Of all the recipes in this book, this savory dish is the one I make the most often, not just because it’s delicious, but because it connects me to my past. Throughout childhood, my grandma would make me various versions of this soup, and as an adult, it brings me so much comfort to make it and share it with others. Expect a vegan, Mexican-inspired twist on a Chicken and Rice Soup with tofu swapped in for the chicken and with the addition of fresh lemon juice and cilantro. So delicious!
Almost every region has its version of seasoned rice and beans, and the Middle East is no exception. For me, the highlight of mujaddara is the deeply caramelized onions that are simply irresistible. The dish also uses lentils, which largely retain their shape and give the dish its name: “mujaddara” means “pockmarked” or “pimpled” in Arabic. In this version, we cook the cauliflower rice and lentils separately to maximize texture.
Tzatziki, meanwhile, is a similar preparation to the Indian raita, but is usually thicker and creamier in consistency because it is made with Greek yogurt. I find the pairing of these dishes particularly alluring as a complete meal.
This hot and fiery soup is seen only in the Indo-Chinese restaurants of India. When the weather is cold or I’m feeling unwell, I often make this soup. To boost the protein, you can add bits of leftover rotisserie chicken or tofu. Serve this with rice wine vinegar, Chilli-Soy Vinegar Sauce, or Indo-Sichuan Sauce on the side.
Mapo tofu has been on the menu since back when Mission Chinese Food first popped up in San Francisco. Over the years, we’ve tweaked the recipe approximately one hundred times, and this vegan version is the best yet, not to mention the easiest for the home cook. What used to take days to make is ready in less than an hour.
Note: This recipe calls for doubanjiang, a coarse reddish paste of fermented soybeans, broad beans, and chilies common in Sichuan cooking. Look for “Pixian” on the label, which means it hails from a town in Sichuan province known for making the product.
One of the countless ways Korean food excites me is that it employs extreme temperature—whether it’s serving food in the ripping- hot stone pots called dolsot or frozen bowls. I remember the chef world—myself included—nerding out when Noma served squid with broccoli in a vessel made entirely of ice, only to find myself, a few weeks later, eating naengmyeon out of one in Flushing, Queens.
There’s no ice bowl required for this dish, though I do take a page from a restaurant I went to in Seoul where they put the chilled broth into a slushy machine. My at- home version uses a savory- sweet granita to top the cold, super-chewy buckwheat noodles in a spicy dressing. The addition of dragon fruit powder is 100-percent not traditional and 95-percent optional, but it does add a little sweetness and an absolutely spectacular neon pink color. Got that trick from Starbucks.
Similar to red-braising (紅燒 hóngshāo) , when you cover and slowly cook an ingredient in a flavorful liquid, smother-braising (燜 mèn) is simpler and shorter and often relies on more delicate, lighter-colored condiments instead of dark soy sauce, allowing the color of the vege- table to shine through.
In this dish, the squash’s natural sweetness is complemented by the salty, savory fermented black beans, and the squash is cooked until buttery and tender, on the verge of falling apart. My favorite is kabocha squash, which has a velvety, starchy softness and flavor rem- iniscent of roasted chestnut, but any firm-fleshed winter squash, like red kuri, butternut, or Hubbard, will work.
The easiest way to cook tofu is to quickly blanch it, then season with salt and sesame oil and fold in a handful of finely chopped scallions or fresh herbs. This preparation, called liangban, is minimal and yet divinely tasty. My favorite version of this dish is with toon (xiangchun), a savory, onion-garlicky leaf common in southern China, and after some tinkering, I found that the combination of basil and garlic has a similar aroma that’s just as intoxicatingly fragrant, flecking the creamy tofu cubes like a pesto. I probably make this three or four times a week, it’s that good.
This is a meatless riff on one of my all-time favorite sheet pan dinners: a spicy harissa-slathered chicken loaded with lemony leeks, crispy potatoes, and a salty, garlicky yogurt topping. Here, roasted cauliflower stands in for the poultry, and almonds are tossed in for crunch. Added bonus: without the chicken, this lively, highly festive meal comes together in a flash.
This salad is my riff on kasha, the name given to toasted buckwheat groats cooked (in water or milk) throughout Russia and Ukraine. The word kasha basically translates as ‘porridge’ but although in the west we think of porridge as a breakfast food, kasha is commonly a comforting, hearty, savoury dish or side at lunch or dinner – often far less liquid and overcooked than oat porridge. By all means you can serve this salad hot, but I especially like it served at room temperature. The key really is toasting the buckwheat first – it brings out an extra nutty flavour and also stops it all from being too mushy.
Think of this as a sort of hot caprese salad —by cooking the tomatoes in a foil packet on the barbecue with their vines, aromatic herbs, oil, and salt, the flavors concentrate and intensify. They work beautifully with the mozzarella, as you would expect, with added interest from the crushed coriander seeds —simple yet luxurious