Take a basic roasted tomato salsa, swap out some of the cilantro for mint and all of the lime juice for rice vinegar, and you get this: a cool riff on something simple to have with tortilla chips. This is the stuff that greets you when you sit down at Tacolicious, and I immediately liked the noticeable pop of mint. The recipe is super easy. Give it a whirl!
Ah, kale salads. They’ve been trendy for awhile now, and that is completely fine with me. Tuscan kale (aka lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, cavolo nero) is sturdy enough to undergo a hearty massage in some dressing, a process that softens and semi-marinates the greens. Watermelon radishes got their name from the green edges and deep pink centers seen when they’re cut crosswise. They taste kind of like a cross between a red radish, a daikon, and a baby turnip. Try to find smaller ones, which will be less fibrous.
(Serves about 3)
For the dressing:
1/2 inch segment of ginger, minced
1/2 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
Dash of Korean chili flakes
1 tsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
1/2 bunch lacinato kale (about 10-12 medium leaves), tough stems removed and leaves cut crosswise into thin strips
1 watermelon radish, julienned
1/2 Asian pear, sliced thin
2 tbsp peanuts, crushed or chopped
Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Add kale and massage with your hands until the dressing is evenly distributed and kale softens. Add radish and pear. Top with peanuts.
Asian pears we can’t eat right away? We can pickle that. I halved the amount of rice vinegar called for in the recipe and found that it was still enough to pucker my face and burn my throat just a little bit (pleasantly, of course).
Here’s a little something to put on cheese right now, between summer and fall. Strawberries still seem to be in season here in amazing-weather California, side by side with fall pomegranates. I decided to combine them in a bright and tangy, really red accompaniment for cheese. Use this relish as a topping for fried halloumi, fresh mozzarella, a thick yogurty dip, or a crostini with some kind of soft cheese like ricotta or chevre. It is probably also good as a cheesecake/dessert topping with a little sugar and without the shallot, vinegar, parsley, salt, and pepper.
To make it, combine:
1/2 cup Pomegranate seeds
4-5 medium strawberries, chopped
1 tsp finely minced red onion or shallot
1 tsp Meyer lemon zest (or just non-Meyer lemon zest)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
5-7ish fresh mint leaves, chopped
a few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Summer is over on the school calendar and the old-school when-to-wear-white calendar, but not on the astronomical calendar. So I will squeeze in one last summer post here. Watermelon by itself is delightful enough, but you can jazz it up even more with feta cheese and fresh mint. It’s interesting enough with just these three basic ingredients, but you could easily add in any combination of tomato, red onion, cucumber, kalamata olives, black pepper, and raw jalapeño.
You know how tabouli sometimes gets all soggy and water logged? This version doesn’t. Celery and walnuts give this grain salad a great crunch, while za’atar (a Middle Eastern herb and spice blend that you should definitely try if you haven’t already) and feta cheese (optional) make it a next-level side dish. Or hey, put an egg on it and call it a meal. Make a big batch because it’s delicious.
I looooove scallops. They aren’t cheap, but they are very easy to prepare. All that stands between them and an impressive dinner is a quick sear in a hot pan. Since scallops are pretty mild-tasting, I think they go best with flavors that aren’t so aggressive. I picked up some very sweet late-summer cherry tomatoes today that were perfect for this. And of course, there was wine: a bottle of crisp chenin blanc to deglaze aforementioned hot pan and complete my lovely Sunday evening at home.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound sea scallops
2 cloves garlic
1/2 bulb fennel, sliced
about 25-30 cherry tomatoes
splash of white wine (something light and crisp)
salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley
Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel to make sure you get a really good sear. Add them to the pan, and make sure it’s not all crowded in there (if it is, use a 2nd pan). Stay calm while everything splatters noisily. When the scallops are nicely browned and crusty, flip them carefully. When the other sides are seared, move the scallops to a plate, season with salt and pepper, and cover with a foil tent. I like to keep them in my turned-off oven for extra warmth.
Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and fennel. Add a splash of white wine and enjoy the aroma of deglazing. Scrape up all the browned bits in the pan (this is called the “fond”). Add cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add extra water to make a sauce. Turn off the heat and stir in chopped parsley.
Put the fennel-tomato mixture on a plate and nestle the scallops between the tomatoes. Devour with 1 to many glasses of white wine.
One of the very memorable farewell meals I had in New York was at a restaurant called Xixa in Williamsburg. They offer an exhausting tasting menu for an incredible $45 per person that will leave you not wanting to eat again for another 24 hours (in a good way). One of my favorite dishes was a version of elote that blankets slender carrots (instead of cobs of corn) with honey butter, lime-spiked mayonnaise, and fresh herbs. For my homemade adaptation of it, I went light on the fatty toppings and heavy on the fresh herbs.
To make it: Toss slender carrots (about 1/2 to 3/4-inches in diameter) with a drizzle of olive oil. Roast them in a 450-degree oven or grill them until they get a little charred. Toss with a dab of honey butter (just a basic compound butter made with softened butter and honey… btw it’s also good on toast) and salt. Place on a serving dish and smear lightly with lime mayo (just a basic compound mayo made with either mayonnaise or aioli and lime juice) or if you’re going for extra presentation points, use a little squeeze bottle to squirt lines of it over the carrots. Shower with finely chopped cilantro and dill. Add a layer of finely crumbled cotija or feta cheese. Finish with a hefty dusting of chili powder.
This classy dressing is great with summer lettuces, tossed with potatoes, or spooned over a pretty piece of fish. I lightened it up by using plain yogurt instead of mayonnaise or sour cream.
To make it: Finely chop your choice of fresh, soft leafy herbs in a food processor. Parsley, tarragon, and chives are a common way to start, and I’ve seen recipes that include mint, basil, chervil, and dill. Optional: an anchovy filet, or you could try adding a squirt of fish sauce instead. Add lemon juice, plain yogurt, salt, and a drizzle of olive oil if you’d like. If it’s too thick, add water.
Seasonal pizzas are my jam (as you may have noticed on this blog). This one was made with the goals of 1. responsibly cleaning out the fridge before a weekend away, and 2. having something delicious and homemade to eat on a Friday night. From bottom to top it goes: whole wheat pizza dough, fontina cheese, sliced heirloom tomatoes, sliced fresh jalapenos, fresh corn, and goat cheese. After baking, fresh dill, basil, a sprinkle of salt, and several grinds of black pepper go over it.