Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Buttermilk Farro Salad

If your first impression is that this recipe looks suspiciously similar to my Dilled, Crunchy Sweet-Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing, you are not incorrect. Yes, both recipes feature a starchy carb base, buttermilk dressing, and lots of dill. However. While the corn salad conjures a chilled summer soup— sweet, drinkable and milky—this Buttermilk Farro Salad is far meatier, almost like a creamy risotto. The buttermilk, too, takes on a different function. Rather than a dribbling dressing that pools at the bottom, the liquid is slick; coating the farro just barely, luxuriously, like melted cheese.

Any likeness to richness stops there. The farro is delicately peppered with slivered late summer vegetables, impossibly refreshing in their raw, slender form. Sometimes I forget that an unaccustomed texture has the power to make a vegetable feel like an entirely different ingredient. Zucchini often gets tiresome past its mid-summer zenith, but barely-there ribbons feel completely new. Fennel is frequently braised in pursuit of its caramelized potential, but here, the wispy mandolined strips are a total breath of fresh air, like a more flavorful celery.

If you are unfamiliar with chives, do seek them out if you can—they are the cherry on top of a salad bellowing summer, though scallions are a perfectly acceptable alternative. You can probably tell that this recipe is included in my "big batch salad" list from a mile away; indeed, I made a double serving for the week, mixing in arugula, chickpeas, and hard-boiled egg for a hefty lunch.
Aside from a trip to the farmers market/grocery, this salad is essentially a pantry dish. That goes for the buttermilk too: 1 tablespoon of lemon juice stirred into 1 cup regular milk makes a quick homemade batch. As we approach the part of summer where we are reminded of its mortality (shorter days, brisker morning temperatures), the widespread “did I make the most of this season??” panic sweeps in. Inevitably, this premature nostalgia is followed by a scurry of bucket-list picnics and beach visits, so when it’s time to menu-plan, remember this salad! Consider it August, in a Tupperware.

Buttermilk Farro Salad (from 101 Cookbooks)
Serves 8 as a side, 4 as a main

Ingredients:
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped dill
½ cup chopped chives (can substitute scallions)
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
7 small radishes, sliced paper thin
3 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1 medium head of fennel, trimmed and sliced paper thin
4 cups cooked farro, cooled to room temp
chopped chives for garnish
Arugula, chickpeas, hardboiled eggs (optional, for serving)

Directions:
1. Combine the garlic and salt on a cutting board. Mash into a paste using the flat side of your knife. Place in a medium bowl or jar, then add the buttermilk and vinegar. Whisk together and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then the herbs.

2. In a large bowl gently toss the radishes, zucchini, and fennel with the farro grains. Add 1 cup of the dressing and toss again. Let sit for ten minutes, taste, and adjust with more dressing, if needed, and salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with chives.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fava, Farro, Artichoke and Salami Salad

Joshua McFadden is the vegetable whisperer.

His cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables celebrates vegetables in such a deliberate, intuitive way that I wouldn't be surprised if McFadden had sprouted out of soil himself. Beyond seasonal cooking—which merely scratches the surface of his vegetables' potential—McFadden transports his readers along the journey of their lives. The first asparagus of spring? Raw please, but once you're in the heart of the season, best to cook through. Same goes for artichokes, and so on. Each chapter of Six Seasons commences with a specific vegetable's uncooked devising, slowing adding heat and novel flavors as the weeks go on. For example, Raw Asparagus Salad turns into Asparagus, Nettle, and Green Garlic Frittata, which turns into Asparagus, Garlic Chives, and Pea Shoots with an Egg. Each and every vegetable is treated in this progression.


Joshua McFadden is the vegetable whisperer, and after owning Six Seasons for a month I feel fluent in his language.

You might think that this produce pedestal would go hand and hand with elitist recipes, but surprisingly, it's quite the contrary. McFadden values simplicity and staples. You'll scarcely find more than a handful of salt, pepper, bulb, olive oil, and citrus or vinegar—maybe some herbs, as well—dressing up the main ingredient. Therefore, it's his focus on perfecting these aforementioned accoutrements that make each recipe nonpareil.  Preparing farro? Toast the grains in a smattering of quality everyday EVOO to realize its true nutty undertones. Mincing scallions? Soak them in an ice bath while chopping other ingredients to temper their oniony bite. Using the same tricks repeatedly throughout the book helps ingrain them into your memory—I doubt I'll add raw scallions to any dish moving forward without an ice bath first.


