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.

Tomatoes with Bagna Cauda and Chorizo

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Things seemed a little iffy when I started making this salad, adapted from a Food & Wine recipe. What business did anchovies, mayonnaise, Chinese sausage, dill, and tomatoes have on the same plate? I made some adjustments (turkey chorizo instead of Chinese sausage, the addition of yogurt to lighten the mayo, less oil) and you know what? This is one of the most delicious things I’ve made all year.

Make this recipe when tomatoes are at their peak, and make a lot. This salad is a cacophony of flavors in the best way ever.

Tomatoes with bagna cauda and chorizo

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup minced garlic

2 tablespoons butter

2 anchovy fillets, minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Salt

1/2 pound Mexican-style turkey chorizo
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1/4 cup finely chopped dill

1/4 cup finely chopped mint

1/3 cup Kewpie mayonnaise
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

6 to 8 tomatoes, cut into wedges


1. In a medium saucepan, cook the olive oil, garlic and butter over moderate heat, whisking frequently, until the garlic 
just starts to color, about 
5 minutes. Whisk in the anchovies and cook, whisking, until the garlic is golden, 5 minutes more. Transfer the bagna cauda to a heatproof medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the crushed red pepper and let the bagna cauda cool completely, stirring occasionally. Season with salt.


2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high and add the chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chorizo is browned and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a medium bowl.

3. In a small bowl, mix the chives with the parsley, dill and mint. In a medium bowl, whisk the Kewpie mayo with the yogurt, lemon juice and 1/4 cup of the mixed herbs. 
Season the herbed dressing with salt. 


5. Spread the herbed dressing on a platter. Arrange the tomatoes on top. Spoon the bagna cauda on top, then sprinkle with the chorizo, and remaining mixed herbs. Serve at room temperature.

Roasted Pepper and Cherry Tomato Salad

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This showstopping summer salad hits all the right notes: salty anchovies, acidic tomatoes, sweet red peppers, and tannic, meaty olives.

You can make this dish ahead of time: the flavors only get better as the vegetables marinate in their own juices.

Roasted pepper and cherry tomato salad

Ingredients:

4 red bell peppers, halved, seeds and ribs removed
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup basil leaves, divided
Salt
Pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup pitted black or green olives

1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Place bell peppers, skin side down, in a shallow baking dish and top with anchovies and garlic. Tear 1/4 cup of the basil leaves over top, season with kosher salt and black pepper, and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Bake until peppers are tender but still hold their shape and are slightly charred around edges, about 40 minutes. Let cool.

2. Meanwhile, blend remaining 3/4 cup basil and remaining 1/4 cup oil in a blender until smooth; season basil oil with salt and pepper.

3. Arrange bell peppers on a platter. Top with tomatoes and olives, then drizzle with basil oil and season with salt and pepper.

Shallot and Yogurt Dip (Mast-o Musir)

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Yogurt-based dips and side dishes factor in heavily in Iranian cuisine and none is more ubiquitous than mast-o khiar, or cucumber and mint yogurt dip. But mast-o musir (yogurt with dried shallots) is just as delicious and honestly? Nothing beats this as a potato chip dip.

Mast-o musir

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried Iranian shallots (musir)
2 cups yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Place dried shallots in a medium bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak until softened, at least 2 hours. Drain, rinse, and pat dry. Chop the shallots finely.

2. Combine the shallots with yogurt, salt, and pepper. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Serve as an appetizer with potato chips, pita chips, or lavash bread, or serve as a side dish alongside your entree.

Creamed Swiss Chard with Tahini

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Let’s get one thing out of the way: I can’t stand creamed spinach: to me, it tastes bland. Its one redeeming quality? A lovely, velvety texture. So when I experimented with this Swiss chard side dish, I wanted something that evoked the texture of creamed spinach but with lots more flavor, and healthier too.

Sure, there’s no actual cream in this “creamed” Swiss chard, but you won’t miss it anyway. Serve this as a side dish or as a dip alongside crackers and crudites.

Creamed Swiss chard with tahini

2 bunches green-stemmed Swiss chard (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
Salt

1. Remove ribs and stems from Swiss chard leaves and finely chop. Tear leaves into small pieces. Set stems and leaves aside separately.

2. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pot over medium-low. Cook reserved ribs and stems, stirring often and adding a splash of water if they start to brown, until tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add reserved chard; cook, tossing, until all the leaves are wilted and tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool. Squeeze excess liquid from mixture into a measuring glass. (You should have about 1/2 cup liquid.)

3. Place Swiss chard mixture and 1 tablespoon cooking liquid in a food processor and add tahini, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup oil. Season with salt and process, adding more cooking liquid if needed, until dip is creamy. Season with more salt if needed.

4. Serve as a side dish or as a dip alongside crackers.