Dirt Candy’s Zucchini & Pasta Noodles with Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

I celebrated a milestone birthday earlier this summer. Part of my birthday celebration was inspired by this dish. 🙂

The James Beard-nominated chef and owner of Dirt Candy in NYC, Amanda Cohen, was featured on Sara Moulton’s PBS series. She prepared a cocktail along with this zucchini dish from her menu. Dirt Candy is a very unique vegetarian restaurant and I knew the only way I could get my entire family to dine there was for a birthday meal. We went for a birthday brunch celebration and then spent the day enjoying NYC.

Cohen explained that although she is not a vegetarian, she feels that a chef can be much more innovative when creating dishes without being limited by simply pairing sides with a protein. The brunch menu included a mushroom coffee cake on our visit. My son ate the whole thing! Our favorite dish was the Brussels sprout tacos, served with lettuce wraps and a platter of small bowls of topping choices. Delicious. We finished our meal with cucumber sorbet topped with a birthday candle. 🙂

The zucchini pasta recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I modified the proportions and the method. The saffron made the dish exceptional. I also made homemade Greek yogurt labneh to incorporate into the dish. The labneh recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit via epicurious.com, contributed by Tom Scherlitz.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

To Make Greek Yogurt Labneh: (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • cheesecloth
  1. Line a large sieve with cheesecloth; set over a medium deep bowl.
  2. Place yogurt in sieve. Gather edges of cheesecloth to cover yogurt. Place in refrigerator and let drain for 2-3 days. (I let it drain for 48 hours.
  3. Gently squeeze out any excess liquid; discard liquid in bowl (yogurt will be very thick and resemble soft goat cheese).

For the Zucchini Pasta Dish:

  • 2 to 3 medium zucchini or 4 cups baby zucchini (I used 2 1/2 medium zucchini)
  • 6 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • pinch of saffron
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups labneh, recipe above
  • 1 to 2 pounds zucchini spiral noodles
  • 8 to 12 oz angel hair pasta
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chiffonade basil or mint
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup squash blossoms sliced thinly, optional
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. If using medium zucchini, slice in half and then into 1/4″ half moons. If using the baby zucchini , cut into rounds.
  2. Toss the cut zucchini with 4 T of the olive oil.
  3. Grill over high heat until the zucchini has developed char marks, about 3-4 minutes.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the angel hair pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups of pasta water.
  5. In a pan over medium heat add the remaining 2 T of olive oil, saffron and the garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute, turn the heat to low and add the labneh and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water.
  6. Stir slowly, incorporating everything together.
  7. Toss the sauce with the zucchini noodles, the angel hair pasta, the herbs, the lemon juice, and the lemon zest.
  8. Adjust seasonings and then divide between 4 bowls.
  9. Sprinkle each bowl with the squash blossom ribbons, if using, as well as minced herbs, as desired.

Sesame-Citrus Soy Chicken with Garlicky Bok Choy

Oh my, this dish has been waiting in the wings for quite some time. :/ After my last post featuring my bounty of bok choy, it’s finally the perfect time to share it.

I paired this chicken dish with the sautéed bok choy. Both recipes were adapted from Bon Appetit. The chicken dish was contributed by Chris Morocco. The original chicken recipe was intended for kebabs on the grill; I modified to cook whole pieces under a broiler. The bok choy dish was contributed by Sara Dickerman and Marissa Lippert. I increased the garlic. Nice!

Yield: Serves 4

For the Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle:

  • 2 T toasted white and/or black sesame seeds
  • 1 T thinly sliced chives or 2 scallions
  • 1 tsp Aleppo-style pepper or other mild red pepper flakes (I used Ancho Chile Powder)
  • ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • coarse salt

For the Chicken And Assembly:

  • â…“ cup (packed) light brown sugars
  • â…“ cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • â…“ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1¼ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 5 thighs)
  • coarse salt

Make the Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle:

  1. Mix sesame seeds, chives, Aleppo-style pepper, and lemon zest in a small bowl to combine; season with salt.

Prepare the Chicken:

  1. Combine brown sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and vinegar in a small saucepan.
  2. Transfer ¼ cup mixture to a large resealable plastic bag.
  3. Add chicken thighs to bag with marinade and massage marinade into chicken. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, bring remaining marinade to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until reduced by half and slightly thickened (just shy of syrupy), 8–10 minutes. Remove glaze from heat.
  5. Preheat a broiler. (I set mine to Convection Broil +Max at 500 degrees.) (Alternatively, Prepare a grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off). Oil grates.)
  6. Lightly season the chicken with salt and place under the broiler, until browned and beginning to char in spots, about 4 minutes. Turn over, baste with additional glaze, and cook until the other side is also beginning to char, about 4 to 5 additional minutes.
  7. Serve chicken topped with sesame-citrus sprinkle.

Do Ahead: Glaze can be made 12 hours ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.

For the Bok Choy:

  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 pound baby bok choy, rinsed, cut into quarters, with core intact (I used 4 baby bok choy)
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add bok choy, soy sauce, and 2 T water and cover immediately. Cook 1 minute.
  4. Uncover and toss, then cover and cook until bok choy is tender at the core, about 3 more minutes.

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Grilled Glazed Salmon & Bacon Sandwiches

More… Salmon! Easy and delicious. Grilled too. 🙂

This post is really belated. We ate these yummy sandwiches on Memorial Day… Thank goodness it’s still fabulous grilling weather! They were such a great alternative to standard holiday grilling menu items.

I served these sandwiches with German Potato Salad with Dill and Pasta Salad with Peas and Summer Beans on the side. For dessert, we enjoyed a Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie (a family favorite!), Milk Bar Sugar Cookie-Cake Squares, and ice cream, of course! I almost forgot to mention our New York Soft Pretzel appetizer- yikes! It really was an All-American feast.

