Similar to French ratatouille, Samfaina is a Catalonian vegetable relish that is long-cooked to a marmalade-like consistency. It is wonderful on fish, eggs, potatoes, or even toast. The key to its success is to dice the vegetables into small pieces. It will keep, covered, for several days in the refrigerator.
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced very small
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, peeled and very finely diced
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 red bell peppers (or one red and one green), peeled, seeded and sliced in thin strips or diced very small
- 1 medium zucchini, peeled and very finely diced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped, or a 14-ounce can, drained
Lay the eggplant pieces on two layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. After 30 minutes, squeeze out the liquid and pat dry.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in an earthenware casserole over a flame tamer or in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they soften, about 8 minutes.
Add a generous pinch of salt and the garlic, and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the remaining olive oil along with the eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, and black pepper. Turn the heat to low, stir, then cover and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt, cover again, and cook over low heat until the mixture has reduced to a thick relish, 2 to 3 more hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Before serving, allow the relish to sit for at least 1 hour, or better yet, refrigerate overnight.
Serves 6 — Recipe adapted from the New York Times, October 10, 2010
Thick-cut bone-in rib eye steaks, sometimes called “tomahawk steaks,” are becoming common in American meat markets. One steak can weigh more than 2 pounds and can easily serve 2 to 3 people or more. They are best cooked rare to medium-rare.
- One bone-in rib eye steak, about 2 inches thick
- About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Fleur de sel
- One small brioche loaf, crusts removed, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste (optional)
- 4 large fresh dates, such as Medjool, pitted and spread open
- One bunch baby arugula
Heat a cast-iron griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Brush generously with olive oil. Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then sprinkle one side with fleur de sel. Arrange the steak salt side down on the hot surface. When it is seared (8 to 10 minutes), season the top of the steak with fleur de sel and flip it over to cook on the other side for another 8 minutes. Continue cooking the steak, flipping as needed, until the internal temperature reaches 125°F for medium-rare. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan drippings and toast the brioche, turning with a spatula until lightly browned. Dot the bread with the mustard and season with salt, black pepper, and hot red pepper flakes, if using. Generously drizzle with more olive oil, then nestle the dates in the brioche, cut sides down. Scatter the arugula over the top and toss everything together with 2 wooden spoons as you would a salad. Heap the salad on a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil. Slice the meat against the grain, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve with the salad.
Serves 2 to 3 — Recipe adapted from Mallmann on Fire by Francis Mallmann (Artisan, 2014)
Though known colloquially as “Santa Barbara spot prawns,” these sweet, buttery-tasting Pacific-based crustaceans are harvested from San Diego to Alaska. If they’re not available at your local market, buy the best shrimp you can find, preferably wild-caught.
- 8 jumbo or extra-large head-on, shell-on shrimp, preferably Santa Barbara spot prawns or tiger shrimp
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 3 dried guindilla or other small red chiles
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dry Spanish sherry
- 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Prepare the shrimp by snipping off the legs with kitchen shears. Then carefully push the shells off the bodies. Separate the shrimp heads from the tails by using a sharp knife to cut off the heads with one-third-inch of the tails attached to keep the juices inside the heads.
Generously coat the bottom of a medium cazuela, terracotta pot, or Dutch oven with the olive oil. Add the garlic, sprinkle lightly with salt and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a sizzle, stirring occasionally, until the garlic chips start to dance and turn golden brown around the edges, about two minutes. Don’t let them burn. Transfer the garlic to a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve.
Add the chiles to the hot oil and cook, turning, until a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Transfer to the plate with the garlic.
Add the shrimp heads, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, turning occasionally, for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp tails, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, turning, for 15 seconds. Return the garlic and chiles to the pot and shake and swirl the pot so the garlic coats everything. Add the sherry and let the alcohol burn off, about one minute. Zest half of the lemon half directly into the pot, then stir in half of the parsley. When the shrimp become opaque and their juices emulsify with the oil into a sauce, remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice, and serve immediately.
Serves 2 and can be multiplied as desired — Recipe adapted from the Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2019
Colorful peppers and onions combine to create an appealing sheet pan breakfast that cooks in about 20 minutes. We like to finish our eggs with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- 1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper (or another orange or red bell pepper), cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 medium red onion, peeled, halved through the stem, then thinly sliced into half moons
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons za’atar, divided use
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground Aleppo pepper or other pure chile powder
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 6 large eggs, preferably organic
- 1/3 cup loosely packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 large Roma tomato, cored and diced
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta or ricotta salata (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the sliced bell peppers (all colors) in a large mixing bowl. Add the red onions. Season with kosher salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon za’atar, the cumin, and the Aleppo pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Toss to coat.
Transfer the pepper and onion medley to a large rimmed sheet pan. Spread in one layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
Briefly remove the pan from the oven. Carefully make 6 evenly spaced depressions among the roasted veggies. Carefully crack an egg into each depression, keeping the yolk intact (it helps to crack the egg in a small dish first).
Return the sheet pan to the oven and bake until the egg whites set. Bake until the yolks are done to your liking, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Season the eggs to your liking. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of za’atar all over. Add the parsley, diced tomatoes, and a sprinkle of feta. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
Serves 6 — Recipe adapted from themediterraneandish.com