I was happy that the weather cooled down a little bit so that I could sneak this dinner into our springtime menu. The sauce was beyond creamy and delicious. Typically, this dish is prepared with charcoal-grilled chicken; I loved that this recipe was adapted to make using the broiler instead- perfect in cooler weather.
This recipe was adapted from Let’s Eat by Zaynab Issa, via Bon Appétit. It is a wonderful version of this popular East African-Indian chicken curry. It gave my son, who is studying World History in high school, a moment to review the impact and influences of the Indian Ocean trade routes prior to 1450 with our family. 😉 In Swahili, the trade language formed across the Indian Ocean, Kuku means chicken and Paka means to smear, to spread, or to apply.
The original recipe recommends using boneless thighs but notes that any cut of chicken, or a mix of breasts, tenders, or drumsticks (with pieces of similar size), could be substituted. A mix of vegetables can also be used in lieu of chicken to create a vegetarian version. I served it over rice with steamed spinach. Fast and fabulous.
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
3 to 6 garlic cloves
2 lemons, divided (one for marinade & one for serving)
1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more (or 2 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika or Kashmiri chile powder
one pinch or dash of cayenne pepper (omit if using Kashmiri chile powder)
1 medium jalapeño or 1–2 green Thai chiles, seeded and ribbed
1/4 cup (packed) cilantro leaves with tender stems, plus more for serving
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1 can (13.5 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
4 T (1/4 cup) heavy cream (can substitute nondairy milk or additional coconut milk)
Basmati rice and/or crusty bread, for serving
Finely grate the garlic cloves into a large bowl with a Microplane; alternatively, a garlic press can be used.
Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze juice into the bowl; discard seeds.
Mix in 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal) and the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper (or Kashmiri Chile powder).
Add the skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 10) and toss to evenly coat.
Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the curry base.
Coarsely chop the onion, tomato, chile(s) (depending on how spicy your chiles are and your heat tolerance), and cilantro. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend or process until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
Place an oven rack in the highest position. Heat the broiler. (I set my oven to Broiler+Max at 500 degrees.)
Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a high-sided skillet or large pot over medium. (I used a large, low, and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Add ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground turmeric. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour in purée and add 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal). Stir to combine and cook, stirring occasionally, until raw onion smell subsides and curry is paste-like in consistency, 15–20 minutes.
Arrange chicken on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and broil until cooked through, charred in spots, and a thermometer inserted into the thickest parts registers 165°, 14 to 20 minutes. (I placed the chicken “skin side down” for 7 minutes, flipped each piece over and cooked an additional 7 minutes.)
While the chicken is cooking, shake the can unsweetened coconut milk to ensure coconut cream is incorporated, then add coconut milk to curry and stir well to combine. Curry should be pale yellow. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until warm and slightly thickened, 5–10 minutes.
Once chicken is finished, add chicken and all of the pan juices to the curry and reduce heat to low; mix well to combine. Stirring constantly to prevent curry from breaking, dribble in the heavy cream.
Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
Serve the chicken and sauce over Basmati rice garnished with additional cilantro.
Cut remaining 1 lemon into wedges. Serve kuku paka with crusty bread and lemon wedges for squeezing over at the table, as desired.
I loved the combination of textures and colors from the mix of beans in this creamy dal. The recipe was a “staff favorite” in Food and Wine, contributed by Antara Sinha. It was included an article titled “Good to the Last Sop: Cozy Dinners That Deliver Endless Comfort.” The original recipe includes instructions to make homemade roti to serve with the dal to sop it up. 🙂
We ate this dish with store-bought roti but I included the roti recipe from the original article below. I wish I had made the homemade roti because we tragically did not enjoy the store-bought version. (Homemade is always better!) I served the dal over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. Hearty and delicious vegetarian comfort food.
