Before you get upset that this doesn't feature tomatoes, please know I LOVE tomatoes. My home has been filled with them all summer in a ton of different forms; cherry, heirloom, beefsteak, plum, etc.. And if you're wondering why I would even mention tomatoes, a traditional Panzanella is overflowing with summer-ripe tomatoes. This is not a traditional Panzanella.
My Bubbe (grandmother), had a thing for radishes. She used to eat them raw and sprinkled with a little salt and I carry on that snacking tradition. But it's hard to eat a whole bunch of radishes on your own...even if they're tasty and refreshing right out of the fridge on a hot summer day.
A few weeks back, when I was deciding what to do with the radishes left in the fridge, I remembered another refreshing summer treat: Panzanella salad. And so my heat-baked mind decided to combine the two and try something new.
If you have any crusty stale bread laying around, this is a great way to use it up. I did not have 2-day old bread on hand (because honestly, fresh bread doesn't last that long in my kitchen) so I went out and bought a beautiful sourdough loaf. It did mean I had to turn on the oven to toast it. Summer, oven, extra heat...hooray! (insert eye-roll here)
Cranking up the oven aside, this is such a great last-minute salad that doesn't require a ton of input for awesome output. Even though it's best the day of I took it with us to our new house up in the Catskills and was munching on it well into the weekend! Oh yeah, we bought a house in the Catskills 🙂 Between my amazing job and the search/purchase/fixing up of the house, my time has been a little stretched thin. That is to say: I wish I could be blogging more than I have been. It's really awesome to be here now!
The nice thing about using radishes here is the combination of spice and refreshment they add to a salad. I really dug this without adding tomatoes (I've been eating them like they're going out of style, and well I guess with Fall on the horizon they kinda are...) but you can totally add them back in or anything else that strikes your fancy! This is definitely a "by taste" sort of recipe - test out different amount of herb and vegetables till it tastes right to you and you can totally think of the bread, herbs, and dressing as a base for something different on the dinner table. Enjoy!
½ loaf of bread (I prefer a ciabatta or sourdough)
1 clove of garlic (optional)
4-5 radishes (mixed types)
1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
1 small shallot or ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
Handful of parsley, chopped
Handful of basil, sliced into thin ribbons
1 Tbsp capers
½ tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp lemon juice
1½ Tbsp white wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F
Optional: slice garlic clove in half and rub the raw garlic on slices of bread to add an extra layer of flavor.
Slice bread into cubes (or tear into chunks) - think bite size, about 1 inch or smaller.
Place bread on parchment paper lined baking sheet and toss with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil. You want the bread to be mostly coated, but not soaking.
Place in oven and bake 15-17 minutes until bread is firm/toasted/golden but not browned/burnt. When finished, place the bread cubes on a rack to cool.
Slice radishes thinly, either by hand or with a mandolin (although mandolin will get it perfectly thin!) and place in a bowl along with sliced and seeded cucumber, thinly sliced shallot or red onion, chopped parsley, ribbons of basil, capers, and toasted bread.
Make dressing! Mix together mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Drizzle dressing over salad and toss. Let it sit at least a half hour before serving so the bread can soak up some of the amazing dressing and everything comes together.
There’s been a lot of awesome recently. A few of the good stuffs: Rosh Hashanah meals and family gatherings, fall weather slowly rolling in, and an updated blog! After a year of writing recipes, taking photos, and putting together posts it was time for some changes. I’m shouting out a million thanks to Ari who created the new blog and transferred everything other for me.
He heard my groaning over lack of functionality on the last site and did all the things that I don’t know how to do to build this new site. Amazeballs. Thank you.
Now that I have this shiny new blog, it’s time for a shiny new recipe.
I first read about this salad in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem, and really liked the simplicity but heartiness of it. Many middle eastern salads satisfy that possibility: simple to make and a substantial side dish.
In reworking this recipe, I added even more to it by introducing bulgur as part of the mix. Often, when I’m cooking for just us during the week, I’m not making multiple salads and side dishes. A side dish like this allows me to add a piece of protein to it and call it a meal.
