My kids love the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Trader Joe’s. (It sells out daily- so they are clearly not alone!) This vegetarian comfort food dish seemed reminiscent enough to be a crowd-pleaser. 😉 I liked that it incorporated leafy greens too.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I modified the method and proportions. I also added a poblano chile, red onion, garlic, and cilantro. Nice.
Yield: Serves 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium or 1/2 large red onion, diced
1 poblano chile, seeded, ribbed, and diced, divided (or 1 jalapeño, sliced into rounds)
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 pound rigatoni, penne, or other tubular pasta
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano), divided
4 packed cups greens (I used 2 cups turnip greens (sliced into 1-inch ribbons) and 2 cups baby spinach)
8 oz (1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size chunks
1/3 cup cilantro or flat-leaf parsley and tender stems, roughly chopped, for garnish
Bring a large covered pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente, 3 to 4 minutes less than the package instructions. (It should be a little too firm to the bite.) Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and drain. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet with high sides and a tight-fitting lid (or a Dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
Add the diced onion and half of the diced poblano chile, season with salt, and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the cubed squash and season with salt, cumin, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring every minute, until squash becomes browned in spots and feels just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection.)
When the squash is just tender, add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Bring to an active simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft and easily mashable, 10 to 12 minutes.
Turn off the heat, then use the back of a wooden spoon to crush about half of the butternut squash and leave the rest chunky. Season the squash to taste, keeping in mind that salty Parmesan will be added soon.
Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with the remaining 1 cup of reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Stir vigorously to combine.
Stir in the greens one handful at a time until each addition wilts slightly.
Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, the mozzarella, and the remaining diced poblano chile. Place in the oven and cook until the top is melted and browned in spots, 12 to 15 minutes.
My sister introduced me to Ethiopian food many moons ago. Ever since, we have really enjoyed eating at Ethiopian restaurants but I have never prepared any dishes at home. After receiving collard greens and parsley in my CSA share, this seemed like a fitting menu to try. It could be served any time of year. For us, it was a perfect meal to serve on a rainy and cool June evening.
I loved the brightness that the grated ginger, lemon, and chopped fresh chile added to the tender, stewed collard greens after cooking. The chickpea stew recipe utilizes the genius technique of incorporating ground red lentils to thicken the base.
The recipes were adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I changed the proportions and decreased the heat intensity. I served it over rice with dollops of whole milk Greek yogurt to offset the spice. I also omitted the fresh chile garnish in the chickpea stew. In a restaurant, these dishes would be served with injera, Ethiopian flatbread.
Yield: Serves 4
For the Stewed Collard Greens (Gomen Wat):
1 1/2 T ghee
1/2 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger, divided
scant 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 pound stemmed collard greens, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons and roughly chopped
3/4 to 1 cup chicken, vegetable or beef stock, divided
1/2 to 1 Fresno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Berbere Spice Blend: (you will have a little extra)
1 T smoked sweet paprika
1 1 /2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
scant 1/2 tsp garlic powder
heaping 1/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom
1/4 tsp dried basil, ground or crushed into a powder
1/8 tsp ground cumin
For the Chickpea Stew (Shiro Wat):
2 T red lentils
3 T ghee
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cups (1 pint) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 to 10 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 T minced or grated fresh ginger
2 T Berbere Spice Blend (above)
2 15.5-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 jalapeño or Fresno chile, stemmed and chopped, optional (I omitted it)
cooked rice, for serving, optional (I served both dishes over white Basmati rice)
whole milk Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
injera (flatbread), for serving, optional
To Make the Stewed Collard Greens:
In a large pot over medium, melt the ghee. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, the cardamom and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
Add about half of the collards and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, then add the remaining collards.
Stir the stock and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the collards are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. (I cooked it for 30 minutes.)
Off heat, stir in the chopped chile, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 tablespoon ginger.
Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish.
To Make the Spice Blend:
In a small bowl or jar, stir or shake together all ingredients until combined. The berbere will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot for up to 2 months. (I used a recycled glass spice jar.)
To Make the Chickpea Stew:
In a spice grinder, pulse the lentils until finely ground, about 10 pulses; set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium, melt the ghee. (I used a low and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and berbere. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have given up their liquid and the mixture is beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, ground lentils, 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Boil over medium-high, then reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, uncovered and stirring often, until the sauce clings to the chickpeas and the desired thickness and consistency is achieved, about 15 to 20 minutes. (If serving over rice, cook the rice at this time.)
Off heat, stir in the parsley and chili (if using).
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the stewed collard greens and chickpea stew with injera or over rice topped with a dollop of yogurt, as desired.
These Greek-inspired chicken burgers were juicy and flavor-packed. They were relatively healthy too! We ate them on Memorial Day with corn and potato salad on the side. Delicious.
This recipe was loosely adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sue Li. I used freshly ground chicken thighs, added feta, and modified the proportions and method. The original recipe notes that in order to keep the burgers moist, it is important that the meat isn’t packed too tightly. I think that the exorbitant amount of spinach also kept the burgers moist.
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.
I have a Maqlubeh (Maqluba) recipe collection. I have always wanted to make this beautiful, multi-layered, flavor-packed dish but was hesitant because it is a bit of a project. This streamlined version inspired me to finally try it. I even made it on a weeknight! (admittedly a little ambitious…)
This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Courtney Hill. I substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs for bone-in. I also used unsalted butter and chicken stock.
