We asked eight of Mill Valley’s best chefs and restaurateurs to share their healthy, weeknight favorites, from Summer to Spring. They gave us delicious, easy to follow recipes you can make at home. ​Curated by Susan Lopes. Photos by The Image Flow.


Felicia Ferguson – Co-owner, Piazza D’Angelo


Piazza D’Angelo co-owners Luigi Petrone and Felicia Ferguson. Photo by The Image Flow.

“Visit your local Farmers’ Market for squash blossoms which typically hit the stands later in the summer. You can also pick up fresh basil to make your basil pesto.” ​​–Felicia Ferguson, Piazza D’Angelo.
Fiori di Zucca (Fried Squash Blossoms)
4 small squash blossom flowers
4 oz burrata cheese
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sparkling water
Canola oil for fryer
1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed & dried
2 medium cloves of garlic
2 T pine nuts
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Basil Pesto
1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed & dried
2 medium cloves of garlic
2 T pine nuts
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Crush garlic using a mortar and pestle. Add pine nuts; crush with the garlic. Add basil leaves gradually, making circular movements with the pestle, until a smooth paste forms. Mix in Parmigiano cheese using wooden spoon. Stir in olive oil until pesto is blended. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can also use a food processor or blender. Set aside.

José Miguel Smith – Head Chef and Operations Manager, Parranga


Parranga Head Chef and Operations Manager Jose Miguel Smith. Photo by The Image Flow.

Recommend serving with tortilla chips and or tostadas (also lettuce wraps). As a condiment, we recommend Tapatio hot sauce for the spicy lovers. Steamed white rice (this sounds wacky) yet in countries like Peru, this is a common way. Also make sure to add some of the agua chile to the rice to have the whole experience.” –Jose Miguel Smith, Parranga
Summer Ceviche
Aguachile (citrus marinade)
2 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 cups fresh squeezed lime juice
​2 jalapeño peppers
1 serrano pepper
1/2 T dried oregano
1 whole English cucumber (unpeeled)
1 T olive oil
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 T ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients and blend in blender.
Strain marinade through a fine strainer. Set aside.
1/2 red onion, sliced thin lengthwise
1/2 cucumber, medium dice
3 oranges, peel then carefully take out the segments one by one
1 small jicama, peeled then cut into medium dice
12 cilantro springs, chopped
2 avocados, small dice


5 lb fresh rock cod, skinless & boneless, cut to small cubes
We use this at the restaurant and recommend it for the nice meat that will cook fast and be nice and tender.


Gordon Drysdale – Executive Chef, Sweetwater Café


Sweetwater Cafe Executive Chef Gordon Drysdale. Photo by Barbara Haze.

​“To round out the meal, all that this light-yet-hearty meal would require is perhaps a simple hot vegetable side dish. A great one for Autumn would be sweet corn, cut off the cob, and sautéed with butter, salt and pepper. –Gordon Drysdale, Sweetwater Music Hall & Cafe
Heirloom Chile and Cabbage Salad with Spice-seared White Tuna
yield:  4 ppl.

Ginger Vinaigrette:
3 T. minced fresh ginger
3 T. minced fresh garlic
3 T. “red boat” fish sauce
2 T. sugar
1 c. rice vinegar
1 T. kosher salt

1 tsp. fresh black pepper
½ c. grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
¼ c. olive oil

Mix first eight ingredients in a bowl and let macerate for 45-60 minutes. After macerating slowly drizzle in oils while whisking, cover and refrigerate.

1 ea. small napa cabbage, sliced
​2 ea. roasted, peeled red bell peppers, sliced
2 ea. gypsy peppers. roasted, peeled and sliced
2 ea. Italian frying peppers, roasted, peeled and sliced
herbs: basil, mint and cilantro torn in big pieces or whole leaves
optional: one sliced spring (or other sweet) onion

Heather Hardcastle – Owner, Flour Craft Bakery


Flour Craft Bakery Owner Heather Hardcastle. Photo by The Image Flow.