This salad is also really flexible and doesn’t demand that you follow it exactly. Add a new ingredient like red onion or arugula or throw in more or less cumin or lemon juice. The ingredients aren’t expensive and it doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare; a recipe like this is great because it can help home cooks to build confidence in their taste buds and cooking abilities!
Now I’m going to finish off the last of my apple-raisin challah and take some time to reflect on the most excellent way this new year is beginning.
Boil 1.5 cups of water on the stove. Stir in the bulgur, shut the heat, cover, and let sit 12-15 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. After 12-15 minutes drain the bulgur, fluff with a fork, and let it sit out uncovered.
Roughly chop the parsley. Add it and the sliced scallions to a mixing bowl.
Supreme the lemon (see the photo above) by slicing off the skin and pith and removing the sections. Chop up the lemon flesh (make sure you don't have any seeds in it) and add it to the mixing bowl. Reserve the rest of the lemon for juicing later.
Over medium-low heat, warm a little olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the chickpeas, 2 tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper and toss until all the chickpeas are coated in the spice and warmed through. You don't want to cook them again.
Add the chickpeas and the bulgur to the mixing bowl with the scallions, parsley and lemon.
Drizzle the olive oil, add a ½ tsp more cumin, and squeeze the rest of the lemon juice over all the ingredients.
The last two weeks have been an awesome but sleep-deprived blur. Ari and I had been looking to adopt a dog for awhile now and, after a few bloody mary’s at a friend’s birthday brunch, we decided to spend the rest of that beautiful Sunday looking at dogs at the North Shore Animal League. We’re so happy we did because we came home very late that night with Jax.
Neither myself or Ari grew up with dogs and we’re still adjusting. From walking and feeding schedules to figuring out vets and dog walkers, it’s been a busy couple weeks. But while spending so much quality time with this amazing addition to our family, I’ve spent less time in the kitchen. Not just for this blog, but for cooking for us as well.
Here’s Jax giving you some amazing puppy eyes:
Now that things are at a new normal and schedules are working themselves out, I’m back!
One thing I noticed that I gave up pretty quickly when I was tired and busy was breakfast. Which made me sad because I really love breakfast! I’m not a daily cereal and milk person and prefer eggs, vegetables, fruits, and breads in the morning along with my gigantic cup of coffee. I know, it takes a lot of efforts to put together a whole breakfast dish when you’re running around in the am, so let’s call this a weekend breakfast dish. Or a quick weeknight dinner. One that doesn’t take a ton of time…but tastes like it did.
Bulgur is a grain that I love to keep in the house because it’s just so incredibly easy to make. My favorite way is to mix the grain in the boiling water and let it sit, covered, for 20 minutes. Then drain the excess liquid and fluff up the grain. Bulgur has great texture and is light enough for salads so that it doesn’t weigh down or take over all the other ingredients.
We’re close to finally having fresher fruits, vegetables, and herbs again! I’m SO ready for spring to be here already and this recipe is partly an attempt to recreate fresh spring and summer flavors before we have them in the markets. In the summer, I might substitute fresh cherries but for now I’m using dried cherries. Truthfully, dried cherries can be pretty pricey, especially if you buy the tart ones without added sugar. Check your supermarket’s bulk section for cherries! I found them at Whole Foods and was able to buy just what I needed at a super affordable price.
Living in Astoria, I have eaten more than my fair share of fried cheese (saganaki) and hold a special place for crispy, warm, salty cheeses.
After some googling, I discovered that rolling the cheese in sesame seeds before frying has some Greek roots! While this isn’t a strictly Greek salad, it has Meditteranean flavors which, hopefully, will bring some warm weather feelings into your kitchen too.
In the meantime let’s work with what we’ve got to create bright and satisfying dishes! Break out this recipe on the weekends when you’re craving sweet, salty, and something totally satisfying but still a little healthy. (It has green in it!)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an adorable wiggly pup at my feet who’s super ready for some quality playtime!
