Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Seared Halloumi

FOR THE CROUTONS:
1 pound slightly stale sourdough or country bread, thickly sliced
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

FOR THE SALAD:
4 to 5 cups cucumber chunks, preferably thin-skinned, such as Kirby or Persian
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved, or ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
8 to 12 ounces halloumi or bread cheese
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons thinly sliced red onion or scallions, plus more to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint or basil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more as needed

Make the croutons: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each slice of bread into 1-inch-wide strips. Tear each strip into 1-inch pieces, removing the crust as you go if it is very thick. Transfer to a large baking sheet (or use 2 sheets, if necessary to prevent crowding). Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated.

Bake until golden brown and crunchy on the outside, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the baking sheet and turning the croutons halfway through so they brown evenly, and checking them every few minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt, if needed. Let cool on the baking sheet.

Make the salad: In a colander in the sink, toss the cucumbers with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place a bag of ice cubes or an ice pack on top to chill and firm the cucumbers. Let drain while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Slice the halloumi about 1/4-inch thick, then cut into bite-size strips. Smash and peel the garlic cloves and combine with 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a small bowl to steep.

Pour off excess liquid from the bowl holding the tomatoes. Add drained cucumbers, red onion or scallions, fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons vinegar to tomatoes and toss well. Remove and discard the garlic cloves from the extra-virgin olive oil, add the oil to tomatoes and mix well. (If desired, the salad can be made up until this point and refrigerated for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain off excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl before proceeding.)

When ready to serve, add about half the croutons to the salad and toss so they can absorb the liquid. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar.
Cook the halloumi: Line a plate with paper towels and lightly coat a nonstick skillet with extra-virgin olive oil. Heat oil over medium-high until rippling. Working in batches, cook the halloumi strips on both sides until golden-brown and crusty, about 1 minute per side. Remove to the plate to drain.

Taste and add more croutons to salad as desired. (If there are too many, the salad will be starchy; too few, and it will be wet.) At the last minute, toss in the halloumi, add another good glug of extra-virgin olive oil, mix gently and serve immediately. (If desired, transfer to a clean bowl or platter for serving.)

Eggplant Ravaiya

1 cup roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon jaggery (unrefined cane sugar), or cane or turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder or 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced Serrano chile (if you like less heat, you can remove the seeds and pith)
Pinch asafetida (optional)
1 teaspoon chickpea flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 baby eggplants (see note)

Put all ingredients except for the olive oil and eggplants in a food processor, and pulse until the peanuts are ground. Add oil and pulse to combine; the mixture will resemble damp sand. Set aside.

Cut a crosshatch in the bottom of the eggplant about three-quarters of the way up the fruit, leaving the stem intact. (In other words, you’re making a deep plus-sign shape in the bulbous part of the fruit, so you can stuff it with the peanut filling.) Repeat with the remaining eggplants.

Stuff each eggplant with a little of the peanut mixture, just enough to fill the hole. You should have some peanut mixture left over.

Place the stuffed eggplants on their sides in a single layer on the bottom of a large pot or saucepan with a lid. The eggplants can overlap a little, but ideally they will all fit on the bottom of the pot. Dollop the leftover peanut mixture on top of and around the eggplants, and add 1 cup of water. Turn heat to medium and cover the pot. Let the eggplant cook at a simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the eggplants are just tender when you poke them at the stem end with the tip of a knife.

Taste the sauce for salt, and serve hot with basmati rice or Indian flatbreads.

Tip
It’s best to use baby eggplants (about 4 inches long) shaped like teardrops. The chef Niven Patel uses an Indian variety, but this shape is also grown in Italy and elsewhere, so you can find it at farmers’ markets and some supermarkets too. Or use long skinny Japanese eggplants, and cut them into about 4-inch pieces, then make two slits in each piece as you would for a whole teardrop eggplant. They will break down a bit more but will still taste good.

