Prepared Mediterranean-style, this nutty Toasted Orzo Pasta Recipe with Garlic, Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomatoes will steal the show next to your favorite protein. You can even serve it as a quick and easy vegetarian meal on its own; it will feed 4 people as a vegetarian main and about 6 or so as a side dish.
It was a superb complement to our top sirloin and veggie kebabs. In fact, this orzo recipe jumped to the top of the list and one we’ll make time and again!
Leftovers? Lucky you. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days in a tightly closed container. Warm over medium heat.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add the orzo and cook, tossing around, until toasted to a beautiful golden brown.
Add at least 7 cups of boiling water to the saucepan and season well with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Cook the pasta in boiling water to al dente according to the package instructions (about 7 to 8 minutes).
Just before the pasta is fully cooked (after about 5 minutes), remove 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and set it aside.
In a large pan, warm 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and season with a pinch of kosher salt and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, tossing regularly, until just fragrant. Add the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Raise the heat if needed to bring to a boil. Add the parsley and oregano.
When the pasta is ready, drain and add it to the pan and toss to combine. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and a 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan. Toss to combine. If needed, add a little more of the pasta cooking water.
Finish with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if you like.
I’m a huge fan of potatoes no matter how they are made, be it mashed, smashed, roasted, french fried, twice-baked, scalloped, or au gratin. This Spice-Crusted Oven-Roasted Potatoesrecipe elevates spuds to a new dimension and earns top honors in my plethora of potato recipes.
The mix, known as “suya” in Nigeria has a kick to it, but it’s also got an earthy and nutty taste to it as well, making it a favorite side dish for many entrées. A food processor makes the assembly of the mixture a breeze. Though suya is typically a powder when used on meats, adding a bit of oil produces a paste that adheres better to skin-on potatoes.
It is paired with a refreshing tomato-shallot recipe to spoon over the top, or even used for dipping. While it is not necessary, it adds a bright note to the side dish and complimented our grilled lamb loin chops.
Making them is a bit messy when you try to adhere the spice rub to the potato halves. Some of the mixture on the baking sheet will likely occur and char, but don’t worry because the cooking spray prevents it from sticking to the sheet.
With the last gasps of the unofficial summer calendar closing in on us, let the season’s bounty shine on the plate. And to that end, this lively salad of corn, scallions, jalapeño and avocado tossed with a tangy buttermilk-feta dressing is like summer on a plate. The sweetness of peak-summer corn and the richness of creamy avocado balance out the tartness of the dressing.
While this recipe from NYTimes Cooking could be a side dish or a vegetarian main, we opted to add a protein to give it more heft as an entrée. In that vein, we grilled some chicken breasts with a Japanese 7-spice rub, but grilled shrimp or salmon would work wonderfully also. And to save time on dinner day, we grilled the chicken the day before while barbecuing other items.
The directions below are for the full recipe which allows for 4 to 6 portions. But with just the two of us, we cut most of the recipe in half, while altering quantities of other ingredients as we saw fit. After eating two healthy servings, we still had some leftover for lunch the following day.
Grilled Corn, Avocado and Chicken Salad With Feta Dressing
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, rubbed with spices of your choice (optional)
6 ears corn (about 3 lbs.), shucked and silk removed
1 bunch scallions, trimmed
1 jalapeño, stemmed and halved lengthwise
3 Tbsp.olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, grated
¼ cup sliced fresh chives
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 medium head romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
2 avocados, sliced
If a protein is desired, grill chicken (or shrimp, salmon) until done. This can be done a day ahead and refrigerated until ready to use.
Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Brush corn, scallions and jalapeño with the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until corn kernels are browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes, and the scallions and jalapeño are charred all over and tender, 9 to 10 minutes.
Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, using a whisk (I used a pestle), mash the feta into a coarse paste. Whisk in buttermilk, lemon zest and juice and garlic, then stir in chives and parsley.
Finely chop the charred jalapeño and stir it into the feta dressing; season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss lettuce with half the feta dressing and arrange on a platter. Cut corn kernels off the cob and slice scallions into bite-size pieces. Arrange avocado slices, corn and scallions on top of the lettuce.
