Summer grilling with bright flavors of the Middle East.
For the unaquainted, za’atar is an herb and spice mix common to the cuisines of the Levant. It’s often served swimming in olive oil as a dip for pita bread, but it makes a pleasantly fragrant, crunchy coating for grilled asparagus slathered in a tangy yogurt sauce. It can be found at many up-market grocery stores these days, or order a jar online.
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
1 bunch (about 1 pound) thick asparagus spears
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat direct cooking.
Whisk the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt or lemon juice, if needed. Cover and set aside at room temperature while grilling the asparagus, or up to 2 hours. (The sauce will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
Snap the woody bottoms from the asparagus and peel the bottom third of the stalk. Place the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with a big pinch of salt. Roll them around to coat evenly.
When the grill is ready, place the asparagus over the hottest parts and cook until evenly charred in spots and crisp-tender in the center, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the grilled asparagus back to the baking sheet and sprinkle with the za’atar. Roll them around to evenly coat each spear.
Smear the yogurt sauce over the base of a serving platter. Pile the asparagus over the sauce, and drizzle with more olive oil. Serve hot or at room temperature.
It’s shrimp scampi on the grill and it’s delicious, obvi.
Grilling shrimp in their shells prevents overcooking, keeping the meat snappy, but also makes it difficult to properly season. The solution? A quick brine in salty water that seeps below the shell. A bit of sugar enhances the sweet shrimp flavor, and helps them char up on the grill.
Serves 4 as a main, or 6 to 8 as a starter
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 pounds head-on jumbo shrimp or prawns
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Zest of 1 large lemon plus 1 tablespoon of the juice
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
8 thick slices country bread
Fill a large bowl with 2 quarts of cold water and add 1/4 cup of the salt and all of the sugar; stir to dissolve. Using scissors, cut a slit through the shell down the back of each shrimp to remove the vein, being careful not to remove the shell, head, or tail entirely. Add the shrimp to the brine and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
One to two hours before grilling the shrimp, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-low until it’s shimmering-hot and smells aromatic. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook until aromatic and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Cool to room temperature, then stir in the parsley. Transfer half of the scampi sauce to a small bowl to have at the grill, and the rest to a serving bowl for the table.
Prepare a grill for high heat direct cooking and oil the grates. Drain the shrimp and pat them very dry with paper towels. Have the small bowl of scampi sauce at the ready.
First grill the bread slices until lightly charred on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the grilled bread to a serving platter and brush with some of the scampi sauce from the small bowl, reserving some for brushing the shrimp as it grills.
Next grill the shrimp until nicely charred and just cooked through, brushing with the remaining sauce from the small bowl and turning them occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Arrange the shrimp on a serving platter. Place the serving bowl of scampi sauce and the grilled garlic bread alongside, and serve hot.
It’s basically an appetizer, a salad, and a pizza in one.
This is one of those recipes that uses a store-bought ingredient (pizza dough) to make dinner easy but doesn’t compromise on taste. If fresh figs are elusive, don’t even think twice about using dried ones. Their concentrated flavor and chewy texture brings a different element to the equation, but the end result is equally as delicious.
Serves 2 to 4
1 pound pizza dough
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon fig jam (substitute honey, if needed)
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup quartered fresh figs
6 cups loosely packed mixed salad greens
Handful basil leaves, torn
1/4 cup Castelvetrano olives, halved and pitted
6 paper-thin slices prosciutto
Bring the pizza dough to room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before baking to make it easier to shape. Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 450°F.
Place the dough on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Turn to coat in the oil and begin stretching and spreading the dough with your fingertips to a wide oval that almost reaches the edges of the pan. This will take a few minutes to get the springy dough to stay put, but keep working it and it will behave eventually.
Bake the dough on the bottom rack until it’s beginning to brown in spots on the top and is crisp and browned on the bottom, 11 to 14 minutes. Remove the flatbread from the oven and top with the mozzarella slices. Bake in the top third of the oven until the cheese is just melted, 5 to 6 minutes. (It will be a little runny and that’s okay.)
Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 3 tablespoons oil with the vinegar, jam (or honey), garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the figs and toss briefly to coat. Set aside to marinate while the flatbread bakes.
Just before serving, add the salad greens, basil, and olives to the bowl of figs and toss to combine. Spread the salad on top of the cheesy flatbread. Arrange the prosciutto slices evenly around the salad. Cut into 6 to 8 pieces, and serve.
Make these crispy, buttery griddled fritters to satisfy your sweet (corn) tooth.
