening the curtains to let in the light, thoughts flow brighter filtered through golden rays.

There it is, spring is on it’s way.

Olive-Raisin Roasted Cauliflower, adapted from Plenty

Juice from half an orange
1/2 a head of cauliflower, chopped
1/2 a medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup mixed olives, pitted and diced
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 Tbs. garlic-infused olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
small handful fresh parsley, minced
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In an medium-size oven-proof casserole dish, pour in the orange juice.  Toss in the remaining ingredients, except the parsley. Cover with foil and transfer to the oven. 
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender, but still a bit firm.
  • Take from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool down for a few minutes.  Stir in the parsley, and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.