Roasted Asparagus With Buttered Almonds, Capers and Dill

1 1/3 pounds/600 grams asparagus, woody ends trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons/30 grams unsalted butter
Scant 1/4 cup/20 grams sliced (flaked) almonds
3 tablespoons/30 grams baby capers, patted dry on paper towels (kitchen paper)
1/4 to 1/2 cup/5 to 10 grams roughly chopped dill

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/220 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet (baking tray) with parchment paper.

In a large bowl or on a work surface, use your hands or tongs to toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon oil, a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper. Arrange asparagus in the paper-lined pan, spaced well apart, and roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until asparagus is soft and starting to brown in places, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove from oven and set aside in the pan.

In a small or medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until foamy. Add almonds and fry, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes (reduce heat as needed to prevent scorching). Pour almonds and butter evenly over asparagus.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat over high heat. Once hot, add the capers and fry, stirring continuously, until they have opened up and become crisp, 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove capers from the oil and sprinkle over the asparagus. Add dill. Using tongs or two spoons, mix gently to combine, transfer to a large plate and serve warm.

Baked Polenta with Corn and Eggs

Heat your oven to 350 degrees, and melt 2 or 3 tablespoons butter in an ovenproof skillet (9 or so inches). If you like, you can let the butter melt, bubble and turn brown, about 5 minutes.

When the butter is melted, stir in about 1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen, fresh, canned or leave the corn out entirely). Let sizzle for a few minutes, then add a quart of liquid (some kind of broth or water), 1 cup polenta (not the instant kind) and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on your love of salt and whether your broth was salted.

Whisk until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

At this point, you’ve got options. Add a handful of chopped herbs and a couple of sliced scallions or a shallot, or skip it. Two or three cups of chopped greens (spinach, kale, broccoli rabe) is also nice if you want more vegetables. Cheese lovers can stir in 1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese, or grated Parmesan (or another firm grating cheese). Or stir in some sliced olives or roasted red peppers or marinated artichokes.

Cover the pan. (Aluminum foil or a pasta pot lid will work if you don’t have a covered skillet.) Bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and give the mush a good stir with a whisk. Cover once more, and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is tender. At this point, it makes a great side dish.

To turn this into a meal, you can add some eggs. Use a spoon to make four to six divots in the polenta, and crack an egg in each one. Return the pan to the oven and bake uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the eggs are cooked to taste.
Crack lots of pepper on top, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and strew with herbs and maybe more cheese before serving. Serve with a cool, crisp salad on the side, especially as these late spring evenings continue to warm up.

Lemongrass Tofu

1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 14-ounce containers extra-firm tofu cut into 1-inch cubes and patted dry
2 cored-and-quartered plum tomatoes
1 chopped shallot
stems from 1 bunch cilantro (reserve the leaves)
1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
3 stalks lemon grass, trimmed to the lower 5 inches (dry outer layers discarded and thinly sliced) and
1/4 cup neutral oil
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 diced tomatoes
steamed jasmine rice for serving

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 teaspoon turmeric, 2 teaspoons kosher salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add two 14-ounce containers extra-firm tofu (cut into 1-inch cubes and patted dry) and toss. Set aside.

In a blender, combine 2 cored-and-quartered plum tomatoes, 1 chopped shallot, the stems from 1 bunch cilantro (reserve the leaves) and 1 tablespoon each fish sauce and chili-garlic sauce. Blend until finely chopped, about 30 seconds.

Add 3 stalks lemon grass, trimmed to the lower 5 inches (dry outer layers discarded and thinly sliced) and blend, scraping the blender jar frequently, until a smooth, thick paste forms, about 90 seconds. Set aside.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat 1/4 cup neutral oil until shimmering. Add the tofu in an even layer and cook without stirring until well browned on the bottoms and the pieces release easily from the pan, about 3 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the pieces and cook until browned on all sides, another 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a large paper towel–lined plate.

Return the skillet to medium-high. Add the tomato–lemon grass paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in one 14-ounce can coconut milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 2 diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer then cover, reduce to low and cook until the tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the tofu and stir to coat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tofu has absorbed some of the sauce, about 10 minutes. Stir in and sprinkle with reserved cilantro leaves before serving.