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. ­čÖé 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 jalape├▒o, 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, jalape├▒o 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 Corn & Scallion Salad

We shopped at the farmers market to get beautiful corn and scallions for this summer side dish. I could happily eat corn and basil every day all summer long. ­čśë

This salad was very fresh and light. It was a perfect accompaniment to our dinner of grilled burgers (and Impossible burgers), pickles, tomato slices drizzled with basil vinaigrette, and potato chips, of course. We even had brownie ice cream sandwiches for dessert. A summer feast.

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I incorporated my CSA tomatoes and backyard basil. We ate it immediately but the components can also be made in advance. Perfect.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • cooking oil spray, for grill grates
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 bunch scallions (I used 4 huge scallions)
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 1/2 of a large lime)
  • 2 T sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 oz mixed heirloom tomatoes, chopped, and/or cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sweet basil, chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; oil grate (before heating).
  2. Grill husked corn and scallions, turning occasionally, until very tender and charred and blackened in spots, 10ÔÇô12 minutes for corn, 5ÔÇô7 minutes for scallions. (Alternatively, you can cut kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into ┬╝”ÔÇô┬Ż” pieces; cook together in a dry large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, turning and stirring occasionally, until charred in spots, about 4 minutes.)
  3. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, sherry vinegar, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl to combine; season vinaigrette generously with freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Cut corn kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into 1/2-inch pieces.
  6. Add corn kernels, scallions, tomatoes, and basil to vinaigrette and gently toss to combine.
  7. Top corn and scallion salad with more basil just before serving.

Do ahead: Corn and scallions can be grilled and vinaigrette can be made 3 days ahead; wrap corn and scallions separately and chill. Cover and chill vinaigrette. Salad (without basil topping) can be assembled 3 hours ahead; cover and chill.

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.

Ina Garten’s Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes

Once again, Ina did not disappoint. ­čÖé This classic baked macaroni and cheese recipe incorporated two of my ultimate favorite cheeses and was upgraded with a colorful tomato topping. It was really delicious- a new favorite!

This dish was part of my husband’s birthday feast this year. I was able to assemble the dish the day prior to baking it which was very helpful. I actually grated the cheeses two days in advance- which would be completely unnecessary if making this dish on its own, of course.

The recipe was adapted from FoodNetwork.com, contributed by Ina Garten. I modified the method and used Campari tomatoes and panko in the topping.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or 10 to 12 as a side dish

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound (16 oz) elbow macaroni or cavatappi (I used 17.6 oz Gigli pasta)
  • 4 cups (1 quart) milk (I used whole milk)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 4 cups)(I used Swiss Raw Milk Le Gruy├Ęre aged over 120 days from Trader Joe’s)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)(I used Cabot 3-year extra-sharp white cheddar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 Campari tomatoes or 4 small tomatoes (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (I set my oven to convection.)
  2. Grate the cheeses with a food processor, if desired.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well. Reserve the pot for the sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it.
  5. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the large pot (the pasta cooking pot) and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.
  6. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
  7. Off the heat, add the shredded Gruyere, cheddar, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  8. Add the cooked pasta and stir well.
  9. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish. (I chose a shallow baking dish to increase the surface area for tomatoes and crispy panko topping.)*If making in advance, cover and refrigerate after this step.
  10. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. (I sliced the tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick.)
  11. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine with the panko, and sprinkle on the top.
  12. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on the top. 

Note: To make ahead, put the macaroni and cheese in the baking dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Put the tomatoes and panko on top and bake for about 40 to 50 minutes.

Skillet Greek Chicken with Orzo, Tomatoes & Feta

This was a super quick and delicious skillet dinner that was absolutely packed with flavor. I loved the colorful and fresh tomato topping. We ate it with a green salad but it truly could have been a complete meal on its own.

This recipe was adapted from Half Baked Harvest, contributed by Tieghan Gerard. I used chicken thighs, dried oregano, and capers. I also modified the method and proportions. Next time, I may substitute 10-minute farro for the orzo. Great.

Yield: Serves 6

For the Chicken & Orzo:

  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces (about 4 large)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (I used a yellow pepper)
  • 2 cups dry orzo pasta
  • 2 T capers, drained

For the Tomatoes & To Serve:

  • 2 1/2 cups mixed heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or put through a garlic press
  • kosher salt
  • 1-2 pinches/dashes red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, for serving
  1. In a large skillet, toss together the olive oil, chicken, oregano, paprika; season with salt and pepper. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and garlic, cook another minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the skillet.
  4. Add the bell peppers to the drippings in the skillet. Cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the orzo and 2 1/2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often until almost all the water is absorbed, about 5 to 10 minutes. Taste the pasta for doneness; add water and continue to cook until tender, if necessary. (I added 1/2 to 3/4 cup additional water after 5 minutes.)
  6. Stir the chicken and capers into the orzo. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes with olive oil, basil, and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
  8. To serve, spoon the tomatoes over the chicken and gently toss. Top with feta cheese.

