Portobello Mushrooms with Pesto and Garlicky Almonds

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It’s mushroom season! Maitake, oyster, enoki, need I go on? This easy side (or vegetarian main) is a mycophile’s dream because you can adapt it to any type of large mushroom. I use portobellos but king oyster or any hearty mushroom works excellently. Served atop pesto and with crunchy almonds, you can eat this on its own or with pasta.

Portobello mushrooms with pesto and almonds

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almonds
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
6 portobellow mushrooms (about 2 pounds), trimmed, gills removed
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 1/4 cups refrigerated pesto

1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Spread almonds in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in oven until toasted, about 8 minutes. Let cool.

2. Coarsely chop almonds. Place almonds, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a food processor. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a small bowl.

3. Score each side of the mushrooms with a 1/8-inch-deep diamond pattern. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Place mushroom halves, cap sides down, in hot oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook mushrooms, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip mushrooms and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking mushrooms until tender and golden on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove mushrooms from skillet. Return skillet to medium-high, and repeat process with remaining olive oil, mushrooms, salt, and pepper.

4. To serve, spoon pesto onto a serving platter. Top with mushroom halves and almonds.

Pasta with Black Truffle Butter and Mushrooms

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It’s truffle season! Here’s an indulgent main dish that’s perfect for the (post) holidays: carby pasta, earthy truffles, and a healthy hunk of butter. Any kind of pasta will do but I prefer something a little unique here: casarecce, gemelli, or even tagliatelle are all fine options. Serve this with a simple green salad on the side and you’re all set.

Pasta with black truffle butter and mushrooms

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 teaspoons black truffle paste or finely grated black truffle
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 pound mixed fresh wild mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (about 6 cups)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound pasta
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 4 tablespoons), divided

1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Stir together butter, truffle paste, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small bowl until combined. Set aside.

2. Toss together mushrooms, 2 tablespoons oil, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl until coated. Spread in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through cook time. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. In the meantime, cook garlic and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high, stirring constantly, until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth and cooled mushrooms.

4. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Add pasta and truffle butter to mushroom mixture in skillet over medium-high; toss to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is emulsified, about 1 minute, adding reserved cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until desired sauce consistency is reached. Remove from heat. Add parsley and 2 tablespoons cheese; toss to combine. Transfer pasta to a serving platter; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese.

Walnut-Pecan Maple Bars

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The two best pies I’ve ever had are my sister’s infamous pecan pie and San Francisco’s now-shuttered Mission Pie’s walnut pie. Sadly, I’m a little baking-challenged and my attempts to make pie always leave something to be desired, but these easy bars deliver all the satisfaction of pie without the fuss. A little bit walnut, a little bit pecan, these maple bars are the best of both worlds.

If you don’t have a square baking pan, you can substitute a 9-inch cake pan instead. Also, good luck getting these to last more than a day.

Walnut-pecan maple bars

Ingredients:

Crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room temperature butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Butter 9x9x2-inch metal cake pan. Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and egg yolk in bowl to blend. Add flour and salt; beat until moist clumps form. Gather dough together. Press dough over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of pan. Bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool.

2. Make the filling: Combine maple syrup, brown sugar, whipping cream, and butter in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until butter melts and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat; mix in vanilla and nuts.

3. Pour filling into crust. Bake bars until filling is bubbling in center, about 15 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack (filling will become firm). Chill 1-2 hours. Cut into 16 bars.

Palestinian-Style Potatoes with Spiced Eggs

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Crispy potatoes, creamy spiced eggs, and a handful of herbs make this an easy breakfast I can’t stop thinking about. Adapted from Baladi, this dish is Palestinian, but it reminds me of an equally delicious potato and egg dish my baba makes that’s greater than the sum of its parts: crispy-on-the-outside-but-creamy-on-the-inside potatoes and perfectly cooked eggs. Comfort food at its best.

This recipe serves two but quantities can easily be doubled.

Palestinian potatoes with spiced eggs

Ingredients:

2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
4 eggs
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
Flatbread, to serve (optional)
Salt
Black pepper

1. Parboil the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 5 minutes; drain.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the potatoes until lightly browned. Add the shallots and garlic until softened, then add the spices and mix to combine.

3. Separate the ingredients in the pan into four portions and crack and egg on top of each. Move the mixture around over low heat and gently stir together. Try not to overscramble the eggs so that you have bigger pieces of cooked egg.

4. Season with salt and pepper, add the cilantro, and serve warm.

Persian Mulberry and Hibiscus Chia Seed Jam

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My parents have a giant shahtoot (Persian mulberry) tree and every year, we look forward to staining our fingers (and our clothes) from picking the juicy, crimson berries. This year, I used some to make a fresh, not-too-sweet and super healthy jam. Paired with hibiscus, this jam comes together in minutes and is bound by chia seeds. I use sugar very sparingly here, so this is a jam that won’t keep forever, even in the fridge. (Don’t worry, it won’t last long anyway.)

Persian mulberry and hibiscus chia seed jam

Ingredients:

1/3 cup dried hibiscus flowers
1 1/4 pound (about 1 1/2 pints) Persian mulberries
4 tablespoons chia seeds
4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Put the hibiscus in a heatproof bowl and cover with 1/2 cup boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain to remove the dried flowers, pressing down to release their flavor.

2. Put the mulberries in a saucepan and slowly heat, roughly crushing the berries with the back of a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the juices have run. Stir in the chia seeds and hibiscus water, then cook for another minute. Add honey and sugar, tasting to adjust if needed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool and thicken. Cover and store in the fridge.