When presenting the finished dish, the platter is gently shaken to create cracks in the rice. The cracks reveal the aromas as well as the chicken and vegetables inside. I absolutely loved it- and drove my family crazy talking about it all evening. 😉 Although it could be served as a complete meal on its own, I served it with roasted asparagus and broccoli as well. It is classically served with a tomato, cucumber and yogurt salad. Fantastic.
8 ounces cauliflower florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 to 10 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 medium eggplant (about 8 to 12 ounces), sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 quart (4 cups) chicken stock
In a large bowl, combine the rice and 2 tablespoons of coarse salt. Add water to cover by 1 inch, then set aside.
Prepare a lidded pot that measures 9½ to 11 inches in diameter and 4 to 6 inches deep. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Cut 2 rounds of kitchen parchment the size of the pot. (I cut the rounds slightly oversized so that it had a little bit of a lip.)
Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.
Set the pot over medium and heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering.
Add the chicken “skin side” down and cook until browned, about 7 minutes for boneless or 10 minutes for bone-in. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Remove the pot from heat. Place 1 parchment round on the bottom, then turn to coat it with fat.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to the parchment-lined pot, then sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
Drain the rice in a fine mesh strainer, then rinse under cool running water and drain again.
Scatter 1 cup of the rice in a thin, even layer over the almonds.
In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining rice with the cauliflower, garlic, melted butter, cumin, allspice, turmeric, nutmeg and 1 3/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture, then distribute the remainder in an even layer in the pot.
Place the chicken and accumulated juices (if using boneless, skinless chicken) in the pot, slightly nestling the pieces into the rice-cauliflower layer; discard any accumulated juices (if using bone-in chicken).
Shingle the eggplant slices over the chicken in an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup rice-cauliflower mixture.
Pour the stock into the pot (it will not fully cover the eggplant), then bring to a boil over medium-high. Set the second parchment round over the food, the cover the pot with the lid. Cook for 5 minutes, reduce to low and cook, undisturbed, for 35 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat, uncover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Remove the parchment (and accumulated liquid on the top), then invert a serving platter onto the pot. Holding the platter against the pot, carefully invert the two together; leave the pot overturned on the platter and let rest for about 10 minutes. Slowly lift off the pot and, if needed, remove and discard the parchment.
Gently shake the platter to create cracks in the top of the finished dish.
Many years ago, my husband and I first tried Romesco sauce while on vacation in Barcelona. It was served with grilled ramps. We were instant fans! Using jarred fire-roasted red peppers as a shortcut is an absolute genius way to create it. I served the meatballs and sauce in this dish with slices of sourdough baguette to sop up every last drop. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sara Frost. I modified the proportions. The original recipe notes that the delicious sauce can add richness to other lean proteins such as fish, pan-roasted chicken breast and can also be used as a dip for vegetables. Next time, I may serve this dish with grilled scallions. Yum.
My son ate the leftover meatballs and baguette as a luxurious sandwich with melted cheese, topped with Romesco sauce, of course. This dish could also be served as a fabulous appetizer.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 3/4 lbs ground turkey
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
1/2 cup panko
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
4 to 6 T finely chopped parsley, plus more coarsely chopped for serving
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 T plus 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup toasted almonds (I used toasted sliced almonds)
1 12 to 16-oz jar fire-roasted peppers in water, drained (I used Trader Joe’s)
2 to 4 small garlic cloves, crushed (I used a garlic press)
1 T red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
finely grated zest of half of a lemon
crusty bread, for serving, optional (I served it with a sourdough baguette)
Preheat oven to 425°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
Using your hands, mix ground turkey, eggs, panko, cumin, onion powder, paprika, parsley, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in a large bowl.
Working one at a time, use a 1 1/2-inch scoop out to ration out the mixture. (I had 28 meatballs.) Place on a plate.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. (I used a large stainless steel “all-in-one” pan.)
Working in 2 batches, cook meatballs until golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer skillet with all of the meatballs to oven and bake until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
While the meatballs are baking, pulse almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Pulse drained fire-roasted peppers, garlic, vinegar, and cayenne in food processor until almost smooth.
Transfer to bowl with almonds and stir in remaining 1/2 cup oil; season Romesco sauce with salt, to taste.
Spoon romesco sauce onto a platter or into shallow bowls; arrange meatballs on top.
Finely grate lemon zest over and scatter coarsely chopped parsley on top. Serve with crusty bread, as desired.
I absolutely love red lentil soup. I have made several versions and I have always been pleased with the results. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. This version was incredibly creamy. I loved the pop of color from the flavorful toppings too.
This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I modified the proportions. We ate it with a green salad and warm naan- a perfect light dinner. Vegetable stock can be substituted for the chicken stock for a vegetarian version.
Yield: Serves 8 to 10
For the Soup:
4 T unsalted butter
2 large onions, chopped fine (I used a food processor)
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 T tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken stock (I used 4 cups chicken stock & 4 cups homemade turkey stock)
4 cups water
21 ounces (3 cups) red lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 T (1/4 cup, about 1 lemon) freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning
For the Topping:
4 T unsalted butter
3 tsp dried mint, crumbled (I omitted it)
2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
To Make the Soup:
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.
Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)
To Make the Topping:
Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in small skillet or in the microwave. (I only did 1/2 of the topping because I froze 1/2 of the soup!)
Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika, as desired.
Ladle soup into individual bowls, drizzle each portion with spiced butter (about 1 teaspoon), sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.