Mutabal Kousa (Zucchini and Yogurt Dip)

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I first made this Palestinian zucchini, yogurt, and tahini dip last summer when we had way too much zucchini on our hands and didn’t know what to do with it. One bite of the creamy dip flecked with garlic, lemon, and mint, and I was hooked. So naturally, I ended up making this a hundred or so times last summer — and plan on doing the same this year, too. Like Iranian ghaliyeh kadoo, you can serve mutabal kousa with flatbread, or if you’re like me, you can eat it straight out of the bowl.

Mutabal kousa

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil
4 or 5 zucchini, cubed
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 serrano chili, minced
1 teaspoon dried mint
Salt
Flatbread to serve

1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the zucchini with 1 teaspoon of salt, until golden grown. Remove from the heat.

2. Smash the zucchini in a bowl with a fork to achieve a chunky texture. Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, yogurt, and salt, if needed.

3. Add the chili and dried mint and mix to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Ghaliyeh Kadoo (Iranian Simmered Zucchini)

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Ghalieh kadoo is one of those dishes whose sum is greater than its parts. This Iranian garlicy stewed zucchini never comes out 100% like my maman’s (does anything ever come out like our mamans’?) but it’s delicious nonetheless. Serve it with flatbread, or eat it plain like I do, because it’s really that good.

Ghaliyeh kadoo

Ingredients:

10 zucchini, diced
Salt
1 head garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons turmeric
Pepper

1. Salt the zucchini in a colander for a couple of hours to release excess liquid.

2. In a saucepan, lightly sauté the garlic in the olive oil until just starting to turn golden. Add the turmeric, then add the zucchini. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until reduced, about 20 minutes.

3. Add pepper to taste, cover, and simmer on low, stirring every once in a while for another 10 minutes, adding a bit of water if needed to keep from scorching. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Smash Burgers with Secret Sauce

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I never really loved burgers (outside of the ones my maman makes) until Gott’s Roadside came along. A Napa institution, Gott’s has made its way around the Bay Area. The produce is fresh, the meat is local, and there are no iffy secret ingredients. We occasionally have Gott’s as a treat, and this is how I’ve come to love burgers. And now I make a homestyle version myself, and truth be told, it’s the sauce that really carries these burgers. Don’t skip the chipotle peppers here — they’re what take these burgers over the top.

Smash burgers with secret sauce

Ingredients:

1 cup finely chopped dill pickles
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 chipotles in adobo and sauce from a can
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (20% percent fat)
4 hamburger rolls
1/2 head of romaine or iceberg lettuce, leaves separated, torn into pieces about the size of the buns
1 onion, very thinly sliced into rings
4 thin tomato slices
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 thin slices cheddar cheese

1. Heat a cast-iron griddle over high until heated.

2. Make the sauce: mix together pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, adobo sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; set special sauce aside.

3. Divide beef into 4 6-ounce portions (don’t form into patties). Place portions between 2 sheets of parchment paper, spacing 6 inches apart, and, using a meat mallet, firmly smash to create patties, about 5″ across. Transfer to a baking sheet.

4. Quickly warm the hamburger buns in the hot skillet, turning once, until buns are warmed through, about 1 minute. Spread sauce over cut sides of buns. Place 3–4 pieces of lettuce on bottom buns and top each with some onion and a tomato slice.

5. Add oil to skillet. Season patties lightly with salt. Place patties in skillet, seasoned side down, and season top sides lightly with salt. Cook, undisturbed, until outer edges are brown and undersides are crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip and place a slice of cheese on top of each patty. Cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Transfer patties to buns with toppings.

Steak and Kimchi Rice Bowls

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I could probably eat rice bowls every single day. Give me a bowl, give me rice (obvs), and top it with all the tasty things. These steak and kimchi rice bowls are protein packed and super healthy: brown rice, avocados, spinach, sunflower seeds, and kimchi make this a energy-packed meal.

Steak and kimchi rice bowls

Ingredients:

8 ounces to 1 pound boneless rib-eye steak, trimmed (you can also use hanger or sirloin steak)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 cups brown rice
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
4 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 avocado, cubed
3/4 cup kimchi
4 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1. Sprinkle steak with 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside for 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

2. Cook brown rice according to package instructions. Stir in 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

3. Meanwhile, separate shallot slices into rings. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until browned and crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to a plate; set aside.

4. Add mushrooms and 1/8 teaspoon salt to the pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add green onions and cook, stirring, until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.

5. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Cook the steak, turning once and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browned 4 to 5 minutes per side depending on how you like your steak. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into cubes.

6. Transfer the rice to the bowl with the vegetables and add avocado, kimchi, spinach, and the steak; toss with lemon juice and gently mix to combine. Divide among 4 shallow bowls. Top the rice mixture with the shallots and sunflower seeds.

Swiss Chard and Gruyere Tart

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I love baking savory tarts and frittatas as the weather starts to warm up. Eggs! Greens! Herbs! All the lovely things that springtime brings. This tart is endlessly riffable — you can substitute the Swiss chard with other leafy greens and use other cheeses instead of Gruyere if you wish.

Swiss Chard and Gruyere Tart

Ingredients:

Salt
2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, stemmed and washed
1 pie shell
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pepper
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Gruyere
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the Swiss chard. Blanch for 1 minute, until just tender, and drain in a colander. Squeeze out water, chop coarsely, and set aside.

2. Heat the oven to 375F degrees.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat and add the green onions. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chopped Swiss chard and stir together. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and set aside.

4. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then stir in the greens and onions. Season with pepper and stir in the cheeses. Transfer filling into the pie shell. Bake for 35 minutes, until firm and beginning to brown on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.