End-of-summer panzanella

This week, butternut squash arrived at the farmer’s market, co-existing with the last of the bell peppers, tomatoes, and basil. The end of summer produce season is upon us.

Consider sending off the season with this recipe, which embodies everything that is good about summer cooking. High-quality fresh produce? Check. No oven and only one pan required?  Got it. Acidic tomatoes that burst in your mouth? In abundance. (Insert heart-eye emoji here.) Best served with chilled rosé? Oh yes.

So, one last time before next summer: chop up some fresh vegetables, toss with some crusty bread, mix everything with an easy vinaigrette, and call it dinner. When you dig in tonight (and for lunches this week), you’ll be giving the best food season the farewell it deserves. Continue reading “End-of-summer panzanella”

Zahav’s hummus

When I lived in Sydney, there was a Lebanese restaurant on my block that sold the smoothest, creamiest hummus. It was perfect. Yet it bothered me.

I couldn’t figure it out: why was their hummus so much better than mine? How did they get it so perfectly, pillowy smooth? When I added more liquid to mine, it got soggier. When I blended for longer–much longer, even–some graininess remained.

Then Deb said you had to peel the chickpeas. And so I did. I felt silly. (Who wouldn’t, peeling a pound of chickpeas one by one?) But more than that, it didn’t make sense. Surely the Lebanese restaurant down the road didn’t have an army of people peeling chickpeas in some back room–did it? Continue reading “Zahav’s hummus”

Shakshouka

Shakshouka: what is there not to love?

This egg-and-tomato dish nails the sweet spot between interesting (goodbye, bland weekend fry-ups; hello, cumin and za’atar) and quick (because one shouldn’t have to work too hard for the first meal of the day). It can be weekend brunch or weeknight dinner. It can be a survivor meal: so long as you have a can of tomatoes, eggs, an onion, cumin, and pepper flakes, you’re good to go. But you can also do it up: add red peppers, greens, cheese, and more spices. It bursts with umami, thanks to the tomatoes. It involves runny egg yolks—or not, if that’s not your thing. Its dregs beg to be sopped up with good bread or toasted pita. It can be scaled down to serve just one or up to serve a crowd.

Try this just once–and then watch it become part of your repertoire. Continue reading “Shakshouka”

Green papaya salad

Summer soldiers on here in the South. As I continue to sweat, I’m trying to see the bright side: namely, more opportunities to squeeze everything I can out of salad season before soup season takes its place.

If you’ve gone out for Thai, you’ve probably had green papaya salad. Green papayas are crunchy–more substantial than cucumber but more flexible than, say, a carrot. They somehow taste cold. Look for them in Asian or Mexican grocers.

Plus, this dressing. Thai and Vietnamese food often balances four flavors: sour, salty, spicy, and sweet. This dressing does that, and does it well, with lime juice, fish sauce, red pepper flakes, and sugar.

All of this washed down with a cold beer is the perfect antidote to sultry September evenings. Continue reading “Green papaya salad”

Sweet corn tofu frittata with roasted cherry tomato compote

Fretting about the impending end of corn season? Can’t face the idea that tomatoes will soon disappear? Wondering what kind of unjust higher power might make summer produce season so short and winter “produce season” so long?

Same here.

Make this to embrace the best of your farmer’s market, while it lasts. It is Sunday cooking: you have to prep the frittata, bake it, and let it set before serving, plus you have to roast the tomatoes. But it serves six–enough for a Sunday dinner with friends who also want to squeeze every last bit of summer weekend goodness out of the day. Or, you know, to provide a bright, filling lunch for you, the chef, every day of the week. You choose.

This recipe is vegan. I am not. Fellow non-vegans: do not be put off by the tofu filling. You will be licking the leftovers out of the food processor. I promise. Continue reading “Sweet corn tofu frittata with roasted cherry tomato compote”