Recipes for Common Meals

An old collection to which we'd love to see new additions! Contact us


April 2007: Carin's New Mexican Sweet Dream Cookies

Sandy in the kitchen
Sandy, our new food editor, with her daughter and friends

I am excited about the prospect of creating a way for communities to share recipes and ideas for making common meals fun and easy. This column is a starting place. With it I hope to share tried-and-true recipes that work for common meals. In addition to the recipe you see here, we are asking you for your community’s favorite recipes for use in this column and eventually for use in an official Coho/US common meals cookbook. We have also set up a chat group you can join. The chat group is where those interested can discuss kitchen set-up, meal plans or any other aspect of common meal cooking and dining.

With this first recipe I want to give you a little taste of my life. I have three kids. Kids love cookies. They love to bake as well as eat them. I live in a community where contrasts abound. People are different, and the blending of our differences makes something sweet and special. This recipe contains something sweet, something salty and something spicy – like my community. It is from my neighbor across the path, Carin Garcia, who owns Exquisite Catering and is a fabulous cook. I have made these cookies for many common meals and there are never any left over. So if you want to take out a couple for the mail lady, you had better do it beforehand. Try these for your next common meal and watch the smiles appear on young and old alike!

Carin's New Mexican Sweet Dream Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen medium-sized cookies

1 cup butter
1–1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed (or 3/4 cup maple syrup)
1 egg
2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon New Mexican (or other) red powdered chili
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 cup pinon nuts (or walnuts) chopped (optional)
1 12-ounce package of chocolate chips
1 teaspoon Mexican (or other) vanilla
Confectioners sugar

Cream the butter, add brown sugar and egg, and beat well. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, spices and chili and blend well. Combine dry ingredients with the butter mixture. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Add vanilla. Chill for 2–3 hours. Form into 1-inch balls and roll in the confectioners sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 8–10 minutes.


April 2008: Smoked Cheese and Onion Quiche & Caesar Salad

A common meal at Swan's MarketHere are a couple of great recipes from Bonnie Fergusson. Bonnie, 64, works in the lab at the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic in San Francisco. She lives with her husband Stephen, a technical writer, in the very urban Swan's Market cohousing community, located in the middle of downtown Oakland. She says, “There's a farmers market that happens every Friday morning just outside our door, which makes finding fresh produce easy. And living on the edge of Oakland's Chinatown means we have access to lots of Asian specialty foods, as well. Our common dinners are definitely a main part of the social glue that holds our community together. They are very well attended.”

Try these recipes together for a complete meal.

Smoked Cheese and Onion Quiche
(variation of a recipe from Tassajara, by Edward Espe Brown)

1 uncooked pie shell
Dijon mustard
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup grated smoked Gouda (or other smoked cheese)
½ cup grated parmesan
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 eggs (or 1 egg plus 3 egg whites)
Tabasco sauce
½ cup milk plus ½ cup half-and-half

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cook the onion in a little olive oil slowly until nicely browned.

Spread the mustard generously on the uncooked pie shell. Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the mustard.

Sauté the mushrooms for a few minutes. Spread the cooked onion and mushrooms over the cheeses.

Beat the eggs in a bowl. Whisk in the milk, half-and-half, and a dash of Tabasco. Pour the mixture over the vegetables and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Then lower temperature to 350, and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

For another variation, omit the onions and sauté 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach with the mushrooms.

Caesar Salad for 4 to 6

Vegetarian eggless dressing:

½ cup good olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp. Nayonnaise (eggless spread made with soy oil) or light mayo
3 tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper to taste


1 cup fresh bread cut into ½-inch cubes
good olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)


Romaine lettuce leaves
Radicchio leaves
Thin red onion slices

Dressing: Mix the garlic into the olive oil. Let it sit at room temperature for at least one hour until the garlic flavor infuses the oil. Blend the remaining ingredients into the garlic-olive oil mixture at the last minute, just before using.

Croutons: Mix the garlic into the olive oil and let sit for one hour, as above (optional). Drizzle the olive oil over the bread cubes. Toss the cubes until they are evenly coated, then spread them on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.

Toss the salad ingredients with the croutons and dressing, and serve.


August 2007: Sesame Noodles

Buffet with noodles
Mary’s Sesame Noodles was a hit at a recent Friday night potluck.

This month I have a great sesame noodle recipe that can be served hot, warm or cold. It’s easy, inexpensive and a whole meal by itself. This recipe comes from Mary, one of our members who keeps busy with two teenage kids and doesn’t make it to common meals all the time. But when Mary cooks, people sign up to eat! She also likes to serve up root beer floats, which may add to her popularity. If you are looking for a crowd-pleasing meal that doesn’t take all day to prepare, this is it. I made it for our Friday night potluck tonight and it was delicious.

