This is an amalgamation of several Niçoise salad recipes and, since it requires many dishes and methods, it gets five eggplants for difficulty.
I was recently talking to the fella about rating the recipes and timing and how to get everything in the right order and how that seems to come naturally to me, so I’ll try to incorporate reasoning into the recipes that I write so it helps make sense of the whole thing.
For this dish, you can either start with the eggs or make them while the veggies are roasting. They can be hard boiled at any point prior and I use Gwennie’s method because it makes sense to me. So, for this recipe, it’s a nine-minute egg. The eggs can sit in the ice bath in a metal mixing bowl until you’re ready to plate, as far as I’m concerned. The colder they are, the easier they are to peel.
As the salad is served room temp, you can roast the veggies next (or first, depending on your egg situation). This will give them time to cool enough to put atop your mixed greens, which are typically fragile enough to wilt under the heat of a roasted veggie. My recently-discovered trick: after the eggs are peeled, wipe out the metal bowl, put all the veggies in and pop in the freezer for about five minutes.
I’ve been keen on the bag of peppers from Costco since I don’t care for green (they make me burp) and the red/yellow/orange are usually over a dollar a piece at Woodman’s.
Baby potatoes cut into halves will be chewy in about 35 minutes at 400°. The peppers, thankfully, go along for this ride nicely. Spritz with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, Herbamare, or any of your favorite seasonings and spices.
While your eggs are cooling in the sink, you can steam the green beans using the leftover egg water. You still want the freshly crunch, which is why steaming (for about eight minutes on medium heat) is the best method here.
While waiting for the veggies, you can make the dressing and mix up the tuna. The dressing is just* olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. The tuna is a handful of parsley, capers, minced shallot, and two cans of tuna packed in oil. If you have an abundance of oil left in the can, add it to the dressing. It’s all going to the same place, so it doesn’t *really* matter, but it helps bring all the flavors closer together.
A couple of the recipes I referenced for this specifically call for Niçoise olives (holy crap, they’re expensive on Amazon!), so if you have a patient helper, get them, otherwise, Kalamata olives will do just fine (and they’re already pitted—a huuuuuge time-saver).
Fill a bowl with greens (these are the organic mixed greens from Costco, but we’ve been having varying degrees of luck with them lasting more than a day past “best by”) and tomatoes. It looks like a lot of food but will scrunch down into the bowl after everything else is piled on.
Top with the warmer veggies and dressing. This should, hopefully, get things closer in temperature. I was a bit anxious and hungry, so I may have pressed a bit on this step.
Top with tuna, olives, and a couple of crusty bread slices (as if it weren’t enough food already) and serve to your best friend(s).
A veritable mashup of crunchy, soft, savory, tasty goodness.
Course: Main Course, Salad
2canstunapacked in oil
12cherry or grape tomatoeshalved
2tbspNiçoise or Kalamata olivessliced
For the eggs:
Place eggs in a pot and cover with cold water until an inch over (it's really hard to see what a liquid inch is when you're looking down into the pot). Turn heat on high and watch for boiling bubbles.
As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, move pot to a cold burner, and set a timer for nine minutes.
Fill a metal bowl with ice cubes and put in the sink. When the egg timer goes off, run some cold water in the metal bowl and put the eggs in there to cool.
For the roasted veggies:
Preheat oven to 400°.
Slice potatoes into halves, slice peppers into strips, and arrange on a baking sheet (covered with parchment, if you like to make your life easier). Spray with avocado oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, herbamare, and/or your favorite seasonings from Penzey's. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, remove veggies and parchment to another surface to cool.
For the steamed green beans:
Place a steamer basket into a pot of water to make sure you haven't overfilled it. Turn the heat on.
Break off bean ends and cut beans in half. When the water is near boiling, arrange in the steamer basket and set a timer for seven minutes, cover. Remove basket and set on counter to cool (there is a theme here).
For the dressing:
In the vessel of your choice, add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper (and some dijon mustard, if you're feeling fancy). Shake, whisk, or otherwise mix together and hold for later.
For the tuna salad:
Empty two cans of tuna into a bowl and add capers, shallots, and parsley. Mix well with a fork.
Peel eggs, slice in half.
Place mixed greens in two bowls, throw in the sliced tomatoes, drizzle dressing over the greens.
Assemble veggies, top with tuna salad and olives. Place eggs pleasingly around the bowl edge and serve.
I’ve had my share of mock-tuna dishes made with a slightly mashed chickpea mixture and think this would hold up well if you wanted to make it vegetarian; do this and omit the hard-boiled eggs to make it vegan.
