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Ted Allen's Healthy Holiday Tips

Ted Allen's Healthy Holiday Tips

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The 'Chopped' host gives his advice for Christmas cooking

No one likes to hear the words "healthy" and "holiday" together. We all want to believe that the holidays are a magical time when it’s acceptable for waistlines to expand and that Santa will all make it go away in the new year.

But Ted Allen thinks we should have a different strategy, and he believes you can have your fat-free cake and enjoy eating it, too. Allen has been working with Country Crock and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, and with them has developed new takes on classic recipes. His aim is to make them a bit healthier, but without sacrificing flavor. One recipe that he uses as a go-to is a vegetarian lasagna. The lasagna uses butternut squash and mushrooms, which help it retain a rich feeling but without the heaviness. Another strategy is to make mashed potatoes with golden beets — not only does it make the standard a bit more interesting, but it cuts out a lot of the starch that you’d get from using all potatoes.

For all of Ted Allen’s tips, watch the video above, and if the images make you hungry for his recipes, you can get all of the ones we mentioned at It Is Good to Know.

Ted Allen's Modern Thanksgiving Menu

If you're anything like Ted Allen—or most Americans—Thanksgiving ranks high among your favorite holidays. According to the host of the Food Network's "Chopped" and author of In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks, there are so many reasons to love Turkey Day: "Everybody has the day off. Everybody loves to eat the great traditional dishes. People are beginning to think about the holiday season and getting in the mood for the soothing sounds of football on the telly. It's getting nippy outside in much of the country, signaling that it's time to bake, roast, and braise in a big way." Not to mention, Allen says, entertaining for such a celebration is "a multimedia platform for personal expression" through your food, decor, lighting, and music choices. "Not to sound too much like Christopher Guest in 'Waiting for Guffman,'" he says, "but on Thanksgiving you're putting on a show!"

What's not to love about Thanksgiving? Try the hassle, mess, and stress that all too often accompany planning and cooking the most fabulous feast of the year. Enter Allen, who has devised a better way to go about it: a simple but elegant Thanksgiving meal for eight, comprised of delicious make-ahead dishes from his cookbook The Food You Want to Eat, with an even easier deconstructed turkey developed exclusively for Epicurious, accompanied by sophisticated drink selections in a relaxed setting. Allen also shared some of his no-stress entertaining tips and invited us into his home to show us how it's done.

The table's already elegantly set. You're relaxed and mingling with your guests, chatting over Champagne in eager anticipation of the appointed mealtime. When it comes, you carry perfectly warmed food in pretty serving dishes to the table, where your guests are able to dig in at once. Or at least that's the fantasy. More often, Thanksgiving dinner arrives late on the table. It's waylaid by chaotic fumbling among piles of dirty prep plates as well as timing issues and lack of oven space—all in an attempt to deliver both warm side dishes and turkey at the same time.

Deconstructed Holiday Turkey with Sage Gravy

The best way to minimize potential pre-meal meltdown is to cook as much ahead of time as you can, Allen says, and to clean as you go. Most of the dishes he has chosen for Epicurious are perfect for making ahead: the Parmesan crisps can be made up to 3 days before (store in an airtight container) and the rosemary olives can marinate in the refrigerator up to a couple days prior. The sage stuffing (Allen's favorite version actually comes from our site) can be assembled, though not baked, and refrigerated for up to two days ahead. On the day of the feast, simply bring it to room temperature while roasting the turkey and bake it once the bird is done. In addition, both the string beans and root vegetables can be roasted ahead and also warmed in the oven while the turkey sits, but they're perfectly delicious served at room temperature. You can even bake the brownies a day ahead—a simple 30-second shot in the microwave is all they need to regain their just-baked warmth.

But it's the meal's centerpiece that's the real time- and stress-saver: a deconstructed turkey. "No cooking task creates more agita across our great nation than roasting the holiday turkey," Allen says. "First, it takes days to thaw safely in the fridge and consumes precious space when you need it most. Once thawed and oven-bound, the breast meat on a whole turkey cooks faster than the dark meat. It's also easy to burn the skin before the meat is cooked through. The darned thing is just plain too big."