It’s that time of year when you’re probably thinking about the millions of ways to eat fresh sweet corn while it’s still around, and besides grilling a whole cob and slathering it in butter, these fritters should be at the top of your list. They’re buttery and crisp on the outside, tender and sweet in the middle. Dressed with a slice of smoked salmon and a dollop of sour cream—or crème fraîche if you’re feeling fancy—they’re as delicious for a party starter as they are for brunch. Either way, an accompanying glass of Champagne is practically mandatory.
2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
About 1/4 cup sour cream, for serving
4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon lox
Fresh tender herbs, such as chives, dill, tarragon, and/or basil, for serving
Cut the corn kernels off the cobs into a mixing bowl, then use the back of a knife to scrape out any remaining bits of corn and the corn “milk.” Add the flour, cornmeal, cheese, egg, green onion, salt, and pepper.
Heat a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of the butter and swirl to coat. When the butter is melted and bubbly, use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to scoop up and place four piles of batter in the skillet, with plenty of space between them. Spread the batter into even patties using the back of the measuring cup. Cook without disturbing until a crisp, brown crust forms on the bottom and the fritters seem to hold their shape enough to flip, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently flip to finish cooking on the other side, adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer the fritters to a platter lined with paper towels. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan, and repeat to cook four more fritters.
Serve the fritters warm, topped with a dollop of sour cream, a folded slice of salmon, and a sprinkling of herbs.
It may sound weird to tuck cantaloupe into a bowl of spaghetti, but Italians do it and you should too. That sweet melon is in contrast to a parade of tangy things—red wine vinegar, pickled peppers, and piquant pecorino. Marinated cucumbers bring tempered crunch, buttery olives a bit of umami. Served not hot, but not cold, it’s the kind of thing you want to eat outside with a glass of rosé on an late-summer evening, as much as pack in a portable container for lunch the next day.
Serves 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main
8 ounces dried spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Persian cucumber or 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups diced cantaloupe
1/3 cup lightly packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted Castelvetrano olives
2 tablespoons pickled red sweet peppers (we like Mama Lil’s Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers)
1/4 cup coarsely grated pecorino Romano cheese
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. (They will be a bit firmer when cold, so don’t undercook them.)
Meanwhile, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the cucumbers and marinate 5 to 10 minutes while the pasta cooks.
Drain the spaghetti and rinse briefly under cold water until mostly cooled but still just a little warm. Add the spaghetti to the bowl of dressing and toss to coat. Add the cantaloupe, parsley, olives, and pickled peppers and toss. Top with the pecorino and serve.
Six-ish ingredients, ten layers, crazy crisp crust.
If you’re not already making at least one tomato tart every summer, now is the time to start. Here, sheets of filo (also spelled fillo or phyllo) dough are layered with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and olive oil to create a crust that is shatteringly crisp, and the short list of ingredients let’s those peak-season tomatoes shine.
Makes 8 to 12 servings
2 1/2 pounds tomatoes in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
10 frozen filo sheets, defrosted according to package directions
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Handful fresh oregano leaves
Flaky sea salt, for serving
Slice the tomatoes 1/4-inch thick and spread them out in a single layer on a countertop lined with three layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with the salt and let sit 15 to 20 minutes to release excess moisture while you assemble the crust.
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper that overhangs the ends of the pan (which makes it easy to transfer to a serving board later). Place the stack of filo sheets at your workstation covered by a damp kitchen towel. Carefully place a filo sheet on the baking sheet, keeping the rest covered. (If it tears a little, it’s okay. It won’t be noticeable after baking.) Use a pastry brush to very lightly but thoroughly coat the filo sheet with some of the oil, all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the cheese. Place another filo sheet on top of the first one, brush it with oil, and sprinkle with cheese. Repeat until all of the filo sheets are layered, brushed, and sprinkled.
Lightly pat the top of the tomatoes with paper towels to remove more of the excess moisture. Arrange the tomatoes in a relatively even, slightly overlapping layer over the top layer of filo. Drizzle any remaining oil over the tomatoes.
Bake until the edges are deeply browned and crisp, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the oregano leaves and flaky salt over the tart. Cool to room temperature. Lift the tart from the baking sheet using the overhanging parchment paper and place it on a large serving platter. Cut into pieces, and serve.
When you love BLTs so much you eat them first thing in the morning.