McFadden also loves creating "tension" in his recipes—that is, opposing flavors and textures to construct depth in a dish. In this Fava, Farro, Artichoke and Salami Salad, earthy farro contrasts with the vivacity of fresh herbs. Cubed meaty salami adds peppery pinguidity to mellow fava beans and artichokes. Is this another agreeable spring farro salad or a deconstructed Italian club? Tension = ruminative eating. Chew on in it for a bit.


I combined two of McFadden's recipes into one here. He has a separate salami, farro and herb salad for both fresh favas and artichokes, but because I was so excited for the spring arrival of both ingredients, I married them. Don't fret if you can't get these ingredients fresh, though. Pre-cooked favas and jarred artichokes work just fine.

Fava, Farro, Artichoke and Salami Salad (from Six Seasons)
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 ½ lbs fava beans in their pods
4 artichoke quarters, poached or jarred, chopped (Trader Joe’s jarred grilled artichokes are out of this world)
2 cups cooked and cooled farro (recipe below)
¼ lb salami, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices and then into ¼-inch dice
½ bunch scallions, trimmed (including ½ inch off the green tops), thinly sliced on an angle, soaked in ice water for 20 minutes, and drained well
Red wine vinegar
¼ tsp dried chile flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup loosely packed mint leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz pecorino fresco, cut into ¼ inch-thick slices and then into ¼ inch dice (optional)

Directions:
1. Shell, blanch and peel the favas.
2. Put the farro, favas, artichokes, salami, pecorino (if using) and scallions in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup vinegar, the chile flakes, 1 teaspoon of salt and lots of twists of black pepper, and toss. Let the salad sit for about 5 minutes so the vinegar soaks into the farro.
3. Add the parsley and mint and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Drizzle on a glug of olive oil, toss, and taste again—adjust as needed. Serve at room temperature.

Toasted Farro
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
½ teaspoon dried chile flakes
1 cup farro
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions:
1. Put a nice glug of oil into a large skillet that has a lid and heat over medium heat. Add smashed garlic and chile flakes and cook slowly to toast garlic so it's beginning to get soft, fragrant, and nicely golden brown, about 3 minutes.
2. Add farro and cook over medium heat, stirring more or less constantly so grains toast evenly, for 3 to 5 minutes. They will darken slightly and become quite fragrant.
3. Add water, bay leaf, and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, adjust heat to a nice simmer, and cook until farro is tender but not so much that it has "exploded" and popped fully open--it will be mushy if cooked that long. Depending on your farro, this could take 15 to 30 minutes or even a bit longer.
4. Drain farro well. If you're using farro warm, you're all set. If you want to use it cold, such as in a salad, dump it onto a baking sheet, toss with a tbsp of olive oil, and spread it out to cool.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sumac Chicken with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts

Where have you been, woman? I know, I know! I have not posted a new recipe in nearly 2 months, and the one below is paired with a single measly photo. So sorry but I’ve spent the past 8 weeks on a sun-drenched tropical island, taking a vacation from technology and clutter to idly wander white sand beaches, stopping to eat the occasional coconut or papaya should it happen to bounce my way. Sike! I’ve been trudging through this miserable Nor’easter-heaped sludge Spring with all you fools, just busy busy busy with the other writing I do (aka the one that is paid). 
I’ve still been cooking up a storm, of course. Jam-packed days mean less involved dinners, and I have fallen in love with the sheet pan method. For the better part of an hour, vegetables and proteins are heaped together on a single wide sheet pan as I go about cleaning/laundry/yoga in my living room. Forty-five minutes later, presto! A deeply roasted, bronzed and bubbling denouement— that looks and tastes as if I’ve been slaving away for the past week— materializes right before my tired eyes.

The namesake of Sumac Chicken with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts is definitely the winsome ingredient here. Sumac, a tart, lemony spice featured in Middle Eastern cooking, is humbled with a pinch of brown sugar and smoky paprika. Both the chicken and vegetables get roasted in this sprightly rub, then finished with a lovely drizzle of fresh herbs and lemon juice. The chicken is roasted bone-in and skin-on, giving it that moist, fall-off-the-bone consistency of an expertly done rotisserie. It took my husband and I three days to finish the pan’s offerings (I doubled the recipe), and the flavors only seemed to intensify every day that passed.

A quick note on chicken: as someone who’s been a skinless, boneless chicken breast devotee my whole life, the transition to skin-on, bone-in cuts of both dark meat and light was a bit intimidating. But the fat content of these cuts is nothing to fear here. In fact, its where all of your flavor and succulence will come from. If you cannot bear the thought of drumsticks and thighs, chicken breast is fine, just make sure to follow the aforementioned preparation so it doesn’t dry out. However, I really liked using a mixture of dark and light meat. I was also blown away by the cost-efficiency of buying these cuts: at Trader Joe’s, a “family pack” (2 breasts and 4 drumsticks, all organic) was only $2.99/lb. You can also buy an entire chicken and have the butcher counter cut it up for you, which will give you a nice variety of all these pieces.

