Soba Noodles with Crispy Kale

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If a dish calls for nutritional yeast, chances are that I’m making it. Even though I’m not a vegetarian, I can’t get enough of the umami-rich hit that nutritional yeast provides, and there’s plenty of it in this easy noodle bowl. Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe, I’ve reduced the amount of coconut flakes and upped the volume of sauce for an even more umami-rich dish.

Soba noodles with crispy kale

Ingredients:

1 bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil
12 ounces dried soba noodles
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lime

1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375F degrees. Toss kale, coconut, nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl to coat. Divide mixture evenly between 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast, tossing and rotating baking sheets halfway through, until kale is crisp and coconut is golden brown, 15–20 minutes.

2. While kale is roasting, cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Place noodles in a large bowl.

3. Combine tahini, soy sauce, honey, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and remaining 1/3 cup olive oil in a small bowl. Finely grate zest from lime into bowl; halve lime and squeeze in juice. Whisk dressing until smooth, then pour about half of it over noodles; toss to coat.

4. Add half of kale mixture to noodles and toss to coat. Drizzle in remaining dressing, tossing until noodles are creamy. Pile remaining kale on top.

Hot and Sour Silken Tofu

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This Sichuan-style dish is inspired by a Fuchsia Dunlop recipe that comes together in a matter of minutes. The silky-soft tofu and salty, crunchy dry-roasted edamame pair addictively well together. Eat this on its own or with rice. Either way it’s perfect on a chilly day.

Hot and sour silken tofu

Ingredients:

Salt
11 ounces silken tofu
1 teaspoon Chinkiang vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 teaspoons chili oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped Sichuan preserved vegetable or kimchi
1/2 cup dry-roasted edamame

1. Bring a saucepan filled with five inches of lightly salted water to a boil. Gently add the tofu and simmer gently until warmed through, about five minutes. Set aside.

2. In a serving bowl, mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, chicken stock, chili oil, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon green onions, garlic, and 1 tablespoon preserved vegetable.

3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to a serving bowl and break it up into large chunks. Scatter with the remaining preserved vegetable, green onions, edamame, and serve.

Wild Mushroom, Ricotta, and Fontina Pizza

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There’s sort of no such thing as bad pizza. I mean, even the soggiest, simplest pizza satiates that base craving for cheesy, tomatoey comfort food, right?

But good pizza, dare I say great pizza, is a whole other level. When fall hits and you’re craving earthy, creamy, mushroomy things, make this pizza and don’t say I didn’t warn you. I could eat this every day.

Wild mushroom, ricotta, and fontina pizza

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups mixed wild mushrooms
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup ricotta cheese
8 ounces fontina cheese, sliced
Black pepper

1. Make the dough: Put 1 1/4 cups warm water in a bowl, add the yeast and sugar, and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Gradually pour in the yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix to make a smooth dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a floured bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

2. Make the tomato sauce: Place the crushed tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, dried oregano, bay leaf, vinegar, and half of the garlic in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, remove the lid, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced.

3. Make the topping: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan. Add the mushrooms and remaining garlic. Season to taste and cooking, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Knead the dough for 2 minutes, then divide into 2 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a round and place onto two lightly oiled baking sheets.

5. Spoon the tomato sauce onto each dough round. Brush the edges with a little olive oil. Add the mushrooms, fresh oregano, and cheeses. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown and serve warm.

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.