The Real Food Journal

Cool Off With Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches

vegan ice cream sandwiches
Pick one!

When it’s sultry out, I have to comfort myself by making ice cream sandwiches, popsicles, and other frozen treats. Whenever I throw a party in the summer, I start preparations ahead of time by making ice cream sandwiches for everyone. So, when I decided to celebrate in July, I invited my favorite vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores, and made these delicious vegan ice cream sandwiches.

vegan ice cream sandwiches
Move fast, before they melt

I have a great recipe for chocolate sandwich cookies in my book, Big Vegan, so I thought that would be a good starting point for an ice cream sandwich. There are also a few really good vegan ice cream recipes in the book, so if you want to make your own, look there. I was not in the mood to make both components, so I did the lazy thing. I bought some Cashew and Coconut based ice creams, and both were delicious.

The cookies take a while to make, since you have to roll the dough into balls and flatten each one, then transfer to a baking sheet. That’s why you should start them a week or so ahead. Once you get them made, freeze them, and then you can fill with ice cream at your leisure.

vegan ice cream sandwiches
Plenty for a party!

Filling the sandwiches can be a messy affair, so have a damp towel handy for wiping your fingers. I use an ice cream spade to shave out inch thick wedges of ice cream, and build an even layer that way. You’ll end up using your fingertips to press the pieces down and gently press the top cookie on. 

If you want perfectly even layers of ice cream, you can always spread the ice cream in a sheet pan and freeze, then cut out rounds with a large biscuit cutter. I don’t care about perfection, so I didn’t do that.

Of course, if you are not avoiding dairy, you can make these with butter and your favorite ice cream or frozen yogurt. But don’t assume that the vegan version isn’t delicious. I promise that these will ring all your ice cream bells, without the cow.

Stay cool, and enjoy the rest of the summer!

vegan ice cream sandwiches
Perfect on a hot day!

Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches

Make your own chocolate wafer cookies and fill them with your favorite ice cream, for a sure-fire hit with kids or adults!

Course Dessert
Servings 12
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine or shortening
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups cashew or coconut milk ice cream approximately


  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment or silicone mats.
  2.  In a stand mixer or bowl, cream the vegan margarine with the sugar. Beat in the rice milk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa, and salt. Mix into the wet mixture, it will make a stiff dough.
  3.  Scoop two tablespoon-sized portions and form into disks, then use a metal spatula to flatten. Dip the spatula in flour to keep it from sticking. Flatten each cookie to 1/4 inch thick. 
  4. Bake for 8 minutes, turn pans, then bake for about 8 minutes, check at five for scorching. The cookies will have a golden brown edge. Cool on racks.
  5. Freeze the cookies before filling. Use a spoon to scoop slightly softened ice cream on a cookie, smooth the edges, and place another cookie on top, freeze.

  6. Keeps tightly covered for up to a month.

When Peaches Ripen, Make a Peach and Berry Crisp

Oh July, you have won my heart a hundred times over. Yes, you were steamy in spots, but we managed to romance each other relentlessly. Of course, July includes a trip to Illinois, where I pick up my annual peach harvest. You may not have heard about the epic peaches of Calhoun County, but they are worth a trip. And a Peach and Berry Crisp is just one of the delicious results.

Calhoun County Peaches

Luscious Calhoun County Peaches

We moved to Jacksonville, IL, when I was in high school. Somehow in the haze of memory, I still have vivid memories of discovering the local peaches. They are such a local favorite that back then, when there wasn’t an organized farmer’s market, there was a stand on the corner of the gas station lot, selling peaches. “Peaches at the gas station,” I said to my boyfriend, “really?” “Oh yeah, let’s get some,” he said, and we embarked on a peach based diet for the rest of the summer.

At least that is what I remember. The intensity of the peach flavor, the juice running down my chin, coating my hands and wrists, as we sat on a picnic table in the park, was unforgettable.