Sumac Chicken with Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts (altered slightly from Cooking Light)
Serves 4

Ingredients

3 Tbsp olive or avocado oil, divided
1 Tbsp sumac
1 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb cauliflower florets
1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
2 lbs chicken thighs/drumsticks/bone-in, skin-on breast
1 small lemon, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, cut into ¾ inch wedges
1 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro; preferably, a mix
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 
  2. Combine 2 Tbsp oil with sumac, ¾ tsp salt, brown sugar, paprika, and red pepper in a medium bowl. Place cauliflower and Brussels sprouts on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add half of oil mixture; toss to coat. 
  3. Add chicken pieces and lemon slices to pan. Rub remaining oil mixture over chicken. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir vegetables. Sprinkle onion wedges over pan. Bake for 20 more minutes, or until chicken is done. 
  4. Combine remaining 1 Tbsp oil, parsley, and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Spoon parsley mixture evenly over chicken and vegetables. Serve with warm whole-wheat couscous, if desired. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pan-seared Sirloin with Chimichurri

I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or an iron deficiency trying to communicate with me, but I’ve recently found myself intensely craving steak. Not to mention that I’ve finally learned how to cook it exactly how I order at a restaurant (medium rare), and it didn't involve setting off the smoke alarm (let’s hope that was a one time occurrence) or a 2-day bout of food poisoning from undercooking. My vegetarian-leaning self has finally learned how to flawlessly prepare bovine meat, and now, I can’t get enough; specifically, this Pan-seared Sirloin with Chimichurri

I’ve shied away from learning how to cook steak in the past—as if because I rarely ate it I wasn’t worthy of knowing how to prepare it—assuming I was inherently set up to fail. Previously, I’d nervously overcook a piece of meat, making sure I paired it with a flavorful sauce to cover up any of my missteps. Only with a little bit of research did I figure out a few essentials for proper steak cooking. How simple the basic principles are!

1. Temperature matters. Bringing steak to room temperature an hour before cooking ensures optimal heat penetration to the middle.
2. Seasoning matters. A generous rub of salt, pepper, and olive oil will suffice.
3. Flipping matters. Turning the steak every minute promotes an even sear.
4. Resting matters the most. Letting the steak sit for five minutes, plus half the cook-time, lets it finish cooking properly after being removed from the heat.

The last step is arguably the most important because there’s nothing more disappointing than an overcooked slab of beef. Trust me on this one—the steak needs to sit to finish cooking through.

Adding to this enthusiasm was my discovery of Piedmontese heritage beef at the Union Square Greenmarket, produced by Stony Mountain Ranch (full market schedule here). Although Stony Mountain Ranch’s cattle is raised in Pennsylvania, the breed is originally from the Piedmont region of Italy, known for having the best beef in the country due to its supreme succulence and super lean disposition. This desirable combination is a result of the cows’ genetics: Piedmontese cattle naturally carry a unique gene that reduces fat yet improves tenderness. And while the beef is genetically lower in total fat than other breeds, it also has the highest percentage of good polyunsaturated fats within that total fat. Think omega-3s like DPA and DHA. On top of that, its exclusively grass-fed. If looking for a healthy breed, you’ve found your guy.

The quick and easy chimichurri sauce hails for Gjelina, one of my favorite cookbooks for condiments and vegetables. For me, it’s essential for a chimichurri to have the right oil to vinegar ratio—not too slick, not too tart—and this one delivers exceptionally, dotted with spices that accent the grassiness of the herbs.

Pan-seared Sirloin with Chimichurri
Makes 1 ½ cup chimichurri

Ingredients:
Grass-fed, tender cut of steak (i.e. rib-eye, tenderloin, porterhouse, T-bone, skirt steak, top sirloin, filet mignon. Budget 6 ounces, or a little more than 1/3 lb, per person)

1 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped
½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ shallot, minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (can use less if desired)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground lack pepper
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

Directions:

1. Make the chimichurri. In a medium bowl, combine the cilantro, parsley, oregano, paprika, shallot, and olive oil and stir. Allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Just before serving, add red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Make the steak. Heat a hot cast iron pan with oil, and follow the 4 steps above! A medium rare steak should cook for 6 minutes (flipping every minute), and rest for 8 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Butternut Squash Salad with Farro and Pepitas

As I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram last week (New Years resolution: do less of that), I came across this quote. “People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and New Year, when what matters is what they eat between New Year and Christmas.” It got me thinking about my own past behavior, namely, gauging myself with sweets and alcohol in that coveted vacation week—only to go to the other extreme, a juice cleanse, in the days after as an attempt to negate my poor eating choices.