Cherry, Mint, Almond Bulgur Salad with Fried Sesame Feta
1 cup of bulgur wheat
3 cups water
⅓ cup dried cherries
⅓ cup lightly toasted almond slices or slivers
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
¼ cup honey
½ tsp orange zest
2-4 slices of Greek feta cheese, ¼-1/2 inch thick
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup flour (enough to dip the feta in)
1 tsp paprika
Fresh ground pepper
Sesame seeds (enough to coat the feta)
Either prepare the bulgur according to the package directions or bring the three cups of water to a boil in a saucepan with a pinch of salt. Once the water is at a rolling boil add the bulgur, give it a stir, cover the pot, and take it off the heat. After 20 minutes drain the remaining water, put the bulgur into a mixing bowl, and fluff it with a fork. It should be cooked but not mush. You want it to have a bite to it still. Leave it to the side to cool.
Warm the orange juice slightly. It should be warm to the touch but not hot. Add the dried cherries to the orange juice to soften and absorb some of the liquid, about 10-15 min. When you take the cherries out, make sure to reserve the orange juice to incorporate back into the dressing!
If your feta came in liquid take it out and pat dry. Line up three shallow dishes for the eggs, flour, and sesame seeds. Mix in the paprika and pepper with flour. Dip the feta slices first in the eggs, then the flour, then the eggs again, and finally the sesame seeds so that they cover all the sides of the cheese.
In a frying pan heat up your olive oil. I used a non-stick pan and added enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and added more oil between batches. If your pan isn't non-stick I would add a couple more tablespoons of oil.
Fry the feta about 2-3 minutes on each side over medium heat. The sesame should be a golden brown but not burnt. Lay the feta on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Mix together the bulgur, cherries, mint, and almonds and spoon into serving dish. Lay a piece of fried feta on top.
In a small saucepan warm the honey over medium-low heat and whisk in the orange juice. Let them warm together about a minute. Take off the heat and whisk in the orange zest.
Pour the dressing over the feta cheese so it drips down over the salad and serve!
Remember last week when I baked English Muffins and then made Salmon Eggs Benedict? Well, I was patting myself on the back quite a bit for that and said to Ari how cool it was that I made almost everything on the plate from scratch, except the smoked salmon.
So that got me thinking about what goes into curing salmon and could I do it on my own?! Just so you know how my brain works – when it comes to food, my stubbornness and curiosity know no bounds. Now if only I could apply that to other areas in my life…
Anyhow, ’bout that salmon: it turns out that it isn’t at all hard to do.
It takes, literally, minutes to put together. Most of the work happens in the time it sits in the refrigerator under a few pounds of weight. Mind you, this isn’t smoked (I wonder if I could do that at home?), but rather cured. You’re pressing out most of the moisture and infusing it with fresh dill and parsley flavors as well as lemon zest, salt, and sugar. The texture is similar to lox but the flavor is different.
Please don’t judge me for the hack job on slicing the fish! I don’t have the right knife yet. Though my birthday is coming up soon…
Since I’d already done enough talking about Eggs Benedict, I wanted to create something that could showcase the salmon as well as the all the beautiful citrus flavors of the season.
I decided to incorporate the salmon into a classic fennel/citrus salad and use dijon mustard in the dressing to pull it all together. I am a HUGE fan of mustard and knew that it would play nicely with both the fish and salad.
Funny story, a few weeks back I came home to a ginormous box of grapefruits and oranges at my front door. These were a surprise gift from someone who likes me. (I have to specify they were from a friend, because when you open a box and see the massive amount of fruit you have to fit in your NYC sized refrigerator it’s hard to tell the spirit they were sent in.) It’s been fun using them up in different and creative ways!
Obviously you don’t have to cure your own salmon to make this dish. The salad can be served on its own and/or you can buy cured or smoked salmon. I chose to put slices under the salad instead of in it because I preferred controlling the amount of salmon per bite, and the pieces caught the dressing drippings perfectly.
