Pasta with Eggplant

2 large aubergines
Olive or groundnut oil, for frying
1kg fresh tomatoes or 500g passata
2 garlic cloves
A small handful of basil
1 tsp sugar (if you need it)
500g pasta, such as spaghetti, rigatoni, casarecce, mezze maniche or penne
200g salted ricotta, grated
Salt

Peel strips of skin from the aubergines so they are striped, then cut them into 5mm slices. If you’re going to salt them, do it now; otherwise just dry them with a clean tea towel. Heat about 5cm oil in a frying pan and fry the slices, turning them halfway, until they are golden brown on both sides, then drain on kitchen paper. Set aside, near the stove so they keep warmish.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil. If using fresh tomatoes, peel by plunging them into boiling water for 1 minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and cool under cold water, at which point the skins should slip away. Keep the hot water for cooking the pasta later. Roughly chop the tomatoes, removing the seeds if you wish (I don’t).

Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a knife, so they split, but remain whole. Warm some more oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Once fragrant and lightly golden, remove from the pan, add the tomatoes (or passata) and cook until they collapse into a sauce. You can pass the tomatoes through a food mill back into the pan or, if you’re happy with the texture, simply tear in most of the basil, add the sugar if you think the sauce is too sharp, and a good pinch of salt.

Bring the pan of tomato water back to the boil, add salt, stir well and add the pasta. Cook it until al dente, then drain. Mix the pasta with the sauce and a handful of ricotta. Divide between bowls, top with several slices of aubergine, plus a little more salted ricotta and a couple more basil leaves. Pass around the remaining aubergine slices and cheese, so that people can help themselves.

Green and Wax Beans with Tomato Vinaigrette

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
1/2 pound yellow wax beans, trimmed
1 overripe large tomato
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt, plus more as needed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced pitted kalamata olives
1/3 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Drop green and wax beans into boiling water for 1 to 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and immediately transfer to the ice bath. When cool, drain and dry with a towel and place in a large bowl.

Cut tomato in half across its equator and squeeze out seeds (use for another purpose or discard). Using the largest hole on a box grater, grate the tomato flesh. Discard skin and transfer grated flesh to a medium bowl. You should have about 1/2 cup.

Stir in vinegar and salt, then stir in olive oil and garlic. Taste and adjust vinegar and salt as needed.

Add just enough vinaigrette to coat beans, add olives, then toss well. Let sit for at least 10 minutes (and up to 4 hours) before serving. Add torn basil and serve.

Braised Eggplant with Minced Pork

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 pounds eggplant, cubed
8 ounces ground pork
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 teaspoons, plus 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (divided)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
10 ounces dried spaghetti or noodles
1 tablespoon, plus 3 tablespoons oil (divided)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 red chili, chopped
2 tablespoons ground bean sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into 8 cups of water in a large bowl. Soak the cubed eggplant in the salt water for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, drain the eggplant, and use your hands or a clean dish towel to squeeze the water out of it. Set aside. This step helps the eggplant cook faster and absorb less oil later on.

In a separate bowl, mix the ground pork with 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine, 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper, 2 teaspoons light soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, and 2 teaspoons water. Marinate for 15-20 minutes.
Next, cook the spaghetti (or noodles) according to the package instructions. Drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a clean wok over medium heat, and cook the bell pepper for about a minute. Transfer the peppers to a dish, and set aside.

Next, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in the wok over low heat. Cook the ginger and garlic for about a minute. Add the chili, and cook for another minute. Add the ground bean sauce, and cook for another minute. Then add the pork, and turn up the heat. When the pork is browned, add the eggplant, and stir-fry everything together thoroughly.

Cook for a couple of minutes before adding 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, and 2 cups water. Mix everything together well, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes over medium heat, or until the eggplant is tender. At this point in the cooking process, there should be plenty of sauce in the wok. The starch from the spaghetti or noodles will help thicken it.

Lastly, add the bell pepper, cooked noodles, and chopped cilantro to the wok (if using). Mix everything well, add salt to taste, and serve immediately!