Spiced Eggplant and Tomatoes With Runny Eggs

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 pounds Italian eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more as needed
1 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds
1 1/4 teaspoons baharat blend (or use another spice blend, such as garam masala)
Freshly ground black pepper
5 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 fat garlic cloves, finely grated, pressed or minced
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 1 pound)
3/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, dill or any combination, plus more for garnish
4 to 6 large eggs
Lemon wedges, for serving
Plain whole-milk yogurt, for serving
Hot sauce (such as Tabasco), for serving

Put eggplant in a colander in the sink and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let drain while preparing the nuts.

In a small bowl, combine nuts, 1/4 teaspoon baharat and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pine nut mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and toasted, 2 minutes. Pour nuts back into the small bowl and stir in lemon zest. Set aside for serving.

Add 3 tablespoons oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high until oil thins out, about 20 seconds. Add enough of the eggplant to fit in one layer without overlapping. Cook eggplant until browned, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggplant to a plate. Repeat with more oil and eggplant, taking care not to crowd the pan.

When all the eggplant is browned, push the last batch still in the pan to one side. Drizzle the empty part of the pan with a tiny bit of oil and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the rest of the browned eggplant back to the pan and stir well to incorporate garlic.

Add tomatoes and remaining baharat, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a big pinch of pepper. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes and eggplant become stewy, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in herbs. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
Make small hollows into the stewed eggplant with the back of a spoon. Gently crack an egg into each hollow. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid or piece of foil and cook on medium-low until the eggs are just set, but still soft, 4 to 7 minutes. Remove the lid, and garnish with the spiced nuts, more herbs and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with yogurt, hot sauce and more lemon wedges on the side.

BLT Tacos

1 pound thick-cut bacon
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (mixed colors are pretty here)
1 small jalapeño, seeded or not, finely chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Cholula or other hot sauce, or to taste, plus more for serving
8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
Romaine lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
1 avocado, sliced (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lay bacon in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.

While bacon is cooking, toss together tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and hot sauce.

Lay a clean kitchen towel in a medium bowl. Using the open flame from a stovetop gas burner (or in a skillet placed on an electric burner), warm and lightly char tortillas, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer warmed tortillas to a towel-lined bowl, and cover with towel to keep warm while you finish remaining tortillas.

Serve, letting people make their own tacos by layering bacon, salsa, lettuce, spicy mayonnaise and avocado, if using, on tortillas. Top with more hot sauce, if desired.

Vermicelli Sweet Corn Usli (Upma)

2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups wheat vermicelli noodles (see Tip)
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal (optional)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
1 green chile, such as serrano, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
1 ear fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob
1/2 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup frozen or fresh grated coconut, plus more for garnish
1 lime, halved

Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a medium pot with a fitted lid over medium heat. If the noodles are on the long side, break them up into roughly bite-size pieces. Add them to the pot, and use a wooden spoon to keep them moving so they get lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Scrape into a bowl.

In the same pot, heat the remaining tablespoon oil over medium and fry the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the urad dal (if using), the onion, curry leaves, chile and salt. When the onion is completely softened, but not yet browned, add 1 cup water.
As soon as the water comes to a boil, add the toasted noodles, corn kernels, cashews, cilantro and coconut; stir well. Cover, and cook on low for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, and let it rest for another 5 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and lime juice, then garnish with extra coconut and cilantro, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tip
Look for very fine vermicelli noodles made from wheat, also called semiya or seviyan at South Asian and Middle Eastern grocery stores. The noodles come toasted and untoasted, short and long. If you buy toasted noodles, there’s no need to toast them in coconut oil (Step 1); simply add them to the boiling water (Step 3).

Coconut Rice With Shrimp and Corn

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh (from 2 cobs) or frozen
1 lime, zested, then sliced into wedges
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for serving

In a large, heavy pot, heat coconut oil over medium. Add the onion, ginger and jalapeño and season with the 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 6 minutes.

Add the rice and sauté for another minute. Then stir in the coconut milk and 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer but avoid scorching.

