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I do get a lot of interesting looks when I mention cooking cucumbers, but they are really good. Much of their appeal rests on cooking just enough so they get hot all the way through, but are still succulent and crisp. This dish relies on temperature contrasts (hot cucumbers and cold tomatoes) and sweet/bitter contrasts (cucumber has a slight bitterness in the background, tomato has a slight acidity, and they both have sweetness) for interest. A very simple dish that is easy to play with; add garlic, basil, pine nuts, etc. for variation.

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Silky slightly bitter escarole contrasts with slightly sweet and toothsome beets. It is also a pretty dish.

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A very simple sauce. That means you need good tomatoes, and it is very important to cook the garlic slowly so it will caramelize, not burn. Mexican, or Korintje, cinnamon will give a lovely floral flavor, and the recipe is written with this in mind. If you use another type, start with less as they will provide more of a red-hots candy flavor which can easily overwhelm the dish. Use this sauce anywhere from delicate pastas to fish, chicken, or goat, or on vegetables such as escarole or greens, or with a mélange of summer vegetables a lá ratatouille.

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Here is a salad with nice textural contrasts that is light but very satisfying. The beans can be done a day or two ahead of time. Making extra beans allows you to use them for other things such as a smashed paste as a dip for chips or crackers, part of a vegetable braise, or an accompaniment to sausages.

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This can be used as a sauce or a glaze, depending on far you choose to reduce it. Leaving it wet and slightly chunky yields a nice quick sauce for most major proteins, pastas, and summer squash. Pureed and strained is excellent for things like broiled salmon, pork chops, or a sauté of corn and peppers. Cook down the pureé for a glaze for things like this dish. Depending on how intense or thick you like it, thin with a little water or pasta cooking water. Cooked down enough you can use it as a syrup for something dessert-y.

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A nice autumnal dish that is satisfying without being too heavy. Use it as a side dish for pork chops or sausages, or top with fried eggs and have it as supper or breakfast. Make it into a more substantial meal with some additions-see Chef’s Notes for ideas.

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Here is a wonderful side dish that can easily convert to a main course with the addition of a few carrots and some sausage.

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Be sure to use a thin bacon, or the gratin might fall apart when you cut it. Use a Ben-Riner or mandolin

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Here is another vinaigrette where tomato is the flavor. Use flavorful tomatoes, or your dressing will just be a reddish vegetal tasting vinaigrette.

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Use this slightly sweet concoction as a sauce when cooked a little loose, or reduce it further and use it to glaze something, like Romanesco or cauliflower, fish, or pasta. For this dish to be successful, the tomatoes must be ripe and flavorful. If they are not, find another recipe to use.

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You can also do this dish with cauliflower, or even with thick carrots roll cut into 1-inch chunks. As far as seasoning goes, you could run anywhere from herbs such as thyme, and marjoram or use lovage (tastes sort of like a cross between flat parsley and the leaves of the center of a celery head), to spices with a Mid-East or Indian bent. Think garlic and cinnamon, or cumin and coriander, or curry. This iteration runs towards the European with marjoram and lovage.

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A simple technique that shows off the succulence of the stalks of mei-quin and crisps the leaves nicely. The flavor is mild, so the salad of tomato with the light dressing points up the flavor of the mei-quin.

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If you wish to save time, you can skip sautéing the cauliflower, although it does add a great extra layer of flavor.

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The escarole melts into the onions and adds a nice mildly bitter foil to the sweetness of the onions and the yellow fleshed potatoes. You could use cream in lieu of the stock for richer gratin. To make an all-in-one dish, add ham or bacon.

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This is meant to be a topping for bruschetta, but works perfectly as a side dish or topping on flatbread.

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Although people think the idea is strange, people always like the savory waffles once they try them. Anytime I cook grains, I always make a little extra and freeze it for recipes like this one. This recipe utilizes another recipe that was a stand-in for another recipe. It is always fun to watch the progression of some dishes. This recipe works for brunch, or as an interesting dinner salad, or you could have it alongside some protein for a light dinner. It is important to the success of this dish that the waffles be hot and crisp.