Rosemary Roasted Vegetables

The solution is to purchase, thaw, brine, and then roast the turkey in parts. The advantages, Allen says, are many: First, frozen turkey pieces thaw—and cook—much faster than a whole bird there's no trussing and no stuffing and using pieces means your carving job is halfway done before you even start. All of which means your turkey can be served more quickly, and, hence, warmer. "Yes, you lose the beautiful, glossy trophy bird in the center of the table," Allen says, "but, then, you can arrange a pretty platter of sliced bird that's quite magnificent, too. And you can buy extra legs, if you like, affording you the chance to tell children that you're serving a rare, four-legged turkey. I can't wait to try this on my nephews."

That leaves only the butternut squash pie and the cauliflower purée. Like the stuffing, the squash pie can be assembled ahead and refrigerated. And since it requires the same cooking temperature as the turkey, you can cook both at the same time if your oven space allows. The cauliflower purée is a snap to steam and then needs only a gentle reheat on the stovetop. Warm this while slicing the turkey breast or making the gravy, then you're good to go.

Indeed, the stress of Thanksgiving has been known to drive some to drink. But since Ted Allen's plan eliminates stress for you, he focuses on drink choices that are as streamlined and sophisticatedly simple as the meal itself: Start (and finish) your celebration with Champagne and rely on quality wines to augment your dinner.

Don't complicate things. Just pop bottles.

"For a family affair such as Thanksgiving," Allen says, "cocktails don't feel right. I prefer Champagne." Not only is a nice bubbly a light way to whet the appetite, it's also the perfect pairing for the Parmesan crisps and rosemary olive hors d'oeuvres. For a nicely priced choice, Allen suggests Mumm Cuvée Napa.

"If you can swing a more expensive bottle," he says, "go for Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon White Star, Piper-Heidsieck, or Taittinger—you can't go wrong with any of them."

For the table, nothing goes better with turkey than an earthy, berry-scented Pinot Noir. Allen likes Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot, as well as the Pinot Noirs from Etude or Cristom. (Allen is a spokesperson for Mondavi Private Selection wines.)

For the white wine–lovers, Allen particularly likes Mondavi's crisp Fumé Blanc with roast turkey. Alternatively, he suggests Alsatian Pinot Gris from Trimbach or Pierre Sparr.

Another good thing about Thanksgiving being a family holiday: You shouldn't have to worry too much about people judging you for your china and candlesticks—it's not like cooking dinner for your boss or Martha Stewart," says Allen. The relaxed, familial vibe of the holiday, then, should be your cue for your decor and music choices.

Aunt Delia's Thanksgiving Manners Quiz

Allen's favorite way to get maximum design impact with minimal effort on Thanksgiving is to use the food itself to make the room beautiful. "Bowls full of veggies, fruits, nuts, olives, cascading piles of cheese and bread, and platters full of beautiful cookies are all wonderful," Allen says. "And later, you can eat them." Flowers are always nice, too, he says, though make sure they're nonfragrant (no lilies, please) and that the arrangement is short enough that it won't block any of your guests' happy faces from view. For the meal itself, arrange the turkey artfully on a platter—perhaps garnishing with some fresh herbs or kumquats for color—and transfer your side dishes to nice serving-ware to place on the table. This presents a neater, more unified look than a haphazard mix of cookware scattered about, and depending on the serving-ware you have, it's simple way to lend color or style to the table. Finally, Allen instructs, "Dim the lights a little, light a bunch of votives, and put a fire in the fireplace—you're mostly there."

To further augment the mood, make a mellow but chic playlist, Allen says. "Use your iTunes, make a playlist, and make sure the music never stops." For a cool, urbane, sophisticated feeling during cocktails and dinner, he says, there is no beating Chet Baker. Allen also likes Acid House Kings, Beth Orton, Calexico and Iron & Wine (In the Reins), Duncan Sheik, Eels, Ivy (Apartment Life), Josh Rouse, Nada Surf, The Pernice Brothers, Rogue Wave, Sparklehorse, Sufjan Stevens, Super Furry Animals, and Yo La Tengo. "If I were at your dinner party and you played these things, I would be delighted. For a subversive, slightly shaggier-haired crowd, I might play the quietly weird music by Kurt Wagner's quirky Nashville collective, Lambchop—gorgeous music, everything from gentle alt-country to Curtis Mayfield covers." Allen also suggests the soft, beautiful work of Hem ("Rabbit Songs"), Belle and Sebastian, or Kings of Convenience. "And if this list is too ridiculous and intimidating," he says, "just go back to the top: Chet Baker."