Stir in the shrimp and corn, cover again, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is cooked through and the rice is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Add more water by 1/2 cups throughout cooking as needed if the water has been absorbed, but the rice is still too firm.)

Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest and basil; season to taste with salt. Serve immediately with lime wedges and topped with more basil.

Chinese Eggplant with Garlic Sauce (Fish Fragrant Eggplant or Yuxiang Qiezi)

For the sauce mixture:
1 tablespoon spicy bean paste (douban la jiang)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon fish sauce

For the rest of the dish:
2-3 Japanese eggplants (about 6 cups)
2 scallions (cut into 2-inch lengths)
3 tablespoons oil
4 oz. ground pork (110g; ground chicken or ground turkey can also be substituted, or it can be left out entirely)
2 thin slices ginger (julienned)
10 dried red chilies
4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Wash the eggplants, cut the ends off and slice them into equal sized pieces. After slicing, separate the green and white portions of the scallions into roughly two piles.

Over very high heat, heat a tablespoon of oil in your wok. Add half of the eggplant and let it sear until brown on all sides. You can lower the heat if it looks like they’re starting to burn. You want to cook the eggplant for about 5 minutes until they start to get soft and have a nice sear. Take this first batch of eggplant out of the pan, heat a second tablespoon of oil, and do the same with your second batch. Set all the cooked eggplant aside on a plate.

Set the heat to medium high and add the last tablespoon of oil to the wok, along with the ground pork. After the pork has browned, add the ginger and cook for a minute to let it crystalize with the pork. Stir in the whole red chili peppers and the minced garlic, and after a minute, turn the heat back up to high. Add the eggplant back in, along with the stir-fry sauce, the white parts of the scallions, and the shaoxing wine. Stir-fry everything together for another 2 minutes, making sure everything is well-combined.

Toss in the rest of the scallions and stir-fry for another 20 seconds. Plate and serve immediately with white rice.

Japanese Eggplant with Chicken and Thai Basil

8 ounces chicken breast (thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus 1 teaspoon for marinating the chicken)
1 1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Chinese or Japanese eggplants (about 12-16 ounces/340-450g; cut on an angle into 1 1/2-inch wedges)
3 cloves garlic (sliced thinly)
3 scallions (sliced 1½ inches long on an angle, separated into white and green parts)
1 bunch Thai basil or holy basil (stems removed, about 1 cup loosely packed)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry cooking wine)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Thai thin soy sauce (or light soy sauce)
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
ground white pepper
1/4 cup chicken stock (hot)

In a medium bowl, massage the chicken with 2 tablespoons of water until it is completely absorbed, and add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch until well incorporated. Set aside.

Heat your wok over medium-high heat and coat it with 2 tablespoons of oil. Spread the eggplant out evenly in the wok, and let sear with the cover on the wok for 2 minutes. Remove the cover, turn the eggplant pieces over, and pour another tablespoon of oil around the perimeter. Cover the wok, and turn heat to medium-low for another 2 minutes until the eggplant is just tender. Next, raise the heat to high to cook the eggplant to a golden brown color–another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 more tablespoon of oil to your wok and heat until just smoking. Add the marinated chicken, and spread it around the wok.

Let it sear for 30 to 60 seconds (depending upon your burner capacity) on each side. Remove from the wok and set aside.
With the wok over high heat, add another tablespoon of oil, the garlic, the white parts of the scallions, and the basil. Stir fry for 30 seconds, and add the eggplant and chicken.

Next, add the Shaoxing wine, and stir everything together. Add the fish sauce, sugar, soy sauces, sesame oil, and white pepper, and stir until everything is combined–about a minute. Next, add the green portion of the scallions.

Pour the chicken stock around the perimeter of the wok to deglaze it. Stir fry until everything is well-combined, and most of the liquid has been absorbed by other ingredients. Serve with steamed jasmine rice!

