If you're roasting root vegetables, making pasta sauce, sweating eggplant, or baking a pumpkin, you'll be amazed at how a uiTzi transforms the taste and wholesomeness of your vegetables. The sun's energy provides a remarkable cooking heat that concentrates and heightens flavors, like putting your vegetables back on the plant or vine to ripen for an extra month in the sun. Natural sugars and nutrients you never noticed before are suddenly unmistakably there, dancing on your taste buds.

The only vegetable we've never had much success with in a uiTzi are leafy greens. So if you're steaming spinach, broccoli, kale or chard, keep doing it the way you always did: at the last moment, over gas, with a dob of butter (and garlic and sea salt), right before serving.


It's almost as if tomatoes were made for the uiTzi, which makes sense if you think about it – they love sun. Putting a tomato in a uiTzi is like putting it back on the vine to ripen – the sugars develop and carmelize, the color, from lycopene (a powerful antioxidant that is increased through cooking), gets richer, and the flavors more intense. The two simplest ways to cook tomatoes in the uiTzi are to stew them or sun-dry them.

Stewing is obvious – put them out in a pot with a cover and let the sun do it's work. You can add herbs, garlic, olive oil or salt while they cook, or wait and add them later.

uiTzi sun-dried tomatoes are one of life's little miracles – simply slice your tomatoes in half and spread them out on a platter or big baking dish. Drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle them with salt, and put them out in the uiTzi. When they're dehydrated just enough – we like them slightly juicier and less leathery than those you buy in a store, but with a similar deep intensity of flavor – you can store them in olive oil and put them in just about anything: salads, pastas, sandwiches, or alongside grilled halibut or roast beef.

Roasting Root Vegetables

Here comes the sun again – pumping up all those natural sugars! Just as the sun helps sugars develop in tomatoes growing on a vine, it also develops the sugars in root vegetables like beets and carrots and sweet potatoes. I like putting a couple whole beets in a pyrex dish with a lid for a day or two – yes, beets can take a long time – and then eating them with just a pinch of salt, and maybe a little rich yogurt and a sprig of mint. A little squeeze of orange juice in the bottom of the dish adds moisture and lightens up the earthiness of the beets and they become mouth-bendingly rich in flavor. The same can be done with carrots or sweet potatoes. Of course, it never hurts to add butter.

Sizzled Onions

Sizzling is like sauteeing. It involves using oil, which gets much hotter than water, to fascilitate the highest possible cooking temperatures. When sizzling you need a large, flat, dark frying pan or a Pyrex baking dish and a clear blue sky. You can't sizzle vegetables with high water content, but it works well for things like onions, mushrooms and peppers. It takes longer than sauteeing on a stovetop, but you don't have to stick around to constantly stir things. Just coat your vegetables well with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and set them out to sizzle for 45 minutes to an hour. If you need to concentrate your cooking heat, use a vented (black) lid or you'll steam your vegetables more than sizzle them.


In Mexico cooking beans is a daily ritual that consumes a lot of time and energy. It wasn't until I started cooking them with the sun, that I really began enjoying them.

Like eggs, beans are little lives waiting to happen, a lifetime of DNA all sealed up in perfect little round packages. But while eggs reveal their goodness with a delicate crack, beans need to have it coaxed out of them, slowly, with water and heat... Here's what I do: First I rinse my beans well and soak them overnight in a large amount of clean water. In the morning I rinse them again and put them in a large, black pot generously covered with more fresh water. Then I add salt. It's a myth that salt inhibits cooking in beans – I've done the side-by-side test, two pots, one with salt and one without, everything else equal – and they cooked exactly the same. So use salt, good natural sea salt or Himalayan salt, not the refined stuff, to bring out the beans' natural flavors. I also add garlic and bay leaves, because I love them.

Beans vary greatly in how long they take to cook – anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days – depending on how fresh or old (and therefore hard and dry) they are, what kind they are, what altitude you're at, and how hot your sun is. My most recent pot of Cinco de Mayo beans took 2 ½ hours. They were completely dissolved in the hot sun, turning rich, soft, creamy and delicious.

Red Cabbage

I have a theory, based on experience, about cooking with the sun, which is that it's excellent for anything RED. The sun doesn't seem to benefit anything green, but red things just seem to get better in the sun, including red cabbage. I like to slice my red cabbage a little thicker than I do for sauerkraut, add a few sliced red onions, sliced apple, a handful of raisins, some cumin seeds, and a dob or two of butter. Red cabbage does benefit from a little stir or two along the way, and often I take the lid off about half way through.

Pumpkin & Squash

Roasting a whole pumpkin or squash in the uiTzi is exciting, especially if you use the fruit itself as a tureen for what you create. Here I made a pumpkin tureen filled with something between a soup and a stew, covered with cheese and melted to perfection. You can also scrape out the rich orange flesh and use it to make your favorite pumpkin pie, pumpkin flan, pumpkin mousse, or pumpkin bread.