Blog Posts by Mark Bittman

  • Mark Bittman: Eggplant Un-Parmesan

    This take on eggplant Parmesan proves that (a) you don’t need a lot of oil to cook eggplant, and (b) you don’t need gobs of cheese to make it delicious. Try using zucchini or portobello mushrooms as variations, or serve the vegetables and tomato sauce over polenta or a more substantial meal. If you can’t find whole wheat breadcrumbs (panko-style are best),make your own by pulsing lightly toasted whole-grain bread in the food processor or blender. From VB6: Vegan Before 6:00.

    Yield: 4 Servings
    Time: about 1 hour

    2½ pounds eggplant
    5 tablespoons olive oil
    1¼ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
    Black pepper to taste
    1 onion, chopped
    2 tablespoons minced garlic
    2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with their juice
    1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
    1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, preferably coarse-ground

    1. Heat the oven to 450°F and position two racks so that they’ve got at least 4 inches between them. Cut the eggplant crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices and arrange them on two rimmed baking sheets.

    2. Use 2

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  • Mark Bittman's Grilled Marinated Flank Steak


    Flank steak is best for slicing; a marinade gives each slice more flavor. You can grill the whole piece, of course, but I like to grill half of it and leave the rest in its marinade, refrigerated, for a day or two, and cook it later for a salad or stir fry; see the variations below.

    Flank steak is also good without marinating: just coat it with curry powder, chili powder, or any other spice rub before cooking. After cooking, slice the meat against the "grain"-that is, across its natural striations. From How to Cook Everything 

    Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

    Makes 4 to 8 servings
    Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended, plus time to preheat the grill

    4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    2 tablespoons soy sauce or fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla, available at Asian markets)
    1 teaspoon minced garlic
    1 teaspoon peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon sugar
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1 flank steak, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds

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  • Mark Bittman: Steak and Broccoli Stir-Fry

    Steak and Broccoli Stir-fry

    Makes: 4 servings

    Time: 30 minutes

    Once you learn one stir-fry, you pretty much have mastered the art, and you can make a different one every day of your life and never encounter a repetition unless you wanted to. This one works with just about any combination of vegetables and protein, which might be boneless chicken breasts or thighs, sturdy white fish, shrimp or squid, or pork shoulder. You could also skip the meat altogether and substitute tofu. The other ingredients are equally flexible. I like broccoli here, but try, alone or in combination, bell peppers, cabbage, bok choy, fennel, spinach, snow peas or snap peas, asparagus, summer or winter squash, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, or cauliflower. For a change from rice, serve with whole-grain soba or rice noodles. From VB6: Vegan Before 6:00

    4 tablespoons vegetable oil

    12 ounces beef flank or sirloin steak, very thinly sliced (easiest if you freeze the meat for 30 minutes)

    1 teaspoon salt, plus more to

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  • Mark Bittman: Spaghetti with Seared Radicchio, Steak, and Balsamic Sauce

    By Freya Bellin

    This dish is full of striking flavor combinations. The red onions really absorb the balsamic vinegar and become ultra sweet, which works nicely to offset the bitter radicchio. Plus, the shades of dark purple are really beautiful. The fresh basil comes through surprisingly strongly here too, both in flavor and color. A half cup may seem like a lot, but it’s a great addition.

    Notably, this dish is truly a pasta dish and not a steak dish. There’s only a half pound of meat for four servings, but it’s just enough to make it a filling entree. If you like your steak very rare, 2 minutes on each side should be plenty of cooking time. My steak looked quite rare when sliced, but once it was added back to the pot with the other hot ingredients, it seemed to continue cooking a bit too. When the weather is warm, I bet that the vegetables and meat could be grilled rather than seared for an extra smoky element. As mentioned below, it tastes great at room temperature, and while it works in cooler weather, I’ll be happy to make this again for a summer picnic.  Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

    Spaghetti with Seared Radicchio, Steak, and Balsamic Sauce

    Makes: 4 servings

    Time: 30 minutes

    You want the steak to be rare here, and give it at least 5 minutes to rest before you cut into it to capture all of the meaty juices for the sauce. I recommend spaghetti here—so you can twirl a little bit of everything into one bite—but use whatever shape you like. I think this is even better at room temperature than it is hot, which makes it one great picnic or entertaining dish.


