Something beautiful happens when the natural juices of the tomatoes, citrus, and fish come together with the garlic and chile butter, and you’ll want some good bread on hand to capture the moment. This is the ultimate midweek summer dish, as it only takes 10 minutes to make. As ever, make sure your tomatoes are nice and ripe, it’ll make all the difference. If you can get hold of tomatillos, these are lovely in place of green tomatoes. Of course, you can also use good-quality red tomatoes, if that’s what’s more readily available.
While carrots are available 365 days a year, they especially shine in the spring, at their peak season. This recipe brings them to the center of your plate. Carrots are roasted in a brown butter sauce enhanced with floral saffron and piled atop creamy, soft, and tangy labneh, a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese. A handful of chopped fresh parsley and sweet toasted hazelnuts tie it all together. Definitely serve this platter with crusty bread or pillowy pita so you can swipe it clean.
Labneh is made by straining whole-milk plain yogurt until it’s even thicker than Greek yogurt and closer to the consistency of cream cheese. While it was once hard to find outside of Middle Eastern markets, you’ll now find it at some Whole Foods and other well-stocked grocery stores. Otherwise, you can make it quite easily yourself by simply straining Greek yogurt.
In tropical Vietnam, cauliflower is a prized cool-weather crop that’s typically stir-fried, added to soup, or pickled. Home ovens are uncommon in Vietnam, so few people roast cauliflower. In my California kitchen, however, I coat cauliflower wedges in salty-sweet-spicy seasonings typically reserved for Cantonese-style char siu barbecue pork, and then high-heat roast them. The contours of the wedges caramelize here and there to develop a deep savoriness that evokes the prized edges and corners of char siu pork. Serve this cauliflower as a satisfying main dish or tuck it into bao and banh mi.
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 is one of the most popular recipes of all time on my blog. Normally, a restaurant chef would deep-fry the eggplant and then cook it with the sauce in a large wok over extremely high heat to keep it glossy and crispy. To avoid all that hassle, I’m sharing my favorite method for preparing eggplant without deep-frying while still making it crispy. The eggplant is then finished in a savory, sticky sauce—just enough to coat the eggplant so that it won’t turn soggy.
The flavors of brown butter are incredible, adding a rich, nutty flavor to the simplest of dishes. To round out the richness of the brown butter sauce, the dish is paired with crispy panko breadcrumbs with notes of sesame and lime juice to add a beautiful brightness. This recipe combines bold flavors and simple techniques to create the perfect weeknight dinner to add to your repertoire.
This simple and delicious chickpea recipe is the dish Hrishikesh requested every year for his birthday and also, the first thing he learned to cook. His mother was a formidable cook, cooking Indian food every night for her family. and her recipe could not be simpler; chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, and spices that use whatever you have on hand.
In Mexico you are as likely to find the comforting pasta dish fideo seco on the table as beans or rice, especially in central Mexico, where it is very popular. We cook fideos not as the Italians do, but like the Spanish, who brought them to Mexico, first frying them in oil until they are toasty and nutty-tasting, then simmering them in a tomato-based sauce or broth until the sauce thickens considerably and coats the noodles. Forget al dente—our pasta is soft, and that’s the way we love it. The dish is called fideo seco—dry noodles—because it is not saucy at all. It’s also very convenient, because you can make it ahead. You can get packages of fideo pasta, thin noodles broken into pieces, in stores that sell Mexican ingredients, but you can also use thin Italian noodles such as vermicelli, angel hair, thin spaghetti, or spaghetti, and break them up yourself.
I include three different kinds of dried chiles—ancho, guajillo, and chipotle—here in addition to tomatoes, onion, and garlic. For one more layer of complexity—a bit of sweetness in addition to smoky heat—I add some adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo. Top with a drizzle of crema and a sprinkling of tangy cheese, with some sliced avocado to counterbalance the heat of the chiles, and I guarantee that you’ll make it again and again.
A sweet-and-sour symmetry is inherent in my style of cooking. If it isn’t expressed through actual components of a dish, it’s delivered via side bowls or ramekins. Okra chow-chow has become one of my favorite media for attaining culinary harmony. And considering that okra is integral to Southern cuisine and agriculture, it’s also one of the clearest examples of two food cultures existing side by side and the ways they intersect. Serve okra chow-chow alongside scrapple (as I so often do), and you could consider this dish the poster child of Amish soul food.