Tag Archives: vegetarian

Cheesy and Creamy Fennel Gratin

Hands down, one of our most favorite side dishes ever! American chef and cookbook author David Tanis‘ homey but sophisticated Cheesy and Creamy Fennel Gratin casserole, incorporates fresh mozzarella, fennel seed, garlic, crushed red pepper and rosemary, plus a hearty glug of olive oil to help the flavors meld in the oven.

To avoid stringy and tough cooked fennel, David explains in his latest book, “David Tanis Market Cooking,” to blanch the fennel for a few minutes, drain, then run under cold water, a process that just barely tenderizes the fennel slices. The result, after baking, strikes the ideal balance between toothsome bite and jammy caramelized onion.

Since many supermarket mozzarellas lack the creaminess of harder-to-find fresh, Milk Street (where we found this recipe) opts for a blend of shredded fontina and provolone. And mixing Parmesan into panko breadcrumbs creates a solid crust that contrasts with the tender fennel beneath. Finally, a sprinkle of fresh parsley adds a pop of color and grassy notes to balance the cheese. This simple combination elevates the dish into something much more than the sum of its parts, and was a perfect compliment to our rack of lamb entrée.

Important: Don’t use a baking dish or pan that is not broiler safe. After baking, the gratin spends a couple minutes under the broiler to brown the topping, so be sure the vessel can withstand the intense heat.

Cheesy and Creamy Fennel Gratin

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 medium fennel bulbs (about 2½ lbs. total), halved lengthwise, cored and sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (¾ cup)
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 oz. fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 4 oz. provolone cheese, shredded (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the upper-middle position.
  2. In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil. Add the fennel and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under running cold water until cool to the touch. Shake the colander to remove as much water as possible, then lay the slices out on a kitchen towel and thoroughly pat them dry.
  3. In a 9-by-13-inch broiler-safe baking dish, toss together the fennel, oil, rosemary, fennel seeds, pepper flakes and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper; distribute in an even layer.
  4. Roast until beginning to brown and a skewer inserted into the fennel meets no resistance, 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the Parmesan, panko and garlic.
  6. Remove the baking dish from the oven and turn on the broiler. Evenly distribute the fontina and provolone over the top of the fennel, then sprinkle on the Parmesan-panko mixture.
  7. Broil until the top is nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

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Adapted by Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Feast for Funghi Fanatics

A glorious meat-free dish that contains four types of mushroom and two types of cheese which lend it the most satisfying, and savory intensity. They claim there’s a fair amount of heat in this Spicy Mushroom Lasagna, but we beg to differ, we could barely detect any heat. However, if you feel the need to tone it down a bit, reduce the amount of pepper and omit the chili altogether.

The mushrooms are the star here and their flavor truly shines. Those layers of flavor and umami build on each other with each delicious bite. Yes, quite a LOT of time and effort is necessary, as it is prep- and ingredient-intense, yet the result is well worth your effort. To get ahead, build the lasagna one day, chill, then bake the next.

One reviewer wrote “The umami factor here was really off the charts. To me it was one of those rare recipes in which all the ingredients sound good by themselves and smell wonderful when cooking, but when brought together, the finished product is head and shoulders above the individual parts.” We have to agree…

You will be dehydrating the fresh mushrooms and rehydrating the dried mushrooms, then mixing them altogether to obtain a very tasty, meaty consistency. While the original recipe called for only two plum tomatoes, we decided to double that and added in 4 large. Paired with a side salad and a glass of wine, it was the perfect Sunday evening meal.