Gochujang-Glazed Eggplant With Fried Scallions

1 pound Asian eggplant (about 3 large; preferably Korean, or Chinese or Japanese), halved lengthwise and cut into 4- to 5-inch segments
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons gochujang
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 packed teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1/2 cup olive oil
4 scallions, trimmed, cut into 3-inch segments, then very thinly sliced lengthwise, white and green parts separated

Place the eggplant in a colander set inside a large bowl or the sink. Sprinkle with the salt, toss to combine and let sit for 30 minutes to remove excess moisture.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the gochujang, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic. Whisk to combine, then set aside.
To a large nonstick skillet, add the olive oil and the white parts of the scallions. Turn the heat to medium and fry the scallions, stirring often, until crispy and evenly browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried scallions onto a paper towel.

Reserve a small handful of raw scallion greens for garnish, then fry the remaining scallion greens in the oil until crispy and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer fried scallion greens onto a paper towel.

Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully pour the hot scallion oil into a glass container or measuring cup.

After the 30 minutes of salting, dry the eggplant segments with a paper towel. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the reserved scallion oil.

When the oil starts to shimmer and you see a wisp of smoke, add half the eggplant, cut sides down, and fry until browned and starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip once and cook another minute on the other side. Transfer to a plate, add 2 more tablespoons of scallion oil back to the pan, and repeat to fry the second batch of eggplants. (If you are lucky enough to have any scallion oil left, use it to fry eggs or to dress a salad.)

Finally, sauce the eggplants: Add the first batch of eggplants back to the pan alongside the second batch. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour the reserved gochujang sauce over the eggplants. Toss until evenly coated and the gochujang starts to caramelize, about 1 minute.

Plate the eggplants on a large platter and garnish with the fried scallions and the reserved raw scallion greens. Serve immediately. (To store for later, transfer to a resealable container and keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. This dish tastes great cold, straight out of the fridge, or at room temperature.)

Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce

5 pounds tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 garlic clove, halved
1 basil sprig
1 bay leaf

Cut tomatoes in half horizontally. Squeeze out the seeds and discard, if you wish. Press the cut side of tomato against the large holes of a box grater and grate tomato flesh into a bowl. Discard skins. You should have about 4 cups.

Put tomato pulp in a low wide saucepan over high heat. Add salt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a brisk simmer.

Reduce the sauce by almost half, stirring occasionally, to produce about 2 1/2 cups medium-thick sauce, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. It will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator or may be frozen.

Tomato-Butter Pasta

Kosher salt
1 pound wavy or ridged pasta (like cavatappi or rigatoni), or a long noodle (like fettuccine)
2 pounds large, ripe tomatoes (about 2 to 3), halved horizontally
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
Black pepper
Torn basil leaves, for serving (optional)
Finely grated Parmesan, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, using the large holes of a box grater, grate the cut ends of the tomato into a large bowl. Discard or compost skins. Grate the butter into the bowl as well. Using the small holes of the box grater, grate the garlic into the bowl. Add the red-pepper flakes, and season generously with salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Return the drained pasta and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to the pot, along with the bowl of grated tomato and butter. Set over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and glosses the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes (the sauce will thicken as it sits). Add more pasta water as needed to emulsify the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with more red-pepper flakes, black pepper, basil and Parmesan as desired.

Orecchiette With Corn, Jalapeño, Feta and Basil

1 pound orecchiette
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
5 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (about 3 1/2 to 4 cups kernels)
Kosher salt
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, plus more for serving
Flaky salt, for serving

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until it is just short of al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

While pasta cooks, make the sauce: In a 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add jalapeño, and cook until softened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add corn, and cook until it begins to brown in spots, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and bring to simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add pasta to skillet, tossing to coat with sauce. Add feta cheese and an additional 1/4 cup of pasta water, tossing until pasta is slick and glossy with sauce. If needed, add in another 1/4 cup pasta water. Stir in basil. Transfer to a large bowl and scatter with remaining basil. Season with flaky salt, if desired.