In the spirit of being adventurous in our kitchens, do you have something you want to make just to see if you can? Or have you done it already? I’d love to hear about your epic kitchen moments!
Fennel Citrus Salad and Cured Salmon with a Grapefruit Vinaigrette by Herring and Potatoes
Recipe for Salmon from CHOW: Cured Salmon
I didn’t have white peppercorns so I upped the lemon zest (almost a whole lemon for a half pound of fish) and it came out great!
After spending Thanksgiving week unplugged and mostly in kitchens (mine, clients, my folks, and restaurants) roasting all sorts of food in the holiday spirit, it seemed like a good time to shut off the oven and eat lighter foods.
Truthfully, I’m finding it very hard to convince myself that raw carrots beat out stuffing (oh, the stuffing!). And in all fairness, I’m not comparing them because if I did, stuffing would always win. Instead, I’m remembering the amount of stuffing I ate and the need to keep a balance (you might remember my last balancing act). Woman cannot live on stuffing alone…right?
Aside from all the amazing food and gatherings the past week, I’ve also been royally distracted with a trip Ari and I are planning to New Zealand! There’s been so much research and excitement filled afternoons at coffee shops while we pour over books and websites trying to plot the most exciting route for our adventure.
Because of all these (awesome) distractions and regular scheduled work stuffs, I haven’t had so much time to dedicate to personal meal planning, so I’ve been throwing together quick dishes. It’s worked out very nicely! It’s also been a good break from the heavy, big meals that November-December undoubtedly throw our way.
Not only is this salad beautiful to look at with its vibrant colors, it’s hearty and full of flavor. Sometime it feels impossible to coax flavors out of raw fall/winter vegetables but it can be done! Also, the right dressing can work miracles.
This salad was inspired by what was in the fridge at the time. In my refrigerator you can almost always find scallions, herbs (parsley, cilantro, and mint), and lemons. I like going into my fridge and playing the “what should we eat today” game.
Tossed up together this salad had crunch, creaminess, and an earthiness from the abundance of herbs and onions thrown in the mix. It made an excellent breakfast, which wasn’t its intended meal, but when you have a perfectly delicious salad hanging out ready to be eaten who cares what time it is?
3 carrots, sliced thin on the mandoline or with a peeler**
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
3 scallions, sliced on a bias - dark and light green sections only
¾ cup (lightly packed) parsley
¼ cup (lightly packed) mint (I tossed the mint in with the parsley and it looked to be about one cup)
¼ lb. feta cheese, crumbled (I used a less salty/more creamy French feta)
1.5-2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil
Zest from half a lemon
Salt and pepper to tase
Soak the sliced red onion in hot water for 5 minutes, drain, and let sit on paper towels to dry. This will remove some of the sharpness you get with raw onion. I recommend doing it with this salad because you'll also get the onion-y flavor from scallions.
Chop up half the herbs and reserve the other half as whole pieces.
Combine the lemon juice, zest, honey, and olive oil and whisk (or my preferred method: shake in a jar) to combine. Salt and pepper to tase.
Toss together the carrots, onion, scallion, and herbs. Lightly salt the vegetables.
Crumble the feta over the salad.
Dress the salad. Marvel at the colors. Instagram it. Eat it.
**A peeler would make these very thin and part of what works so well in this salad is the meatier/thicker slices of carrot but either way would work!
I had my first taste of pomegranate molasses in Turkey when we were visiting Istanbul a couple years back. We were buying grilled fish sandwiches and the vendor lifted a bottle of a dark colored thick syrup and gestured toward the fish, asking if we wanted it on top. Being adventurous, we nodded emphatic yes’s. The sweet, tangy, molasses burst in our mouths adding depth to what was already an intensely delicious bite. Since then pomegranate molasses has become a staple in my kitchen and finds its ways into dressings, spreads, and glazes.
The past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege to work with, and learn from, Chef Louisa Shafia, author of The New Persian Kitchen, on her newest project: Lakh Lakh. Lakh Lakh is an (elevated) Persian street food pop-up happening at Porsena on Monday nights in New York City. The experience so far has been really fantastic and full of inspiring flavor combinations and recipe ideas. Louisa was using pomegranate molasses in one of her recipes and since then it’s been on my brain.
