Crisp Haricots Verts Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic for a Meatless Monday

RECIPE: Crisp Haricots Verts Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic
Haricots Verts, Tomato, and Garlic Salad

Haricots Verts, Tomato, and Garlic Salad

My Mémé, my grandmother, makes the most amazing green beans.  In France, traditionally, vegetables are “well done”–soft, supple.  And Mémé’s green beans are the same–stewed with garlic and tomatoes à la Provençal until the green beans start to split at the seams and collapse into their own juices.  They are glorious.
But last weekend in London, the sun was blazing and the heat was soaring.  I wanted a summer version of Mémé’s classic that wouldn’t turn my kitchen into one of the inner circles of Hell.  I quickly blanched some skinny haricots verts so they were crisp and still vibrantly, verdantly green.  As they drained, I singed some finely sliced garlic in olive oil, and quickly blitzed some sweet tomatoes to a rubble.  I tossed the haricots verts with the now garlicky oil, and topped them with the fresh tomatoes.  It was perfectly light, refreshing, and still decidedly punchy.  All I needed was a hunk of bread, and I was good to go.  My version of Mémé’s perfect green beans.  I wonder how she’ll take it…

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app!

Happy Meatless Monday! Continue reading

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Meatless Mondays, Recipes, Salad, Series, Sides, Soup & Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

Easy Killer Swedish Meatballs and Smashed Potatoes with Gravy for Two

RECIPE: Easy Killer Swedish Meatballs with Smashed Potatoes and Gravy
Easy Killer Swedish Meatballs with Smashed Potatoes and Gravy

Easy Killer Swedish Meatballs with Smashed Potatoes and Gravy

Mr. English and I are still in what I call the Ikea phase of our lives—style without heavy investment—and we celebrate our home improvements with full Swedish meatball dinners whenever we hit the shop. Yes, I often do break down and buy the huge sack of frozen meatballs, but I thought there had to be a fresher and almost as easy way of making killer Swedish meatballs. And there is!

The secret is to buy sausage: good, sweet pork sausage. It’s already full of flavor and seasoning, so to make the perfect Swedish meatball, all you have to do is take it out of its casing, mash it up with some breadcrumbs, milk, and a pinch of nutmeg or allspice, and roll it into little balls. Forget about filling meatballs with herbs, onions, garlic, and all that. It’s already in the sausage!

All I do is brown the meatballs in a pot, pour over a slug of beef broth (I used the concentrate stuff you stir into hot water from the pantry) and a glug of sour cream. I just smash up some potatoes, and pour these creamy, meaty little babies over them. They are light, coated in that thick tangy gravy, with that Scandinavian zip of the warmth of allspice. You can serve it with some Ikea Lingonberry jam if you’ve got it.

From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday! Continue reading

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series
 

Whole Roast Trout Dinner with Potatoes and Asparagus for Two

RECIPE: One-Tray Roast Trout with Potatoes, Asparagus, and Herbs
Whole Roast Trout with Potatoes and Asparagus

Whole Roast Trout with Potatoes and Asparagus

In the summer, my family always grills whole fish stuffed with lemons and herbs until they’re charred and smoky and flaky and perfect. We serve them along with asparagus that’s crisped on the corner of the grill, and some boiled potatoes or corn. It’s my family’s version of the perfect summer barbecue, light but hearty, and just so happy and comforting.

Back at work in London, I wanted to find a way to recreate the summer grilled fish magic for me and Mr. English. My oven-roasted version is the ultimate easy weeknight feast stand-in. I stuff two whole rainbow trout with olive oil, huge bundles of mossy lemon thyme, and windowpanes of sliced lemon. I roast them on a parchment-lined baking sheet along with a mess of baby new potatoes and asparagus. Just leave them all together in the oven for 25 minutes and come back to crisp potatoes, charred asparagus, and juicy, flaky, herbaceous trout.

