Let’s face it, most pear tart recipes are complicated. You have to make the dough, then let it rest. Next you have to pre-bake the crust, or maybe go out and get some frozen puff pastry. I’ve even seen recipes calling for making the puff pastry at home (not happening). Or, there are recipes requiring a traditional full-blown pie crust. I have a lovely apple pie recipe I hardly ever make because it’s just too much fussing. This rustic pear tart, on the other hand, is fairly easy and straightforward.
You don’t have to crimp the edges, or pre-bake the crust. You don’t even have to cook the pears in advance. I saw one recipe that had 22 steps! Nope. Nope. Nope. This recipe is much easier than that! There are only six steps. Much better! The active time is about 15 minutes of work, and the whole thing is done in about an hour and a half (including resting in the fridge and baking).
First you make the dough. That’s only six basic ingredients you likely already have at home. Then, you let it cool in the refrigerator for an hour, and press out the dough into a roughly circular shape. Next, add the fruit, sprinkle the spices on top, and bake.
I’ve made this tart with pears, because I had some extremely ripe pears I wanted to use up. If you don’t have pears, or would rather use something else, apples will work beautifully too. And, both are in season now. Once summer comes back around, you might try it with peaches or maybe plums too.
The original recipe (which I cut in half) required a food processor. If you don’t have one, you can use a pastry cutter or two sharp knives instead. I have included instructions for both.
1 small egg yolk (if you have only large eggs, separate the egg yolk and white, and then pour off half the yolk)
2-3 T cold water
2-3 pears, cored and sliced thinly
1 T brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch ground ginger
If you have a food processor, add the flour, sugar, and salt to the food processor bowl and pulse for a second or two. If not, add the ingredients to a mixing bowl.
Cut up 4T of the butter into pieces, and add that to the bowl. Then add the egg yolk. Pulse (for the food processor) for about 10 seconds until it's all mixed together. If using a bowl, cut the butter up with a pastry cutter or two knives. It should be the size of small peas. Then mix everything together.
Add the cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is moist enough to form a ball. Then wrap it up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Take the ball out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Let the dough warm up as the oven comes to temperature. This will make it easier to handle. Pat the dough into a rough circle, pushing outward from the middle with your hands. Then place it on a non-stick cookie sheet (if you don't have one, line it with parchment paper).
Arrange the pear slices on top. You can line them up carefully, or just toss them casually on the crust. Sprinkle the tart with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Then add the remaining butter, cut up into little pieces, and dot the tart with it.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the crust gets brown and the fruit is juicy and tender. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.
Rustic Pear Tart Substitutions and Variations
Don’t have pears? Make this with apples instead (or try peaches in the summer)
Add some green cardamom to the tart (along with the other spices)
Replace some of the flour with ground almond meal
Add a little Reisling or other dessert wine to the filling
These Turkish lamb burgers are flavorful, filling, and just a little bit messy, so keep plenty of napkins handy. It’s worth the mess though. The burgers are rich from lamb, slightly salty from the feta and spicy/warm from cumin and garlic. Adding mint to both the burgers and the yogurt cucumber sauce adds a fresh, cool flavor to balance out the spices.
I adapted this recipe from one I found online so long ago I can’t remember where I found it. It does require a bit of pre-planning, since the meat mixture has to sit for a while for the flavors to blend. So, it’s probably best for a weekend, rather than a Tuesday dinner. However, once that’s done, the rest of the recipe comes together pretty quickly. And, it’s practically a meal all by itself.
Make the meat mixture for the burgers first, let it sit overnight or a few hours in the fridge, and then make the cucumber yogurt sauce while the burgers are cooking.
I did make this for two servings, rather than one, because half an egg isn’t so bad, but a quarter of an egg is ridiculous, even for me.
How to get half an egg, you ask? What you do is break the egg, beat it lightly, and then pour half of it out into a separate container. You should end up with about 3 1/4 T of egg total. Use half that for the burgers, or approximately 1 2/3 T (5 teaspoons). Save the rest of the egg to make a cherry tomato basil frittata or a spinach and feta omelette in a day or two. Don’t worry if it’s not exact, we’re not baking!
I broiled the burgers in my toaster oven, and put the pita on top for a minute or so to warm it up. If you have a grill, you could use that instead.
Serve the burgers in pita bread topped with the yogurt dill sauce, then add garnishes to suit your taste.
Rich, savory and full of sweet/salty and warm spices, plus a jolt of mint to cool it all down.