Large, juicy, ripe heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes and fresh picked corn on the cob are two heavy hitters that shine from mid- to late-summer in our neck of the woods. For those few fleeting months we try to take advantage of the produce preparing them in a myriad of different ways. Often, the simple approach is just as tasty as a more complicated recipe such as a corn sauté or an heirloom tomato tart.
You may have enjoyed Caprese Salad before, but have you ever topped it with some grated lemon zest? This twist on the preparations adds a wonderful bright note that compliments the other flavors. Sun-ripened farmers market tomatoes are layered with creamy mozzarella and topped with aromatic fresh basil, sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar, and that aforementioned floral lemon zest.
To complete the meal, we boiled fresh ears of corn, and grilled a cedar-planked salmon with a North African spice rub—both of which took about the same amount of time to cook. Deliscioso!
To bring more diversity to grain sides, Milk Street swapped out rice for bulgur, a form of wheat grain that’s been parboiled and dried so it cooks fast yet still retains all the benefits of whole grains. Earthy mushrooms pair well with the hearty grain and packs even more of a nutritional punch. For big mushroom flavor, choose widely available cremini mushrooms plus a ¼ ounce of dried porcini, to add nice depth.
Just a dash of soy sauce boosts the mushroom’s umami flavor even further and gives the dish a rich mahogany color. Sauté the mushrooms with an onion, then add the bulgur and the cooking liquid (a combination of water and broth) and simmer it until tender.
After removing the pot from the heat, place a dish towel underneath the lid (which helps absorb moisture) and let the bulgur steam gently for 10 minutes, which results in perfectly tender, chewy grains.
NOTES: When shopping, don’t confuse bulgur with cracked wheat, which has a much longer cooking time and will not work in this recipe. Use vegetable or mushroom broth instead of chicken stock if you want to keep it vegetarian.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, porcini mushrooms, and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in cremini mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, cover, and cook until cremini mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 4 minutes.
Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in bulgur, broth, water, and soy sauce and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until bulgur is tender, 16 to 18 minutes.
Remove pot from heat, lay clean folded dish towel underneath lid, and let bulgur sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff bulgur with fork, stir in parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
An interesting twist that elevates humble cabbage into something special. Softened butter is rubbed on edges of a cut head and then sprinkled with a fragrant combination of citrus zest, garlic and coriander. As the wedges roast, the exterior leaves become deeply browned and crispy, while the interior remains silky, sweet and tender. A bright, citrusy dressing completes the dish.
This side dish was born out of necessity. We were a few short days away from leaving for vacation, thus trying to use up any food that might spoil before we got back home. In our auxiliary refrigerator was a half-head of savoy cabbage which prompted us to look in our copy of Milk Street’s Vegetables cookbook for an appropriate recipe.
We had every ingredient on hand except for the hazelnuts (which is omitted in the list below) and decided to make it anyway, forgoing any nuts altogether. Since the half-head was just shy of 2 pounds, we kept all of the other staples at full value. As far as the herbs, we used a combination of chives and tarragon freshly picked from the garden.
NOTES: Don’t forget to allow the butter to soften. Make sure to line the baking sheet with foil (which I forgot to do).
1 tsp. grated grapefruit OR lemon zest, plus a 1/2 cup of its juice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces and softened
2-lb. head of savoy OR napa cabbage, tough outer leaves removes, quartered
2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard OR Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon OR fresh chives OR fresh flat-leaf parsley OR a combination
Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
In a small bowl, stir together the coriander, garlic, zest and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Using your hands and 1 tablespoon of butter per cabbage wedge, rub the butter on all sides and into the layers. Sprinkle the wedges evenly with the spice mixture, rubbing it in to adhere, reserve the bowl.
Place cabbage wedges cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Cover tightly with foil and roast until a skewer inserted into the thickest part meets little resistance, 20 to 30 minutes.
Uncover the baking sheet and roast until the cabbage is deeply browned on all sides, about 15 minutes more, flipping halfway through.
