Iranian Tomato and Eggplant Frittata (Varagheh)

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Iranian cuisine has all manners of frittata, which are typically called kuku: herb kuku, potato kuku, eggplant kuku — you get the picture. But I’d never had varagheh growing up, which is basically kuku’s cousin: an herby, garlicy egg dish layered with stacks of eggplant and tomato. In other words, a Persian summer in a cast-iron skillet.

Adapted from Naz Deravian’s Bottom of the Pot cookbook, this northern Iranian dish has become one of my favorite Iranian recipes. You can make this ahead of time, cut it into wedges, and serve it at room temperature, but be careful: these go fast.

Varagheh

Ingredients:

1 pound Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1⁄2-inch-thick rounds
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
7 eggs
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste
1 heaping tablespoon minced tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tomatoes, sliced into 1⁄4-inch rounds

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Toss eggplant with 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, then spread out on baking sheet. Roast until tender, turning once halfway through, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, then lower heat to 400F degrees.

3. While eggplant roasts, beat eggs with garlic, tarragon, capers, remaining 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

4. Heat a 12-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Add butter and remaining 1 tbsp. oil. When sizzling, add half of tomatoes in a layer (overlapping if needed), and layer with half of eggplant. Repeat with remaining tomatoes and eggplant. Pour in eggs.

5. Bake until set and edges are slightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.

Tomatoes with Bagna Cauda and Chorizo

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Things seemed a little iffy when I started making this salad, adapted from a Food & Wine recipe. What business did anchovies, mayonnaise, Chinese sausage, dill, and tomatoes have on the same plate? I made some adjustments (turkey chorizo instead of Chinese sausage, the addition of yogurt to lighten the mayo, less oil) and you know what? This is one of the most delicious things I’ve made all year.

Make this recipe when tomatoes are at their peak, and make a lot. This salad is a cacophony of flavors in the best way ever.

Tomatoes with bagna cauda and chorizo

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup minced garlic

2 tablespoons butter

2 anchovy fillets, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt

1/2 pound Mexican-style turkey chorizo
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup finely chopped dill

1/4 cup finely chopped mint

1/3 cup Kewpie mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

6 to 8 tomatoes, cut into wedges


1. In a medium saucepan, cook the olive oil, garlic and butter over moderate heat, whisking frequently, until the garlic 
just starts to color, about 
5 minutes. Whisk in the anchovies and cook, whisking, until the garlic is golden, 5 minutes more. Transfer the bagna cauda to a heatproof medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the crushed red pepper and let the bagna cauda cool completely, stirring occasionally. Season with salt.


2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high and add the chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo is browned and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a medium bowl.

3. In a small bowl, mix the chives with the parsley, dill and mint. In a medium bowl, whisk the Kewpie mayo with the yogurt, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the mixed herbs. 
Season the herbed dressing with salt. 


5. Spread the herbed dressing on a platter. Arrange the tomatoes on top. Spoon the bagna cauda on top, then sprinkle with the chorizo, and remaining mixed herbs. Serve at room temperature.

Avocado and Tomato Salad with Soy Vinaigrette

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Creamy avocadoes, crisp cucumbers, and juicy tomatoes: this salad celebrates a California summer in all its glory. Adapted from an old Sunset magazine, use the best quality avocados and tomatoes you can get your hands on here. Freshness makes all the difference.

Avocado and tomato salad with soy vinaigrette

4 Persian cucumbers, sliced 1⁄4 inch thick
1 or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, halved and sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Kosher salt

1. Arrange medium tomato slices and cucumbers on a serving platter, followed by cherry ­tomatoes and avocado slices.

2. Whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar and drizzle over salad.

3. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt to taste.

Iranian Skillet Kabab (Kabab Maitabei)

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If you grew up in an Iranian household, chances are that kabab maitabei is comfort food. It’s an easy weeknight dish: kabab without the grill, kabab without the 24-hour marinade. Soaked in its tomatoey juices and served with rice and a platter of fresh herbs, it’s supremely satisfying.

This dish is a riff on that comfort food. Think of this as kabab maitabei, reinvented. Sumac, grape molasses, onions, and garlic flavor the lamb, and fried potatoes soak up the juices. Basically I’m trying to sneak some iteration of French fries into everything.

Iranian skillet kabab (kakab maitabei)

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

1 pound ground lamb or beef
1 onion, grated
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grape molasses
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tomato, sliced
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and sliced

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the lamb, onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, turmeric, sumac, red pepper, and grape molasses. Knead lightly, using your hands, to mix thoroughly.

2. Coat 1 tablespoon oil on a heavy 10-inch skillet. Shape the lamb mixture into a large meatball and place it in the center of the skillet. Press down with a spatula so the meat covers the entire skillet. Raise the meat around the edges of the skillet by 1 inch to form a well.

3. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Cut the meat into four wedges. Arrange the tomato slices on top, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and drizzle 1 tablespoon oil on top. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes longer.

4. In the meantime, heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the potatoes on both sides until golden brown and cooked through.

5. To serve, arrange the potatoes on a platter. Arrange the kabab on top, drizzling the pan juices over. Serve with sabzi khordan.

Roasted Pepper and Cherry Tomato Salad

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This showstopping summer salad hits all the right notes: salty anchovies, acidic tomatoes, sweet red peppers, and tannic, meaty olives.

You can make this dish ahead of time: the flavors only get better as the vegetables marinate in their own juices.

Roasted pepper and cherry tomato salad

Ingredients:

4 red bell peppers, halved, seeds and ribs removed
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup basil leaves, divided
Salt
Pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup pitted black or green olives

1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Place bell peppers, skin side down, in a shallow baking dish and top with anchovies and garlic. Tear 1/4 cup of the basil leaves over top, season with kosher salt and black pepper, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Bake until peppers are tender but still hold their shape and are slightly charred around edges, about 40 minutes. Let cool.

2. Meanwhile, blend remaining 3/4 cup basil and remaining 1/4 cup oil in a blender until smooth; season basil oil with salt and pepper.

3. Arrange bell peppers on a platter. Top with tomatoes and olives, then drizzle with basil oil and season with salt and pepper.