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.

Artichoke Pesto Sandwich

artichooke pesto sammy

Watch me make this on my YouTube channel!

Yield: 4 servings

1 (14-ounce) can or jar artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained and squeezed of excess water

1 packed cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup whole milk ricotta, drained

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 slices whole wheat bread, toasted

1 (12-ounce jar) roasted red bell peppers, drained

2 cups spinach

2 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly

4-ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

 

Place artichoke hearts, basil, ricotta, pine nuts, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth, approximately 1 minute, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed.

Place an oven rack on the top rack and line 2 sheet trays with aluminum foil. Turn your oven to broil.

Assemble 4 sandwiches by spreading 2½ tablespoons of the pesto on each piece of toast. Layer spinach, red bell pepper and tomato on one side of the sandwich (atop the pesto). Add mozzarella on the other side of the sandwich. Place sandwiches, open-faced, on the foil-lined sheet trays (2 sandwiches per sheet tray).

Place 1 sheet tray under the broiler until the cheese is nice and melty. (This may happen quite quickly depending on your oven!) Remove from the oven and repeat with the remaining sheet tray.

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.

Coriander Spiced Calabacitas Tacos with Chipotle Crema

Coriander Spiced Calabacitas Tacos

Coriander Spiced Calabacitas Tacos with Chipotle Crema

Yields: 12 servings

 

Chipotle Crema:

1 cup organic sour cream

2½ tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Tacos:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium red onion, peeled and diced small

1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced small

1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeds and veins discarded, diced small, or to taste

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

5 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and diced small

2 medium zucchini or summer squash or mix of both (1 pound), diced small

½ bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 lime)

 

Toppings:

12 tortillas, warmed on a griddle, nonstick pan or directly over a flame

Salsa of choice

Cotija Cheese, crumbled

Fresh cilantro leaves

 

Mix Chipotle Crema ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more salt or making more spicy with additional adobo sauce. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan set over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, poblano and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are beginning to soften.

Add the cumin, coriander and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Stir, and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add the tomatillos, zucchini and cilantro. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is soft and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in fresh lime juice. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper and/or lime juice.

Assemble tacos by putting a dollop of chipotle crema on a taco, then adding the calabacitas followed by salsa, cheese and cilantro. Repeat – repeat – repeat!

 

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

 

Pumpkin Spice Soul Cakes

Pumpkin Spice Soul Cakes

Trick or Treat! Soul Cakes have an interesting Halloween related history dating back hundreds of years ago – watch my video on Curiosity Stream’s Instagram to find out more. (While you’re at it – sign up for 30 days FREE ALL ACCESS to Curiosity Stream with promo code Nathan!)

Yield: 17 cookies

1 cup (140 grams) black currants

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

14 tablespoons (197 grams) (cold) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces

1 packed cup (200 grams) light brown sugar

3¼ cups (450 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons whole milk

 

Place an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet trays with parchment paper.

Add currants and Grand Mariner together in a small bowl. Stir well. Set aside.

Add butter and sugar to a stand mixer and mix on medium using the paddle attachment for approximately 10 minutes, until light (in color) and fluffy, scraping the sides down of the inside of the bowl using a rubber spatula halfway through the process.

Add the flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

After mixing the butter and sugar, add 1 egg yolk. Mix on medium-low until the egg fully incorporates into the mixture, approximately 20 seconds. Turn off the mixer and scrape the sides down. Add the second egg yolk and mix until it fully incorporates. Scrape the sides again and then add the third egg yolk. Scrape the sides down once more.

Add the Grand Marnier soaked currants (and any liquid left in the bowl) and mix on medium until it’s incorporated, approximately 10 seconds.

Turn off mixer and add the flour mixture. Mix on low until the dough begins to resemble clumpy sand, approximately 30 seconds. Sprinkle the milk evenly over the dough. Mix on low until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 15 seconds. The finished dough will have a play dough consistency.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough to ½-inch thickness.

