Ricotta Toast with Figs and Seeded Honey

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Say hello to my new favorite breakfast. It’s super simple, so the dish really rests on the quality and seasonality of the ingredients. The figs? Local. The ricotta? Local. The honey? Definitely local. Insufferable, but delicious.

Ricotta toast with figs and seeded honey

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 loaf rustic bread
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 fresh ricotta
6 figs, sliced

1. In a medium bowl, combine the seeds and honey and mix.

2. Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Cut the bread into 4 thick slices and brush with oil. Toast bread on skillet until warmed through and lightly toasted, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

3. Spread the ricotta onto the toasted bread and arrange figs on the ricotta. Drizzle the honey-seed mixture over the top and serve.

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.

Aperol-Rum-Pineapple Cocktail

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I didn’t know what to call this cocktail, so I made it literal. There’s aperol. There’s rum. There’s pineapple. There’s more to it, but essentially it tastes like a tropical island without the saccharine sweetness that overwhelms so many tiki-style drinks. It comes together in a cinch, making it perfect for a lazy summer day.

aperol rum pineapple cocktail

Ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar
1 ounce Aperol
1 ounce spiced dark rum
1 ounce pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

1. Combine sugar and 1/4 water in a bowl and mix until sugar is dissolved to make simple syrup.

2. Combine Aperol, rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, and 1/4 ounce syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Cover and shake vigorously 30 seconds. Strain into a glass filled to the brim with crushed ice and garnish with mint, if desired.

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.