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.

Lemongrass Chicken with Rice Noodles

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I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t love bun, or Vietnamese rice noodle bowls. And no two bun are the same: the combinations are endless, but one thing remains the same: a good bun is a riot of textures and flavors: crunchy and chewy and salty and sweet and tart all at once.

This lemongrass-heavy version with grilled chicken is my favorite way to make bun at home. Feel free to adjust the ingredients to your liking.

Lemongrass chicken with rice noodles

Ingredients:

For the nuoc cham:

1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce, plus more to taste

For the marinade:

1/4 cup roughly chopped lemongrass
3 tablespoons roughly chopped shallot
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon pepper


1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 (8-ounce) package uncooked thin rice stick noodles
4 cups lettuce, thinly sliced
1 Persian cucumber, julienned
1/2 cup torn fresh mint
1/2 cup torn fresh Thai or other basil
Vegetable oil, for grilling

2/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts or cashews, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup crispy fried shallots

1. Make the nuoc cham: Stir together water, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Add additional lime juice to taste; dilute with water if flavors are too strong. Stir in fish sauce; add additional fish sauce to taste.

2. Marinade the chicken: Place all marinade ingredients in a food processor; pulse until mixture is pureed. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add chicken to marinade in bowl, mixing to coat. Cover, refrigerate, and marinade chicken for 2 to 6 hours.

3. When ready to cook, boil noodles in a pot of water until chewy-tender (cook time will depend on brand). Drain and rinse under cold water; drain again. Divide lettuce and cucumber among 4 large serving bowls. Sprinkle bowls evenly with mint and basil. Top evenly with noodles.

4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high. Lightly brush chicken with oil. Place chicken on hot grill pan; cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is slightly charred and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, let cool for 2 minutes, and slice into bite-sized pieces.

5. Divide chicken among bowls. Top bowls evenly with peanuts and fried shallots. Serve with nuoc cham as an accompaniment.

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.

Cumin Beef

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The first time I had cumin beef was decades ago at an Islamic Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. The silk road influences were obvious: cumin is often used in Ughyur cuisine in China’s Xingjiang Province, in tandem with loads of garlic and chiles. I was hooked.

This fragrant dish is a cinch to make and takes me right back to that first time I tasted Muslim Chinese cuisine. Serve this with rice for an easy weeknight meal.

Cumin beef

Ingredients:

1 pound trimmed sirloin steak
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon potato flour
1 green or red bell pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
3 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes, to taste
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1. Cut the beef into thin slices. In a medium bowl, stir the marinade ingredients with 1 tablespoon water and add the beef, mixing to coat. Cut the peppers into 1-inch strips, then cut diagonally into diamond-shaped slices.

2. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to a wok over high heat. Add the beef and stir-fry until just cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove beef from the wok and set aside.

3. Return the wok to the heat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds, then add the garlic and chili pepper, and stir-fry until hot and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Return the beef to the wok and add the cumin and dried chiles, continuing to stir-fry until cooked through, about 2 minutes. Just before removing from the heat, add the green onions and stir. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil, and serve.