Eggplant in Spicy Tomato Sauce with Feta


Until I began growing eggplant, I had no idea how vibrant, smoky, and intense it could be, so fresh and firm, picked just seconds before preparation. Come August, my garden flourishes with those shiny black, lean and long vegetables, hanging from their neat little tree-like plants, ready for the oven, the skillet, the grill. I like to harvest them small, when I feel the flavor is more intense. This roasted eggplant buried in a spicy tomato sauce is a personal favorite, with multiple variations. I like to serve it as a vegetarian main dish, sometimes showered with cubes of feta cheese and warmed just until the cheese begins to melt. The dish could also serve as a pasta sauce: chop the eggplant as it comes from the oven, then drop the cubes into the tomato sauce. Cumin, ginger, and pepper flakes have their place here as model partners to the versatile eggplant.

8 servings


A baking sheet; a large, deep skillet with a lid.


4 small, firm, fresh eggplants (each about 8 ounces; 250 g), washed but not peeled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
6 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled, halved, and green germ removed
2 tablespoons finely slivered fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin, toasted
One 28-ounce (794 g) can diced Italian tomatoes in juice
1 cup (125 g) Greek feta cheese, cubed (optional)


1. Center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). 

2. Trim and discard the stem ends of the eggplants. Halve them lengthwise. Brush the flesh lightly with some of the oil and season lightly with salt. Place the eggplant halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until the eggplant skin is soft and wrinkled and the cut side is golden, about 30 minutes.

3. When the eggplants have almost finished cooking, prepare the sauce: In the skillet, combine the onions, garlic, the remaining oil, and salt to taste. Toss to thoroughly coat the onions and garlic with the oil, and sweat – cook, covered, over low heat until soft and translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, pepper flakes, and cumin, and toss to evenly coat the onions. Add the tomatoes with juices and simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes.

4. Add the roasted eggplant halves, burying them, cut side down, in the sauce. Cover and cook until the eggplant is very tender and has absorbed much of the sauce, about 20 minutes. If using, add the cubes of feta cheese, warming the dish until the cheese melts. Taste for seasoning. Serve.

This recipe was first published in The French Kitchen Cookbook
All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocados, Pistachios + Pistachio Oil


Recipe demonstration begins at 32:18.


Neither my students nor I ever tire of this salad. It has all the qualities one looks for in a dish: crunch, smoothness, color, aroma. Serve with Crispy Flatbread (page 260 of Salad as a Meal), Tortilla Crisps (page 263 of Salad as a Meal) or toasted bread for added crunch. Don’t omit the fresh thyme here, for it plays an essential role in the color and aroma. 

4 servings 



A small jar with a lid; a mandoline or a very sharp knife.  


1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Lemon Zest Salt
3 tablespoons best-quality pistachio oil (such as Leblanc) or extra-virgin olive oil
4 small, fresh zucchini (about 4 ounces; 115 g each) trimmed at both ends
1 large, ripe avocado
1/2 cup salted pistachios  
4 fresh lemon thyme sprigs, with flowers if possible

Fleur de sel


1.  In the jar, combine the lemon juice and flavored salt. Cover with the lid and shake to blend. Add the oil, and shake to blend. 

2.  With a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the zucchini lengthwise as thin as possible. Arrange the slices on a platter, and pour the dressing over them. Tilt the platter back and forth to coat the slices evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, so the zucchini absorbs the dressing and does not dry out.

3.  Halve, pit, and peel the avocado, and cut it lengthwise into very thin slices. Carefully arrange the slices of marinated zucchini on individual salad plates, alternating with the avocado slices, slightly overlapping them.  Sprinkle with the pistachio nuts. Garnish with the thyme sprigs and flowers and fleur de sel.  Serve.