My Take on Dressing
The sooner you learn how to make (and enjoy the simplicity of) your own dressing, the happier you’ll be. No more half-used bottles of Ranch in the back of the fridge, no more zero-calorie (and tasteless) Caesar dressing, no more salads doused with high fructose corn syrup and whey powder. *Just* oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper (also dijon mustard and agave nectar).
And, if you do want Caesar, Ranch, or whatever, you can enjoy the pure calories of buttermilk cuz you haven’t been using the bottled kind.
We’d been having migas each weekend day for breakfast for a while, so I thought we could mix it up for the long weekend (also, I had only thought to buy two poblanos instead of three).
I scoured the blueprint of the fridge in my brain to come up with suitable ingredients, wishing there was a button with which to dispense asparagus. Alas, this is not Star Trek, so I landed on a simple tomato-basil mix as the featured stars.
Chop up the tomatoes (these are from Costco) and sprinkle with basil (I threw in some Italian seasoning, too) and salt. Right about now is when I would remember that I should have turned the oven on to 400°.
Place the tomatoes on the crust and crack four eggs into the bowl (don’t bother rinsing it out, it’s all going to end up in the same place) and whisk with a fork or, the fella’s favorite, a French whisk.
Mix the shredded Asiago into the eggs and pour over the tomatoes in the pie pan. Top with a few sliced tomatoes to make it look nice.
Throw it in the oven for 30 minutes. When the timer beeps, grab a wooden toothpick and poke it into the middle of the egg. If it comes out clean(ish), it’s done enough to take out (it will keep cooking a little while it rests). Leave it on the counter for five minutes and then slice and serve!
Mary Berry would have been proud that there was no soggy bottom, but I didn’t press it into the pan evenly enough, so it was thicker in the corners. It will come out and taste just as well without the crust if you want to skip that part. That would qualify this as a one-eggplant recipe, then.
Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings was a gifted cookbook that I honestly didn’t think much of at the time (it’s a pretty decadent cookbook—the mac ‘n’ cheese has nearly 10 cups of dairy), because I was doing Gwennie’s detoxes, trying to eat more raw veggies, and generally eschewing cheese, pasta, and bread.
Since giving the book a second chance recently, we’ve enjoyed her tuna melts, mac ‘n’ cheese, Cobb salad, and sriracha Caesar salad. For an unknown reason, I got it in my head to give her dad’s fried fish sandwich a try. Gastrologically, this was not a good idea, but they sure tasted real good.
Aside from my digestion, I’m also wary of making fried fish because the smell sticks around the house, but it was nice enough outside to have the windows open, and I remembered to put a curtain at the base of the stairs so it wouldn’t get up into the bedrooms.
Since I don’t own a deep fryer, we filled the cast iron with vegetable oil and turned it up, using the thermometer to check progess. I wish I had timed it so I could tell you, but I think it’ll depend greatly on heat source and vessel.
I “cheated” by using pre-shredded red and green cabbage with carrots mixed in. It is definitely more expensive per ounce, but I’d rather use that than buy two heads of cabbage to end up throwing away three-quarters of them. Really, the whole point of learning all this is about convenience and knowing that you can, and how to, substitute what you have in the fridge for what’s in the cookbook.
I have an overabundance of jars of relish, so I didn’t make the sweet pickles from scratch either. Come on.
The frozen fish (we opted for catfish) will thaw quickly in a bowl of running, cold water. If it floats, just plop a bowl on top!
The batter is a tricky mixture of corn starch, flour, an egg, frozen vodka, and cold seltzer water, which is why I made the coleslaw and tartar sauce first. The required speed with which the fish are battered and put in the oil is a bit intimidating. So, the batter gets mixed up RIGHT BEFORE the oil is ready. Prepare your paper towels and get your tongs set!
I can smell the oil as I type (or maybe it’s cuz I’m writing this from a bar with a deep fryer). We waited for the suggested 3 minutes, but the desired golden-brown didn’t happen. In the interest of keeping things less, rather than more, greasy, I pulled them after about 5 minutes.
The second batch was a little darker, but that’s because the oil was slightly dirtier and probably a little hotter.
While all this is happening, the buns get toasted with butter and cheese.
When the fish is cool enough, it can be sandwiched, topped with tartar and slaw, and enjoyed!
I gave this two eggplants because I used my Instant Pot to infuse the chicken with flavor. If you have shredded chicken or need to use some up that’s already cooked, this is definitely a one-eggplant recipe.
Because of the Instant Pot (IP), you can start with frozen chicken breast, which makes this super convenient (and not very pretty, so that’s why there are no pictures). I usually throw two breasts into the pot, pour in a 12oz jar of Stubb’s Anytime Sauce and fill the rest to cover with chicken broth. Set the machine to pressure cook for 20 minutes. If you’re not in a rush, you can let it release pressure naturally, or you can manually release if ya hangry.