Oven-Baked Pearl Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Feta

I have served this flavorful dish as a vegetarian main dish served over baby spinach and as a side dish with rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower and green salad. So versatile! I also love that it is made in one pan.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with Couscous with Quinoa, Orzo, and Garbanzo Beans and modified the proportions and method. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved (or a combination grape & small Campari- quartered)
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish (about 2 large)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 large┬ágarlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 1/2┬áteaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 3 oregano, rosemary or sage sprigs
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, dill or parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces pearl couscous (1 1/2 cups)(I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Brain blend)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups feta, crumbled (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)( I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, cake pan or gratin dish (I used a ceramic 9×13 baking dish), toss together tomatoes, shallot, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and rosemary, oregano, or sage sprigs. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. While tomatoes roast, heat the stock (or stock and water) until it boils, then stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, adding more to taste. (You want a well-seasoned broth here to flavor the couscous.)
  4. Stir in cilantro, lemon zest and cumin.
  5. Remove tomatoes from oven and fold in couscous, chickpeas and hot stock mixture. Cover pan tightly with foil, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and fold in the Parmesan and about 3/4ths of the feta (save the rest for garnish). Bake uncovered until feta starts to melt, another 5 minutes.
  7. To serve, pull out and discard herb sprigs if you like, and spoon couscous into bowls. (I served it in the baking dish as a side dish.)
  8. Top with remaining feta, more Parmesan, scallions, more herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as desired.

One-Pot Turkey Chili with Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

We ate this wonderful one-pot dish during the Super Bowl this year. The chili and biscuit dough can be made in advance, even several hours in advance, so it was perfect for the occasion. It also complemented our mandatory game day guacamole.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the proportions to serve 8 people- so that we would have leftovers! ­čśë I reheated the chili, topped it with the biscuit dough and placed it in the oven just before serving. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Cornmeal Biscuits:

  • 1┬ácup/120 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2/3┬ácup/92 grams fine yellow cornmeal
  • 2┬átsp baking powder
  • 1┬átsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2┬átsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4┬átsp baking soda
  • 8┬áT/113 grams cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4┬ácup/177 ml buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1┬áscallion, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
  • milk, more buttermilk, or yogurt, for finishing
  • 3+┬átablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano, for finishing

For the Turkey Chili:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4┬ápounds ground turkey
  • 1┬ávery large or 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1-2┬ájalape├▒os, seeded (if desired) and diced (I used 1 1/2 jalape├▒os)
  • 6┬ágarlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
  • 1┬á1/2 T chili powder
  • 2 1/4┬áteaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste, divided
  • 1 1/2┬áteaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2┬áteaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2┬áteaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1┬á(28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices (I used San Marzano)
  • 3┬á(15-ounce) cans pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2┬ácup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
  • sliced or pickled jalape├▒os, for serving, optional

To Prepare the Biscuit Dough:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda.
  2. Using a pastry cutter (or your hands), cut (or rub) in the butter until mixture resembles rolled oats.
  3. Fold in the buttermilk and scallion slices.
  4. Gently stir mixture until it comes together in a moist, sticky mass. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. (This can be done a day in advance.)
  5. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.

To Prepare the Turkey Chili:

  1. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until it thins. (I used an enameled cast iron pan. A cast iron skillet would also be great.)
  2. Stir in turkey and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until itÔÇÖs no longer pink with some browned bits, about 7 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, and add onion and jalape├▒o, and cook until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic, chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, oregano, cumin, and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
  5. Using kitchen shears (or your hands), break up tomatoes and add them, along with the juices, to the pan. (I cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can.)
  6. Add beans and remaining 3/4 teaspoons salt, and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. If the mixture seems very dry, add a few tablespoons water. It should be juicy-looking but not wet.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Divide biscuit dough into 8 equal balls. Use your palm to flatten each ball into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Arrange on top of turkey chili.
  2. Brush biscuits lightly with buttermilk, and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  3. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until biscuits are golden at the edges, 20 to 30 minutes. (I cooked mine for 22 minutes on convection.)
  4. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro and scallions, if desired. Serve with sour cream and sliced or pickled jalape├▒os.

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