Greek chef Diane Kochilas and her incredily straightforward, yet elegant recipe for pasta with a delectable and creamy yogurt-based sauce is just one of the many smart dishes compiled in Food52 Genius Recipes. With just a few ingredients and very little cooking, you can have a dinner on the table that is packed with rich flavor.
Pasta with Yogurt & Caramelized Onions
From Diane Kochilas
When cookbook author Diane Kochilas began dressing pasta with yogurt, her intention was to adapt a classic Greek island dish that required an obscure cheese called sitaka. But, in doing so, she created a dinner of convenience that’s striking enough to serve to company. The sauce has only two components: thick yogurt and starchy, salty pasta cooking water, which together create the soothing texture of an alfredo sauce, lightened up with yogurt’s tang. But it won’t taste austere, especially once you garnish with caramelized onions and Pecorino to balance out the sweetness and salt.
When Kochilas developed this recipe, in order for the yogurt to thicken enough to coat the pasta—and not slip off into a puddle at the bottom of the plate—you had to remember to strain it for 2 hours.This is hardly something to grumble about, but it did keep this dish in the realm of dinners you have to think about before you’re hungry.
Now, with the widespread availability of thick, Greek-style (that is, already strained) yogurts, this is an almost embarrassingly ready-to-eat food. The only step that takes time is caramelizing the onions, which you’ll want to do right. Give them at least 20 to 30 minutes, while you do everything else. They should look like stained glass when you’re done, and taste like honey.
There are endless ways you can fancy up this meal. Throw in spinach or chard as the pasta finishes boiling. Or blend the sauce with peas, mint, or tahini.
Serves 4 to 6
1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently and seasoning with salt to taste as you go, until the onions are soft and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. As the water heats, add enough salt so that you can taste it. Add the pasta and cook until soft, just past al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1⁄2 cup (120ml) of the pasta water. Combine the yogurt with 1⁄4 cup (60ml) cooking water and mix well. Add more of the reserved pasta water as needed to get the sauce to your desired thickness.Toss the pasta with the yogurt mixture. Serve the pasta immediately, sprinkled generously with cheese and topped with the caramelized onions and their juices.
Note: If using thick, Greek yogurt, like a colander with cheesecloth and set over a bowl or in the sink. Add the yogurt and let drain for 2 hours before proceeding with the recipe. For a treat, seek out sheep's milk yogurt for this.
Dean McDermott has created a wealth of family-friendly recipes that take picky eaters into mind with The Gourmet Dad. Little ones will gladly eat their greens with this savory, smoky recipe for Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Capers.
Rainbow Chard with Bacon and Capers
Chard, like spinach and other earthy greens, is chock-full of nutrients that kids and adults need. In raw form, chard is an acquired taste (that’s a nice way of saying kids will spit it out). But braise or sauté these greens and they come to life. Any leafy greens like this need to be thoroughly rinsed before cooking—otherwise you risk a gritty mouth feel. For young chard, trim just the stems; for mature chard, discard the spines then chop and cook the stems. If larger, more mature chard leaves are all that are available, they are going to be more bitter than young chard. You might want to add about a teaspoon of sugar or agave nectar to the dish to mellow any bitterness and bring out the sweetness in the greens. For the kids, I chop the chard fine, leave out the cayenne and double the bacon.
Separate the chard leaves from the stems. Wash, rinse and dry the leaves and stems thoroughly. Slice the leaves lengthwise into ribbons, and slice the stems crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.
Cook the bacon in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it is crispy, turning occasionally. Transfer the lardons to a paper towel–lined plate and set aside.
Add the chard stems, garlic and shallots to the skillet, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.
Increase the heat to medium-high, add the chard leaves and toss with tongs until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with the black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the reserved lardons, the capers and the lemon zest, and toss to combine. Serve hot.
Reprinted from The Gourmet Dad by Dean McDermott, copyright © 2015. Recipe courtesy of Harlequin Publishing. Photography credit: James Tse Photography Inc. Read our review of this book.
