Tangy Pomegranate Hummus

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I suck at making hummus. There, I said it. For reasons unbeknownst to me, every attempt I’ve ever made has resulted in “this is kinda good but the store-bought version tastes so much better”-style hummus.

Until I stumbled upon my secret ingredient: pomegranate molasses.

Sweet-and-sour pomegranate molasses took my hummus-making attempts from okay-ish to “wow, this is actually really delicious and I would like moar now, pls.” Pomegranate molasses might be more at home in Iranian-style braises than Levant-style hummus, but hey, it works.

Just don’t talk to me about chocolate hummus. Even I draw the line at that.

Tangy pomegranate hummus

Ingredients:

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/3 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
Salt
Olive oil, Aleppo pepper, and warm pita bread, for serving

1. Set aside 2 teaspoons chickpeas for serving. Process tahini, lemon juice, harissa, pomegranate molasses, and remaining chickpeas in a food processor, adding water as needed, until hummus is very smooth; season with salt.

2. Serve hummus drizzled with oil and topped with Aleppo pepper and reserved chickpeas, with warm pita bread.

Roast Beets with Pistachio-Yogurt Sauce

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These marinated and yogurt beets are like a modern take on mast-o laboo, which is an Iranian appetizer of chopped beets and tangy, thick yogurt. Think mast-o laboo deconstructed, with the addition of pistachios for an even creamier sauce to foil the vinegar-flavored beets with.

Roast beets with pistachio-yogurt sauce

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds small red beets, trimmed

4 thyme sprigs

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 teaspoons salt, divided

1/4 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3/4 cup roasted pistachios, plus 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1. Make the beets: Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Toss together beets, thyme, 1 teaspoon oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a roasting pan. Spread beets in pan; pour 1/2 cup water into pan. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven until beets are tender, about 1 hour. (Larger beets will take longer to cook.) Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350F degrees.

2. Remove beets from pan; let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel each beet to remove skin; discard skins. Cut beets into quarters. While beets are warm, transfer to a large bowl. Add orange juice, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and 1 teaspoon salt; toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Toss beet mixture; taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Set aside until ready to serve.

3. Make the pistachio yogurt: Spread pistachios evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350F degrees until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until finely chopped, about 10 times. Add warm water; process until mixture is the consistency of chunky peanut butter, about 1 minute. With processor running, gradually drizzle in olive oil until mixture is mostly smooth and spreadable, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl; fold in yogurt and 1 teaspoon salt.

4. Spread yogurt sauce on a serving platter; top with beets. Garnish with chopped pistachios.

Garlic Green Beans

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Garlic green beans are a takeout staple, but this homestyle version is so easy and versatile, you’ll wonder why you ever ordered out to begin with. If I can find East Asian long beans, I prefer to use those, but your run-of-the-mill green beans work just as well. And instead of the traditional step of deep-frying the green beans first, this recipe modifies that step with far less oil, making these simpler and healthier.

Garlic green beans

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups trimmed green beans, about 3 inches long
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Thai seasoning sauce (you can substitute Maggi seasoning sauce or even soy sauce)
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pepper

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok over high heat. Working in two batches, stir-fry the beans until they begin to wrinkle, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

2. Once cooled, pour out most of the oil until about 1 tablespoon remains. Heat the wok over high heat again until the oil is shimmering, then add the garlic, green beans, sugar, Thai seasoning sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir-fry until the green beans have absorbed the sauce and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add a dash of pepper and serve.

Stir-Fried Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Chiles

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I used broccoli rabe in this quick stir-fry seasoned with garlic and serrano peppers, but you can use nearly anything: gai lan, collards, kale. One thing is constant, though: the addition of anchovies at the end. They melt into the wok, adding a deliciously funky and salty note to the dish. Serve this as a side dish alongside rice and a main, and you’re set.

Stir-Fried Greens with Garlic and Chiles

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced on an angle
2 bunches (about 1 pound) broccoli rabe, or other hardy leafy greens, like gai lan, stems thinly sliced on an angle into 2-inch lengths and leaves cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce or Thai seasoning sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
Ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the garlic and chiles and stir-fry until fragrant, then toss in the greens, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. Cook, stirring the greens, until they are tender and wilted, about 4 minutes. If the wok begins to dry out at the bottom, splash in 2 tablespoons of water at a time to help the greens wilt and not stick. Once the greens are wilting, stir in the anchovies.

2. Remove from heat, add a dash of black pepper, and serve.

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.