Sesame Noodles
Serves 10

2 lbs. grilled chicken or tofu, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 lbs. of spaghetti, cooked and drained
3 big heads of lettuce, torn into pieces

For the sauce, mix together:

1/2 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine or 1/3 cup salt-free broth
4 cloves garlic, pressed or crushed

To serve, start with some lettuce, pile on some of the spaghetti noodles, add a couple of spoonfuls of the diced chicken or tofu, and spoon a little sauce over it all. Go easy on the sauce – a little goes a long way!

Now you have a plate full of great flavors.


December 2007: Pasta Rustica

Lynne McGee

This recipe is a hearty winter pasta. It's not vegetarian, wheat-free, or dairy-free, but it sure is good.

I asked Lynne McGee if I could use it for the column because it is a favorite here at Heartwood Cohousing. Lynne is one of our founding members and I have had many, many great meals cooked by her. In fact I just had one tonight and it was terrific. We usually serve this with a great big green salad and some good sourdough bread. Bring a glass of nice red wine to dinner, watch the snow softly fall outside the window and enjoy a really soul-warming meal.

Pasta Rustica
from, contributed by Lynn McGee of Heartwood Cohousing
Serves 15

4 Tbsp. oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds sausage (bulk or remove casing)

2 tsp. basil
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 28oz. cans diced tomatoes

2 lbs. penne pasta cooked al dente
30 oz. ricotta or cottage cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Heat oil and saute onion for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add sausage and cook until it is no longer pink. Add spices and tomatoes and simmer 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Oil a baking dish. Toss the pasta, the sauce and the first two cheeses together. Top with Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve piping hot.


February 2008: Lisa’s Dream Chocolate Cake

This recipe was submitted by a woman with a dream of creating cohousing, and I would like to dedicate it to all those out there working to make that happen. Here are a few maxims about creating cohousing that you can think about. How the maxims apply to making the cake appears in parentheses.

Lisa’s Dream Chocolate Cake

    You need to think big. (This recipe serves 100.)

    You have to break a few eggs to make a cake. (This one calls for 20.)

    Take it in steps. (Mix half a batch at a time.)

    It's expensive. (No need for comment.)

    Celebrate! (Once cooled, top with whipped cream and enjoy!)

Make this cake and celebrate the dream that it took to make your community. Have a party. Make a community collage of your dream of community.

Lisa’s Dream Chocolate Cake

Servings: 100

3 pounds all-purpose flour
4 pounds granulated sugar
2-1/4 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons baking powder
1 pound unsweetened cocoa powder
6 ounces nonfat dry milk
4-1/4 cups shortening
6-2/3 cups water
20 eggs
4 tablespoons vanilla

Blend flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cocoa and dry milk together in a large mixing bowl. Add shortening and 4-2/3 cups water (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) to dry ingredients. Beat until well blended. Scrape down the bowl and beat again at a faster pace for 2 minutes. Combine eggs, remaining 2 cups of water and the vanilla. Add this slowly to the creamed mixture while continuing to beat. Once it has been incorporated, beat for another 3 minutes.

Divide the batter into two greased and floured 18x26” sheet pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees. Once cooled, top with icing or whipped cream.


January 2008: Cream biscuits

Here is a great and really versatile recipe from Linda Parsons of Bartimaeus Cohousing (Seattle, WA). It is so simple to make and easy to increase or decrease for different-sized groups. The recipe eliminates the need to cut butter into the flour mixture; the heavy cream provides the butterfat. Biscuit dough can be cut with a knife to form square biscuit shapes to save time.

The biscuits are light and fluffy. You can vary the recipe by using fresh herbs, grated cheese, crystallized ginger, or use your imagination. The only drawback to making these is that it is hard to keep the kids from taking too many!

Serve them with stews, chicken, soups and breakfasts.

Cream Biscuits
32 Biscuits

8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
4 teaspoons table salt
6 cups heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack(s) to upper-middle position, and heat oven to 425 Degrees F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in one or more bowls. Add 5 cups of cream and stir with a wooden spoon about 30 seconds until dough forms. Transfer dough from bowl to countertop, leaving all dry, floury bits in the bowl. One tablespoon at a time, add up to 1 cup of cream to dry bits in the bowl, mixing with a wooden spoon after each addition, until moistened. Add these moistened bits to the rest of the dough, and knead by hand just until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Note: Kneading can be difficult when working with large amounts.

3. Shape the dough into large rounds, 3/4-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to make traditional rounds or cut into shapes with a knife. Place biscuits on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking.

