A sauce of tangy feta and Greek yogurt (inspired by a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi) anchors the components of this creamy, vegetable-filled pasta, and the combination of asparagus and peas makes it especially colorful and perfect for spring. Although the textures are at their most supple when served hot or warm, this dish also works well at room temperature, served as a pasta salad.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 25 minutes
8 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
7 garlic cloves (3 finely grated or minced, 4 thinly sliced)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal), plus more as needed
1 pound short pasta, such as campanelle, shells, fusilli or orecchiette
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces feta, crumbled into large chunks
Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus more to taste
1/4 cup mint leaves, torn
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine 5 tablespoons olive oil, the yogurt, 2/3 cup peas, the grated garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse until the sauce is no longer chunky, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente according to the package directions. Drain.
3. While the pasta is boiling, add the sliced garlic to a large skillet, along with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes and a big pinch of salt, and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic turns golden at the edges, 2 to 5 minutes.
4. Add the asparagus and remaining 1/3 cup peas to the skillet and sauté until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. If the pan looks dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
5. After draining, add the warm pasta to the yogurt mixture in batches, stirring in between, so the sauce doesn’t curdle. Stir in the asparagus mixture, feta, remaining 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes and the lemon juice. Taste and add more salt, red-pepper flakes, or lemon juice if needed. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with mint leaves and scallions, and serve warm.
Pan-Seared Chicken With Harissa, Dates and Citrus
Juicy, pan-seared chicken thighs in a saucy mix of peppery harissa, sour citrus and sweet caramelized dates will make this dish the star of your weeknight meals. For even more flavor, marinate the chicken for as long as you can, anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. Dollops of creamy yogurt will mellow any heat, and a shower of fresh herbs will add a subtle fragrance. Serve with the pan drippings spooned generously over steamed rice or fluffy couscous, or alongside some warm crusty bread for dipping.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 40 minutes
1 to 2 navel oranges
1/4 cup harissa
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
6 whole shallots, quartered lengthwise
1 cup pitted medjool dates, halved
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup chicken stock, store-bought or homemade
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup labne or full-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1. Remove the peel from both oranges in strips using a vegetable peeler and reserve. Squeeze 1 cup of juice from the oranges.
2. Make the marinade in a large bowl by whisking together the harissa, honey, cumin, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 cup orange juice. Pat the chicken pieces dry and season both sides generously with salt. Add the chicken to the marinade and coat evenly with the marinade. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the chicken for up to 24 hours.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, dates and reserved orange peel. Season lightly with salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are browned in spots and the dates are caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook to soften slightly, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside.
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and place the chicken pieces skin-side down in the skillet, still over medium heat drizzle any marinade left in the bowl over the chicken pieces. Cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Flip the chicken pieces to cook the other side until just seared, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and remaining 3/4 cup orange juice, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
5. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half and the chicken is cooked through and tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Return the shallot mixture to the skillet, stirring to disperse and coat with the broth. Add the lime juice and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes to soften the shallots. Remove from the heat and taste to see if you need to add more salt. Top with dots of yogurt and sprinkle with the dill.
Olive Oil Baked Salmon
If you’re looking for a baked salmon recipe that produces silky fish with flavors that go with anything, you’ve found it. This fish gets so tender because it’s cooked at a moderate temperature and cushioned by a shallow pool of olive oil and lemon juice. Add lemon peels or other seasonings to the baking dish before the salmon cooks and they’ll infuse the oil; this mixture will become your sauce. Once the salmon is done, let it rest and squeeze more lemon juice into the sauce. The results are reminiscent of squeezing a lemon wedge over a piece of fish, but the flavor is a little more luxurious and developed. Any extra sauce can be used on a salad, steamed vegetables or crusty bread.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 25 minutes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets or 1 (1 1/2-pound) salmon fillet (skin-on or skinless), patted dry
Salt and pepper
Optional flavorings: rosemary, thyme or oregano sprigs; smashed garlic; fresh or dried chile; olives; anchovies; bay leaves; crushed fennel or coriander seeds
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the oil in a baking dish that will fit the salmon. Place the salmon in the dish, skin-side down if applicable. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel thick strips of zest from 1 lemon, then add to the baking dish. Juice 3 tablespoons of the lemon and pour over the salmon. Nestle in the optional flavorings if using. Bake, basting halfway through with the lemon oil, until just cooked through, 13 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the fillets. (You will know if the salmon is done when the fish flakes when cut into with a knife or fork or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 120 degrees.)
