Smoky Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouj)

Baba ghanouj

Love this dip! Easy, healthful and exotic. (My food trifecta!)

If you can find any late-season eggplants at the market, grab’em. Throw them on the grill with whatever else you’re cooking. Let the eggplants get nice and charred, and then wrap them up until you feel like making this irresistible dip. (Even mid-winter, you can make this in the oven with grocery store eggplants.)  Continue reading

The Best Black Bean Salsa

Best black bean salad

Well – at least I think it’s the best. Love yourself, love your salsa. This salad/salsa/dip/side is in heavy rotation in our house from Cinco de Mayo to the end of tomato season.  If using as a salsa/dip, we like Tostitos Scoops for obvious “scoopability” reasons.

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Sausage and Sun-dried Tomato-stuffed Mushrooms

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Looking for a crowd-pleasing appetizer that can also score as a quick weeknight dinner? The extra filling for these addictive stuffed mushrooms can be frozen and later turned into dinner in the 10 minutes it takes to cook a pound of pasta. I’m a big fan of epicurean efficiency.  (And also of all teams from Seattle – Go Seahawks!)

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Chicken Curry Chili

chicken curry chili

So is it a curry or a chili? Exactly. This one-pot wonder can be whatever you want it to be – it’s all in the marketing. For example, if you’re serving to kids or vegetable-phobes, do not call it “Chicken Curry Chili with tons of tomatoes, garbanzo beans and winter squash”; “Chicken Chili” might be a safer bet. Or build a campaign around the secret ingredient: peanut butter.

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No Yolk: Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta “Eggs”

April Fool's Panna Cotta Egg

Old-world panna cotta is experiencing a renaissance these days, and for good reason. This no-bake, gluten-free dessert is a giggly blank canvas for seasonal flavors and embellishments, from rhubarb compote to gingerbread crumbles. Sounds fancy, but panna cotta is really just barely-sweetened Jell-O made with cream (or milk or Greek yogurt) instead of water. Since it must be made ahead (in order to set up in the fridge), panna cotta perfect for entertaining. Busy restaurants love it for this reason as well.

Back in 1999, when I was voted one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, I began experimenting with all kinds of different flavorings, shapes and toppings for panna cotta.

That's me - front row, second from the right.

That’s me – front row, second from the right.

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Skinny Cream of Broccoli Soup with Aged Cheddar

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Everyone in our house grooves on crispy roasted broccoli, so it’s in heavy rotation on the dinner menu playlist.

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However, no one but me will eat the stems or stalks. I’m not really sure why this is, but I’d guess it’s because the florets get so much crispier than the stalks. Whatever the reason, I end up with pounds and pounds of broccoli stalks that I can’t bring myself to throw out. (We had to stop putting food in our backyard compost pile because the rats and raccoons thought they’d stumbled upon a 24/7 gastropub.)

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So now, whenever I make roasted broccoli, I chop up the underappreciated stems and store them in a gallon-size ziplock bag in the fridge. (They’ll keep for weeks.) When the bag’s full, it’s time to make Cream of Broccoli soup.

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Kale, Cabbage and Quinoa Salad

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Wait – keep reading! If the idea of a kale and quinoa salad sounds less than appealing, I should also mention the crunchy toasted almonds and tangy-sweet balsamic dressing. And, that this delicious fiber-fest is also vegan, gluten-free, low-calorie, nutrient-rich, and filling. FILLING! Now do I have your attention?

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