Spicy Mushroom Lasagna

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For the fresh mushrooms

  • 26 oz. cremini or baby bella mushrooms halved
  • 18 oz. oyster mushrooms or other wild mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. table salt

For the dried mushrooms

  • 2 1/4 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 oz. dried wild mushrooms or dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 dried red chili peppers roughly chopped (seeded if desired)
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. hot vegetable stock

For the filling

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and quartered
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 medium plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper plus more as desired
  • 3 1/3 cups water
  • 9 Tbsp. heavy cream (just a touch more than 1/2 cup)
  • 2/3 cup pecorino, finely grated
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus 1 tsp.
  • 12 oz. oven-ready dried lasagna sheets (about 14 sheets)

Directions

Roast the fresh mushrooms

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, working in 3 or 4 batches, add the button mushrooms and oyster mushrooms and pulse each batch until finely chopped (or finely chop everything by hand). Avoid filling the processor bowl more than halfway so that the mushrooms are finely chopped and not over processed.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the chopped mushrooms with the oil and salt. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Roast near the top of the oven, stirring 3 or so times throughout, until the mushrooms are golden brown and have reduced in volume significantly, 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool.
  5. Decrease the oven temperature to 425°F.

Rehydrate the dried mushrooms

  1. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all the dried mushrooms, the chiles, and hot stock, and let soak for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid into another bowl, squeezing as much liquid from the mushrooms as possible to get just under 1 1/2 cups—if you have any less, top up with water.
  2. Very roughly chop the rehydrated mushrooms (you want some chunks) and finely chop the chili peppers. Set the stock and mushrooms aside separately.

Make the filling

  1. In the food processor, combine the onion, garlic, and carrot, and pulse until finely chopped or finely chop everything by hand.
  2. In a large sauté pan or pot over medium-high heat, warm 4 tablespoons oil. Once hot, add the onion mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 8 minutes.
  3. In the food processor, pulse the tomatoes until finely chopped or finely chop by hand and then add them to the pan along with the tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes.
  4. Add the rehydrated mushrooms and chiles and the roasted mushrooms and cook for 9 minutes, stirring only once during the cooking. Resist the urge to stir more frequently; you want the mushrooms to be slightly crisp and browned on the bottom.
  5. Stir in the water and reserved stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until you get the consistency of a ragù, about 25 minutes.
  6. Stir in 7 tablespoons of the cream and simmer for 2 minutes more, then remove from the heat.
  7. In a small bowl, combine both cheeses, the basil, and 1/2 cup parsley.
  8. Spread 1/5 of the sauce in the bottom of a round 12-inch baking dish or a 9-by-13-inch rectangular dish, then top with 1/5 of the cheese mixture, followed by a layer of lasagna sheets, broken to fit where necessary. Repeat these layers 3 more times in that order. Finish with a final layer of sauce and cheese; that’s 5 layers of sauce, 5 layers of cheese, and 4 layers of pasta.
  9. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon cream and 1 tablespoon olive oil, then cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, increase the temperature to 450°F, and bake for 12 minutes more, rotating the dish halfway through.
  10. Turn the oven to the broil setting and broil until the edges are brown and crisp, about 2 minutes.
  11. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes or so, then drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon cream and 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with the 1 teaspoon parsley and finish with a good grind of pepper. Serve immediately.

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Recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage

Fusilli with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage

As we were eating this lovely pasta dish, The Hubs exclaimed how much he liked it. I responded “And the list of ingredients was short for such depth of flavor and it was simple to boot!” Then he looked at the Milk Street recipe print out and saw that this adaptation hailed from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook titled “Simple”—how serendipitous!

That being said, I cut back the pasta from 12 to 8 ounces because it did not seem that the amount of sauce would be sufficient for the larger quantity. With gentle simmering and a bit of water to facilitate cooking, cherry or grape tomatoes are transformed into a bold pasta sauce. To ratchet up the flavor, herbs, red pepper flakes and pecorino Romano are added. Try to get a block of the cheese to create shavings as opposed to the already grated variety.

Fusilli was our choice, but spaghetti or bucatini (a tubular pasta resembling thick spaghetti) also pairs particularly well with the sauce. Be aware that you do not want to simmer the tomatoes until there is no liquid remaining. Some moisture is needed for the sauce to cling to the pasta.