1/2 lb. ground lamb
2 1/2 T (which is 7 1/2 tsp) bread crumbs
1/2 egg, beaten lightly
1/3 C onion, minced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced (about one small clove)
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 tsp dried oregano
1 T fresh mint
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp lemon juice
generous pinch salt
generous pinch pepper
Yogurt Dill Sauce
1/3 C Greek yogurt
1/3 C diced cucumber
1/3 tsp dried dill
2/3 tsp fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste
Get a medium size bowl and add all the burger ingredients together. Mix it all thoroughly. It's best to use your hands for this (like a meatloaf) until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.
Refrigerate the mixture for a few hours, or overnight for better flavor.
Preheat your toaster oven to broil.
Separate the meat mixture into two patties and brush lightly with olive oil on both sides.
Cook for about 4 minutes, turn patties over, and then cook another 4 minutes until lamb is medium. When the burgers are nearly done (about 7 minutes in), put the pitas on top of the hot toaster oven to warm.
Yogurt Cucumber Sauce
While the lamb is cooking, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Place the burgers in the pita and top with the sauce.
Note that the prep and cooking time are short, but you'll need inactive time of a few hours. If you have a grill, you can use that to cook the burgers, rather than the toaster oven.
Turkish Lamb Burgers Substitutions and Variations
Garnish with some extra crumbled feta cheese
Top with thinly sliced red onions
Add sliced tomatoes and extra chopped cucumber on top of your lamb burger
Make the burgers with half lamb and half ground turkey (use dark meat if you can find it); or if you don’t like lamb, just use the turkey
I spotted this wonderful merguez sausage (spicy sausage made with lamb) while shopping online and then went looking for some ideas on what to do with it. I found a lamb merguez tagine recipe but I had no squash, no chickpeas and no couscous (also no tagine, but a saucepan fixed that).Time to adapt and improvise! I’m calling it lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetables.
First I replaced the couscous with rice.Then, instead of squash or zucchini (which I didn’t have, and didn’t think ideal with the lamb anyway) I used the rest of a white eggplant I already had at hand. I am a firm believer in using what you have whenever possible (especially with all those steps, I’m not going up and down for one can or two items)!
The result was this delicious lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetables. It only takes about 35 or 40 minutes to cook. Plus, I reduced the original three pots to only two (one for the rice and another for the lamb and veggies). I wasn’t going to clean three pots!Not to mention, the ingredients are now in the order you use them.
If you’re not familiar with merguez sausage, it’s a bit spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s flavored with chili peppers and cumin, but that’s tempered by the cinnamon, coriander, onions, and garlic, which mellow as you simmer them. The richness of the eggplant and the sweet carrots also make an excellent foil for the spicy lamb.
First get the rice started. Boil the water first, then add the rice.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the cinnamon, coriander, paprika, cumin, and turmeric. Let the mixture cook for a few seconds.
Add the lemon juice, fennel, garlic, onion, and green olives, and cook on medium, about 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.
Add the sausage to the pot, and cook 5 minutes to brown it. Mix in the flour and then add the chicken broth. Let the mixture cook for a few minutes until it starts to simmer (you’ll see bubbling).
Add the carrots, eggplant, and raisins and cook for 15-20 minutes until the carrots are soft, the eggplant browns, and the sausage is fully cooked through.
Serve over the rice.
If you are using brown rice, it will take about 40 minutes to cook once the water boils. White rice needs about 18 minutes. Stir the rice when you add it to the boiling water, and then again right before serving. This will make it fluffier.
Lamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables Substitutions and Variations
If you have the chickpeas, add them to the dish
Or substitute some lentils for the eggplant
Try it with couscous instead of the rice
Or serve it over some pasta
If you can’t find the merguez, you can approximate the flavor by using ground lamb, increasing the garlic, cumin, and coriander and adding some harissa or sriracha or chili garlic sauce for kick
Want something quick and easy for dinner with very little cleanup? Salmon in foil packet with potatoes to the rescue! You just slice up the potatoes, chop the tomatoes, and then layer everything into a piece of aluminum foil, folded into a packet. Then just pop it in the oven. When you’re done, just toss the foil . No cleanup!
Since this is cooked in foil, there are no pots to scrub after dinner. I do like cooking, but I’m not that mad about cleaning up afterward, so this is a big bonus as far as I am concerned.