I made up this recipe a while back and it’s one of my favorite side dishes. It can be eaten on its own, heaped on a slice of bread, or serve it as a dip with veggies. It’s also a great early fall dish as we come to the end of eggplant season here in New York. It’s hearty and nutty and bright thanks to the pomegranate molasses!
Roasting eggplant in this way and with just a little bit of oil helps the vegetable (it’s a vegetable, right?) keep its texture so that it almost has a meatiness about it.
My family has an affinity for whole roasting eggplants under the broiler, scooping out the insides, and turning it into more of a spread. It’s delicious in it’s own right, but I really like that this particular version of roasted eggplant can hold its own against a fork.
Because the eggplant is in larger pieces, it can be tossed in a dressing made separately, as opposed to incorporating everything in one bowl like a baba ghanoush or hummus. The dressing is really tasty, and I’m sure can be used for other dishes; I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Toasting the walnuts adds warmth to this salad and great crunchy texture. In the autumn I really love to add roasted almonds, walnuts, and/or hazelnuts to so many dishes, and especially as garnish on squash based soups. Not only are they delicious but they make kitchen smell ah-may-zing while they’re toasting. Just talking about this makes me want to put on slippers and curl up in an oversized cable-knit sweater.
Now, if only I had an oversized cable-knit sweater….
I do a lot of taste testing while I cook so I knew this was banging but post-photo taking I just couldn’t help myself from toasting up some thick wheat bread and topping it with this salad. A perfect light fall lunch for sure.
Roasted Eggplant and Walnut Salad with Pomegranate Tahina Dressing
Serves: Serves 3-6 people depending on how it's being served, this recipe can be doubled
1-1.5 lb Eggplant
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
½ tsp Curry powder (I used a mild curry powder)
½ tsp Garlic powder
½ cup (a little overfull) or 2.5 oz Walnut halves, toasted and roughly chopped
2 Scallions, sliced thin
½ cup Cilantro, chopped
Juice of ½ a lemon
For the dressing
¼ cup + 1.5 Tbsp Tahina
¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Pomegranate molasses** (if the taste is too strong cut by ½)
1-1.5 Tbsp Honey (if the molasses has sugar added to it use less honey)
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F
Cut the eggplant into 1 inch cubes and place in a colander. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt and toss so all the eggplant is salted. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the eggplant in an even layer on it. Do not rinse the salt off. Drizzle the olive oil and all the spices and toss with your hands so everything is coated.
Place in the middle of the oven. Roast for 45 minutes turning the pieces with a spoon every 15 minutes. If the eggplant looks like it's burning you might need to take it out earlier. If it isn't cooked through, lower the oven temperature.
Once finished let sit out of the oven on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes to cool.
To make the dressing whisk the olive oil into the tahina slowly so it incorporates. Then whisk in pomegranate molasses and honey. Salt to taste.
Combine the eggplant with the walnuts, scallions, and cilantro and then toss it with the dressing. Sprinkle juice from half a lemon over the top and lightly toss once more.
**Pomegranate molasses is sometimes difficult to find bottled but it's very easy to make! Here's a great recipe from Alton Brown.
As an aside, in my quest to start this blog and actually start writing down recipes I’ve slightly changed the way I work in my kitchen. For instance, I’ve learned to measure which is a far-cry from my “this needs a little more salt” or “that looks like enough oil”. As a result, certain dishes that I’ve typically made “to taste” have turned out a little different than I expected. This is only relevant to those who have eaten at my table, but this is one of those dishes. So delicious, just different.
I love how recipes are constantly evolving as we experience new foods and dishes, so if you have any feedback, edits, or alterations that you’ve made to these recipes, please share them in the comments! Any and all feedback is sincerely welcome.