Wine suggestion

Favorite wine partners for avocado include a young Pinot Grigio, a crisp-style Chardonnay, and a fragrant, well-chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

This recipe was first published in Salad as a Meal
All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Heirloom Tomato Platter

Tomato salad platter JK.jpg

In summer, if the conditions are right, my vegetable garden will usually produce enough heirloom tomatoes to feed an army. Among my preferred varieties are kaki coing, black prince, noire de crimée, and striped germain with their dramatic colors and gentle acidity. But whether market bought or from my homegrown bounty, this simple platter is a favorite way to enjoy a tomato's fresh juicy sweetness. Here I have topped the tomato slices with ruffles of the firm Swiss cheese Tête de Moine, shaved with a special machine called a girolle, but any cheese of choice can be used here.

6 servings



A cheese girolle, a mandolin or a very sharp knife; a large serving platter.


6 ripe heirloom tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds; 625 g), preferably of varied colors
6 thin ruffles of Tête de Moine cheese, created with a cheese girolle or cut into paper-thin slices with a mandoline or a very sharp knife.
A handful of fresh herbs, such as green basil, purple basil, shiso and Delfino cilantro, rinsed and patted dry
About 2 tablespoons Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing

Fleur de sel


Arrange the tomatoes in overlapping layers on the serving platter. Garnish with the cheese and herbs. Drizzle the dressing over all and season lightly with fleur de sel.

This recipe was first published in The French Kitchen Cookbook
All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Cobb Salad

My Cobb Salad.jpg

In mid summer, it is a fresh, crunchy salad that will get me through the day. This American classic is a favorite with the crunch of the iceberg and scallions, the soft richness of the avocado, the saltiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the tomato, the bite of the blue cheese – this salad has it all!  And it is beautiful to boot.

4 servings


2 1/2 ounces smoked bacon, rind removed, cut into matchsticks (3/4 cup)
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
2 ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored, , peeled, seeded and chopped
1 large, ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and cubed
4 ounces chilled blue cheese (preferably Roquefort), crumbled (1 cup)
4 small spring onions or scallions, white part only, trimmed, peeled and cut into thin rounds
Lemon-Yogurt Dressing
Coarse, freshly ground black pepper


1.  In a large, dry skillet, brown the bacon over moderate heat until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to several layers of paper towel to absorb the fat. Blot the top of the bacon with several layers of paper towel to absorb any additional fat. Set aside.

2.  In a large shallow bowl, combine the bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, blue cheese, and spring onions. Toss with just enough Lemon-Yogurt Dressing to lightly and evenly coat the ingredients. Season with plenty of coarse, freshly ground black pepper and serve.

This recipe was first published in Salad as a Meal
All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Grilled Polenta with Tomato + Onion Sauce


This light, colorful vegetarian weeknight dinner is a favorite, inspired by my annual visits to my “boot camp” Rancho la Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. This soothing, comfort-food dinner knows few rivals, particularly in cold weather.

4 servings



A 1-quart (1 l) gratin dish, 4 warmed dinner plates.


3 cups (750 ml) 1 % milk
1/2 cup (125 ml) light cream or half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup (135 g) instant polenta
1/2 cup (90 g) freshly grated Swiss Gruyère cheese, plus extra for garnish
1 large onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half-rounds
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
One 28-ounce (794 g) can peeled Italian plum tomatoes in juice
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
Fresh, flat-leafed parsley leaves, for garnish


1.  In a large saucepan, bring the milk, cream, 1 teaspoon of the sea salt, and the nutmeg to a boil over medium heat. (Watch carefully, for milk will boil over quickly.) Add the polenta in a steady stream and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 minutes.

2.  Remove from the heat. Add half of the cheese, stirring to blend thoroughly.  The polenta should be very creamy and pourable. Pour it into the gratin dish. Even out the top with a spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to firm up. (Or store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 3 days.)

3.  Prepare the tomato garnish: In a large skillet, combine the onion, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and sweat – cook, covered over low heat until soft and translucent – about 5 minutes. With a large pair of scissors, cut the tomatoes in the can into small pieces. Add the bay leaves and tomatoes and their juices and cook, covered, over low heat for about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

4.  At serving time, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet until hot but not smoking. Cut the polenta into 8 even squares. Sear each square on both sides until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the squares to the warmed plates, stacking the second slice at an angle over the first. Spoon the sauce all over. Garnish with parsley and cheese.