For the Dal:
3/4 cup dried moong dal (split yellow mung beans) (about 5½ ounces)
3/4 cup dried masoor dal (split red lentils) (about 5 ounces)
3/4 cup dried chana dal (split bengal gram) or dried toor dal (split pigeon peas) (about 5¾ ounces)
2 medium-size fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)
1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
For the Roti:
2 cups atta (Indian whole-wheat flour) (about 8 5/8 ounces), plus more for dusting
3/4 to 1 cup water, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
melted ghee, for brushing
For the Tadka:
3 tablespoons ghee
3 small dried chiles (such as Diaspora Co. Whole Sannam Chillies), or more to taste (I used Bird’s Eye)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
brown Basmati rice, optional
steamed spinach, optional
To Start the Dal:
Stir together moong dal, masoor dal, chana (or toor) dal, salt, turmeric, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. (I used a medium enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is soft and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add up to remaining 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness and consistency is reached.
To Make the Roti Dough:
Stir together atta, 3/4 cup water, and salt in a medium bowl. Knead mixture in bowl until all dry flour is incorporated, adding remaining 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to incorporate flour.
Transfer dough to a clean work surface; knead until stretchy and slightly sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
Shape dough into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover with a clean towel; let stand at room temperature until dough is smooth and matte, about 30 minutes.
To Season the Dal:
Heat oil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium.
Add cardamom, cloves, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
Add onion and chopped fresh chiles; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned around edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add tomato; cook, stirring often, until tomato begins to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add tomato mixture and cilantro to dal mixture; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
Cover and keep warm over low.
To Cook the Roti:
Once roti dough has rested, turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with atta.
Divide dough evenly into 16 pieces (about 1 ounce each).
Working with 1 dough piece at a time and keeping remaining pieces covered with a towel, shape dough into a ball. Dust ball thoroughly with atta, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle until uniformly thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Rotate the disk 90 degrees after each roll, flipping and dusting with atta occasionally to make a perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high. Place 1 roti round in skillet; cook until bubbles start to form and bottom is speckled with brown spots, 30 to 45 seconds. Flip roti using tongs; cook until it puffs up completely and is evenly cooked on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds. (Small charred spots are delicious and totally OK.) If roti doesn’t completely puff up, pat the top using a clean towel to encourage it to inflate.
Remove roti from skillet, and brush both sides lightly with melted ghee; transfer to a serving plate. Repeat process with remaining roti rounds and ghee.
To Make the Tadka & to Serve:
In a small skillet, heat ghee over medium-high. Add dried chiles and cumin to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until cumin is toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Divide dal mixture among bowls, and drizzle each portion with desired amount of warm tadka. (I served it over brown Basmati rice.)
Sprinkle with additional cilantro, and serve alongside hot roti and steamed spinach, as desired.
Note: Dal can be prepared (without the tadka) 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.
The large size of these meatballs prevents them from becoming overcooked in the oven- genius. I also loved the store-bought marinara shortcut. We ate them with an entire loaf of sourdough baguette garlic bread which was essential. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I used ground turkey and modified the proportions. Easy and delicious comfort food. Everyone absolutely loved it!
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings, about 12 to 14 meatballs
3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cups panko
3/4 cup milk or water
1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 oz Parmesan, finely grated (about 3/4 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs ground turkey or ground beef (20% fat) (or other ground meat)(I used 1 2/3 pounds ground turkey)
warm homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (I used 28 oz jar of Rao’s marinara)
basil leaves, chiffonade or torn, for serving
Place rack in top third of oven; preheat to 425°, preferably on convection.
Lightly brush a large rimmed baking sheet with oil.
Using a sturdy wooden spoon, vigorously stir eggs, panko, milk, salt, garlic powder, several cranks of pepper, Parmesan, and remaining 3 T oil in a medium bowl until nearly a smooth paste.
Mix in one quarter of meat (combining just a small amount of meat in the beginning makes it easier to incorporate the rest without overmixing).
Add remaining meat and mix well to thoroughly combine, but don’t overwork it.
Using oiled hands or a large cookie scoop, form into 12 to 14 large meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet.
Bake meatballs until well browned underneath, about 15 minutes. Using a stiff metal spatula, pry up and turn over meatballs (they may want to stick a bit). Bake until browned on second side and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each one registers 160°, 4–7 minutes.
Divide meatballs among plates and spoon some sauce over. Alternatively, warm the sauce in a large, shallow pan and place the meatballs into the sauce.
More eggplant! This dish is a great vegetarian alternative to a traditional baked ziti. A crowd-pleasing weeknight comfort-food pasta casserole. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto in NYC. I used San Marzano tomatoes instead of beefsteak and modified the proportions and method. I loved that it incorporated pesto.
