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Thunderstorms. The scent of rain on wide, apple-green leaves. Swimming pool chlorine. Fireworks. Fireflies. Family. I learned the midwest in mosaics of child wonder during the weeks we spent in Indiana every summer. My mother grew up in South Bend, daughter of the first female president of Temple Beth El, of the man who was a founder of St. Joseph County’s verdant parks. She and her sisters left South Bend as quickly as they could, seeking out coastlines and warmth in California and the Pacific Northwest. Each summer, though, we’d return to the prodigal midwestern homeland to see my uncles and aunts, my cousins, my grandmother. And despite my parents’ hesitancy, Indiana was a wonderland to me.

South Bend meant grilled cheese sandwiches by the pool after a day of swimming with cousins, ice cream sundaes in front of the tv, absurdly cheesy lasagna with almost no vegetables in sight. It meant running around after dinner to catch fireflies in glass jars, and muddying my feet in the St. Joseph River that ran through my grandmother’s backyard. It meant family—people who looked like me, a recognition I rarely received at home in Hawaii. So as much as my parents lamented the lack of almond milk, spirulina, and filtered water in my grandmother’s house, I relished the change. I had a midwestern heart.

Which is why Shelly Westerhausen’s new cookbook Vegetarian Heartland: Recipes for Life’s Adventures (out June 20, 2017) made me cry as I explored its opening pages. I know that Indiana land that Shelly calls home—the land that inspires her food, the land that speaks so eloquently through each season of recipes in the book.

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Vegetarian Heartland begins with Shelly’s exploration of a vegetarian lifestyle, and the complexities of navigating this in a place that looks more kindly on corndogs than broccoli. But in the process of finding her way to food and cooking routines that nourished her body and mind, Shelly stayed attuned to the traditional outlines of midwestern cuisine. This book is extraordinary in so many ways—from the stunning seasonal snapshots in nature to the crave-worthy recipes—but its greatest triumph (in my humble opinion) is its commitment to honor the place and people from which it comes. Vegetarian Heartland is a love letter to the midwest, and one that makes me feel closer to the region just by thumbing through its pages.

The next thing I noticed bubbling up in me as I flipped through was an overwhelming sense of fun. Vegetarian Heartland is organized both by season and by adventure—from a summertime picnic to an autumnal camp fire to a winter romp in fresh snowfall. Shelly has perfect edible pairings and gorgeous photos to accompany every adventure your heart desires. This is a book you’ll want to keep for yourself and gift to all your friends.

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

The incredible flavors and textures of this roasted vegetable, creamy romesco, and garlicky farro dish are inspired by a springtime trip to the farmers market—drawn out by the perfect balance of salt, acidity, and smoky sweetness of paprika and chili powder. Shelly’s flavor balancing here is pure umami perfection—a feat I feel certain she’s mastered after many years of talking diehard meat-eaters down from their vegetable-phobic ledges. The flavors here are woodsy, elemental, and deeply satisfying.

Even better, Shelly encourages us to use the produce in season at our own markets, providing a flexibility that makes it easy to use this recipe throughout the year—which I know I will.

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

And finally—this romesco sauce! The addition of tender cannellini beans makes it incredibly creamy, a perfect pairing to the crisp-edged roasted vegetables and chewy farro. The recipe makes a bit more sauce than you’ll use for the four servings, and I’m already dreaming up a romesco pizza for dinner this week.

Lucky for me—and even luckier for you—Shelly gave me a copy of Vegetarian Heartland to give away to one reader, along with a delicious artisan barbecue spice blend made by the author herself. I will be picking one winner on May 31st. For a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me one thing you love about the place you’re from. (UPDATE: GIVEAWAY CLOSED! CONGRATS TO ALEXA REHM!)

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro from Vegetarian Heartland

Follow along on Shelly’s Vegetarian Heartland blog tour:

Chronicle Books

Wild Rice Veggie Sliders on A Beautiful Plate

Pimm’s Punch on With Food + Love

Coconut Curry Shakshuka on A Couple Cooks

Don’t forget to leave your comment below to win a copy of Vegetarian Heartland with an artisan blended barbecue spice mix! Can’t wait that long? Preorder your copy today. (UPDATE: GIVEAWAY CLOSED! CONGRATS TO ALEXA REHM!)


