I I recently moved out of my six-year-old apartment and house-sit until I found the perfect place. It’s been glorious indulging in my friends’ plants and trying out new areas, but I’m never quite comfortable using another person’s kitchen as extensively as I would my own. So I lived an undercooked lifestyle.
I can’t recommend it enough. Apart from my borrowed kitchens, there were fabulous onigiri from a nearby grocery store, great pizzas and the best pastas.
Yet a woman cannot live on takeout alone (no matter how hard she tries). The recipes below are all perfect for the weather and my energy level.
Traybake feta with chickpeas and tomatoes
In a variety of Greek appetizers, or meze, there is often a hot feta dish such as bouyiourdi (baked feta with tomato and hot peppers) or saganaki (fried cheese). This recipe combines elements of these two classic appetizers in one tray baking dish. The softened feta provides a salty, creamy counterpoint to the sweet, juicy tomatoes and chickpeas that are sticky from the honey and spiced from the dried chili. Try this version, then riff wildly: replace the tomatoes with mini peppers, olives, dates or cauliflower. Replace hot honey with anchovies, harissa, smoked paprika or turmeric. Eat with pita bread, cereal, salad leaves, hummus or yogurt.
By: Ali Slagle
Total time: 40 minutes
500 g cooked chickpeas (homemade or 2 cans of 425 g), drained, rinsed and shaken
450-560g cherry or Sungold tomatoes
1 shallot, thinly sliced
60ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tsp sweet pepper flakes (like gochugaru) or ½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 (170-225g) blocks of feta (see tip), cut into 2½cm thick slices
1. Heat the oven to 200C. On a baking sheet, combine the chickpeas, tomatoes, shallot, olive oil, honey and chili flakes. Salt and then spread in an even layer. Arrange the feta among the chickpeas. Roast until the feta and tomatoes are tender and the chickpeas are golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes (no need to stir). Eat right away (feta will harden as it cools, reheat leftovers).
Point: Avoid cow’s milk feta, which does not have enough fat to withstand roasting.
Cheesy Kimchi Noodles
Instant ramen ranks among comfort foods because it can be prepared quickly and these little seasoning packets deliver lots of flavor with minimal effort. No packets are used in this recipe, but the addition of melty cheddar cheese and funky fermented kimchi makes the dish even more satisfying. Sautéed spring onions and garlic balance out the spicy driracha, soy and sesame sauce, while the runny egg yolk from a crispy fried egg adds richness and sweetens the spice. The cheese gets sticky as it cools, so it’s best to serve these noodles immediately while they’re still warm and shiny.
By: Lara Lee
Total time: 20 minutes
For the noodles:
170g dried instant noodles (see tip)
1½ tablespoons canola oil, plus more to coat the cooked noodles
5 spring onions, thinly sliced diagonally (reserve 1 tbsp for garnish)
½ cup kimchi (packed), sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp black (or white) sesame seeds plus more for garnish
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons sriracha
1 to 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add noodles and cook according to package directions until tender but still springy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water until cool, then toss with a little canola oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Reserve the cooked noodles.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil and Shaoxing wine; put aside.
3. Set a medium nonstick skillet over high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of canola oil and, once shimmering, crack in the eggs. Reduce heat to medium and cook until whites are cooked through and edges are browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the spring onions, kimchi, garlic and sesame seeds, and cook for 1 minute until just softened, stirring frequently. Add noodles and sauce and stir for 1 minute. Stir in grated cheese until melted. Turn off the fire.
5. Transfer noodles to serving plates, top with fried eggs and garnish with additional sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve immediately.
Point: If you can’t find plain instant ramen noodles, you can also use two individual 85g ramen packets, discarding the flavor packets or saving them for another use.
Grilled salmon salad with lime, peppers and herbs
Made of soft and supple salmon; crisp lettuces and vegetables; and a very savory vinaigrette topped with chillies and lime, this light salad is tangy and full of flavor. The dressing, made with nuoc cham, a traditional Vietnamese dip, has just enough fish sauce to give it depth and tang without overpowering the lime shine. You can replace the salmon with other fish or even chicken. Simply adjust the cooking time as needed and toss with the dressing while it’s still hot. Note that if you don’t have a grill, you can roast the fish in the oven.
By: Melissa Clark
Total time: 30 minutes
2 small fresh red or green chiles or 1 large, minced, seeded if desired
1 shallot (or 2 spring onions, or 2 tablespoons red onion), thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
pinch of sugar
60ml extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil, plus more for brushing
560 g salmon fillet, preferably 1 large central piece
100 to 120 g green salad, such as baby gem, iceburg lettuce or head lettuce
50 g mixed sweet herbs (such as coriander, mint and basil), leaves and tender stems
115 g radishes, cucumbers or both, thinly sliced (optional)
1. Turn on the grill for indirect heat or heat the oven to 230°C.
2. While the grill or oven is heating, prepare the dressing: cut 1 lime in half and squeeze its juice into a small bowl. Add the chili slices, half the sliced shallot (keep the rest for serving), the fish sauce and a pinch of salt and sugar. Let stand 1 minute to dissolve the salt, then stir in the olive oil. It will not emulsify, so mix again before using.
3. Brush salmon with oil and place in a grill basket if you have one. Cook on the indirect (unlit) side of the grill, 2 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the heat of the grill and the thickness of the salmon. Note that individual fillets cook faster than a single large piece. Check the salmon often (or roast it on a baking sheet in the oven, until just done to taste, 7-12 minutes; you don’t have to flip it).
4. While the salmon cooks, halve the other lime. Brush cut sides with olive oil and grill, cut side down, over direct heat until charred, about 1 minute. If using the oven, toss the halves, cut side up, onto the roasting pan with the salmon. They won’t char, but they will cook and mellow in flavor, which is the point.
5. When the salmon is cooked, transfer it to a plate and coat it with the vinaigrette. Leave to cool slightly, then break the fish into large pieces.
6. Place the greens, remaining shallots, herbs, and radishes or cucumber, if using, in a large shallow bowl or on a tray, and add a little more dressing. Squeeze some of the juice from half a charred lime over it and drizzle with a little olive oil. Mix and taste, adding lime juice, olive oil or salt as needed.
7. Top with the salmon pieces and drizzle with more (or all) of the dressing. Serve with the remaining half of charred lime on the side for squeezing.
Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook of Philadelphia restaurant Zahav found success with their hummus recipe, but in their second book, israeli soul, the two came up with this clever version, done in a fraction of the time of the original. It’s just as satisfying, and packed with tahini flavor, a given since it takes an entire 450g jar. The end result is nutty and smooth, and topped with roasted vegetables, a meal worthy of a weeknight.
Recipe of: Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook
Adapted by:Krysten Chambrot
Makes: 4 generous cups
Total time: 5 minutes
¼ garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon, about 60ml
1 jar (450g) of tahini
1 tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
230-350ml ice water
2 cans (425 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1. Place ¼ garlic clove in a food processor and add lemon juice. Pour the tahini over it, making sure to scrape everything out of the container, and add the salt and cumin. Blend until mixture resembles peanut butter, about 1 minute. Jet into the icy water, a little at a time, with the engine running. Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy and lightens to the color of dry sand.
2. Add the chickpeas and mix for about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go, until the chickpeas are completely blended in and the hummus is smooth and evenly colored.
© The New York Times