African bird’s-eye chilies have grown wild for centuries in Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. They are the main ingredient in this sauce, which is popular throughout Africa. If you can’t find bird’s-eye chilies, you can substitute another pepper, like serrano, which will be milder, or a habanero, which will be hotter. Drizzle this hot sauce over fritters or any other main dish.
Although this version is a bit thicker than a typical barbecue sauce from my hometown of Memphis, the important characteristics are all here: It’s tomato based, tangy, and sweet from rich pomegranate molasses and fresh peaches. Enjoy this sauce over grilled or roasted vegetables, or add it to beans or black-eyed peas for a new take on baked beans.
Blackening is a Cajun technique in which food is coated with a medley of spices and cooked over high heat, usually in a cast-iron skillet or on a grill. To give your food big, complex flavors, toast whole spices, then pulverize them in a mortar or spice grinder. This blackened seasoning pairs well with vegetables like the grilled okra seen here.
Braising softens radish roots and tempers their spicy rawness. The sweet honey and aromatic black pepper in this recipe complement, rather than detract from, the character of the radishes, and the browned edges of the radishes themselves add a flavorful touch.
Think beyond the pea pod. Succulent pea shoots have long been a staple in Chinese cooking, and some U.S. farmers are now growing peas especially for their shoots and leaves. Look for pea shoots in late spring, and enjoy them in any dish as a replacement for greens like spinach, Swiss chard, or kale. You can add raw pea shoots to salads for an extra kick, but wilting them really brings out their flavor.
Garlic scapes are the tender shoots of the garlic plant that grow up and out of the stem, curling their way toward the sky. Most commercial growers remove the scapes to preserve the energy of the garlic bulbs and increase yield. For home cooks, though, they’re a real treat. Look for scapes at farmers’ markets in early summer. You can chop and prepare them like green beans or slice them thinly and sauté to bring out their delicate aroma. Scapes have a far milder taste than mature garlic.
Zucchini is more than a ubiquitous plant that grows out of control in summer. Along with other summer squashes like yellow crookneck and pattypan, it’s a symbol of Mediterranean cooking. The tender textures and light flavors are inextricably linked to summer and sun.
A gremolata is a condiment made from chopped aromatic herbs and citrus zest. This variation is a particularly pretty one, and tastes great served with roast lamb, other roasted or grilled meats, or fish. Lemon zest is used traditionally, but you can change it up by trying lime, grapefruit, or orange zest.
This beautiful winter salad combines tart pomegranate with tangy citrus, rich avocado, and deep-dark leafy greens. Substitute arugula, endive, or baby kale greens for the spinach if you like. For a little extra crunch, sprinkle with a handful of toasted walnuts or pecans.
Pomegranates transform humble, roasted sweet potatoes into a dish perfect for entertaining.
Eggs deliver a nice dose of vitamin B12, which has been linked to improved memory and a lower risk of cognitive decline later in life. And there’s something about sunnyside-up eggs that make me smile. Here we bake the eggs in little ramekins filled with a sautéed mix of chard, onion, garlic, parsley, and olives, with tomatoes on top.
Scientists have promised that someday little nanobots will act like tiny microprocessors in our brains, helping to make us smarter. Why wait? We already have a teensy legume that does that. Ounce for ounce, lentils pack an amazing quantity of brain boosters, including iron, which is essential to the function of the myelin that supports quick information gathering. It’s a myth that to prepare lentils you have to soak them overnight; just a quick rinse will do. You can substitute fennel, which is a good digestive aid, for the celery to add more depth to the flavor.