As mentioned in the food section, make as much of your meal ahead of time as possible, even completing cooking tasks over a couple days. "I make ahead all of these dishes," Allen says: "Deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, coleslaws, room-temperature veggies, salads, cakes, pies, and most desserts." This will allow you a more relaxed and leisurely pace come Turkey Day.

Plan to serve several dishes that don't need to be hot to minimize competition for the oven.

Think about reducing the sheer number of side dishes you plan to serve, suggests Allen. "While it's opulent and celebratory to have 27 different tastes to choose from, the reality is that you're creating a massive amount of work so that each person can sample one bite of each thing."

Make a list for yourself if you have to, and create a timeline. This doesn't have to be an elaborate plan, but listing out all the tasks and chores you have, then arranging them in a way that's most efficient, helps keep you organized and, more importantly, calm.

Act early. Don't wait until the last minute to take stock of what you need—whether it be a replacement serving platter or to put an order in for your organic, kosher turkey. That way, you can laugh from afar at the harried hordes clawing for the last can of pumpkin rather than being one of them.

A Stock Tip: Make It Right Now

Food & Meal Prep

You've cooked as much of your food early as possible (good job!), so do the same thing with your table. Set it the night before as your brownies are baking, then that's one less thing you have to think about come morning.

Another way to avoid overwhelming yourself with work, Allen says, is to ask your guests to bring a side dish from home. Or enlist your guests' help in your own kitchen, either assigning them various tasks when they arrive or asking some to come early to help with the cooking. According to Allen, "It's always wonderful to cook with friends that's one of my favorite things."

On the other hand, sometimes the stress and complexity of Thanksgiving can be worsened by a kitchen full of folks, especially if you're territorial about your kitchen. In that case, ask your guests to help in other ways, by setting the table or pouring Champagne and passing hors d'oeuvres. Either way, you're lessening your workload, which is a good thing.

Plan to serve minimal prefeast hors d'oeuvres, focusing your efforts instead on the meal. "In my parents' house," says Allen, "Mom restricts predinner snacking to things like carrot sticks—damned if she's gonna let people fill up on Cheez-Its when she's going to all that trouble."

Keeping all your food warm for serving is a perennial problem for which, luckily, there are several solutions. First, choose dishes that taste great at room temperature, like the string beans and roasted vegetables, Allen says. Perhaps you're lucky enough to have a warming drawer or one of those sideboard food-warming platters from the ❠s. If not, Allen says, choose your serving pieces strategically to help you keep things hot. "Heavy cast-iron skillets and cookware such as Staub and Le Creuset hold heat forever," he says.

Finally, make sure you have comfy spaces for your guests to sprawl after the feast. "The only postdinner activity I'm interested in involves a very comfortable sofa, with one of Dad's fascinating golf or football games droning pleasantly in the background as the tryptophan kicks in."


Oh my goodness, so easy! (Especially if you take the shortcut like I did, and only use carrots (2 lbs). Weeknight easy that way. Weekend worthy with the rest of the root veggies, I'm sure! made this a s a side dish for Lemony Pasta with Cauliflower, Chickpeas and Arugula. The menu was a hit!

Love this, love this. Have made it to the letter and have made with rutabaga instead of parsnips. Garlic can be peeled or unpeeled. Both results good. Pairs perfectly with a simple lamb chop recipe.

My oven had a massive malfunction just as I was prepared to put the dish in. I improvised and cooked the recipe in a dutch oven on the stove top and it turned out delicious! I'm sure the vegetables weren't cooked quite as evenly, but it as yummy nonetheless.