Summer Corn Chowder

1 quart good chicken stock
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, chopped
3 ears fresh corn
1 sweet red pepper, seeded & chopped to size of corn kernels
1 small onion chopped to size of corn kernels
Salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Combine lemongrass and stock, simmer 20 minutes (until the stock is well-flavored). Strain the stock and reserve, discarding the lemongrass.

Cut kernels from cobs, then scrape the cobs with the edge of a knife to extract all the milky fluid from the base of the kernels. Add corn (and liquid from the cobs), red pepper, and onions to stock, simmer until vegetables are tender.

Add cream and parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve, garnished with a sprig of Italian parsley.

Sweet Corn Cacio e Pepe

For the Corn Stock:
6 medium corncobs, husked
6 cups water
5 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig

For the Pasta:

Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups corn stock
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Reserved corn kernels
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Make the corn stock: Slice off the kernels from the corncobs, reserving the kernels for later. Place the cobs in a medium saucepan with the remaining stock ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 1½ cups, 1 hour. Strain, discarding the solids.

Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, 6 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, toast the pepper over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the corn stock, butter and corn kernels, and bring to a simmer.

Add the pasta to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the pasta is fully cooked and the sauce has reduced slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cheeses and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheeses have melted and the pasta is fully coated in the sauce, 1 minute more. Divide between bowls and serve immediately.

Braised Spiced Romano Beans with Yogurt and Mint

1/4 cup [60 ml] Greek-style yogurt
Juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground black lime, plus more for sprinkling (or use lime juice)
1 tsp coriander seeds toasted and ground
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
2 cups Pomodoro Sauce
1 cup Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock, plus more as needed
1 lb [455 g] romano beans, stem end trimmed
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup [7 g] mint leaves

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, lime juice, and 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. Add water, 1 tsp at a time, so the mixture is thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the black lime, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the pomodoro sauce and stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in the romano beans, coating with the sauce, and bring back to a simmer. Season with salt, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook at a slow, steady simmer until the beans soften and darken in color, 15 to 20 minutes. If needed, add more stock, 1 Tbsp at a time, to keep the pan from drying out.

Remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if desired.

Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with the lime yogurt. Scatter the mint leaves over all, sprinkle with a bit more ground black lime, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Braised Corn with Chili, Lime, and Feta

6 ears corn, shucked
Kosher salt
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium-hot green or red chiles, preferably Fresno, minced
1 shallot, minced
21/2 oz [70 g] feta cheese, crumbled
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup [7 g] fresh cilantro leaves

Using a knife, shave the corn kernels off the cobs into a medium bowl and set aside.

Working over a small bowl, scrape the cobs with the back of the knife to extract the milk. Set aside the milk. Cut the scraped cobs into 2-in [5-cm] pieces.

In a 1-gl [3.8-L] saucepan over high heat, combine the cob pieces with cold filtered water to cover and season with salt. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the stock becomes cloudy and is deliciously corn scented, 20 to 30 minutes. Strain and discard the cobs. Set aside 1/2 cup [120 ml] of this corn stock and reserve the rest for another use.

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the chiles and shallot and cook until tender, but not browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the corn kernels and season with salt. Add the corn stock, the milk from the corn cobs, and half the feta cheese and cook until the liquid has reduced slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with additional salt and stir in the lime juice. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cilantro leaves.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining feta cheese and cilantro leaves, and serve warm.

Stewed Okra and Peppers

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound okra, cut into 1/2-inch-wide rings
Sea salt
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup julienned red bell pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
2 cups peeled and diced roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmery-hot, add the okra and a pinch of sea salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until the okra develops some color.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute, until aromatic, and then add the shallots and bell peppers. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until the shallots become translucent.

Season with a generous pinch of sea salt and add the bay leaf, toasted cumin seeds, and tomatoes. Cook for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes soften.

Remove the bay leaf, add the lemon zest and juice, and adjust the seasoning with more sea salt if needed. Serve warm.

