Summer Cobb Salad

While the dog days of summer officially begin in a couple of days (thanks, Google!), there’s a full-on heat wave happening here in New York. With the temperature climbing and lethargy sinking in, the only dinners I feel like making are easy and oven-less. Bright, fresh, summery salads are the perfect antidote to sweltering heat and faulty AC units. This cobb salad is bursting with summer produce – fresh corn, tomatoes, avocado and chives. Plus, it has enough protein to keep you feeling full and satisfied. The only heavy lifting you’ll need to do is grill the chicken and boil eggs.

If you’re looking for more no-cook dinner inspiration, check out my recent article!

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Summer Cobb Salad

Dressing:
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons tarragon, chopped
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Salad:
1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 package of spring mix salad greens or arugula
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into cubes
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin, grilled brushed with some BBQ sauce at the end and cut into strips
1 avocado, cut into cubes
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chives, minced

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. On a large platter, arrange lettuce and top with rows of the tomatoes, egg, avocado, chicken and corn. Sprinkle chives over everything and season salad with salt and pepper. Pour dressing on top of salad and serve.

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Pizza Two Ways

I love experimenting with pizza toppings. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy a classic plain cheese pizza now and again – I’m not a monster. But there’s something to be said for un-basic toppings. For inspiration I love to look at Gjelina’s menu (I also have their cookbook). Some of my pizza bucket list toppings include: brussels sprouts and burrata, smoked mozzarella and jalapeno, feta and blistered tomato, and castelvetrano olive and caramelized onion to name a few.

Sometimes when the stars align just right some of these ingredients happen to be in my fridge. (OK, maybe I am a bit bougie?) Leftover ricotta cheese, frozen spinach and some Trader Joe’s Soyrizo were the heroes this time around. A stray can of whole plum tomatoes served as the super simple sauce on one side of my pizza and on the other side I opted for just olive oil and minced garlic. I always keep store bought pizza dough in my freezer – it opens up so many doors.

It’s easy to order a pizza (thank you, Seamless) but it’s also surprisingly easy to make extraordinary pizza at home. Forage your fridge for some interesting topping ingredients and use whatever cheese you have on hand – feta, mozzarella, goat cheese – it’s all fair game! If you want to replicate my half and half pie, just halve each of the below recipes.

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Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta 

  • 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and wrung out with a paper towel
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 8 ounces whole milk fresh mozzarella
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in the pan and drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle minced garlic on. Using a tablespoon, dollop some ricotta cheese blobs around the dough surface. Take clumps of spinach and scatter on the dough next. Finally tear apart pieces of the mozzarella and place in areas that are devoid of ricotta or spinach. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake pizza for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Pizza with Soyrizo and Mozzarella 

  • 1 package of store bought pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • Tomato sauce (I used a can of whole plum tomatoes that I pureed in the can with an immersion blender)
  • 1/2 package of soyrizo, browned
  • 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Arugula

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Using your hands begin stretching the dough into whatever shaped pan you will be using – I used a 9 x 13 inch cookie sheet. I find it easier to stretch the dough in the air vs. rolling it out with a rolling pin. (I also find that I do this best when drunk) Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan to prevent dough from sticking. Sprinkle some cornmeal (be somewhat generous) on the bottom of the pan. Place dough in the pan and spread a generous amount of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the soyrizo on top of the sauce and finish with torn pieces of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and bake for 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown. When the pizza comes out of the oven, top with arugula and serve.

Rice Noodle Bowl

What do you make for dinner when your apartment is hotter than a sweatshop but the thought of eating cereal and milk as a meal erodes your soul? Cold rice noodle bowl to the rescue! Full disclosure here – while this has the semblance of being a cool oven-free dinner, I did in fact turn on both my burner and oven to make this dish.  But, once those were turned off and I was sitting pants-less  in front of the AC unit – it was cool sailing! Aside from the oven usage – this really is the perfect summer dish. The rice noodles keep things light, the mint, basil, and cilantro add a delicious herby-freshness and who doesn’t love a peanut sauce? All you need to do is cook the chicken and some noodles and it’s din din time.