It is important to bake the biscuits immediately after cutting them. Letting the dough stand for any length of time can decrease the leavening power and thus prevent the biscuits from rising properly in the oven.


July 2007: Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad

corn on the cobIn the summer here at Heartwood, common meals become more casual. Lots of people come and go on trips, so spontaneous gatherings often occur to welcome home weary travelers. The grill gets fired up, and people come to the terrace with something to contribute.

This recipe for Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad is great for those summer potlucks and Fourth of July parties. It’s fast, easy and tastes even better made a day ahead. If you do make it ahead of time, save a little of the dressing to add before serving to brighten it up. We serve it for common meals with burritos, enchiladas or anything Mexican. Cut up a big ole watermelon for dessert.

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salad
Serves 10

Thaw 1 pound of frozen corn, and tossed in 2-3 tablespoons of oil; roast in a 450-degree oven for 18-22 minutes stirring every 5-10 minutes.

Cook 2 cups of brown rice according to package directions and cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 15-oz. cans of black beans drained and rinsed.

Add roasted corn and rice. Mix well.

1/2 Tbsp salt
1 teaspoon cumin
6 Tbsp fresh lime
5 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
Add dressing to corn and bean mixture. Toss and serve.


June 2007: Sandy's Scramble

Brunch at Heartwood
One of Heartwood’s younger contingents enjoys a spring brunch outdoors.

I want to thank those of you who have sent me recipes. I really appreciate it and will try to use them in future articles. I still need many more, so don’t be shy!

This month, I want to share one of the more popular meals-of-the-month here at Heartwood. Each month, we do a brunch. It starts at 11:00 am and is very relaxed, with people coming in early for coffee and sitting for a long time afterward, chatting. It is especially nice in the spring when we put tables outside and soak up the sun on the terrace.

This recipe features Laurie’s goat cheese. Laurie lives at Heartwood, and she trades a massage for her goat milk which she makes into a magical cheese. I'm lucky because we have been friends for 11 years, and I get first dibs on the cheese, which always goes fast! Our daughters (shown in the photo) have been playing together since they were born.

Our community’s last brunch featured scrambled eggs with Laurie’s goat cheese, roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil; English muffins with jam; asparagus; fruit salad; coffee and OJ. The following recipe is my own for a special scrambled egg dish:

Sandy’s Scramble
Serves 25 adults

3 lbs of Roma or large cherry tomatoes
8-12 oz of soft goat cheese
1 large bunch of fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
Olive oil
Salt, kosher or regular
6 dozen eggs
1 cup of milk
Black pepper

A couple of hours before the brunch, roast the tomatoes by cutting them in half and putting them on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spray them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 325 degrees for about an hour, depending on the size of the tomatoes. Baking enhances the flavor and cuts down on the juices that would tend to make the eggs runny. When the tomatoes are done roasting, chop them and put them in a bowl with the chopped fresh basil and Italian seasoning. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and set aside.

Cut the goat cheese into half-inch cubes; set aside.

Put the eggs in a bowl, and add milk and black pepper. Whisk until the eggs are broken and beaten.

Heat a large skillet or wok. Put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in it and add the eggs. Scramble them until they are about three-quarters done. Add the tomato mixture and finish cooking. Turn off the heat, add the goat cheese, and serve hot.


June 2008: Sweet and Sour Lentils

Here is a recipe from Ronnie Rosenbaum who is an original member of Harmony Village and was involved in the early planning for that cohousing community in Golden, CO. When she moved in 11 years ago, her children were in high school. They are now “on their own,” with a son-in-law and granddaughter added to the family. Living in cohousing has given Ronnie an extended family to lessen the impact of being an empty nester. After many years as a leader in nonprofit management, Ronnie is now a facilitator and mediator specializing in family, community and work place issues.

Harmony Village has five meal teams, all of which cook great meals. Ronnie insists that her team – Wonder Women and Giles – is the best organized and most efficient! This recipe is an example of an easy, nutritious and delicious main dish that fits with most food preferences.

Sweet and Sour Lentils
Six servings of ½ cup each

An excellent meatless meal served with whole-wheat bread and vegetable sticks.

