Lemony Greens on Garlicky Beans

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Trader Joe’s has always been a mystery to me. People love the place, they start to cheer when one opens up in their neighborhood, but I’ve always been stumped by what to buy there. I’ve done well with trail mix (because it tastes more like candy), and it’s nice to get a decent bottle of wine for not a lot of money. But until yesterday, I’d never made a dinner from Trader Joe’s ingredients that I’d be eager to make again. Yet there I was–there’s one downstairs from my gym–and I wanted to make a healthy dinner so I bought a can of white beans (a pretty safe purchase), a bag of cruciferous vegetables (including kale), a lemon and a bottle of white wine. And the dinner that I made was so stupendous, I’ve just gotta tell you about it.

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Good Garlic

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There was this time, long ago, when I was writing my first book and talking on the phone to Amanda Hesser who I revered and who kindly agreed to give me tips about shopping at the farmer’s market. I was trying to get a grasp on how to know which ingredients were in season, which were good, which were bad, etc. At some point I said, “Well I guess garlic is one of those things that’s always the same no matter where you get it?” No, actually I said: “Well I guess garlic can’t be fresh can it?” And Amanda Hesser set me straight: “Of course garlic can be fresh…”

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Toasted Garlic Couscous with Preserved Lemon

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There’s something thrilling about inventing a recipe. And though I’m not 100% sure that I invented this (it may very well have existed, somewhere, before me) let’s pretend that I am to this recipe what Isaac Newton is to gravity. No apple fell on my head, but garlic toasted in my head as I tried to figure out something new and different to do with couscous. Here’s how it all works.

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A Really Good Radicchio Salad

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Look, let’s be honest, I make a really good radicchio salad. That may not mean much to most people because radicchio isn’t one of those vegetables that gets anyone excited. It’s bitter. It’s red. It’s red and bitter. What’s the big deal? Well: I like to serve it before a big, heavy dinner to wake up the palate–sort of like a vegetable Negroni. Only my vegetable Negroni has anchovies and garlic in it. So, actually, let’s forget that Negroni bit and focus on how I make it.

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Bagna Cauda (The Butter Garlic Anchovy Sauce of Your Dreams)

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When a significant other goes out of town, most people use that opportunity to watch bad movies, to pig out on ice cream, and to spread out gratuitously in bed while sleeping. Me? I make risky foods. No, I don’t mean risky in a danger sense–I’m not eating supermarket ground beef tartar–I mean in a “will this be good?” sense. I take bigger chances when Craig’s not here because if I screw up, no one’s there to scrunch up their nose. So on Saturday morning, when I woke up and wanted breakfast, I opened Nancy Silverton’s Sandwich Book and studied the recipe for a sandwich that she says is Mari Batali’s favorite. It’s basically boiled eggs on arugula doused in Bagna Cauda. I didn’t have any bread and I didn’t have any arugula, but I did have the ingredients to make Bagna Cauda. And eggs. And, also–somewhat weirdly–farmer’s market Brussels Sprouts. An idea was born.

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Leftover Broccoli Sauce

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You know that thing where you buy two big bunches of broccoli for dinner one night and then you only end up using one bunch so the other bunch sits in your refrigerator in a plastic bag for a week? And then, one week later, you look at it and kind of feel sorry for it and don’t want to throw it away but at the same time it’s kind of limper than it was one week earlier: less Jessica Rabbit, more Jessica Tandy? Here’s something you can do.

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60 Second Aioli

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Infomercials rarely inspire awe, and yet I vividly remember watching a commercial for a handblender–this was back in the 90s, I think–that showed a glass jar filled with eggs and oil; then the hand blender plunged in, the host pressed a button, and magically it became mayonnaise. It was like watching a David Copperfield special only better: while I couldn’t make the Statue of Liberty disappear, I could buy a handblender and make mayonnaise in a jar. The only catch: I hated mayonnaise. So a handblender I didn’t buy.

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