Sauces and Toppings

Baba Ganoush with Fresh Herbs and Scallions

Endlessly scoop-able, silky and smokey, baba ganoush is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant (although there are so many ways to love eggplant!) What makes this one a family go to? First, it’s so easy; just score, season and roast the eggplant (no peeling required!) Second, your food processor makes it a cinch to create a creamy, lemony, nutty puree, perfect for dipping or spreading. I like to give it a hit of fresh flavor by adding whatever herbs I have in the garden or left over from other dishes, and there is no chopping required! Third, you can endlessly customize this as a snack, lunch or light dinner by adding pita bread or chips, fresh veggies, Mediterranean-style meatballs or grilled chicken skewers.

Baba Ganoush with Fresh Herbs and Scallions

Makes about 6 servings (about 2 cups)


3 medium-sized eggplant

Olive oil to drizzle over eggplant, plus 3 tablespoons to add to the eggplant puree

Kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, drizzled with olive oil and wrapped in aluminum foil

1/2 cup tahini

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving

1/4 cup of fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, dill or basil

2 scallions, greens sliced, whites reserved for another use

1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds

Pita and veggies, for serving or serve spread on a platter with Mediterranean meatballs or grilled chicken skewers on top.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Halve the eggplants lengthwise, and then score hash marks with the tip of a knife into the flesh. Drizzle olive oil over the cut side, and generously season with salt and pepper. Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down. Place the garlic foil packet on the baking sheet with the eggplant.

Roast the garlic until lightly brown and soft. Roast the eggplant until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 40 to 50 minutes (this might take longer if you are using larger eggplants). Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes. Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh, discarding any seed pods, with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind. The eggplant should have very little liquid because of the oven’s heat, but should it be watery, place the flesh in a strainer and shake away the liquid.

Place the eggplant flesh (discard the skin), roasted garlic, tahini, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and fresh herbs in a food processor. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt and a few cranks of pepper, and then pulse until smooth. Taste for additional seasoning and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with pita and veggies or grilled or roasted meats.

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Pistachio Herb Pesto

Perfect on Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho…but don’t stop there. Toss this vibrant, nutty pesto with pasta, or serve as an accompaniment to grilled chicken or salmon.

Pistachio Herb Pesto

Makes about 1 cup of pesto


1 cup of soft fresh herbs such as basil, mint, dill, parsley, cilantro, stems removed

1/2 cup of roasted pistachios—no salt or low salt

1 garlic clove

Zest and juice of one small lemon

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Put the herbs, pistachios and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor with the lemon zest and juice, and blend them together until they are minced. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to blend until the pesto is smooth. Season with about 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and a few cranks of pepper, then taste to adjust with additional seasoning if needed.

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Meyer Lemons

I found these Meyers at the farmers market, and I couldn’t resist buying far more than I needed…the word for that is greed, right? I did, however, resist the urge to tie a feedbag around my nose, drop a lemon in it, and walk around the market inhaling their floral sweetness. Just barely.

Chicken Provencal with Tomatoes, Green Beans, Roasted Meyer Lemons and Olives

Serves 6

Olive oil

1 pint of green beans, stems removed

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

1 shallot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup white wine

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 large, fresh tomatoes diced, or 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes with juices

1 cup of homemade chicken stock or good quality boxed chicken broth

1/4 cup black cured olives, such as kalamata or nicoise

2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons), ends trimmed, cut into thin slices

Heat a Dutch oven over medium high, and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat olive oil and add green beans to the pan, allowing them to sear, then stir to turn. Season with salt and pepper, then cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the green beans from the pan and hold.

Add another splash of olive oil, then add chicken thighs to the pan.  Sprinkle the chicken with flour, salt and pepper, and sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and brown, another 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and hold. Add the shallot and garlic to the pan, stirring and cooking until softened and slightly browned, then add the wine to the pan and stir, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook wine until it is reduced by half and slightly syrupy. Add the thyme springs, tomatoes and chicken stock, then add the chicken back into the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cover with a lid slightly cracked, and cook for another 20 minutes, until liquid is thickened. Remove the thyme sprigs.

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and place lemon slices on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until lemons are soft, juicy and have slightly browned edges. Lemons can be roasted 3 days in advance.

Stir green beans, roasted lemons and olives into the chicken and season with salt and pepper, then serve.


Meyer Lemon Stone Ground Mustard Dressing

1/2 shallot, minced very fine

Zest and juice of one Meyer lemon (or a standard lemon)

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar (Champagne, white balsamic, rice wine will all be fine here)

2 teaspoons of stone ground mustard

1 teaspoon of honey

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

In a large bowl, add the shallot, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, mustard and honey. Whisk together to incorporate, and then drizzle in the olive oil slowly while continuing to whisk. Season with salt and pepper.

Alternately, put all of the ingredients in a container with a lid that seals tight. Shake the dressing until it has thickened and season. Store dressing in the refrigerator for up to a week, stirring before use.

Carrots and Snap Peas

My daughter loves to eat carrots and snap peas raw, especially with ranch dressing to dip them in, but store-bought has over 30 ingredients in it, including MSG and other preservatives. So we make a homemade version, which I think is even more delicious. I keep it light by using Greek yogurt, and make the flavor extra bright by using fresh herbs. You can use half the amount of dried herbs if fresh are not available.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1/2 cup low fat greek yogurt

1/2 cup low fat buttermilk

1 teaspoon minced fresh dill

1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste

salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together and season. Chill for 3o minutes or store in refrigerator for up to a week. Use as a salad dressing or veggie dip.