So, when I go home to visit, I try to time it to sync with the peach harvest, and take a little nostalgic revel with the peaches. With a peach and berry crisp.

Keep it simple with peach and berry crisp

Simple and Easy Peach Berry Crisp

Now let me say, I know that you probably have a peach that you think bests all other peaches by a mile. I’m not here to fight about it. In fact, I’m happy that you have a local peach, if you are so lucky, that gives you the kind of ecstatic response that these give me.

There’s even a bit of a political scrap over the best peaches.

Of course, the peach season is also the hottest season of the year, and it’s a sacrifice to turn the oven on for too long. I still practice my Illinois strategy, of early morning baking. So, I got up early, cranked the oven, and proceeded to peel and slice peaches into a baking dish. These are old school peaches, kind of small, very fuzzy, a little hard to peel.

But they are worth it.

Peach and Berry Crisp

A Bowl of Simple Joy

In the infinite bounty of the season, we also had our choice of blackberries and blueberries at the farmer’s market, so I added them to the crisp.

Forget about today, enjoy a peach and berry crisp

Peach and Berry Crisp


Because for a moment, the peaches can take you out of time and place. A mouthful of nature’s perfection isn’t in the here and now, it’s timeless.

Forget your problems, and taste the peach.

Peach and Berry Crisp

When peaches are at their juicy peak, you just need a simple way to show them off. 

Servings 6
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 cup vegan butter, butter, or coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup einkorn or other ancient grain flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 1/2 pounds peaches
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup blackberries


  1. For the topping, melt the fat in a 2 quart saucepan. Take off the heat and let cool slightly, then stir in the brown sugar. Add the flour, oats, salt and cinnamon and stir to mix well. Stir in the walnuts. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill until hardened, about an hour.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel the peaches and slice into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Add the berries and stir to mix. 

  3. Crumble the topping over the fruit, then bake for 35 minutes or so, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, if you have the patience. 

Get to the Farmers Market and Make a Potato and Green Bean Salad

New Potato and Green Bean Salad with Basil

Fresh Basil makes a fantastic potato salad

It’s potato salad season, in all its glory. Tender young, locally grown potatoes are at my Farmer’s Market, along with a bounty of fresh, seasonal veggies that can make a potato salad a little more exciting than the standard one. Take my Potato and Green Bean Salad with Fresh Basil. It’s so poppingly fresh that you will want to eat it as a stand alone meal.

I was lucky, I found beautiful, just harvested small Yukon Gold potatoes at the market. I love whole grains, but sometimes I like to mix it up and have some really good potatoes. (You can try a New Potato Bowl with Edamame and Creamy Avocado Sauce recipe here.) Potatoes get a bad rap from carb-avoiders, but they are really a healthful, high-fiber, Vtamin-C rich food. Leave the tender skins on your new potatoes, and you’ll get all the vitamins and minerals.

But the big score was the Haricots Verts. Not that many farmers grow the slender, crisp French green beans, so when I see them, I buy them. If you can’t get Haricots Verts, use the freshest green beans you can find.

New Potato and Green Bean Potato Salad with Basil

Serve this at your next party

I have a few bushes of sweet basil in my back garden, as well as a prolific (aggressive?) garlic chive plant. My grape tomatoes are just starting to ripen, so a few of those precious gems went in, too.

New Potato and Green Beans Salad with Basil

Potato and Green Bean Salad with Basil

Capers and a few slivers of purple cabbage added some bursts of texture and color. I love the salty pop of a caper in my mouth, and they give everything a Mediterranean vibe.

For the dressing, I wanted to try out the Fabanaise mayo I picked up at the Coop. It’s made with aquafaba, and it’s quite tasty. I like to add a little good extra virgin olive oil to purchased mayos for flavor, so I stirred some in.

That was all I needed. Simple, fast, easy and delicious. That seems to be the ideal for Summer cooking!

