Letter from the Editor: Easy Does It
We've invited friends over for dinner tonight, and I’m standing in the kitchen of an Airbnb in St. Helena, California, surveying my temporary work space. The pockmarked nonstick skillets here look like they lived their best lives in the late 1990s, around the last time the knives were sharpened.
Cooking feels a bit ambitious. Why even sweat it? We could always order pizza instead. Still, the grill works, and there’s a farmers market nearby, so I go there, grab a taco, and walk the stalls for inspiration. A boneless leg of lamb from a local producer looks good and can anchor the meal. Progress. I grab some greens for sautéing, a bunch of purple torpedo onions, and the last of the green garlic and garlic scapes, too. Okay, I think. We have a dinner game plan.
Back in the kitchen, I find a blender that whirs just fast enough to puree the green garlic, scapes, and tender rosemary and thyme with capers, anchovies, Dijon mustard, and olive oil to make a pungent marinade for the lamb. Later in the afternoon, I’ll sear the lamb on the grill, then lower the heat to slowly roast it to medium-rare, and let it rest on a platter for 30 minutes once our friends arrive. Finally, I sauté the greens with the onions, garlic, and chile flakes softened in olive oil, and I stir in lemon juice and a can of drained white beans.
On four plates I arrange grill-charred naan from the supermarket and slick each piece with a store-bought garlicky almond spread (hummus or yogurt would do, too). I lay rosy slices of lamb on each naan and spoon juices from the platter over the top, then add mounds of the sautéed greens and beans. We open local bottles of Napa Valley rosé and Syrah to go with the knife-and-fork lamb tartines and take it all outside to the porch where the kids are eating, well, pizza.
At this point on the summer clock, the abundance of fresh, seasonal ingredients sometimes outweighs the willpower to cook them, especially when we’re on vacation or stupefied by the heat and humidity. With that in mind, we’ve engineered this issue to aid your late-summer cooking and entertaining with dishes that deliver big flavor without a lot of fuss. Whether you’re looking for an excellent new rib recipe, hearty dinner salads, or an idea for what to do with all of that squash, we invite you to treat these pages like a walk through the farmers market and pick what looks good to you.