To make the dish more healthy, Waxman replaces the traditional béchamel sauce with eggplant. The original recipe even suggests using whole-wheat pasta, if desired. Don’t worry… it is still an indulgent baked pasta dish with butter and plenty of cheese. 😉
Yield: Serves 8
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 pound rigatoni (whole wheat pasta can be used, if desired)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium eggplants (2 pounds), cut into 3/4-inch dice
freshly ground pepper
1 medium to large yellow onion, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
4 beefsteak tomatoes (2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch dice or 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, with juice, cut into pieces with kitchen shears
1/3 cup prepared pesto
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn or shredded (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat the oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof baking dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a large bowl.
Toss the pasta with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet or sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add half of the eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant to the pasta. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of olive oil and the remaining eggplant.
Add the onion, garlic and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have broken down and thickened to a sauce consistency, 7 to 8 minutes.
Stir in the 4 tablespoons of butter.
Add the tomato sauce to the pasta and eggplant along with the pesto and ricotta; season with salt and pepper and toss well.
Transfer the rigatoni to the prepared baking dish. Top with the mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake for about 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden on top.
Let the pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.
More meatballs! This is an updated version of the classic British dish. Ottolenghi describes the key elements as “well-cooked meat, crisp pancake and velvety gravy.” He modified the popular dish by using ground pork in the meatballs. It was very hearty and rich.
The complete dish was time consuming to prepare, but the components can be made separately and ahead to save time, if desired. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yotam Ottolenghi. I modified the baking times.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
Time: about 2 hours
For the Batter:
1cup/240 ml whole milk
2/3cup/160 ml India pale ale or another pale ale (I used Sierra Nevada)
2T Dijon mustard
1 3/4cups (225 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
1tsp kosher salt
For the Gravy:
2 T sunflower or canola oil
1 T (15 g) unsalted butter
2small onions (about 12 oz (350 g) total), halved and thinly sliced
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 T all-purpose flour
2cups/480 ml chicken stock
1/3cup plus 1 T/100 ml India pale ale
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Meatballs:
7oz/200 g sourdough bread, crusts discarded and bread cut into 1/4-inch (1/2-centimeter) cubes
3/4cup/180 ml whole milk
1 1/2pounds/700 g ground pork
4oz/115 g pancetta, very finely chopped (I used a food processor)
1/2 onion or 1very small onion (about 3 oz/80 g), grated
1/3packed cup/20 g roughly chopped parsley
4garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2teaspoons lemon zest
Kosher salt and black pepper
6 T/90 ml sunflower or canola oil
Heat the oven to 475°F/240°C, preferably on convection.
Prepare the batter: Add the eggs, milk, beer and mustard to a large bowl, and whisk vigorously until foamy, about 1 minute.
Add the flour and salt to a separate large bowl, making a well in the center, and pour the egg mixture into the well, in about four increments, whisking lightly each time until the flour is just incorporated. Whisk until there are no lumps and the ingredients are just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter.
Set batter aside for at least 30 minutes, or while you continue with the next step.
Prepare the gravy: Add the oil, butter, onions, rosemary and vinegar to a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-centimeter) baking dish (tin)(Do not use pyrex/glass). Bake, stirring a couple of times during cooking, until the onions are thoroughly collapsed and browned, about 20 minutes.
Whisk together the flour, stock and beer in a bowl until smooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper, then pour flour mixture into the baking dish.
Return gravy to the oven and bake, stirring twice throughout, until the gravy is thick and rich, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the rosemary sprigs and keep warm.
While the gravy is cooking, prepare the meatballs: Soak the bread in the milk in a small bowl and set aside until the liquid is absorbed, 10 minutes. Use your hands or a fork to break apart the bread into a lumpy mash.
In a large bowl, mix together the ground pork, pancetta, onion, parsley, garlic and lemon zest with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add the bread and use your hands to knead the mixture until it is very well mixed. Shape into 12 large meatballs.
Spread 2 tablespoons oil across the bottom of a large roasting pan (tin), about 9-by-13-inches (23-by-33-centimeters) in size. (I used an enameled cast iron baking pan.)
