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.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Quiche

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Asparagus season is almost over in the Bay Area but I’m still finding ways to cook with it before the window closes. This asparagus and goat cheese quiche is a quick and easy way to showcase the seasonal bounty of Northern California: the asparagus is local and I picked up the goat cheese from a recent visit to Pennyroyal Farms in Mendocino County.

This quiche is perfect for breakfast or lunch, or better yet, packed up and served at a picnic.

Asparagus and goat cheese quiche

Ingredients:

1 pie crust
3 ounces diced pancetta
6 eggs
1/2 bunch (7 ounces) asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut on a diagonal into 1-to 1 1/2 in. pieces
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1. Follow instructions on pie crust to pre-bake crust on a baking sheet in the oven before adding filling ingredients, if needed.

2. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until very crisp, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels.

3. Whisk eggs in a large bowl to blend. Stir in asparagus, chives, the creme fraiche, salt, and pepper until blended. Fold in pancetta. Pour filling into crust and dot with goat cheese.

4. Bake at 400F degrees until filling is set in center when tart is gently shaken, 13 to 20 minutes. Let quiche cool about 10 minutes. With a knife, loosen crust from edge of pan. Carefully push quiche out and set on a platter. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Soy-Marinated Eggs

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My favorite part about ramen are the marinated eggs and quite frankly, if I could order just a plate of those alone, I would. These soy-marinated eggs are a riff on ramen eggs, albeit with more garlic and a bit of vinegary and peppery tang. Make a batch of these ahead of time and enjoy them with breakfast or as a snack.

I like my yolks a bit jammier than in the photo below, so stick to a 6-minute cooking time (instead of 7 minutes, as I originally did) if you want a jammier consistency too.

Soy-marinated eggs

Ingredients:

6 large eggs at room temperature
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 dried chiles de arbol
3/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1. Gently lower eggs into a saucepan of boiling water. When water returns to a gentle boil, cook 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool 3 minutes. Remove eggs from ice water and carefully peel.

2. Bring garlic, chiles, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add eggs. Let sit at room temperature for an hour. Once cooled, transfer eggs and liquid to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1 day.

2. To serve, drain eggs and halve.

Chickpea and Kale Frittata

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I love frittatas because they’re basically an entire meal in one skillet. I grew up with frittatas (or kuku, as they’re called in Farsi): herb frittata (kuku sabzi), potato frittata (kuku zibzamini) — you get the picture. But chickpeas? That’s something new. It works beautifully here, along with a healthy serving of kale.

Chickpea and kale frittata

Ingredients:

12 eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped parsley (basil works well here too)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons curry powder (I used a mix of Madras and Jaffna curry powders here)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Whisk eggs, parsley, sour cream, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl until no streaks remain.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add chickpeas and curry powder and season with salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, garlic, and remaining teaspoon oil to chickpeas in skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and starting to brown, about 7 minutes.

4. Add a handful of greens and tablespoons. water and cook until slightly wilted. Continue adding greens a handful at a time, letting them wilt slightly before adding more, until all greens are wilted, about 5 minutes total; season with salt. Let cool slightly.

5. Return pan to medium-low, pour in egg mixture, and cook, stirring eggs and swirling pan often, until edges are just set (texture should be like a very soft scramble), about 5 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake frittata until puffed slightly and center is just set, about 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes and serve.

Cheddar-Green Onion Biscuits

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I’ve generally shied away from making biscuits because, quite frankly, I suck at it. I over-knead the dough, I don’t add enough butter, and my final product is usually hard baked disks of crumbly flour.

Except for these biscuits. Flecked with bits of cheddar cheese and green onions, they’re a cinch to make, even for someone like me. Good luck eating just one.

Cheddar-green onion biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus 1 tablespoon melted
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup buttermilk, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a large bowl until combined. Using your fingers, work cold butter into flour mixture until butter is in small, flattened pieces and mixture is crumbly. Stir in green onions and cheese. Add 3/4 cup buttermilk, and stir just until dough comes together, adding up to 1/4 cup additional buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. (Dough should be neither sticky nor crumbly.)

2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, and knead 3 to 4 times just to bring dough together. Pat dough into an 8- x 6-inch rectangle; fold 1 short side a third of the way over toward center. Fold opposite short side over folded end (business letter fold). Rotate dough clockwise 90 degrees; pat out dough into a 8×6-inch rectangle, and repeat folding procedure. Pat dough out into an 8×6-inch rectangle (3/4 to 1 inch thick); cut dough into 8 rectangular biscuits.

3. Place each biscuit rectangle on baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake biscuits in oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.