Such a thing as too many veggies? This recipe adds a pound of kale—that’s right, a full pound—to softened onions, carrots and celery, combined with beans and tomatoes. It’s simply a matter of bringing the other vegetables to the party in a simmer, then adding the kale and topping with the thick, toasted, crusty slabs of multi-grain bread. The whole dish bakes in the oven for a few minutes to crisp the toast and the Parmesan.
Confession, the supermarket carried kale, but it was lousy looking at best, so we opted for the substitute of escarole. And for a time-saver we used canned cannellinis, in fact we used two cans, about double the original amount!
This might be just the ticket to feast on after indulging in all that rich food during the holidays. Make sure to get a thick crusty multi-grain loaf of bread that is cut into 1-inch thick slices and toasted. Add extra parmesan when serving, if desired.
Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Drain the beans; if they’re canned, rinse them as well. Add them to the pot along with tomatoes and their juices and stock, rosemary and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so the soup bubbles steadily; cover and cook, stirring once or twice to break up the tomatoes, until the flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes.
Fish out and discard rosemary and thyme stems, if you like, and stir in kale. Taste and adjust seasoning. Lay bread slices on top of the stew so they cover the top and overlap as little as possible. Scatter red onion slices over the top, drizzle with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
Put the pot in the oven and bake until the bread, onions and cheese are browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. (If your pot fits under the broiler, you can also brown the top there.) Divide the soup and bread among 4 bowls and serve.
A pizza/pasta mash-up with a slight Mexican undertone served in pie-shaped wedges. Is it a dish with an identity crisis? Maybe, but it was still interesting, fun and tasty! And if you are looking for a new meatless recipe, then this puppy is worth a try.
In this warming skillet pasta bake, onions — sautéed with cumin, coriander and allspice until golden and aromatic — do double duty. They form the base of the tomato sauce that’s used to coat the pasta, and are mixed with grated Cheddar for the topping, where strands of browned onions mingle with the melted, gooey cheese. It’s satisfying and easy, with the pasta baked in the same skillet as the sauce.
We used a 13″ sauté pan (which is a little larger than instructed); upped the portion of tomatoes from a 15-ounce to a 28-ounce can; and eliminated adding a cup of water to the tomato mix; although we did reserve, and use, 1 cup of the pasta water at the end.
Since we already had a box of pasta on hand, we opted to use our cellentani, a corkscrew-shaped pasta which captured the onions and tomato bits very nicely. Word to the wise, it’s tough getting that many onions to brown in the skillet, so when it was time to remove half of them, I put one half of the onions in another pan for browning further. I had intended to try adding a pinch of baking soda as suggested by one reviewer, but totally forgot.
Serve it as a meatless main course with a crisp salad alongside, or as a rich side to a lighter chicken or fish dish.
TIP: A pinch of baking soda will speed up the browning process (the Maillard reaction.) Just a pinch, too much will be noticeable in the finished dish.
Baked Skillet Pasta with Cheddar and Spiced Onions
¾ cup chopped parsley or cilantro (or use a combination of cilantro and parsley), plus more for serving
8 oz. shredded Cheddar
½ cup grated Parmesan
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)
Heat ¼ cup oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add onions and bay leaf, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned in spots, 12 to 20 minutes. (Reduce heat if the pan starts to scorch.) Lower heat to medium, and stir in coriander, ground cumin, cayenne and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook 1 more minute. Transfer half the onions to a bowl and reserve (leave the bay leaf in the skillet).
Add garlic, cumin seeds, pepper and allspice to the skillet, and stir. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the juice from the canned tomatoes. Use your hands or kitchen scissors to squish or cut the tomatoes into pieces and add to pan. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and cayenne if you like. Remove bay leaf.
As mixture cooks, heat oven to 400° and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just about 2 minutes shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, and drain pasta.
Stir pasta, reserved pasta water, and parsley into skillet with tomato sauce. Top with reserved browned onions, Cheddar and Parmesan. Transfer to oven and bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. If you like, you can run the pan under the broil to brown the top, or leave it as is. Let cool slightly, top with more parsley, if desired, and serve with hot sauce, if you like.
Sometimes we desire something a bit more upscale than plain mashed potatoes (which I dearly love). So when I ran across this Parsnip Purée recipe from Ina Garten, I knew instantly that we had to make this side dish. And it is about as easy as a side dish gets, seriously (just take a look at the abbreviated ingredients list).