Potato, Green Bean and Basil Salad

Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 pound new potatoes
  • 4 cups haricots verts or green beans 6 ounces
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup slivered red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped garlic chives
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers drained


  • 1/4 cup Vegan mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. In a large pot, place the potatoes and water to cover, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Drain and let cool.

  2. Trim and steam the beans until crisp tender.

  3. Halve the cooled potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add the beans, tomatoes, cabbage, chives, basil and capers.

  4. In a cup, stir the mayo and olive oil and pour it over the potatoes. Toss to coat and serve within a couple of days.

Cool Off with Homemade Peanut Butter Pops with Chocolate Drizzle

Peanut Butter Pops with Chocolate Drizzle

A refreshing peanut butter pop with chocolate drizzle!

Is it the heat, or is it the humidity? Who cares? It’s Summer, and we love every minute of it. Even when we are seeking shelter in the air conditioning, we get to revel in the best summery foods. And that includes easy, homemade frozen Peanut Butter Pops. With chocolate drizzle, of course.

Around my house, a popsicle is the treat of the moment. Fruit-juice pops are perfectly refreshing, when you are reading a book or watching Netflix in the evening. Light, sweet, and cold, it’s hard to keep it to one a day.

So I like to make my own variations. This one is a little bit more like a meal, with peanut butter, non-dairy or dairy yogurt, and just a little sugar. A banana adds a sweet, fruity flavor. The protein in the pop makes these a little more like a mini-smoothie on a stick.

Peanut Butter Pops with Chocolate Drizzle

The chocolate melts in your mouth

All you need is a blender and room in the freezer. I used small paper cups and wooden sticks, and just put them on a sheet pan in the freezer. Once they were solid, I quickly drizzled them with melted dark chocolate and put them back in the freezer. I used a bar of Equal Exchange Very Dark Chocolate, for a really deep chocolate hit. Once they were nice and firm again, I transferred them to a zip-top freezer bag. Easy.

Peanut Butter Pops with Chocolate Drizzle

Use really good chocolate!

Of course, you can use popsicle molds, too. They come in a plethora of shapes these days, and if you are really into it, you can get models that freeze your pops outside the freezer for an instant hit. The standard size for popsicles holds about 1/4 cup, but when you get into all the different shapes, all bets are off.

Like everything else, your frozen treats are better when you make them yourself. Use your fave yogurt and really good chocolate, and you already have all the store-bought versions beat by a mile.

Seize the summer and enjoy your peanut butter pops!

Peanut Butter Pops with Chocolate Drizzle

When it's hot out, you'll reach for these easy, creamy pops. 

Servings 8
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 cup yogurt non-dairy, or your choice
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 2 medium ripe bananas peeled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 paper cups
  • 8 popsicle sticks
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate melted and cooled


  1. Place the yogurt, peanut butter, sugar, bananas and vanilla in the blender and blend until very creamy.

  2. Place paper cups or popsicle molds on a sheet tray, and make room in the freezer. Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into each cup, and place the tray in the freezer for about an hour before inserting the sticks, so they will not fall over. Freeze until solid.

  3. Remove the paper cups or unmold the popsicles from their molds. Place on parchment and drizzle with melted chocolate, and re-freeze. When solid, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the freezer for up to a week.

Buy Local Strawberries and Make a Fresh Strawberry Tart, Feed Your Soul

Fresh strawberry tart for vegans

Ready for your picnic or party!

Strawberries are the perfect metaphor for the sweet things in life. Pay attention, don’t take the berries for granted, because they will pass. Change is constant, and the seasons come and go, despite our efforts to cling to what pleases us. Don’t let the beautiful moments in life go by in a blur. Sit down and eat a big bowlful of every moment you get.

Make a fresh strawberry tart.

Here in Minnesota, the season for local strawberries is a fleeting month or so, and it’s going to be a long year before you see it again. Whatever else is going on in your life, you deserve to carve out some time to be mindful with these berries.

