In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How To Eat Your Vegetables, Part Deux: The Professionals Weigh In

About now you should be sick to death of zucchini, especially if you have a garden or a farm share (which I do. It's a never ending burden BECAUSE HOW CAN ONE PERSON EAT 8 EGGPLANTS A WEEK?)
I find zucchini to be mostly unoffensive -- but its bland and can be slimy and its way too watery. My mom used to go to the spa and then come back inspired to make us low-calorie soups -- grating a raw zucchini into chicken bouillon, for instance. Pretty good, actually. And when you are sick of roasting your tiny zucchinis (they must be small) in a low sided pan with lots of freshly grated Parmesan until they are brown, or sick of frying them, or sick of making ratatouille (aforementioned eggplant, zuchs, yellow squash, lots of onion and garlic and crushed tomatoes, baked forever or cooked on the stove, as you wish) (with cheese on top) or are sick of just looking at them, make this, courtesy of the gorgeous and increasingly stern Padma Lakshmi.

That's what Padma looks like. Deeply unfair to the rest of us. Here's what the zucchini looks like.

The ginger and garlic and dill transform said vegetable into something downright snackable. It's even better at room temperature. My friend Heidi makes this for my friend Meg and I during our annual summer visit, and its a total highlight for me. Then I figured out I could make it for myself.

Now to Ina, very talented in the kitchen and a joy to watch but less likely to make you question whether you should bother getting out of bed because what's the point (see: Padma.)

But she has Jeffrey, who loves her chicken, so fear not for Ina. She's doing OK for herself.

Ina has this wonderful way of robbing broccoli of its sulphur, bitterness and ennui. I usually add some crushed dried red hot pepper too, at the end and I rarely have pine nuts around because my boyfriend eats everything in the nut family before I can use it. Ina employs the roasting-to-carmelization method I champion in Part One.

4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves), julienned

Cooking Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.
Courtesy of "Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics"


  1. I use a similar recipe for broccoli, minus the last 3 ingredients. Never before had I inhaled a plate of broccoli! Best broccoli recipe.

  2. inhaling broccoli is truly an unusual thing. but yes. I skip the pine nuts and basil, but add hot peppers. lemon zest takes it to a whole new place; try it

  3. If you can find dried pomegranate seeds, maybe at an Indian market, then those make the zuchinni even more exotic and delicious.

  4. No need to toss the broccoli stems. Once the florets are in the oven, make cream of broccoli soup. Cut the tough part off the bottom of the stems and chop the good part in the food processor. Cook gently in butter or olive oil until tender. Add a bit of chicken stock, and blend or process until smooth. Add more chicken stock and/or milk and/or half-and-half to make it the proper soup consistency. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg (last is optional). A splash of white wine or sherry might be good, too.

    This means not wasting perfectly good food, always a good thing.