We love a mystery. Preferably with a trail of clues, a touch of suspense and opportunities to toss our who-done-it theories around at the dinner table like amateur sleuths. This journal has chronicled such before—tales of monster zucchinis, mystery vines and compost packages. It’s been a while though, so when our youngest decided to clean her room recently it was only fitting that a puzzle emerge—along with a mountain of dirty socks.
These beans are a cinch to make yet they’re loaded with complex flavor. The tomatoes, onions and garlic cook down slowly, together in the pan, while the beans steam on top. You may be tempted to stop cooking before the beans turn olive green. Resist. Crisp, bright-colored, barely-cooked beans aren’t the only way to go. So keep on cooking, you’ll be rewarded if you do.
Named for the ancient Persian city of Shiraz—reknown for it’s connection to wine, poetry and flowers—this simple salad is best at the height of summer when juicy tomatoes and crisp cucumbers abound. Persian cucumbers are delicate with few seeds. If your cucumbers have larger seeds, just scoop them out with a spoon and use the remaining flesh. Peeling is not necessary if you’re using organic fruit—much of the nutritional content is concentrated in the skin and seeds.
This easy sauté features crunchy sweet corn and summer tomatoes, stirred up with the spices of Mexico. Wrap some in a warm tortilla, scoop it with corn chips or serve as a side dish. Add a can of rinsed and drained black beans for a more substantial main course. Or a minced jalapeño for spice.
Iowa City, Iowa — We’re visiting family in the Midwest, and today is another in a series of 90-plus-degree scorchers. Hot stew on a hot summer day? The idea sounds absurd, if not downright tortured. The usual loyal kitchen helpers are likely to scatter the moment you crank up the stove. No doubt you’ll be left chopping and stirring in solitude. No worries. Ratatouille is a simple dish, just right for one cook. Use vine-ripened tomatoes, tender-skinned squash and sweet peppers, plus plenty of garlic and onion. Sauté each vegetable in olive oil, one at a time, then stir them all together in a sturdy pot and simmer the mixture, so the flavors commingle in a magical way.