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Roasted Vegetables with Creamy Romesco & Farro

Recipe reprinted with permission of the author from Vegetarian Heartland by Shelly Westerhausen, copyright Chronicle Books, 2017.

Servings 4



  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups farro, rinsed (360 grams)
  • 5 cups water (1.2 liters)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


  • 5 cups assorted vegetables (such as yellow onion, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, carrots), cut into 1-in pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lemon


  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
  • 12 ounces roasted red peppers from a water-packed jar, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup slivered raw almonds
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper


To make the farro:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the faro and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the water and 1 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the faro is chewy but still slightly firm, about 30 minutes. Drain any water that hasn't been absorbed.

To make the vegetables:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the assorted vegetables, olive oil, paprika, chili powder, pepper, and salt. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.

  3. Roast, stirring halfway through, until all the vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 30 minutes (I kept mine in closer to 40). Remove from the oven and squeeze the 1/2 lemon over the vegetables.

To make the romesco:

  1. In a high-speed blender or food processor, blend together the beans, roasted red peppers, garlic, almonds, tomato paste, parsley, vinegar, paprika, and pepper flakes. With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and continue to blend until a smooth sauce forms, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

  2. Scoop the farro into bowls and top with the vegetables. Pour 1/2 cup romesco sauce over the top of each serving. Serve immediately.

  • Kristen

    I’m from Minnesota and I LOVE late spring here. Everything is so GREEN and the lakes are gorgeous.
    (btw- this book looks AMAZING!)

  • bonnie

    I’m from California, and I love that we have beautiful beaches, deserts, and mountains.

  • Naomi Lewin

    Would love to win this! I’m from Toronto and what I love most is the cultural diversity 🙂

    • Beautiful! I have yet to visit Toronto, but have heard nothing but wonderful things.

  • Alex

    I’m from Minnesota as well, and I love the sweet anticipation of a good summer thunderstorm. Residing in the PNW now, it’s something I’ve come to miss.

  • Samantha

    hi! I’m from Central Florida. Though I live in the city now, I grew up about 50 miles north.
    I love driving through the countryside of that small town surrounded by orange groves in the spring.
    The heavenly scent of the blossoms fills the crisp air – it seems almost magical.

  • Tawana Garcia

    I was born in Georgia, but came to Texas when I was 2. I adore Texas because we have just about every season and terrain in one huge state. I love that we are a melting pot of every race and have a fantastic restaurant scence. Texas is pretty amazing!

    • Beautiful! I love seeing all this Texas love here (several others have commented from Texas, too!). One of my best friends lives in Austin, and I’ve had the chance to explore much of the state—it’s beautiful!!

  • Diana Brillhart

    I’m from Portland, Oregon and I love how fresh everything smells after it rains for 83 days in a row and we finally get to see the sun!

    Moving to the south next month and I’m going to miss it tons 😩😭

    • Amazing!! I’m going to Portland in September for the first time ever and am so excited to explore. Wishing you a safe and happy move!

  • Michelle Hanley

    I’m from Waco, Texas – a place I used to have to describe as “halfway between Austin and Dallas”. But I think most people have heard it of now.

    It’s so hard to pick a favorite thing about Waco. It could be the Farmer’s Market (now in front of our beautiful courthouse), community workouts at CrossfitWaco, paddle boarding on the river, or whiling away an afternoon shopping at Spice. But I think it’s mostly a feel – something I didn’t appreciate until I moved home. Waco is family and friends and people who genuinely want to know the answer when they ask, “How are yew?”

  • Kelcee

    I haven’t always liked California, but over time I’ve learned how cool it is to be able to have the beach, desert, mountains, city, etc. all within about an hour of where I live! I love having the ability to explore something new every day.

  • Liese Davenport

    I have recently started to eat more vegetarian for health reasons and for my love of fruits and veggies! I recently discovered your book at Barnes and Noble 😊 All your recipes look so delicious, and I’m so excited to start making them 🙌🏻 Also, I cannot wait to get Shelly’s book! I’ve lived in VA all my life, and I love it!! I wouldn’t want to move anywhere else. Although I live in Virginia Beach, Richmond is my favorite place. It is full of musuems, historic sites, and amazing cuisine! There are both rural and city areas, so you can always escape to one or the other when your heart desires!