Two nights ago, as Mr. English sat down at the table, I put a plate with a whole fish and a garden of vegetables in front of him. He told me to bring my plate and he’d split it with me. When I told him it was all his and that I had my own, he was disarmingly thrilled. It’s a feast full of healthy, easy, fast, and hearty flavor. Continue reading

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Tagliatelle with Provençal Red Pistou for a Meatless Monday

RECIPE: Tagliatelle with Provençal Red Pistou
Tagliatelle with Provençal Red Pistou

Fresh Tagliatelle with Provençal Red Pistou

In the south of France, everything is tagliatelle. I will never forget the first time I had this dish: June, a handful of years ago, outside at a table tucked away down a side alley in the little seaside town of Cassis. A breeze billowing through a humble tablecloth. The sky still lit, but casting only shadows. We had been travelling all day. I wanted something authentic, Provençal, but still familiar.

Out came a tangle of soft, flat pasta, wafting the scent of garlic like a cloud, flavored with smashed basil, oozing Parmesan, and the sweet, chewy tang of the plethora of Provençal sun-dried tomatoes that makes Provençal pistou what it is, and so different from the pestos we’ve come to know. It was humble and simple, but representative of the place where everything is tangled in garlic and tomatoes and herbs. For me, this dish is forever summer in Provence.

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app!

Happy Meatless Monday!

Tagliatelle with Provençal Red Pistou
serves 4 to 6

Tagliatelle with Provençal Red PistouINGREDIENTS

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 20 sundried tomatoes (a full half cup)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound fresh tagliatelle

PROCEDURE

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  While the water is heating, make the pistou.  Add the garlic to the food processor, and blitz it to smithereens.  Add the basil, sundried tomato, Parmigiano Reggiano, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Blitz in the food processor until you have the consistency of a pesto, scraping down the sides of the bowl once to make sure everything is evenly incorporated.

Salt the boiling water, and cook the tagliatelle for just about 4 minutes, until just cooked.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.  Toss the tagliatelle with the pistou, adding pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce.  Serve immediately.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Meatless Mondays, Recipes, Series, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

Mustardy Salmon in a Packet with Asparagus

RECIPE: Mustardy Salmon in a Packet with Asparagus
Mustard Salmon en Papillote with Asparagus

Mustard Salmon en Papillote with Asparagus

I have spent the last four years on Serious Eats proving that cooking French food can be really easy.  And to prove it, all I had to do was write this recipe.

This is a real weeknight wonder.  I do my own little version of papillote parceling: not as beautiful as the all-parchment pleated version, but far more efficient.  I tear off a big sheet of foil and line it with a slightly smaller sheet of parchment.  Then, I have the ease of folding and sealing foil with the non-reactive contact of parchment on the food.  I build a pile of asparagus, followed by salmon, and a quick cold sauce of crème fraîche, Dijon mustard, grain mustard, and white wine.  Then, I wrap the whole thing up in the foil packets, and run them into the oven for about 12 minutes.  It’s like making your own fresh version of a frozen dinner: everything you need, your veggies, your fish, your sauce, is already in that packet, and you eat it right out of the parchment.  No muss, no fuss!

When the packets are in the oven, the trapped steam wilts the asparagus, poaches the salmon, and melts the creamy mustard sauce into rivulets that permeate the fish and the vegetables.  I eat it with warm crusty bread to soak up some of the steaming sauce.  C’est si bon!

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.  Bon app!

Mustardy Salmon in a Packet with Asparagus
serves 4

Mustard Salmon en Papillote with AsparagusIngredients

  • 4 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 4 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 bunches (32 stems) asparagus, trimmed and cut in thirds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless salmon filets (about 6 ounces each)

Procedure

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Whisk together the crème fraîche, wine, and mustards. Set aside.

Tear off four large rectangles of aluminum foil, and four slightly smaller rectangles of parchment. Place the parchment on top of the foil. On each sheet of parchment, place a quarter of the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. On top of each pile of asparagus, place one piece of salmon, and season the fish with salt and pepper. Divide the mustard sauce among the four pieces of salmon, pouring it over the top. Finally, fold the packets of foil so they are sealed up tight with the parchment and fish within. Bake packets on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer until fish is cooked through, about 12 minutes. Open packets and serve.

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Fish, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

Blackened Salmon with Crunchy Coconut Couscous for Two

RECIPE: Blackened Salmon with Crunchy Coconut Couscous
Blackened Salmon with Coconut Couscous

Blackened Salmon with Coconut Couscous

This is the perfect easy, interesting dinner.  And, might I add from yesterday’s experience, also a terrific cold packed lunch.