Great flavors! You can substitute a variety of vegetables too. We've tried zucchini, garnet yams, and butternut squash.

I love this recipe as does my family. I remove the skin from the garlic cloves when the dish is done roasting.

My guests seemed to like this better than I did.Nice flavors. It was pleasant but I don't think I would make it again

Excellent and easy to make. I made this for our Thanksgiving dinner this year with much success. I made the first part of the recipe the night before and then cover it and put it in the fridge. While the turkey was resting, I tossed in the garlic and rosemary and finished the cooking (about 35 minutes - because the veggies were cold). Big hit!

This was simply fantastic. I made is exactly as prescribed, although next time I would like to throw in a quartered anise bulb along with it. I might also use a little rosemary and chop it up to release more flavor. The wonderful flavors of the vegetables speak for themselves in this dish.

I make basically the same recipe, but I roast the veg for almost 3 hrs at around 325, along with the turkey. they turn out soooo sweet and carmalized, and there's no fiddling with the oven temp


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves&mdash4 smashed, 2 minced
  • Two 2-pound cooked lobsters&mdashshells reserved, meat cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 5 coriander seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 fennel bulb&mdashhalved, cored and thinly sliced
  • Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
  • Two 2-inch strips of orange zest
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
  • 1 pound skinless halibut fillet, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, half of the carrots, the smashed garlic cloves and the reserved lobster shells. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened slightly, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and the water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the liquid is reduced to about 6 cups, about 45 minutes. Strain the broth into a heatproof bowl and discard the solids. Rinse out the pot.

Return the broth to the pot. Add the potatoes, fennel, saffron, orange zest, tomatoes, minced garlic and the remaining carrots bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and simmer over moderate heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the mussels to the pot, cover and cook until they open, about 3 minutes. Gently stir in the halibut and lobster meat and cook until the halibut is white throughout, about 2 minutes. Serve in deep bowls, sprinkled with the parsley.

Ted Allen's Healthy Holiday Tips - Recipes

Roasted Radicchio with Pickled Red Onions, from “In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks,” by Ted Allen, Clarkson-Potter. Photo by Ben Fink

North Carolina Pulled Pork with Pickled Red Onions, from “In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks,” by Ted Allen, Clarkson-Potter. Photo by Ben Fink

Honey-Glazed Baby Root Vegetables with Greens, from “In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks,” by Ted Allen, Clarkson-Potter. Photo by Ben Fink

Photo by Larson and Talbert

Fried Rice with Crab, Greens, and Happy Eggs, from “In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks,” by Ted Allen, Clarkson-Potter. Photo by Ben Fink

Career, Salary, and Net Worth

Allen initially worked as a freelancer for Chicago magazine. He later signed as senior editor and eventually joined Esquire in 1997. Additionally, he has also worked as a writer for GQ, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Epicurious.

Eventually, he joined the cast of the series ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Since then, he has appeared in several other television series.

Some other movies and television series that Allen has appeared in are ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate’, ‘Chopped’, ‘Chopped: Better Duck Next Time’, ‘Chopped After Hours’, ‘Beat Bobby Flay’, ‘Worst Cooks in America’, ‘Food Detectives’, ‘Chelsea Lately’ and ‘Dear Food Network: Thanksgiving’ among others.

Allen is also a successful author. He has written books including ‘Esquire’s Things A Man Should Know About Style’, ‘Esquire’s Things A Man Should Know About Marriage’ and ‘The Food You Want To Eat: 100 Smart, Simple Recipes’.

Allen won the James Beard Foundation Award in 2012. Additionally, he won an Emmy Award along with the other cast members in 2004 for ‘Queer Eye’. Furthermore, he also received the Visibility Award from the Human Rights Campaign in San Francisco in 2011.

Allen has not revealed his current salary. However, he has an estimated net worth of around $ 6.5 million at present.

Caption: Ted Allen Smiley Looks (Source: Food Network )

Talking Turkey with Cookbook Author Ted Allen

Ted Allen is best known for his role as the food-and-wine specialist on the television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy . But he is also a contributing editor to Esquire magazine and an author.

