Udon Noodles With Soft-Boiled Egg, Soy and Black Pepper

4 large eggs (optional)
Sea salt
26 ounces (750 grams) thick, round Japanese udon noodles, preferably fresh or frozen
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons mirin
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (may substitute vegan butter such as Miyoko’s), cubed
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

If you’re including the eggs, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil; in a medium bowl prepare an ice bath and set aside. Add the eggs to the boiling water and set a timer for 6 minutes. As soon as the buzzer goes off, drain the eggs and transfer to the prepared ice bath. Let cool completely, about 5 minutes. (This will make very soft-boiled eggs — if you prefer firmer yolks, cook for 1 more minute.) Peel the eggs.

In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions until al dente, 1 to 3 minutes. Drain, then divide the noodles among four bowls.

While the noodles cook, in a small saucepan, combine the broth, soy sauce or tamari, and mirin and set over low heat until hot, about 5 minutes.

Pour the hot broth over each bowl of noodles and top each with an egg. Divide the butter cubes among the bowls and let them melt into the noodles. Garnish with scallions and season with a generous amount of black pepper. (Use as much as you like, but this dish is meant to be very peppery.) Finish with a drizzle of sesame oil, sprinkle with a little sea salt, if desired, and serve hot.

Nutrition Information
Calories: 563; Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 11 g; Cholesterol: 45 mg; Sodium: 1064 mg; Carbohydrates: 70 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugar: 3 g; Protein: 9 g.

Silky Eggplant With Halloumi and Almond Salsa

3 small or 2 medium Italian eggplant (about 24 ounces total)
Kosher salt
1/2 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more for serving
2 garlic cloves, 1 smashed and 1 minced
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons torn or roughly chopped mint
Black pepper
2/3 cup roughly chopped almonds
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 Fresno or Serrano pepper, minced
8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
Pita bread, for serving (optional)

Line a colander with paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Slice the eggplant into 3/4- to 1-inch rounds, place in the colander and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes, until water beads on top of the eggplant.

Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce: In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt with the lemon juice, smashed garlic clove, 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the torn mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

In a heavy pan with high sides over medium heat, toast the chopped almonds until golden brown and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Remove pan from the heat and transfer nuts to a medium bowl, then add the red-wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, minced garlic clove and Fresno pepper. Mix and season with salt to taste.

Set up a plate or cutting board lined with paper towels next to the stove. Wipe out the pan you were working with and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Blot the moisture from the eggplant, and when the oil is hot, add the slices in a single layer (you’ll probably have to work in batches). Cook until brown, then flip, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. While browning, as the eggplant is getting dry, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil and cover the pan for 1 to 2 minutes. The eggplant will be fork-tender and golden brown on both sides when finished. Transfer to the paper towel-lined surface and sprinkle with salt.

When you’ve finished cooking the eggplant, add the cubed cheese to the hot pan, leaving any residual oil (add a teaspoon of olive oil if there’s not enough left in the pan). Sauté, stirring frequently, until brown and crisp all over. Remove pan from the heat.

Spread the yogurt on a platter. Arrange the eggplant and halloumi on top, then scatter with almond salsa. Garnish with remaining torn mint, then sprinkle with any leftover lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve with pita.

Herbed Spring Salad With Egg and Walnuts

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon grated garlic (from 2 small cloves)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

FOR THE SALAD:
6 ounces/4 cups lightly packed watercress or, preferably, a mixture of zesty salad greens
3 medium golden beets, cooked, peeled and cut in wedges
1/2 cup thinly sliced red radish (6 to 8 medium radishes)
1/2 cup thinly sliced turnip (or use small kohlrabi or watermelon radish)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery heart, plus tender leaves (from the center of 1 celery head)
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons roughly chopped dill
2 tablespoons tarragon leaves
4 (7-minute) boiled eggs
1 cup toasted walnut halves

Make the vinaigrette: Put shallots in a small bowl. Add mustard, vinegar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and the garlic. Stir together, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the walnut oil. Set aside for a few minutes, then taste and adjust lemon juice and salt.

Wash and dry the salad greens. Tear large leaves into smaller pieces, if desired. Wrap in a clean towel and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Just before serving salad, put beet wedges in the bottom of a wide salad bowl. Add the radish, turnip and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Add dill, tarragon and half of the vinaigrette. Toss gently to coat.

Add the salad greens and combine to distribute sliced vegetables evenly. Cut eggs in halves or quarters, and arrange over salad. Scatter walnuts over the top. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.

Escarole Salad With Halloumi Croutons

FOR THE DRESSING:
1 small garlic clove, grated or pressed
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

FOR THE SALAD:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
6 ounces halloumi cheese, diced into 1-inch cubes and patted dry
3/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (pimentón)
6 cups escarole, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
1/2 shallot, or 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)

Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, lemon juice and salt. Let sit for 30 seconds for the salt to dissolve, then whisk in olive oil. Taste and add more salt if needed. Set aside.

Prepare the salad: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-high until it thins out, about 20 seconds. Add cheese and cook until golden on one side, 1 to 2 minutes, adding more oil if the pan dries out. Flip cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Let cook without moving until golden on the other side, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Put escarole, parsley and shallot in a large salad bowl. Add the dressing and warm halloumi, and toss well, adding more oil, lemon juice and salt, to taste. Serve immediately, strewn with pomegranate seeds, if you like.