Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Pico de Gallo

I love this Mexican condiment for its bold flavors and easy prep—no machines needed, just a good sharp knife to dice the main ingredients. Besides being a delicious dip for chips and veggies, it’s a great condiment for grilled chicken and fish for your next Taco Tuesday. 


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes or 6 canned Roma tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 jalapeño or other chile pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (leaves and some stems)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground 
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Coarse sea salt 
  • Black Lime


Mince the garlic and set aside. Dice the tomatoes and onion. Wearing gloves to keep the powerful oils off your skin, slice the jalapeño in half lengthwise and use a small spoon to scrape out the ribs and seeds, and then cut it into a small dice. Place the vegetables in a large bowl along with the garlic and cilantro, and toss well. Fold in the cumin and lime juice. Taste, add a few twists of the black peppercorn grinder and a sprinkle of the salt, and taste again, adding more salt and pepper as desired. Let the flavors meld at room temperature for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, top with a sprinkle of black lime.

Yields about 2 cups

Garam Masala

Many home chefs shy away from exotic cuisines, but you can master any dish with the right ingredients, starting with the right spices. There are as many recipes for the essential Indian spice blend garam masala as there are chefs! This truly exceptional one comes from my friend Prasad Chirnomula, a trailblazing chef and restaurateur in Connecticut whose latest restaurant is Chef Prasad in New Canaan. Prasad’s amazing chicken saag, which uses garam masala, follows. 


  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cloves
  • 1 teaspoon green cardamom
  • 2 pods wild cardamom if available
  • 3 pieces star anise 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Heat a heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat and sauté all the spices, except the cinnamon, until fragrant, about 3 minutes—don’t step away, as they can easily burn. Cool slightly and process in a spice or coffee bean grinder (you may need to do this in two batches). Transfer to a bowl, whisk in the cinnamon, and then funnel into an airtight glass storage jar.

Yields about 1/3 cup

Chicken Saag

This Indian classic is brimming with vegetables and wonderful spices.


  • 6 cups fresh spinach, tightly packed, washed, and drained, or 2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 2 green chilis, stemmed and finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste*
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder  
  • 1/2 salt or to taste
  • 1 cup fresh chopped tomatoes or diced canned tomatoes  
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaf (crushed to powder)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, optional


Step 1

If using fresh spinach, blanch it for 1 minute in a large pot of boiling water, and then use a large strainer to transfer it to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Squeeze out the excess water, place the spinach in a blender, and purée it; set aside. If using frozen spinach, once it has thawed, squeeze it gently to remove any excess liquid.

Step 2

Heat a large skillet and, when it’s hot, add the butter and olive oil. Add cumin seeds, onion, and chilis and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions are light brown. Add ginger garlic paste, garam masala, cayenne, salt, and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the chicken and cook until firm and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through. Add the nutmeg and fenugreek and stir for 2 minutes, then add the puréed spinach and a cup of water, and cook for another 5 minutes. For a creamier sauce, add the heavy cream and cook 3 to 5 more minutes. Serve with naan or over basmati rice.

*To make your own ginger garlic paste, in a small food grinder process 2 ounces peeled garlic cloves, 1 ounce peeled fresh ginger, and 1 teaspoon olive oil to a paste consistency, adding water by the teaspoon if necessary.

Yields 4 to 6 servings

Quick Pickled Cucumbers

These cukes make a zesty side dish and a terrific addition to sandwiches, burgers, and salads. They’re ready in less than an hour, but the flavor will intensify the longer they marinate in the fridge (bring them back to room temperature before serving).


  • 2 large cucumbers, trimmed, peel left on
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, cored and cut into thin rings
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons dill, minced


Use a mandoline or the thin slicing blade of your food processor to slice the cucumbers and red onions. Transfer them to a colander nestled in a large bowl and toss with the salt. Let sit for an hour to release some of their liquid. Rinse with cold water to remove extra salt and rinse out the bowl. Place the cucumbers and onions in the bowl along with the pepper rings. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and dill, and toss well. Allow the flavors to meld for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Yields 6 servings