Fresh local strawberries

Fresh from the farmers market

I’ve been enjoying the heck out of the local strawberries, on smoothie bowls, in salads, in shortcakes, or just dipped in powdered sugar. I was busy, just trying to get from point a to point b, and feeling a little overwhelmed.

So I decided to stop, breathe deeply, and make a strawberry tart.

Life flies by, in our infinite busy-ness and work-focused states of mind. It takes a conscious effort to step out of line, and be present with the moment. A quart of glorious berries is a perfect cue to be here now, feeling the heat and humidity and tasting something that has never been before and will never be again.

This fresh strawberry tart is an exercise in mindful cooking and eating, and it worked for me.

Vegan Fresh Strawberry Tart

This won’t last long once your friends get here!

I wanted some heft to the crust, so I ground walnuts in the processor, and blended up a shortbread-style base for the tart. I used Nutiva shortening for the fat, because I had some around I had been using for a recipe development job, and it does a good job of acting buttery in pastry. Otherwise, I would have used a blend of coconut and canola oil.

Then I cooked up a very thick almond milk custard and chilled it. Once it was cold, I whisked it until it was smooth and stirred in some apricot preserves, and used some preserves to make a glaze to brush on the berries.

Once the tart crust was cool, I spread the custard on it, and arranged my perfectly imperfect berries on top. I love the different shapes and sizes of the berries, messing up my attempts at some kind of geometric perfection. The Universe laughs at my attempts at perfection.

Once I had them on there, I needed a little color and flavor contrast, so I sliced a couple of nectarines and filled in the spaces with their golden juiciness. Then, a dabbing of apricot glaze over it all, and back to the fridge to set.

With every bite, I was awash in gratitude. A farmer grew these berries, and the sun warmed them to perfection, just so we could sit here, now, and revel in the best of life.

Thanks, fresh strawberry tart, for bringing me such a moment.

Fresh Strawberry Nectarine Tart

Feel free to use the non-dairy milk of your choice- coconut milk would be richer and more decadent. I like walnuts in the crust, but other nuts would be delicious, too.

Servings 8
Author Robin Asbell


  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup apricot jam divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • water
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries hulled and patted dry
  • 2 medium ripe nectarines


  1. In a food processor bowl, grind the walnuts finely. Add the flour, salt and powdered sugar and pulse to mix. Add the shortening, vanilla, and almond extract and run the machine until it forms crumbles. Press the crumbles into a 10-inch tart tin with a removable bottom, pressing it up the sides about 1/2 inch. Chill for an hour.

  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Prick the tart shell with a fork in several places, then bake for 20 minutes. The crust will be lightly golden brown on the edges and feel dry. Cool completely.

  3. While the shell bakes, make the custard. In a small pot, combine 1 cup of the milk with the sugar and place over medium heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar. Add the salt.

  4. In a cup, whisk the remaining milk, flour and starch. When the milk in the pot begins to bubble, whisk in the slurry and whisk constantly until the mixture bubbles and becomes very thick. Whisk in the vanilla and transfer to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Press the wrap onto the surface of the custard and chill completely.

  5. When all the components are cold, whisk 1/2 cup of the apricot jam into the custard. If it is lumpy, blend in the food processor until smooth. In a cup, stir the remaining 1/4 cup jam with the lemon juice and a tablespoon of water. 

  6. In the shell, spread the custard evenly. Arrange the berries on top, and fill in with slices of nectarine. Use a pastry brush to dollop and dab the jam glaze over the fruit. 

  7. Chill for about an hour, until set, then slice and serve. Keeps for a day, tightly covered.

Turmeric is Still Hot, and Cooling in this Turmeric Mango Lassi

Turmeric Mango Lassi

Turmeric, Ginger, Black Pepper and Mango in a refreshing drink

Summer is here, in all its steamy glory, and I hope you are outside enjoying it to the fullest. I’m going for long bike rides, gardening, and just walking out in the world as much as possible. This is the perfect time for a creamy, turmeric-laced lassi.

