Earthy mushrooms, bold peppers and more recipes The Denver Post

By Krysten Chambrot, The New York Times

I’m sorry to say it, but New Year’s Eve just isn’t my holiday. I love going to bed early and hate the passage of time. I don’t even really like Champagne. So if I make it to midnight, I’ll toast my partner with some Martinelli’s and turn in moments later.

But I do love New Year’s Day and its promise of a fresh start. In recent years, I’ve marked the day by jumping in the ocean or walking about 10 miles. And, of course, I’ve simmered a pot of black-eyed peas with greens for good fortune.

This year, I’m hoping to go for a long run, and yes, simmer some beans. Later that evening — and for the week beyond — I’ll look to a menu that takes just a tiny bit longer at the stove, with recipes that feel warming but fresh, with lots of citrus and bright, bold flavors. I’m sharing dishes in that vein this week, in hopes that you’ll have a bright, bold first week of 2022.

1. Roasted Mushrooms in Ata Din Din

Earthy mushrooms hold their own among a piquant red pepper relish — a riot of flavors. The relish’s base is known in Yoruba as ata din din, a condiment-like sauce common throughout West Africa made from ground bell pepper, onions, chiles and sometimes tomatoes. Roast the mushrooms until lightly browned and crisp, as they absorb a lot more flavor when they’ve been slightly dehydrated. Pickled onion adds crunch and a hint of acid, and a scattering of fresh herbs gives it all a refreshing lightness, while being a pretty garnish. Serve over steamed rice and fried sweet plantains, or reserve as a vegetable filling for moin moin.

By Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 40 minutes


  • 2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, oyster, maitake and shiitake, cleaned, trimmed and torn or cut into 2-inch pieces, if large
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, scrubbed and cut into slices
  • 1 red scotch bonnet or habanero chile, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as cilantro, dill or parsley, or a combination


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Spread the mushrooms and thyme sprigs in an even layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with 1/4 cup oil. Season with salt and, using your hands, toss to coat. Roast, turning the pan halfway through and tossing the mushrooms, until mushrooms are golden brown and crisp along the edges, about 25 to 35 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the ata din din: As the mushrooms roast, finely chop half of the red onion and transfer it to a small bowl. Add the vinegar, season with a pinch of salt and set aside to pickle while you continue cooking. Using a food processor, coarsely chop the remaining half onion, the roasted red peppers, garlic and ginger. Alternatively, you can chop each ingredient with a sharp knife.

4. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil over medium. Add the red-pepper mixture and chile halves to the skillet and bring up to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until any liquid from the vegetables evaporates and the relish turns a shade darker, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt. Remove the thyme sprigs from the mushrooms and add the mushrooms to the red-pepper relish. Stir to combine.

5. Remove from heat, discard the chile pieces and add in the chopped herbs. Stir to combine. Drain the pickled red onion and top the mushrooms with it. Serve hot, alongside some steamed rice or a grain of your choice and fried sweet plantains.

2. Crème Fraîche Pasta With Peas and Scallions

Here’s an easy weeknight pasta featuring crème fraîche, the richer, slightly less tangy cousin of sour cream. It’s combined with Parmesan, lemon zest and starchy pasta cooking water for a sauce that is creamy, velvety and bright. Whole bunches of scallions caramelize until their edges char, lending sweetness and a hint of smoke, while raw scallions add color as a garnish. To preserve the brightness of the peas, throw them in the pasta cooking water at the very end and drain along with the shells. Plan appropriately, and the sauce and scallions can be prepared in the time it takes the pasta to cook.

By Hana Asbrink

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 bunches scallions (about 12 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound medium shells pasta
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 lemon, zested (about 2 teaspoons zest), then quartered
  • 1 cup frozen peas


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

2. Trim the scallions. Thinly slice 1 or 2 scallions on the diagonal and set aside for garnish. Cut the remaining scallions into 1/2-inch-long pieces.

3. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add the 1/2-inch scallion pieces, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions start to caramelize, soften and brown in spots, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.

4. Once the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

5. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce: In a large bowl, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the Parmesan, crème fraîche and lemon zest; mix to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup of the hot reserved pasta water until the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the charred scallions.

6. When the pasta is done, add the peas to the water and turn off the heat. Immediately drain the pasta and peas together, and add them to the sauce in the large bowl. Toss thoroughly to combine, adding more reserved pasta water as desired to loosen the sauce to a silky texture. Season to taste.

7. Serve immediately. Divide among bowls and top with more pepper and reserved sliced scallions. Serve with the lemon wedges, for squeezing on top.

3. Arroz con Tocino

In Puerto Rico, rice is typically served at Thanksgiving. Arroz con gandules is standard, and this twist on classic white rice is also a favorite. Salt pork or bacon is sautéed until crisp, replacing the oil and salt that’s usually added to white rice and giving this staple a decidedly porky essence. While Puerto Ricans often use a lightweight aluminum pot or caldero for rice dishes, a large, light, nonstick saucepan with a lid is a good replacement. Salt pork can vary in saltiness and funk, so rinse well and pat dry with a clean towel before dicing, and adjust the salt to taste. Do not wash the rice before cooking as it will make the rice retain moisture and become mushy. This quick, easy side dish pairs well with saucy beans, greens and stewed meats any day of the week.