    2 tablespoons olive oil

    8 ounces sirloin, skirt, or other beef steak

    Black pepper

    1 pound radicchio, cut into ribbons

    1 large red onion, halved and sliced

    1 tablespoon minced garlic

    8 ounces spaghetti or other long, thin pasta, preferably whole wheat

    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste

    1⁄2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When

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  • Mark Bittman: Wheat Berry Salad with Zucchini and Mozzarella

    By Freya Bellin

    If you’re in search of a great picnic dish, look no further. This recipe is summery and herby, while still hearty enough to fill you up. Wheat berries are an unusual grain: dense, chewy, and very nutty. That texture is a great vehicle for pillowy broiled zucchini and rich, creamy pine nuts. Mozzarella adds a nice saltiness (I recommend fresh) and pairs surprisingly well with dill. Just keep in mind that wheat berries can take almost 2 hours to cook, so plan ahead or substitute in another grain in a pinch. This salad tastes great at room temperature—partly what makes it an excellent picnic candidate—but the flavors get a little muddled over time. Just add some fresh dill and cheese to brighten up the dish before serving. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

    Wheat Berry Salad with Zucchini and Mozzarella

    Makes: 4 servings

    Time: 20 minutes with cooked grains

    Assuming you have some kind of cooked grains in the fridge (always a good idea), this salad comes together quickly. Wheat berries are my first choice because of their unsurpassed chewiness, but even small grains like rice, cracked wheat, quinoa, and whole wheat couscous (or even cut pasta) work just fine. Roasted bell peppers are a tasty and colorful addition, especially ones that you make yourself. And if you’ve got roasted garlic handy, it’s a beautiful change from the raw garlic here.

    1⁄4 cup pine nuts

    3 or 4 medium zucchini (about 1 1⁄2 pounds), halved lengthwise

    1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

    Salt and black pepper

    2 cups cooked wheat berries

    1 teaspoon minced garlic, or to taste

    1⁄2 cup fresh dill, or 1 teaspoon dried

    3 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar

    1 cup cubed mozzarella, optional

    1. Toast the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly browned. Remove from the pan.

    2. Turn

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  • Mark Bittman: Chicken with Rice

    By Alaina Sullivan

    The simple combination of chicken and rice is a one-pot dish that's made all over the world. Despite the countless variations on the theme, this version is stripped down to the bare essentials: chicken, rice and onion (with peas added at the very end). Short-grain white rice is what the classic recipe calls for, but since I already had brown jasmine rice on hand, I went with long-grain (less sticky, more fragrant).

    The ingredients initially take turns in the pan (the chicken browns, then the onion sautés, then the rice gets a glossy coat), until finally all three come together to simmer, covered and undisturbed. The rice will slowly absorb the cooking liquid (water, or stock, if you want a more intense flavor), and become tender at about the same time that the chicken is cooked through. With saffron laced throughout, peas adding little bursts of sweetness, and fresh lime juice to brighten the entire plate, this one-pot wonder deserves a spot on your roster of go-to

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  • Mark Bittman: Lavender-Thyme Braised Chicken

    By Alaina Sullivan

    Take away the skin and bones of a chicken breast and you've got a protein that is notoriously prone to becoming dry and flavorless. A quick braise can remedy that, especially when you do it with wine.

    A wine braise renders chicken cutlets moist, tender and inebriated with a unique bright flavor. Riesling does the job here: It's sweet and floral, and pairs well with fresh lavender, which you can use in both sweet and savory dishes. Here crushed lavender buds swim with twigs of thyme in the braising liquid, giving the chicken a rustic, woody flavor. Recipe from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express.