The Food You Want to Eat is Allen's current cookbook. He spoke with Susan Stamberg about holiday food, including these two recipes:

Roasted Butternut Squash Pie

Wine pairing: Ripe Gewürztraminer or rich, fruity Pinot Noir

1/2 package (1 pound) frozen filo dough

1 butternut squash, about 2 1/2 pounds (or buy pre-peeled and cut)

2 medium red onions, sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 red bell pepper, halved, stemmed and seeded

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/3 cup for brushing the filo

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger (about 1 inch, peeled)

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 medium garlic cloves, chopped

1 16-ounce bag of spinach, large stems removed

1 1/2 cups simple tomato sauce, store-bought OK

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the filo from freezer and thaw at room temperature for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, trim off ends of squash, halve crosswise. Scrape out seeds and peel off skin with vegetable peeler. Cut into 3-inch chunks.

Put squash, onion slices and red pepper halves on baking sheet in single layer. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of oil. Toss to coat. Roast 30 minutes, turning once. Remove pepper and turn everything again. Roast 10 more minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Put squash in a large bowl. Quarter onion slices and cut pepper into 1-inch cubes and add to bowl. Sprinkle the vegetables with ginger, cumin, cinnamon, cilantro, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Add raisins and toss gently.

Turn oven down to 375 degrees F. Toast walnuts 5 to 7 minutes, shaking pan a couple times. Remove from oven and chop, add to bowl, and stir gently.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil with garlic in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add about 1/3 of spinach and cook, turning it with tongs until wilted, about 1 minute. Add rest of spinach in 2 batches keep turning with tongs. Sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon salt and cook until all spinach is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes, total.

To assemble, have ready a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and a pastry brush. Pour 1/3 cup olive oil into a small bowl. Open pastry sheets flat. Keep long side of dish toward you, short sides to left and right. Brush dish with oil and lay one sheet of filo across left side of dish with half of sheet hanging out the long side nearest you. (No filo will hang over the short sides.)

Brush the part that touches pan bottom with oil. Lay a second sheet of filo on the right side, again with half of sheet hanging out near you. Brush bottom of that sheet, too. Now lay two more sheets, on left and right, but with extra length hanging out the long side opposite you.

Continue the same way, brushing bottom of each sheet with oil, until you have used 14 sheets. You have more than enough sheets, so just discard any that stick together or rip.

Line bottom of dish with half of spinach, spreading it out. Spoon squash mixture on top and gently flatten with a spoon. Cover with rest of spinach. Now, gently fold the excess filo dough hanging from the long sides up over the filling. Do 2 sheets on one side, then 2 on the other, brushing each sheet with oil once in place. Cover it all with 2 more sheets of filo, brushed with oil.

Bake at 375 until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes or serve at room temperature. Cut into squares and serve each square with some warmed tomato sauce under it.

Deconstructed Holiday Turkey with Sage Gravy

You can marinate the turkey in brine, as specified here, or you can skip that step and just rub the pieces with butter, salt, pepper, and herbs. I wouldn't skip it, though -- brining is the greatest thing ever to happen to turkey, producing lovely, moist meat, beautifully seasoned through and through.

1 turkey breast on the bone, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds

3 turkey drumsticks (about 2 1/4 pounds)

2 turkey thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 head garlic, cut in half

2 large whole sprigs fresh sage, plus leaves from 2 more large sprigs, plus extra sprigs for garnish

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

2 teaspoons allspice berries

1/4 cup fresh celery leaves

3 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter

2 to 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the turkey parts and put them into doubled 2 1/2 gallon-sized resealable plastic bags (or a large stockpot). Add the salt, honey, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, whole sprigs sage, peppercorns, allspice, and celery leaves. Then add enough cold water to cover the turkey -- about 3 quarts should do it. Press out the air, close the bags, and place them in a large bowl or other container in case they leak. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the turkey parts from the brine and pat them dry on paper towels. Place the parts on racks in 2 medium roasting pans, skin side up (the more space there is around the parts -- i.e. the less crowded the pans -- the better the turkey will brown.) Scatter the remaining sage leaves all over and then spoon the melted butter over. Put the pans in the oven and roast about 30 minutes or until the turkey is starting to brown nicely. Turn down the heat to 400 F. Rotate the roasting pans (things towards the back of the oven tend to cook faster than towards the front). If the stuff on the bottom of the pans is beginning to get too brown, add about 1 cup water to each pan. (You will definitely need to add water either now or some time later, or the brown bits in the pan will burn, and you won't be able to use them to make the gravy.)

