This is about as simple as it gets – I rubbed a couple of tuna steaks down with a mixture of chopped fresh garlic and Herbes de Provence, seasoned them with salt and poured over a healthy amount of olive oil, then grilled them over hardwood for about five minutes per side. I served them with a dollop of homemade lemon pesto (sans cheese) and a salad of arugula, radish, fresh corn and tomatoes. Light, bright and delicious – this was everything I want in a late summer supper.
When I wrote up our meal plan for the week, our original thought for Wednesday evening was that Mike would come home early and grill pizzas. As it turned out, he did come home early, but the heavy overtime he has been working caught up with him a bit and we decided to hold off on the pizza-making until this coming weekend. I’ve been devoting a lot of time and energy to testing recipes for our upcoming cocktail party, so I decided to go with an old standby for dinner – Orecchiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe. This is this dish’s third appearance on this site, but when something is this easy to make and reliably good, it’s worth repeating.
I realize I’ve been doing a lot of pasta dishes lately, but pasta is such a darn good vehicle for the flavors of summer produce, I can’t help myself. Last night’s pasta dinner was inspired by caponata, the Sicilian eggplant dish. I combined a mixture of eggplant, tomatoes, capers and olives with the heat of red chile flakes and the tang of sherry vinegar to create a bright and tasty sauce. I tossed the sauce with spaghettini, but this would work with chunky pastas as well.
Spaghettini alla Caponata
1 lb. spaghettini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and diced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1-2 anchovy filets
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes (or more to taste)
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 large eggplant, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup pitted and chopped olives
6 large fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Cook the onion in olive oil over medium heat until softened. Season with salt and add garlic, cooking until fragrant. Add the anchovies and cook until they dissolve. Stir in tomato paste, chile flakes and vinegar. Allow to cook for a minute or two, then add the eggplant and cherry tomatoes, stirring well. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the canned tomatoes, capers and olives. Reduce heat and continue cooking, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, tasting and adjusting the salt if necessary.
Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions, until just short of al dente.
Stir the basil into the sauce, and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, adding a splash or two of pasta water to thin it out if necessary.
One of my earliest boosters is having a pretty bad time right now. Jenni Prokopy, editrix of ChronicBabe.com, is one of many people cleaning up after the recent storms in the midwest. She and her husband are safe, but sustained major damage to their home. Please keep them in your thoughts, and if you have it in your heart and budget to help them out a bit, please do so.
This is my take on the buttermilk salad I had at Marlow and Sons last weekend – a mixture of red butter lettuce, scallions, sweet corn, radishes, and three different kinds of tomatoes from our garden, all chopped and tossed with homemade buttermilk dressing and snipped chives. I marinated a couple of pieces of grass-fed flatiron steak from Elk Trails in a mixture of crushed garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil, and Mike seared them in the cast iron skillet, finishing them in the oven. Simple and delicious.
This is one of my favorite preparations for firm white fish fillets, and it’s a breeze to prepare. The base is a super simple tomato-fennel broth – just a couple of cups of chopped fennel seasoned with salt and sautéed in a bit of olive oil, then dolled up with a splash of booze and some tomatoes. I usually use pastis or white vermouth, but last night I mixed it up a bit, adding an ounce of Lucid, which had a nice complexity. For the tomato component, I used a combination of the puree of fresh San Marzanos I made over the weekend along with a few crushed canned ones.
I’ve done versions of this dish using blackfish and black sea bass, but last night Mike brought home some super fresh wild striped bass, and I think it was the best yet – lightly flouring the skinless filets and giving them a quick fry in the cast iron skillet gave them a crisp, golden exterior and kept the flesh incredibly moist. I finished the broth with some chopped fennel fronds and the juice of half a lemon, then spooned it into bowls and topped it with the fish. I sprinkled a few more fennel fronds on top and finished each bowl with a bit of lemon zest.
My latest Chronic in the Kitchen piece is live on ChronicBabe.com – check it out.
When I put together our meal plan for the week, I had a lot of light dinners planned, but Mother Nature apparently had other ideas. It was a balmy 56 degrees when I left work yesterday, and the salad I had planned for our dinner just didn’t sound substantial enough. I did a quick mental inventory of what we had at home, and realized I had everything we needed to put together a pot of soup – corn cheddar chowder, to be exact. Along with crusty sourdough rolls and a Marlow-inspired salad of baby arugula, peaches, basil and radish, it was just the thing to take the chill off a damp August night.
Corn Cheddar Chowder
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup sliced scallions
4 cups corn kernels
1 quart chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock or water)
8-10 small red potatoes, cut into about 1 inch chunks
1 cup chopped roasted red/yellow bell peppers
cayenne pepper to taste*
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Kosher salt to taste
1/2 lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (reserve a bit for garnish)
Additional chopped scallions for garnish
Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pot and add onion and scallions. Season with salt and cook briefly until softened. Add corn, stock, potatoes, peppers, cayenne and sherry vinegar, stir and cover. Simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20-25 minutes. Taste and add additional salt, cayenne or vinegar if necessary. Off the heat, puree about half of the soup using an immersion blender (or food processor, or regular blender). Put the chowder back over medium-low heat and add the shredded cheese a little at a time, stirring well to incorporate. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of cheese and chopped scallions.
*(Edited to add: In response to comments, I have adjusted the cayenne in this recipe to read “to taste.” I like my chowder spicy so I add a lot, but use as much or as little cayenne as you’d like.)
Veal and pork meatballs with fregula and herb broth, inspired by a dish Mike had at Marlow and Sons a couple months back.