Spicy and Sour Tomato Lentil Soup (Rasam)

This week marks the publication of my friend Chitra‘s cookbook, Vibrant India. If you’ve been reading this blog a while—or if you just like home cooking as much as I do—you may have found that cheap, healthful, and seasonal are some essential beacons to guide everyday recipes. And Chitra’s home cooking—and, hence, her cookbook—have these traits in spades.

Roasted Squash, Broccoli & Lentil Salad with Raspberries

File this under Stupidly Simple Seasonal Salads with A ‘Lil Bit of Something Cray-Cray and Not-So. And that’s a pretty good general formula for making a tasty, cheap, healthy and hopefully delightful meal. The cray-cray-not-so in question here are the raspberries, since they’re A) Not in season in my part of the world and B) Not usually found in savory bean or grain salads even if they were. But for some reason I woke up one morning recently thinking about raspberry … Read More

Split Pea Soup with Root Vegetables

It wouldn’t really be a soup if it were only one ingredient, right? That’s the thinking behind this weekend concoction where I deposed my growing stash of random root vegetables into a not-strictly-root-vegetable soup. By definition, soup is a mingling of stuff in liquid form, often creating a harmony of flavors that tickle your tastebuds as it soothes your soul. So do your kitchen a cleaning with this approach to your next winter soup.

Green Beans Braised with Tomatoes, Olives, Capers & Herbs

I know what you’re thinking. Green beans cooked well past crisp-tender is unideal; their sodden, saggy skins remind you of bad leftovers and TV dinners, an accident, not something you would set out to make. Yet though they might not snap in that satisfying way, slow-simmered green beans retain an impressive structure, plumped with juice and fat from olive oil, and all the flavors therein, transforming into something very different, but still mildly sweet. And in case I’m not waxing poetic … Read More

Heirloom Bean Salad with Roasted Garlic Scapes

So after this year’s Fourth of July barbecue, where I consumed lettuce wraps packed with meat, a hot dog, a chicken burger, a kielbasa, and some wings, I decided to go easy on my lunches the following week. I propped my kitchen stool below the highest cupboards to look for some whole grains to make a refreshing salad with—maybe quinoa, maybe spelt, or some neat-o ancient grains would be found there, I thought. But I didn’t find those.

Chilled Fava Bean Soup

Ah, fresh fava beans. Who else first heard of this legume via Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs? If so, it was a most disturbing way one can be introduced to a new food (and I am amongst those). No, I didn’t eat fava beans for a good long time after seeing that movie, but it wasn’t because I was afraid. It was because I never did encounter them, least of all fresh and whole still in their pods, until … Read More

Chickpea and Roasted Kale Salad

Kale is the new salad green. A couple decades ago, choosy eaters eschewed iceberg for the more nutritionally dense, greener, leafier types of lettuce like romaine. Then, they went onto fluffier, miniature, mixed ones often including — or solely consisting of — baby arugula (RIP AKA “rocket”). Their spicy kick lent complexity to sides, and they’re also very nutritionally dense, much more so than romaine. Baby spinach greens, too, played a role in this evolution, beckoning the health-conscious for its … Read More

Cavatelli with Cranberry Beans and Pea Shoots

It’s finally arrived — the season for budding blossoms, bike rides, and all things green. Well, make that Spring 1.0, the beta-test days. We’ve still got frosts and chances of flurries, and at the farmers markets, there’s little green to be seen. Except for those shoots and seedlings grown in a greenhouse. But — tulips and daffodils, mint, parsley and chives! Step aside, winter squashes and brown-speckled apples. A natural changing of the guards has just begun.

Cannellini Stewed with Tomatoes and Pancetta

It’s more filling than a mere tomato sauce, but just as easy to make. I like to make versatile dishes in the winter; things that can keep well in the fridge, and keep on playing new roles well, too, albeit of a similar character. It’s not the Meryl Streep of foods, I guess: this bean and pancetta-studded tomato sauce wouldn’t exactly make a drastic turn in, say, Vietnamese cuisine. But it does wear many hats quite deliciously keeping within a … Read More

Stir-Fried Broccoli with Fermented Black Beans

You know what? I predict that salty, pungent, Chinese fermented black beans will not only sound less creepy but become more widely embraced by American cooks in the near future. Why? Well, we’ve familiarized ourselves with soy sauce pretty well, dabbled with miso paste aplenty, and foraged into Asian grocery shelves for sauces like Korean gochujang and Sichuan doubanjiang (chili bean sauce). All are made from fermented beans. It seems a good time to take a look at them up … Read More

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