Meanwhile in the reserved bowl, whisk together the citrus juice, mustard, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
Place wedges on a platter and drizzle each with 1 tablespoon of the sauce. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and serve with any remaining sauce on the side.
To create this corn side dish with rich, toasted flavor, strip the corn from the cobs when they are raw and then cook the kernels in a nearly smoking skillet. It is important not to stir the corn for a few minutes to give it a chance to brown. Once the corn is cooked, mix in plenty of salty, savory ingredients to balance the sweetness. Finally, an acidic component rounds out the dish.
Because fresh corn can vary in sweetness, the recipe calls for seasoning with a range of rice vinegar. We made it twice so far, and prefer the version with just 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. When browning the corn kernels in a nonstick skillet, we found it took longer to get that caramelization, nearly three times longer! But so worth it because it was delicious and paired well with our grilled baby back ribs.
6 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin on bias
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. white miso
1 – 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 ears corn, kernels cut from cobs (4 cups)
1 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
Melt butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add scallion whites and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until scallions are softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer scallion mixture to large bowl and whisk in miso and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Wipe out skillet.
Heat oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add corn and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, without stirring, until corn is browned on bottom and beginning to pop, about 3-5 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, stirring once or twice, until corn is spotty brown all over, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Add mirin and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer corn to bowl with scallion mixture.
Stir in scallion greens. Season with salt and remaining vinegar to taste. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.
Quite possibly the best baked beans we’ve ever eaten! Invited to a Cinco de Mayo party, we were assigned a couple of side dishes to make, one of them being “Cowboy Beans”. The Hubs found this Mexican Pinto Beans With Bacon and Chiles by J. Kenji Lopez-Alts for Serious Eats and knew these were the ticket.
The ideal potluck or cookout dish is one that is easy to make in bulk, inexpensive, and doesn’t degrade with extended heating or reheating. We found the frijoles charros—Mexican cowboy beans cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, salted pork, and chiles—as the superb potluck dish. It meets the criteria and they’re extremely delicious. Dried beans are lightweight; while onions, garlic, chiles, and fresh or tinned tomatoes last a long time at room temperature.
We made two exceptions to the ingredients. The first was substituting cranberry beans in place of the pinto beans, which we think have more flavor. Secondly, the jalapeños were sautéed and kept as a garnish because we knew one guest was allergic to any type of chile. WOW, the beans got rave reviews!
*Epazote is a Mexican herb that can be found in Mexican specialty shops. If fresh epazote is unavailable, use a large pinch of dried in its place, or omit.
1 medium white or yellow onion, diced (about 8 oz.)
2 serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño, minced (remove seeds and ribs if you prefer less heat)
3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)
2 14-oz. cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
Large handful chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
Place beans in a large bowl and fill with enough cold water to cover by at least four inches. Add 2 tablespoons (18g) kosher salt and stir to dissolve. Let soak 8 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse.
In a large Dutch oven, add beans, stock, bay leaves, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and epazote (if using). Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a bare simmer, cover, and cook until beans are just tender, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat bacon in a 12-inch stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until fat is rendered and bacon is just starting to brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add onion and chiles and cook, stirring, until softened and just starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is thick and the mixture begins to sizzle, about 3 minutes.
Remove lid from Dutch oven, add bacon-tomato mixture, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until beans are completely creamy and liquid has thickened into a rich, creamy broth, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Discard bay leaves, stir in cilantro, and serve. Beans can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Here, braising coaxes asparagus’s gentler side into the spotlight. It’s not the typical crisp-tender, not browned, nor vibrant green—but it may end up being one of your favorite ways to cook the spears. The vegetable is vigorously simmered in a copious amount of liquid, allowing the braising liquid to evaporate, leaving behind a light glaze that coats the asparagus.
As Cook’s Illustrated mentions, the crisp bite gives way to silkiness; the fresh vegetal flavor evolves into more-complex sweet nuttiness, and the braising liquid can travel into the spears, seasoning them inside and out.
