Matzo ball soup has a season, and the season is now. I imagine if you’re celebrating Passover you already know what you’re cooking tonight (please tell me you already know what you’re cooking tonight).
A few of the recipes below would also work for weekend feasts, but mostly they’re just delicious options for any time.
Baked spanakopita pasta with greens and feta
This baked pasta is inspired by spanakopita, the classic Greek spinach and feta pie. This loose interpretation combines pasta with gooey mozzarella, briny feta, plenty of greens and a rich cream sauce, which is then piled into a dish and baked until golden. The key to this dish is in the greens: use at least three kinds – a mellow one, a peppery one and a fresh herb or two – to create an exciting mix of flavours. No need to saute them; just salt and massage them until they wilt slightly. This cosy dish might be the best way to eat your greens all year long.
By: Ali Slagle
Total time: 40 minutes
Salt and black pepper
120g chopped spinach, Swiss chard or other mild greens (tough stems removed)
100g chopped rocket, watercress or other peppery greens
10g chopped fresh dill or parsley leaves and tender stems, or a combination
6 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced, whites and dark green parts separated
450g tubular or curvy pasta, like rigatoni or fusilli
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
225g cream cheese, cut into 1.5cm cubes
115g mozzarella, grated
115g crumbled feta
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat the oven to 230C.
2. In a 2.8L/22-by-33cm baking dish, toss the chopped spinach, rocket, herbs and spring onion greens with 2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Squeeze the mixture with your hands to wilt, then set aside.
3. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until 2 minutes shy of al dente; reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside. Return the pot to the stove.
4. Melt the butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the spring onion whites, garlic and a pinch of salt, and saute until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cream cheese and pasta water and stir until smooth. Stir in the wilted greens, half the mozzarella and half the feta until combined. Stir in the pasta until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
5. Transfer the pasta to the baking dish, then top with remaining mozzarella and feta. Bake until the sauce has thickened and bubbly and the top has browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. If you like a crisper top, broil for a few minutes.
Hot mustard and honey glazed chicken
Asian hot mustard powder is a versatile pantry staple that can quickly transform into a spicy sauce, glaze or dressing. Here, the hot mustard is tamed with sweet honey and balanced by fragrant garlic for a savoury glaze that caramelises on chicken when roasted. Once cooked, the chicken receives a final basting for a fresh burst of spicy flavour. Make a double batch of the glaze, as it also tastes great on pork chops and grilled prawns. Leftover chicken can quickly become a salad the next day; just chop and toss with spinach or romaine and a simple vinaigrette.
By: Kay Chun
Serves: 4 servings
Total time: 45 minutes
25g hot Asian mustard powder (or English dry mustard, such as Colman’s)
6 tbsp mild honey, such as clove or acacia
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
½ tsp grated garlic
Salt and black pepper
450g carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
450g fingerling potatoes, sliced 1.5cm thick
¼ cup (60ml) neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
6 chicken legs (about 1.5kg), drumsticks and thighs separated
Chopped spring onions or chives, for garnish
Lemon wedges, for serving
1. Heat oven to 220C. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk mustard powder with ¼ cup very hot water until well combined; let stand 5 minutes (the heat of the water will activate and release the mustard’s spicy flavour). Add honey, soy sauce, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt, and whisk to combine. Reserve half of the sauce in a small bowl for basting.
2. On a rimmed baking tray, combine carrots, potatoes and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss to evenly coat, and spread in an even layer.
3. Rub chicken with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Add to the large bowl with the sauce and toss to evenly coat, then arrange on top of the vegetables.
4. Roast until vegetables are tender and chicken is golden and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Divide chicken and vegetables among plates and baste chicken all over with the remaining sauce. Pour baking tray juices into a small bowl and skim off any excess fat.
5. Spoon over pan juices, garnish with spring onions and serve with lemon wedges.
Roasted asparagus with crispy leeks and capers
In this supremely springy recipe, thick asparagus stalks and thinly sliced leeks are glossed with olive oil and covered in salty capers. Everything is roasted in the same pan and emerges tender and golden-edged. Capers also make an appearance in the mustard sauce served alongside, which adds a tangy, mayonnaise-like richness. You can double the recipe, if you wish, though you may have to increase the roasting time by a few minutes to make up for a more-crowded pan. Serve this on its own as a first course, or as an accompaniment to roast chicken, braised meats or seared fish. Just don’t use thin asparagus: it’ll cook too quickly, before the leeks have a chance to turn golden. Stick with spears that are at least 1.5cm in diameter.