This is a side that loves to be pushed against some steamed rice, eaten with gusto, and washed down with a very cold beer.

Grilled Okra

2 pounds okra, cut in half lengthwise
Sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Get your grill lit and hot. If you use charcoal, make sure you burn it down to nice hot embers.

Place the cut okra in a mixing bowl and season it well with sea salt. Add the olive oil and toss to combine. Place the okra on the grill, cut side down, perpendicular to the direction of the grates. Grill for 3 minutes, or until slightly charred. Turn the okra over and cook for 3 more minutes, until it is nicely charred and a little softer, but not really soft.

Return the okra to the mixing bowl and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Toss to combine, and serve.

Pan Roasted Chicken with Lemongrass Creamed Corn

4 ears fresh corn, shucked
1/2 cup chicken stock, chilled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced sweet onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemongrass, from the tender interior
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
4 “airline” chicken breasts (about 7 ounces each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Using a knife or a corn cutter, remove the kernels from the corn cobs, dropping them into a large bowl. Run the dull side of your knife down each cob to press out the corn milk, adding it to the bowl. Place half of the corn kernels and corn milk into a blender, add the cold chicken stock, and puree until very smooth. Set aside.

Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter. When it bubbles and froths, add the onion and cook for 4 minutes, until translucent. Then add the remaining whole corn kernels and corn milk, the lemongrass, and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add the pureed corn. Cook for 5 minutes, until it thickens. Then stir in the crème fraîche and season with kosher salt to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm on the back of the stove, away from direct heat, while the chicken cooks.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place a large cast-iron sauté pan over medium heat and heat it for about 5 minutes. Pour the olive oil into the hot pan, quickly season the chicken breasts all over with kosher salt, and place them, skin side down, in the pan. Press them down for a second with your hand so the skin doesn’t buckle from the heat. You’ll feel all cheffy.

Let the chicken breasts cook without fussing with them for 10 minutes. Then turn them over, place the pan in the oven, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the internal temperature at the thickest point reads 150°F. The chicken will still cook a bit after it comes out of the oven, and by all means we are trying to avoid the heresy of overcooked chicken. Remove the breasts from the oven and let them rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing.

If needed, reheat the corn to warm it through while you slice the chicken. Serve the chicken with the corn and sprinkle on thyme leaves. Eat.

Grilled Corn Salad with Chilies, Basil, and Lime

4 ears fresh corn, shucked
2 red jalapeños
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Sea salt
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn in small pieces
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Light the grill and get it really hot. If you are using a charcoal grill, which I strongly recommend, make sure the coals are cooked down to a fiery-hot gray.

Place the corn and the jalapeños on a baking sheet, and brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the corn and chiles all over with sea salt, and place them directly on the grate of the grill. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, turning halfway through, until well charred. Remove the corn and the chiles from the grill and set them aside to cool.

Using a knife or a corn shucker, cut the corn kernels from the cob and place them in a bowl. Finely chop the jalapeños, discarding the stem (I leave it up to you if you want the seeds in there). Add the jalapeños, basil leaves, and lime juice to the corn. Taste, and add more sea salt if needed. Toss well, then add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and stir. Let the salad sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Serve.
 

Grilled Scallops with Corn, Peaches, and Tomatoes

olive oil
2 ears corn
2 peaches (halved and pitted)
8 large scallops
salt and pepper
1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
chopped parsley

Heat a charcoal or gas grill until very hot.

Rub the grill grate with a little oil and put it 3 or 4 inches from the heat.

Brush 2 ears corn, and 2 peaches (halved and pitted) with olive oil; grill until lightly browned.

Strip the corn kernels off the cobs, chop the peaches; put in a large bowl.

Brush the scallops with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill until they’re brown on the bottom and release easily from the grill, 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn and brown on the other side; total cooking time should be 3 to 5 minutes; take the scallops off the grill before the interior becomes totally opaque.

Halve the scallops and add them to the bowl along with 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped parsley, basil, or chives, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss.