The lassi is an Indian tradition. It’s a smooth mix of yogurt or buttermilk and spices, and often fruit. Lassi can be salty and savory, or sweet. It’s often served as a cooling antidote to hot, spicy foods. Yogurt is one of the few substances that actually cuts through a coating of chili heat in your mouth, and allows you to wash it away, a little at a time.

Fresh Turmeric Roots

Beautiful Fresh Turmeric

For my summertime lassi, I wanted to play up the sunny glow of the drink with a knob of fresh turmeric and some sweet mango. I’m a turmeric devotee, as you can read in some past posts, like this one on fresh turmeric and a dal recipe and a carrot-turmeric tonic recipe that’s really good for your skin.

Turmeric is so good for your body, you really can’t go wrong with it. I’m motivated by the need to preserve my brain health, as well as hoping to avoid the achy, creaky feelings in my body that come from inflammation. But those are just a few of the good things turmeric does for you.

For a comprehensive article, click here.

Fresh turmeric, ginger, and veggies

Ginger is no slouch when it comes to healthful qualities, and will add a pleasant pepperiness, as well. A few black peppercorns add piperine, which increases the bioavailability of the curcumin in turmeric. It’s really a powerful synergy, just a little black pepper makes turmeric levels rise in the bloodstream, so don’t skip that bit of pepper.

I’m grateful that my Coop carries fresh turmeric regularly, and I keep some in the freezer. I like to buy a few extra roots, slice them into 1/2 inch pieces, and throw them in a freezer bag. That way, I can toss the frozen chunk right into my Vitamix and blend it with my other smoothie ingredients. For cooking, the small slices thaw quickly and can be minced and added to curries and sauces.

Just take a moment to wipe up as soon as turmeric comes into contact with your counter top, or you will have a colorful stain to mark the occasion.

Cool off, nourish yourself, and protect your body, all in one delicious drink.

turmeric mango lassi

Glowing with a golden hue, thanks to turmeric and mango

Turmeric Mango Lassi

Cool off with a classic Mango lassi, spiked with health-promoting turmeric.

Author Robin Asbell


  • 1 inch fresh turmeric root sliced
  • 1 knob fresh ginger sliced
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt, non-dairy or dairy
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • fresh mint for garnish


  1. Place everything in the blender and puree. If you don't have a Vitamix or other strong blender, chop the turmeric and ginger to they will be easier on the machine.

  2. Serve immediately, 

Make These Easy Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcakes, Celebrate Local Berries

Summertime Nirvana, Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcakes

The local strawberries have made their dramatic entrance, red and ripe and ready to add joy to your life. Rhubarb is still booming in my backyard, and the two flavors are a classic, seasonal combination.

Because it’s so hot and humid out, I planned ahead and baked the shortcakes early in the morning. That way my shortcakes were safely stashed before breakfast. I cooked the rhubarb while they baked, and chilled it to save for dinner.

The precious strawberries need no embellishment. To show them off, I simply tossed the halved berries with sugar and let them macerate for a few minutes.

local strawberries go with rhubarb

As local as it gets at the St Paul Farmer’s Market

I was too lazy to make my own ice cream, so I simply bought some. Coconut and cashew milk based ice creams are amazing, these days. Pick your favorite, I prefer vanilla for the purity of it all, but if you got a strawberry swirl it might be nice. Some strawberry shortcakes are paired with whipped cream, so if you want to make a whipped coconut cream or buy your favorite one, that would be delicious, too.

There is no technical challenge in this recipe, other than shredding in the coconut oil. All you need to do is melt the oil, pour it in the measuring cup, and chill it until it is firm. Then you can grate the solid fat into the flour mixture, creating a flaky texture in the final biscuit.

Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcake

Quick, before it melts…

The rhubarb compote is so basic, I just throw it all in the pan and put it over heat. I like to give it a dash of vanilla, for an elegant fragrance. This is one of the best desserts to serve out on the deck. Just split your shortcake, fill with berries and a little drizzle of rhubarb syrup, and spoon a puddle of rhubarb on the plate around it. Top with ice cream, and serve before it melts.