The dish is finished with a less-is-more approach adding just a splash of acidity and a handsome sprinkle of fresh herbs to accentuate the vegetable’s sweet flavor.
FYI, this recipe is best with asparagus spears that are at least ¾ inch thick. We bought ours picked fresh at a local farm market. The benefit of thicker spears is you can peel off their firm, waxy skin without whittling them down to toothpicks.
Trim bottom inch of asparagus spears; discard trimmings. Peel bottom two-thirds of spears until white flesh is exposed.
Bring water, broth, oil, and salt to simmer in 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add asparagus in even layer. Reduce heat to maintain vigorous simmer and cover. Cook, gently shaking skillet occasionally, until asparagus is tender and can be easily pierced with tip of paring knife, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove lid and continue to cook, shaking and swirling skillet, until skillet is almost dry and asparagus is glazed, 1 to 3 minutes longer.
Off heat, add lemon zest and juice and half of chives and toss to coat.
Transfer asparagus to platter, sprinkle with remaining chives, season with salt to taste, and serve.
Paprika-Parmesan Smashed Potatoes with Garlic Aioli: the ultimate roasted potato side dish. Incredibly crispy, superbly spiced, and served with a downright addictive dipping sauce; although we opted to forego the aioli this time around.
The combination of bold spices and a garlicky dipping sauce really brings the humble potato to life. While this method involves boiling, smashing, and thenroasting, you won’t believe how crispy the potatoes get for being roasted rather than deep-fried. Smashed potatoes are the perfect alternative when you’re craving crispy potatoes, but want something a bit more wholesome than French fries.
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives, plus more for garnish
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place garlic cloves in a piece of a foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Wrap the garlic in foil and place in the oven while it preheats. Continue roasting garlic while you boil the potatoes.
Place the potatoes in a large pot, and cover with one inch of cold water. Add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, set the timer for 15 minutes. At this point, the potatoes should be just past fork-tender. Drain potatoes in a colander and let sit for 5 minutes to allow water to completely drain off. Remove garlic from the oven and set aside. (Keep oven temperature at 450ºF)
In a small bowl, combine smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; mix well. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on your largest baking sheet, making sure to coat all corners. Arrange potatoes on baking sheet, making sure to leave about 2 inches of space in between each one.
Use the bottom of a measuring cup or a potato masher to gently “smash” each potato down until it is around 1/2-inch thick. Brush remaining 2 tablespoons oil over tops of potatoes and sprinkle with spice mixture. Roast potatoes for 20 minutes.
Remove garlic from foil and roughly chop. Use the flat side of your knife blade (preferably a chef’s knife) to mash the garlic until it forms a paste. Add garlic to a bowl, along with mayonnaise, yogurt, 1 tablespoon. chopped chives, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
Remove potatoes from the oven and sprinkle each one evenly with Parmesan. Place back in the oven for 5 more minutes.Transfer potatoes to a platter and garnish with extra chopped chives. Serve with garlic aioli.
This may be a new cool weather side dish favorite. A recipe from Milk Street, it combines roasted butternut squash and red onion, then finishes them with a tahini-lemon-garlic sauce and a dusting of za’atar—a Middle Eastern herb, spice and seed blend.
Before roasting, the squash and onion are tossed with olive oil and honey to encourage browning. After sprinkling on the za’atar, you scatter on chopped parsley or basil chiffonade for color and fresh, herbal notes.
Don’t worry if the pieces of squash are in different shapes; this is unavoidable. But when cutting the squash quarters crosswise, be sure they’re no thicker than ¾ inch and that the chunks don’t measure larger than 1½ inches in any dimension or they’ll take too long to roast.
We had less than half a red onion on hand, so we threw in a small shallot to help compensate. But the onion was so good roasted, that I want to make sure to have a large whole one when we make it again.
1 medium red onion, root end intact, cut into 1-inch wedges
2 Tbsp. tahini
4 tsp. lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
1 tsp. za’atar
¼ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, or lightly packed fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons
Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, the honey and ½ teaspoon salt. Add the squash and onion, then use your hands to rub the mixture over the vegetables until well coated.