Fusilli with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ tsp. white sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 8 oz. fusilli, bucatini pasta or spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
  • ¾ tsp. smoked paprika
  • Shaved pecorino Romano, to serve

Directions

  1. Add the oil to a 12-inch skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the garlic, pepper flakes and bay, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a steady simmer, until the tomatoes have fully broken down and the sauce is thick enough that a spatula drawn through it leaves a trail, 40 to 50 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and remove and discard the bay. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sage and the smoked paprika, then cover to keep warm.
  5. When the sauce is almost ready, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons salt and the fusilli, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
  6. Drain the pasta, then return to the pot. Add the sauce and toss until well combined. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sage and shaved pecorino, then drizzle with additional oil.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe by Milk Street

Fall-Apart Caramelized Cabbage

According to Bon Appétit, this is one of the easiest, most delicious ways to cook down a whole head of cabbage until it’s falling-apart tender. And those gorgeous Autumn colors welcome you to a new cooler season.

Numerous reviewers mentioned they had, or wished they had, doubled the sauce, therefore I went ahead with that suggestion. I also added some smoked paprika, just enough to give it a slightly smoky kick. Finally, homemade chicken stock was subbed for the water. Of course, if you are vegetarian you could keep the water or use vegetable stock.

If the spiced tomato paste has reduced and the pan starts getting dry and dark before the cabbage is ready, just add a splash of water to loosen and let it keep going.

The Hubs couldn’t get enough, he even wanted to drink any leftover sauce—good thing I doubled it! He said the aroma and taste reminded him of Gołąbki without the filling. Smacznego!

Fall-Apart Caramelized Cabbage

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup double-concentrated tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium head of savoy cabbage (about 2 lb. total)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (or water to keep it vegetarian)
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped dill, parsley, or cilantro
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt or sour cream (for serving)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix tomato paste, garlic, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
  2. Cut cabbage in half through core. Cut each half through core into 4 wedges, so that the core remains on each piece.
  3. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Working in batches if needed, add cabbage to pan cut side down and season with salt. Cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cabbage to a plate. You may have to add a bit more oil to the pan if doing a second batch.
  4. Pour remaining ¼ cup oil into skillet. Add spiced tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to split and slightly darken, 3–4 minutes. Pour in enough chicken stock (or water) to come halfway up sides of pan (about 2 cups), season with salt, and bring to a simmer.
  5. Nestle cabbage wedges back into skillet (they should have shrunk while browning; a bit of overlap is okay). Transfer cabbage to oven and bake, uncovered and turning wedges halfway through, until very tender, liquid is mostly evaporated, and cabbage is caramelized around the edges, 40–50 minutes.
  6. Scatter dill over cabbage. Serve with yogurt alongside.

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Adapted from a recipe by Andy Baraghani for Bon Appétit

Sheet Pan Caponata and Couscous with Goat Cheese

An Italian, Middle-Eastern mash-up if you will. In a twist, this version of Sicilian eggplant dish is roasted on a sheet pan in the oven, so you don’t have to bother with any deep- or pan-frying. The tomato paste and cinnamon give it depth, the sherry vinegar lends brightness, and the raisins and brown sugar offer balance.

This variation on Italian caponata becomes a main course atop fluffy couscous and creamy goat cheese. Buy the freshest eggplant you can find, it should feel heavy and have no soft spots, and you won’t need to peel or salt it to pull out any bitterness. Because pine nuts are traditional in caponata, they’re the first choice, but they can be pricey so pepitas or chopped walnuts make fine substitutions. Finally, if you don’t like goat cheese, substitute ricotta or farmer cheese. But the cheese adds a welcome component, so don’t omit it.

Under the couscous, the goat cheese melts into a creamy, salty, tangy puddle.

G. Daniela galarza

NOTE: Leftovers may be refrigerated in covered containers for up to 4 days.

