I adore Lolita, our air-fryer, and use it often. It does a wonderful job on many vegetables, and it is our default choice when we make cauliflower, butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Zucchini is a bit tricky, unless sliced super thin and air-fried in very small batches. But now I finally found a method to make it shine… Crispy, tender, and a reasonable amount can be divided in just two portions without turning the pieces into mush. If you don’t own an air-fryer, check the comments after the recipe.
CRISPY AIR-FRIED ZUCCHINI (adapted from several sources)
3 medium zucchini 1 + 1/2 tablespoons grapeseed oil 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (vegan friendly) or grated Parmigiano cheese 1 tablespoon flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a small bowl, mix Panko, nutritional yeast (or cheese), salt and pepper. Reserve.
Trim off the ends of the zucchini and cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 3/4-inch thick pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the zucchini with the oil. Toss to coat.
Sprinkle the flour mix over the zucchini slices and mix gently to coat them.
Air-fry in two batches at 390F or as high as your fryer goes, for about 9 minutes, until golden brown. Shake the basket every once in a while. Once the first batch is done, air-fry the second portion, then join them both and air-fry for a minute or so together, just to heat the first batch again. You can also place the first portion in a low-oven to keep warm, but I found that not to be needed.
Comments: I used nutritional yeast simply because I love to play with ingredients and wanted to give it a try. It is salty and sharp, making it a very good substitute for cheese, so if you need to entertain a vegan guest, this recipe is for you. I am now finally satisfied with a method to air-fry zucchini, and suspect this will be a regular appearance in our meals. If you don’t own an air-fryer, use a 420F oven, spread the zucchini over a large baking sheet lined with parchment, and roast until golden brown, probably 20 to 25 minutes.
I love cole slaw, but prefer a dressing without mayonnaise. Something fresh, light, and bright. This version couples orange juice with sesame oil. I add just a little squirt of lemon juice at the very end because I crave that extra acidity. Some might try to convince me that incorporating the lemon juice in the dressing would do the same job, but I beg to differ. In fact, when I ate the leftovers, I did a little lemon juice encore, and loved it even more.
ORIENTAL-STYLE SESAME SLAW (adapted from several sources)
for the dressing: ¼ cup soy sauce ¼ cup fresh orange juice 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
for the salad: 3 cups shredded napa cabbage 2 cups shredded green cabbage 1 cup shredded red cabbage 1 cup shredded carrots fresh cilantro leaves, amount to taste black sesame seeds to serve fresh lemon juice to serve
Start by making the dressing. Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup or flask with a lid, and whisk or shake to emulsify. Reserve.
In a large serving bowl, add all ingredients for the salad except the black sesame seeds, combine tossing gently, then pour the dressing on top. Toss again and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds, add lemon juice, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve.
Comments: f you like cole slaw but mayonnaise is not your thing, this will for sure please you. It gets even better next day, as all components are so sturdy. I made it twice already, the second time I added fresh orange zest together with the black sesame seeds before serving and that was a nice extra touch of flavor. Avocado goes quite well with it, keep that in mind. Not much else is needed to make this a complete meal. We enjoyed ours with a rotisserie chicken, so that was a super easy dinner to put together. The recipe can be easily adapted to a Whole30 system, if you don’t use soy sauce, and replace it with coconut aminos.
Some recipes become part of our routine and the pan-steamed broccoli is my default. Six exact minutes cooking. Six minutes that I use to make a simple dressing as described in the original blog post of years ago (click here). This time, I took the flavor into a Japanese territory, and used miso, vinegar, and ginger. Sesame seeds closed the deal. If you find broccoli flavor too strong, this method might please you, because it masks it quite a bit. If you prefer to taste the real flavor of broccoli, stay with a simpler dressing as previously blogged.
PAN-STEAMED BROCCOLI WITH MISO VINAIGRETTE (adapted from Ellie Krueger)
1 large head of broccoli florets (1½ pounds) 1/2 cup water salt to taste 1 tablespoon white miso 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tsp honey grated fresh ginger, to taste sesame seeds to garnish
Place the broccoli florets more or less in a single layer inside a saucepan. Add ½ cup water, sprinkle salt all over. Cover and cook over a high heat for 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Do not remove the lid during cooking. When the broccoli is done, it will be cooked to crisp-tender. If you prefer it a bit softer, remove it from the heat and allow it to sit, covered, for another minute or two.
While the broccoli is cooking, make the dressing whisking all ingredients (from miso to ginger) vigorously until smooth.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to a serving bowl, toss gently with the dressing, and garnish with sesame seeds. Adjust seasoning if needed.
Comments: I share the picture of what the pan will look like once you open it at the end of 6 minutes, because if I don’t you will be shocked and hate me for a few minutes. It will look bad. However, it cleans like a breeze, do not worry about it, the moment you rinse the pan that brown residue goes away. And you are left with perfectly cooked broccoli that can be dressed in any way you like. As I mentioned, this is a recipe I cook all the time, probably once/week. We love it, and it is sooooo simple! The dressing tames the natural funky flavor of broccoli. It will please that family member who twists the nose at this beautiful vegetable.
