Regardless of which camp you reside in, there’s a glorious freedom in this in-between time when you can embrace all three according to your mood.
So if you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s what our staff is cooking up as we navigate this time of the year.
Though Labor Day has passed and kids are back in school, it’s still technically summer. This year’s season seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye, so I want to hold on to its ethos and beautiful produce just a little bit longer, and, in my eyes, there’s no better way to do that than with a tomato sandwich. Sure, you could keep it classic with white bread, mayo and sliced tomato, but if you want to kick it up a notch, a BLT has a slight edge in my personal book of summer sandwich rankings.
In addition to the sriracha mayo that gives this sandwich a nice little kick, I like this particular recipe because it makes use of the grease leftover from cooking the bacon to toast the bread, a must to bolster the sandwich’s structural integrity as you linger over a leisurely meal while soaking up the last bits of summer sun.
Every season is technically soup season and every season is technically bean season, but now that cooler weather approaches and my apartment feels less like a sauna, I’m ecstatic about letting a super simple pot of beans simmer away on the stove and using it up in a bunch of ways.
This is one of those great basic recipes that you can tweak as you like. I recently used this blueprint with black beans, but with charred onion and garlic and the addition of a few spices, with delicious results. I also got an inky bean broth for cooking rice in, and served the two together, a simple, wonderful, warming meal we could finally enjoy without overheating.
Plus, it’s just plain nice to start the pot in the morning and break for lunch with perfectly cooked beans.
As soon as I start seeing the piles of local apples at the farmers market, I am ready to start baking. There’s just something about baking with this seasonal fruit that brings on that cozy feeling of fall, which is by far my favorite season. I’m happy to enjoy the pies and cider doughnuts made by other folks, but if I’m baking something with apples, it’s probably going to be cake.
And this one is at the top of the list. A few months after my grandfather died last year, I pulled the recipe in his handwriting out of my three-ring binder and made it for the first time. I was blown away by the towering, plush Bundt that also happens to be a dairy-free treat ideal for breakfast, dessert or a teatime snack. The recipe calls for a mix of apples and pears, but you can use all apples if you prefer. Readers loved it when I initially shared the recipe, and I hope it becomes as much of an autumnal staple for them as it has for me.
I discovered this dish in The Post’s archives last fall, when the corn was still sweet but the days were starting to cool down. It’s a Gujarati recipe from Meera Sodha’s “Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day” that takes around 30 minutes to make, but tastes like it could have taken you all day.
First, you make a quick, velvety sauce out of chickpea flour, ground peanuts and spices. It will turn the color of fallen autumn leaves as it fills your home with lots of warm, bewitching scents, but don’t worry, you won’t be standing over a hot stove for long. Then, add boiled or steamed-and-husked cobs of corn. You can add them whole, as Sodha suggests — it makes for messy-but-fun eating! — or cut the cobs into pieces, or even cut the kernels off the cobs, if you’d rather eat the curry over rice with a spoon. No matter how you serve it, it’s an ideal summer send-off — or a luscious preface to fall. (I love the recipe so much, I recently included it in an issue of the Eat Voraciously newsletter.)
As soon as tomatoes arrive to farm stands, this genius pasta with tomatoes, basil and pine nuts from Food and dining editor Joe Yonan via cookbook superstar Amy Chaplin goes on regular weekly rotation. We make this all the way into fall — as long as farmers market tomatoes are available — and then, for the rest of the year, we pine for tomato season again.
In our home we refer to it simply as Joe’s pasta, and it’s not unusual for the three of us to polish off the entire pot by ourselves in a single night (I am not ashamed of my gluttony). The insanely deep flavor is all the more shocking when you scan the handful of ingredients you need to make this dish. If you’re the kind who thinks ahead, you can even marinate the tomatoes in advance and intensify the flavors. Or, if like me, you start thinking about what to make for dinner around 4:30 in the afternoon, you’ll still get delicious results. And, as I nudge my household to eat less meat these days, this gets thumbs up from both my husband and meat-loving 6 1/2-year-old.
You can get the ingredients for dal year-round, but I consider my favorite one, the luxuriously creamy dal makhani, a cool-weather dish. So as the evening temperatures have started to dip, I’ve been making a stellar version from cookbook author Nik Sharma again.
It’s not difficult, but Sharma breaks down the reasoning for the ingredients and steps, starting with getting the right beans: Look for whole urad beans (a.k.a. black gram or black matpe beans) in Indian markets, because they and only they will lead to the velvety texture you need for superior dal makhani. And don’t skimp on the fat — traditionally ghee and cream — although you can substitute olive oil and nondairy yogurt to make it vegan. Either way, what you end up with is something rich, comforting and even a little indulgent. I don’t know about you, but especially as the days shorten and the nights turn chilly, that’s exactly what I need.
Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. Technically, it is still summer, after all. But I’m already looking forward to welcoming this saucy, rich and fragrant dish back into my regular rotation this fall. One of the wonderful things about this recipe, based on Bengali malai kari and featured in Meera Sodha’s “East” cookbook, is its versatility. It calls for kabocha squash — one of my favorites for roasting — but its just as good with acorn, butternut, delicata or even the last few summer squash hanging out in your crisper. You could even sub out the squash for quick-roasted salmon or chicken thighs or pan-fried tofu.
The sauce is what makes it sing, with fresh ginger, cinnamon, garam masala, coconut milk, onion, tomatoes and a little red chili powder for kick. Lightly toasted almonds (or whatever nuts you have around) add crunch and a few squeezes of fresh lime juice bring just the right amount of brightness and acidity. It’s one of those sauces that fills your kitchen with warm, inviting aromas. So when you’re ready to turn on the oven again — even if that’s not for a few more weeks — make sure you have this recipe handy.
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