An inexpensive everyday dish suggests an equally fine but gently priced wine. A favorite is Michel and Stephane Ogier’s La Rosine Syrah, a deep purple vin de pays from the hillsides north of the old Roman town of Vienne.


Both the tomato sauce and the polenta can be prepared up to 3 days in advance, then covered and refrigerated separately. Reheat at serving time.


When using whole, canned tomatoes, use a scissors to cut the tomatoes into small pieces, making for a still chunky yet finer

This recipe was first published in The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence.

All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.

Tomato Tatins


My good friend Jeffrey Bergman kindly shared this recipe with me one sunny August in Provence. We worked and worked on it (shucks had to eat it SO many times!) until we came up with this version, which we love. It is so fragrant and beautiful, and one of those did I really make these beauties?.

8 servings



Three baking sheets; eight 1/2 cup (125 ml) ramekins; a 3 1/2-inch (8.75 cm) pastry cutter.




3 pounds (1.5 kg) small, firm, garden-fresh red heirloom tomatoes (about 15)
Fine sea salt Extra-virgin olive oil spray Pastry
A 14-ounce (400 g) sheet of my Blitz Puff Pastry recipe, well chilled, or purchased all-butter puff pastry, thawed (see Note)


4 large shallots peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into thin half-moons
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Espelette pepper or other mild ground chile pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar


1/2 cup (100 g) white, refined sugar (do not use dark, unrefined cane sugar)
4 teaspoons water
1/8 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

16 fresh basil leaves, plus more leaves for garnish
1/4 cup (25 g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


In our tests, we have preferred Dufour brand frozen puff pastry, available at most specialty supermarkets. See Be sure to leave ample time for thawing frozen dough, at least 6 hours in he refrigerator.


1.     Roast the tomatoes: Center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C). 

 2.     Core the tomatoes and halve them crosswise (at the equator.) Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, side by side, on the baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Spray lightly with oil. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the tomatoes have shrunk by about one-third, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. This is an important step to condense tomato flavor and reduce moisture. (The tomatoes can be baked up to 1 day in advance, stored in an airtight container, and refrigerated.)

 3.     Prepare the pastry: With the pastry cutter, cut out 8 rounds of pastry. Arrange the rounds side by side on a baking sheet. With a fork, prick the pastry. (The pastry rounds can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)

 4.     Prepare the shallot mixture: In a small saucepan, combine the shallots, oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to coat the shallots with the oil. Sweat – cook, covered, over low heat, stirring frequently, until the shallots are soft and translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the Espelette pepper and the vinegar. Increase the heat to medium high and cook until the vinegar has evaporated, but the mixture remains moist. Taste for seasoning. (The shallots can be prepared up to 1 day in advance, stored in an airtight container and refrigerated.)

 5.     Prepare the caramel: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook undisturbed until sugar begins to caramelize, about 1 minute.  Pay close attention as the caramel will deepen in color quickly at this stage.  Swirl the pan gently and cook until the caramel is a deep amber, about 1 minute more.  Spoon a generous tablespoon of the caramel into the ramekins and tilt the ramekins so that the caramel evenly coats the bottom. (This can be done up to 8 hours in advance. Store at room temperature.)

6.     Bake the tatins: About 30 minutes before baking the tatins, center a rack in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

7.     Arrange the caramel-coated ramekins side by side on a baking sheet. Place 2 or 3 tomato halves, cut side up, into each ramekin. Press down on the tomatoes so that they fit snugly into the ramekins. Spoon the shallot mixture on top of the tomatoes. Place 2 basil leaves on top of the shallots.  Sprinkle with the cheese.

 8.     Place a round of chilled pastry on top of each ramekin and tuck the dough around the tomatoes. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden and the tomatoes are bubbling around the edges, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the ramekins to a rack to cool for at least 2 minutes.

 9.     Carefully invert each tatin onto an individual salad plate. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, garnished with basil leaves. (The tatins can be prepared up to 8 hours in advance, stored at room temperature.)

The Secret

This dish offers a beautiful balance of sweet and acid. The shallots and vinegar, as well as the touch of caramel, are essential to creating a dish full of contrasting flavors.

This recipe was first published in The French Kitchen Cookbook. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without permission.