Sweet Corn and Scallop Pasta

Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound large or medium shell pasta
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound sea scallops, patted dry
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears of corn)
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high. Season scallops with salt and pepper and add to skillet in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until golden underneath, about 2 minutes. Flip scallops and cook until golden on second side, 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a cutting board to cool.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, corn and scallions to the skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice and stir to lift up any browned bits on bottom of pan.

While the corn cooks, chop the cooled scallops into 1/2-inch pieces. Return pasta, 1/2 cup of the pasta water, corn mixture, scallops and butter to the large pot and heat over medium. Cook, stirring vigorously, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in cheese and basil, and season with salt and pepper. (Add more pasta water if a thinner sauce is desired.)

Divide pasta among bowls and garnish with more basil. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Creamy Corn Pasta With Basil

Fine sea salt
12 ounces dry orecchiette or farfalle
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and thinly sliced (keep the whites and greens separate)
2 large ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (2 cups kernels)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, more for serving
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to taste
1/3 cup torn basil or mint, more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Fresh lemon juice, as needed

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large sauté pan over medium heat; add scallion whites and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and all but 1/4 cup corn; simmer until corn is heated through and almost tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, transfer to a blender, and purée mixture until smooth, adding a little extra water if needed to get a thick but pourable texture.

Heat the same skillet over high heat. Add butter and let melt. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes. (It’s O.K. if the butter browns; that deepens the flavor.) Add the corn purée and cook for 30 seconds to heat and combine the flavors.

Reduce heat to medium. Add pasta and half the reserved pasta cooking water, tossing to coat. Cook for 1 minute, then add a little more of the pasta cooking water if the mixture seems too thick. Stir in 1/4 cup of the scallion greens, the Parmesan, the herbs, the red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. Transfer to warm pasta bowls and garnish with more scallions, herbs, a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper.

Halloumi with Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
12 to 14 ounces halloumi cheese, diced into 1-inch cubes and patted dry
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen and thawed (from 2 to 3 ears of corn)
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 jalapeño, seeded or not, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, more as garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges
Black pepper

In a large, preferably nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high until it thins out, about 20 seconds. Working in batches, add cheese in one layer, and cook until golden on one side, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip cheese and cook without moving until golden on the other side, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining cheese.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat it over medium-high. Add corn, tomatoes, jalapeño, cumin seeds and salt, and cook until corn and tomatoes have softened and everything looks juicy, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove pan from the heat and stir in the browned cheese, sliced onion and basil. Squeeze a lime wedge or two over everything and season with more salt and lots of black pepper. Garnish with more basil and serve immediately.

Pressure Cooker Green Tomato Chutney

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafetida optional
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1-2 jalapeños
4 green tomatoes roughly chopped (around 2 pounds)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar or jaggery

Turn Instant Pot to sauté(more) mode and heat oil. Add mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. This may take 2-3 minutes. Add asafetida, turmeric, jalapeños, green tomatoes, and salt.

Give a quick stir. Add brown sugar. Close Instant Pot with pressure valve set to sealing.

Pressure Cook (low pressure) for 5 minutes followed by quick release or natural pressure release.

Open Instant Pot and set to sauté mode. Mash the tomatoes using a masher, cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Mix well and enjoy!

Kakdi Koshimbir (Indian Cucumber Salad)

4 small Persian cucumbers
1 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon cumin seeds lightly crushed in the palm of your hand
1/8 teaspoon asafetida
1 small green chili sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanuts roasted and ground
2 tablespoons cilantro chopped finely for garnish

Peel the cucumbers, finely dice and keep in a medium bowl.
Heat ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat. Lightly crush cumin seeds in the palm of your hands and add to the hot ghee. Allow the cumin seeds to sizzle, about 30 seconds. Add hing and green chili and cook for another 30 seconds.

Pour the tempering on the chopped cucumbers. Add salt, sugar, peanuts, and cilantro. Mix well and serve immediately.

