Roasted spicy mini bell peppers
Bags of mini bell peppers come in 8-ounce and 16-ounce sizes. They are sweet, but you can add a couple of chiles (Anaheim peppers or a few shishito) for a little heat. Pimenton adds a smoky element, hot paprika some warmth.
|1||pound mini bell peppers|
|2||tablespoons olive oil|
|1||teaspoon pimenton de la vera (smoked Spanish paprika)|
|1||teaspoon hot paprika|
|Salt, to taste|
1. Turn on the broiler and set a rack about 6 inches from the element. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet.
2. In a bowl, toss the peppers and olive oil. Sprinkle with pimenton, paprika, and salt and toss well. Spread the peppers on the baking sheet. Broil for 3 minutes, watching them carefully, and turning once or twice, until they begin to soften and char. (They go from charred to burnt quickly.)
Tahini paste, ground from sesame seeds, comes in light and dark roast. For many recipes, including hummus, light tahini is preferable (Sesame King brand, labeled "light roast," is widely available). Other tips to making great hummus: Begin with dried chickpeas (you don't do anything while they soak overnight), simmer them with baking soda to break down the skins, whir them while they're hot to make the creamiest texture, then add an ice cube and let it melt while the food processor blade goes round and round. If you want a thinner texture, add another ice cube. If serving as an appetizer, spread in a bowl and add olive oil and sumac to the top (sumac is made from ground red berries and has a slight lemony flavor).
|1||cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained|
|½||teaspoon baking soda|
|½||teaspoon salt, or more to taste|
|¼||cup light tahini|
|1||clove garlic, crushed|
|Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste|
|1||small ice cube (still frozen), or more if needed|
|Olive oil (for sprinkling)|
|Sumac (for sprinkling)|
1. In a saucepan, combine the chickpeas with water to cover. Bring to a boil, skim the surface thoroughly to remove all the scum, then add the baking soda and salt. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the chickpeas are very tender.
2. Drain the chickpeas into a colander and transfer them to a food processor. Add the tahini and garlic. Whir the mixture until almost smooth. Add the lemon juice and continue pulsing until the mixture is thick and smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice, if you like.
3. With the machine running, add the ice cube through the feed tube and let the motor run until the ice melts. Remove the lid and check the texture. If the mixture seems too thick, add another ice cube while the machine is running.
4. Transfer to a bowl, smooth the top, and garnish with a sprinkle of olive oil and sumac.
Sweet-and-sour chicken thighs
Instructions here call for removing the chicken from the bones after cooking so they can become part of a larger dish. You can also serve the chicken on the bone.
|8||chicken thighs on the bone, excess fat removed|
|¼||cup hoisin sauce|
|2||tablespoons cider vinegar|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh parsley|
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a large rimmed baking sheet.
2. Arrange the thighs, skin side up, on the baking sheet.
3. In a bowl, stir together the ketchup, hoisin sauce, and cider vinegar. Use a spoon to spread the mixture on the chicken on both sides.
4. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes or until the meat pulls away from the bone. Let the chicken cool until you can handle it. Spoon the cooking juices in a bowl and skim off the fat.
5. Cut the chicken off the bone in large pieces and cut the pieces into thin slices. Transfer the chicken to a platter and spoon some of the cooking juices over it. Sprinkle with parsley.
Brown rice with quinoa
Cooking brown rice with red quinoa turns it into an interesting dish. Toast the quinoa first in a dry skillet so it stays crunchy after simmering. Begin cooking the brown rice and halfway through add the quinoa and let them cook together.
|Salt, to taste|
|1||cup long-grain brown rice|
|½||cup red quinoa|
1. In a saucepan, bring the water and a large pinch of salt to a boil. Add the rice, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes (it will not be tender).
2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, cook the quinoa, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula, for 5 minutes, or until it starts to turn darker. Tip the quinoa into the rice, re-cover the pan, and continue cooking for 20 minutes, or until the rice and quinoa are both tender. Total simmering time is 40 minutes.
Sesame roasted broccoli
|1||large broccoli crown|
|2||tablespoons vegetable oil|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|2||teaspoons sesame seeds|
|2||teaspoons toasted sesame oil|
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet.
2. Cut the broccoli into large florets, then slice through the florets so each one has a flat side. In a bowl, toss the florets with the vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to the baking sheet and spread them out. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
3. Roast the florets for 15 minutes, turning once, or until they begin to char at the edges and are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Sprinkle with sesame oil.
If you crush a cucumber with the side of a knife before you cut it, the jagged edges absorb more seasonings to make a quick pickle.
|5||Armenian or pickling cukes|
|1||tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro|
|½||teaspoon crushed red pepper|
|Salt, to taste|
1. Trim the cucumbers and halve them lengthwise. Set 2 halves cut sides down on a board. Set the side of a large chef's knife on them and press down hard to smash them. Continue with the remaining cucumbers. Cut the halves into 1/2-inch slices and use your hands to break the slices into smaller pieces.
2. In a bowl, toss the cucumbers with vinegar, cilantro, red pepper, and salt.
Recipes by Sheryl Julian