Loaded Baked Potatoes

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These aren’t your everyday baked potatoes. Oh no, my friend. These are the most impossibly fluffy baked potatoes you’ve ever had: crispy on the outside and ethereal on the inside. The secret lies in enveloping them in a thin coating of oil, rather than foil. Topped with sour cream, herbs, and caviar, these are a perfect weekend indulgence.

Loaded baked potatoes

Ingredients:

4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed, patted dry
Vegetable oil (for potatoes)
Salt
Pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely chopped chives or green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped dill and/or parsley
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1–2 oz. jar trout or salmon roe
Flaky sea salt

1. Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 450F degrees. Prick potatoes all over with a fork (this allows the steam to escape, which helps the insides of the potatoes cook evenly and make the skins crisp).

2. Drizzle a little oil over each potato and rub all over with your hands to cover in a thin layer; season with salt and pepper. Set potatoes directly on a wire rack set atop a baking sheet and bake until the outsides are browned and crisp and the insides are very tender about, 70 minutes.

3. Using tongs or oven mitts, transfer potatoes to a platter. Set out along with sour cream, chives, dill, butter, roe, sea salt, and pepper and top as desired.

Fava Bean Fritatta (Kuku-ye Baghali)

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Kuku refers to an Iranian fritatta, of which there are many styles. Kuku sabzi (herb fritatta) and kuku sibzamini (potato fritatta) are the most popular, but fava bean kuku is my most favorite of them all. Seasoned with dill, onions, and garlic, this makes for a perfect brunch or picnic food.

Every year I eagerly await springtime, when fava beans are in season. Last year I came up on more than 15 pounds of favas from Imwalle Gardens in Santa Rosa — no complaints here.

Kuku-ye baghali

Ingredients:

1 pound fava beans, shelled and peeled
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
4 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon yogurt
1 cup chopped fresh or 1/2 cup dried dill

1. Remove the second skin from fava beans and place the beans in a saucepan with 3 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Boil for 10 minutes over medium heat. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. In a skillet, brown onions and garlic in 3 teaspoons oil. Add beans and stir. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3. Break eggs into a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, and yogurt. Beat lightly with a fork. Add chopped dill and fava beans and mix.

4. Heat remaining 3 teaspoons oil in a nonstick skillet, pour in the egg mixture, and cook, covered, over low heat until it has set, about 15 minutes. Cook the second side by cutting into wedges and carefully turning each wedge over one by one. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil, cover, and cook for 15 minutes longer. Serve kuku with flatbread and yogurt.

Roast Beets with Pistachio-Yogurt Sauce

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These marinated and yogurt beets are like a modern take on mast-o laboo, which is an Iranian appetizer of chopped beets and tangy, thick yogurt. Think mast-o laboo deconstructed, with the addition of pistachios for an even creamier sauce to foil the vinegar-flavored beets with.

Roast beets with pistachio-yogurt sauce

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pounds small red beets, trimmed

4 thyme sprigs

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 teaspoons salt, divided

1/4 cup orange juice (from 1 orange)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3/4 cup roasted pistachios, plus 1 tablespoon chopped pistachios for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1. Make the beets: Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Toss together beets, thyme, 1 teaspoon oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a roasting pan. Spread beets in pan; pour 1/2 cup water into pan. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven until beets are tender, about 1 hour. (Larger beets will take longer to cook.) Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350F degrees.

2. Remove beets from pan; let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel each beet to remove skin; discard skins. Cut beets into quarters. While beets are warm, transfer to a large bowl. Add orange juice, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and 1 teaspoon salt; toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Toss beet mixture; taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Set aside until ready to serve.

3. Make the pistachio yogurt: Spread pistachios evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350F degrees until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor; pulse until finely chopped, about 10 times. Add warm water; process until mixture is the consistency of chunky peanut butter, about 1 minute. With processor running, gradually drizzle in olive oil until mixture is mostly smooth and spreadable, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl; fold in yogurt and 1 teaspoon salt.

4. Spread yogurt sauce on a serving platter; top with beets. Garnish with chopped pistachios.

Roast Za’atar Chicken with Yogurt Sauce

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Let’s be honest: roasting a cut chicken in a baking dish is eons easier than roasting the whole bird, what with the basting and the watching and careful tinkering. Adapted from a Bon Apetit recipe, this roast za’atar chicken is a perfect way to use either a whole chicken, cut into pieces, or simply chicken legs. Drizzled with a herby za’atar oil and baked alongside loads of onions, garlic, and lemons, this chicken is nothing if not super flavorful.

Roast za'atar chicken with yogurt sauce

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, or 4 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick; about 3 pounds total)
2 red onions, cut into 2-inch-thick wedges
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 cloves
1 Meyer lemon, quartered, seeds removed
Salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons za’atar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Arrange chicken, onions, halved garlic heads, and lemon in a baking dish; season with salt. Pour in oil and toss to coat. Turn garlic cut side down. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until meat tender, 50–60 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, finely grate 1 small garlic clove into a small bowl. Add yogurt, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon water and mix. Set aside yogurt sauce.

3. Remove baking dish from oven and transfer onions, garlic, and lemon to a plate. Increase oven temperature to 425F degrees and continue to roast chicken until skin is golden brown, 10–15 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate and let rest 10 minutes. Set aside pan with juices.

4. Finely grate remaining garlic clove into another small bowl. Add za’atar, coriander, and lemon zest. Pour reserved juices in pan into za’atar mixture until you have about 1/2 cup. Mix in a pinch of salt, if needed.

5. Spread reserved yogurt sauce over a platter and arrange chicken legs on top. Scatter onions, garlic, and lemon; drizzle with za’atar oil.

Kashk-Braised Goat and Chickepea Soup (Boz Ghormeh)

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Kashk is an Iranian dairy product similar to sour cream, made from the leftovers of cheese making. It’s tart and creamy, providing a welcome contrast to rich, meaty dishes. Its essential in dishes like ash-e reshteh and also boz ghormeh, a regional specialty of Kerman in south-central Iran.

In this #uglydelicious meal-in-a-bowl soup, goat is braised with chickpeas, a hearty serving of seasoned kashk and topped with garlicy, tarragon-inflected croutons made from Iranian naan-e sangak flatbread. In a pinch, you can substitute the goat for leg of lamb and you can substitute the sangak with lavash or pita.

Kashk-braised goat and chickpea soup

Ingredients:

For the goat:

3/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda overnight, drained, and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, sliced, plus 1 or 2 cloves garlic, grated
1/3 cup tarragon leaves, chopped, or 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1 1/2 cups liquid kashk
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

For the croutons:

1 sangak bread cut into 1-inch squares
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 cup tarragon leaves
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. To cook the goat: Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and saute the onions until beginning to turn golden. Add the goat and continue to saute until onions are golden brown. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, 3 cloves of sliced garlic, tarragon, chickpeas, and saute for 2 minutes.

2. Pour in 4 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally until the meat and chickpeas are tender.

3. In a small saucepan over low heat, add the kashk, remaining 1 clove grated garlic, and saffron water, and give it a stir. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, taking care not to let the kashk come to a boil.

4. Once the goat and chickpeas have finished cooking, add the kashk mixture to the dutch oven. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

5. To make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spread sangkak on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and add the garlic and tarragon. Drizzle oil over the bread and toss to coat. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, until the bread is toasted.

6. Serve the soup in individual bowls and top with a few croutons. You can also serve this soup with a fresh herb platter of sabzi khordan on the side.