Overwhelmed with the bounty of summer berries and citrus? Then get wise, and give this refreshing Strawberry Lemon Sorbet from Food52 Genius Recipes a try.
Strawberry Lemon Sorbet
From river café
We’re taught to zest our lemons carefully, to shear off just the thin yellow top coat that holds the citrusy perfume—as if some of the bitter, spongy white pith might sneak in and ruin everything. (And sometimes it does.)
But Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, founders of the famed River Café in London, realized that, taken in the right proportions, some pith would add depth but not bitterness to a sweet dessert. So they told us to pulverize a whole chopped lemon, pith and all, and make strawberry sorbet out of it.
The process is enough to convince anyone, young or old, that the kitchen is an exciting place to be. Just three ingredients make a series of quick, color- ful transformations, all in one food processor bowl. You get to see not only what strawberries look like as they surrender and slacken into a hot-pink soup, but also what happens when chopped lemon and sugar become one—going from sand to slush in just a few pulses. And because this effortlessly dissolves the sugar, you get to bypass making a simple syrup, a step often considered mandatory in sorbet recipes. In other words, this is a truly no-cook sorbet.
It’s sweet and cold, with little pucker, and since you don’t strain it, you get gleeful pops of strawberry seed and shreds of lemon rind (of course, you could always pass it through a strainer if textured sorbet isn’t your thing, but for the true, rustic Rogers-and-Gray experience, don’t).
Serve it as an invigorating dessert after something grilled and meaty. Or ease a scoop into a glass of seltzer or ginger ale and go sit in the sunshine.
Makes 1½ quarts (1.4L)
1. Place the lemon pieces into a food processor with the sugar, and pulse until combined. Pour into a bowl.
2. Puree the strawberries in a food processor and add to the lemon mixture, along with the juice of 1 lemon. Taste and add more juice as necessary.The flavor of the lemon should be intense but should not overpower the strawberries. Pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn until frozen. Serve immediately or transfer to a lidded container in the freezer until serving.
Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield's recipe for Salad Sandwiches is simple and perfect for these scorching summer days when you don't want to turn on the oven or stove. Pack a these in a picnic basket and enjoy the sunshine!
Makes 4 sandwiches
Don’t tell me you’ve never had a salad sandwich! When I was a girl, my family practically lived on them come summer, when it was steamy outside and the last thing my mom wanted to do was hunch over a hot stove. The salad sandwich is just what it sounds like: bread piled with veg like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and onion. My mum would add spring onions from her garden and slather the bread with butter and Heinz Salad Cream. The ones I make today aren’t much different, though I typically make my own version of salad cream and might occasionally add boiled eggs with oozy yolks or use goat cheese butter. Sometimes I’ll even bake my own white bread. But really, the little details are up to you.
Fill a medium pot at least halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to gently add the eggs to the water and cook them for 7 minutes (set a timer), then run them under cold water until they’re fully cool. Lightly tap each egg against the counter to crack the shell all over, then carefully peel them. Slice them however you’d like just before you add them to the sandwich.
Lay the tomato, cucumber and onion in more or less one layer on a large platter or cutting board. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the veg, then add a good drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Flip them over and rub them gently, just to make sure they’re all seasoned.
Spread each slice of bread with butter. Layer the tomato, cucumber, onion, lettuce, salad cream, and eggs on 4 slices of bread: I like to start with the tomatoes, then lettuce, then a good old slather of salad cream, then the eggs, the cucumber, and finally the onion. Top with the remaining bread and give each sandwich a firm but gentle press with your palm. Eat straightaway.
Makes a generous cup
This creamy, tangy dressing is meant to mimic the jarred salad cream I grew up with in England, which I poured all over raw vegetables. I realize now that it’s a lot like a really liquidy version of the deviled egg filling I make at The Spotted Pig, with a little tarragon thrown in. If you’re making this for Salad Sandwiches, you might want to give some of the boiled egg whites a good old chop and pile them on the bread along with the soft-boiled eggs. No point in wasting.
