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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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”

Apple crisp

It happens to the best of us. It’s fall, and you go apple picking. The air is crisp. The leaves are starting to change. It would seem criminal to be inside. So you wander the orchard, chatting with your friends or partner, picking apples for a couple of hours.

And then you got home. You realize: what in the world did you think you were going to do with ten pounds of apples?

Continue reading “Apple crisp”

Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs

Like most children in America, my brother and I hated Brussels sprouts when we were growing up. My dad didn’t care for them either. For years after my mom stopped cooking them, “Brussels sprouts” were synonymous with “disgusting” in our house.

Then along came this recipe, and we all had to eat our words. Instead of halving the sprouts, you slice them. Then you sauté the sprouts with a generous portion of bacon and figs. The whole thing is finished by deglazing the pan with a bit of balsamic vinegar. The result is the perfect gateway recipe: each bite of sprouts is balanced by salty bacon and sweet figs. Continue reading “Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs”

Farro salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate

When I talk to friends (and let’s be honest, acquaintances and strangers) about home cooking, the most common complaint I hear is that it is too time consuming. People get off work already hungry. Unsure of what’s for dinner, they head to the grocery store. They try to rustle up a meal plan in the produce aisle. The lines are long. Once home, they cook, but the recipe is time consuming and creates many dirty dishes, which then need to be washed. Ultimately, they spend more time stressing than they do enjoying cooking and eating. Continue reading “Farro salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate”

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”

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”