Za’atar Pasta Salad

zaatar pasta salad

Watch me make this on my YouTube!

 

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

 

Pasta:

16 ounces small pasta of your choice (such as fusilli, geminelli, cavatelli)

2 tablespoons kosher salt

 

Vinaigrette:

1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced on a Microplane (1 teaspoon)

1 large shallot, peeled and diced small (1/3 cup)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon red pepper (chili) flakes

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

 

Salad:

6 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (10-ounce) jar pitted Castelvetrano olives, drained and roughly chopped

2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated

1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

4 persian or English cucumbers, halved and sliced thinly on a bias

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

4 teaspoons za’atar, plus more to taste

 

Add 16 cups water to a pot. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a rolling boil.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (almost done, or “to the tooth”).

While pasta is cooking, add vinaigrette ingredients to a very large bowl. Whisk vigorously until emulsified just before adding pasta.

When pasta is done, drain (do not rinse) and add to the large bowl with the (now whisked) vinaigrette. Mix thoroughly.

Let pasta vinaigrette mixture rest at room temperature until it has cooled. Stir occasionally.

While cooling, add all salad ingredients except za’atar to a medium bowl.

Once pasta is room temperature, add salad ingredients to the pasta and gently fold to combine.

Sprinkle za’atar over salad and fold again to combine. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper and za’atar.

Serve and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Brown Butter Sweet Corn Pancakes

corn pancake

Watch me make this on my YouTube Channel!

Yields: 12 pancakes

Spice Mix:

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.

 

Pancake Mix:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted until browned, cooled slightly, plus more for greasing the pan

½ cup low-fat buttermilk

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup stone-ground whole-grain cornmeal (not coarse)

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoon spice mix

3 scallions (green onions), very thinly sliced (½ cup)

2 cups fresh corn or thawed frozen corn

 

In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk, eggs and adobo sauce.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper and spice mix. Add the liquids from the small bowl into the large bowl. Fold together until just combined. Fold in the scallions and corn with a rubber spatula.

Place a large nonstick pan over medium heat for 1½ minutes.  Add a small amount of butter to pan, just enough to lightly coat. Scoop batter into ¼ cup measure cup. Add the batter to the pan using a spoon to get it out of the measuring cup. Gently press the pancake batter with the back of the spoon to flatten it and form a 3-inch pancake. (Cook 3 to 4 pancakes at a time.) Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Pro tip: start your timer after the last pancake is added to the pan. Repeat until all pancakes are cooked.

Transfer pancakes to a cookie rack until all are made and you are ready to serve.

 

Pancake Topping Options:

Sour Cream

Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped

Cotija Cheese, crumbled

Avocado, sliced

Green onions, thinly sliced

Spice mix

To serve, place 3 pancakes on a plate. Top with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of the spice mix and all of your favorite toppings.

Tray Bake Eggplant Parmesan

traybakeeggplantparm

Watch me make this on my YouTube channel!

 

Tray Bake Eggplant Parmesan

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

 

3 medium Italian eggplants (approximately 2 pounds), tops removed

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1½ cups marinara sauce (your choice!)

6-ounces grated/shredded whole milk mozzarella

2-ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

5 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled and sliced very thinly (chiffonade)

 

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise. With the skin side resting on a cutting board, score the flesh into a 1/4–inch crosshatch pattern. Score the flesh as deep as possible while trying not to cut through the skin. Open the eggplant, spreading and bending the eggplant so it lays as flat as possible, flesh side up. The goal is to have it lay almost completely flat – skin down. To accommodate this, you can make small cuts around the circumference of the eggplant to release any tension in the eggplant.

Lay eggplant halves flesh side up on a parchment-lined sheet tray.

Brush olive oil (1 tablespoon per eggplant half) evenly over flesh. Sprinkle each half with a little salt. Transfer to oven and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray after 15 minutes.

Remove sheet tray from the oven. Spread ¼ cup marinara on top of each eggplant half. Then top each with mozzarella, followed by Parmigiano, some pepper and lastly the panko.

Transfer to oven and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown.

Remove from oven. Top each eggplant with pine nuts, basil and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.

Notes:

  • Want to add a bit more marinara or a bit more cheese? Go for it – it’s only gonna make it better!
  • Although you can use Japanese eggplant for this recipe, I have found that the skin of the Italian eggplant variety is less bitter and therefore works best for this application

 

Spicy Smashed Cucumber Salad

Spicy Smashed Cuc salad

For those of you who like spice – this recipe is for you! The play of the heat from the red pepper flakes and numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorns (commonly used in Sichuan cuisine) makes this dish have an addictive quality. That, plus it’s easy to whip up AND when you have a glut of summer cucumbers on hand, it’s nice to try something new!

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Smashed Cucumbers:
1 pound small cucumbers, Persian or Japanese, ends trimmed and halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
1 tablespoon natural (unseasoned) rice wine vinegar
¾ teaspoon dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons roughly chopped dry roasted peanuts
1 scallion, ends trimmed, sliced thinly (white and light green part), optional

Place cucumbers flesh side down on a cutting board. Gently smash with the side of a large knife. Tear into bite sized pieces.

Place vinegar, sugar, oil and salt in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Add cucumbers, peanuts and scallion (if using) and stir to combine.
Spiced Oil:
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper (chili flakes)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Turn heat to medium low. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic turns light brown, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour spicy oil over cucumbers. Fold to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and serve.

