Cowboy Caviar

My daughter was absolutely obsessed with making cowboy caviar this summer. This recipe made a large volume. The leftovers were perfect to have available to eat as a side, a dip, or over salad greens. Everyone loved it.

This version was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Margaux Laskey. We ate it with tortilla chips and grilled chicken sausages for dinner. 🙂 I served the diced mango as an additional topping on the side to please everyone in my crowd.

Yield: 8 cups

  • 5 T olive oil
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lime juice or red wine vinegar
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 beefsteak tomato, seeded, cored, and diced plus 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or any combination of tomatoes resulting about 1 cup diced)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 to 4 cobs) or thawed, drained frozen sweet corn (about 8 ounces)(I used kernels from 3 ears of corn)
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 avocado, diced, optional
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled, optional
  • 1 mango, diced, optional
  • 1-2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish, optional
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to combine.
  2. Cut the corn kernels off the cob directly into the bowl with the dressing.
  3. Add the tomatoes, red onion, black beans, pinto/black-eyed peas, bell pepper, jalapeño and cilantro. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
  5. To serve, toss well and season to taste. Add the diced avocado, crumbled feta, and diced mango, if using.
  6. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with scallions and serve with tortilla chips. (Alternatively, the avocado can also be served over the top.)

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Summer Corn & Tomatoes

This dish is absolutely perfect for entertaining. It is not only quick to prepare, but also needs to rest at room temperature prior to serving. By placing the warm grilled chicken over the raw corn kernels, as well as the thinly sliced tomatoes and red onion, the juices and seasonings enhance every layer.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I modified the proportions. Next time I would consider adding even more corn, noted below. We ate it with roasted potatoes and green salad. Healthy and delicious. A great summer dish!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 4 to 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used 3 large tomatoes plus 1/2 pound Campari tomatoes)
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob, plus more, if desired
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • fresh oregano leaves, for garnish, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, coat the chicken with 4 tablespoons olive oil, chili powder and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside. (You can do this step up to 1 day ahead; covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before cooking.)
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. Drain excess liquid before using.
  3. Hold each ear of corn upright over a bowl; slice off the kernels. Repeat with remaining ears.
  4. Using a mandoline, slice the red onion into 1/8-inch rounds.
  5. On a large platter, layer the corn kernels, red onion, and (seasoned and drained) tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, if desired. (I omitted the additional oil.)
  6. Heat the grill to medium-high.
  7. When ready to grill, clean the grates with a grill brush, then lightly grease the grates.
  8. Grill the chicken until browned and cooked through, and it releases easily from the grates, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
  9. Transfer the chicken to the prepared platter; let rest for 5 to 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh oregano before serving, as desired.

Ginger-Curry Grilled Chicken Kebabs

This recipe was included in the “Tuesday Nights” column of Milk Street magazine. Kebabs are a big procedure on a Tuesday night! 😉 Although the time commitment was misleading, the finished dish was absolutely worth all of the work.

We ate the kebabs with brown Basmati rice, warm naan, and Greek Tzatziki. They could alternatively be served with a drizzle of plain yogurt. The kebabs are an adaptation of mishkaki, grilled skewers of marinated meat from the islands of Zanzibar. According to the article, the islands’ cuisine is a fusion of Persian, Portuguese, and Arabic from the people that once colonized or settled in the area.

This recipe was adapted from “Feast: Food of the Islamic World” by Anissa Helou, via Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine, contributed by Courtney Hill. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 T grapeseed or other neutral oil (I used canola)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 1 T finely grated fresh ginger
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (see Note)
  • 1 medium red, orange or yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  1. Trim the chicken and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, tomato paste, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  3. Add the chicken and mix, rubbing the seasonings into the meat, until evenly coated.
  4. Marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes while you prepare the grill or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. (I marinated it for about 3 hours.)
  5. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the grate.
  6. While the grill heats, thread the chicken, alternating with the pepper and onion pieces, onto 6 to 9 metal skewers.
  7. Place the skewers on the pre-heated grill. Cook without disturbing until lightly charred on the bottom and the meat releases easily from the grill, 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Flip the skewers and cook, turning every few minutes, until charred all over and the chicken is no longer pink when cut into, another 8 to 9 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges, as desired.

Note: Don’t worry if the cut pieces of chicken are irregularly shaped. As long as they’re similarly sized, shape isn’t important. Don’t crowd the skewers on the grill grate. Allow some space between them so heat circulates and the chicken cooks quickly and without steaming.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Butternut Squash & Greens

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

  • Kosher salt
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. Add the diced onion and half of the diced poblano chile, season with salt, and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. 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.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Stir in the greens one handful at a time until each addition wilts slightly.
  11. 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.
  12. Top with minced cilantro and serve.