Distribute in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, flip the vegetables, then roast until nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the squash meets no resistance, 12 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon water; the mixture should have the consistency of thin yogurt (if too thick, whisk in additional water 1 teaspoon at a time to thin). Set aside.
When the vegetables are done, transfer them to a serving platter. Drizzle with the tahini-lemon mixture, then sprinkle with the za’atar and parsley.
For this dish, use whole farro, in which the grain’s germ and bran have been retained. It has a nutty flavor and delicately chewy texture, and some brands cook in as little as 20 minutes, making it one of the fastest-cooking whole grains. (Ours took 30 minutes.)
The simplest cooking method is best: Just boil in salted water for about 20-30 minutes until tender and drain well. Warm farro can be tossed with sautéed aromatics, olive oil and herbs for a simple but satisfying side dish such as this one. It went wonderfully with our Shawarma Chicken.
We were fresh out of mint, so in lieu of making an extra trip to the grocery store, we just substituted two tablespoons of fresh oregano, which was one of the herbs in our main chicken entrée.
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add farro and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook until grains are tender with a slight chew, 20-30 minutes. Drain farro, return to now empty pot, and cover to keep warm.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat, until shimmering. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and slightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cooked farro, stirring frequently until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley, mint, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Tasty spuds are always a welcome side dish at our table. Here, melted parmesan cheese takes these roasted potatoes to a whole new level. They’re foolproof and taste delicious with just about everything.
If there was such a thing as a Potato Olympics, these babies would be sure to medal. Just make them, you’ll be glad you did…
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
Cut 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise. Place in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to combine. Arrange the potatoes in single layer cut-side down.
Roast until the bottoms are starting to turn golden-brown, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, finely grate 2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1 lightly packed cup). Pick the leaves from 5 to 6 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop until you have about 2 tablespoons.
Carefully flip over each potato with tongs or a thin metal spatula so they are now cut-side up. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the potatoes. (It’s OK if some fall onto the pan.) Roast until the potatoes are cooked through and the cheese is crisp and golden-brown, about 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.
For a simple, one-pot potato side dish that features the benefits of both boiling and roasting, Cook’s Illustrated got creative. They combined halved small red potatoes, butter, and salted water in a 12-inch skillet and simmered this mixture until the potatoes turned creamy and the water fully evaporated.
In the then-dry skillet, the potatoes and butter were left alone to fry and develop great flavor and color. Finally, subtle aromatics like thyme and garlic balance well with last-minute additions like miso, Dijon or lemon juice.
Our only issue was that the miso mixture wasn’t loose enough to spread with the hot potatoes. We suggest removing the potatoes to a bowl when done. *Put the miso-garlic mixture in the hot skillet and add two tablespoons of water. Using a wooden spatula, combine the mixture and water while scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. When fully combined, pour the sauce over the potatoes, add scallions, and toss gently before serving.
NOTE: We had to use a 14-inch regular skillet because it was the only pan large enough to fit all of the potatoes in one layer, plus it had a lid. This dilemma prompted us to purchase an adjustable lid to fit our two larger nonstick skillets.
Arrange potatoes in single layer, cut side down, in 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add water, butter, garlic, thyme, and salt and bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove lid and use slotted spoon to transfer garlic to cutting board; discard thyme. Increase heat to medium-high and vigorously simmer, swirling pan occasionally, until water evaporates and butter starts to sizzle, 15 to 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, mince garlic to paste. Transfer paste to bowl and stir in lemon juice and pepper.
Continue to cook potatoes, swirling pan frequently, until butter browns and cut sides of potatoes turn spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes longer. Off heat, add garlic mixture and chives and toss to thoroughly coat. (*See note above about alternative way to coat potatoes with miso mixture.) Serve immediately.
In the allium family, leeks are the tallest and offer the sweet taste of onion but with an earthier, grassy herbal character, and we love them! This first Braised Leeks with Bacon and Thyme recipe hailing from Molly Stevens “All About Braising” cookbook braises the leeks slowly in chicken broth until they collapse into blessed tenderness.