    Lavender-Thyme Braised Chicken

    Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, then sear them in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on both sides until brown, about four minutes total; set aside. Add a tablespoon more of olive oil or butter to the pan, along with some minced garlic, a tablespoon of crushed lavender flowers (or a tablespoon of finely minced fresh rosemary), and a

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  • Mark Bittman: Giant Quinoa Tamale

    Spreading quinoa in a loaf pan.Tomatillo SalsaBy Freya Bellin

    This recipe may sound like a far cry from a traditional tamale; here, there are no corn husks, no dough, and no meat. But somehow the flavor and consistency of a real tamale is achieved. I will admit that mine definitely didn’t come out as the instructions suggested it would. You need to really grease the pan if you want the mixture to emerge in loaf form. Adding a little fat to the quinoa, either in the form of cheese or a little oil, might have helped the quinoa layers set and stay together better. Of course, it will taste just as good if it spills out into a giant pile, as did mine, but appearance-wise it will be lacking some elegance. 

    No matter—this dish was delicious, if not beautiful. The cheese layer melts in the oven and the outer edges of the quinoa crisp up nicely, although the real highlight for me was the tomatillo salsa. As mentioned below, it could be reserved and used for other dishes as well. The tomatillos are pretty sweet, and you can adjust the spiciness depending on the pepper you use. Make a little more than the recipe calls for; you’ll want to have some extra. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

    Giant Quinoa “Tamale” with Tomatillo Salsa

    Makes: 6 to 8 servings

    Time: About 2 hours, largely unattended

    Don’t let the time and number of steps here put you off: This loaf is a fraction of the work of traditional tamales, and all of the components can be made ahead for last-minute assembly. I like the tamale a little soft, with a center that oozes a bit, but if you want a firmer tamale-like texture, bake the loaf uncovered for another 15 or 20 minutes.

    Use the tomatillo salsa recipe on its own for a quick sauce that keeps well and comes in handy for serving with steamed vegetables, beans, fish, or tortilla chips.

    1 pound tomatillos (about 5 or 6 large), husked and rinsed (canned are fine; drain and reserve their juice)

    1 large poblano or other fresh mild green chile

    1 large onion, roughly chopped

    4 garlic cloves, smashed

    2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing the loaf pan

    2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained


    1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried

    2 tablespoons lime juice

    Black pepper

    1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

    1 cup crumbled queso fresco or grated Monterey Jack, plus more for garnish

    1 tablespoon chili powder

    1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

    1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Put the tomatillos, chile, onion, and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2

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  • Mark Bittman: Dal with Rhubarb

    By Alaina Sullivan

    Rhubarb, with its stringy stalk and rouge skin, is often paired with fruits, though it is actually a vegetable. Its tart flavor is typically tempered by sugar (think pie, compotes, etc.), but here it is incorporated into a savory dish that preserves its natural zing.

    The rhubarb stalks join a pot of red lentils (prepared as a traditional Indian dal with ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom, and dried chile for heat). As the dish simmers, the rhubarb practically dissolves, leaving behind molten flesh and its tangy trademark flavor. The dal is delicious sprinkled with fresh cilantro and served over rice or another grain, or spread on toasted pita. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

    Simplest Dal

    Makes: 4 servings

    Time: 40 minutes, largely unattended

    1 cup dried red lentils, washed and picked over
    2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    4 cardamom pods
    1 tablespoon mustard seeds
    2 cloves
    1 teaspoon cracked Read More »from Mark Bittman: Dal with Rhubarb
  • Mark Bittman: Tomato-Bulgur Soup

    By Freya Bellin

    Ripe, fresh tomatoes are elusive this time of year, but good quality canned tomatoes do the trick in this hearty soup. They can be just as sweet as the ones you find in the middle of August, and you get to skip over the washing and chopping step. Plus, they break down a little faster than the fresh kind.

    I used half stock and half water for the liquid, but the broth was still quite flavorful from the onions, celery, and garlic cooked at the beginning. I especially liked the celery, which was subtle, but noticeable and appreciated. With the addition of bulgur the soup becomes heartier and more of a standalone meal. As mentioned below, the starch lends a surprising creaminess, making this soup seem much richer than it is. Unlike most soups, I found that I really preferred this one on day 1, so try to serve it all at once if possible. It shouldn’t be too hard to find willing eaters. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

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