Parsnips are really delicious and so under-appreciated. The versatile veggie is the essence of parsnip-ness with just a little butter that generates that sigh of pure satisfaction. A sensational, silky-smooth, slightly assertive side that you’ll be pairing with any number of main dishes. The first time out of the gate, it accompanied a seared sirloin steak, but we are imaging all of the other possibilities such as roast chicken, pork loin, salmon, leg of lamb…
Place 1½ pounds parsnips, scrubbed, sliced ¾” thick, in a medium pot, add 1 tablespoon kosher salt, and add enough water to cover the parsnips. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then uncover, lower the heat, and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the parsnips are very soft when tested with a small knife. Don’t drain the pot!
With a slotted spoon or small strainer, transfer the parsnips to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse to chop the parsnips. Pour the cooking liquid into a glass measuring cup and pour ½ cup down the feed tube. Purée the parsnips, adding more cooking liquid (about 1 cup total) through the feed tube until the parsnips are creamy and almost smooth but still have some texture.
Add 2 tablespoonsunsalted butter, diced, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and purée until combined. Taste for seasonings, sprinkle with fresh chives and serve hot.
This time of year, squashes have their moment(s) in the sun. Here, the roasted squash shines when using spicy, tangy ingredients to banish one-note flavors. Lime, garlic and chilies add kick; while brown sugar creates a glaze-like coating with molasses notes that enhance the earthy-sweet squash.
Kabocha is a Japanese pumpkin with mottled green edible skin and dense, slightly starchy orange flesh. Acorn squash, with thin skin that doesn’t require peeling, also is a terrific option. With no kabocha to choose from, we opted for the acorn squash.
This recipe would make for a nice side dish on your Thanksgiving table. Just sayin’… OR, pair it with Pan-Seared Bone-in Pork Chops, a fabulous cool weather meal.
Roasted Winter Squash with Lime, Chili and Cilantro
1 Tbsp. grated lime zest, plus ¼ cup lime juice, plus lime wedges, to serve
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 lb. kabocha squash OR two 1¼-lb. acorn squashes, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into 1-inch-thick wedges
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 or 2 serrano OR Fresno chilies, stemmed and sliced into thin rings
1/3 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
Heat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the upper-middle position. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with half of this mixture, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Arrange the pieces cut side down and roast until browned on the bottom, 25 to 30 minutes.
Using a wide metal spatula, flip each piece, drizzle with the remaining oil mixture and sprinkle with the garlic and chili(es). Roast until the squash is deeply caramelized and a skewer inserted into the largest piece meets no resistance, 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer to a platter, pouring over any juices. Top with the lime zest and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
Perfect party pleaser. Looking for something healthy, yet tasty, to serve your guests or bring to a party? The secret behind this creamy and complex tasting bean dip is to pair a starchy bean with a lighter legume or vegetable. By using a combination, you avoid the pastiness of dips that use only beans. To further freshen the dips, add creamy Greek-style yogurt, a healthy dose of lemon juice, and a full ¼ cup of herbs.
1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
1 15-oz. can navy beans, 2 Tbsp. liquid reserved, beans rinsed
1 scallion, white and light-green parts cut into 1/2-inch pieces, green part sliced thin on bias
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ tsp. ground fennel seeds
Pinch cayenne pepper
¼ cup plain Greek-style yogurt
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Combine garlic and lemon zest and juice in small bowl; set aside for at least 15 minutes. Measure out 2 tablespoons artichoke hearts, chop coarsely, and set aside for garnish.
Pulse beans, reserved bean liquid, remaining artichoke hearts, scallion whites and light greens, parsley, ground fennel, ¾ teaspoon salt, cayenne, and lemon juice mixture in food processor until fully ground, 5 to 10 pulses. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.
Continue to process until uniform paste forms, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl twice. Add yogurt and continue to process until smooth and homogeneous, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
Transfer to serving bowl, cover, and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. (Dip can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Let refrigerated dip stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.)
Season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with reserved artichoke hearts and scallion greens. Drizzle with oil and serve.
When cooking chickpeas, most recipes call for roasting them in the oven, but they never really crispen up enough. And when you crave a crunchy snack, roasting just won’t do the trick.
Switching to the stovetop and frying the chickpeas in olive oil provides the big crunch factor. A quick toss in a sweet-and-savory mixture of sugar and smoked paprika makes the chickpeas incredibly addictive.