If making ahead of time, hold on the salt and sugar and add them just before serving. This helps the cucumber not release too much water. Leftover koshimbir can be refrigerated for a day.

Notes:
To make it vegan simply use any neutral oil instead of ghee.

You can skip the peeling cucumbers or peel them partially.

Powdered hing often contains wheat flour, but gluten-free versions are also available.

Add salt and sugar just before serving so the cucumbers do not release too much water.

Pick out the chili before eating unless you like super spicy food 🙂

Din Tai Fung Cucumber Salad

2 Persian cucumbers
1/2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic finely minced

Dressing:
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp chili oil optional
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes optional

Wash the cucumber and then pat dry. Cut the cucumber into about 1/2-inch thick slices. Try to cut as evenly as possible so every piece is roughly about the same size.

Add salt and let it marinate for 1 hour. The salt will draw out water from the cucumber, which will make the cucumber crisp.

Rinse off excess salt with clean water. Pat the cucumber really dry.

Mix all dressing ingredients for seasonings and stir to combine.

Pour the seasonings over the cucumber. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour if possible. This cucumber salad tastes even better when it’s chilled.

Herbed Tomato Salad With Tamarind-Maple Dressing

FOR THE SALAD:
2 pounds mixed tomatoes, such as cherry, heirloom, Sungold or beefsteak
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai
12 perilla, shiso or mint leaves, finely chopped
2 scallions, finely sliced

FOR THE FRIED SHALLOTS:
3/4 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable
4 shallots, sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
Sea salt

FOR THE DRESSING:
4 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt

Start the salad: Cut the tomatoes into different shapes — this creates different textures and visual interest — and place them in a colander. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt, and set in the sink to drain as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place a strainer over a heatproof bowl. Line a baking sheet or large plate with paper towels.

Prepare the fried shallots: Add the oil and shallots to a medium saucepan, and place over low heat. Bring the oil to a simmer, stirring the shallots with a fork to separate the rings. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the shallots are light golden brown, watching them closely, as they will brown quickly toward the end of their cooking. (Don’t let the shallots brown too much, as they will continue to cook after you take them out of the oil.)

Remove the shallots to the strainer to drain, then transfer them to the paper towels. Season with salt and allow to cool. Reserve the oil. Shallots can be fried 5 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Prepare the dressing: Whisk together all the ingredients.

Assemble the salad: Combine the tomatoes, two-thirds of the herbs and scallions, and half the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. To finish, top with the remaining dressing, a drizzle of the shallot cooking oil and the rest of the herbs and scallions, then finally with the fried shallots. (Reserve remaining shallot oil for other uses, like vinaigrettes, stir-fries and soups.)

Corn Salad with Halloumi

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Black pepper

FOR THE SALAD:
3 ears of corn, husks removed
2 (8-ounce) blocks halloumi cheese, drained and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large just-ripe mango, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 Persian or mini cucumbers (about 1/2 pound), unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, finely sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 ounces pita chips, crumbled

To make the vinaigrette, place the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, cumin and smoked paprika in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Taste, and season with pepper and also more salt if needed.

To prepare the salad, place the ears of corn on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil, massaging to coat.

Heat a medium (10-inch) skillet over medium-high. When hot, add the corn and allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, so they char. (The ears don’t need to be completely blackened, just parts of them.) Set aside. When cool enough to handle, use a sharp knife to cut the corn from the ears and add to the bowl with the vinaigrette. When the pan has cooled, wipe it out.

Pat the halloumi cheese with a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Heat the same pan you used for the corn over medium-high. When hot, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, then add the halloumi pieces and cook for 30 to 60 seconds on each side, turning frequently, until they are golden on all sides. Transfer to the bowl with the corn.

To the bowl, add the mango, cucumbers, mint, cilantro and scallions and toss to combine. Taste and add salt and black pepper to your liking. When you are ready to serve, top with pita chips and toss gently.