Bright Red Solar Beet Pilaf

Beet Pilaf

Beets and butternut squash were all I had left from last week’s vegetable delivery. I’m still deciding what to do with the squash. The beets I used to make the colorful rice pilaf. The recipe is a combination of a couple I found on line, one for pasta and one for rice, plus a few touches of my own. It can be served as a side dish or topped with a spoonful of goat cheese or sour cream as main course.

Sun Oven Beet and Poppy Seed Rice Pilaf


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 onion, finely chopped

3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

3 small beets, peeled and shredded*

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In a sauce pan heat the broth until very hot. Keep the broth hot while preparing the rice.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the poppy seeds followed by the rice stirring to coat. Pour in the wine and continue stirring until it evaporates, about 1 minute. Add the beets, salt, and pepper stirring well to combine. Add the broth, stir quickly, cover, and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the liquid has been absorbed, 40 minutes to 1 hour.  Stir in cheese and serve.

Makes 4 main course servings or 6 side servings.

*I used the shred disc of my food processor. If you don’t have a food processor I’d recommend using previously roasted beets that have been mashed.

Solar Roasted Cabbage

Roast Cabbage

I’m still working my way through last week’s box of vegetables. Today I sliced up the cabbage, roasted it in the Sun Oven, and enjoyed it with lunch. Now all that’s left are the beets and the butternut squash. I’m ready for another box.

Sun Roasted Green Cabbage

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Martha Stewart)


1 head green cabbage

1 teaspoon olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

freshly squeezed lemon juice


Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Cut cabbage into 8 wedges. Brush both sides with olive oil. Arrange the slices on a baking rack or in a baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, in the Sun Oven until edges are brown, about 45 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice over the cabbage and serve.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos


The vegetable box I had delivered last week included a pound of fingerling sweet potatoes which are not one of my favorite things. This came as a bit of a surprise to me because when I initially read the contents my brain skipped over the word sweet – I was expecting regular fingerling potatoes which are one of my favorite things. In any case, these burritos were pretty good.

Sweet Potato Burritos

(adapted for the Sun Oven from


1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled or scrubbed clean, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil, divided’

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

pinch cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups previously cooked black beans (or 1 15-ounce can drained), mashed

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 to 3 tablespoons water.

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

4 burrito size flour tortillas, warmed


Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil in a baking pan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the sweet potatoes to the pan, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with salt, cover with another baking pan, and transfer to the Sun Oven. Bake until the potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes. Mash the potatoes in the pan with a fork; set aside. Leave the oven out.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic followed by the cumin, chili powder, and cayenne. Stir in the mashed beans, mustard, and soy sauce. Add water, a tablespoon at a time, to reach the consistency of refried beans. Removed from heat and let cool slightly.

Spread 1/4 of the mashed sweet potatoes in the center of a tortilla. Top with 1/4 of the beans and 1/4 of the cheese. Fold the tortilla into a burrito and place it, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining 3 tortillas. Transfer the baking pan to the Sun Oven and bake until the burritos are heated through, about 30 minutes.



Tuscan Style Farro Soup

Farro Bean Soup

This is a big batch of soup so you’re going to need a big pot. A stock pot works great. Make sure it fits in the Sun Oven before you start. You can remove the leveling tray if necessary, just be sure to set a trivet or rack on the floor of the cooking chamber to allow for air flow.

Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup

(adapted for the Sun Oven from


3 cups previously cooked cannellini or other white beans with their cooking liquid

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 carrots, finely chopped

3 stalks celery, finely chopped

2 clover garlic, minced

1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup farro

1 can (15-ounces) diced tomatoes

1 bunch kale stemmed and chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Additional olive oil for serving

freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Drain the beans; reserving the cooking liquid. Place 1 1/2 cups of the beans with 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth; set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and leek. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened; about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and red pepper flakes then the tomato paste. Add the farro, diced tomatoes, remaining beans, and kale. Add enough water to the bean cooking liquid to measure 3 cups. Pour the water into the pot and stir to combine all the ingredients. Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the farro is tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Ladle into bowls. Drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese.

Makes 6 servings.


More British Fare

Curried Potatoes

These pies were inspired in part by two foods commonly found in Great Britain, pasties and samosas, and in part by the lone frozen pie crust left in my freezer from the holidays.

Sun Oven Curry Pies


1/2 cup previously prepared Curried Mushy Peas

1 purchased frozen pie crust, defrosted

1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 teaspoon coconut oil or vegetable oil

2 teaspoons curry powder



Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line a baking rack or pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Put the potatoes and carrots in a medium sized pot. Add the oil and curry powder, tossing to coat. Season with salt. Add 1 tablespoon water, cover, and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the vegetables are soft but not mushy, about 40 minutes. Remove pot from Sun Oven; leave oven out. Cut the pie crust in half and roll one half into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spoon about two tablespoons of the potato mixture on one side of the rectangle leaving 1/2 inch of crust around the three edges. Spoon half of the split peas on top of the potatoes. Fold the crust over the vegetables and crimp the three sides to seal. Use a small, sharp knife to cut a couple of slits in the top of the crust. Use a wide spatula to transfer the pie to the baking rack or pan. Repeat with the remaining ingredients (the may be some potato mixture left over). Bake the pies in the Sun Oven until golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 2 servings.

