When I made this for dinner a few nights ago, Phil told me it was “very fall.” While cooking, I had thought I had been making a very summery meal–eggplants! peppers! fresh basil and mint!– yet had to agree that my hot bowl of pasta full of roasted things was pretty damn cozy. Even the fact that I had turned the oven on at all was evidence of the seasonal shift. To be sure, this is a transitional dish, showcasing late summer’s abundant harvest while gently easing us into fall’s rhythms and encouraging us to slow down– even if for just a bit.
*To smash the garlic, peel each clove and pressed down gently but firmly (and very carefully!) with the side of a chef’s knife, taking care not to break the clove completely.
13 or so fairytale eggplants, stemmed and halved
2-3 red peppers (I used 3 not too big frying ones), cut into 1-1½” pieces
1 small red onion, diced medium
2 garlic cloves, gently smashed
1½-2 tbsp olive oil (enough to evenly coat vegetables)
1 12 oz package of pasta
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread evenly on a roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once half way through, until vegetables are tender and browning around the edges. Remove from oven.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Just before draining, reserve about a ¼ cup of the pasta water (use a mug with a handle to scoop directly from the pot). Drain pasta.
- To the pasta, add the tomato paste, vinegar, and pasta water and stir to combine. Then mix in the roasted vegetables, breaking the garlic with your spoon. Season with salt and pepper, and top with basil and mint.
Yield: About 4 servings
Savor summer’s last hurrahs with this colorful salad, featuring nutty and slightly sweet black rice, crunchy edamame, a tangy sesame-tamari-lime dressing, and peaches, the season’s fuzzy stone fruit darlings. If you live in the New York tristate area, you might have noticed a peach shortage this year. Still, they’ve been showing up at the markets, and while they might be a bit pricier than usual, they are as wonderful as ever right now, if not even more precious.
*The drop of olive oil in the rice is totally optional but very helpful if you’re like me and tend to have rice stick to the pan. Skip it if you use a rice cooker.
*If you’d like a spicier dish, leave more of the jalapeño’s seeds and pith intact. If you prefer a milder dish, remove all the seeds and pith.
1 cup black rice
drop of olive oil, optional
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
2 ripe, sweet peaches, pitted and sliced
2 scallions, light green and white part only, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, removed of most (but not all) of its pith and seeds, finely chopped
3 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
juice from 1 lime
1-2 small squirts of agave
generous handful of basil, chopped
- To cook the black rice, place in a small pot with 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and a drop of olive oil (if using). Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 40 minutes. Turn off heat, let sit for 10 minutes (covered), then fluff with a fork. Let cool.
- To cook the edamame, place in a small pot and cover with water by a few inches. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, until cooked through. Drain and rinse with cold water. Dry and season with a bit of salt.
- To make the dressing, combine tamari, sesame oil, lime juice, and agave in a jar. Secure lid, then shake vigorously to mix.
- Toss cooled rice with edamame, peaches, scallions, jalapeño, and dressing. Taste for seasoning– you may wish to add more tamari and/or agave– and top with basil. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to mingle, then serve.
Yield: About 4-5 servings
I can take or leave the strawberries available at the grocery store year-round. Sure, they’re fine– but that’s about it. Local, in season strawberries, however, are a completely different story. Juicy and flavorful, not overly refrigerated, and adorable to boot, these are the berries that fruit dreams are made of. Here I’ve combined them with their friends balsamic and avocado for a sweet and savory snack that’s light but substantial and just right for these warm early summer days.
1 rice cake (Lundberg is the best; not sponsored)
¼ peeled ripe avocado
sea salt and black pepper
a few strawberries, hulled and sliced
drizzle of balsamic vinegar (the thicker the better)
spoonful of hemp seeds
little fresh basil, torn at last minute, optional
Use a knife to spread ripe avocado on rice cake. Season with salt and pepper. Top with strawberry slices, balsamic, hemp seeds, and basil (if using). Eat!
Yield: 1 serving
When the cat’s away… the mouse will eat weird healthy shit like soba noodles with sauerkraut. This recipe came about one night recently when Phil was already heading out to practice by the time I was leaving work. I was hungry and tired and as I rode the train I tried to think of what easy thing I might have for my dinner. I knew I had soba noodles and pasta at home, so when I got off at my stop I ran into the local, 24 hours produce market in hopes of getting some fresh herbs, too. But after inspecting the different leaves of varying shades of pale green with brown edges, I decided to save my money. Home I went, where I threw together this dinner (and the next few days’ lunches) with what I already had in my own kitchen. Then I painted my nails and watched Girls. I’m joking. That was the next day.
1 cup cooked black-eyed peas/1 14oz can, drained and rinsed
1 (8.8. oz) packaged soba noodles (I like this kind)
¼ cup tahini
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, plus a tiny bit more
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp warm water
chunk of ginger, about 1-1½”, peeled and minced
heaped ½ cup sauerkraut, drained
salt and pepper
sriracha for serving, optional
- Toss black-eyed peas with a splash of rice wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Cook noodles in lightly salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- While noodles are cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl whisk together the tahini, tamari, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, warm water, and ginger.
- Toss noodles with tahini sauce, black-eyed peas, and sauerkraut. Taste for seasonings, and serve topped with hemp seeds with sriracha on the side if desired.
Yield: About 4 servings
During my last haircut, I got to talking with my stylist about food and recipes and this blog. He pitched to me his own idea of featuring sets of recipes which share the same ingredients– a sort of batch cooking format. His desire to reduce waste and save money is something I think we can all relate to. I mean, who hasn’t sheepishly watched a bunch of cilantro rot away in the fridge after one night of chana masala? (Cilantro-haters, don’t answer that.) So while this post includes just one recipe, in the spirit of economy and forehandedness, I’m including some suggestions for what to do with the asparagus and chives you don’t use. For the asparagus, try grilling it: heat a grill pan over medium-high heat, when hot spray with a little cooking spray, and cook asparagus, a few minutes per side, until cooked through and slightly charred. Remove from heat and toss with a little extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. I also love asparagus in pasta dishes. This recipe looks great, as does this (and it uses sunflower seeds, too! I also bet you could substitute chives for the green onion). Or make risotto. This pesto looks like a delicious (and healthful) way to use up chives. And this pizza and this potato salad use both asparagus and chives. Waste not, want not.
*This salad dressing is on the rich side, which complements the grassiness of the asparagus really well. The lemon and hot sauce further balance out the flavors, but if you prefer something lighter, feel free to reduce the amount of oil, or the total amount of dressing overall.
1 cup quinoa
½ cup avocado, grapeseed, or mild olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp finely chopped chives, plus a little extra for sprinkling on top
1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard flour
1½ cups cooked /15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
15-18 thin asparagus spears (~½ bunch), rough ends removed, sliced diagonally into 1” pieces
3-4 tbsp sunflower seeds
couple splashes of your favorite hot sauce, optional
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a fine mesh sieve, rinse quinoa until the water runs clear. Drain. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil in a small saucepan and add quinoa. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa smells toasty and water has evaporated. Add 1½ cups water and a little salt, turn up heat to high. Bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat but keep lid on for another 15 minutes, then remove lid, fluff with a fork, and let cool completely.
- Meanwhile make the dressing: in a tightly closed jar, shake together vigorously the avocado (or other) oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, shallot, garlic powder, mustard flour, and some salt and pepper.
- Add chickpeas, asparagus, sunflower seeds, lemon-chive dressing, and hot sauce (if using), to cooled quinoa, and stir to combine. Taste for salt and pepper, and top with a little extra chopped chives.
Yield: 5-6 servings