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Bright and flavorful, this salad is easy to dress up and turn into a light main course with the addition of a can of tuna, croutons, olives, etc.

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Chantenay carrots are actually meant to be grown large. The flavor improves with size, and they seem to have a nicer flavor as well. This recipe can be made with other carrots, but I love the flavor and shape of big Chantenays. Serve this as a side to beef or with roasted Portobello mushrooms as a bed.

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Be sure to start this enough ahead of time for the radishes and turnips to soak in ice water for at least a half-hour. This helps tame some of the bite, and yields nice crisp slices.

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This paste is similar to what goes onto black cod or sablefish to make the very popular “Cod Miso-yaki”, although this iteration was concocted for roasted turnips. You could also apply this to carrots or tofu as a marinade to prepare them for roasting, or apply it to pork for a while before grilling it.

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This is a very flavorful, “umami” packed dish, and is great as an accompaniment to robust dishes like grilled steak, or milder dishes such as a white fish or chicken as a contrast item. You could add orange juice to the miso for a sweeter range of flavor. You can also add radishes to the dish. Blanch for only a few seconds if they are spicy, then add in with the turnips. Roasting radishes produces juicy colorful chunks that are very mildly spicy. A quick sauté of the greens makes a perfect bed for the turnips. If you don’t have the greens, skip that part of the recipe.

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This is for a salad featuring crisp shaved radishes and turnips, but would be great on cold poached salmon, or hot grilled salmon. Try it with shrimp, or a Mediterranean themed poached chicken salad with arugula, frisée, etc. Although the recipe calls for Meyer lemons, you can use Eurekas. Just watch for the level of tartness.

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A variation on roasted beets, this iteration sees the beets cut into bâtonnet instead of wedges, and a combination of orange juice, orange flower water, and vinegar is used instead of straight vinegar. Be careful with the orange flower (a.k.a. orange blossom water) as it is quite strong, and leaves a bitter taste when too much is used.

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Another kale salad, and I think it’s a good one. The process of crumpling the kale does something that makes the kale sweeter, and the beets match the earthiness of the kale. The cucumbers add a nice hit of cool moisture that goes well with the dry salt flavor of the pistachios.

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This is a great way to get more vegetables into your life, and this dish is great for breakfast or for dinner. Cooking the eggs so the yolk is still runny provides a silky sauce for the earthy kale, and runny yolks contain lecithin, which helps counter the effects of cholesterol in the body. If you wish, you could add bits of prosciutto or mushrooms to the kale, or scatter the ramekins with some cheese a few minutes before they come out of the oven.

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The creamy part of this dressing derives from yogurt. Use this dressing with beet and kale salads, cucumbers, with chicken, or shredded carrot and lettuce salads.

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This is pretty much just what it says, a typical pico de gallo salsa, but made with summer squash rather than cucumbers, and scallions stand in for white or yellow onions, and mild sweet Gypsy peppers replace the typical jalapeño. Basil and lemon replace the cilantro and lime, making this an “alternate dimension” salsa fresca. If you like it hot, add a spicy chili or two or scatter some pizza-house chili flakes in.

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Quite simple, but quite good. This is a versatile combination-cut the squash into different shapes, grill it just enough to cook through and chill it and dress it with cold dressing for a salad tossed with some romaine or Little Gem lettuce. Use mint instead of basil, and go Mid-East.

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Here’s a riff on the more forward flavored Charred Scallion Vinaigrette. The yogurt softens the “charred” flavor, and the basil combines with the charred scallion to yield a flavor reminiscent of a wood-fired pizza with a thin crust nicely charred in spots. Use for drizzling on grilled summer squash, or dipping crudité or hot grilled or cold steamed shrimp.

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