Samosa Pies


Spiced up British Fare

New Sun Oven

While most Americans know that the British consume a lot of fish and chips many have never heard of mushy peas. They have a consistency similar to mashed potatoes and every fish and chip shop in Great Britain has them on the menu. Traditionally they are cooked with marrow fat and no other seasoning. My version uses olive oil and curry powder. At a recent fish fry we hosted they were the surprise hit of the evening.

Curried Mushy Peas


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 cup dried split peas, picked over, rinsed, and drained

2 2/3 cups water



Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion and cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the curry powder. Remove from heat. Stir in the split peas. Add the water, cover, and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the peas are very soft and the water has been absorbed. Season to taste with salt. Serve as a side dish or over rice or quinoa (shockingly good) as a main course.

Makes 4 servings.


Basic Sun Baked Quinoa


When quinoa first started showing up on menus and in supermarkets a few years ago my expectations were high. I thought it could be a healthier choice than rice and couscous in many of my favorite dishes. But once I tasted it my hopes were shattered. I was disappointed with both the mushy texture and the unappealing flavor. I  tried mixing it with steel cut oats to give my morning cereal a protein boost, but even at a ratio of 3 parts oats for 1 part quinoa I still wasn’t sold. However, with half a pound of the stuff still sitting in my pantry I had to find some way to make use of it. Baking in Sun Oven does wonders for improving the texture and rinsing it a few times more than you’d think necessary helps with the taste. Once cooked, it can be used in salads or in place of rice.

Sun Oven Quinoa

(adapted for the Sun Oven from Beyond Salmon)


1 cup quinoa, thoroughly rinsed and drained

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup boiling water


Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Have ready two sheets of aluminum foil and a dark dish towel. Put the drained quinoa in a pot. Sprinkle with salt. Pour the boiling water over the quinoa and quickly cover tightly with the foil. Cover with the dish towel and a lid. Transfer to the Sun Oven and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove from the Sun Oven. Remove the foil, replace the dish towel over the pot cover with the lid. Let rest 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Sneaky Mac and Cheese with Tofu

Tofu Mac and Cheese

It’s the end of the year and time for something new. This week I’ll be experimenting with some of my least favorite foods. Not the ones I can’t stand. The ones I don’t really care for. The ones I’ll politely eat if I’m a guest but rarely, if ever, prepare at home. Among those foods, tofu used to at the top of my list. Over the past year I’ve learned to use it as an hidden ingredient and it’s lost its most disliked food status, but it still makes the top 10.

Silken Tofu Mac and Cheese

(adapted for the Sun Oven from


9 ounces (dry) pasta, cooked according to the package directions until al dente, drained

12 ounces cauliflower florets, steamed or microwaved until soft

1 carton (12-ounces) silken tofu

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup milk, hot

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs


Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Coat a baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.

Put the steamed cauliflower, ricotta, and Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Add the Cheddar, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper and process again until smooth. Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl and pour the sauce over it. Stir well than spread the mixture out in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the pasta. Cover the pan with another baking pan or lid and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until bubbly and golden on top. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Rice, Lentils, and Onions Lebanese Style


This Lebanese style lentil dish is best served straight out of the Sun Oven and despite the fact that it has more active steps than most solar recipes, if you get it going early it will be ready in time for lunch.

Rice and Lentils with Caramelized Onions (Mujadara)


1 cup brown dry brown lentils, picked over and rinsed

1/4 cup olive oil

3 onions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cinnamon stick

3/4 cup uncooked basmati rice

salt and pepper to taste

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Put the lentils in a medium pot and cover with water by 1 inch. In a separate pot, toss the onions with the olive oil to coat. Season with salt. Stack the pots with the one with the onions on top, cover the top pot, and transfer both to the Sun Oven. Cook until the lentils are soft but non falling apart and the onions are golden, 45 minutes to 1 hour for the lentils, up to 2 hours for the onions. While the onions and lentils are cooking toast the cumin seeds in a small pan over medium-high heat, stirring often, until fragrant; about 30 seconds. Set aside. When the lentils are ready, bring the pot in, leaving to onions to cook more. Drain the lentils reserving the cooking liquid; set aside. When the onions are golden bring them inside; leave the Sun Oven out. Use tongs to transfer 1/2 of the cooked onions to a bowl; set aside. Add enough water to the reserved lentil cooking liquid to measure 2 cups and bring it to a boil in a sauce pan. Heat the pot with the remaining onions over medium heat. Stir the cumin, cayenne, toasted cumin seeds, and cinnamon stick into the onions. Stir the rice into the onion mixture. Add the hot water and cooking liquid mixture. Cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes (do not over cook). Stir in the lentils and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Top with reserved onions. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.



Vegetarian Chickpea Curry Pie

Curry Chickpea Pie

The easiest way to make this savory, vegetarian pie is in a skillet, but make sure yours fits in the Sun Oven. If not, bake it in a pie tin.

Curried Chickpea Pot Pie


2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely chopped

8 ounces white mushroom, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups frozen chopped mixed vegetables

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon mild curry powder

1 1/2 cups previously cooked chickpeas or 1 (15-ounce) can drained and rinsed

salt to taste

1 refrigerated pie crust


Set Sun Oven out to preheat.


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