By Von Diaz

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 1 hour


  • 5 1/2 ounces salt pork or bacon, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 to 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups short grain rice or sushi rice
  • Salt


1. Heat a large saucepan with a lid over medium. Add salt pork or bacon, and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes until browned and toasty, and a substantial amount of oil has released. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more until fragrant, then add rice and stir until the rice is evenly coated with fat and starts to turn opaque.

2. Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan or kettle.

3. Add the boiling water to the rice mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered until liquid has almost completely evaporated and the surface of the rice is dotted with little bubbly volcanoes, about 7 to 10 minutes.

4. When there is no more liquid bubbling up from the holes, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 17 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and let rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes. Taste to ensure rice is fully cooked, and let sit for 5 to 10 more minutes with the lid on if needed. Fluff with a fork, season with salt to taste and serve.

4. Chicken With Artichokes and Lemon

If you like artichokes, this recipe, often made at Passover by Jews from Morocco, is for you. You can use fresh or frozen artichokes, though trimming fresh artichokes is worth the effort for their delicate texture. To save waste, boil the trimmed artichoke leaves about 15 minutes until tender in water with a lemon, then enjoy them for lunch, dipping them into an easy sauce of yogurt spiked with a spoonful of Dijon mustard. Easily made in a frying pan, this tagine goes well with couscous, or a quinoa or bulgur pilaf, though that might depend on your Passover traditions, and Moroccan Jews do not allow rice or couscous. The dish can easily be made a day or two in advance and refrigerated or even frozen.

By Joan Nathan

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 1 hour


  • 2 large lemons
  • 8 fresh globe artichokes (or 8 frozen artichoke bottoms, quartered, or about 1 1/2 cups frozen artichoke hearts)
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds total)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, plus more to garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed


1. If using fresh artichokes, fill a large bowl with water. Cut 1 lemon in half then squeeze the juice into the water; add the spent lemon halves to the bowl, too.

2. Prepare the artichokes one at a time, rubbing them all over with the spent lemon halves as you cut and expose the inner artichoke heart. First, cut off at least 1 inch of the thorny top. Trim the stem near the heart, leaving about 2 inches of stem if possible, then peel off the outer green fiber of the stem. Using your fingers, tear off the tough outer leaves, then switch to a sharp paring or bird’s beak knife, when necessary, to shave more inner artichoke leaves until you reach the tender pale green or yellow leaves and create a bulbous shape. Gently open the leaves and remove the choke using a grapefruit spoon or melon baller, then scrape and tear (or slice) the remaining leaves off so that only the bottom remains. Cut the artichoke heart in quarters; put the quarters in the lemon water as you work to prevent discoloration. Discard the rest of the artichoke, leaves and stem, or reserve for another use.

3. Pat chicken dry, then season all over with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the chicken, skin-side down. Cook, undisturbed until well browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken thighs to a plate and spoon out about 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan, if desired. (You can discard the excess fat or save for another use.)

4. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onion, garlic, parsley and saffron. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the onion, then stir to combine.

5. Add the broth to deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Return the chicken to the pan, nestling it into the pan skin-side up. Arrange the artichokes between the chicken pieces, cover, and simmer over medium-low until the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.

6. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the sauce is thickened and the artichokes slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the juice from half the remaining lemon, taste, and adjust with salt and more lemon juice if needed. Spoon artichokes and pan sauces over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley to garnish, and serve.

5. Tofu Larb

Larb, a ground meat dish seasoned with fresh herbs, originated in Laos, but it’s also popular in the Northeastern and Northern regions of Thailand. This vegan version requires minimal cooking and features crumbled extra-firm tofu, which soaks up the spicy, citrusy sauce like a sponge. Toasted ground rice is a traditional addition that adds a lovely aroma and nuttiness while thickening the sauce. Makrut lime leaves and crispy fried shallots can be found at Asian grocery stores, at some larger supermarket chains, or online, but both can be omitted. Crispy shallots bring a bit of crunch on top, but chopped, roasted peanuts would also work. Eat it with lettuce leaves for a light meal, or if you’re looking for something more substantial, serve it with sticky or regular rice. For those who are looking for even more spice, top with sliced fresh chiles.

By Hetty McKinnon

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes


For the tofu:

  • 3 tablespoons uncooked glutinous (sticky) or jasmine rice
  • 2 (14-ounce) packages extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable
  • 1 lemongrass stem, outer layer removed, tender stem finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 makrut lime leaves (optional), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup mixed soft herbs, such as mint, Thai basil, basil, cilantro and chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated
  • 1/4 cup store-bought crispy fried shallots or onions

For the dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  • 3 tablespoons dark or light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes or 1/2 to 1 red chile, such as bird’s eye, finely chopped


1. Make the toasted rice powder: Heat a medium (10-inch) skillet over medium-high. Add the rice and stir constantly for 4 to 6 minutes until golden, with a nutty aroma. Transfer rice to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind until it is a coarse powder. (You don’t want it too fine; some texture is nice.) You should have about 3 1/2 tablespoons. Set rice powder aside.

2. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and red-pepper flakes; whisk until the sugar is dissolved.

3. Crumble the tofu into small chunks and place in a large bowl.

4. Heat the medium skillet over medium-high and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the lemongrass and shallot and cook, stirring constantly, until softened and aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the tofu, along with the lime dressing, rice powder, makrut lime leaves, herbs and salt. Taste and add more salt if needed.

5. To serve, spoon the tofu larb into the lettuce leaves and garnish with crispy fried shallots.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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