Whenever I feel totally uninspired by cooking and the contents of my refrigerator, I reach for a few fail-safe tricks. Like: Boiling a pot of beans with an onion and some bay. Simmering a quick tomato sauce and adding dried pasta. A scoop of miso dissolved in some vegetable broth.
One of my all-time, fool-proof favorites: Roasting whatever I have around in the oven at high heat until dark, caramelized, and fragrant. I like to cut everything into similar sized pieces — here, I used a head of broccoli, a few wilting brussels sprouts, and a few cloves of peeled garlic — and coat with olive oil, lemon zest, aleppo pepper, and lemon juice. Simple. Twenty minutes later, fresh out of the oven, charred and crispy, I deglazed the pan with a little white wine and some starchy pasta water, just enough to make a light sauce. If none of that inspires you? Delivery pizza is totally a legit alternative.
Now, I know I’ve written in the space before how much I love David Tanis’ easy fruit tart. It’s a simple, clever dish from a book packed to the gills with simple, clever recipes. I recently adapted Tanis’ recipe to make an easy savory tart, topped with tiny zucchini from the market. (That it looks like a pizza was entirely unintentional, I swear!)
I rolled out the pastry, cut it into a circle, then brushed it lightly with heavy cream. To make the topping, I sprinkled a cup of finely grated gruyere, and layered baby zucchini, sliced thinly on a mandoline, and drizzled with good olive oil. After 30 minutes, the tart was finished! We ate big slices with a lemony salad of bitter greens and radishes, and the meal was just the right balance of sumptuous and lightness. In the future, though, I would cut the zucchini thicker and use even more cheese — the buttery, rich crust can handle more aggressive toppings!