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.

Tuna Tiradito with Aji Amarillo Leche de Tigre

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Tiradito is a Peruvian dish of raw fish that’s similar to ceviche: sashimi-style fish in an acidic sauce — a testament to Peru’s legacy of Japanese immigrants and their influence on Peruvian food. Perfect as an appetizer and adapted from a Food & Wine recipe, this tiradito sits in a citrusy sauce spiked with aji amarillo chiles. The aji amarillo is essential here: it gives this dish a piquant heat and pop of color that looks striking against a garnish of blue potato chips.

Tuna tiradito with aji amarillo leche de tigre

Ingredients:

1/4 cup jarred aji amarillo paste
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced ginger
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 pound sushi-grade tuna, cut into 1 1/2- x 1 1/2- x 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 small bowl blue potato chips
1/4 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup sliced green onions

1. Place aji amarillo paste, lemon juice, orange juice, salt, garlic, and ginger in a blender; process until smooth. With blender running, slowly add oil in a thin, steady stream until sauce emulsifies.

2. Spread sauce on a large rimmed platter and arrange tuna slices over sauce. Sprinkle with chips, peanuts, sesame seeds, and green onions, and serve.

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.

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Wings

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Is there anything more satisfying than sticky, spicy, sweet chicken wings? I seasoned these generously with fried garlic, fish sauce, and Thai basil. Spoiler alert: there were no leftovers.

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons avocado oil
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
10 chicken wings, split
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves

1. Stir together 3 teaspoons sugar, 3 teaspoons fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons lime juice until sugar dissolves. Pour mixture into a ziplock plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag; massage bag to coat wings with marinade. Refrigerate 1 day.

2. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, being careful not to burn. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve garlic oil.

3. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; coat with cooking spray. Remove wings from marinade; discard marinade. Pat wings dry; arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 30 minutes, flipping once.

4. Meanwhile, whisk together 2 tablespoons water, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce, and remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Set aside.

5. Heat 2 tablespoons reserved garlic oil in a wok over high. Add wings and soy sauce; cook, stirring often, until darkened in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Add fish sauce mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until sauce reduces and wings are glazed, about 1 minute. Add green onions and fried garlic, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in basil. Transfer to a plate 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.