Pesto Pasta Bubbles! - The New York Times

June 6, 2024
Dining & Wine
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In Melissa Clark’s “Dinner in One” cookbook — which is her collection of one-pot recipes, you’re welcome — Melissa shares that her family refers to pearl couscous as pasta bubbles. Pasta bubbles! Is there any better term for capturing the delightful chew and pleasingly spherical shape of this tiny pasta? (The “pasta bubbles” recipe, by the way, is for spiced pearl couscous with jammy eggplant and tomatoes, a recipe inspired by this one from Adeena Sussman.)

Because of this, I now keep pearl couscous in my pantry, and will be making this new couscous risotto with tomatoes and mozzarella from Sheela Prakash. The couscous takes the place of the usual rice, which cuts down on cook time, increases the texture and keeps the creaminess. Use store-bought pesto or, if you’ve picked up a basil plant from the hardware store, homemade. Pasta bubbles, cherry tomatoes and bright green basil pesto — perfectly, adorably summer.


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Speaking of the season: I’ve started stockpiling pressure cooker recipes in advance of the July and August heat that keeps me away from my stove and oven. This pressure cooker coconut curry chicken from Melissa caught my eye; I love the idea of a richly spiced, cardamom- and coriander-scented curry at the push of a button. (And if this “let the robots do the work, I’m going to sit in front of the AC” scenario appeals to you, you can thumb through our Instant Pot recipe collection here.)

I don’t mind turning on the stove for searing fish, though, since the cooking goes so quickly. Ali Slagle’s pan-seared fish with citrus pesto features a lemony basil pesto bumped up with pistachios and capers. The pesto is vegan and garlic-free, so it’s a good one to keep in mind for specific dietary and allergy needs as summer entertaining gets going.

I’ll also turn on the stove for Özlem Warren’s çilbir, or Turkish poached eggs with garlicky yogurt and a drizzle of spicy butter, a recipe adapted by Alexa Weibel. I’m not usually adept (read: patient) enough for a proper, gently poached egg, so I’m pleased to report that this dish is also delicious with a runny-centered five-minute egg.

It’s also time to start saving eggplant recipes. I can’t get enough of eggplants and appreciate how plentiful they are in summer. I made Eric Kim’s bulgogi eggplant the other night for family and received raves, which felt like a cheat given how easy it is to prepare.

Similarly, and to wrap things up, here’s a note from Judy Stark, a reader, on David Tanis’s new mango crumble: “This couldn’t be easier, but it’s delicious. Your summer go-to dessert recipe!”

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