Scoop ’em out and onto a plate and use two forks to shred them (you can save what’s left inside the IP or do what we did recently, and it will be The. Best. Thing. Ever.). Throw the chicken back into the IP and stir it up. This was the fella’s idea and I couldn’t be happier with the result.
Grab your flour tortillas (El Milagro are the best I’ve had in Madison, but I’ll taste test tortillas all day long), mixed, shredded cheese, and start rolling up.
I usually go until the dish is full, squeezing space, cursing the lack of tortillas, wishing they could assemble themselves. When I run out of chicken, I pour what’s left of the juices from the IP, add a can of green enchilada sauce for good measure, and cover with some more cheese, because I’m from Wisconsin.
That’s it, folks! Bake at 400° for 20-ish minutes and dig right in.
The quickest, easiest chicken enchiladas in the world (at least in mine).
Coming to pressure and release15mins
Course: Main Course
2chicken breastsboneless, skinless
112 oz.Stubb's Anytime Saucebottle
112 oz.chicken brothfill the Stubb's bottle, shake, and pour
110 oz.green enchilada saucecans
2cupsMexican cheese blend
Pour the jar of Stubb's into your Instant Pot (IP) and place the chicken into the pot. Pour broth in to cover by about an inch. Set the IP to manual pressure for 20 minutes. When done, release using your favorite method and shred with two forks on a plate.
Put the shredded chicken back into the IP and stir it up to get every little bit covered.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Put the tortilla on a plate, spoon across it some chicken and cover with cheese (don't overfill because that's not cool). Wrap into a cigar-shape and place in the casserole dish. Rinse and repeat until you run out of chicken, cheese, tortillas, or out of space in the dish.
Pour the contents of the IP and a can of enchilada sauce over the top and cover with a handful of shredded cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until bubbling. Let rest for a few and serve.
Save the broth!
After the contents of the IP cool, I pour it into my silicone ice cube trays and freeze. You can throw the result into any soup, rice, or anything you want to spruce up later on.
I guess the only thing that makes this “adult” is that it’s not made with cheese powder. And it doesn’t come from a pre-packaged box. And it uses mascarpone. Okay, so many things make this adult, especially the bread crumbs on top. And pats of butter.
The infatuation I have with Gwennie (one of my pet names for Gwenyth Paltrow, the matriarch of GOOP—her “lifestyle” brand) is not the same as that which I have for Gina Homolka. That is to say, it’s describable. I find Gwennie’s jade eggs, “scientific concepts“, $3k dresses, the “conscious uncoupling” from the father of her children, amusing. I find her cookbooks, however, really neat and I own three of them (I also just learned there is a fourth, which has promptly earned a spot on my Amazon wishlist).
This recipe is from My Father’s Daughter and it’s amazing. Do I use that adjective too much? I’m only asking, it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.
This recipe starts out like most mac n cheeses, by boiling a pound of pasta two minutes fewer than the instructions suggest for al dente. This is because it gets baked for 15 minutes, so you don’t want the noodles squishy.
It also calls for a whole bunch of shredded Parmesan (please, do yourself a favor and have bricks of parm, asiago, and romano in your fridge—it keeps forever—and stop buying those plastic jars of pre-crumbled parmesan, which is mostly not even cheese anyway), a small container of mascarpone, a little nutmeg, and some milk.
Once the pasta is done, drain and put back into the pot and pour in the cheesy mixture.
Mix it all up so the nooks of the noodles get coated.
In the book, Gwennie suggests some variations on the theme. One of which is to put a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of the pan that you’re baking in. We thought this was a grand idea, so we used marinara from Costco.
Pour the noodlecheese into the pan and cover with seasoned breadcrumbs (we used panko the first time and it turned out well, but homemade breadcrumbs the second time were a bigger hit).
I thought it looked a little boring and had some grape tomatoes to use up, so I sliced a few and put ’em on top.
Bake, rest, serve, moan with enjoyment. And go buy the book.
While this is nearly the same as the Coconut Curry Whitefish post, I didn’t feel like I should simply make an addendum to that one because the chicken requires more prep and cook time, which means it gets an extra eggplant on the easy-rating scale.
Plus, I added a can of diced tomatoes. And chopped cauliflower. And green beans. Okay, so it’s not nearly the same at all. Hence the new post!
When the onion is sufficiently soft (remember, it’s going to cook for another 35-45 minutes, so it’ll get softer), add the coconut milk and mix it up (I had to add this separately because, well, the milk had separated).