Corn and Fregola

Salt
8 ounces fregola
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups sweet corn kernels or frozen peas
1 cup sliced scallions
1 cup hot vegetable stock
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese, or as needed
Pepper

In a medium pot, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add fregola and cook until tender yet springy and chewy, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain, rinse under cool water, and drain again.

Place a sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add butter, corn or peas, scallions, and vegetable stock. Cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until the corn or peas are cooked and the broth is reduced by about half, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat, and add fregola and Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano. The mixture should be gooey like macaroni and cheese.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, serve with a green salad.

Corn Risotto

2 corn cobs (kernels removed and reserved for risotto)
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
Dark green leaves from 1 leek (reserve white and light green parts for risotto)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

FOR THE RISOTTO:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4.teaspoon black pepper
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups hot corn stock or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups raw corn kernels (from about 2 ears corn)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced chives (optional)

FOR THE STOCK:
Combine all ingredients with 6 cups water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat so liquid is simmering; cover pot and let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Add enough water to bring liquid up to 6 cups.

FOR THE RISOTTO:
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide, high-sided sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains look slightly translucent.

Pour in wine and cook, stirring, until it has all been absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Add a ladleful of hot corn stock to the rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until rice has absorbed all of the stock. Continue cooking, adding ladlefuls of stock whenever rice mixture looks dry and stirring continuously. When half the stock has been added, stir in corn. Continue cooking until all of the stock is incorporated, corn is tender and rice is creamy and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes total.

Remove risotto from heat and stir in Parmesan and remaining tablespoon of butter. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream at high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Uncover risotto, stir vigorously and season to taste with salt and pepper. Immediately before serving, stir in the chives, if using, then gently fold in cream.

Creamed Corn

6 ears fresh corn
2 tablespoons butter
Sliver of garlic
Sea salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Fresh sage leaves or chopped parsley, for garnish

Scrape corn kernels from cobs, running knife edge along cobs to squeeze out juices. (If the corn is not very fresh, then blanch in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes before scraping kernels from cobs.)

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Drop in butter and melt until foamy. Add corn, garlic and juices. Season with salt and cook until kernels become tender. Pour in milk and simmer until milk is almost gone. Pour in cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve.

Pasta alla Norma

Extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Pinch of crushed red pepper
12 basil leaves, plus a few basil sprigs for garnish
4 cups peeled, chopped tomatoes with juice, fresh or canned
3 or 4 small eggplants (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound pasta, such as penne, rigatoncini or spaghetti
1 cup coarsely grated ricotta salata
1/4 cup toasted bread crumbs, preferably homemade

Make a quick tomato sauce: Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in garlic, red pepper and basil leaves and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer gently for 20 minutes, until slightly thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside. (Sauce may be prepared up to 2 days in advance.)

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover pot until it’s time to cook the pasta.

Put a wide cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil to coat surface of pan. When oil is wavy, test by adding a cube of eggplant. It should begin to sizzle and brown immediately. Fill the pan with a single layer of eggplant cubes. Turn eggplant with a spatula or tongs and brown nicely on all sides. Lower heat as necessary to maintain an even temperature; if the pan is too hot, the eggplant will burn.

Remove cooked eggplant to a plate and continue to fry remaining eggplant in batches, adding more oil as necessary. Season finished eggplant with salt and pepper. (Alternatively, roast the eggplant on a baking sheet at 400 degrees, lightly drizzled with oil, until cooked and nicely browned, about 20 minutes.)
To assemble and serve, boil pasta until al dente, leaving it a little firmer than normal. Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. Add eggplant to sauce and gently stir to combine. Reserve a cup of pasta cooking water, then drain pasta and add to sauce. Using 2 wooden spoons or tongs, toss pasta and sauce, and let cook 1 minute more. Thin sauce if necessary with a little pasta cooking water.

Transfer to a warmed wide pasta bowl. Sprinkle with grated ricotta salata and bread crumbs. Garnish with torn or whole basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.