Using a 2¾ inch biscuit cutter, punch out as many circles as you can. Reroll dough and continue punching out soul cakes until no more dough remains. Using a kitchen knife or a bench scraper, impress an X shape atop each soul cake.

Evenly space 8 soul cakes on a parchment-lined sheet tray. Place the additional 9 on the second parchment-lined sheet tray.

Bake, one sheet tray at a time, for approximately 7 minutes. Rotate tray and continue baking another 8 minutes, until bottom edges are slightly browned.

Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.

Soul cakes are best served day of, but may be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

 

 

 

Double Chocolate Rye Brownies with Sea Salt

ryebrownie

—> Watch me make these on my YouTube channel! <—

Double Chocolate Rye Brownies with Sea Salt

Yields: 1 (9×13-inch) pan of brownies

 

Nonstick spray, for greasing the pan

12-ounces good quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

5 large whole eggs

1½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1½ cups dark rye flour

½ cup cocoa powder (Dutched or natural)

¼ teaspoon Maldon sea salt, for sprinkling over top

 

Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Create a foil sling (for easy removal of the brownies) to fit into a 9x13x2-inch pan. Lightly spray the foil with nonstick spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof glass or metal bowl, set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring slowly to combine. The simmering water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Once melted, remove from the heat to cool.

Add the eggs, sugars, vanilla extract and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer (you can also use an electric mixer and a medium bowl) and whisk on medium-high until light and fluffy, approximately 7 minutes.

Add the flour and cocoa powder to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

Slowly stream in the cooled chocolate to the whisked eggs and sugar, while whisking on low, until combined, approximately 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the dry ingredients, one spoonful at a time, to chocolatey bowl, whisking on low until combined.

Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Sprinkle Maldon sea salt over top.

Bake for 22-24 minutes, until the brownies are mostly firm. (Note that a toothpick inserted in the brownies will not come out clean.)

Let brownies cool to room temperature before cutting.

Store any excess brownies in the refrigerator or freezer.

Plum Muffins with Cinnamon, Cardamom and Orange Zest

Plum Muffins

Yield: 12 Muffins

½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup whole roasted and salted almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon orange zest (zested on a Microplane)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 whole eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 (medium-sized) ripe plums, quartered, pits discarded

Set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

Place the sugars and almond in a food processor with the blade attachment. Run for 1 minute until it begins to clump. Add the flour, zest, baking powder, spices and salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter. Pulse 5 to 7 times, until it starts to resemble wet sand. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Pulse until the texture turns into a uniform, thick batter.

Fill each muffin tin equally, with 2½ tablespoons of batter. Gently press a quarter plum into each muffin, skin side up or skin side down – both ways are equally delicious!

Transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Test readiness by poking a toothpick or knife in the middle of a muffin; if it comes out clean, it’s ready.

Remove from oven. Place tin on a cookie rack and let the muffins cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.

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.

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Asparagus Fritatta

Asparagus Frittata with Preserved Lemon, Mint and Feta

Yield: 6 servings

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon*, peel only (rinse lemon before chopping)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound asparagus, bottom of stems trimmed, stalks cut on the bias into 1/2 -inch slices, tips kept whole
7 large eggs, whisked with a fork
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 packed tablespoon chiffonade (sliced very thinly) fresh mint leaves

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325ºF.

2. Set a large, oven-safe, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter, preserved lemon, chopped onion, salt and some pepper.

3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions become soft and transparent, about 8 minutes.

4. Add the asparagus stems, stir and let cook for 2 minutes.  Add tips, stir and cook for 1 more minute.

5. Add eggs and sprinkle over feta and the mint evenly. (Shake the pan to distribute the ingredients if needed.) Cook for 30 seconds, then transfer the sauté pan into the oven.

6. Bake, uncovered, for 11 to 13 minutes or until the eggs are just set.

7. Remove the frittata from the oven, slide out onto a cutting board, slice into 6 pieces, and serve.

*You can find preserved lemon at some local grocery stores and at Whole Foods and/or Amazon.