By: Melissa Clark
Serves: 3 to 4
Total time: 20 minutes
For the asparagus:
450g thick asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 large leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 tbsp drained capers
Lemon wedges, for serving
Handful parsley, leaves and tender stems, torn
For the mustard sauce:
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp drained capers, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely grated or minced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1. Heat oven to 220C. Put asparagus on a rimmed baking tray and toss with 1 tablespoon oil and ½ teaspoon salt until well coated.
2. In a small bowl, stir together leeks, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Sprinkle leeks on top of asparagus, then sprinkle with capers. Roast until asparagus are tender and golden brown, about 12 to 18 minutes.
3. While the asparagus stalks roast, make the mustard sauce: in a small bowl, whisk together mustard, capers and garlic. Slowly whisk in olive oil a few drops at a time to create a thick, emulsified dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Once asparagus stalks are out of the oven, squeeze a lemon wedge over it and sprinkle parsley on top. Serve with mustard sauce and more lemon wedges on the side.
Fuul (Somali-style fava bean stew)
Fuul is a beloved fava bean stew that has long been woven into the culinary fabric of east Africa, north Africa and the Middle East. It’s also known as ful medames or foul mudammas. This comforting stew is served in a variety of ways: slow-simmered whole beans topped with juicy tomatoes and olive oil, or simply crushed and spritzed with lemon juice. This recipe is for Somali-style fuul, which consists of smashed fava beans and receives its intoxicating smell from the xawaash mix. Fuul is eaten for breakfast alongside eggs and fresh anjero, and is perfect for suhoor or iftar.
By: Ifrah F Ahmed
Total time: 30 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp fine sea salt or to taste
4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground black pepper
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tspground cardamom
1 (400g) tin small fava beans, rinsed
¼ cup (60g) tomato sauce
Handful coriander leaves, washed and roughly chopped
Anjero or other flatbread, for serving (optional)
1. In a medium pot or deep skillet over medium heat, warm up the olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, add the onion and stir. Let the onions cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and almost translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Once the onions have cooked, add in the garlic and let it cook until it softens, about 2 minutes. Add the roughly chopped tomatoes and let them cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes or until they start to break down. Add the salt.
3. While the tomato mixture cooks, prepare the xawaash mix: add the cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom to a small nonstick pan. Toast over low heat, stirring continuously, for 1 minute or until the spice mix becomes fragrant.
4. Add the xawaash mix to the simmering tomato and onions. While the tomatoes finish cooking, add the rinsed fava beans to a medium bowl and use a pestle to mash them until there are almost no whole beans left. Stir the mashed beans into the tomatoes.
5. Stir in the tomato sauce, 1 cup of water and the chopped coriander leaves into the bean and tomato mixture. Cover the pan and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in up to an additional ⅓ cup of water if the stew gets too thick.
6. Serve the fuul with anjero, if desired. Leftovers keep for about a week in the fridge.
Without the bread muffling the crunch of bacon and crisp lettuce, BLT tacos are a lot more texturally exciting than the usual sandwich. Here, hot sauce-spiked mayonnaise adds spice; avocado adds creaminess; and chopping the tomatoes into a salsa with jalapeno, lime juice and coriander makes everything juicy and bright. You can serve these for brunch, lunch or a light, fast dinner.
By: Melissa Clark
Total time: 25 minutes
450g thick-cut bacon
340g cherry tomatoes, quartered (mixed colours are pretty here)
1 small jalapeño, seeded or not, finely chopped
2 tbsp coriander, chopped
1½ tsp fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
Salt, to taste
1½ tsp Cholula or other hot sauce, or to taste, plus more for serving
8 (15cm) corn or flour tortillas
Romaine lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
1 avocado, sliced (optional)
1. Heat oven to 200C. Lay bacon in an even layer on a rimmed baking tray, and bake until browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool.
2. While bacon is cooking, toss together tomatoes, jalapeño, coriander, lime juice and a large pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and add more lime juice and salt, if needed.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and hot sauce.
4. Lay a clean kitchen towel in a medium bowl. Using the open flame from a stovetop gas burner (or in a frying pan placed on an electric burner), warm and lightly char tortillas, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. Transfer warmed tortillas to a towel-lined bowl, and cover with towel to keep warm while you finish remaining tortillas.
5. Serve, letting people make their own tacos by layering bacon, salsa, lettuce, spicy mayonnaise and avocado, if using, on tortillas. Top with more hot sauce, if desired.
© The New York Times