2-1/2 cups chicken broth (or vegetarian broth to make it genuinely vegetarian)
1 cup red or green lentils
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. oil
4 - 6 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-1/2 to 2 Tbsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley or cilantro, minced
Lettuce leaves

Heat broth and lentils in 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 - 30 minutes until lentils are done, but haven't lost their shape. Saute the onion in the oil and then stir it in with the remaining ingredients, first adding the lesser amounts of lemon juice and sugar and increasing their amounts for desired flavor. Stir carefully. Sprinkle with paprika. Serve warm or cold on a bed of lettuce leaves.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes


March 2008: Green Beans with Tomatoes and Basil

A Veggie Dish Even the Kids Will Love

Here is a recipe from Douglas Larson, a single dad who has lived at Songaia for seven years now. He enjoys working in Songaia’s expansive garden. He has an almost 13-year-old daughter, Risa, who loves Songaia as much as he does. But the thing he likes the most is cooking for his community. “It truly gives me energy to bring healthy, nutritious and delicious meals to our community,” Douglas says.

Songaia Cohousing is a community of 13 families (36 people) living on 10 acres in Bothell, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. They love to sing and have many activities throughout the year that have become traditions. They celebrate the seasons at solstices and equinoxes. One of their most treasured events is the Earth Day/May Day celebration in late April or early May when they do a maypole dance and celebrate the earth.

This really is a veggie dish that even the kids will love.

Green Beans with Tomatoes and Basil
Serves 4 to 6

Preparation time: 20 – 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 – 40 minutes

2 lbs. green beans, ends trimmed off and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small carrot, chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes or chunky tomato sauce
4 fresh basil leaves or 1 tsp dried basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Trim and cut the beans. Place in a steamer over boiling water and steam until almost done, about 15 minutes.

While the beans steam, chop the carrot, onion and garlic. Put the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped carrot, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 15 minutes.

Add the steamed beans, the basil, the chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Turn down the heat slightly and cook until the beans are fully done and the flavors have blended, about 20 minutes.


May 2007: Moroccan Chicken

Liz with her Moroccan Chicken

My birthday is May first and last year we had a big Moroccan belly dancing party for all the girls and women in our community. It is in that spirit that I present this exotic blend of tastes and ingredients. “Moroccan chicken” was adapted from the Silver Palette Good Times Cookbook. We had this dish again last night at our common meal, served with white and brown rice and a beautiful salad with spring greens, carrots, radishes and a colorful sprinkle of calendula petals. For dessert, Liz made an outrageous Espresso Flan while the kids and non-dairy folks enjoyed fresh pineapple. The menu got rave reviews with comments like “Everything tastes so goooood!” and “The flavors blend so well together.”

Moroccan Chicken
Serves 25 adults

~54 pieces of chicken (we used thighs and drumsticks)
1 head garlic
8 Tbsp thyme
4 Tbsp cumin
5 tsp ground ginger
4 tsp salt
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups olive oil
1 small jar green peppercorns packed in water, drained
4 cups pitted kalamata olives
5 cups dried apricots, coarsely chopped
4 cups black seedless table grapes
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups Madeira
Zest of 6 lemons

The day before, combine the chicken, garlic, spices, vinegar, oil, peppercorns, olives and fruit in a large bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

About 2 hours before serving, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in two large shallow baking pans with sides high enough to hold all the juices (not cookie sheets). Spoon marinade over the chicken. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pour Madeira between the pieces.

Cover the pans with aluminum foil. Using convection heat, if you have it, bake for one hour. Remove foil and bake another 15 to 30 minutes. If you don’t have convection in your oven, it will take a little longer. Cooking time depends on how crowded the pans are. Check to make sure the chicken is done by cutting into a piece.

Before serving, drizzle with pan juices and sprinkle with lemon zest.


November 2007: Giving Thanks

This month I thought I would focus on “giving thanks.” I would love to hear from other communities about how they give thanks before meals or on other occasions. So if you have a nice blessing that your community uses before a meal or some other way that your community expresses gratitude, write to me at sandy [at] heartwoodcohousing [dot] com.

At Heartwood, we all gather around the food, hold hands, acknowledge the cooks, and introduce the guests. One of the cooks leads us in a blessing or a moment of silence.

Here are a few favorites:

The silver rain.
The golden sun.
The fields where scarlet poppies run.
And all the ripples of the wheat
are in the food that we do eat.

So when we sit for every meal
and we say grace we always feel
that we are eating rain and sun
and fields where scarlet poppies run.

This one is Ben and Charlie's favorites (two of the community’s little blond balls of energy, ages 8 and 10):

Thank you for this food, this food, this glorious, glorious food.
And the animals, and the vegetables and the minerals that make it possible.

(It loses something without the tune but if you give me a call, I'll sing it to you.)

One more:

Thank you for this food before us.
Thank you for the friends beside us.
Thank you for the love between us.
Thank you.

I hope you all have a Thanksgiving full of good food, fun and friendship.