Skillet Chicken Thighs with Lemon, Broccoli & Orzo

My husband and I enjoyed this skillet dinner. The kids had mixed reviews! My son thought that it was over-seasoned and my daughter declared that she wouldn’t eat bone-in chicken thighs. (We are quite used to boneless, skinless chicken thighs in my house.) It’s clearly hard to please the two teenagers in my house. 😉

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Aaron Hutcherson. I modified the method and proportions, incorporated red onion, used a Meyer lemon, and substituted chicken stock for broth.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds), patted dry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Meyer lemon or 1/2 large lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • approximately 1 pound broccoli florets, cut into smaller pieces if large (about 6+ cups)
  • 8 ounces dried orzo (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for serving, optional
  1. Season chicken thighs on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  2. In a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron or stainless steel), heat olive oil over medium-high. (I used a large, shallow, enameled cast iron pot.)
  3. Cook the chicken, skin-side down, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Flip and cook until golden on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and add butter and lemon slices; cook until the lemons release their juices and start to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the chicken.
  5. Return the pan to medium heat. Add the red onion wedges and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the broccoli, orzo, thyme, garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to the onions in the pan and stir to coat.
  7. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is lightly toasted and the broccoli is bright green, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Deglaze with the wine and cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Add the stock and lemon slices to the skillet, then add the chicken thighs, skin-side up, along with any liquid from the plate.
  10. Cover the skillet and continue cooking until the orzo is tender, most of the liquid is absorbed, and the chicken is cooked through (165 degrees F internal temperature), 13 to 15 minutes.
  11. Serve warm garnished with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Note: If you want to add a little texture and crunch to the dish, uncover and continue to cook until browned and crisp on the bottom, 3 to 5 additional minutes (after Step 10).

Sheet-Pan Potato Gnocchi with Tomatoes, Arugula, & Basil

One more summer sheet-pan dinner! 🙂

I recently made a delicious skillet gnocchi dish developed by Ali Slagle for The New York Times which was very reminiscent of this dish. Apparently, Ali Slagle inspired Sarah Jampel to create this version for Bon Appétit.

I loved that this variation incorporated arugula- one of my favorites- and coated it with a dressing made with roasted garlic. It was a quick, easy, and tasty summer meal. Great.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges (I cut it into 8 wedges)
  • 2 to 4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 4 cups (2 pints) cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 17.6-oz. package shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling, if desired
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 cups baby arugula (I used 3 cups of my CSA arugula)
  • 1 cup basil leaves, large leaves torn
  • 2 oz Parmesan, shaved (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. Toss onion, garlic, tomatoes, gnocchi, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt on a rimmed baking sheet to coat. Season generously with pepper and toss again to combine.
  4. Roast, stirring once or twice, until gnocchi are golden and starting to crisp, most of the tomatoes have burst, and onion is golden, 25–30 minutes.
  5. Remove garlic from baking sheet, peel, and place in a small bowl. Mash with 1/4 tsp salt (garlic should be quite soft). (I used 4 cloves of garlic.)
  6. Whisk in lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into the mashed garlic. Season dressing with pepper and more salt, if needed.
  7. Add arugula, basil, and Parmesan to baking sheet and drizzle dressing over; toss to combine.
  8. Divide among plates and drizzle with a little more oil, if desired.

Farro with Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto & Spinach

I love a dish involving warm dressing and wilted greens. I am also in love with farro- and pesto. This full-flavored vegetarian dish was made for me! Loved it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I used homemade pesto, Campari tomatoes, and several of the modifications and options that were suggested in the original recipe for ingredient substitutions.

It was incredible as a summer dish but could easily be served in any season with all of the possible variations. It can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature. The dish could also be topped with a protein such as grilled chicken, scallops, or shrimp, if desired. We ate it for dinner with roasted CSA vegetables and a green salad. It would also be lovely for a special lunch or brunch. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4

  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed (I used Trader Joe’s “10 minute” Farro)
  • 2 pints (4 cups) cherry or grape tomatoes or 2 pounds of Campari tomatoes (12-14 tomatoes)
  • 1 red onion, peeled, quartered and cut into 1-inch wedges keeping the root intact (I cut a large red onion into 8ths)(can substitute shallots)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the farro
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) store-bought or homemade pesto, plus more to taste (recipe below)
  • 1 lemon, zested (about 1 tablespoon) and juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 packed cups baby spinach, arugula, Swiss chard (stemmed & chopped), or baby kale
  • 1 (4 oz) ball fresh mozzarella or burrata, torn into chunks, or 1/2 cup ricotta salata or feta, crumbled, optional (I used 4 oz crumbled feta)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves and tender stems, chiffonade or roughly chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the farro and adjust the heat to maintain a medium boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, until tender and not too chewy, about 10 to 30 minutes. (I used Trader Joe’s “10-minute” Farro which cooked in 10 minutes)
  3. Meanwhile, on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed sheet pan, combine the tomatoes and onion wedges with the oil, making sure everything is well coated and glistening, then season with salt, pepper and the red-pepper flakes. Roast until the tomatoes blister and slightly deflate, 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. When the farro is done, drain, then pour into a serving bowl or back into the pot. Toss with some olive oil, then mix in the pesto.
  5. Add the lemon zest and juice, then stir in the spinach (or other greens). Set aside to cool slightly.
  6. Scrape the onions, tomatoes and their juices into the farro; season with salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Add the cheese, if using, then garnish with herbs and serve.

For the Pesto: (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • coarse salt
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 T toasted pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
  1. Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, the garlic, the nuts, and about half of the oil in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually.
  3. Add more oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. (Sometimes I add a little bit of stock instead to achieve the same result.)
  4. Stir in the cheese.

The pesto recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. The amounts can be modified to reduce the volume; only 1/4 cup of pesto is used in the farro dish.

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