Garlic Green Beans

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Garlic green beans are a takeout staple, but this homestyle version is so easy and versatile, you’ll wonder why you ever ordered out to begin with. If I can find East Asian long beans, I prefer to use those, but your run-of-the-mill green beans work just as well. And instead of the traditional step of deep-frying the green beans first, this recipe modifies that step with far less oil, making these simpler and healthier.

Garlic green beans

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups trimmed green beans, about 3 inches long
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Thai seasoning sauce (you can substitute Maggi seasoning sauce or even soy sauce)
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pepper

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok over high heat. Working in two batches, stir-fry the beans until they begin to wrinkle, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

2. Once cooled, pour out most of the oil until about 1 tablespoon remains. Heat the wok over high heat again until the oil is shimmering, then add the garlic, green beans, sugar, Thai seasoning sauce, and oyster sauce. Stir-fry until the green beans have absorbed the sauce and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add a dash of pepper and serve.

Arugula and Cashew Pesto with Brown Rice Spaghetti

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This dish is really all about the pesto. Serve it with pasta, slather it on bread, eat it by the spoonful — it doesn’t matter. Here, the spaghetti is merely the vehicle by which to eat the pesto: creamy, peppery, with just a hint of garlic and cheese.

Arugula and cashew pesto

Ingredients:

4 cups baby arugula leaves
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
12 ounces pasta

1. Bring roughly 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Blanch arugula for about 30 seconds or until the leaves become bright green. Drain arugula into a colander and run cold water over them. Press leaves to remove excess water and let drain.

2. Meanwhile, bring a pan to a medium heat, add cashews and a pinch of salt, making sure to move the pan around to prevent the cashews from burning. Toast until you begin to smell a nutty aroma and the cashews have turned lightly golden. Remove from pan and let cool.

3. Place arugula, cashews, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in a blender and process until smooth.

4. Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. When pasta is ready, strain and immediately toss with a little olive oil. Add pesto and serve garnished with grated Parmesan cheese.

Stir-Fried Broccoli Rabe with Garlic and Chiles

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I used broccoli rabe in this quick stir-fry seasoned with garlic and serrano peppers, but you can use nearly anything: gai lan, collards, kale. One thing is constant, though: the addition of anchovies at the end. They melt into the wok, adding a deliciously funky and salty note to the dish. Serve this as a side dish alongside rice and a main, and you’re set.

Stir-Fried Greens with Garlic and Chiles

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced on an angle
2 bunches (about 1 pound) broccoli rabe, or other hardy leafy greens, like gai lan, stems thinly sliced on an angle into 2-inch lengths and leaves cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce or Thai seasoning sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
Ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the garlic and chiles and stir-fry until fragrant, then toss in the greens, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. Cook, stirring the greens, until they are tender and wilted, about 4 minutes. If the wok begins to dry out at the bottom, splash in 2 tablespoons of water at a time to help the greens wilt and not stick. Once the greens are wilting, stir in the anchovies.

2. Remove from heat, add a dash of black pepper, 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.

Avocado and Tomato Salad with Soy Vinaigrette

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Creamy avocadoes, crisp cucumbers, and juicy tomatoes: this salad celebrates a California summer in all its glory. Adapted from an old Sunset magazine, use the best quality avocados and tomatoes you can get your hands on here. Freshness makes all the difference.

Avocado and tomato salad with soy vinaigrette

4 Persian cucumbers, sliced 1⁄4 inch thick
1 or 2 medium tomatoes, cut into slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, halved and sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
Kosher salt

1. Arrange medium tomato slices and cucumbers on a serving platter, followed by cherry ­tomatoes and avocado slices.

2. Whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar and drizzle over salad.

3. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt to taste.