Moroccan Meatballs

1/3 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
10 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup panko
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 large eggs, cracked into a small bowl

In a small bowl, stir together the olives and lemon zest; set aside.

In a blender, puree the tomatoes with their juice until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium, melt the butter. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and pepper flakes, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Transfer 1/2 cup of the onion mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to medium and add the broth and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cover and cook until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Remove from the heat.

While the sauce simmers, stir the panko and 1/2 cup water into the reserved onion mixture. Let stand until the panko softens, about 5 minutes, then use your hands to mash to a smooth paste.

Add the beef, 1/2 cup of cilantro, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Divide into 16 (2-tablespoon) portions, rolling them into smooth balls. Place on a plate, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Return the sauce to medium and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs in a single layer, then spoon sauce over each. Cover, reduce to low and cook for 15 minutes. Flip each meatball, then continue to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened and meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Push the meatballs to the sides of the skillet. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Gently pour the eggs into the center, cover and cook over medium-low until the egg whites are barely set and yolks are still runny, 4 to 5 minutes.

Off heat, sprinkle the olive mixture and remaining ½ cup cilantro over the tagine.

Tip: Don’t use ground beef less than 90 percent lean or the sauce will be greasy. Also, don’t overcook the eggs; the yolks should remain runny so they mix with the sauce.

Harissa Butter

Mix 2 tablespoons harissa with 2 to 3 tablespoons softened, salted butter

Slather on blanched broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower.

Or, stir harissa butter into a pot of bulgur, couscous or pasta and blend with feta and chopped arugula for an easy meal.

Or dollop harissa butter onto resting steaks, chops or roast chicken where it can mix with the meat’s juices for an instant sauce.

Pasta alla Norma

1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
Kosher salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces penne rigate or mezze rigatoni pasta
8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pints grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 ounces ricotta salata, shredded

Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the upper-middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1½ teaspoons salt and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt; cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

While the eggplant roasts and the water heats, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 1½ teaspoons salt, then cover and cook, occasionally shaking the pan, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, about 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, then use the back of a large spoon to crush the tomatoes. Cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture breaks down into a lightly thickened sauce, 8 to 9 minutes.

Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps

3 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
1 pound ground pork
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus sprigs, to serve
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 scallions, white and light green parts minced, dark green parts thinly sliced
5 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white sugar, divided
1/2 cup lime juice
1-2 serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded (1 cup)
Lettuce leaves, to serve

Coat a large plate with 1 teaspoon of the oil; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the pork, 3 tablespoons water, cilantro, pepper, minced scallions, 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce and the 2 teaspoons sugar.

Mix vigorously with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined, 20 to 30 seconds. The mixture will be soft and sticky. With lightly moistened hands, form the mixture into 20 balls and place them on the prepared plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, the 3 remaining tablespoons fish sauce, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the chilies until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Line another plate with paper towels. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil until beginning to smoke. Add the meatballs and cook undisturbed until the bottoms are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a spatula, turn each meatball and continue to cook, adjusting the heat as needed and occasionally turning the meatballs, until golden brown all over, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared plate, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, toss the shredded carrots with 2 tablespoons of the lime juice sauce. Serve the meatballs with the carrots, cilantro sprigs, sliced scallions and lettuce leaves for wrapping. The remaining sauce can be spooned onto the wraps.

Thai Skirt Steak with Tomatoes (Yam Neua)

1 large shallot, sliced into very thin rings (about 1/3 cup)
3 tablespoons lime juice from 2 limes
4 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 2 to 3 pieces
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) red or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

In a large bowl, combine the shallots and lime juice and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of sugar, the salt, and white pepper.
Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then rub all over with the sugar-salt mixture.

Prepare a grill for very high heat. For a charcoal grill, spread a full chimney of hot coals evenly over half of the grill bed. For a gas grill, set all burners to an even, high flame. Heat the grill until hot, about 5 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.

Meanwhile, add the fish sauce, pepper flakes, and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar to the shallot-lime juice mixture and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Thinly slice the steak against the grain, then transfer to the bowl along with any accumulated juices.

Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and mint and fold to combine.

Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired, and serve.

Grill the steak (directly over the coals, if using a charcoal grill) until charred all over and cooked to desired doneness, 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare (depending on the thickness of the steak). Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the fish sauce, pepper flakes, and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar to the shallot-lime juice mixture and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Thinly slice the steak against the grain, then transfer to the bowl along with any accumulated juices.

Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and mint and fold to combine.

Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired, and serve.

Miso-Marinated Skirt Steak

3 tablespoons red miso
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut crosswise into 5- to 6-inch pieces, patted dry
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
5 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

In a medium bowl, whisk together the miso, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic until the sugar dissolves. Measure 2 teaspoons of the mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Add the steak to the remaining mixture, turn to coat and let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to the reserved 2 teaspoons, add the vinegar and 3 teaspoons of the oil. Stir to combine and set aside. Remove the steak from the bowl and pat dry with paper towels.

In a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil until beginning to smoke. Add half of the steak in a single layer and cook without disturbing until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Flip the pieces and cook until the second sides are well browned and the center of the thickest piece reaches 125°F for medium-rare or 130°F for medium, another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter, then repeat with the remaining steak, using the fat in the pan. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Stir any accumulated juices on the platter into the reserved miso mixture. Cut the steak against the grain on the bias into thin slices and return to the platter. Serve with the miso sauce.

Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Chickpeas (Acorda a Alentejana)

2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated (¼ cup), plus more to serve
1 jalapeño chili, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika, divided, plus more to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
5 ounces rustic bread (such as ciabatta), sliced ½ inch thick and torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
8 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 15 1/2 -ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 soft-cooked eggs, peeled (see note)

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, Parmesan, jalapeño, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon of the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Process until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping the sides as needed. With the machine running, add 1/2 cup of the oil and process to a pesto-like consistency, 30 to 45 seconds. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss the bread with the remaining ¼ cup oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Toast in a large Dutch oven over medium, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, return the bread to the bowl, leaving excess oil in the pot; set the croutons aside.

Set the Dutch oven over medium and add the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth and chickpeas and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in the pureed cilantro mixture, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide the croutons among 4 serving bowls. Ladle in the soup and top each with 1 egg. Sprinkle with additional paprika and Parmesan.

Tip: Don’t skimp on the olive oil in this soup. The croutons absorb oil as they toast and the broth takes on a rich, creamy texture when the pesto is stirred in.