To begin with, make sure to dry the chickpeas thoroughly with paper towels before placing them in the oil. In order to get crisp chickpeas, it’s important to keep the heat high enough to ensure the oil is simmering the entire time.
After about 12 minutes, test for doneness by removing a few chickpeas and placing them on a paper towel to cool slightly before tasting. If they are not quite crisp yet, continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes longer, checking occasionally for doneness.
Once I tasted them, I could hardly stop. What a great flavorful snack to munch on!
Combine paprika, sugar, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat until just smoking. Add chickpeas and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.
Using slotted spoon, transfer chickpeas to paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain briefly, then toss in bowl with spice mix. Serve. (Chickpeas can be kept at room temperature for up to 2 hours.)
Tangy orange-butter sauce gives Brussels sprouts a wake-up call in this recipe and paired well with our Citrus Rosemary Chicken entrée. The key is using real maple syrup and a good quality balsamic vinegar for the best flavor.
It is easily cut in half if serving 4 or less people. Truly yummy! In fact, all of our guests claimed they were the best Brussels sprouts they have ever eaten!
2 lbs. small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. finely grated orange zest
4 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt; arrange in an even layer on prepared baking sheet, cut side down.
Transfer to oven and roast until brown and tender, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking; transfer to a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, mix together vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, and orange zest; heat over medium heat until heated through but not simmering. Remove from heat and whisk in cold butter, a few pieces at a time, until smooth and creamy.
Pour vinegar mixture over Brussels sprouts and gently stir until liquid is absorbed and mixture is well combined; serve immediately.
This is an incredibly tasty Eggplant Parm dish that has been streamlined not only for the number of people it feeds, but in its simplicity and amount of time it takes from start to finish. Some of the time-consuming steps have been omitted, such as salting the eggplant slices to reduce bitterness and peeling the outer skin. We were both bowled over by how flavorful it was!
To be honest, our eggplant was about 1 1⁄2 pounds, so we slightly deviated the recipe to accommodate for the larger size. For instance, we were able to carve out three 3⁄4″ slices, which after cutting crosswise made 6 planks. To compensate, we needed another egg in Step 2, and used an extra can of tomatoes.
Some of our other changes included increasing the amount of cheese (because that’s the way we roll 🙂 ), adjusting some of the cooking times, and frying the planks in two separate batches, otherwise, we kept everything else pretty much the same. With our changes, the finished dish easily feeds 3 people.
Recipe Notes: 1. Using a sharp knife, slice off one side of eggplant (reserve) and cut two 3/4-inch planks from the center. 2. Cut planks in half crosswise so they’ll neatly fit into the pan for frying in a single batch. 3. Chop reserved side pieces into strips, then into ½-inch cubes and set aside for building the tomato pan sauce.
1⁄2 cup olive oil, plus 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 14 1⁄2 oz. can diced tomatoes
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil
1⁄2 cup shredded provolone cheese
Bread Eggplant: Cut two 3/4-inch planks lengthwise from center of eggplant, halve each plank crosswise. Cut remaining eggplant into 1/2-inch dice and set aside.
Place flour in shallow dish. Beat egg in second shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs, 1/4-cup Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in third shallow dish. One at a time, coat eggplant slices lightly with flour, dip them in egg and dredge in bread crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.
Transfer to wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet and let sit 5 minutes (or refrigerate up to 1 hour).
Cook Eggplant: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F.
Heat 1/2 cup oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook eggplant slices until lightly golden browned, about 1 minute per side.
Transfer to wire rack set inside baking sheet and bake until eggplant is tender and deep golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
Make Sauce: Meanwhile, pour off oil and wipe out skillet with paper towels. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
Add the reserved chopped eggplant and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add tomatoes and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until eggplant is tender and sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper; cover and keep warm.
Assemble: Combine remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and provolone in medium bowl. Top browned eggplant slices with cheese mixture and bake until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes (or longer if you increase the amount of cheese like we did).
Transfer half of sauce to platter and top with eggplant slices. Spoon remaining sauce over eggplant. Serve.
Hands down, our favorite new roast squash recipe! Here, hoisin mixed with rice vinegar and sesame oil makes a salty-sweet-tangy-nutty dressing for tender chunks of roasted butternut squash that provides a creamy and tasty mouthful.