Fill a medium pot at least halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Use a slotted spoon to gently add the eggs to the water, cook them for 10 minutes (set a timer), then run them under cold water until they’re fully cool. Lightly tap each egg against the counter to crack the shell all over, then peel them, halve them lengthwise, and pop out the yolks. (Reserve the whites for another purpose, like Salad Sandwiches, or for nibbling.)
Use the back of a spoon to force the yolks through a mesh sieve into a food processor. Add the oil, cream, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and 2 teaspoons water and process until very smooth and creamy. Add the tarragon and process briefly. It keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
From A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield. Copyright 2015 April Bloomfield. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Read our review of this book.
Outdoor grilling season is in full-swing, and celebrated chef Rick Bayless has just the right multi-purpose seasoning for you. Try his modified recipe from More Mexican Everyday for a traditional salsa negra, a sweet and smoky paste that can be used on everything from grilled meats to sandwiches.
Sweet-Sour Dark Chipotle Seasoning • Salsa Negra
Don’t think of this Veracruz specialty as a typical salsa, in spite of its Spanish name; it’s more of a seasoning paste, with deep, dark richness and smoldering heat—just right for adding depth and complexity to the simplest of dishes. The traditional version of this salsa is so involved (oil-roast the chiles and garlic, soak in raw-sugar water, puree and cook slowly in an oily pan for an hour or more) that no one really makes it at home. Which is the reason I worked on a quick cheater version, but one that, to my taste, is pretty darn close to the original.
Makes about 2 cups
Place the two cans of chiles (and their canning liquid), molasses, vinegar, sugar and ½ cup water in a blender and process until completely smooth. Scrape into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Let the mixture come to a brisk simmer, then turn the heat to medium-low and continue simmering, stirring regularly, until the mixture is the consistency of tomato paste, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the soy sauce. If necessary, add some water, a splash at a time, until the salsa is the consistency of runny ketchup. Cool, taste and season with salt; it may not need any, depending on the saltiness of your soy sauce. (That said, keep in mind that salsa negra should be seasoned highly, both to preserve it for longer storage and to make it useful as a seasoning.) Transfer the salsa to a pint-size jar and store, covered, in the refrigerator, where it will last for a month or two.
The Simplest Uses for Sweet-Sour Dark Chipotle Seasoning
1. Spoon onto raw oysters or add to cocktail sauce for shrimp
2. Toss with nuts and a little oil and bake for a delicious nibble
3. Toss with shrimp or smear on chicken after sautéing or grilling
4. Use as a glaze for practically anything off the grill. It’s particularly good on tuna, mackerel and sardines, as well as eggplant.
5. Believe it or not, it’s good on peanut butter–banana sandwiches
6. Use instead of Worcestershire and hot sauce for a spicy bloody Mary
7. Stir into cream cheese with crumbled bacon for an amazing bagel spread
8. Stir into caramel sauce and use as a dip for apples
9. Add to the pot when braising shortribs
Copyright © 2015 by Rick Bayless. Excerped from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless published by Norton. Read our review of this book.
Our May Top Pick in Cookbooks is A Girl and Her Greens: Hearty Meals from the Garden by New York Michelin-starred chef, April Bloomfield! Did you know the leafy tops of carrots are actually secretly tasty? Bloomfield's recipe for Carrot-Top Pesto will completely change the way you look at this popular veg.
If you’ve never nibbled a carrot top, you have a happy surprise waiting for you. The greens are delicious: a little less carroty than the roots, and almost briny, like heartier borage. Arriving home from the market with not only a collection of sweet, colorful roots but also a big old tuft of bushy tops is like ordering pork shoulder and finding out that the kind butcher has snuck a couple of trotters into your bag.
I treat the tops as I would a tender herb, adding little sprigs to salads as I might parsley or dill. And because each bunch of carrots can bring twice the volume in tops, I make pesto. As much as I like the particular flavor of the tops themselves, I also like how they carry the flavor of basil, which comes through quite a bit considering how few leaves you use.