Simple is perfect for Summer!

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcakes

Tender shortcake, a pool of tangy rhubarb, and sweet berries…


Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcakes

A biscuit-style shortcake, with a simple cooked rhubarb sauce and fresh strawberries, is the perfect dessert for a summer meal on the deck!

Course Dessert
Servings 12
Author Robin Asbell


  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • turbinado sugar
  • 1 pound rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • non-dairy ice cream


  1. Measure the melted coconut oil and then chill in the cup until solid.Using a grater, shred the cold coconut oil into the flour mixture, tossing to coat the shreds as you go.

    Preheat the oven to 400 F.

  2. In a cup, stir the almond milk and cider vinegar, and let stand for a couple of minutes, then stir into the flour mixture. It will be a firm dough, but be gentle.
  3. Scrape out onto a floured counter and pat out into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Using a bench knife or chefs knife, cut into 6 even squares, then cut each of those corner to corner to make 12 triangular shortcakes. Sprinkle the cakes liberally with turbinado sugar and pat down to adhere. Use your bench knife or a spatula to transfer to the sheet pan. Place the cakes 2 inches apart.

  4. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden around the edges. Cool on racks.

  5. In a small pot, combine the rhubarb and sugar and place over medium high heat. Stir until the rhubarb is juicy and starts to boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and starting to fall apart. Stir in the vanilla and cook for a minute more.
  6. To serve, halve about 6 strawberries per shortcake and sprinkle with sugar to taste. Split each shortcake and place the bottom half on a small plate, and spoon the rhubarb sauce around it. Cover the shortcake with strawberries and a drizzle of rhubarb sauce, then place the top on. Serve with ice cream and garnish with more strawberries.

See Red with Chipotle Beet Hummus

Chipotle Beet Hummus

Give your dip repertoire a pop of color

We love hummus. The eternal combo of chickpeas, tahini and lemon is a crowd pleaser, and has spawned endless variations. So let me join in and make a riff on hummus out of one of the most maligned vegetables out there. Beet hummus!

I married a beet-disliker, so when I cook beets, I usually get to eat the whole batch by myself. Not his time. Chipotle Beet Hummus finally won my sweethearts approval.

Beets Everyone Will Love

Yes, it’s a bold statement. But after 34 years of marriage, this is the first time a beet based food got a thumbs up! I’d honestly given up. I offered a taste, not expecting him to take me up on it. I guess it just proves that people can surprise you.

Chipotle Beet Hummus

The Scarlet Dip with a hint of smoke

There are plenty of versions of this dip out there. I did a bit of a swerve and skipped the chickpeas altogether. Yes, it’s hummus with no chickpeas. The sweetness of the brilliant beets makes its own magic with the tart lemon. But a bit of inspiration came to me the way they often do. I looked in the refrigerator.

Chipotles in Adobo

There in my fridge was a jar of chipotles in adobo, leftover from another recipe. I love using the real deal, the whole smoked chiles bathed in a smoky sauce, even though I have the powdered version, too. If you haven’t tried a can of them, don’t worry about using up the whole can, they freeze well. I like to spread them out in a zip top bag and freeze them, so that I can break a chile off whenever I need one. They thaw quickly.

Chipotles are a magical, intense ingredient that instantly elevates a dish. Smoke is a natural source of plant-based umami, and gives everything it touches a bit of complexity and nuance. The chiles are spicy, but not so hot that they will scare anyone away. Just warming and thrilling.

Here’s a fun rice bowl that has a bit of chipotle in it:

Chipotle Chimichurri Rice Bowl

It’s summer, so I roast my beets in the early morning, and let the kitchen cool off before the sun gets too high in the sky. You could steam them, too, but they will not get that concentrated flavor that roasting imparts.

Give this dip a try at your next patio party, and watch your friends discover another side to beets.