Add the meatballs and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until some of their liquid has been released. Transfer the meatballs to a baking sheet (tray) lined with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Pour the liquid released from the meatballs in the roasting pan directly into the gravy, and then wipe the roasting pan dry.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons oil to the meatball roasting pan and return to the oven until very hot and beginning to smoke, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Working as quickly as possible, pour the batter into the pan (it should bubble around the edges) and then add the meatballs and 2 rosemary sprigs. Return to the oven immediately and bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 400°F/210°C (don’t open the oven!) and bake for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until golden and well risen. (If you want, near the end of baking time (when the custard is set), you can sneak the gravy into the oven to rewarm during the last 5 minutes of baking.)
This is another crowd-pleasing, one-pot, comfort food dish. I was immediately drawn to this recipe because making cast iron skillet cornbread on top of skillet chili is genius. Calling it a pie makes it even more fabulous!
This recipe was adapted from HowSweetEats.com. I modified the proportions and added thinly sliced kale to the chili. The smoked paprika was essential to the finished dish. Great.
Yield: Serves 6
For the Chili:
2 T olive oil
1 large sweet or yellow onion,diced
4 largegarlic cloves,minced
4 cups thinly sliced kale (ribs and stems removed)
1(4 ounce)can diced green chiles
1 1/2 cupscooked,shredded chicken (I used grilled chicken thighs)
1 1/2tspground cumin
¼tsp freshly ground blackpepper
1(15 ounce)can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1cupcorn(fresh or frozen)
2cups chicken stock
For the Cornbread Topping:
1cupfinely ground yellow cornmeal
1cupall-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
1 T light brown sugar
1 T baking powder
1(4 ounce) can diced green chiles
plain greek yogurt or sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
Add the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 3 minutes.
Add the thinly sliced kale leaves and continue to cook until tender, about 5 additional minutes.
Stir in the diced green chiles and shredded chicken.
Add in the cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir well until the spices are combined with the mixture.
Stir in the cannellini beans, corn and chicken stock. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Reduce the heat to low while you make the cornbread topping.
In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.
In a smaller bowl, stir together the eggs and milk.
Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring until just almost combined.
Stir in the green chiles. Stir in the melted butter until combined.
Drop spoonfuls of the cornbread over the chili, using the back of the spoon to spread it slightly, if necessary.
Bake the skillet for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cornbread layer it set. Be sure to check that the cornbread is set in the center- sometimes it needs a few extra minutes to cook through.
Serve with sour cream/greek yogurt, cilantro, scallions, corn, jalapeño, and limes for spritzing, as desired.
I made this baked pasta dish to serve on Thanksgiving Eve. My Mother-in-Law asked that I post the recipe so that she could make it to serve to vegetarian guests. It was such a compliment! This post is quite belated- oops.
This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food. I used manicotti noodles instead of lasagna and modified the proportions. I boiled the squash in the salted pasta water but may roast it instead next time to enhance its flavor. It was cheesy, creamy, and rich comfort food.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
6 T olive oil, plus more for baking dish
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (8 oz each) packages manicotti (there will be leftover noodles)
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 large shallots, chopped
3/4 cup milk (I used whole milk)
2 tsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves, plus 16 to 20 whole leaves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 (15 oz each) containers of whole milk ricotta cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
In a large pot of boiling, generously salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Using tongs, transfer pasta to a rimmed baking sheet.
Add squash to boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain squash and transfer to a bowl. (Alternatively, the squash can be roasted at 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast, until lightly browned and tender, about 25 to 35 minutes.)
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Transfer sautéed shallots to the bowl with the squash and add 4 tablespoons milk, chopped sage, and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until a rough puree forms.
Fill a gallon ziplock bag with the squash mixture. Cut an opening in one bottom corner of the bag, large enough to fit the opening of the manicotti noodles.
Pipe the squash mixture into the manicotti noodles, about 1/4 cup each. Place each filled noodle into the prepared baking dish. (I had 8 cooked noodles leftover.)
In a bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup milk and season with salt and pepper.
Spread ricotta mixture over cannelloni and top with remaining 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan.
Bake until warmed through, about 25 minutes.
Broil until top is browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium to medium-high. Fry whole sage leaves until crispy, 15 to 20 seconds. Drain on paper towels.