Got A Fat Tush? Make Fattoush

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Sometimes recipes take you by surprise; you think they’re going to taste one way, they wind up tasting another way and you wind up liking that other way better.

With the fattoush recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, I was expecting crispy pieces of pita bread tossed with pretty typical Israeli salad vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.), yogurt, olive oil and lemon juice. Instead, you use naan (or stale Turkish flatbread, if you can find that) and don’t toast it at all. You toss that with a yogurt mixture before making the salad and what happens next is so special, I’m not going to describe it in this paragraph. You’ll just have to click ahead (unless you came to this post directly, in which case this moment is…awkward.)

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Jicama and Mango Salad with Jalapeño Lime Dressing

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Jicama, when you buy it, looks and feels like a small planet. It’s big, it’s round, it’s hard. I almost put it back and thought about using something else as a first course for my friend Diana’s birthday dinner (during which I served a Smoky Beef Chili; that’s the next post) but the Jicama Mango salad I chose from a Rick Bayless cookbook was too perfect a choice to reject because of a big, scary jicama. So I brought the jicama home and turned to Twitter for advice.

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Vegas Recovery Salad

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When you get back from a weekend of binging in Las Vegas, you might find that you really crave salad. Not the wimpy kind with delicate garden lettuces, but a big bowl of raw vegetables that promises to cure all your ills. If you were a cheffy chef your first instinct might be to go to the farmer’s market to gather up your vegetables. If it’s Saturday night, though, chances are you’re too late for a farmer’s market. So you have two options: go to a restaurant that serves a big farmer’s market salad or make a salad from supermarket vegetables. Me? I’m the master of the latter.

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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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Scrambled Eggs with Gruyère, Fried Pita with Olive Tapenade & Tomato Salad

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The three elements that made this breakfast come together the way that it did were leftover pita (from the night I made chicken and hummus), leftover olive tapenade (from the night I made 4-hour lamb; the recipe’s in that post), and leftover Gruyere (from that cauliflower gratin). The breakthrough moment was when I decided to fry the pita. I learned how to do this when Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook gave me their recipe for a beet salad at their restaurant Animal; instead of croutons, they fry pita. Turns out that’s a really wonderful thing to know how to do.

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Fun with Farro

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I’m starting to enjoy blank canvas foods like quinoa and farro and cous cous. (Autocorrect just tried to change that to “cous cows.”) The fun comes from dressing them up, like a Christmas tree or an Oscar nominee on Oscar night. The more ingredients you know to add to the mix, the more fun you can have. In all three cases, similar ingredients will work so what follows is a list of stuff you can stir into the mix to make things interesting and exciting and part of a wholesome weeknight dinner.

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Beets of the Southern Wild with Candied Quvenzhané Walnuts

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Last year, I suffered the greatest humiliation of my life–well, except for that time I got pantsed while roller skating on a Jewish teen tour–when my Glenn Cous Cous Salad with Albert Knobs of Feta lost the Best Oscar Dish contest to Tinker Tailor Shepherd’s Pie. This was at a party hosted by my friends John and Michael; and once again, this year, they threw the same party. I had to bring another dish. THIS TIME I WOULD NOT BE DEFEATED.

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Anything Goes Salad

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After my New York Public Library event with Deb Perelman (there were 230 people there!), I’m rethinking my whole blog.

Somehow, through my aggressive questioning, I forced Deb to give up her blogging secrets. And the one that’s really staying with me the most is the fact that she cooks during the day to have daylight for her photos. That’s why her blog pictures always look so good. It doesn’t happen at night. My blog happens at night. Again, I have to rethink everything.

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