Makes about 1 cup
Combine the carrot tops and basil in a small food processor, pulse several times, then add the walnuts, Parmesan, garlic and salt. Pulse several more times, add the oil, then process full-on, stopping and scraping down the sides of the processor or stirring gently if need be, until the mixture is well combined but still a bit chunky. Taste and season with more salt, if you fancy.
Hugh Acheson, a James Beard Award-winning chef with four Atlanta restaurants, has compiled an inspiring cookbook, The Broad Fork. This guide to seasonal eating features recipes for more than 50 veggies and fruits, and with a harvest of summer berries coming soon, this recipe for Raspberry Cobbler with Drop Biscuit Topping is sure to come in handy.
I once cooked a guest-chef dinner at the great Atlanta restaurant Woodfire Grill, and the dessert course was made by chef Scott Peacock. Scott spent much of his professional life cooking and writing with Edna Lewis, one of my all-time favorite Southern culinary writers and one of the most important chefs in Southern food. Scott, who is himself a wildly talented man, clearly had learned some nuanced dessert skills from Edna because out of the kitchen emanated a truly scrumptious cobbler, wonderfully soupy with drop biscuits nestled into it, soaking up all of the fruit goodness from a mix of juicy berries. This recipe is an ode to both Scott and Edna, two of my favorite people ever to shape biscuits.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the raspberries with the 1⁄4 cup sugar and set aside to macerate at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. While the raspberries are macerating, assemble the biscuit dough: In a food processor, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, remaining
1 tablespoon sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the sea salt. Pulse to combine, and then add the butter. Pulse until the butter has flaked into small pieces. Add the buttermilk and pulse until just combined. Remove the dough from the processor and set it aside.
4. Add the lemon zest and cornstarch to the raspberries, stir to combine, and place the mixture in a 6x8 inch baking dish. Dollop spoonfuls of the biscuit topping over the raspberries. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Chef Rick Bayless has won international acclaim for his lifelong devotion to Mexican cusine. He's back with a new cookbook, More Mexican Everyday, filled with, you guessed it, more fantastic Mexican recipes like this Grilled Salmon in Toasty Peanut Salsa.
Grilled Salmon in Toasty Peanut Salsa
Salmón a la Parilla con Salsa de Cacahuate Tostado
When the wild salmon start showing up in the late spring, this is the dish I dream of making. It’s simplicity come to life in the best possible way, one that focuses on the stunning flavor and buttery texture of the salmon, the smoky and elemental draw of the grill and the perfect, rich gilding from a spoonful of red chile–peanut deliciousness.
*If you don’t have guajillo chiles, you can substitute New Mexicos or 2 anchos
On one side of a large (10-inch) dry skillet, roast the garlic over medium heat, turning regularly, until soft and blackened in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. On the other side, toast the guajillo chiles. Use a metal spatula to press the chile pieces flat against the hot surface of the pan. When they release their aroma and change color slightly (maybe even give off a faint wisp of smoke), about 10 seconds, flip them over and press down again to toast the other side. Scoop into a bowl and cover with ¾ cup very hot tap water to rehydrate, 10 to 15 minutes.
Cool the garlic until handleable, peel it and place it in a blender, along with the
guajillo chiles (including their soaking liquid), the chipotles and the peanuts. Blend until nearly smooth, then scrape into a small bowl. Stir in a little more water if necessary to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt,
usually about ½ teaspoon.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire and let the coals burn until covered with white ash and very hot. Smear the salmon fillets and green onions (or ramps) with a little oil and sprinkle with salt. On the coolest part of your grill (usually toward an edge), grill the onions (or ramps), turning regularly, doing your best to keep the green parts farthest from the heat, until soft, about 15 minutes. Lay the salmon fillets on the hottest part of the grill, placing what had been their skin side down. When the grill grate has deeply seared marks into the salmon and the salmon has begun to release itself from the grate, about 3 minutes, depending on the heat of your fire, flip the fillets and cook to your desired degree of doneness, usually a couple of minutes
longer for 1-inch-thick fillets to reach medium. Transfer to warm dinner plates.
Chop the green onions (or ramps) into small pieces. Spoon some salsa over each fillet, sprinkle with chopped onion (or ramps) and serve right away.