    • Hi Liese!! I’m so, so happy to hear that you found Kale & Caramel at B&N, and that you’re enjoying it! YAY. Wonderful. I know you’ll love Shelly’s book, too. Virginia sounds like a beautiful haven—what a sweet place to call home.

  • Angel Kendrick

    I am from Rochester NY and we have the most magical autumn season here,apples pumpkins galore and beautiful parks all around to kick around the leaves.

    • AMAZING!!! What sweet, cozy fun. I love that time of year in New England—it’s pure magic. The light! Amber beauty.

  • Sarah S

    I’m from Wisconsin. I have the fondest memories of picking barrels of apples and buckets of cherries, eating more with sticky fingers in the orchard than we ended up taking home. Then making jars of jam and pies from my grandmas recipes.

    • This sounds like absolute heaven. Do you still do this?! Can I come?! Ha. Such sweet memories.

  • Jennifer Essad

    when I cook using the ingredients such as the ones in your recipe I think the meal is more eye appealing. Growing up we always had a garden and our parents let us pick vegetables and strawberries or blueberries and eat them as we did. There’s nothing better than fresh produce

    • Beautiful!! I totally agree—nothing like the flavor and beauty of fresh produce.

  • Mimi Chau

    I’m a California girl, and although I really love the sunshine and pleasant weather all year around, I have to admit that one of the pretty great things about living in Cali is having an abundance of locally grown avocados! I eat avocados almost everyday and I’d be lost without them..

  • Jennifer Burnett

    I’m originally from the Boston area, where my family was into eating meat and potato dishes frequently. I now live in the Willamette Valley in Oregon which has exposed me to all the amazing fresh produce and is where my love for vegetables blossomed!

    • Incredible—what an amazing adventure built into the the geographical transition of your life. <3

  • Karlie Kashat

    I’m from Michigan, and I love the lakes <3 Can't imagine being anywhere else!

  • Jamie Walls

    I am from Bloomington, IN. There are a lot of great things about living here. Morel mushrooms and the hunt to find them, four distinct seasons, a happening farmers market and tons of veggie friendly restaurants, just to name a few.

    • Shelly West

      Not to interrupt but I am too! Hope you are coming to the Vegetarian Heartland launch party at Rainbow Bakery next week! Would love to meet ya! (PS I’m the author of Vegetarian Heartland if it wasn’t apparent in this comment)

    • AMAZING!!! Yes, you and Shelly are Bloomington sisters! I hope you’ll be able to go to her launch party :). And morel mushroom hunting sounds incredible!

  • Shelly West

    Lily – I can’t even begin to express how happy this post and your words make me. Thank you so much for taking some time out of your crazy schedule to give VH some extra love. Can’t imagine what this crazy book process would have been like w/o you! <3 <3 <3

  • Elizabeth

    I’m from Vermont, I absolutely love the changing of the seasons. There is something so magical about each and every one of them and I love them all (even though winter lasts for a bit too long every year!).

    • Ooooh yes! I’ve had the privilege of enjoying both summertime and winter in Vermont, and totally understand the glory of the seasons there. Just gorgeous.

  • Elizabeth Brown

    I am from Delaware, and although I have often been asked “what state is that in?” (Smh @america) I love where I am from because I live one town over from the mushroom capital of the U.S. and one of the best homemade ice cream creameries is right next to me home. We are small, but mighty! And I’d like to consider our little community a hidden gem

    • Oh my goodness lol at people asking you what state Delaware is in! Mushrooms and ice cream sound like all you need for a mighty lovely hometown. How sweet to find home right where you are.

  • Hannah Barton

    I am from South Carolina, the upstate. And let me just say, those mountains speak to my heart. 😭

    Looking forward for a chance to win this beautiful cookbook!! Thank you!!

    • Ahhh I’ve heard such beautiful things about the Southern Carolina mountains. Nothing like strong mountain earth to fill your heart. <3

  • Tiffany O

    I’m from Oklahoma and it’s truly gods country. I live on top of a mountain looking out to the river, blue skies, white fluffy clouds, and green trees and grass as far as I can see. I was born and raised here and even though I have traveled from coast to coast there’s nothing that soothes my soul like home. My favorite days as a child included eating local watermelon and the occasional summer rain and of course the family 4th of July celebrations. I’m proud to say I’m raising my kids Oklahoma strong.