Am I breaking my own rule of never ever stating that a recipe is the best ever? Apologies for the convoluted phrase. But to answer my own question, no I am not. Because I was NOT the one who chose the name. It was published as such in Saveur magazine. You can read the interesting article clicking here. My beloved husband found it, showed it to me and said “we should probably give it a try.” Even though we alternate cooking dinner – one day he cooks, next day I do – he thinks I should be the one venturing in new territories. Which is totally fine with me. The problem with this recipe is that it will have you fry countless slices of breaded eggplant. It seemed like an ordeal and with a high chance of disappointment in the end: a heavy portion of greasy eggplant loaded with cheese. But after reading the article, I decided to humor the husband and give it a go. I tell you one thing: I was wrong. This was one OUTSTANDING eggplant parmigiana, and worth all the work.
For the sauce: 2 (28-oz.) cans plum tomatoes with their juices 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 6 large garlic cloves, peeled (I used finely minced celery in its place) Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
For the eggplant: 3 large eggs Kosher salt 1¼ cups dried plain fine bread crumbs 1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning, or equal parts dried basil, dried rosemary, and dried oregano 3 medium eggplants (about 3 lb. total), mostly peeled except for a few strips of skin, sliced into thin rounds slightly thinner than ¼ in. About 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1½ cups (about 10½ oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese (not fresh) 3 Tbsp. finely grated Pecorino Romano
Make the sauce: In a blender, pulse the tomatoes and their juices until just slightly chunky. In a pot over medium-low heat, add the oil and garlic (or celery), and cook, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes. Pour in the puréed tomato mixture and season with a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened slightly, at least 1 to 1½ hours. The sauce can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Bread the eggplant: In a wide shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water. Season with a generous pinch of salt. In a second baking dish or bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Working with one or two at a time, dredge the eggplant slices in the egg wash and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Transfer to the bread crumbs and coat very lightly on each side. Line a large baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels and set by the stove. In a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat, heat ½ cup oil until shimmering. Turn the heat down to medium and add some eggplant slices in a single layer until the skillet is full. Cook, turning once, until well browned on each side, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, working in batches as needed and adding a little more oil every other batch, or as needed.
Heat the oven to 400F.
In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, ladle ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sauce into the bottom. Cover the sauce with a single layer of eggplant (start with the thickest ones on the bottom and save the prettiest slices for the top). Ladle another ½ cup sauce on top, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle with about 1⁄3 cup plus 2 tablespoons mozzarella and 1 tablespoon Pecorino. Add another layer of eggplant and repeat this process until you’ve reached the final layer of eggplant. Top this layer only with ½ cup sauce, a final thin layer of mozzarella, and some Pecorino. (Reserve any remaining sauce for another use.) At this point, the eggplant parmigiana can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 day.
Bake, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and bronzed in places and the sauce is bubbling around the edges, about 20 minutes (add about 10 minutes if your dish was previously assembled and chilled). Remove and let cool slightly. Slice into squares and serve warm.
Comments: I am normally a lot more lax when I follow a recipe, and don’t worry about careful measurements (unless it is baking). But in this particular case I decided to follow it to a T and measured every component. Once the baking dish was fully assembled with the eggplant, sauce and cheese, I was quite skeptical about the outcome, because it did not look luscious enough. But I have to agree, when you follow the recommended amounts of sauce and cheese, and deal with the eggplant slices exactly as advised, the final dish is pretty amazing. The taste of the eggplant comes through without being “suffocated” by sauce and cheese. It is satisfying but not heavy. We are still talking about how good it was. Added bonus: leftovers kept frozen for a week tasted almost better with a slow defrost in the fridge and a brief warming in a low oven…
If you have a vegetarian friend to entertain, look no further. The main dish of your menu is decided!
Impossible to ignore the Indian vibes in our kitchen lately. Of all cuisines, I believe that is the one bringing the most out of veggies. This recipe will blow your mind, and I am certain of it. The gunpowder masala is nutty, with the perfect level of heat and complex mixture of flavors. As my friend Joanne said in her blog post, it will be good on pretty much anything. I urge you to make it, even if finding curry leaves could be a bit tricky.
for the Masala: 100 g raw cashews 35 g raw pepitas 30 g dried red chilies de arbol (or to taste) 20-25 fresh curry leaves (I used 10 dried leaves) 2 tbsp white or black sesame seeds (I used a mixture) ½ tsp asafetida
for the asparagus: 4 tbsp olive oil 1 lb asparagus, woody ends trimmed 1 tbsp fresh lime juice sea salt flakes 1-2 tbsp gunpowder masala (or to taste)
Make the masala: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the cashews, pepitas, dried chilies, curry leaves, and sesame seeds. Toast them, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are starting to brown. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Once cool, grind in a food processor or blender along with the asafetida to a coarse powder. Pour into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Make the asparagus: Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. In a large bowl or on a sheet pan, toss the asparagus with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, until blistered on at least 2 sides. Transfer the cooked asparagus to a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and lime juice. Sprinkle with the salt flakes and gunpowder masala. Serve immediately, and swoon!
Comments: The other day I was part of a conversation about food blogging and how tiring it is the over-use of certain adjectives to describe a dish. Life-changing, fantastic, mind-blowing (guilty as charged)… So let’s stop going there. This is a great masala that I can see being paired with many veggies and even animal protein. I envision a beautiful piece of salmon, grilled to perfection and topped with this crunchy concoction, with a nice squeeze of lemon juice. It does need a bit of moisture to shine, so that final drizzle of oil and citric juice is a must.
If you cannot find curry leaves, I’d say make it without. It does have enough going on, and it will still be mighty tasty. The recipe makes more than you’ll need, so keep it in the fridge and find new uses for it. Just yesterday I paired it with sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans, drizzled with a tahini-yogurt sauce.
Joanne, thank you for yet another perfect recipe that will go into our regular rotation for sure!