Sheet Pan Caponata and Couscous with Goat Cheese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

For the Caponata

  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. Japanese or globe eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium yellow or red onion (8 to 10 oz.), chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato (6 to 8 oz.), chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar or honey, or to taste
  • 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup raisins (any kind)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, pepitas or chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, or to taste

For the Couscous

  • 1 1/2 cups water or low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) couscous

For Serving

  • 3 oz. soft goat cheese, or more if desired
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil, mint or parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
  2. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Add the eggplant, onion, bell pepper, tomato and garlic, and use your hands to toss everything together. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, followed by the brown sugar or honey, salt, cinnamon and black pepper. Toss again, then spread into an even layer.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, using tongs or a spatula, flip and redistribute vegetables so they cook evenly. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
  4. Transfer the pan to a heatproof surface. Mash the garlic cloves into a paste. Push the vegetables aside to expose a small area of the hot metal and place the tomato paste on it. Using a wooden spoon, stir the tomato paste into the vegetables, followed by the raisins, nuts or seeds, water and vinegar; stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with more vinegar, sugar, salt and/or pepper as desired.
  5. Make the couscous: About 10 minutes before the eggplant is finished roasting, in a medium lidded saucepan over high heat, bring the water or stock, olive oil and salt to a rolling boil. Immediately pour in the couscous, ensuring it’s moistened throughout, then cover, remove from the heat and let it steam for about 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. To serve, portion about a quarter of the goat cheese into the center of each plate. Top with a pile of couscous and some of the caponata. Garnish with the torn herbs and more goat cheese, if desired.

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Recipe by G. Daniela Galarza from the Eat Voraciously newsletter

Roasted Green Beans with Pecorino and Pine Nuts

If you want earthy, sweet green beans with moist interiors and just the right amount of browning, this roasted bean recipe from Cook’s Country does the trick. Because they are often dry and leathery; start by covering the roasting beans which are mixed with oil, salt, pepper, and sugar and let them gently steam for 10 minutes.

The sugar promotes browning when the foil is removed to let the beans blister in the oven’s high heat. To add a lively bite to the flavorful beans, toss them with a lemon vinaigrette and top them with salty, sharp Pecorino and crunchy pine nuts.

Salmon with Sautéed Tomatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs. green beans, trimmed
  • 5 ½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ tsp. sugar
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 4 tsp. juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 ½ oz. Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Combine green beans, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, sugar, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Evenly distribute green beans on rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Cover sheet tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until green beans are spotty brown, about 10 minutes longer, stirring halfway through roasting.
  4. Meanwhile, combine garlic, lemon zest, and remaining 1/4 cup oil in medium bowl and microwave until bubbling, about 1 minute; let mixture steep for 1 minute. Whisk lemon juice, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into garlic mixture.
  5. Transfer green beans to bowl with dressing, add basil, and toss to combine. Transfer to serving platter and sprinkle with Pecorino and pine nuts. Serve.

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Recipe from Cook’s Country

Greek-Inspired Beans and Tomatoes

By mid-August we harvest green beans on a daily basis. Even with gifting friends our excess supply, the beans will be a staple for dinner many nights a week. We’ve roasted, grilled, steamed and boiled them either alone or in combination with other veggies.

I asked The Hubs to whip something together that would use both an abundance of the beans and our plum and grape tomatoes, and that would compliment our dry rubbed loin lamb chops and Herby Potato Salad. Greek-style instantly came to his mind, which typically uses flat Romano beans. However using our freshly picked pole beans, the dish was still hearty, healthy and bursting with fresh and vibrant colors and flavors.

In lieu of blanching the beans first, you could add them raw at the halfway point of cooking the tomatoes. Just keep a sharp eyeball on the beans so that they are crisp-tender and not overcooked, limp and no longer bright green.

