Eggplant, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad

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This Middle Eastern-inspired salad is peak summer: buttery eggplant, juicy tomatoes, and crispy cucumber are bound by a cooling and tangy yogurt dressing. The best part? It’s so much easier to make than it looks.

Eggplant, tomato, and cucumber salad

Ingredients:

2 Japanese eggplant, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cucumber, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons Greek or Middle Eastern-style yogurt
Salt
Pepper
Chopped parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat the broiler: brush the eggplant slices with the vegetable oil and cook over high heat, turning once, until golden and tender. Cut slices in half.

2. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and coriander. Season with salt and pepper. Add the warm eggplant, mix, and chill for at least 1 hour. Add the cucumber and tomatoes. Transfer to a serving dish and spoon the yogurt on top and garnish with parsley.

Zucchini Fritters with Pistou

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Did you plant zucchini this summer and now have way too many of them and don’t know what to do? Tired of zucchini salad? Enter zucchini fritters with garlicy pistou. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, I could eat a million of these.

Zucchini fritters with pistou

Ingredients:

1 handful basil leaves
1 or 2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound zucchini, grated
2/3 cup flour
1 egg, separated
Vegetable oil for shallow-frying
salt
pepper

1. To make the pistou, place the basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until grainy. Gradually blend in 1/2 cup olive oil, a little at a time, until combined, then transfer to a small serving bowl.

2. To make the fritters, put the grated zucchini in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt. Let sit for 1 hour, then rinse. Squeeze and drain well.

3. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the center, then add the egg yolk and remaining tablespoon olive oil. Measure 4 tablespoons water and add a little to the oil.

4. Beat the egg yolk and oil, gradually incorporating the flour and water to make a smooth batter. Season and let sit for 30 minutes.

5. Stir the zucchini to the batter. Beat the egg white until stiff, then fold into the batter.

6. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a frying pan. Add spoonfuls of batter to the oil and fry for about 4 minutes per side, until golden. Drain the fritters on paper towels and serve warm with the pistou.

Maui-Style Salad with Avocado and Roasted Beets

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Adapted from an Edible Hawaii recipe, this salad is labor-intensive, but worth it. Macadamia nuts, avocado, and hearts of palm provide a tropical note, and a preserved lemon-tarragon dressing gives the whole thing a bracing bite. This salad is filling enough for a light meal on its own.

Maui salad with avocado and roasted beets

Ingredients:

1 8-ounce bag mixed salad greens
1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, washed, drained, and sliced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
3 medium-sized beets
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/2 cup toasted macadamia nuts
1 bag sunflower sprouts (optional)
1 preserved lemon, rinsed well
1/2 cup tarragon, leaves stripped and stem discarded
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
salt
pepper

1. Wash and spin salad greens.

2. Peel and cube beets, and roast in 375F degree oven with avocado oil and salt for 25 minutes or until tender.

3. Place preserved lemon, tarragon leaves, honey, and olive oil in a blender and blend for 15 seconds until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and thin the dressing with a splash of water if it is too thick.

4. Place greens into salad bowl or platter with the beets, heart of palm and sprouts. Toss with dressing, adding more to adjust to taste. Garnish with avocado, macadamia nuts, and sprouts.

Loaded Baked Potatoes

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These aren’t your everyday baked potatoes. Oh no, my friend. These are the most impossibly fluffy baked potatoes you’ve ever had: crispy on the outside and ethereal on the inside. The secret lies in enveloping them in a thin coating of oil, rather than foil. Topped with sour cream, herbs, and caviar, these are a perfect weekend indulgence.

Loaded baked potatoes

Ingredients:

4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed, patted dry
Vegetable oil (for potatoes)
Salt
Pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely chopped chives or green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped dill and/or parsley
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1–2 oz. jar trout or salmon roe
Flaky sea salt

1. Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 450F degrees. Prick potatoes all over with a fork (this allows the steam to escape, which helps the insides of the potatoes cook evenly and make the skins crisp).

2. Drizzle a little oil over each potato and rub all over with your hands to cover in a thin layer; season with salt and pepper. Set potatoes directly on a wire rack set atop a baking sheet and bake until the outsides are browned and crisp and the insides are very tender about, 70 minutes.

3. Using tongs or oven mitts, transfer potatoes to a platter. Set out along with sour cream, chives, dill, butter, roe, sea salt, and pepper and top as desired.

Fava Bean Fritatta (Kuku-ye Baghali)

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Kuku refers to an Iranian fritatta, of which there are many styles. Kuku sabzi (herb fritatta) and kuku sibzamini (potato fritatta) are the most popular, but fava bean kuku is my most favorite of them all. Seasoned with dill, onions, and garlic, this makes for a perfect brunch or picnic food.

Every year I eagerly await springtime, when fava beans are in season. Last year I came up on more than 15 pounds of favas from Imwalle Gardens in Santa Rosa — no complaints here.

Kuku-ye baghali

Ingredients:

1 pound fava beans, shelled and peeled
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
4 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh or 1/2 cup dried dill

1. Remove the second skin from fava beans and place the beans in a saucepan with 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Boil for 10 minutes over medium heat. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. In a skillet, brown onions and garlic in 3 teaspoons oil. Add beans and stir. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3. Break eggs into a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, and yogurt. Beat lightly with a fork. Add chopped dill and fava beans and mix.

4. Heat remaining 3 teaspoons oil in a nonstick skillet, pour in the egg mixture, and cook, covered, over low heat until it has set, about 15 minutes. Cook the second side by cutting into wedges and carefully turning each wedge over one by one. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, cover, and cook for 15 minutes longer. Serve kuku with flatbread and yogurt.