Chipotle Beet Hummus

Even beet haters will like the flavor of this bright red dip. The smoky spice of chipotle really gives it a kick!

Servings 4
Author Robin Asbell


  • 2 1/2 pounds beets 2 large
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 small chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Peel the beets, quarter, and place in a loaf pan, drizzle with olive oil.. Cover with foil and roast for about an hour, until the beets are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Let cool.

  2. In a serious blender, place the chopped garlic, beets, lemon juice, chipotle, tahini and salt. Use the tamper to blend the ingredients until very smooth.

  3. Scrape into a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil. 

Make Rhubarb the Star on your Blueberry Banana Bread

Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

Perhaps we love rhubarb because it comes to us in Spring. After a long, hard winter, the insistent stalks of this hardy plant just burst from the ground like unfurling flags, heralding the coming summer.

I’ll take it.

The “Pie Plant”

The “pie plant” is the gift that keeps on giving, producing more fat stalks every year. It may look like celery and taste like the tartest lemon you’ve ever had, but boy oh boy, when you add some sugar, it suddenly sings a beautiful song.

Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

For this bread, I was inspired by a photo. You probably saw it somewhere in your internet travels. Melissa Clark made a striking pound cake that was featured in the New York Times, with stalks of poached rhubarb arranged across the top. I thought, hey, I don’t need a rich cake, but I’ve got some ripe bananas and fresh blueberries.

And lots of rhubarb from the garden.

So I  poached some rhubarb stalks to fit across the top of my loaf pan. Then I made a moist, lemon-spiked banana bread batter, and sprinkled in some blueberries. I topped it with the rhubarb stalks, and baked it. Once it came out of the oven, I thought it called out for a sprinkle of sparkly Turbinado sugar.

Since the rhubarb was just on top of the bread, I wanted more rhubarb. So, while it baked, I cooked up a quick compote of rhubarb with a splash of vanilla.

So easy, so delicious.

We gobbled it up for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

Eat what’s in season, and you’ll be in harmony with the planet. It’s a pretty tasty way to live.

Want a few more rhubarb recipes?

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb Tart

Rhubarb and Raspberries Go Together

Rhubarb Bars with Rolled Barley and Almonds

Rhubarb shines in chewy, crunchy bars made with rolled barley and sliced almonds

Rhubarb shines in chewy, crunchy bars made with rolled barley and sliced almonds

Rhubarb Scones

rhubarb scones

Hot out of the oven

Wild Rice and Rhubarb Salad



Rhubarb Blueberry Banana Bread

Servings 8
Author Robin Asbell



  • 8 ounces rhubarb stalks
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 cup water


  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 medium ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling


  • 1 pound rhubarb chopped
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  1. First, combine the sugar and water and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Trim the rhubarb stalks into 5 inch lengths (to match the size of your loaf pan) and add them to the simmering syrup, cook for 1 minute, then take off the heat and let cool completely. Use a slotted spoon to remove the stalks carefully from the syrup, placing them on a plate. Reserve the syrup.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 5 inch wide loaf pan with parchment paper, cut so that the paper hangs over the side to help you remove the loaf when done. Lightly oil the pan.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

  4. In a cup, stir the milk, lemon juice, flax and vanilla. Let stand for 5 minutes. 

  5. Mash the banana in a small bowl. Stir the banana and the oil into the milk mixture, then stir that into the flour mixture. When just mixed, fold in the berries and scrape into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, then arrange the poached rhubarb stalks across the top. Press down lightly but leave the sticking up a bit so they can sink.

  6. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out with no wet batter attached. Cool on a rack for 15, then use the paper to lift the loaf out and let it finish cooling. Sprinkle with Turbinado to cover. Slice in between the rhubarb stalks at serving.

  7. For compote, place rhubarb and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir as the mixture gets juicy, and once it's soupy, bring to a boil and stir until the rhubarb is tender. Take off the heat and let cool.

    Serve over the bread.

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