Stir in the tomatoes, veggies, turmeric, chicken broth, agave nectar, and red pepper flakes.
Marvel for a moment at how very easy it is to make a curry broth with veggies (cuz it’s about to get a little weird).
Remove the skin from the chicken and save them for chicken-skin chicharrónes (which you’ll hear about eventually because I made them for the first time the next day after making this and they were amaaaazing).
Lay the bird pieces on top of the liquid and pop a lid on it. Set a timer for 35 minutes and take a shower, walk the dogs, watch an episode and a half of The Office, or do whatever you do. When the chicken temps at 165°, it’s ready to enjoy!
Pop some rice in a bowl and, using a non-slotted spoon, scoop some veggies and yummy broth onto the plate. Top with a chicken thigh. Enjoy the steam.
You will have plenty leftover and it reheats really well. Make your coworkers jelly by bring this to lunch the next day!
I decided that my recipes need an easy way to communicate how difficult (or easy) they are. So, I wrote a WordPress plugin.
A plugin which will display a number of eggplants that equals the level of effort, knowledge, ingredients, and tools to complete the recipe.
Five eggplants mean it’s piquant, or “challenging”, but I wouldn’t call it difficult or I wouldn’t be telling you that it’s worth it. These recipes may be a two-person endeavor or take longer than a Wednesday night will allow. These might also need a couple of specialized tools or an ingredient that Woodman’s (a local grocer) doesn’t carry.
Four eggplants mean it’s a little less effort, but you still have to chop a lot of veggies or have multiple pans and an oven going at the same time.
Three of those purple wonders mean it needs an average level of effort, time, and/or stirring.
Two means it’s more work than just seasoning something and sticking it in the oven or on the stovetop.
I remember the first time I figured out how to deal with a mango. It wasn’t that long ago, and I wish that I’d had read someone’s post much earlier in life. This is my version of that non-existent post but in avocado form.
You start by cupping the aguacate with your non-dominant hand and, with a reasonably sharp knife, slowly slice through the thick, outer skin from the top until you hit the pit.
Then spin the fruit around in whichever direction is more sensible to you and keep the knife against the pit while you slice the fruit in half around the longer edge (I’m pretty sure I roll mine away from me).
After you have a clean slice all around, set down the knife and grab ahold each half of the fruit and twist it “open”.
Keeping the pitted half in your non-dominant hand, grab the knife again and give the pit a good smack with the blade, cutting far enough into the it to get some leverage.
You should now be able to twist the pit using the knife to turn. Oddly, I think I do this counter-clockwise. Pop the pit out and into the composter.
Take a spoon and make horizontal cuts across the meat. This will help scoop it out in edible pieces.
Now slide the spoon between the skin and the meat and shimmy it around the circumference in order to get the yummy avo goodness onto a plate.
The best part about the recipe that isn’t in that one ^ is the beets get spiralized and they bake in 15 minutes. 15-minute beets. Can you imagine?
Using your favorite mechanism to spiralize (mine is linked in the “verb” back there), get a couple of beets (one gold and one red makes for a prettier dish), and spiralize the crap out of them.
Salt, pepper, and 15 minutes in a 425° oven results in perfectly roasted, toasty, tasty beets.
Meanwhile, make the dressing, which consists of some orange juice (from a real, live orange), white balsamic vinegar (if you have never used this in a dressing, treat yo’ self), and olive oil. Plus Himalayan pink sea salt and ground peppercorns, but since those go in just about everything, it’s mostly without saying.
Toss your favorite greens with the dressing and plate, and grind some more pepper on there for good measure.
Let’s turn our attention to the scallops now. You’ll be happy to know that they take next to no time to cook but need some prep beforehand. So much prep that I didn’t even know about it until researching for this post.
If you buy the frozen scallops (as I do), The Splendid Table recommends soaking them for 30 minutes before drying for 10.
This next part is funny because Gina’s whole premise is “skinny but still tasty”, which it totally is, but her portion sizes are a lot smaller than mine and I don’t measure vinegar, fat, citrus juice, or salt. So, the recipe calls for 1 tsp. butter. ONE TEASPOON of BUTTER. I said, out loud to no one, “Who uses one teaspoon? I mean, I’m not Paula Deen or anything, but come on!” and put roughly half a tablespoon in the pan with some olive oil because Gina knows what she’s doing.
The pan should be super hot because the scallops need to sear, not cook, and they only need 30 to 90 seconds per side.
After the scallops look like that ^, then they are ready to plate.
You don’t have to get each ingredient in every bite, but every bite will be worth it if you do. Enjoy! And go buy all of Gina’s books.