Baby Yellow Potatoes with a Lemony Herb Citronette

German Butterball Potatoes

Yields: 2 servings

 

1 pound small yellow potatoes (preferably German Butterball or Baby Yukon Gold), cut into eighths

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 small shallot, peeled and diced finely

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh oregano

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh chives

¼ cup crumbled fresh sheep’s milk feta

 

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan. Cover potatoes with cold water, just enough to cover by ½-inch. Add the salt and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through (easily pierced with a fork), but not falling apart approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add shallot, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper to a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Drain potatoes and add to the mixing bowl along with the oregano and chives. Mix to combine.

Serve potatoes topped with crumbled feta.

Summer Heirloom Tomato Tart with Fresh Herbs

tomato tart

Yields: 1 (15- by 10-inch tart), 12 pieces

 

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

All-purpose flour (for dusting)

½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

¾ cup freshly grated Emmental or Gruyere cheese

freshly ground black pepper

1 whole egg

1 tablespoon water

1 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, preferably assorted colors (about 4 small), sliced ¼-inch thick

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme and marjoram

zest of one small lemon (zested on a Microplane)

salt flakes, preferably Maldon or Jacobsen sea salt, to taste

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

 

Arrange an oven rack in the upper middle position. Place an inverted sheet tray on the rack. Preheat oven (and sheet tray) to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out puff pastry on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper in the shape of a large rectangle measuring about 15- by 10-inches. Prick pastry with a fork in a few places, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges, then slide parchment paper onto a second inverted sheet tray.

Brush the ½ tablespoon of olive oil on the pastry dough, staying within the 1-inch border and sprinkle over the cheese and some freshly ground black pepper.

Whisk together egg and water to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash on the edges of the pastry (the 1-inch border).

Arrange tomatoes on top of the oiled portion, overlapping a little if necessary.

Season the tomatoes with the 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs and the lemon zest.

Carefully slide parchment off of the sheet tray and onto the hot sheet tray in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the inverted sheet tray 180 degrees. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the edges of the pastry are golden brown and puffed up.

Let tart cool for 10 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces.

Before serving, sprinkle over a generous bit of salt, top with chopped basil and drizzle over some extra-virgin olive oil.

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Fresh Mint

Watermelon and Feta Salad

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

6 cups (1-inch) diced seedless watermelon (approximately a 3 pound watermelon)

3 small Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and diced medium (1¾ cups)

2 teaspoons roughly chopped lemon zest (zested on a microplane and chopped)

1 pint (25-30) cherry tomatoes, halved (preferably assorted colors)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

¼ cup packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

¾ cups crumbled sheep’s milk feta cheese

Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

Flaky sea salt, to taste (preferably Maldon or Jacobsen sea salt)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Place watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, basil and mint in a large mixing bowl. Very gently fold to combine (you don’t want the tomatoes to leach their juice) with a large spoon.

 

Arrange on plates. Sprinkle feta, flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over each plate. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Apple and Carrot Coleslaw

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 4.27.44 PM

Apple and Carrot Coleslaw

Yield: 6 servings

 

Coleslaw:

1 small head red cabbage, core discarded, quartered and sliced thinly (1/8-inch thick) on a mandoline (6 cups)

4 medium carrots, peeled and grated (2 cups)

2 medium apples (Pink Lady, Gala, Empire, or Fuji) unpeeled, sliced into French fry strips on a mandoline (3 cups)

½ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Vinaigrette:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

2½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar

 

Combine the cabbage, carrots, apples, and parsley in a large bowl.

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Add approximately two-thirds of the vinaigrette to the cabbage mixture, toss to coat, and season to taste with salt and pepper, adding more vinaigrette if needed. Taste again (yes, again).

Note: if you do not have a mandoline, this is a great opportunity to practice your knife skills!

Pan-Roasted Broccolini with Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes

Charred Spicy Broccolini

Yield: 2 servings

 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large bunch broccolini, rinsed

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ cup of water

 

Add olive oil to a medium sauté pan and place over high heat. Heat until oil shimmers, approximately 1 minute.

Carefully add the broccolini to the sauté pan using tongs.

Season with salt and pepper and cook, rotating every 15 seconds with tongs, until slightly charred, approximately 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.

Add ¼ cup of water and cover the sauté pan with a lid. Let cook, undisturbed, until the water evaporates, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.

 

Wild Rice Salad with Diced Apples, Oranges, and Toasted Pecans

wild rice salad

Wild Rice Salad with Diced Apples, Oranges, and Toasted Pecans

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

 

Wild Rice:

4 cups water or vegetable stock

1 cup wild rice, rinsed with cold water and drained

Salad:

2 small oranges

2 large apples, such as Braeburn, Fuji, or Honeycrisp, unpeeled, cored and diced small (4 cups)

2 cups toasted pecan halves, chopped roughly

1 cup dried black currants or dried cranberries

3 stalks celery, diced small (1½ cups)

⅓ cup thinly sliced green onions (green part only)

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Vinaigrette:

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (from the oranges)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

 

In a large saucepan, bring the water or vegetable stock to a boil. Add the wild rice, stir and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wild rice pops open and is tender to the bite, 45 minutes. Transfer to a colander, rinse with cold water to cool, and drain well.

Cut the peel and pith off the oranges, then segment them by cutting between the dividers. Discard any seeds, but reserve the juice for the vinaigrette.

In a medium container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the diced apple, orange segments, drained wild rice, pecans, cranberries, and green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.