There's a version of pasta e fagioli for just about every region, province and household in Italy, from brothy ones packed with vegetables to creamy ones made only with beans and pasta. This one belongs to that latter group, and the secret to its greatness is all in the beans themselves.
'@vegetarian-side' on Serious Eats
Gan bian si ji—Sichuan-style dry-fried green beans with chilies and pickles—are one of the best and most mistranslated vegetable dishes in the world. Today that dish and I are on a road trip back to authenticity, and we're going to be driving that minibus over some uncharted territory.
This easy bean appetizer takes only five minutes to prepare, but it does rely on some high quality ingredients for optimal flavor. Tender, creamy giant lima beans are worth the splurge when you're coating them with your best extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, and a pinch of smoked paprika. Celery, shallots, and garlic round out the flavor profile and add crunchy texture.
Caponata, the Sicilian dish of eggplant and other vegetables sautéed in a sweet and sour sauce can be shockingly flavorful the first time you try it. And I'm not using the word shockingly lightly here. Packed with extra-virgin olive oil, raisins, pine nuts, herbs, vinegar, sugar, and a slew of other ingredients, it's the kind of dish you have to recalibrate your whole mouth for in order to really appreciate it. But once that recalibration is done, man oh man is it great stuff.
It's difficult to make good bread today, but it's darned easy to make hot, fresh, world-class bread tomorrow. This focaccia, topped with olives, rosemary, and pistachios, requires no kneading or stretching and results in a crisp, olive oil-scented crust and a puffy, moist, well-risen internal crumb with just the right amount of tender chew.
Fire-roasted butternut squash is perfectly soft and sweet inside, with a lightly charred exterior that just can't be replicated in an oven. Here, it's paired with creamy ricotta, fresh sage, and toasted pine nuts for a great seasonal side dish.
Simmering potatoes in heavily salted water until the water runs completely dry gives them extremely fragile, wrinkled skins that crisp up when subsequently roasted in a hot oven. The result: extra-crispy new potatoes with buttery, herb-flecked crusts.
I've only ever had one criterion for my vegan recipes: They must be good enough that even an avowed meat-head would gladly down them. I wanted a stuffing with deep, complex, savory flavors that bakes up with a moist texture almost like a savory bread pudding. I wanted stuffing so good that it'll be the first side dish to disappear from the table. A stuffing so good that my meat-eating family would attack and devour it with reckless abandon.
Loosely based on Middle Eastern tabbouleh salad, this easy make-ahead salad combines grape tomatoes (sweet and ripe any time of year) with cucumber, parsley, mint, and quinoa for a bright and refreshing make-ahead salad that's hearty enough to serve as a light meal.
You could say I've been on a bit of a chickpea kick recently, but only because they're so easy to love! They make the kind of dishes that are not just delicious when first thrown together, but actually improve with time. It's really the ideal food for a packed lunch, whether it's at school, the office, or on the road. This version combines chickpeas with grated carrots, pumpkin seeds, and plenty of dill.
A simple salad of chickpeas dressed in a light vinaigrette flavored with cumin, shallots, and olive oil. Crunchy celery and parsley finish it off. This is the kind of salad that gets better as it sits—Make it one night and pack it for lunch at the office or on a picnic the next day.
Using the waffle iron to make hash browns means you get crunchy bits on both sides. You get silky smooth potato inside. And you get all of this without having to flip the potatoes or fuss over them in the pan. You may never make hash browns any other way again.
I spend a lot of time writing about complex techniques, but in truth, most of the stuff I like to cook for myself at home is pretty simple. This is one of those nice and easy summer dishes that relies only on great produce—zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes—and simple technique, but comes with a little bit of a rough twist at the end.
Deeply fragrant with smoky charred edges, cabbage takes on a nutty, sweet flavor when grilled over blazing hot coals, and a great texture that's simultaneously tender and crisp. Its layered structure also makes it the ideal vessel for picking up both smoke flavor from the grill and whatever sauce you choose to serve it with. In this case, we're going with a rich blue cheese dressing, tomatoes, and—if you want them—bacon bits.
Deeply fragrant with smoky charred edges, cabbage takes on a nutty, sweet flavor when grilled over blazing hot coals with a great texture that's simultaneously tender and crisp. Its layered structure also makes it the ideal vessel for picking up both smoke flavor from the grill and whatever sauce you choose to serve it with. In this case, we're going with a light and creamy yogurt dressing with plenty of lemon and olive oil.
This is one of my favorite salads of all time and an absolute classic: corn grilled until it's smoky and sweet, then tossed with ripe end-of-season tomatoes in a light lemon and olive oil dressing. Salty chunks of feta and a ton of fresh herbs finish it off. As simple and delicious as recipes come.
A bowl of black beans with some rice, bread, or greens is a meal in itself, but it's also a side dish to round out about any meal. The trick, if you could call it that, is to stick to dried beans that can slowly release their starch into the cooking liquid, and use a balance of aromatics to enhance their flavor.
The key to the deeply-seasoned potatoes in this tangy and creamy salad is to cook them in water seasoned with salt and vinegar. A dressing flavored with olive oil, sour cream, and dill binds it together.
Radicchio, a hearty bitter lettuce, becomes remarkably sweet and succulent when charred over a live fire. Served with a drizzle of good olive oil and saba—a sweet wine-based condiment—along with a sprinkle of gorgonzola cheese, it's the best vegetable you've never grilled.
Crunchy and tender baby bok choy goes for a spin with a punchy sauce made with lots of garlic and fermented black beans. It's a flavor-packed stir-fry with minimal prep and all the flavor, minus the gloppy sauce.