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IMG_1893Rice Noodle Bowl 

Adapted from The New York Times

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (I subbed worcestershire sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • tablespoons brown sugar
  • teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 8 ounces dried rice vermicelli 
  • 2 small cucumbers, cut in half moons
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in thin matchsticks
  • Small handful basil sprigs
  • Small handful mint sprigs
  • Small handful cilantro sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons slivered scallions
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts 
  • Lime wedges

For Peanut Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (again I subbed worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1-inch chunk ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Puree the garlic, ginger, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and chili garlic sauce in a small food processor. Place chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

Whisk together the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a small bowl.

Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Grill or broil the chicken thighs until browned. About 5-6 minutes a side. Let cool and slice into strips. Reserve the pan juices.

In a small bowl,  place a nice handful of noodles in the bottom of your bowl. Spoon some of the chicken pan drippings on top of the noodles. Top with cucumbers, carrots, and sliced chicken. Add the basil, mint and cilantro. Drizzle peanut sauce on top of everything. Sprinkle with the scallions and crushed peanuts. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Spiced Turkey Burgers

I love when ingredients inspire a meal. Fluffy pitas caught my eye at the grocery store and in an effort to keep things somewhat healthy I grabbed some ground turkey too. Cinnamon, cumin, chopped garlic, and parsley (mint would have been perfect) lend a Greek flavor to the turkey burgers, which I grilled in my poorly ventilated apartment. “My coat smells like turkey,” Oliver said. Oh well, the sacrifices we make for grilled meat. I served the burgers with a quick pickled slaw, Israeli salad, and tehina. Sour pickles and roasted eggplant would have been good too.

photo 4photo 1 (1)photo 2photo 3Spiced Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground turkey

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup red onion, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and divide into four equal portions. Form patties. Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill patties about 4 minutes on each side.

Spiced Flatbread Burgers

Sometimes you just need red meat.  I eat a lot of vegetarian dishes during the week, because it’s easy, convenient and doesn’t require planning ahead (aka defrosting or purchasing meat). Stanbys include pasta, veggie chili, shakshuka and soup.  But, sometimes I just want a burger. You get that, right? This recipe is not only easy, but effing delicious.  The recipe calls for ground lamb, but I used ground beef. Cumin, coriander and cinnamon flavor the meat which sits between two flatbreads and is then grilled to juicy perfection. The beef cooks inside the flatbread creating a crunchy juicy burger scenario unlike anything you’ve ever tried.   Please make these. They’re effing delicious.

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Spiced Flatbread Burgers

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/2 tbs coriander

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

olive oil

3 flatbreads or pitas

Mix the beef, onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper in a large bowl. Heat grill or grill pan to medium heat brush with olive oil.  Cut the flatbread into four triangles and place filling onto flatbread wedges and top with another wedge. I put about an inch of meat. Grill flatbread sandwiches until filling is cooked through and bread is crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Serve with Israeli salad.

 

Smoky Beet Green & Black Bean Tostadas

A wise man once told me to never discard your beet greens. Shout out to my brother, Andrew. Although these sandy bastards can be cumbersome to clean, the effort is well worth it as the result is nutritious, resourceful and most important— tasty. A tostada is like an open faced taco. Or a gigantic nacho.  Smoked paprika, garlic and onions infuse the beet greens with a rich and smoky flavor and black beans add the necessary protein to make this dinner satisfying. Feel free to use any leafy green you like such as chard or kale. This dinner is a great quick and budget-friendly delight. It also helps to live in a Spanish speaking neighborhood where the queso fresco flows like Cristal in a rap video.