Tomato season means it’s (finally) BLT season again. If you just can’t get enough of the world’s most perfect sandwich, make one for breakfast. Here you’ll find a clever trick for getting griddled bread—or English muffins in this case—extra crisp. Instead of smearing the cut sides with butter, use mayo and cook to crunchy, toasty perfection. Baking the bacon makes it easy to cook up a big batch in one shot, keeping the strips evenly cooked throughout. Now for the tomato: choose the ripest red beefsteak or heirloom variety, and slice it extra thick to be sure it takes the starring role.
1 large ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomato, cut into 4 thick slices
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
Cut the bacon strips in half and arrange them on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until the bacon is crisp at the edges but still meaty and chewy in the center, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the bacon strips to a paper towel-lined plate, and reserve the bacon fat for another use.
Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Spread the cut sides of each English muffin with 1/2 teaspoon of the mayonnaise. Toast with cut sides down in the skillet until golden brown and crisp, working in batches as needed; set aside.
Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and return it to medium heat. Add the butter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Once melted, fry the eggs sunny-side up until the whites are set and crispy at the edges and the yolks are molten. Slide them out of the pan and onto a plate and season with salt and pepper.
Build the sandwiches beginning with another 1/2 tablespoon of mayonnaise spread on each cut side of the English muffins, then a handful of the arugula followed by a tomato slice. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and add the fried eggs, then top with four of the bacon strips per sandwich. Place the tops on and serve hot.
Having a jar of slow-roasted cherry tomatoes in garlic and thyme-infused olive oil in the fridge is a culinary godsend when dinnertime rolls around. The obvious thing may be to toss them in a bowl of hot spaghetti (and that’s amazing, to be sure), but here’s an opportunity to get creative: mix them into risotto, perch them atop toasted bread spread with creamy ricotta, serve them alongside an oozing ball of burrata. They have the magical ability to dress up anything from a swirl of hummus to seared salmon to grilled steak. And we’re not even getting into the salad possibilities.
1 heaping pint cherry tomatoes
6 garlic cloves, peeled
6 thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Arrange the tomatoes in a shallow baking dish that is just large enough to hold them in a single, snug layer. Add the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs here and there, and sprinkle in the salt. Pour in the olive oil to completely cover the garlic and thyme and almost cover the tomatoes.
Roast until the tomatoes are soft with wilted skins, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Store It: Keep the tomatoes submerged in the oil in a covered container for up to 1 week.
A flavor-packed sauce is all you need to amplify grilled summer produce. Salsa verde—or, “green sauce”—is one such sauce. Here we buzz sweet mint, parsley, and pistachios for an Italian-leaning version that’s just what a melange of charred summer squash is begging for.
Makes 4 servings
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
2 pounds mixed summer squash, such as zucchini, yellow crookneck, and pattypan
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Torn squash blossoms, for garnish (optional)
Put the mint, parsley, pistachios, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Pour in the olive oil and process briefly, just to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer the sauce to a small container and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top to cover the surface and keep it from oxidizing. Set aside at room temperature for up to 2 hours, or refrigerate to keep for up to 24 hours.
Prepare a grill for medium heat direct cooking and oil the grates.
Cut the squash into various shapes according to size: slice large zucchini and yellow crooknecks lengthwise in 1/4-inch thick planks; cut baby squash that are less than 1 1/2-inches in diameter in half lengthwise; and cut pattypans into wedges. Toss the squash in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season them generously with salt and pepper.
Grill the squash on the cut sides until lightly charred and just tender and beginning to release juices (but not mushy), 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Arrange the squash on a serving platter. Dot the salsa verde here and there. Sprinkle with the feta and squash blossoms, if using, and serve warm.
Peanut butter and jelly in dessert form? Yes, please.
Swapping out some of the butter for peanut butter and adding peanuts to the crunchy topping makes this summer berry crisp reminiscent of everyone’s favorite childhood sandwich, and no one will be mad about it.
Serves 8 to 10
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons peanut butter (chunky or creamy is fine)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup whole-wheat or all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
3 pints strawberries, hulled and halved
2 pints blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup cornstarch
Ice cream, for serving
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 375°F.
Stir the melted butter and peanut butter together in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, the flour, oats, peanuts, and salt, and stir until well combined and the mixture looks moist and chunky. Cool to room temperature.
Combine the strawberries, blackberries, and lemon juice in a large bowl and toss together. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the cornstarch, and a pinch of salt, and toss again until evenly coated. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish.
Loosely scatter the topping over the berry mixture in an even layer, squeezing the topping to form some small clumps as you go.
Set the baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is crisp and deeply browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool, at least 10 minutes, or as long as you can stand it. Serve warm, with scoops of ice cream.