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Marcia Kiesel. I served the sandwiches on brioche rolls but would opt for potato rolls next time. Too much bread for me! 😉

Yield: Serves 4

For the Glaze & Salmon:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, drained
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • four 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
  • canola oil, for rubbing
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Light a grill.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the mustard, horseradish and honey.
  3. Rub the salmon with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill the salmon over moderate heat, skinned side down, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  5. Turn and grill for 3 minutes longer, until the salmon is almost cooked through.
  6. Turn the salmon again and spread each fillet with 1 tablespoon of the horseradish glaze.
  7. Turn and grill until glazed, about 30 seconds.
  8. Serve the remaining glaze on the sandwiches, below.

Note: As with any sweet glaze, brush the honey-horseradish-mustard sauce on the salmon in the last minutes of grilling, or else the sugars in it might burn.

For the Sandwiches:

  • 4 kaiser, brioche, challah, or potato rolls—split, toasted and buttered
  • 4 red lettuce leaves
  • 8 thick bacon slices, cooked until crisp, as below
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cut into 12 thin slices
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Place the bacon in a single layer, divided between 2- 9×13-inch pyrex dishes.
  3. Bake for 30 or 35 minutes, until crisp. Remove from pans and place on a paper towel-lined, rimmed baking sheet to drain.
  4. Spread the remaining horseradish glaze from the Grilled Glazed Salmon on the rolls.
  5. Place a lettuce leaf, 2 crispy bacon strips and 3 slices of Granny Smith apple on each buttered roll and set a salmon fillet on top.
  6. Close the sandwiches and serve.

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Ottolenghi’s Deconstructed Baba Ghanouj

This is the final part of our amazing Middle Eastern feast that I would like to share with you. Even though baba ghanouj is typically an appetizer, we really could have eaten this dish as a complete meal! We gobbled it up with warm naan.  Our spread was complete with grilled chicken thighs, Tomato and Pomegranate Salad, Hummus, and Baked Rice. SO so SO good.

This recipe was adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi via The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I used 3 eggplants and charred them on a gas grill. I loved the use of fresh oregano as a garnish because my home-grown oregano has completely taken over my herb garden! 😉

  • 3 large eggplants, approximately 2-3 pounds
  • flaky sea salt or kosher salt, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 2 plum tomatoes, roughly grated
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • warm naan, for serving
  1. Char the eggplant. Prick surface of the eggplant in multiple places with a fork to release steam when cooking. To cook on a stove, place each eggplant directly over an open medium flame, and cook for 15 or 20 minutes, using tongs to turn the eggplant a number of times, until the skin is charred all over and the flesh is soft and smoky. To cook on a gas or charcoal grill, place the eggplants on the grill, and cook over medium-high heat, using tongs to turn the eggplant until the skin is charred all over and the flesh is completely soft and smoky.
  2. Remove the eggplants from the heat, and place on a rack to cool and drain, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel away the skin, leaving the stalks intact, and place them on a large plate.
  3. Using your fingers, coax each eggplant into a fan shape, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and drizzle with a tablespoon of tahini.
  4. Meanwhile, mix the grated tomato in a medium bowl with the garlic, oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Spoon the mixture over the eggplants and tahini, leaving some of the eggplant visible, and then sprinkle with the oregano leaves and a final dusting of salt.
  5. Serve with warm naan.

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Grilled Corn & Poblano Dip

Spicy deliciousness!! This appetizer is reminiscent of our absolute favorite tacos which also have mildly spicy charred poblanos and tangy crème fraiche. The corn stands in for the corn tortilla in the tacos. The beautiful char on the grilled corn in this dish upgrades the sweet corn flavor. Leftover dip would work well as a taco filling itself- but we gobbled it all up with salty tortilla chips! 🙂

This recipe is from the Bon Appétit RSVP section- which I love. Readers write in to request recipes for their favorite restaurant dishes. This recipe was adapted from Pig & Prince in Montclair, New Jersey, via Bon Appétit. We grilled the corn and chiles and assembled the dish ahead of time. I transferred the mixture to the skillet and baked it right before serving. Wonderful!!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 6 ears of corn, husked
  • 4 poblano chiles
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 8 ounces crème fraîche
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Cholula or Sriracha)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until well charred, 10–12 minutes. Cut kernels from cobs and place in a large bowl.
  2. Grill chiles, turning occasionally, until skins are blackened, 12–15 minutes. Transfer chiles to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 450°. Remove skin, stems, and seeds from chiles; chop flesh into ¼” pieces. Add to bowl with corn.
  4. Stir in scallions, garlic, crème fraîche, sour cream, lime juice, and 3 Tbsp. hot sauce; season with salt and pepper. (At this point the mixture can be reserved to bake just prior to serving.)
  5. Transfer dip to a 10″ cast-iron skillet or 2-qt. baking dish and bake until bubbling around the edges, 10–12 minutes.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

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If you like this you may also like:

Simple Barbecue Sauce

I hate to admit it, but I initially dismissed this recipe when I read it in the New York Times- it seemed too simple to be good. I thought this despite the fact that I have FOUR different types of paprika in my spice cabinet and smoked paprika is not only my favorite, but is the secret ingredient in this sauce! When it was posted as a “most popular recipe, ” I had to try it. 🙂

We ate it over chicken thighs with potatoes, corn, and summer squash casserole on the side. What a meal! The original recipe suggests that the sauce should be thinned out if painting the meat while cooking and serving the full-strength sauce along with the cooked meat. This recipe is from the New York Times, contributed by John Willoughby. A simple and perfect summer recipe.

  • â…” cup ketchup
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.

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