The concept is simple: no-fuss baked salmon crusted in hot blackening spice perched on a pile of cool coconut couscous splintered with fresh herbs.  It’s New Orleans meets Miami in fifteen minutes.  The salmon is spicy, salty, savory—and meaty.  The couscous is fluffy and fresh, packed full of mint, parsley, green onions, and pumpkin seeds.  Each bite packs a contrasting punch of fire and ice, and it’s so good.

Couscous should always be on-hand for ten-minute wonder dinners.  It’s the easiest starch to cook: just pour boiling water over it and let it stand off the heat until it’s perfect, every time.  But here’s the trick to this special version: cook the couscous in a can of coconut milk instead of water.  The couscous sucks up all the coconutty goodness, and the natural oils in the coconut keeps the grains of couscous separate.  With just one simple swap, you’ve imparted so much flavor and moisture to a side that can tend to be a little dry and neglected—and most people haven’t had couscous cooked in coconut milk before, so that’s an added perk.

I love this meal because it’s so healthy, so interesting, and so, so easy.  It’s ready in 15 minutes, in just one pot (okay, and one baking sheet, but I line it with parchment for easy cleanup).  I’d make extras because the leftovers are killer cold over spinach salad.

From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats.  Check it out every Friday!

Blackened Salmon with Crunchy Coconut Couscous
serves 2

Blackened Salmon with Coconut CouscousINGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (1 can)
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous (regular or whole wheat)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh scallion (about 1 big scallion)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 5 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 4- to 6-ounce fillets of boneless and skinless salmon
  • 1 tablespoon blackening seasoning (recommended: Blackened Redfish Magic)
  • Lemon or lime wedges (optional)

PROCEDURE

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Bring the coconut milk to a boil in a medium stockpot.  Add the couscous and season with salt and pepper.  Cover the pot, remove from the heat, and let stand 10 minutes.  Finally, stir in the scallion, parsley, mint, and pumpkin seeds.

Meanwhile, while the couscous is steaming, season both sides of the salmon with blackening seasoning.  Place the fish on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until opaque.  Make a bed of the couscous, place the fish on top, tear up some extra mint leaves for garnish, and serve with lemon wedges (optional).

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Cheap, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Series
 

Chorizo Crusted Cod and Beans with Arugula Pesto for Two

RECIPE: Chorizo Crusted Cod and Beans with Arugula Pesto
Cod with Chorizo and Beans with Arugula Pesto

Cod with Chorizo and Beans with Arugula Pesto

This recipe is the perfect example of how a few killer ingredients can make a gorgeously creative and delicious dish without much going on in the way of effort.

The concept is simple: use chorizo, so full of garlic and paprika and its own natural drippings, to flavor the rest of the dish.  So, I cut slices of dried, brilliantly red Spanish chorizo and layer them on top of a piece of cod.  Here’s a chef’s trick: add a little olive oil to a small nonstick skillet on the stove.  Place the fish, chorizo side up, in the hot pan and then put the whole thing in the oven.  That way you have the chorizo crisping from the heat of the oven, and the bottom of the fish forming a golden crust from the heat of the pan.
After ten minutes, the fish is done, and the chorizo has rendered out its precious flavor into the bottom of the pan.  That’s when I stir in canned cannellini beans, and heat them through in the drippings, to capture every last milligram of flavor.  Then I stir in a simplified, easy basil and arugula pesto made with Pecorino cheese, a sharp sheep’s milk cheese that slightly mirrors the saltiness of Manchego and works so well with the chorizo.  However, if tonight is not the night for using the food processor, just pick up some fresh basil pesto from the supermarket when you buy the fish.  And don’t feel bad about it.  The cheese melts, and the greens cling to the beans.  The whole thing looks so beautiful, and is so impressive.  And yet, the hardest thing in this recipe is arranging the chorizo on top of the cod.
Of course, as per the title of this column, when I test these recipes, I test them for two after work in my real life.  Mr. English was on a business trip, so I saved all the food, wrapped it up, and took it to work for lunch with my colleague and friend.  I had never cooked for him before, and was nervous.  In the end, I think this was the perfect dish to start with.  It’s one that looks like you really know what you’re doing, but also just has real flavor, and that’s a nice couple of attributes for something so easy to make. Continue reading
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Categories: 30 Minutes, Dinner for Two, Easy, Eat, Fish, Main Courses, Recipes, Series