Seared Tuna Bowl with Spicy Mayo & Ponzu Sauce

My saved posts on Instagram consist mostly of weeknight dinner inspiration. Not the glossy, overly-styled food photos shot by a professional, but the hand-in-the-shot, poorly lit (but delicious looking) dinner plates of both the strangers I follow and the people I actually know. This relatable content helps inform my weeknight dinner repertoire on the reg.

Here’s a window into my saves – there’s baked chicken tenders with homemade ranch sauce, a 15-minute veggie lo mein and a Mexican-inspired rice bowl with black beans and Trader Joe’s corn salsa. Real meals by real people is what sparks inspiration on my feed because ‘what am I having for dinner tonight?‘ is a question that plagues me from the moment I wake up. #dinneranxiety

One such dish that inspired me recently was a seared tuna rice bowl with spicy mayo that’s a go-to for my friend and cooking mentor, Pam aka @potsandpams. She shared a pic of her dinner plate and I immediately saved the photo and asked for the recipe.

This dish is super simple, healthyish and full of flavor. Cook the tuna to your preferred doneness or you could even chop it up and serve it raw, poke style. The veggies lend a fresh, bright crunchiness to the dish and the two sauces are so good you could drink them with a straw. You could opt for just one of the sauces, but you’re going to want both – they’re that good.

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Seared Tuna Bowl with Spicy Mayo and Ponzu Sauce 

Serves 2, with leftovers for work tomorrow  

Tuna

  • 1 pound sushi grade tuna
  • 1/4 cup of black and white sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil

Spicy Mayo

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tbs sriracha
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar

Ponzu Sauce

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbs mirin
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger (or 2 cubes of frozen minced ginger!)
  • 1 tsp sriracha

Bowl toppings

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice*, cooked
  • 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped

Rub tuna with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place sesame seeds on a large plate and dredge tuna in the seeds covering completely on both sides. Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Place tuna in the skillet and cook for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove tuna from the skillet and let it cool slightly and then thinly slice it.

Whisk all ingredients for ponzu sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk all ingredients for spicy mayo in a small bowl and set aside. To assemble, divide the rice among bowls and top with sliced tuna, cucumber, radishes, avocado, cilantro, scallions and drizzle with spicy mayo and ponzu sauce to your heart’s content!

*Short grain brown rice is a recent addition to my life and I’m obsessed and never going back to non-short grain brown rice. 

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Eggplant Parmesan

Let’s talk eggplant parm. Cheesy, Italian, vegetarian comfort food at its finest, eggplant parm is not particularly difficult to make but it does require time.  Pre-salting the eggplant, breading and frying it, baking the dish and then the most painful part: letting it rest for a full 20 minutes before eating to solidify. This dish is best suited for a Sunday evening when you have time to graze in and out of the kitchen and leisurely sip on a glass of wine to ward off the Sunday scaries.

I hope I didn’t just deter you from making this dish – it really is easy and apart from the eggplant, you likely have all of the ingredients already. Especially if you’re like me and keep a Costco sized bag of shredded mozzarella in your freezer and a can of pizza sauce in your pantry at all times. Serve your eggplant parm with a big green salad or a side of pasta (completely unnecessary, totally delicious) for the perfect Sunday supper.

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Eggplant Parmesan

Makes a nice little micro eggplant parm, serves 2-3 hungry people. 

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded or torn if using fresh
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 can pizza sauce (I like Don Pepino)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. Season the eggplant slices with salt and let them hang out in a single layer for a bit (an hour or so if you can spare it) so the eggplant can release some of its liquid. Wipe away the accumulated moisture on top of each slice with a paper towel.

Mix panko with 1/4 of grated Parmesan, dried basil, oregano and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge eggplant slices in flour and shake off the excess. Dip slices into egg and then panko mixture.

Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook eggplant slices (as many as will fit in the pan) until deep golden brown on both sides – about 5 minutes total. Transfer to paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Mix mozzarella with 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Spread 1 generous tablespoon of sauce over the bottom of a 9×9″ glass baking dish, top with a layer of eggplant slices (if you need to cut them to ensure they fit, that’s fine). Spread about 1/4 cup of sauce over the eggplant slices and sprinkle generously with your mozzarella-parm mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by 1/4 cup sauce and half of the remaining cheese mixture. Repeat layers until you’re out of ingredients. Final layer should be cheese! Cover with foil and bake for 35-45 minutes. Turn broiler on high. Broil uncovered until the top gets all golden and bubbly – about 2 minutes. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes before serving – this is very important!  Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan before serving.

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Korean BBQ Brisket

As a parting gift after a visit with my brother, Andrew, he gave me a generous baggie full of gochugaru – Korean red chili pepper flakes, non-woke friends. This is the kind of epicurean relationship we have. We go grocery shopping for fun and have a shared google doc with our future restaurant’s menu mapped out. He orders me a bottle of limited edition Red Boat fish sauce, I bring him back a bottle of Douro Valley wine from Portugal. It’s a give and take relationship that revolves mostly around food – and love and admiration too!

The gochugaru sat relatively untouched in my pantry for a while until one day the inspiration struck to make bo ssam for some friends coming over for dinner. Bo ssam, a popular Korean dish, is a slow roasted caramelized pork shoulder. After consulting Andrew on adapting the recipe using a brisket, I abandoned the bo ssam idea and landed on a Korean BBQ brisket recipe that I could make in a crockpot. My plan was to serve it bo ssam style with lettuce cups, scallion garlic sauce, spicy mayo, rice and kimchi of course. To say it was a hit is an understatement. Tender, spicy brisket wrapped in crisp butter lettuce and topped with a zingy, flavorful sauce is the most perfect bite of food. It’s fun to eat and great for entertaining.

You can find gochugaru on Amazon or at your local Asian supermarket (H-mart for life!). I recommend shopping in-store for it though. Roam the aisles and you’ll find tons of unique and delicious ingredients that will inspire you to expand your repertoire and cook new, interesting dishes outside of your comfort zone.

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Korean BBQ Brisket

From Melissa Clark

  • 4 to 5 pound beef brisket
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 cup lager-style beer
  • 1/4 cup gochujang (Korean chile paste) or Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Rub the beef with the gochugaru flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of the oil, let it heat up for a few seconds, and then add the brisket and sear on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed. Remove brisket from the pot.

Add more oil to your pot if needed and add the onion and sauté until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté 1 minute longer. Add the beer, gochujang, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Scrape the mixture into your crockpot.

Cook on high for 7 to 9 hours or low for 10 to 12 hours. Cool brisket in the fridge until it’s fully cold. Slice it while it’s cold and reheat in the oven in all its saucy goodness.

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.

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.

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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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