Greek-Inspired Beans and Tomatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed, blanched
  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin oilive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. plum/grape/cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. Blanche* the green beans in salted boiling water for 2 to 3 minuted depending on how thick they are. Drain and immediately drop in an ice bath until cool. Drain in a colander.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat oil until shimmering over medium heat. Add garlic slices and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the onion to the garlic with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until the onions are softened, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, turn the heat back up to medium, stir in a 1⁄2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of the oregano. Stir well, partially cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally until tomatoes break down and release their juices.
    *If you choose not to blanche the beans, you can add raw beans 5 minutes into cooking the tomatoes, and cook just until beans are crisp-tender, about 5-6 minutes more.
  5. Stir in the blanched beans and remaining oregano and cook for 1-2 minutes more while beans heat through. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Serve immediately.

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Cod with Scallion-Sesame Butter

WOW, what a refreshing and surprising fish dish from Bon Appétit! This nod to scallion-ginger sauce uses both butter and olive oil, giving extra richness to lean whitefish. A dusting of cornstarch, which I added using a sifter for uniformity, imparts that restaurant-style golden crisp.

Our cod was paired with tri-colored couscous and fresh green beans, both of which made happy with the scallion-butter sauce. Seeing as how olive oil is an integral ingredient, use a high-end EVOO, you’ll definitely taste the difference. It seems almost too simple with the short list of common ingredients to end up so tasty!

Cod with Scallion-Sesame Butter

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 6-oz. cod or other flaky whitefish fillets
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch or all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 1” piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Directions

  • Pat fish dry with paper towels; season with salt. Sprinkle one side with an even layer of cornstarch; brush off excess.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Lay fish, cornstarch side down, in skillet and cook, shaking pan occasionally, until golden, crisp, and opaque around the edges, 6–8 minutes. Turn fish over and cook just until fillets are cooked through and flake easily with a fork, 1–2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place scallions in a medium heatproof bowl. Combine butter, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and remaining 4 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to foam and garlic turns light golden, about 4 minutes.
  • Pour over scallions, stirring to wilt. Let cool 1 minute, then season with salt.
  • Serve fish with scallion-sesame butter spooned over.

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Recipe from Chris Morocco for Bon Appétit

Asparagus with Vietnamese Scallion Sauce

Adding fresh allium notes as well as bright green color to any dish, Vietnamese scallion oil, called mỡ hành, is used as a garnish or condiment on a number of different foods, here we are adding it to cooked asparagus.

This version from Milk Street includes savory fish sauce (or soy sauce), pungent ginger and a little sugar to build complexity. Try it on shrimp, steak, grilled pork chops, corn on the cob or steamed dumplings. Leftover scallion oil can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days; return it to room temperature before serving.

For proper texture and flavor, the scallions should be chopped. Slice them first, then run the knife blade over them a few times to further break them down.

Asparagus with Vietnamese Scallion Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup chopped scallions (5 or 6 scallions)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup peanut or other neutral oil
  • 1½ Tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed and halved on the diagonal
  • 3 Tbsp. water

Directions

  1. In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the scallions, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Using your fingers, gently rub the salt and pepper into the scallions until the scallions begin to wilt.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering, then pour the hot oil over the scallions; the scallions will sizzle. Stir, then stir in the fish sauce, ginger and sugar. Cool to room temperature.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil until barely smoking. Add asparagus and cook, stirring only a few times, until charred. Add 3 tablespoons water, then immediately cover. Reduce to low and cook, stirring just once or twice, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with scallion oil spooned over.

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Recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

A Fabulous Greek Bean Salad

This delicious simple bean salad, Fasolia Piaz, was found in our Milk Street magazine and had the Mediterranean profile we were looking for. In Greece they typically use large, flat butter beans, but here, easier-to-find cannellinis are incorporated.

To compensate for canned beans’ blandness, they are heated in the microwave, then tossed while still hot with oil, vinegar and aromatics. As the beans cool, they absorb the seasonings, so they’re flavorful throughout.

A bonus, the beans can be heated, dressed and refrigerated up to a day in advance; but bring the beans to room temperature before tossing with the avocado, herbs and lemon. However, even cold the salad is delicious. A great dish to serve at a picnic or potluck as a side for meat lovers, or as a main for plant-based followers.