If you can, get the salmon at Trader Joe’s. Their frozen salmon is considerably cheaper than the fresh salmon at the usual market. You will have to defrost it first, but that’s easy enough (just stick it in the fridge in the morning). Other than that, there’s very little effort involved in making this dish. It’s flavorful, it’s one pot (er, foil packet), and it’s an entire dinner in one simple package.
The citrus adds zest, the tomatoes are sweet, and the potatoes are baked right in the package with the salmon. Plus, the foil keeps the salmon from drying out. Because nobody wants to eat hard, dry fish!
I don’t like freshly-cooked tomatoes (even though I love tomato sauce and soup), so I added them at the end. If you don’t have that weird problem, put them in the packet with the rest of the ingredients.
I’m told it’s popsicle week this week, and who am I to argue? It’s barely summer but NY has already hit “swelter season.” That means it’s what we call 3H weather: hazy, hot, and humid. Strawberry banana yogurt popsicles are sweet, cold, and have no additional sugar added. They’re the perfect summer treat when the temperature hits “Oh no, you gotta be kidding me!” There’s also no cooking or heating anything involved; ideal when it’s just too warm and sticky to face a hot stove.
All you have to do is measure the ingredients, blend everything together, and then freeze. About 2 hours later, you’ve got a great snack.
I adapted the recipe slightly from one I found online here. The original recipe was for 10 pops, which is way too much. So, I cut it in half. I also used strawberries instead of mixed berries. It’s the height of strawberry season and they are outrageously delicious!
I have a four-pop mold popsicle set, which holds about three ounces each. I’ve had them for years, which is both great and annoying. Great because they’ve held up well; annoying because since the pops all insert into one tray, it’s hard to get only one pop at a time. I’d much rather have something like this, which is designed to make it easier to get one pop out at a time.
Some molds are bigger (or smaller), so the final number of pops you get will depend on the size of the mold you have. If you don’t have a mold at all, you can pour the mixture into an ice cube tray and stick toothpicks in it. That will give you a dozen bite size mini-pops instead.
This design makes it far easier to get one popsicle at a time. Each mold sits in its own individual slot, so you don’t have to struggle to get just one pop. There’s also a little tiny brush to clean them with. Or, just put them in the dishwasher.
If you really want to get fancy, try out this juice pop maker. Freeze the container ahead of time, then add the ingredients, and you’ll get a tasty frozen treat in just 7 minutes. It doesn’t even need electricity. Note that this will only work with sugar-sweetened pops (not sugar-free or artificial sweeteners).
I love chocolate, but sometimes it keeps me awake at night. So, I’m always on the lookout for delicious desserts that don’t take a lot of time to make, especially in warmer weather when I don’t want to keep the oven on for a long time. Caramelized pineapple chunks hits the spot perfectly. It’s only got four ingredients and takes only about 15 minutes to make. Perfect!
This is a dessert that’s sweet, fruity, and seems decadent (but isn’t really). The pineapple chunks are cooked with just a bit of butter and some brown sugar to form a rich brown caramel sauce. The rest is basically fruit (and optional nuts). It only takes a few minutes to make, so you don’t have to stand over the stove for half the day. The original recipe called for rum (which I didn’t have), so I left it out. If you do have it, by all means use it. Dark rum would be best.
You can also garnish it in different ways. Top it with some chopped pistachios, or crushed almonds. Or, add some strawberries (one fruit is good, two fruits are even better). It’s both sweet and somehow savory at the same time.
While you can use a fresh pineapple, then you have to worry about using up the rest of it. I got around this problem by going to the market and getting cut up chunks of fresh pineapple. It’s much easier, less cutting, no mess, and no concerns about eating the rest of it before it spoils (which would be a shame!).
If you can’t get the fresh chunks, you can use the canned variety in a pinch. Just make sure to get the kind in juice, not in syrup. If you use the canned version, cook the pineapple in the juice from the can (if you like) instead of orange juice.
One thing, don’t walk away from it. Leave it in the pan too long and the sugar will burn, making a terrible mess (ask me how I know this).
If you want, you can make the whole thing in advance and eat it the next day. It’s better slightly warm or at room temperature, so let it sit out for a while to warm up before you eat it.
Rich caramel sauce, fresh pineapple, and a touch of butter for an easy quick dessert.
1 C fresh pineapple
2 1/4 tsp butter (unsalted)
4 tsp brown sugar
3 tsp orange juice
Cut up the pineapple into small chunks (if you are using fresh, otherwise, just measure the right amount from the can)
Put a small skillet on medium heat and add the butter, sugar, and orange juice. Stir everything together until the sugar gets wet and the butter melts.