Roast until the turkey registers 160 to 165 F on an instant-read thermometer legs and thighs will need 50 to 60 minutes total a 5 1/2 pound breast will take about 1 hour total a 6 1/2 pound breast about 1 hour 15 minutes. (Turkey dark meat is very forgiving so it's not a big deal if it overcooks by a few minutes.) Remove both pans from the oven. Remove the turkey to a platter and cover loosely to keep warm while you make the gravy.

For the gravy: Pour all of the juices from both pans into a 4-cup measure let the broth settle then skim the fat that rises to the top. Put one of the roasting pans across 2 burners, add 2 cups stock to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, scraping with a wooden spoon to pick up the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour that into the measuring cup as well and add chicken stock to equal 4 cups. Get a whisk and turn the heat to medium-low. Melt the butter in the pan, add the flour and whisk 3 minutes. Then gradually whisk in the stock along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate with the turkey. Cook, whisking, 5 minutes the gravy should have thickened. (The gravy can be made in a saucepan if you prefer it's a little easier to handle than the roasting pan but you do end up with another pan to wash.) Season the gravy with pepper and taste for salt. Slice the turkey and garnish with more sage serve with the gravy.

From: THE FOOD YOU WANT TO EAT by Ted Allen. Copyright 2005 by Ted Allen. Photographs copyright 2005 by Bill Bettencourt. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.

Food Network host Ted Allen developed this recipe for fresh refrigerator pickles, and it couldn't be easier. There's no blanching the veggies, no boiling of the filled jars. The light brine works great with many foods: cucumbers, of course, but also carrots, cauliflower, turnips, onions, green beans, asparagus, jalapeños, watermelon rind, unripe green tomatoes, even apples. And the pickles last for weeks in the fridge (where they must be stored at all times). A canning funnel with wide spout is helpful for pouring the hot brine into the jars a regular funnel is your next-best option. Otherwise, transfer hot brine from the pan to a pitcher before attempting to pour or you risk burning yourself or spilling brine.

2 cups distilled white vinegar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Several sprigs fresh dill

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns (if you have them)

6 pickling cucumbers, quartered lengthwise

6 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise

A few cauliflower florets

4 small hot red chiles or 2 jalapeños (see note)

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, reduce heat so the water simmers, and add garlic. (Simmering the garlic in water cooks out sulfur compounds that otherwise will cause the cloves to turn a harmless but very unappetizing blue-green color from the acid in the vinegar.) Cook garlic for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, raise the heat, and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from heat.

In two sterile 1-quart canning jars, place a few sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using tongs, remove the garlic from the brine and place 5 cloves in each jar. Then pack the jars full of the veggies and chiles (you want them to be tightly stuffed).

Bring the brine back to a boil, pour it over vegetables to cover completely, let cool and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good in just a few hours, better after a couple of days. And they'll keep for about 3 months.

Note: Keep the chiles whole for a mild heat, or cut them in half for additional kick.

PER SERVING (2 pickles): calories: 17 (7% from fat) protein: 0.6 gram total fat: 0.1 gram saturated fat: 0 cholesterol: 0 sodium: 204 mg carbohydrate: 4 grams dietary fiber: 0.8 gram


  • 1 pint grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 medium shallot (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 center-cut salmon fillets with skin (about 7 ounces each)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the shallot, capers, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet, skin side up. Cook over moderately high heat until well-browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the salmon is cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer the fish to plates and pour off any fat in the skillet.

Place the skillet over moderate heat and add the tomato mixture along with the cumin, canola oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the skillet, until the tomatoes just soften, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the salmon, sprinkle with the parsley and basil and serve right away.