This type of seesaw eating is not only unhealthy, but also extremely anxiety provoking. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve curtailed these periods of “extremes” for a healthy balance somewhere in the middle. I try to mostly eat a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, focused on ample vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. I generally stay away from excess sugar. When I indulge, I don’t get hung up on it. I treat that as “sometimes” behavior, and move on.

Apropos to this mindset, my early January diet won’t be a frantic attempt to reverse any immoderation from the past week. Rather, it will be a reset back to middle ground; looking at the future instead of dwelling in the past. This Butternut Squash Salad with Farro and Pepitas was my first recipe of 2018, and I’ve been eating it with gusto all week long.

Shocker to nobody: I don’t think I’ve ever met a farro salad with roasted vegetables I didn’t like. That being said, the number of times I’ve encountered one which wildly supersedes its predecessors is scant. This is one of those rare occasions, and the winning ingredient is most surprising. It’s… the onions?!

Here, while the farro cooks, finely chopped red onion is quick-pickled in a simple brine of vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. Then, the entire concoction—brine and onion bits—is poured into the salad for a lovely acidic tang that hits on all seasoning notes. Without this dressing, the grain and squash combination could easily feel too earthy, even dull. But the pickled onion adds sprightly vim, enhanced further by dots of crunchy pepitas and silky, heavenly ricotta salada.



To the original recipe I added Brussels sprouts and garbanzo beans, and cut back on the olive oil and crumbed cheese per my personal preference. These changes are reflected below. While I encourage you to consume this salad upon completion, I will say it is the kind of dish that tastes even better with time. I’m on my fourth day in a row of eating it for lunch, and the flavors have never been better.

Butternut Squash Salad with Farro and Pepitas (tweaked slightly from Smitten Kitchen)
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved (optional)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cup semi-pearled farro (the kind that cooks in 20-25 minutes)
1/3 cup toasted pepitas
1/3 cup ricotta salata (omit to make vegan)
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (or red/white wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
½ small red onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Peel squash, then halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Cut squash into approximately 3/4-inch chunks. Coat one large or two small baking sheets with 2 tablespoons oil total. Spread squash (and Brussels, if using) out in single layer on sheet. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until pieces are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. While squash is roasting, cook farro in a large pot of simmering salted water until the grains are tender but chewy, about 30 minutes or per package directions. Drain and cool slightly.

4. While squash/Brussels are roasting and farro is simmering, in a small bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, water, 1/2 teaspoon table salt and granulated sugar until sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in onion/shallot; it will barely be covered by vinegar mixture but don’t worry. Cover and set in fridge until needed; 30 minutes is ideal but less time will still make a lovely, lightly pickled bulb.

5. In a large bowl, mix together roasted veggies, farro, red onion and its vinegar brine, the crumbled cheese, pepitas, and garbanzos, if using. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings (you might want to add more vinegar). Salad keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cowboy Cookies

Given my "maximizer" tendencies, that is, an insistence on assessing all possible options to ensure I’ve chosen the absolute best one before making a decision— as my sister has pointedly labeled my behavior—choosing a holiday cookie is not an easy task for me. By not easy, I mean positively agonizing. The possibilities are endless, the angles innumerable. Does one go traditional Christmas cookie, sprinkles and all? Or gingerbread, molasses-rich and deeply spiced? What about dark chocolate, peppered cheerily with candy cane morsels? I poured through all of my cookbooks and read countless “Top 50 Christmas Cookies” lists online, toiling through the comments sections in feverish hope of feeling with finality that I’d chosen the best…


And just when I’d settled for an intricate yet interesting spice cookie with a thin lemon glaze on top, bae glanced at the cookbook photo and told me point-blank that it looked like someone had jizzed all over these Pfeffernüsse varietals. Horrified, I slapped the book shut, ready to start the search from scratch.

“You’re thinking too hard about this,” bae said. “Why don’t you just make chocolate chip? Everybody loves chocolate chip cookies.” My first reaction was to protest, too mundane! Too basic! Too non-holiday! But truth is, bae had a very good point. So I set out to find a recipe for a loaded chocolate chip, and with resolve and conviction chose these Cowboy Cookies—trading my “maximizing” mindset for wholehearted enthusiasm apropos to these spectacular sweets.

