Orange Lentil Dal with Coconut Milk and Kale

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This is my favorite dal recipe, and I don’t say that lightly. From Iranian adassi to Sri Lankan parippu, I’ve never met a version of dal I didn’t like, but I always come back to this one. Creamy, coconuty, and redolent with warm spices, this dal is what dreams are made of.

Make sure to use actual orange (or red) lentils here — not yellow split peas (chana dal/gheymeh). Toor dal will also work in a pinch. Split peas won’t give that velvety texture that lentils will. The chicken stock isn’t traditional, but it adds a savory layer of depth. This is alchemy in a bowl.

Yellow lentil dal with coconut milk and kale

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
1 green chili pepper (such as Serrano), thinly sliced
1 quart chicken stock or broth
One 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 cups orange lentils, cleaned
1 bunch kale, stemmed and leaves coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt
Pepper

1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil. Add the cumin, fennel and turmeric and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chili pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Spoon half of the spiced onion mixture into a small bowl and reserve.

2. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, and lentils to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the kale and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

3. Spoon the dal into bowls. Top with the reserved onion mixture and serve warm.

Roasted Broccoli with Nutritional Yeast

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I get it. Nutritional yeast doesn’t make your tastebuds salivate and broccoli never got anyone too excited. But this easy side dish is virtuously healthy and actually tastes really, really good. Never had nutritional yeast? Think of it as umami powder: slightly cheesy and super savory. Sprinkle it on your greens and you’ll be asking for seconds in no time.

Roasted broccoli with nutritional yeast

Ingredients:

2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets and similarly-sized pieces of peeled stalk
2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil, warmed to liquefy
5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss vegetables with oil on a rimmed baking sheet to coat and season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown and tender, 20–25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then toss with nutritional yeast.

South Indian-Style Meyer Lemon Pickles

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This dish is an amalgamation of influences. The spices are Indian. The lemons are Californian. The peppers are Mexican.

South Asian lemon and lime pickles are typically cooked in the sun, the flavors soaking up the rays and developing over time. They often contain a bit of oil, a counterpart to their lip-smacking acidity. But lemon season in California is in the middle of winter, where the sun isn’t strong enough to cook much. And I wanted an oil-less pickle. Something fresh, spicy and bright to complement a seafood curry.

Enter Meyer lemon pickles. If you’re lucky enough to have access to Meyer lemons, you’ll know that they’re sweeter and juicier than you’re average lemon. We have a tree full of them, and so I experimented until I had the perfect lemon pickle. I’ve made jar after jar of these: my family asks for them now, too (lemon pickles go just as well with Iranian khoresh as they do with South Asian curry).

You’ll have to wait at least a couple of months for this pickle to be ready to eat: the peels will soften (the tastiest part), the juices will rise, and the flavors will really develop over time. Make sure to make a couple of extra jars. They won’t last long.

South Indian style Meyer lemon pickle

Ingredients:

8 Meyer lemons plus 1/2 Meyer lemon
7 green chiles (preferably Serrano), halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon minced ginger
5 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric

1. Wash and dry the 8 lemons thoroughly. Cut off the tops and ends, quarter lengthwise, and then cut each quarter into halves or thirds along the length.

2. Place the lemons in a large bowl and toss with salt and turmeric.

3. In the meantime, toast the mustard seeds, fenugreek, and asafoetida (if using) in a small pan until lightly toasted. Let cool and grind to a powder.

4. Add the spice mixture, cayenne pepper, ginger, green pepper, and juice of remaining 1/2 lemon and mix thoroughly. Divide between cleaned and sterilized jars. Seal and refrigerate, mixing every two days for the first two weeks. Wait at least 2 months before eating.

Andouille and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

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Okay, so this photo isn’t the prettiest. The lighting is awful. But I’d be remiss to not share this recipe with you. Herein lies one of my favorite dishes of all time. This mac and cheese is decadent, complex, and will have you going for seconds thirds in no time. I’ve adapted it from a Food and Wine magazine recipe: I removed the cilantro and nutmeg from the original, upped the other herbs, and reduced the amount of fat here. But still: it’s cheesy, smoky, meaty, garlicy and satisfies all your carb-laden dreams. It’s time consuming and it’s unhealthy. But. It. Is. DELICIOUS.

You have been warned.

Andouille mac and cheese

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded mild white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Salt
Black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
6 ounces andouille sausage, diced (or raw andouille sausage, crumbled)
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 pound medium pasta shells
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and heavy cream to a simmer. Keep warm over very low heat.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat until bubbling, 1 minute. Add the garlic, thyme, and cayenne and whisk until the roux is lightly browned, 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and cream until the sauce is smooth and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat, whisking, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mild cheddar and 1/2 cup of the sharp cheddar. Season the cheese sauce with salt and black pepper.


3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the panko and toast over moderately high heat, stirring, 
until lightly browned, 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the skillet.

4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the sausage, bell pepper and onion and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are lightly browned, 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/4 cup of sliced scallions and the chopped parsley.

5. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well, then return the pasta to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and the andouille mixture. Season with hot sauce and salt and black pepper.

6. Spoon the pasta into a large oven-proof ceramic baking dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup of sharp cheddar and the toasted panko. Bake until piping hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with scallions and serve warm.

Musaengchae (Korean Radish Salad)

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Want something quick, healthy, and delicious to go with dinner? Musaengchae is your answer. This Korean radish dish is typically served as part of a banchan spread, but it goes just as well with rice and soup as part of a full meal, particularly in the winter. Crunchy, garlicy, and vinegary, it’s one of my favorite banchans. Best of all, you can make this well ahead of serving time. Don’t be put off by the amount of red pepper — it’s only mildly spicy.

Musaengchae (Korean radish salad)

Ingredients:

1 pound Korean radish (or daikon)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. Peel the radish and cut it into thin matchsticks. You should have about 3 cups of radish. Place radish matchsticks into a large bowl, add salt and mix by hand. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Squeeze out excess water from the radish and drain. Add garlic, green onion, vinegar, gochugaru, and sugar and mix by hand. Add sesame seeds and mix once more.

3. Let rest for at least half an hour and up to 5 hours. Transfer to a serving plate and serve room temperature or cold.