You can purchase already peeled and cut squash from the grocery store, but keep in mind that if the pieces are smaller or larger than specified here, you may need to adjust the cooking time. Use a broiler-safe rimmed baking sheet, as the squash chars for about 10 minutes under the broiler.
Peeling squash was never a favorite prep step. But our new Milk Street Precision Peeler makes it so easy! Few peelers actually do what they are designed to do: shave away the skins and peels from fruits and vegetables. At a cost of $29.95, it is pricey, but so well worth it.
The ovoid shape fills the palm for comfort when gripping tight and the graceful pinch grip provides a precision hold for controlled peeling even the toughest peels, skins and zest. The blade has a wide pivot to accommodate ingredients of all shapes and size, from butternut squash and eggplant to Parmesan and chocolate. Comes with extra blades.
The weight of our two butternut squash exceeded the required 3 pounds. We decided to roast all of it (in two baking sheets) and use the remainder to accompany another meal, and make butternut squash soup. Don’t crowd the baking sheets with squash flesh otherwise it will steam and not obtain the light char that is preferable.
As far as cooking time, our sheet of squash chunks roasted in the hot oven for 15 minutes instead of 10. Then a total of 15 minutes under the broiler while turning and moving the baking sheet a few times—even so, some squash obtained more a of a char than others.
With cooler temps rolling in for the autumn and winter months, this side dish is a welcome accompaniment to grilled meats, braised dishes, vegetarian meals, and roasted poultry.
3 lbs. peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1½- to 2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
2 Tbsp. neutral oil
2 tsp. packed brown sugar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives OR 3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack 6 inches from the element.
In a large bowl, toss the squash with the neutral oil, sugar, 1 tablespoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until just shy of tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Turn the oven to broil and broil until charred and fully tender, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the hoisin, vinegar and sesame oil. When the squash is done, immediately add it and the chives to the bowl, then toss.
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.
Cherry and grape tomatoes are in abundance by late August, as is fresh corn and herbs. So this “clean-out-the-larder” approach helps you use up some of the excess staples and fresh produce in a tasty way.
It starts with a roasted cherry-tomato sauce that includes garlic, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to add a slightly sweet note. To scale back on the sweetness, switch the balsamic to red wine vinegar and reduce or omit the brown sugar.
On occasion, we have already cooked ears of corn leftover from a previous meal. Here’s a chance to use them up. Cut the kernels off the cobs and add them to boiling water when you toss in the dried fusilli.
Once the pasta is done, plate into a large serving bowl and stir in the pesto—we used a homemade sage pesto* but one made with basil will work just as well. Next fold in the tomato mixture and let guests scoop out a serving, passing the grated parmesan around for topping. A side salad makes a nice companion to the pasta and uses up more of your produce.
*FOR THE SAGE PESTO: • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted • 2 garlic cloves, minced • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves • ½ cup fresh sage leaves • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil • 1 oz. (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving • Salt and pepper Pulse pine nuts and garlic in food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add parsley and sage; with processor running, slowly add oil and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl, stir in Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
1 or 2 ears of corn, cooked with kernels cut off the cob
1⁄4 cup fresh basil or sage pesto (see recipe above)
1 lb. whole wheat fusilli, cooked according to package directions
Grated Parmesan for topping
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Mix together tomatoes and garlic in a nonreactive 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
Whisk together oil, vinegar, thyme, brown sugar and salt in a bowl. Drizzle over tomato mixture.
Bake until tomatoes are softened and caramelized, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the fusilli according to package directions, adding the corn kernels in with the pasta when the water starts to boil. Time it so the pasta is done at about the same time as the tomatoes.
Mix the pesto into the fusilli and corn and fold in the tomato mixture.
Serve, passing around the grated parmesan for topping.
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.
Eggplants, also known as aubergines or brinjals, grow all over the world. They are fruits — though, like tomatoes, they are treated more in cooking like a vegetable. In fact, they’re closely related to tomatoes and peppers. Purple eggplants are the most common cultivar in American grocery stores. Some purple fruits appear almost black due to their rich pigments.
And these coveted nightshade plants are currently in abundance from your garden, the local farmer’s market, or perhaps some friendly neighbors. With so many recipes to choose from, this particular one from Food Network uses the eggplant in a clever way.
