COOK THIS: Love & Lemons Every Day by Jeanine Donofrio - Modern Farmer

COOK THIS: Love & Lemons Every Day by Jeanine Donofrio

Twice a month our writer cooks from the book and decides if these farm-to-table recipes are worth the investment.

Love and Lemons Every Day: More than 100 Bright, Plant-Forward Recipes for Every Meal
Photography Jeanine Donofrio

When I was 16, I decided to become a vegetarian, a phase that only lasted for about two weeks. But I wonder how long it would have stretched if I had access to the world of vegetarian cooking blogs back then—friendly, cheerleading voices with tempting photos and a can-do attitude. Jeanine Donofrio’s blog, Love & Lemons has introduced many a curious young person to the world of vegetarian eating, and her second book, Love & Lemons Every Day (Avery Books; $35) is sure to continue the streak. Her style is light, bright and international, with a little North American comfort thrown in for balance. The recipes are vegetarian, and sometimes vegan. Think: baked red lentil falafel and a mushroom and white bean pot pie. The recipes are easily whipped up on a Wednesday night, and as a bonus there are charts and grids encouraging experimentation when making things like a salad dressings or scrambled eggs.

A recent lazy Sunday afternoon called for a casual, dippy snack, so I made Donofrio’s Loaded Butternut Squash Queso—warm and pleasingly orange, but without any actual queso (cheese). Butternut squash and potatoes are boiled, onions are sautéed and all three are added to the blender with cashews, olive oil, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, paprika, cayenne and salt, and then blended until smooth. To serve, it’s topped with guacamole, black beans, jalapeños, red onion and cilantro. Make no mistake, this was not a cheese dip. But it was oozy and delicious, and felt just as decadent.

With Donofrio’s kind voice and approachably creative recipes, Love & Lemons Every Day would be a lovely gift for the new vegetarian in your life. These recipes truly are for “every day,” making the cookbook a worthy pick for those of us trying to add Meatless Wednesdays to our Meatless Mondays.

Excerpted Love and Lemons Every Day: More than 100 Bright, Plant-Forward Recipes for Every Meal by Jeanine Donofrio. Copyright © 2019 Jeanine Donofrio. Photographs © 2019 by Jack Mathews, Jeanine Donofrio, and Christopher Broe. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


Servings: Serves 4, vegan and gluten-free

As soon as I graduated from college, I moved to Austin (aka the land of queso) to be with Jack. Whenever we’d get together with friends, there would always be queso, which was often the too-yellow, too-fake type of cheese that I don’t exactly gravitate toward. I couldn’t really complain because I’d fill up on chips, salsa, and guacamole instead . . . but now I can have the best of both worlds with this oozy butternut queso loaded with all the toppings. Even though this recipe is vegan, every cheese lover I know loves this dip.

  • 2 cups peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 cup peeled and diced butternut squash
  • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
For Serving
  • 1 avocado
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Pinches of sea salt
  • ¼ cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup diced tomato
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Tortilla chips

  1. Place the diced potatoes and butternut squash in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water by about 1 inch. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain and transfer to a high- speed blender.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion in a drizzle of olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. To the blender, add the sautéed onion, cashews, the ¼ cup olive oil, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic, smoked paprika, cayenne, and salt. Blend until smooth, using the blender baton to help keep the blade moving or pausing to stir as necessary. If the mixture is too thick, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and blend until smooth.
  4. Make a quick guacamole by mashing together the avocado, lime juice, and sea salt in a small bowl with the back of a fork.
  5. Scoop the warm queso into a shallow serving dish and top with the guacamole, black beans, diced tomato, red onion, jalapeño, and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips.


Servings: Serves 4, vegan and gluten-free

Cauliflower is so versatile, and I love how this recipe uses the cauliflower from floret to core. The “steaks” are cut from the middle section, where the core holds the slabs together. The remaining florets are used to make a creamy puree. It’s a warm, hearty dish that gets a pop from the bright preserved lemon salsa verde on top.

Cauliflower Steaks
  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water, plus more as needed
  • Lemon zest, for garnish (optional)
Lemon Salsa Verde
  • 3 tablespoons diced Quick Preserved Lemons
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley or basil
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes and/or 1 tiny red chile pepper, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove the coarse outer leaves of the cauliflower, then slice 4 (1-inch-thick) “steaks” from the middle of the cauliflower, keeping the core intact. This helps hold the steaks together. Place the steaks on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and rub liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the core is fork-tender.
  3. Break the remainder of the cauliflower into florets (about 2 cups) and bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets and the garlic cloves and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until fork-tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the florets and garlic to a high- speed blender. Let cool slightly, and then add the olive oil, miso paste, lemon juice, and water. Puree the mixture, using the blender baton to help keep the blade moving or pausing to stir as necessary. If needed, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more water to create a smooth puree. Season to taste.
  4. Make the lemon salsa verde: In a medium bowl, combine the preserved lemons, parsley, capers, pine nuts, red pepper flakes, and pinches of salt and pepper. Stir in the olive oil.
  5. Assemble each plate with a scoop of the cauliflower puree and a cauliflower steak. Top with the lemon salsa verde and garnish with the lemon zest, if desired. Season to taste with more salt and pepper and serve.


Servings: Serves 4, gluten-free

Whenever we go out for Indian food, Jack orders saag paneer. He’s crazy for creamed spinach, and I’m crazy for making a completely inauthentic version of a popular dish, but we love this fresh take. I use fresh whole-leaf spinach and cook it until it’s barely wilted before mixing it with a lemony cardamom-spiced Greek yogurt sauce. I usually find paneer at Whole Foods, but halloumi also works in a pinch, as does seared extra-firm tofu.

  • Heaping ½ cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus 4 lemon wedges for serving
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 8 ounces paneer cheese, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup water, as needed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 16 ounces fresh spinach
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sliced serrano pepper (optional) Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ½ cup fresh microgreens (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, cardamom, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.
  2. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, then add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil and the paneer.
  3. Cook for 1 minute per side or until browned, reducing the heat if necessary.
  4. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt.
  5. In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and cook for 12 minutes, or until the onion is well browned. Set the water nearby. If the pan becomes dry during the next few steps, add water, a few tablespoons at a time. Stir in the cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute. Reduce the heat and stir in the garlic, ginger, and curry powder. Add the spinach, stir, and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes, working in batches if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat, let cool slightly, and stir in the yogurt mixture until just warmed through (you don’t want to cook it too much or the yogurt will separate).
  6. Divide the rice among four bowls. Top each bowl with the spinach mixture, the paneer, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with the cilantro, serrano pepper, red pepper flakes, and microgreens, if desired, and extra lemon wedges on the side.
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