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.

Hummus with Spiced Zucchini and Lamb

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Continuing along our theme of oops, I grew too much zucchini this summer and now I don’t know what to do with it, I present to you this one-dish meal. (Or appetizer, if you like.) Serve this with pita bread or you know, do like me and eat it by the spoonful. It’s that satisfying.

Hummus with spiced zucchini and lamb

Ingredients:

2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound ground lamb or beef
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
1 pound zucchini, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1. Make the hummus: Process chickpeas in a food processor until ground, about 30 seconds. Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon salt and process until smooth. With motor running, drizzle in ½ cup water and process until hummus is very smooth, light, and creamy. Spoon onto a large platter.

2. Make the lamb: Mix together remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add lamb and press into a large 1 1/2-thick patty; sprinkle with half of spice mixture and half of garlic. Cook, without moving, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn over in pieces and cook until other side is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, breaking up and stirring, until cooked through, about 4 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, scoop lamb over hummus.

3. Discard fat and wipe out skillet. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over high. Cook zucchini in a single layer, undisturbed, until browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining spice mixture and garlic and cook, stirring, until squash is coated and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Spoon squash over lamb. Top with parsley and serve with pita.

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.

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.

Chickpea Shami with Lime and Saffron Glaze

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Shami is kotlet’s cousin: an Iranian meat patty that’s delicious on its own or with bread, comfort food that comes in all sorts of variations. My mom makes these the traditional and labor-intensive way with braised and shredded lamb shank combined with yellow split peas. When it comes to Iranian food, I’m nowhere near as good a cook as her, but my version, albeit easier and not the same, still hit the spot.

Chickpea shami with lime and saffron glaze

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef, lamb or turkey
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup chickpea powder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

1. Place the lamb in a large mixing bowl. In a food processor, place the onion, carrots, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and turmeric, and pulse until you have a grainy paste. Transfer to the mixing bowl, add the chickpea flour, and knead with your hands until all of it has been absorbed. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat until hot. Shape the lamb mixture into 3 inch-patties, gently poking a hole in the middle of each. Place the patties in the pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.

3. To make the glaze, in a small bowl, combine the water, sugar, lime juice, saffron mixture, and remaining salt in a small bowl. Pour the glaze over the patties in the pan once they have cooked through. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until the sauce has been absorbed. Serve warm or at room temperature on their own, or with flatbread, fresh herbs, and yogurt.