“This is a simple, fall-themed soup that is quick & easy, comforting, and perfect for any busy weeknight. I’d suggest serving with a simple salad and our FC focaccia for dipping into the soup. If you’d like a protein, roasted chicken or salmon would be great alongside. The soup also makes a good starter for a fall holiday meal (Thanksgiving). The soup is creamy and delicious, and just so happens to be vegan.” Heather Hardcastle, Flour Craft Bakery
Curried Butternut Squash & Apple Soup
Butternut Squash    1 large/ @2#
Apples, any variety    2 medium
Leeks        2 medium
​Vegetable Stock    4 cups
Curry Powder    1 T
Kosher Salt     2 tsp    
Ground Black Pepper    1 tsp
Olive Oil        3 T
Light Coconut Milk    1, 15 oz can

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2. Peel, seed, & dice both butternut squash & apple into 1” cubes. Wash leeks thoroughly. Trim off roots and dark green tops. Slice leeks half lengthwise then slice into 1” half-moon pieces.

​3. Arrange vegetables & apples on the baking sheet. Season with curry powder, salt & pepper. Drizzle with 2 TB olive oil.  Toss everything to combine. Spread vegetables into an even layer on the baking sheet, allowing as much space as possible between the pieces. Roast apples/ vegetables for 25 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.

4. Heat 1 TB olive oil into a 5–quart dutch oven or stockpot. Add roasted apples & vegetables. Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes, just to reheat and distribute spices. Cover with vegetable stock. If stock is not enough to cover the vegetables by 1”, add enough water to do so. Cook soup for 15 minutes until flavors combine and vegetables are fully cooked through.

5. Transfer soup to a blender, working in batches if needed. Puree soup until smooth. Pour pureed soup back into stockpot and add coconut milk. Stir to combine and adjust seasonings as needed.


Peter Schumacher – Owner, Bungalow 44, Playa & Buckeye Roadhouse


Peter Schumacher, Owner, Playa, Bungalow 44 & Buckeye Roadhouse. Photo by The Image Flow.

“This is a very simple if slightly stove-intensive dinner. I use a slightly spicy sausage, but the hot varieties work as well, and always the richest chicken stock available — sometimes adding bouillon to my homemade stock for the extra oomph it provides. The key is stirring, stirring, stirring the rice as you add the stock, taking care to incorporate each ladleful entirely into the rice before adding more. Taste often at the end. Adjust the seasoning as you like. The trick is not to use too much liquid as the rice will overcook.” –Peter Schumacher
Grilled Broccolini and Chorizo Risotto

Serves 3-4
About 3-4 cups of chicken stock
2 medium size chorizo sausages
1 pasilla pepper
​A bit of chili pepper diced
1 large bunch of broccolini or asparagus (early Spring), about 1 pound
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup of Arborio rice
1/2 cup of dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup of parmesan or pecorino cheese

Grill the broccolini or asparagus, chorizo and pepper separately, giving them nice color. Vegetable should be firm.

Cut sausage, pepper and vegetable into ½ inch pieces and put aside.
​Separately heat olive oil in a flat pan. Sauté onions and garlic until golden brown. Add the rice and sauté for 1 minute. Pour wine over rice, deglazing, and let wine almost evaporate. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and stir until rice soaks up most of the liquid. Keep stirring so rice doesn’t burn.
HERE YOU HAVE TWO CHOICES: finish the dish or do what I do: stop the cooking process and put the rice on a flat sheet pan to cool down and stop cooking process. I do this ahead of time before guests arrive so I have very little to do and have more time to entertain.”
10 minutes before dinner, heat 1 cup chicken stock in same flat pan as before. Add rice and keep cooking. Add more stock until rice is al dente or the hardness you like.
Add vegetables, chorizo, a little more stock to keep the rice moist, butter and all of the cheese. Stir.
Serve in a large bowl and serve with a simple frisee salad with vinaigrette.

Maria Aversa – Owner/Founder, La Ginestra


La Ginestra Owner/Founder Maria Aversa. Photo by The Image Flow.