Milk Street stresses not to skip the step of heating the beans in the microwave, and don’t allow the beans to cool before adding the oil, vinegar and aromatics. Dressing them while hot ensures they are fully infused with flavor. To keep the flavors and colors fresh and bright, don’t add the avocado and herbs until you’re ready to serve.

Greek Bean Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 15½-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more, to serve
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley, torn if large
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, toss the beans with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high until hot, 3 to 3½ minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  2. To the hot beans, add the garlic, onion, vinegar, oil, 2 teaspoons salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Let stand until cooled to room temperature, about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  3. Stir the beans once again, then stir in the avocado, parsley, dill and lemon zest and juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with additional oil.

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Adapted by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Baked Eggplant Parm with Chunky Tomato Sauce

It’s not unusual that most of us would like to cut calories and fat where we can, but not loose flavor. With this riff on a Martha Stewart recipe, you bake rather than fry, for less mess and less fat. In addition, there is no salting of the eggplant to extract moisture—a process I’ve never grown fond of.

Another plus, make the chunky tomato sauce a day or two ahead and save time on dinner night. It only takes about 20 minutes total, then refrigerate in an air tight container, and you’re one step ahead of the game.

As we prepped the dish, we realized that a few tweaks to the recipe were needed. After coating the slices for one of the eggplants, we noted there would not be enough for all the remaining slices, so we quickly increased by about another 50%; while the amount of egg wash was spot on.

The shredded mozzarella was increased to 2 cups from 1 1/2, although we would even increase it more next time! The dried basil was swapped out for fresh, making sure to add it between layers as well as a garnish. One of those grocery store clamshells of basil is the perfect amount. These changes are noted in the ingredients below.

It was so light and tasty, The Hubs claimed it might be the best Eggplant Parm he’s ever had! Can’t wait to attack those leftovers… Serves 8 as a side dish, 6 as a main.

Baked Eggplant Parm with Chunky Tomato Sauce

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

Chunky Tomato Sauce (Yields 6 cups)

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (28 oz. each) whole tomatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Eggplant Parm

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 Tbsp. for topping
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 oz. fresh basil, chopped to equal a loose 1/2 cup, save some whole leaves for garnish
  • 2 large eggplants (2 1/2 lbs. total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2+ cups shredded mozzarella

Directions

  1. Tomato Sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until translucent, 2 to 4 minutes. Crush tomatoes into pan; add oregano. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Make up to 3 days ahead.
  2. Eggplant Parm: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 1 cup grated Parmesan, and oregano; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.
  4. Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with 2 cups sauce, then 1 cup mozzarella and 1/2 of the chopped basil. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, mozzarella and basil; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives (and Pork Tenderloin)

Here, we first decided on our side of Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives before we committed to the main course of Sear-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary, Coriander and Mustard. Nothing boring about our penchant for Mediterranean cuisines where the flavors are big and brash, heavy on citrus, spices and bold ingredients used with abandon.

The vegetarian sweet potatoes dish was in a recent copy of Milk Street magazine who noted it originally came from German food blogger Meike Peters. So the challenge was to find a main course that would stand up to the bold flavors. In Molly Stevens’ “All About Roasting” cookbook she wrote an article on basic sear-roasted pork tenderloin that lists four different flavor options.

Our first choice, orange- and thyme-rubbed, would have been a perfect “plate-mate,” however the pork had to be seasoned for 4-24 hours ahead of time, a luxury we didn’t have. So choice number two was seasoned with rosemary, mustard and coriander—a spice also in the potato recipe. This mustard-based paste turned the simple pork tenderloin into something fragrant and special with little effort.

Now about that side dish. First, cook the potatoes with a small amount of orange juice and water until tender, then stir in candied citrus zest and chopped black olives, which provide depth and pops of briny flavor. This recipe resonated not only for its bold flavors, but also for its use of a low-liquid braise, a technique that concentrates flavor. 

