Kale salad with farro, parmesan, pine nuts, and dried fruit

I do two kinds of cooking.

One is cooking for the sheer fun of it. Sweet snacks! Brunch for friends! Ohmygod, I want chocolate!

But I realize that not everyone is as into that first kind of cooking as I am. I hear that.

The second kind of cooking, however, is the kind that needs to happen, week in and week out, to keep me fed, in a healthy-ish way, on relatively little money, often in a somewhat short amount of time. This is the type of cooking that everyone—young or old, in school or employed, with kids or without—needs to do. I don’t think there’s a way to eat healthy, relatively interesting food three times a day on a small budget without cooking for yourself.

For that second kind of cooking, I cannot go without recipes like this one. Continue reading “Kale salad with farro, parmesan, pine nuts, and dried fruit”

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Baked eggs with smoked salmon and kale

Have guests staying at your place for the holidays and need a make-ahead brunch? These baked eggs are the go. The combination of eggs and smoked salmon will always feel luscious and celebratory. Yet with the addition of kale and goat cheese (and the omission of hollandaise), this feels a bit more balanced than your typical salmon Benedict.

Plus, after 30-45 minutes of prep, these can sit in the fridge for a day or two before you are ready to bake them. (With plans to make these for a friend’s wedding brunch, I tested make-ahead time thoroughly on this recipe.) This relieves you of the need to cook guests brunch when you are also trying to cook dinner–or just enjoy time with visiting friends and family.

Continue reading “Baked eggs with smoked salmon and kale”

Ricotta and beet grilled cheese with fennel persimmon salad

So often, winter comfort food is heavy. And look–I am passionate about ragù. But if you’re looking for comfort food that doesn’t weigh you down, try this.

This grilled cheese makes the best use of winter produce–beets, fennel, and persimmons burst with bright flavor that is uncharacteristic at this time of year. Yet, as a grilled cheese, it also ticks the comfort food box.

img_0630 Continue reading “Ricotta and beet grilled cheese with fennel persimmon salad”

Hearty kale salad with apples, cheddar, and almonds

This salad is perfect fall weeknight food. It is autumnal: dark green kale, crisp apples, brown almonds, and sharp, aged cheddar mingle prettily in a big bowl. Yet it is also quick, requiring no heat whatsoever and only a few bits of chopping.

It works well in a nice deep plate as a meal by itself or with bread. In a season where we usually turn to braises and roasts to fill us up, this somehow doesn’t feel like a deprivation. (Perhaps it’s the richness of the cheese and the almonds?) Yet it also shines as a side salad at a big fall dinner. (In fact, I’m not allowed to bring anything else to our Thanksgiving potluck.) Continue reading “Hearty kale salad with apples, cheddar, and almonds”

Squash blossom strozzapreti

In May, I had the very good fortune of traveling to Puglia with my mom and my fellow food-obsessed best friend. Puglia was sunwashed and arid, lined by a sea that changed from transparent to turquoise to deep azure. The buildings were cream and white and turned gold with the afternoon sun. Bougainvillea and jasmine ran unchecked up walls and dangled into walkways. Olive trees grew everywhere and wildflowers lined the roads. I wanted to float away in a dry rosé haze and never return.

Yet for all this impossible beauty, it was the food that got under my skin. Pugliesi eat well. Olives appear at lunch, aperitivi, and dinner. Olive oil is top notch and is drizzled over perfect summer tomatoes, crudités, and orechiette pasta, and mixed into the oh-so-addictive taralli crackers. Pugliesi invented burrata. Produce–squash blossoms, cherries, tomatoes, broccoli rabe–is cheap and plentiful. The wild boar secondi of northern Italy are replaced by fresh fish, octopus, squid, and urchins. The rosés, from negroamaro grapes, are bright and fresh. I could go on. Continue reading “Squash blossom strozzapreti”

Squash toasts with goat’s cheese and caramelized onions

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It is (still) winter–indeed, still February. Winter squash season has been going strong for five months. In October, it was exciting. Turning on the oven! In November, I still happily tossed roasted squash into salads and soups. In December, I stirred it into a big chickpea curry, served with cardamom-scented rice.

But now, in February, the act is getting old. Turn on the oven, again?

And yet for this recipe, you’ll want to. Crumble some goat’s cheese (or feta, or ricotta) onto a thick, crusty piece of bread. Turn on that oven. Roast squash, then pile on top of bread along with sweet caramelized onions. Sprinkle with mint to brighten things up, and call it dinner. Continue reading “Squash toasts with goat’s cheese and caramelized onions”