I don’t know why they are named “Cowboy”, but I do know this—they’re insanely delicious, easy to make, hard to mess up, and quite the crowd pleaser. I mean, how can a cookie that’s essentially the Original Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe plus pecans, oats, shredded coconut, and cinnamon be anything but? Even for baking dopes like me who don’t let the butter warm to room temp and bake a dangerous 2 minutes past their doneness, they still managed to turn out excellent. For the amateur baker, a resilient cookie is a must.

In its original form, this recipe makes giant, scone-like Levain Bakery style cookies—¼ cup batter allocation per each. I wanted more of a two-bite cookie, so I cut the recipe and cookie size by one-third, which I’ve reflected below. Now, you are free to eat more than one :)

Happy Holidays! Sending all the love and joy of the season from my kitchen to yours. I’ll see you in the New Year.

Cowboy Cookies (from the New York Times)
Makes 30 two-bite cookies

Ingredients:
1  cup all­ purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light­ brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup old­ fashioned rolled oats
2/3 cup unsweetened flake coconut/ coconut chips
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in sugars, and combine thoroughly.
4. Add egg, beat into batter. Beat in vanilla.
5. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.
6. For each cookie, drop a heaping tablespoon of dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.
7. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until edges are lightly browned; rotate sheets halfway through. Remove cookies from rack to cool.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pan-Roasted Romanesco with Golden Raisins, Tahini & Sumac

It's nearly impossible to visit a farmers market this time of year without a head of romanesco, nestled between its broccoli and cauliflower cousins, catching your eye. Was it the pinwheel of stegosaurus-like spiral spikes that first gave you pause? Or maybe its fluorescent lime hue was cause for reconsideration. Either way, we can agree that the romanesco is definitely the most bizarre-looking Brassica of the bunch. But if that fractal eccentricity means you're habitually turning to its tamer family members, I urge you to try those crazy spikes in the kitchen with Pan-Roasted Romanesco with Golden Raisins, Tahini & Sumac.

Contrary to its sharp exterior, romanesco has a very mild flavor; significantly subdued compared to broccoli or cauliflower. That's not to say the romanesco is dull—I've often seen it described as having a "sweet nuttiness" that becomes accentuated with high-heat cooking. Think of it as a vegetable to be praised for its agreeableness, perhaps; boasting a wonderfully crunchy texture primed for charring in that deeply satisfying way exclusive to roasted winter vegetables.

And yet, an oven isn't even required to cook the romanesco to perfection in this recipe. Instead, the florets are pan-roasted, achieving beautifully bronzed, charred edges in just 10 minutes time. At first, I was skeptical: how could such a burly stalk be cooked to completion via open stove top with minimal oil so quickly? The secret, it turned out, was in the finish. After approximately 8 minutes of charring, the florets are "steamed" with a splash of vegetable broth for the remaining cook time. The contact of the broth with the hot pan's bottom immediately creates a steam bath for the romanesco, ensuring that the crunchy florets lose their raw bite in the final minutes before serving. Genius, right?  To my delight, the pan-charring worked for two other winter vegetables I generally reserve for time-consuming oven roasting as well, broccoli and brussels sprouts.

This recipe hails from the Gjelina cookbook by Travis Lett, a connoisseur of phenomenal vegetable preparations. Everything is nuanced: the sweetness of the raisins and nuttiness of the tahini amplifying the flavor profile inherent to the romanesco, the sprinkle of tangy Sumac and coarse sea salt to finish. The presentation is beautiful, a masterpiece fit for entertaining that feels almost indulgent when whipped together on a random weeknight for one. Substitutions are effortless and welcome: romanesco can be subbed out for any other hearty winter vegetable, golden raisins with many a dried fruit. If Sumac isn't a pantry item for you, top with finely grated lemon peel instead.

Pan-Roasted Romanesco with Golden Raisins, Tahini & Sumac (from Gjelina)
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
¼ cup tahini
Juice of 2 lemons
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp cold water
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium heads romanesco, trimmed and chopped into 1-in florets
¼ cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp vegetable stock or water
1 Tbsp ground sumac
Flaky sea salt
Best-quality olive oil for drizzling

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, combine the tahini with the lemon juice, garlic, and cold water. Whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil. The sauce should be thin enough to drizzle with a spoon. (If it is too thick, add in more cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time.) Season with kosher salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and warm until hot but not smoking. Add the romanesco, cut-side down, and cook until deep golden brown in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir with tongs or a wooden spoon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Turn the heat to medium and add the raisins. Season with kosher salt and cook, stirring, until the raisins soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the stock and allow the ingredients to steam briefly. Taste a piece of romanesco for seasoning and doneness; it should be tender.
3. Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle the tahini sauce on top, sprinkle with sumac, and garnish with sea salt and a drizzle of best-quality olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.