Grilled Eggplant, Peppers, and Onions

4 small eggplants (about 2 pounds), sliced into 3/4-inch rounds
2 medium onions, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds
2 ripe bell peppers (or another type of large sweet pepper), halved and seeded
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper

Prepare a bed of hot coals in a charcoal grill, or heat a stovetop grill to medium-high. Arrange eggplants, onions and peppers on a baking sheet. Paint vegetables lightly on both sides with olive oil.

Working in batches, grill all vegetables on both sides until softened and lightly charred, about 5 to 6 minutes per side. When all vegetables are cooked, chop them into rough chunks and place in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and the vinegar. Season well with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add capers and toss again.

Transfer mixture to a serving dish and sprinkle with oregano and crushed red pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Miso Glazed Grilled Duck Breasts with Mango and Greens

4 large duck breasts (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons red miso
2 tablespoons light soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon sake or mirin
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
Pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
6 ounces small green beans, topped and tailed
Lettuce leaves, for serving
1 large mango, peeled and sliced
Watercress sprigs, for garnish (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped scallions

Trim duck breasts of extraneous fat (or ask your butcher to trim them) and score the skin. Season very lightly with salt and generously with coarsely ground pepper.

Make the marinade: In a mixing bowl, whisk together miso, soy sauce, sake, orange zest, ginger, garlic, cayenne and sesame oil. Remove 1/4 cup of the marinade and combine it with 2 tablespoons orange juice to make a dressing; set aside. Add remaining 2 tablespoons orange juice to the marinade in the mixing bowl.

Lay duck in a shallow pan and pour the marinade over, making sure meat is well coated. Let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. If you wish, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Prepare a bed of medium-hot coals in a grill, or heat a stovetop grill or cast-iron pan to medium hot. Cook duck breasts skin-side down for 8 to 10 minutes, until fat is rendered and skin is nicely colored. (See note.) Turn and cook on the other side for 3 or 4 minutes, until internal temperature registers 125 degrees. Remove from heat and let rest at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook green beans for 1 to 2 minutes, until firm-tender. Drain green beans and rinse with cool water; blot dry.

Slice duck crosswise about 1/8-inch thick. Line a platter with lettuce leaves. Place several slices of duck on each leaf, along with a couple of mango slices. Arrange green beans over the top and garnish with watercress, if using. Drizzle reserved dressing over everything, sprinkle with scallions and serve.

Miso-Glazed Japanese Eggplant

4 Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 T neutral oil
1/4 C red miso
2 T mirin
+ sesame seeds

Heat the oven to 450°F. (Lazy power move: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper to make cleanup supereasy.)
 
Slick the eggplants all over with oil and arrange them cut-side up on the baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes—they should be barely wilted, a very light roast.

Meanwhile, whisk together the miso and mirin in a small bowl.
 
Smear the cut side of the eggplants with the miso mixture and roast until the eggplants are tender and the miso is browned and bubbling, 10 minutes longer. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

This is one of those center-of-the-plate types of vegetable preparations that can easily supplant meat. (Serve it with short-grain rice and any of the pickles in this book, or with store-bought kimchi.) The eggplants take on a super-rich caramelly umami flavor. It’s a standard Japanese response to the part of the summer when there’s more eggplant around than anyone knows what to do with, and it works very well on a grill—just put the eggplants over a low-to-medium fire, so the miso doesn’t burn too fast and the flesh of the eggplant has time to cook all the way through.

Dry Fried Green Beans with Sambal Oelek

2 T neutral oil
1 lb green beans, whole, or Chinese long beans, cut into 4″ lengths
1 T chopped garlic
1 T chopped fresh ginger
1/4 C chopped scallions
1/2 t sambal oelek or Sambal
1 T soy sauce
1/2 t sugar
+ kosher salt

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok over medium heat. After a minute (or as soon as the oil is getting to the oh shit this oil means business level of heat), add the green beans and stir-fry until they start to shrivel and turn brown, 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Turn the heat up to high and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Stir-fry for a few seconds until fragrant, then add the sambal. Add the green beans, soy sauce, and sugar. Toss until the beans are coated in sauce and heated through. Season to taste with salt and serve immediately.