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photo 5Smoky Beet Green & Black Bean Tostadas

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 tsp olive oil

1 bunch beet greens, chopped

salt and pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

4 tortillas

1/4 cup queso fresco

2 limes

Greek yogurt

cilantro, chopped

tomato, chopped

Heat oven to 425. In a large frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons of oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 2-4 minutes. Add beet greens, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes or until wilted. Add smoked paprika, oregano and black beans. Cook until beans are warmed through and mash slightly with a fork. Taste and season accordingly with more salt and pepper. Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil on a cookie sheet and place the tortillas on the cookie sheet, flipping the tortillas so they are coated in the oil. Bake for 5 minutes until golden. Top each tortilla with the bean and green mixture, chopped tomatoes, a dollop of Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro and queso fresco. Serve with lime wedges.

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Tartines

I’m not quite sure what inspired me to whip up a mid-week tartine party. A tartine, for you plebeians, is a French open-faced sandwich topped with spreadable ingredients. It’s possible the inspiration came from looking at a tartine-devoted Pinterest board or flipping through the latest issue of Bon Appetit, or maybe it’s just my innate gravitation toward all things classy. Think of a tartine as a blank canvass.  Don’t know what to do with those heirlooms and fresh goat cheese? Slap it on some good french bread and call it a day. Mash avocado and sprinkle red pepper flakes and sea salt on top. Layer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Ricotta, fresh figs and a drizzle of honey? Yes, please. If you really think about it though, these tartines are not that distant from a dish my dad used to call S.O.S— or, “shit on a shingle,” a staple in U.S. army cuisine, made of rehydrated slivers of dried beef in a white sauce served on toast. Wisely my dad traded his serving of S.O.S for fruit cocktail. I knew I had classy roots. So, if you’re looking for a way to class up a Tuesday night, look no further than tartines. Toast. It’s what’s for dinner.

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Egg Salad and Smoked Salmon Tartine

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

4 eggs

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp mayo

salt and pepper

1 tsp chopped fresh dill

a few pieces of smoked salmon

2 sliced of french bread

Place eggs in a small pot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, cover and turn the heat off. Let the eggs sit for about 10 minutes. Peel the eggs and cool until they are room temperature. Smash up the eggs with the back of a fork and mix in the mustard, mayo, dill, and salt and pepper. Brush the bread with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Toast in a 350 degree oven until slightly browned. Place a piece of smoked salmon on the bread, spread on the egg salad and garnish with a sprig of dill. Cut in half and serve.

Roasted Eggplant, Goat Cheese and Tomato Tartine

1 small eggplant

1 tomato, slices

1 clove garlic

red pepper flakes

1/2 a lemon

goat cheese

sea salt

cumin

2 slices of french bread

Wrap the eggplant in foil and roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until very soft. Mash up the eggplant in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice, red pepper flakes, cumin and sea salt. Brush the bread with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toast in a 350 degree oven until slightly browned. Spread the eggplant mixture on the bread, dot with the goat cheese and top with fresh tomato slices and sea salt. Cut in half and serve.

Fig and Arugula Salad

2 cups of arugula

4 fresh figs

drizzle of honey

drizzle of olive oil

drizzle of balsamic vinegar

shaved parmesan

salt and pepper

In a bowl, combine arugula, sliced figs, shaved parmesan and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey. Sprinkle salt and pepper and toss to combine.

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Fish Tacos

Post-vacation depression (PVD) affects an estimated 97% of vacation goers annually. It can occur as early as your last day on the trip and linger for months, sometimes lasting until your next vacation. After returning from my honeymoon in Hawaii, I developed a severe case of PVD. It struck when I least expected— walking through hot bus exhaust set off memories of warm tropical breezes and even a dripping air conditioning unit induced flashbacks of sipping fruity cocktails in the swim-up bar. Needless to say, the transition back to reality has been rough. What can I do to cope? Fish. Taco. Therapy. In Hawaii, I ate some of the most insanely delicious fresh fish. The fish tacos were particularly unreal. Fresh ono nestled in a flour tortilla with shredded cabbage and served with pineapple salsa. It was a thing of beauty. Unlike beef tacos, fish tacos are more refined and don’t really require as many fixings. Fresh salsa, shredded cabbage and guac is all you really need. He me iki ia (you’re welcome).