In Milk Street’s version, you’ll get plenty of citrus notes from the coriander and juice, and this keeps the recipe a one-pot preparation, woohoo! Then the onions are browned more for a slightly deeper flavor and cayenne pepper adds an extra bit of savoriness.

BUT, and it’s a big one, we instinctively knew that there was no way those potato chunks would be tender in 8-11 minutes. And they were not. Plan on adding another 10 minutes to this step.

TIP: Don’t use a narrow saucepan or pot for this recipe. The wider diameter of a Dutch oven allows the potatoes to be distributed in a thinner layer, which results in more even cooking.

Braised Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Olives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ⅔ cup orange juice
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup black or green pitted olives, or a mixture, chopped

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven over medium-high, cook the oil and coriander seeds, stirring, until fragrant and sizzling, 2 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes, orange juice, cayenne, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and ½ cup water. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, 8 to 11 minutes. (It took ours 20 minutes until tender.)
  4. Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid has almost fully reduced and the potatoes are glazed, about 2 minutes.
  5. Off heat, stir in the olives. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

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The inspiration comes from a recipe in “365,” a cookbook by German food blogger Meike Peters; reimagined by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Citrus Couscous Salad

The temps are warming here in southeastern PA, which starts our craving for brighter tasting food. This Citrus Couscous Salad recipe was spotted in Fine Cooking Magazine, but originated in Better Homes & Gardens from what I can surmise. Doesn’t really matter, we made numerous changes to make it our own.

Orange zest, juice, and segments brighten up this fresh take on a “pasta” salad recipe. Despite popular belief that couscous is a type of whole grain (it does have a rice-like appearance), it is actually a pasta made of semolina and wheat flour that is moistened and tossed together until it forms little balls. (Sorry keto-friendly dieters.)

Not only does couscous cook quickly—a plus for most home cooks—it is an excellent main or side dish that pleases almost anyone’s palate. While the original recipe used 6 oranges, and fed as many, the ingredients list here was halved for the most part. Although, the thyme and olive quantities remain the same, pine nuts were swapped out for the hazelnuts.

Because it can sit at room temperature, it would be a great asset at any pot luck or picnic.

Citrus Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 large Cara Cara, navel, or other oranges
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1⁄2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 3⁄4 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1⁄2 cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp. pinenuts, toasted
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped, pitted Castelvetrano olives or Manzanilla olives
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. coarse salt
  • ⅛ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)

Directions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler remove strips of zest from one orange, being careful not to remove the white pith; set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan with a tight lid heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add couscous; cook 2 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring often. Add two orange strips, broth, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat; reduce heat. Cover; cook 12 to 15 minutes or until couscous is tender and all liquid is absorbed. Let cool; discard strips.
  3. Meanwhile, using a paring knife, remove peel and pith from the other two oranges. Working over a small bowl to catch juices, cut out each segment from membranes. (Or slice into wheels.)
  4. For citrus oil: Chop enough of the remaining orange strips to get 1 tablespoon In a 10-inch skillet combine chopped strips, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the garlic, and thyme. Heat over low heat 5 minutes or until warm; set aside.
  5. To serve, on a platter combine orange segments and juices, couscous, red onion, pinenuts and olives. Drizzle with red wine vinegar. Spoon citrus oil over top. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and, if desired, crushed red pepper.

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Adapted from a recipe by Better Homes and Gardens

Tagliatelle with Portobellos and Chive Ricotta

In this hearty vegetarian dish borrowed from Milk Street, an umami-rich mushroom sauce combines with tarragon-tossed tagliatelle pasta. Red miso and mild portobellos ground the flavors in earthy richness that contrasts well with a finishing spoonful of chive-seasoned ricotta cheese. It is rich and filling, so a simple side salad makes a nice accompaniment.

Tagliatelle, which oddly enough we were unable to find, is an egg noodle similar in shape to fettuccine, but with a finer texture and richer flavor. Dried versions are often sold bundled in nests. In its place, we substituted pappardelle, where the only difference is in dimension—pappardella is one and a half wider than tagliatelle and slightly thicker (although Cipriani is a very thin pasta).