Romaine Lettuce

This week I’ve been making some pretty hearty meals, so a refreshing salad of crisp romaine has been a welcome accompaniment. With roasted ruby-red beets from the farm, my very favorite balsamic vinaigrette (from the cookbook I published in 2005, The Seduction Cookbook), a modest crumble of goat cheese, all nestled on top of that perfect, crunchy romaine, this salad can be enjoyed as a light lunch or a delightful side. Make it your own favorite by throwing in your favorite nuts, orange slices or top it with grilled chicken.

Romaine, Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 head of romaine, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

2 large roasted beets, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled

For the Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 shallot peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

3/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

In a blender, combine the shallot, vinegar, mustard and honey, and blend to combine. With the blender running, pour olive oil into the blender cup in a slow stream. When mixture combines and thickens, add salt and pepper to taste. Tip: Taste vinaigrette by dipping a small piece of romaine in it, you’ll have a better understanding of the flavor profile of the salad. Vinaigrette can stored in an airtight container for a week in the refrigerator.

Combine the romaine lettuce, beets and goat cheese, then drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Asian Pesto for Stir Fries

I used a huge, fragrant bunch of cilantro this week for a pesto with an Asian flare, then tossed it into a stir fry. What I love about stir fries is that you can utilize whatever you have in your box, only a few extra items like onion or garlic need to be taken from the pantry. If you have this Asian pesto on hand, you can make a stir fry with just about any veggie. You could also mix it with ground meat and stuff it into a wonton skin to make a potsticker.

Asian Pesto

Makes 2 cups

6 garlic cloves

2-inch section of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

1 green onion, green and white section, chopped

1 cup roasted almonds

1 teaspoon chile flakes

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 cups of green tender herbs, such as cilantro, basil, mint, parsley or a combination of a few

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, green onion, almonds, chile flakes and lemon zest and juice. Pulse until it is chopped into fine pieces, then add the green herbs and oil. Process until a thick purée is formed. Season with salt and pepper. Store in a tightly covered jar and refrigerate.

To Make the Stir Fry

Toss one pound of cleaned shrimp, (or you could use cubed firm tofu or chicken) with a quarter cup of Asian pesto. Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces. Divide vegetables into bowls based on levels of firmness: onions, garlic, carrots or any other hard vegetable into one bowl; celery, broccoli, peppers or any other medium-firm vegetables into a second bowl. Tender vegetables like spinach, bok choy leaves, bean sprouts into a third bowl.

Heat a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add vegetable oil and heat until shimmering. Add shrimp and cook very quickly, for about one minute on each side. Remove shrimp from the pan. Add hard vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add medium-firm vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes. Add soft vegetables, a tablespoon of Asian pesto, and 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for about a minute, until the vegetables wilt, add shrimp back in, and serve.

Citrus Herb Butter

My fruit bowls are crawling with clementines and navels, and to make the most of them, I’m going to make a nifty thing called compound butter. So simple to put together, it is just a combination of softened butter and flavorings, which is rolled in parchment or plastic wrap, chilled, then sliced into portions to serve on top of meat, chicken or fish, or even sautéed with vegetables. Last summer I made a roasted garlic compound butter from fresh garlic shoots, and tossed it in with spinach, it was a perfect way to get a little bit of that divinely sweet garlic in every bite. Compound butter also freezes excellently, so you can preserve your favorite flavors of the season for a later time. 

The butter only uses the zest of the citrus, which is perfect since I still have Tangerine Granita on the weekend menu. It couldn’t be easier to put this together, and there is endless variety to what combinations you can throw into the butter or put it on. I can’t wait until green beans are in season, this will be excellent on them.

Citrus Herb Butter

Use a microplane to zest the skin from the citrus.

1 stick butter, extremely soft

zest from 6 clementines, oranges or Meyer lemon, or a combination of all

1/2 cup chopped herbs, such as parsley, mint, cilantro, thyme, basil, dill, or a combination of any

1 garlic clove, grated

salt and pepper

In a small bowl, mix butter with zest, herbs, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, then roll into a log. Chill and slice into medallions to put on top of warm meat, chicken or fish, or heat in a pan to toss with cooked vegetables. Keep refrigerated for a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Roll the butter into a log and store in plastic wrap or parchment. Chill and slice.


I’m all about having a couple of go-to, simple sauces that transform basic meals. Chimichurri is one of those sauces. Designed as a topper for grilled meats, it can also be used as a dip, dressing, or marinade. The chimichurri I’m whipping up this week is topping off roasted chicken drumsticks that I’ve seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Make this chimichurri your own by swapping out whatever fresh green herbs you have, amping up the chile heat, changing the vinegar, or using citrus juice. If you can find the white balsamic that I use from Trader Joes, you’ll enjoy the slightly sweet but clean flavor. Make a big batch, you can store it in your fridge for about a week in a sealed container.

Farm Box Chimichurri Sauce 

1 cup (packed) fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro (sometimes I use mint instead, whatever is in the box or garden)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, peeled

3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

 Place ingredients in a food processor or blender, and mix until smooth.