    Also thank you for the opportunity for the cookbook. My kids and I cook dinner almost every night together and my daughter is interested in the vegetarian lifestyle and we are in desperate need of beautiful delicious recipes.

    • Your Oklahoma hilltop sounds heavenly, Tiffany!! And how lucky your family is to have precious kitchen time all together. Shelly’s book will be such a perfect inspiration for you and your daughter!

  • Roshni

    I’m from Texas, and I’ve spent most of my 20 years struggling with everything that entailed: the deeply entrenched conservatism, the vanishingly small number of vegetarian options on restaurant menus, the listless, unbearable 100-degree summers. I escaped to temperate, liberal, vegetarian-friendly California for college and never looked back. Until now – I flew home two days ago and began to see things differently. The sweet, sticky air of a humid summer morning, the lazy wind announcing the arrival of a rainstorm, the quiet sunsets gracing these impossibly wide skies – they are all steeped in nostalgia and a distinct Texas-ness. I’m realizing I don’t need to like everything about Texas to appreciate these little moments; it is okay to love imperfect things.

    • Roshni, this is just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing the complex relationship you have with your home state, and its evolution in your heart and mind. One of my best friends lives in Texas (he’s also from there, and is gay, so can very much relate to all you wrote above) and I’ve been stunned by the beauty of the place in my visits. Where did you end up in California?

      • Roshni

        Thank you too, for your beautiful and relentlessly inspiring words. I’m in Berkeley now and I actually attended the event at Omnivore Books a few weeks back!

  • gorzd

    it’s easy to say Farmer’s Markets (I live in San Francisco), and the coast, and mountains, but really: the amazingly rich diversity of ethnicities and cultures. But why choose one place? The whole country has people and landscapes and wonders that are worth sharing.

  • catherine velasquez

    The place I’m from, San Francisco, (proper) my favorite meal was/is fresh Dungeness crab, steamed artichokes, with “roe butter” dipping sauce and fresh sourdough french bread from Boudin bakery, which was around the corner from our home. Remembering going with my Mom every day to the markets on Clement street, in Chinatown, and where ever else, to gather the best fresh ingredients for her exceptional international culinary adventures in our kitchen. I learned to cook by hanging with her and shopping. The smell of green onions in a paper grocery bag is an instant travel back in time for me. As an adult, I made it to The Alemany farmers market at 6am every Saturday to get the freshest veggies and fruit for my own culinary adventures as I was raising my own children. Thanks for evoking these memories in my heart.

    • So gorgeous!! Thank you for sharing such vibrant and nourishing memories, Catherine. San Francisco’s markets hold a special place in my heart, too!

  • I’m from a tiny little mountain town in Colorado, called Conifer. The thing is, though, that Conifer isn’t actually a town. The official title is “unincorporated community” and my dog was legitimately voted to be the mayor, and I think this perfectly describes what I love about it; it’s small and comfortable, undemanding, a place where your dog can achieve higher social status than you (which takes a lot of pressure of you, don’t you think?!). In this sense, it’s a perfect place to find soothing home. While I certainly didn’t want to spend my whole life in a small, rural “town,” growing up here was the greatest possible thing. Snow became my sibling. Weather doesn’t scare me because Colorado changes it’s mind every five seconds about what season it thinks it is. To go hiking through some of the most stunning mountains and forests in the nation, all I had to do was step outside my door. And Colorado mountain sweet corn? Absolutely the best taste of late summer. I could go on and on, but I think the rules of the game were for one thing we like….and I’ve surpassed that already. That’s the way of life for a writer, I guess–once you get going, it’s hard to stop. 🙂

    • This is such a beautiful ode to your hometown, Alexa! I’m in love. And yes, that is absolutely a-mazing that your dog was voted to be mayor of Conifer. Hilarious! Thank you for sharing all of this. Just gorgeous.

    • YOU ARE THE WINNER!!! Congratulations, Alexa! Please email me your mailing address!!

  • Mary

    I am from Michigan and that’s where my family is. That’s what I miss the most about where I am from!

    • Ahhh yes—that closeness of family forms such a sweet fabric of home. Sending hugs!

  • Katie

    I am from Tennessee and I miss the warm rain. I used to sit in the warm puddles on my driveway as a little girl with the rain coming down. The rain here in Seattle sure isn’t the same.