As Molly describes, braising reveals all of their goodness and brings out a complexity of flavor that would be lost by boiling or steaming. They are infinitely versatile and made a perfect accompaniment to our roasted chicken dinner. Serve them hot, warm, at room temperature or even a little chilled. They’ll keep for several days in the refrigerator.
Option number two is a vegetarian dish from Milk Street. Braised Leeks with Balsamic Glaze are meltingly tender. They are poached in olive oil and water then drizzled with a tangy-sweet balsamic glaze. The vegetable retains its mild spring onion flavor with none of the raw allium pungency—a wonderful example of letting the natural flavor of an ingredient shine through!
Leeks are at their best in the fall and winter. Shop for leeks that feel solid at the base, not at all squishy. The green top portion should be dark, not dried out. Inspect the white portion to see that it’s smooth and bright, not split or slimy. Late-season leeks may have developed solid woody cores, an indication it is way past their prime, and shouldn’t be purchased.
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 tsp. butter
4 to 5 lbs. medium to large leeks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut lengthwise in half
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (do not substitute dried)
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
Place the bacon in a medium skillet, set over medium heat, and fry, stirring often with a slotted spoon, until mostly crisp but with some softness remaining, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, and set the skillet aside.
Preheat the over to 325°F. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. (We didn’t have as many leeks so we used a 9×9 square dish.)
With a large knife trim off the root end of each leek, but leave the base intact. Get rid of the heaviest green part and any tough white parts. Cut off the tops at the point where the green turns from pale and smooth to dark and leathery.
Cut the leeks lengthwise in half, without cutting completely through the root end, Wash the leeks thoroughly, holding them upside down under cold running water and flaring the layers to let the water run through to remove all the sand.
Shake off the excess water and place them in one layer in the prepared baking dish. Tuck the garlic halves in the dish and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Sprinkle on the thyme.
Pour off as much fat from the reserved bacon skillet, without discarding the bacon drippings. Place over high heat, add the stock, and bring to a boil to deglaze the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot stock over the leeks.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and place on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Braise for 30 minutes.
Turn the leeks over with tongs, and continue braising uncovered until the leeks are fork tender, another 15-25 minutes. Scatter the reserved bacon over the leeks and continue braising for an additional 15 minutes, or until the leeks are soft enough to be easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
With tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks and bacon to a platter, and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour any remaining juices, along with those from the platter, into a skillet and reduce down to 1/4 cup. Add a generous squeeze of lemon, taste for salt and pepper, and simply pour over the leeks. Serve warm or room temperature.
You want to make sure not to stir the leeks too vigorously or too often when browning them. Stir gently just once or twice, without flipping them, so they color evenly. And once the water goes into the pan and the cover goes on, it’s best to simply shake the skillet, not stir its contents, so the leeks hold together.
These leeks just melted in the mouth! We omitted the sliced almonds for this meal; and next time we would cut the glaze in half. Although it was very good, we didn’t even use all of it and it was still a lot.
1 lb. leeks, white and light green parts only, outer layers removed
2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 2 pieces
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
6 thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. honey
3 Tbsp. sliced almonds, toasted (optional)
Cut the leeks in half lengthwise. Fill a large bowl with water, submerge the leek halves and swish them around to remove the grit between the layers. Pour off the water and repeat until the leeks are clean, then pat dry. Cut the leeks on the diagonal into 2-inch sections, keeping the layers intact as much as possible.
In a 12-inch skillet, combine the oil, butter and leeks, adding them to the pan cut side down. Set the pan over medium-high and cook, gently stirring only once or twice so the layers do not separate, until the leeks are lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then slowly add ⅔ cup water. Add the thyme sprigs, cover and reduce to medium-low. Cook, occasionally shaking the skillet, until a knife inserted into the leeks meets no resistance and most of the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to a platter, leaving the oil in the skillet. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Add the vinegar and honey to the pan, then cook over medium, stirring often, until the mixture is syrupy, 2 to 4 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, then pour over the leeks. Sprinkle with the chopped thyme and the almonds, if using.