October 2007: Doug's Famous Lentil Loaf

Common Meal
Dinner at Ecovillage at Ithaca

My plan with this column is to feature recipes from cohousing communities around the world to create a cookbook we can all use, with the proceeds going to the Cohousing Association. If that idea seems worthwhile to you, please take a moment to send me your favorite recipe for a common meal. If every reader would send one recipe, we would have a cookbook! You don't have to be the best cook in your community. I’m looking for a wide variety of recipes that work well for common meals of all sizes.

This month, I received a recipe from Doug Shire, one of the First Residents Group (FRoG) at EcoVillage in Ithaca. EcoVillage at Ithaca is a cohousing community of some 60 households in two adjacent neighborhoods on 176 acres of organic farms, fields and woods in upstate New York. In addition to housing, the mission of the affiliated nonprofit organization is to provide practical, hands-on sustainability education and inspiration to people worldwide seeking to live more lightly on the land. Outreach to and affiliations with local colleges have also provided valuable training to future leaders.

This recipe was inspired by one found in an obscure vegan cookbook. It was adapted to make use of leftovers from prior meals: “These can often be added to the dish without changing its essential savory flavors.”

Doug's Famous Lentil Loaf
(inspired by the cookbook Ten Talents)
Serves about 60

8 cups dried red lentils
6 lbs. carrots
5 lbs. onions
1 bunch celery
4 small cans tomato paste
1/2 cup olive oil
2–1/2 lbs. bread crumbs
1/4 cup dried parsley
1/2 cup ground sage
1/4 cup rosemary
1/4 cup ground thyme
1/4 cup garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 4 lbs. mozzarella cheese topping

Simple cashew gravy:

4 cups raw cashew pieces
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tamari

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the lentils and cook in about 16 cups of water in a large pot until done.

Meanwhile, chop onions and celery and grate carrots into a second pot. Sauté vegetables until the onions are clear. Transfer them into the pot with the cooked lentils. Add tomato paste and spices. At this point, if you are preparing a wheat-free option, reserve some of this lentil “soup”.

Add bread crumbs to the pot and mix. The resulting mixture should have some body and not be excessively soupy. If it is too liquid, add more bread crumbs. At EcoVillage, leftover bread from the freezer is used for this purpose; it can easily be grated in a food processor while still frozen.

Transfer the casserole into large baking pans, top with cheese slices (optional), and bake at 400 degrees F. for approximately 30 minutes until the cheese begins to form a crust. (Note, this dish will be runnier than your typical “loaf dish”.)

Optional cashew gravy (delicious over brown rice): Blend cashews, lemon juice and tamari with sufficient water to cover the nuts, until a smooth consistency is achieved.

This dish is quite easy and a perennial favorite. It adapts well to substitutions of other vegetables that may be on hand. Prep time is only about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, including baking. This meal is usually served with brown rice and a salad.

To feed large groups, this recipe has been tested many times in the quantities above and works well. Use caution when adding salt.

Thank you, Doug, for this time-tested recipe! Anyone else have a recipe they like to cook for common meals?


September 2007: Yummy Tofu Salad* (Eggless Egg Salad)

Common Meal
A common meal at Swan’s Market Cohousing

This month I’m featuring a recipe, Yummy Tofu Salad, from a California cohousing community. This one is from Joani Blank at Swan's Market Cohousing in Oakland. Joani has been passionate about common meals even longer than I have. I remember going to one of her talks at a cohousing conference before we even had a common house!

She's lucky enough to live a couple of blocks from Oakland’s wonderful Chinatown where firm, fresh tofu can be had for 15 or 16 cents a "cake," making this recipe extremely inexpensive. And conveniently, a single large box of tofu contains 35 cakes, just the right amount for common dinners that typically attract from 24 to 30 diners. For the rest of us, it's still inexpensive, easy to prepare, and can be made ahead of time.

Yummy Tofu Salad* (Eggless Egg Salad)

Firm or extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled or mashed with a fork (about 1 to 1-1/2 cakes per person)
Real mayonnaise or, if preferred, vegan (eggless) “mayonnaise” or extra virgin olive oil
Green onions, chopped fine
Bragg's Liquid Aminos (flavorful gluten-free soy sauce available in your local health food store)

For color and crunch, add yellow and red bell peppers, chopped

Combine all ingredients except the Bragg’s Aminos, mix, and refrigerate until time to serve. Just before serving, add Bragg's for saltiness, and ground pepper to taste.

Serve atop salad greens garnished with green or black olives, or with crackers as a side dish. It also can substitute for egg salad in sandwiches – add a couple of leaves of lettuce and a slice of tomato, or serve it by itself for kids. Joani likes to serve it with hearty, hot vegetable soup in winter and cold soup in summer.

* No specific quantities of ingredients are given because you really can’t go wrong if you start with enough tofu.