3. Transfer the salmon to plates to rest at least 5 minutes; discard the skin if applicable. Remove and discard the lemon peels and any aromatics you don’t want to eat, like herb sprigs. Squeeze about 1 tablespoon of the reserved lemon juice into the baking dish until the sauce is tangy but not puckery. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Eat the salmon with a spoonful of the lemon sauce.
Spicy Shrimp Masala
Black pepper, garam masala, Thai green chiles and Kashmiri red chile powder make this shrimp masala a multi-layered delight of spices — fiery and smoldering simultaneously — while lemon juice and cilantro add brightness and bring some relief. In coastal cities of South Asia like Karachi and states like Goa, this preparation is typical and perfectly suited for crunchy, sweet shrimp. That such complexity comes together in 30 minutes feels like a small miracle.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 30 minutes
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup ghee or neutral oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste or freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic paste or freshly grated garlic
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 to 3 Thai green chiles, finely chopped
5 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup coconut milk, stirred (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 lemon)
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Roti or pita, for serving
1. Pat shrimp dry, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon pepper and set aside.
2. Heat ghee over medium heat in a wok or large (12-inch) frying pan until it has melted, about 30 seconds. Add ginger, garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add chile powder, cumin, turmeric and Thai green chiles. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and start to stick to the wok, about 15 minutes. Add coconut milk if you like it saucy.
4. Add shrimp. Stir so that shrimp are evenly coated, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally so the shrimp cook evenly, until the shrimp turn pink and appear firm, 4 to 5 minutes.
5. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with lemon juice, garam masala, cilantro and remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Serve with roti, store-bought pita or by itself.
Crunchy cucumbers and creamy avocados are the stars of this simple five-ingredient salad. Peeling the cucumbers in alternating stripes helps them soak up seasonings while maintaining their shape. After being cut into bite-size pieces, they are combined with salt to draw out moisture, concentrating their flavor. Cubed avocado is tossed with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent browning, then everything is stirred together vigorously so that the avocado breaks down a bit to add a glossy coating. Finish with a hit of red-pepper flakes for heat, or embellish with herbs, lettuces, beans, soft-boiled eggs, feta, nuts and so on.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 15 minutes
2 scallions, trimmed then sliced crosswise 1/4-inch-thick
1 pound cucumbers (such as 6 Persian or mini seedless, or 1 English)
2 very ripe avocados
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice, or unseasoned rice vinegar, plus more as needed
Red-pepper flakes or hot sauce, for serving
1. Transfer the scallions to a small bowl of ice water to crisp.
2. Peel the cucumbers in alternating strips and trim ends. If desired, halve lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut cucumbers into bite-size pieces (thin slices, 1/2-inch cubes, or smashed into irregular shapes), then transfer to a colander set in the sink. Toss with 1 teaspoon salt and set aside to drain, at least 5 minutes or up to 15.
3. When you’re ready to eat, halve the avocados and remove the pits. Using a spoon, remove the flesh from the skins, then cut the flesh into 1/2-inch cubes. Transfer to a large bowl, add the lemon juice and season with salt. Stir to combine.
4. Shake the cucumbers in the colander to get rid of any excess moisture, then transfer to the bowl with the avocado. Drain and shake the scallions in the colander. Add the scallions to the bowl.
5. Stir the salad ingredients vigorously just until the avocado breaks down a bit. The cucumbers should be glossed with avocado but the majority of the avocado pieces should still remain cubed. Season to taste with salt, lemon and red-pepper flakes or hot sauce.