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picstitch-15Fish Tacos with Pureed Tomato Salsa

(Serves 2)

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PVD set in early…

1 lb tilapia (feel free to use any white flaky fish such as mahi mahi, snapper or cod)

1/8 tsp ground coriander

1/8 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp smoked paprika

salt and pepper

olive oil

4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, sliced

1/4 cup cilantro

1 lime

hot sauce (optional)

shredded green cabbage

Guac

Sour cream or Greek yogurt

Heat a frying pan with about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Rub a little oil on your fish and sprinkle with spices and salt and pepper. Cook fish about 3-5 minutes per side, or until it flakes nicely.

Pureed tomato salsa:

Adapted from Bobby Flay

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Sautee garlic and onions in about a tablespoon of olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes and jalapeño and cook for about 10 minutes. Add cilantro. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender. Add the juice of 1 lime, salt and hot sauce if you’re feeling frisky. Serve tacos with warm tortillas, shredded cabbage, guac, sour cream and a wedge of lime. Alcoholic beverage accompaniment encouraged.

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Rustic Roast Chicken

Simple and understated is often the best approach to food, fashion, and reacting to your friend’s horrific new haircut. It always surprises me how delicious a simple whole roast chicken is and it’s one of my absolute favorite foods.  This recipe is pretty foolproof, too. Toss the bird in with your favorite veggies and roast for an hour and a half. The trickiest part  is carving the golden bird. But, that’s where YouTube comes into play. Hope you enjoy this chicken as much as I do.

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Rustic Roasted Chicken

Adapted from Ina Garten

1 whole chicken (about 3.5 lbs)

olive oil

salt and pepper

1 bunch of thyme

1 lemon, cut in half

1 head of garlic, cut in half crosswise

fingerling potatoes (small bag)

4 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks

1 bulb of fennel, top removed and cut into wedges

2 yellow onions, cut into chunks

Preheat your oven to 425. Rinse your chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the lemon, garlic and thyme. Brush the bird with about a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss veggies with olive oil and a good amount of salt and pepper and any leftover thyme that you have. Put the veggies in a roasting pan or dutch oven and place the chicken on top. Roast for 1 1/2 hours. See YouTube for helpful carving advice.

 

 

 

Panang Tofu Curry

Mondays are rough. Not quite as bad as Sunday nights, which are pretty much the lowest depth of misery, but pretty darn close. You’ve got the weekend behind you, with all those glorious calories you consumed, and a whole 5 days of work ahead. It’s bleak, people. That’s why you need a bright, flavorful veggie dish to tide you over until your next nacho and margarita binge… tomorrow night. This dish is not hard to make and proves yet again that coconut milk makes everything better.  Tofu, butternut squash, cauliflower, potato, red pepper and carrots nestled in a delicious sauce flavored with garlic, onions, spices, peanut butter (!!!) and coconut milk. Serve with rice to soak up all that delicious goodness. You’re welcome.

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Panang Tofu Curry

Adapted from Bon Appetit 

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 tbsp finely grated peeled giner

4 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

a few shakes of red chili flakes

1 cup water

1 14-oz can of coconut milk

zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 14-ounce package of firm tofu, drained and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 peeled carrots cut into coins

1 peeled potato cut into 1 inch cubes

1 peeled butternut squash cut into 1 inch cubes

1 red pepper, chopped

1 head of cauliflower, broken up into bite size pieces

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, ginger, and garlic; cook until onions are tender. Add peanut butter, turmeric, cumin, and chili flakes; stir for about 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup water,  coconut milk, lime zest and juice, and brown sugar; bring to  simmer. Season with salt. Add tofu, carrots, cauliflower, butternut squash, potato, red pepper and simmer over medium heat until carrots are tender. Stir occasionally and cook for about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve with rice and garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

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Enjoying some corn on the cob over the weekend.