Thursday, August 30, 2012

soba noodles with mango and aubergine.

i swear: this delectable noodle stir fry tastes better than the above photo suggests. like, way better. in fact, it was so delicious that i consciously forewent any attempt at a successful photo shoot in favor of getting to the dinner table quicker.

the recipe comes from yotam ottolenghi's most recent cookbook, plenty. one year ago, i made a resolution that i was only allowed to purchase a new cookbook once i'd made at least three recipes from my most recently acquired cookbook. well, with three recipes checked off from neelam batra's 1,000 indian recipes, i rushed to barnes and nobles to pick up my reserved copy of ottolenghi's newest work of genius. and i have to say that i have not been disappointed. i've made well over three recipes from it in the past few months and have about fifteen more bookmarked. 

this particular recipe packs in a unique bunch of flavors. i'm generally not a huge fan of fruit in my main course, but a ripe mango does wonders here. it's a salty, sweet, tangy dish that works well as either a main or side. it also tastes just as good, if not better, the next day.
ottolenghi’s soba noodles with mango and eggplant
from plenty

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup sunflower oil
2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 packet soba noodles
8 ounces pan-fried tofu, cut into tiny cubes
1 large ripe mango, diced
1 2/3 cup basil leaves, chopped (if you can get some use Thai basil, but much less of it)
2 1/2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chile and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.
Heat up the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the eggplant in three or four batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain.
Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. They should take 5 to 8 minutes to become tender but still al dente. Drain and rise well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.
In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the herbs and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

incredible raw corn salad.

three days ago, i discovered that you could eat corn raw. i can't quite explain how that bit of dining know-how slipped by, but i'd always assumed for whatever reason that corn had to be cooked to be digestible and/or tasty. turns out, i was (luckily!) wrong on both fronts. 

in my quest to find a refreshing summery, do-ahead side dish, the first place i looked was - obviously - heidi swanson's blog, 101 cookbooks. both her orzo super salad and summer squash pasta have become kitchen staples, and i was feeling like it was time to add another recipe to the repertoire. 

hello corn salad. 

minimalists like myself will appreciate this salad's short ingredient list and omission of any actual cooking. just shuck, chop, whisk, and toss. the dressing is sweet but slightly tangy, and the nuts and raw corn kernels deliver a crunch that is truly delightful. so far, i've eaten this salad by itself, on a chip, in a wrap, with some panfried tofu, and atop some greens. so... it's versatile. i threw in fresh chives for some herbiness, and i bet cilantro and pine nuts would be fantastic additions or substitutions as well. 

incredible raw corn salad

(almost) straight from 101 cookbooks

6 ears of corn

1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup chives, minced
1/6 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup toasted pepitas
(pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

shuck the corn and cut the kernels from the cobs. place the kernels in a medium serving bowl with the shallot.

make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. gradually add the oil and whisk mightily until the dressing comes together. taste to check that the dressing is on the sweet side and not too tangy – adjust levels of lemon juice, oil, sugar, or salt as needed.

toast your seeds in a dry pan if you’ve yet, and just before serving, add the seeds to the bowl of corn. toss once, and then add the dressing. toss again to make sure everything is well coated.

you can gobble this up immediately or put in the fridge to hang for a few hours if you’ve prepared it ahead of time. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

ratatouille in four steps!

i've been waiting months to share this recipe. as a compulsive consumer of tomatoes in the summer and a huge fan of one pot dinners, i've made my fair share of ratatouilles in the past few months. and this is, by far, one of the simplest, tastiest recipes i've come across. the ingredient list is minimal, but taking the time to cook the vegetables slowly in a dutch oven gives the dish ample time to absorb all the herbs and let the flavors build.

the original recipe comes from molly katzen's the new moosewood cookbook, which i used as inspiration but made some changes to. whatever herbs you chose is up for grabs, but i recommend fresh over dried. i also used canned tomatoes in this particular version to simplify the process even further, but you should definitely definitely definitely substitute in fresh tomatoes if you can get your hands on them (should still be possible!). i particularly love buying colorful heirloom tomatoes that can be cooked down into a bright yellow or orange sauce! if you're feeling adventurous, feel free to add in other spices at whim: i've recently starting throwing in a little ground cumin and curry at the end for kick.

“purple” ratatouille
adapted from molly katzen’s the new moosewood cookbook
** purple because of the purple garlic and purple basil :)

3 tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions, chopped (stems and all!)
5 small zucchini, cubed
1 large eggplant, cubed
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
½ cup chopped fresh purple basil
1 tbsp each: fresh oregano, thyme, parsley, and marjoram
1 ½ 14.5 oz can of stewed, chopped tomatoes
½ cup sundried tomatoes, reconstituted in warm water and chopped finely
2 tsp. salt
a few big grinds black pepper

1. heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. add the onion, garlic, and bay leaf. sauté over medium heat until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

2. add eggplant, herbs, and salt, and stir. cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the eggplant is soft.

3. add the zucchini, sundried tomatoes, and canned tomatoes. mix well. grind in the pepper. cover and continue to cook on low heat until all the vegetables are tender (15-30 minutes or so). stir occasionally to make sure it is not sticking on the bottom. remove the bay leaf and add more salt or herbs to taste.

4. serve with polenta or couscous and a hunk of ciabatta for soaking up the juices!