Copyright © 2015 by Rick Bayless. Excerped from More Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless published by Norton. Read our review of this book.
Temperatures are rising and summer peaches will be here soon! This light Italian dessert from Nonna's House has the perfect ratio of very little work with immense flavor payoff—now that's a recipe I can get behind!
Stuffed Baked Peaches (pesche al forno ripiene): During peach season, the height of summer, this dessert is light and refreshing. Be sure to look for balsamic glaze, which is different from balsamic vinegar, in the supermarket.
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
Arrange the peaches cut side up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Bake until tender but not soft, and the sugar has melted and is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Place the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Process until smooth. Scrape the mixture into a medium bowl and stir in the almonds.
Fill the centers of the peaches evenly with the mascarpone mixture, about 2 tablespoons per peach. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Drizzle each peach with 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze to serve.
Looking for a new snack with a bit of a spicy kick? This recipe from Virgin Territory: Exploring the World of Olive Oil for Muhammara, a Middle Eastern staple, is sure to appeal to fans of hummus.
A sumptuous spread from that region of the Middle East where the finest culinary traditions of Lebanon, Turkey and Syria all blend together with a little Armenian influence as well. The best chile pepper to use in this muhammara (moo-HAMMa-rah) is coarsely ground or crushed dried Aleppo pepper, although other kinds of Turkish and Syrian chile peppers are good too. They are all available from World Spice Merchants in Seattle (www.worldspice.com) or from Kalustyan’s in Manhattan (www.kalustyans.com).
Sweet peppers are best when roasted over live fire—either a gas flame on your stovetop or charcoal embers in the fireplace or on the outside grill. Roast, turning frequently, until the skins are black and blistered. Failing gas or charcoal, you can also roast peppers under the oven broiler until they are collapsed and the skins are blistered—but they will not have the intense flavor of flame-roasted peppers. Whatever the method, put the roasted peppers in a paper bag and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to steam in their own heat and soften. At that point, it’s easy to remove the blackened skin, using a paring knife to pull it away. Then cut the peppers open, draining any liquid into a small bowl. Discard the stems, seeds, and white inside membranes.
Roast the walnuts, the pine nuts and the bread crumbs in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes. The walnuts are ready when their thin skins start to flake off; the pine nuts and the bread crumbs are done when they are golden.
Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet on top of the stove, stirring and tossing until the fragrance starts to rise. Remove immediately and grind to a powder in a spice grinder, or pound in a mortar.
MAKES 2½ TO 3 CUPS
CHOP the peppers coarsely and transfer to a food processor. Process in pulses until you have a textured puree.
IN a mortar, pound the garlic cloves to a paste with the salt. Add the roasted walnuts and continue pounding, adding a tablespoon or two of the reserved pepper juices. Once the walnuts are quite pasty, pound in the bread crumbs. (If you don’t have enough pepper juice, use a tablespoon or two of lemon juice instead.) Transfer the ingredients in the mortar to the food processor and process very briefly, just enough to mix everything together.
WHY, you may ask, do I not just put everything into the food processor to start with? Muhammara is supposed to have a rather coarse texture from the walnuts and bread crumbs; in order to control that texture, I think it’s better to pound the walnuts, bread crumbs, and garlic in the mortar and mix them very quickly into the pepper puree.
SCRAPE the contents of the food processor into a bowl and stir in the chile pepper, pomegranate syrup, ground cumin and 4 to 5 tablespoons of the oil. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and taste. If necessary, adjust the seasoning with more salt, lemon juice, or pomegranate syrup.
WHEN you’re ready to serve, pile the muhammara in an attractive bowl and dribble the remaining olive oil over the top. Garnish with roasted pine nuts and serve with crostini (toasted bread crusts) or crackers or, to be most authentic, toasted triangles of Arab pita bread.
Note: Muhammara is also a beautiful relish to serve with any sort of roast or grilled lamb.
Excerpted from VIRGIN TERRITORY: EXPLORING THE WORLD OF OLIVE OIL © 2015 by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.