Whenever Ari travels I go a little food crazy. He was in Berlin for work last week and while he’s eating/working his way across that city I’m doing some serious damage over here. For instance, one of the first things I did was schedule a ramen date with my good friend. Ari doesn’t “believe” in ramen the way I do. He doesn’t really get eating a whole bowl of salt and carbs for dinner whereas to me, that makes perfect sense. (He also doesn’t really “believe” in pizza for similar reasons…so I also eat pizza when he’s away.) I made an all dark meat chicken dish and I whipped up some ice cream with mascarpone cheese. Not super healthy but so super good.
So when I woke up this morning feeling the effects of my eating adventures I hit the fridge and pulled out only foods that had once been in the ground.
Zucchini is such an awesome and versatile vegetable. Grating it into long thin strips, either on a box grater or with a vegetable peeler, is an easy way to prep and cook it quickly. It’s also a fun way to pretend you’re eating pasta when your body is telling you not to touch another flour-based food for at least 24 hours.
From the cooking I do in the soup kitchen I’ve learned that a great way to transform corn is to roast it. This works especially well for canned corn or if your fresh corn is starting to go (which mine was). If roasted just long enough it changes the texture and brings out a deeper richness and sweetness than what’s already naturally there in the corn. Don’t you want to stick a spoon in that?
Recently when I’ve bought shallots I’ve had to purchase a bunch at once -either because they came bundled or they were too small to buy just a few. Since there were about a dozen in my kitchen I decided to get some super crispy to add an onion-y crunch to the dish. I might have bent my own breakfast rules of the day but I decided to fry them till they were browned and crispy. Cooking the shallots was a test of patience but totally worth it.
I don’t have too much experience deep frying (I promise I’m working very hard to gain more) so these were watched very carefully. It took about 15 minutes to get to the brown I wanted. This was the most time intensive part of the whole dish but it was oh-so-worth the extra effort.
Once all the ingredients were ready to go it took just a couple minutes to pull it all together into the best faux-pasta dish you’ve ever had. This would be a great dish to have prepared ahead of time and just thrown into a pan at the last second before serving.
When I dove into it I piled on a ton of the shallots and a few pieces of shaved parmesan cheese. It was a really completely terrific dish. So much so that I almost didn’t miss having bread with my “pasta”…almost.
Zucchini Pasta with Roasted Corn, Edamame, and Crispy Shallots
Serves: Makes 2-4 servings depending on portion size
2 Medium sized zucchini
2 Cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp Lemon juice to taste
Dried red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Ears of fresh corn or one small 15-16 oz can of corn
2 tsp Paprika
¼-1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
½-3/4 cup Shelled edamame, frozen or fresh
3 small or 2 medium Shallots sliced into thin rings
¾ cup Vegetable oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Grate the zucchini on a box grater using the largest holes. Start at the bottom and pull the whole length of the zucchini along the grater to create long thin strands. Fight the urge to go back and forth! Grate it until you reach the seeds/the core. Then turn to the next side and start again. Set zucchini pasta aside.
Preheat oven to 400°F
If using fresh corn, cook the corn first (boiled or microwaved) and then cut the kernels off the cob. If using canned corn, drain and rinse corn well. Toss corn with 1 Tbsp olive oil, paprika, and salt to taste. Spread corn on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and using a spoon, mix the corn and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Cook the edamame in boiling salted water according the package directions (or your knowledge of cooking edamame). When finished, drain and set aside.
Place the shallots in a small saucepan and add the vegetable oil. Put the pan on medium heat and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Lower the heat if they start browning too quickly. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and let them rest on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt while still warm. (I used sea salt on the shallots.) They will continue to crisp up as they cool.
In a skillet over medium heat, warm 1 Tbsp olive oil and add the garlic. Let the garlic soften and brown a little for about 2 minutes and then add the zucchini, lemon juice, chili flakes, and salt. Stir the zucchini so that it cooks evenly. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the zucchini is softened but still has a bite.
Once zucchini is finished, gently toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and serve. The shallots make a great garnish and sprinkling some parmesan cheese on is just delicious. And tomorrow I'm going to have the leftovers with a hunk of bread.