“I started La Ginestra in Mill Valley with my husband, Sal, 55 years ago, on Mothers’ Day in 1964. Nearly every night that we are open, I have a late dinner in the restaurant with at least one of my three children (Tino, Lucia and Fabio) who help me run the restaurant.  My children and grandchildren are all grown now, so I chuckled when I was asked to create a dish for when I eat dinner at home, as I rarely eat at home these days. But, I still love to cook, and I especially like to cook for holidays and special occasions. When I first came to San Francisco from Italy in 1955, I was a cook in the kitchen of the French Consulate. The Consul General’s family always enjoyed soups during the cold months, and this is where I learned how to make a variety of delicious soups for dinner. Even now, at the start of every dinner party, I enjoy serving a small bowl of homemade soup. The soups vary based on the season, but for the winter, I love Carrot Ginger soup. At La Ginestra, we typically have a special soup of the day in the Fall and Winter that is very similar to this recipe.” –Maria Aversa, La Ginestra
Carrot Ginger Soup
Serves four to six people

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks thinly sliced, including the light green tender parts
Six carrots (1 lb), peeled and thinly sliced
1 potato (1/2 lb) – red or white, peeled and coarsely diced
1 ½ teaspoons freshly peeled grated ginger
5 cups of homemade broth (chicken or vegetable)
½ cup of fresh orange juice
Grated orange zest
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

​Gently sauté the leeks in the olive oil (about 3 minutes).  Then add the carrots, potato and ginger, and continue sautéing until the vegetables have softened (about 5 minutes).
Add the broth, cover partially, and simmer until the vegetables are completely soft (about 20 minutes).
Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender (or a regular blender), and blend until the desired consistency is achieved.
Return the soup to low heat, and add the orange juice and zest.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle into soup cups or bowls and serve. Enjoy!


Neka Pasquale Lac – Founder/President, Urban Remedy


Urban Remedy Founder Neka Pasquale Lac. Courtesy photo.

“If you have eaten a high-fat diet in the past, the lemon juice here will be good for you because of its cleansing ability. The asparagus, which is warming, a natural diuretic, and benefits the kidneys, is also a healthful addition to your diet. This
recipe would go well with roast chicken and a light spring salad.” –Neka Pasquale Lac, Urban Remedy
Steamed Asparagus with Chopped Egg, Tarragon and Lemon
2 servings

1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut stalks on the diagonal into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
2 organic eggs from pastured hens
3 T chopped fresh tarragon
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt

Pour filtered water to a depth of 3 inches (7.5 cm) into the base of a steamer and bring to a boil. Arrange the asparagus on the steamer rack, cover, and steam until tender but still crunchy, 4—6 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the eggs in a saucepan, add filtered water to cover, and place over high heat. As soon as the water reaches a brisk simmer, turn off the heat. Let the eggs stand in the water for 4 1/2 minutes. The eggs should be soft boiled. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and place under cold running water until the eggs are cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and chop them.
In a bowl, combine the warm asparagus, eggs, tarragon, lemon juice, oil, and salt and toss to mix well.

Ged Robertson – Proprietor, Watershed, Bootjack Wood Fired (formerly Pizza Molina) & Shoreline Coffee Shop


Ged Robertson, proprietor, Watershed, Bootjack Wood Fired and Shoreline Coffee Shop. Photo by The Image Flow.

“Often dishes that end up in a restaurant get cooked at home in some variation first. Early Spring is an excellent time to combine winter veggies with those just returning again to the Farmers Markets like asparagus and pea shoots. Be creative – pick up anything that speaks to you. It’s also a time to fire up the grill for a nice piece of fish. This is an easy variation of a Niçoise salad that Chef Kyle and I have been enjoying recently as we undertake the endless task of picking the absolute perfect Sancerre for this dish at Watershed.” –Ged Robertson, Watershed, Bootjack Wood Fired, Shoreline Coffee Shop
Watershed Grilled Yellowtail Salad
Grilled Yellowtail
Marinated flageolet beans
Grilled asparagus
Butterball potato
Pea shoot, frisée, radish salad
7 minute egg (optional)
Mustard vinaigrette
Mustard Vin:
1 T Dijon
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 spring onion, thinly sliced, preferably on a mandoline