Add the pineapple chunks and increase the heat to medium high. Bring the mixture to a boil. cover the pan, and cook for about 5 minutes.
Remove the cover, and use a slotted spoon to turn the chunks over on the other side. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for another five or six minutes, shaking the pan at about the four or five minute mark. The sauce should thicken and darken into a caramel syrup.
Using the slotted spoon, remove the pineapple onto a plate and pour the syrup over them (making sure to turn the pieces over to coat them thoroughly).
Let the mixture cool for five minutes or so.
Caramelized Pineapple Chunks Substitutions and Variations
Top the pineapple with a shot of dark rum or brandy (or try adding the rum to the sauce)
Garnish the fruit with chopped nuts (pistachios or ground almonds)
Purists call this dish white ragu pappardelle pasta; others call it white bolognese (which makes the purists mad). The point isn’t the name (it tastes just as good no matter what you call it). And, much as I love tomato sauces, the white sauce is a tasty change from the usual red one.
It starts with onions and carrots, then adds ground beef and sausage, which is simmered gently with porcini mushrooms, white wine, and a touch of cream. Soooo good.
I first made this right after Pesach, when the urge to eat starch (and lots of it) is strong, so I splurged for fresh pappardelle pasta. Being on an involuntary low-carb diet is no fun! Since I was using fresh pasta, it takes less time to cook than the dried version. If you use dried pasta, allow 10 minutes or so to boil the water and another 8 minutes or so to cook the pasta. Fresh pasta only needs a couple of minutes. If you can’t get pappardelle, rigatoni will work fine. You want a substantial pasta with bite (angel hair won’t do here).
The original recipe calls for dried porcini mushrooms, which I didn’t have. So, I substituted fresh ones. If you use the dried version, add the soaking liquid to the sauce instead of the water. The pasta water at the end thickens the sauce (with the starch from the cooked pasta).
I made a few other changes too. As a commenter rightly pointed out, the onions and carrots take different amounts of time to cook, so they shouldn’t be added all at once. First the onions, then the carrots. Also, I never have beef bouillon cubes (the ingredients make me wince) so I used beef stock instead.
White ragu papardelle is a fun and delicious change from the usual red sauce.
2 T olive oil
2 T onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into small chunks
2-3 porcini mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 mild Italian sausage (you can use pork sausage or chicken sausage), chopped up (take the casing off)
1/4 pound ground beef
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 C beef stock
3/4 C water
1 1/4 T heavy cream
1/4 pound pappardelle (plus 2 quarts of water to boil the pasta)
2 T freshly ground Parmigiano cheese
Add the oil to a wide, deep frying pan (the wider the better, so there’s more surface area to reduce the liquids faster) on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the diced onion. Cook for a minute.
Then add the carrots, and the mushrooms, and sauté about five minutes or so. The veggies should be slightly tender, but not soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Then add the cut up sausage and the ground beef (break up the beef into small pieces, so there are no clumps of meat; you want it distributed throughout the pan). Cook that until the meat is all thoroughly browned.
Add the wine and let the liquid cook down until it is nearly dry. Now add the beef stock and lower the heat from medium-high to medium. Let it simmer (just bubbling) until the stock has practically evaporated and then add the 3/4 cup of water. Let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes.
Taste it and add more salt and pepper if necessary. The sauce should be slightly runny, (think stroganoff, but Italian).
Take the pan off the stove, away from the heat, and add the cream (folding it into the sauce). Cover the pot to keep it warm.
Put two quarts of water in a medium size saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then add the pasta. Cook 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta, 8-10 for dried. When the pasta is nearly cooked, remove a ladleful of the pasta water and set it aside in a bowl.
Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot you used to cook it. Add the ragu sauce and stir it gently. Add the pasta water you set aside in the last step.
Serve with grated cheese.
Note: if you use dried mushrooms, soak them in the 3/4 C water and add them (and the water you soaked them in) after you add the stock.
White Ragu Papardelle Pasta Substitutions and Variations
Substitute bacon or pancetta for the sausage
Swap ground veal and pork for the beef and sausage
If you like venison or boar, those would work too
Add a few cloves of garlic and top with basil when you serve it
Don’t want sausage or beef? Use ground turkey instead (add a bit more fat to the pan)
There are three holidays this weekend: two big ones and one silly one. The big ones are Easter and Passover and since each holiday has entirely different traditions and foods, I was initially stumped. What do I post that works for both holidays? Then it hit me! These holidays do have something in common: eggs. This egg and tomato grain is just the thing.