  • Being Italian, my favorite thing about my country is that incredible tradition that is homemade pasta : orecchiette, cavatelli, pici…so many different shapes!
    This book looks and sounds incredible btw!

    • Ahhh gorgeous. I recently discovered trottole and fell completely in love! And yes—Shelly’s book is AMAZING! You’ll love it.

  • Emily

    This looks delicious! I just cooked up a bunch of farro in attempt to meal prep (something I am VERY bad at), but didn’t really think about what I was going to do with it. I think I have found my answer and my lunches will be the object of much envy. Thank you!

    After graduating from college, I moved back in with my parents. I had no idea what to expect, but one could say I was not exactly thrilled with the idea of sleeping in my childhood bedroom and having to answer to someone inquiring why I got home so late. I have never been much of a party animal, preferring wine and movies in my pjs to a dark room full of strangers and loud music, but something about living at home still felt like an intrusion on my “adulthood.” That being said, the year or so that I spent in my hometown was exactly what I needed at that time in my life. This was not because of old friends or and exciting job. It was because of my parents. I am fortunate to have a good relationship with them, but still, they have always been in charge. This time was different, though. They treated me like an equal, not a child. We would have lively and challenging conversations and, beyond being my parents, they became my best friends. They were (and continue to be) incredibly supportive of my endeavors. I now live further away than I ever have before and, while it is where I need to be right now, I miss them always. I understand that this is not necessarily about the place where I am from, but rather the people. For me, home is where my family is and I love that it is a place I can always return to with a sense of comfort and respect.

    • Yessss perfect! Did you end up making the romesco to go with your farro? It’s so good!! And oh my goodness, Emily, what a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing this—I’m honored to learn more about your time with your family at that point in your life. I totally understand how powerful that transition is from child to peer, and I’m so happy it helped your relationship with your parents blossom into deep friendship. Sending big love!

  • Kelsey

    I grew up all over, but spent the most cumulative years in California, which I think of as home. I love the diverse landscapes, the natural beauty, the progressive and open-minded culture. I love the coastline. And I’d love to win this beautiful book! 🙂

    • I’m with you! That California coastline is pure magic. You’ll absolutely love the book!

  • Victoria Johnson

    Growing in in Florida, right on wh gulf. One thing that I love (and miss) from back home is when the water is just right. Meaning, just cold enough to cool ya down, a nice breeze, and crystal clear waters.

  • Love this!

    Montreal is where I call home. Many of us call downtown a mini European oasis without the plane ticket. It is packed with incredible architecture and vibrant cultures living in close and intertwined proximity, which all seem to have a passion and dedication to good food. It makes for such a welcoming environment to be creative, artistic and fearless with all things, but especially in the kitchen.

    • I’ve never been to Montreal but am dying to go—I’ve heard only the most amazing things. How beautiful it’s your home!

      • Definitely worth the trip!! 🙂

  • Alyssa Sperrazza

    My dads a doctor and hates eating veggies so I think this books might help add some into his diet!

    • Perfection—love that! It definitely will. It’s so relatable and easy to draw inspiration from.

  • Corinna

    I live in a smaller town in the Bay Area. Growing up I hated it, but since moving back and becoming a teacher, I have so come to appreciate the community here. I love that I have people supporting me here. I also appreciate simpler, quieter living, and the fact that I’m about 45 minutes away from the ocean, my special place, as well as the rolling foothills that surround me. It really is a beautiful place to live!

    • Beautiful! It’s incredible how places can hold different meaning for us at distinct times in our lives. I’m glad you’re finding beauty in your home town. It sounds absolutely lovely.

  • Bette DelGrosso

    I lived in a small quiet town, Audubon, NJ. I is the prefect place to raise a family then and now. It is a very walkable town with a cute downtown there is a yoga studio, bakery, and a couple of restaurants you can even walk to all of the schools. I moved out when I was 22 however, when my mother got sick I moved in with her for a short while. While my sister and I were there we would walk in the evenings around town, during our walks we spoke of how we appreciated the beauty of the small community and that our parents couldn’t have picked a better place to raise a family.

    • Amazing—and how special that you were able to revisit home during such a profound period in your family history. Sending love to you all.

  • Erin Jones

    What a beautiful book! Yum.