Milk Street notes that the time table for this recipe is 30 minutes. It took us double that even though our brand of pasta took only 4 minutes for al dente. Not sure why, maybe the prep took longer?? Just want to give you a heads up on that possibility.

TIP: The mushroom gills will give the sauce a murky appearance if left on, so make sure to scrape them off.

Tagliatelle with Portobellos and Chive Ricotta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. dried tagliatelle
  • 4 Tbsp. salted butter, divided
  • 2 lbs. portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 medium shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp. red miso
  • 1/2 cup fresh tarragon leaves, finely chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, chives and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt and cook until al dente.
  2. Reserve 2 cups of the cooking water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water; toss to coat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until foaming.
  4. Add the mushrooms, shallots and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and are well browned, about 10 minutes.
  5. Pour in the wine, scrape up any browned bits and simmer until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour in the remaining 1½ cups reserved cooking water, bring to a simmer and cook over medium-high until the mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes.
  7. Off heat, stir in the miso and remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the tarragon to the pasta and toss, then transfer to a serving bowl. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the pasta. Serve dolloped with the ricotta mixture and drizzled with olive oil.

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Recipe courtesy of Milk Street

Eggplant Involtini

Here’s a lighter version of Eggplant Involtini that focuses on the eggplant. Baking instead of frying allows you to skip the salting and draining step, since the eggplant’s excess moisture evaporates in the oven, and it means that the eggplant’s flavor and meaty texture are not obscured by oil and breading. This was sooo good, we can’t wait to make it again!

Swapping the usual ricotta-heavy filling for one that’s boosted with a generous dose of Pecorino Romano means we can use less filling without sacrificing flavor. Lastly, make a simple but complementary tomato sauce in a skillet, add the eggplant bundles to it, and finish it under the broiler, which decreases the number of dishes required—always a plus in our book!

Of course we put our own spin on the dish, first by utilizing the pieces of eggplant cut away before planking them. What a waste it would be to discard all of that—about 3 cups worth! So we cubed those leftover pieces into about a 3/8″ dice and sautéed them in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil until softened before adding the tomatoes to the same skillet.

Now here comes the real twist. We added very thin slices of prosciutto on top of the eggplant slices before spooning on the cheese filling. Of course this step makes it no longer vegetarian, but that extra ingredient added even more depth of flavor. And we served ours with a side of gemelli pasta, which negates the low-carb factor, if you’re not concerned with that aspect.

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants (1 1/2 pounds each), peeled
  • 9 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed coarsely in their juices
  • 1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 oz. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ oz. grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 oz. very thin slices of prosciutto, cut in half crosswise (optional)

Directions

  1. Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks (you should have 12-15 planks). Trim rounded surface from each end piece so it lies flat.
  2. Cut up those leftover rounded pieces into a 3/8″ dice and sauté them in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in your large skillet until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Adjust 1 oven rack to lower-middle position and second rack 8 inches from broiler element. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and spray generously with vegetable oil spray. Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on prepared sheets. Brush 1 side of eggplant slices with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Flip eggplant slices and brush with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Bake until tender and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using thin spatula, flip each slice over. Heat broiler.
  5. While eggplant planks cook, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the diced eggplant in same broiler-safe skillet over medium-low heat until just shimmering. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in hand crushed tomatoes and their juice. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Cover and set aside.
  6. Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Combine bread crumbs, ricotta, 1/2 cup Pecorino, 1/4 cup basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.
  7. With widest ends of eggplant slices facing you, place a half slice of prosciutto, if using, on the wide end of each plank. Next, evenly distribute ricotta mixture on bottom third of each slice. Gently roll up each eggplant slice and place seam side down in tomato sauce.
  8. Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until eggplant is well browned and cheese is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Pecorino and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil and serve.

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Adapted from The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook for America’s Test Kitchen