I adapted this dish from a recipe by Jacques Pépin. It’s from his Fast Food My Way cookbook. I haven’t changed much, other than the quantities, and using canned tomatoes instead of fresh. The fresh tomatoes aren’t very good this time of year, and besides, I dislike fresh-cooked tomatoes.
The eggs are mixed with tomato and onions, garlic, and thyme. The thyme adds a slightly spicy flavor and pairs beautifully with tomato. The whole thing is then finished with grated, slightly nutty Swiss cheese. Delicious!
And it works whether you’re on Team Pesach or Team Easter. Not to mention that whether you observe Easter or Passover, you’re likely to want a light lunch before your big meal(s) or want to take it easy the next day. This egg dish is relatively light and won’t fill you up too much before or after all that heavy food. I’ve listed it as lunch, but it would also make a good breakfast or light brunch.
The third holiday? That’s April Fool’s. There’s no specific food for that (except in France maybe when they call it April Fish), but somehow the tomato cheese mixture on top of the eggs looks like bacon if you squint. April Fool’s!
Adapted from a Jacques Pépin recipe, I've cut the quantity to make the grain suitable for one person. Eggs, thyme, and tomato mixed with a generous grating of cheese for a quick, light and satisfying lunch or brunch.
1 quart water
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, sliced (about 2/3
of a cup)
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped (roughly one clove)
pinch dried thyme
pinch black pepper
1/3 C canned peeled tomatoes
2 T plus 2 tsp grated Swiss (or Emmenthaler or whatever mild cheese you like)
Heat the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, gently poke the rounded end of the eggs with a pin or a thumbtack.
Once the water is boiling place the eggs on a large slotted spoon and add them carefully to the water, one at a time.
Let the water come back to a boil, and cook the eggs for 10 minutes. When they're done, remove them with the slotted spoon and place in a bowl of cold water to cool.
Then peel the eggs and cut them into wedges.
Add the egg wedges to a small casserole or baking dish.
Heat the toaster oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the oil in a small skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for a minute. Then add the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the tomato mixture over the eggs in the baking dish. And sprinkle the cheese on top.
Put the baking dish into the toaster oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Egg and Tomato Gratin Substitutions and Variations
At the end, turn up the toaster oven to broil and cook for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese
Don’t just have a dish that looks like bacon, add some real bacon and crumble it on top
Vary the cheeses: try Gruyère or mozzarella or Monterey Jack
Sauté some sliced porcini mushrooms with the onion/tomato mixture
Cooking tip: Poking the end of the eggs with a pin reduces the pressure inside, making them less likely to burst in the boiling water.
Quick, what’s gooey, melty, cheesy, and great comfort food?This egg and pasta gratin has crispy eggs, tender noodles, and lots of cheese. It’s almost a cousin to pasta carbonara (but no bacon).The flavor is simple and delicate and the recipe incorporates two of my favorite “food groups”: pasta and cheese!
It’s adapted from a a new cookbook I just got (because given a bookstore gift card as a gift, I naturally headed straight for the cookbook section!). The cookbook is called Fast Food My Way and it’s chock full of inspiration. As you may have guessed from the title, all the meals are relatively easy and quick. They’re just perfect for those days when you don’t feel like fussing (or simply don’t have the time).Of course, you can also make this for a leisurely weekend brunch or scale the recipe up and serve it to guests.
The whole thing fits in perfectly with my own philosophy, which is delicious food for one person, made from real ingredients. Because, just because you’re cooking for one rather than two or more doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a home-cooked meal.And, of course, making it yourself is much cheaper than going out, or ordering a meal kit.
As written, the flavor is pure comfort food; not spicy or salty. However, if you want, you can add other flavors (more on that in the substitutions and variations section).
Crispy eggs, gooey cheese, and tender pasta combine to make this dish great comfort food. Great for a fast meal, or to warm up with on a cold day.
4 oz short pasta (I used cavatelli)
1 T olive oil
1.5 teaspoons fresh chives, minced
Grinding of black pepper
1.5 teaspoons butter (preferably unsalted, if you only have salted butter, skip the added salt)
2 large eggs
1/3 C grated hard cheese, such as Swiss or Emmenthaler
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add salt. Pour in the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes (or until it is al dente)
Toss the olive oil, chives, salt, and pepper together in a medium to large bowl (it should be big enough to hold the finished dish; I used a large soup bowl).
Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, but don’t drain it yet.
Grab a soup ladle and pour a ladleful of the pasta water into the bowl.
Now, drain the pasta, and put it back in the pot. Scoop up a ladleful of the pasta, and add it to the chive/water mixture. Mix it all together thoroughly.
Keep both the remaining pasta in the pot and the pasta in the bowl warm while you make the eggs.
Next, heat the butter in a skillet. Add the eggs and cook on medium-high heat with the pan covered for about 2 minutes. The eggs should be set (the whites will be firm, while the yolk is still soft).
Sprinkle a generous tablespoonful of the cheese on top of the pasta in the bowl. Next, add one of the cooked eggs. Add more cheese, then pasta from the pot, then cheese, and then the second egg, then more pasta in succession.
Egg and Pasta Gratin Substitutions and Variations
Add crumbled bacon on top
Go for more sweetness and crunch with a sweet bell pepper
This easy and delicious fish in peppery tomato sauce is flavored with garlic, coriander, harissa, and piquant capers, bathed in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. It’s another one of those “Jewish” recipes you may not recognize as Jewish. In America we tend to think of “Ashkenazi” food as Jewish, call it a day, and forget about the Sephardim. This is a terrible mistake, since Sephardic food (Spanish, Middle Eastern, Portuguese, and North African) is spicy, flavorful, and has much more variety than its Eastern European cousins. In fact, one day, I want to skip the Eastern European Passover and have a Sephardic one instead! Goals!
I’ve adapted this recipe from The Book of Jewish Food , which says that fish is considered a symbol of abundance, making it a favorite dish for Friday night (Sabbath) meals. Fish was also popular in Morocco and Italy for weddings, as it was thought to symbolize fruitfulness. For Rosh Hashanah, it was served with the head left on, so Jews would be “ ‘ahead with good deeds and serve as a model of goodness. ’ ” I think this dish certainly fits the bill.
The nice thing is that you don’t have to wait for a holiday or a special occasion to make it. It’s ready in about 25 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner.
If you’re not familiar with harissa, it’s a hot chili garlic sauce used for fish, chicken, and lots of other dishes in North Africa. As I am writing this, it occurs to me that it’s a bit like African sriracha sauce.If you have some, or can get some, use it. If not, a mixture of cayenne and paprika will work just fine.
I also saw another, similar recipe (called chraime) that referred to this as Sephardic “gefilte fish.” Never having been a big fan of gefilte fish, I’ll take this recipe in a New York minute!
The dish will work with any firm fish, such as grouper, red snapper, or cod. I used cod from Trader Joe’s (the frozen fish is inexpensive and good quality). Serve it with rice (as I did), or make it with couscous.
A Sephardic Jewish fish dish that's festive enough for a special occasion, but easy enough for a Tuesday. Works with any firm fish and it's ready in about 25 minutes.
1/2 medium onion (about 1/2 C), chopped
1 T neutral oil, such as canola or sunflower
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp harissa or 1/4 tsp paprika plus a generous pinch of cayenne)
2/3 cup crushed tomatoes
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp sugar (depending on how sweet the tomatoes are, you may not need this)
1 1/2 tsp capers (drained and patted dry)
1-2 fish steaks (about 1/2 lb. total)
1 tsp ground coriander (or a sprig of fresh if you have it)
Heat the oil in the frying pan on medium heat. Add the onions and gently cook for a few minutes until they soften and start to turn color (don’t let them burn!). Add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute (until it too starts to change color). Add the harissa (or cayenne/paprika) and stir.
Pour the tomatoes into the pan, then add the salt, sugar, and the drained capers.
Now add the fish steaks and spoon the tomato mixture over them in the pan.
Cover the pan and let it all simmer for 10 minutes. Then remove the lid, and flip the fish over on the other side. Spoon more sauce over it and add the coriander. Put the lid back on the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.
You’ll want to use a larger skillet so you have enough room to turn the pieces of fish over without breaking them.
Fish in Peppery Tomato Sauce Substitutions and Variations
Try sriracha or chili garlic sauce instead of the harissa paste (with a bit more coriander added this is similar to a Tunisian version of this dish)
Use cumin, tomato paste, and both sweet and hot peppers in the sauce
Add olive oil, then the fish, then top that with one or two whole garlic cloves, more salt and pepper, and more coriander, and let it cook on a grill for half an hour (if you like fresh cooked tomatoes, put them under and over the fish