Pearl Couscous and Tuna Salad with Preserved Lemon

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This is my new go-to summer picnic salad. It’s lemony, salty, and rich, thanks to lots of olives, tuna, and a healthy dose of avocado. This keeps well in the fridge so make it the night before and you’re good to go.

1 cup pearl couscous
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (5-ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil, drained
2/3 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon
1 avocado, peeled and cubed

1. Cook couscous according to package instructions; drain and set aside. Let cool.

2. Combine lemon juice and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk in olive oil and add salt and pepper. Add cooled couscous and toss to coat. Flake tuna with a fork; add to couscous. Gently stir in olives, celery, onion, parsley, dill, avocado, and preserved lemon. Season with salt to taste and serve.

Roasted Red Pepper Bibimbap

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I’ll eat bibimbap in any shape or form. Traditional, vegetarian, seafood — I’ve never met a bibimbap I didn’t devour. This extra-healthy version is made with brown rice and lots of vegetables and is super satisfying. It’s a loose recipe, so adjust the proportions to your liking.

Ingredients:

2 cups short-grain brown rice
Salt
4 red bell peppers, halved
Avocado oil
Toasted sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons gochujang
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 1/2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 large handfuls kale, shredded
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
4 eggs
Pickled ginger, sliced
Green onions, sliced
Nori, cut into strips

1. Rinse the rice under cold water until it runs clear. Drain the rice and transfer to a saucepan or rice cooker and cook with a pinch of salt according to package directions.

2. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Arrange the pepper halves on a baking sheet, skin sides up. Drizzle with a little avocado oil and roast for 30 minutes, until soft and blackened in spots. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a plate. Leave for 10 minutes, then peel and slice into thick strips. Season the pepper ribbons with sesame oil, sesame seeds, and tamari.

3. Meanwhile, make the bibimbap sauce by combining the gochujang, sugar, garlic, and vinegar with 2 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds. Set aside.

4. Cook the carrot: heat a teaspoon of avocado oil in a frying pan over high heat. Add the carrot and saute for 2 minutes, until just tender. Season with salt and set aside. Cook the mushrooms in a little oil in the same way, keeping the heat high and the pan moving until the mushrooms are cooked. Season with tamari.

5. Wipe out the wok and add a teaspoon of oil followed by the ginger and the kale and a few drops of water, sauteing for a few minutes until wilted. Toss with a drizzle of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, and set aside.

6. Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling salted water for a minute, until wilted. Drain well.

7. Fry the eggs sunny side up in a frying pan, until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny.

8. To serve, divide the rice between large serving bowls. Spoon each topping on top in a circular manner: peppers, carrots, mushrooms, kale, and bean sprouts. Lay the fried egg on top and add pickled ginger, sliced green onions, nori seaweed, and sesame seeds to taste. Add a heaping spoonful of the bibimbap sauce, serving the rest on the table to spoon over, mixing everything as you eat.

Tiny Baked Potatoes with Chickpeas

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Full of sweet, savory, creamy, and crunchy textures and flavors, this these potatoes with spiced chickpeas are kind of like loaded potatoes in appetizer form — if loaded potatoes were vaguely South Asian or Middle Eastern.

Ingredients:

3 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, halved (or quartered) to about 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons nigella seeds
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Zest plus one teaspoon juice from one lemon
1 teaspoon honey
3 green onions
2/3 cup sour cream
2 to 3 tablespoons mango chutney

1. Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss potatoes with half the oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Season with salt and bake for 45 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through baking time.

2. Meanwhile, transfer the chickpeas into a bowl and pat dry. Toss chickpeas with remaining oil, cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon teaspoon of the nigella seeds, and the paprika. Season and spread on another baking sheet or roasting pan.

3. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until just beginning to brown. Stir through the lemon zest and honey and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until well-browned and crisp.

4. Chop half of the green onions and stir into sour cream with the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finely slice the remaining green onions and set aside.

5. Arrange potatoes on a large platter, and dollop 1 teaspoon of the green onion sour cream to each potato, with a little mango chutney. Scatter the chickpeas on top. Scatter the reserved green onions and remaining nigella seeds, plus a little more black pepper. Serve warm.

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.

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akhareh taabestaan

this week’s cooking:


black-bean-stuffed plantain croquettes with tomato sauce


veracruz-style shrimp over tortillas in pumpkin seed sauce | coconut, caramel, and rum flans


creamy tomato soup with buttery croutons | mushroom dumplings in parmesan and sun-dried tomato sauce


warm soba in broth with spinach and tofu | garlic chive and beef potstickers


hawaiian-style butter-coconut mochi

i finished reading life of pi last night. i loved it. its brilliant, but i’m still not sure if i understand the end properly (or at least which version to believe).

i also saw promises last night, and i highly recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in the israel-palestine conflict. the special features were just as interesting as the documentary itself, namely the updates on the children.

here’s the recipe for the mochi (this one is super easy and yummy):

1 lb mochiko
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
5 eggs
1/2 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. preheat oven to 350F.
2. whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. mix together wet ingredients in another bowl. add coconut mixture to flour mixture, whisking until batter is combined.
3. pour batter into an ungreased 13-by-9-inch baking pan, and bake until top is golden and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour and 25 minutes. cook cake completely, about 2 hours. cut mochi into squares before serving.