Diana De Luca, herbalist, nutritional chef and author of Botanica Erotica, teaches workshops in women’s health, belly dance and whole food plant-based cooking based in Sonoma County, California
Zupa di Finochio (Fennel Soup, an old Sardinian recipe)In 1 tablespoon olive oil, sauté 4 bulbs of thinly sliced fennel (without the greens) for 10 minutes. Add 6 cups light veggie or chicken broth, and then simmer 30 minutes with a couple pinches of sea salt. Sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley or shredded mint. Makes 6 servings.
Options: Before adding herbs, purée 1/2 of the soup and return to pot. Cayenne or black pepper may be added as well as diced potatoes. May be topped with Parmesan cheese.
Nettle BisqueSauté a diced, small, sweet onion until soft and fragrant.
Add 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan (or other) salt, 4 cups chopped fresh nettles, and 1 1/2 cups veggie broth. Cover and simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes.
Transfer to blender with soaked cashews or pine nuts or sour cream, and blend until smooth. Options: cayenne pepper, squeeze of lemon.
Serve in 1/2 cup portions for a rich, potent spring tonic. Also excellent during convalescence.
Port NettlesInto a clean jar, place dried nettle leaves. Cover with Port wine, Marsala, Sherry, Madeira, or any of the fortified wines with a sweet flavor and higher alcohol content.
Cover jar, shake daily (the jar!), and strain after 1 week. Take 1 spoonful 1 to 2 times daily as a blood tonic; for healthy hair, skin, and nails; and to enrich any of the body's systems.
Herbal Berry SorbetBoil 2/3 cup water, remove from heat, and add 1 tablespoon lemon thyme, rose geranium, lemon verbena, or lemon grass leaves with 1 cup organic cane sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Strain after 10 minutes.
Using about 6 cups berries, press through a sieve for 2 1/2 cups purée (can leave seeds in berries as well). Mix with herbed sugar syrup.
Refrigerate until cold.
Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. (Opt: 2 tablespoons raspberry or cassis liqueur.
Freeze in ice cube trays; process in food processor until shaved. Or freeze in metal pan, and scrape to serve, or process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.
Autumn Yammy Chili4-5 servings
1 sweet onion, diced
8 oz large mushrooms, diced
1 1/2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 15-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
(I like the Better-Than-Bouillion organic Vegetable Broth concentrate)
1 tsp each: cinnamon powder, coriander powder, smoked paprika,
chili powder, allspice powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 cups cooked OR 1 can drained black beans
3 cups cooked yams, diced
1 cup cooked corn
2 tbsp chocolate chips
opt> 3 red jujube dates, pitted, chopped
1/2 tsp Chipotle powder or cayenne
Sauté onions and mushroom in ghee or olive oil with salt until soft (5-10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Add tomatoes; stir in spices; and then add 1 cup broth.
Stir in beans, yams, corn, chocolate, and dates (if using). If too thick, add the remaining 1/2 cup broth.
Cook for 20-30 min on medium low, covered. Remove lid, stir, taste,
add salt if desired
Can serve with Cashew Cheeze:
Soak 1 cup cashews 2-8 hrs. Drain; add to blender with 1/2 cup water, juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast.
Blend until smooth, adding water if necessary. Remove from blender to non-stick saucepan; heat on medium. Add 1 tsp arrowroot or tapioca flour that has been mixed with 1 tbsp water.
Stir well with wooden spoon until thickened. Let it cool.
OR for a cheezier flavor, scoop into a glass bowl, leave uncovered at room temperature overnight, and then add:
1 tbsp white miso and 1 tbsp each minced fresh Rosemary, Parsley, Basil, Dill, Green Onions and 1/2 tsp black pepper and garlic granules (or 1 cloves pressed fresh garlic).
Stir well; adjust seasonings
In winter I serve the chili with a lovely Valencia Orange Salad
Dice peeled oranges with shredded spearmint and diced jicama drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with pink salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
Stir, then let sit at room temp 10 minutes. It makes its own dressing.
Stir before serving.
A tofu favorite from Diana
Tofu with Yeast Gravy
1 cube tofu, sliced
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce or tamari
Put the tofu in a pyrex baking dish. Blend all
other ingredients together and pour over tofu.
Sprinkle ½ cup sliced shiitakes on top if desired.
Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
Beth Baugh, course coordinator for Foundations of Herbalism, has this tofu recipe:
Tofu Ginger Paté
1 8-oz package tofu
2 T nutritional yeast
1 lemon, juiced
2 T tamari
1 T olive oil
1 T Balsamic vinegar
1/8 t cayenne
2 T grated ginger
1/2 t kelp or dulse (if available)
Mash everything together with a potato masher or salad fork. Serve with carrot and celery sticks or crackers.