This simple but jewel-like appetizer or side dish can be served hot or at room temperature. Don’t forget the last drizzle of olive oil for a spectacular presentation!
- 3 bell peppers of similar size, any color
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse sale (kosher or sea)
- 1 cup panko or other bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon merquén (see Note) or smoked paprika
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easier clean-up. Place the bell peppers upright on a cutting board. Working around the stems and avoiding the seedy core, slice straight downward to remove 4 lobes from each pepper. With a paring knife, carefully trim off any white ribs, flush with the pepper.
Arrange the pepper lobes, skin side down, on the baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and season with salt.
In a medium bowl, gently mix the panko, Parmesan, granulated garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt with your hands. Using your fingertips, pat about 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumb mixture onto each piece of pepper. Drizzle the peppers with another tablespoon of oil.
Bake the peppers until bottoms are deeply browned and breadcrumbs are golden, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Transfer the peppers to a platter. Drizzle with more olive oil. Sprinkle with the parsley and merquén. Serve with lemon wedges.
Note: Merquén (sometimes spelled merkén) is a smoky spice blend popular in Chilean cuisine. You can find it at specialty spice markets or online.
Serves 4 to 6 — Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2018
The mushrooms can be grilled up to a day ahead, but make the guacamole an hour or two before serving. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (make sure the wrap makes contact with the guacamole) and refrigerate.
- 12 portobello mushrooms
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice, divided use
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ripe avocados
- 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
- 1/3 cup minced red onion
- 1/2 cup grated queso fresco
Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Cut off the stems and discard; set the caps aside.
Make the marinade: Combine the oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Brush the mushroom caps with the marinade and let stand for 15 minutes.
Grill the mushrooms, gill side up, over medium heat on a covered grill until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. (If you don’t have a grill, you can bake the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet in a 375°F oven.) Pat the excess moisture from the center of mushrooms with a paper towel and place them, gill side up, on a serving platter.
Cut each avocado in half and remove the pit. Peel and mash with a fork in a bowl. Stir in the chipotles, onion, the remaining lemon juice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
Spoon the guacamole onto the mushrooms. Sprinkle each with queso fresco.
Serves 10 to 12 as an appetizer — Recipe adapted from latimes.com
One of the best things about fajitas is that you can stuff them with anything that suits your fancy. If dairy’s not a concern, shredded cheese is a winner, and so is a dollop of sour cream. If you want to double up on the veggies, add some shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and more onions and peppers. Half the fun is letting everyone put together the combo of ingredients they like best. This recipe was adapted from a dish served at El Toro Blanco, a wonderful Mexican restaurant in New York City.
With over 6 percent of Americans identifying as vegan and millions more describing themselves as “vegetarianinclined,” a meatless main course option belongs in your recipe repertoire.
- 1 head cauliflower, green leaves and stem removed
- 1 orange or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeds and veins removed
- 1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeds and veins removed
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
- 1 tablespoon merquén or pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs, such as cilantro, parsley, and basil, stemmed and chopped
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 cup salsa or pico de gallo
- Lime wedges
Cut the cauliflower into florets and slice the red and poblano peppers into long strips. Place the cauliflower, peppers, and onions in a large bowl. Whisk together the ancho powder, merquén or pimentón, cumin, salt, and olive oil and add to the vegetables, tossing until they’re thoroughly coated. Transfer to a grill basket.
Preheat your grill to medium-high, and then grill the cauliflower mixture until slightly charred and tender-crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove from the grill, transfer to a platter, and sprinkle with the pine nuts and herbs. While the grill is still hot, warm the tortillas. To serve, let each person fill two tortillas with equal amounts of the cauliflower mixture and top with salsa or pico de gallo and a squeeze of lime.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from El Toro Blanco, New York, NY
Make this simple soup when sun-ripened tomatoes come into the market. If you’re unfamiliar with it, burrata is a water-packed, milky mozzarella-like cheese filled with cream. Substitute a spoonful of fresh ricotta if burrata is unavailable.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 1/2 carrot, finely diced
- 2 fresh basil leaves
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 3 pounds tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Burrata cheese, for garnish
In a small, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, basil and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, along with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes to break down the tomatoes and marry the flavors.
Remove from the heat and purée the soup in a blender or food processor. (Do not fill the blender jar more than half full with the soup; process in batches with a folded kitchen towel held firmly over the lid.) Strain the soup through a fine mesh strainer or food mill. Serve the soup hot, with a small spoonful of burrata and a drizzle of olive oil.
Serves 6 to 8 — Recipe from Angelini Osteria, Los Angeles, CA