Even though the exterior of eggplant is a gorgeous deep purple color; the beauty of this vegetable lies on the inside. This recipe takes advantage of the fact that the flesh of grilled eggplant transforms into a luscious creamy sauce that’s perfect for dressing up little tubes of rigatoni. To make the most of summer’s bounty, cherry tomatoes are grilled alongside the eggplant until bursting with juices, then mixed into this summer vegetable pasta.
Health Facts: Eggplant is rich in fiber, protein, manganese, and nutrients like potassium and vitamins C and K. It is a great source of antioxidants, which make it effective in guarding your body against future ailments. Being so rich in fiber, eggplants are also great for keeping your blood sugar levels intact.
11 oz. cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups), halved (quartered if large)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
1 cup packed basil leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
1/2 cup packed parsley leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving (optional)
Prepare a grill for high heat.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the lemon juice to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot; set aside.
Pierce the eggplant a few times with a fork or knife. Place on the grill, cover and cook, turning every 8 to 10 minutes, until completely charred all over and the flesh is soft when pressed, 25 to 30 minutes.
Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly for 10 minutes.
While the eggplant cooks, prepare 2 sheets of foil, each 12-by-12-inches, and stack them together. Place the tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper in the center of the foil. Fold over 2 opposite sides of the foil then fold in the remaining sides to create a tight seal.
When 15 minutes of cooking time remain for the eggplant, add the foil pack to the grill and cook until juices start to bubble out of the top (this means the tomatoes and garlic are sufficiently cooked without having to open the pack), 13 to 15 minutes.
Remove the eggplant to a cutting board (keeping any juices that accumulated in the bowl) and squeeze gently to crack the skin and expose the flesh. Use a spoon to remove the flesh, transfer to the large bowl and mash lightly with the spoon or a potato masher (you should have about 1 cup of flesh); discard the skin.
Stir in the ricotta and Pecorino Romano until smooth then pour into the pot with the pasta and mix until combined. Fold in the contents of the foil pack (including any juices that accumulated), the basil, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper; stir until combined, adding the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin out the sauce if needed.
Serve with more basil, parsley, Pecorino Romano and crushed red pepper flakes if using.
Zhoug, a spicy pesto-like condiment with a base of cilantro and often parsley, is popular throughout the Levant and Middle East regions. Its zip and pungency comes from fresh chilies, a small handful of spices and fresh garlic. Olive oil supplies fruity richness.
Milk Street claims zhoug is just the thing to add bold, bracing flavor to mild-tasting fillets of white fish. Readily available cod works well in this recipe, but snapper and tilapia are also good substitutes. Whichever you choose, for quick, even cooking, look for fillets no thicker than about 1 inch. Be sure to dry the fish well by patting it with paper towels, especially if it was previously frozen; removing excess moisture helps ensure they brown well in the pan.
Unable to source Serrano chiles, a jalapeño and a Fresno were substituted. Cod was the fish of choice because it was the most economical of the options—and we like it. To complete the meal, we made sides of steamed green beans lightly dressed in a flavored olive oil, salt and pepper; and whole wheat pearled couscous in homemade seafood stock (instead of water), then finished with sautéed shallot and minced parsley.
NOTE: Don’t leave the cilantro wet after rinsing. Be sure to dry it well so there’s no residual water to cause sogginess during processing. Also, don’t move the fish around once it’s in the skillet, and don’t worry if it releases a little a liquid during cooking. The skinless fillets are delicate, so minimal maneuvering is best to keep them intact, as well as for best browning.
4 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 1 large bunch), roughly chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 serrano chilies, stemmed, halved and seeded
1½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 6-oz. skinless cod, snapper or tilapia fillets, each about 1 inch thick, patted dry
Lemon wedges, to serve
In a food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, chilies, coriander, cumin, cardamom, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Process until roughly chopped, about 20 seconds.
Add the ¼ cup oil and process until smooth, about another 30 seconds. Transfer ¼ cup zhoug to a small bowl; set aside for serving.
Season the fish all over with salt and pepper, then brush the one side with half of the remaining zhoug. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering.
Add the fillets zhoug-side down, brush the tops with the remaining zhoug and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottoms, 3 to 5 minutes.
Using a wide metal spatula, carefully flip the fillets. Cook until golden brown on the second sides and the fillets are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Using the spatula, transfer the fillets to a platter. Serve with the reserved zhoug and lemon wedges.
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.