Shortcuts to Big Flavor

Dried minced onion, snack-size nori sheets and crème fraîche pack a punch in vegetable-forward cooking.

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By Tejal Rao

I ❤️ seaweed, and if you happen to have missed my earlier seaweed-filled edition of this newsletter, please find a moment to catch up with Eric Kim’s recipe for creamy asparagus pasta. Today, we’re turning to an aguachile verde with sliced hearts of palm, avocado, cucumber and onion that uses seaweed to develop and build flavor.

Jocelyn Ramirez makes her vegan version of the Sinaloa-style ceviche with a few snack-size sheets of nori. They break down in the blender with chiles, cilantro, lime juice and olive oil to make a vivid, sharp marinade, with a bit of seaside umami from the nori. It’s fast, hands-off and very rewarding. Tostada heaven!

And you know dried minced onion, the onion you can find in shakers in the spice aisle, chopped up and dehydrated? It’s an ingredient that, I have to admit, I have snobbishly undervalued in the past, but it provides such a cool shortcut in Genevieve Ko’s chile crisp.

It may seem obvious, but because these onions are dried and don’t hold any moisture, the little flakes start to color very quickly in hot oil, turning crisp and golden brown in under five minutes. Just add chile flakes, sesame seeds and Sichuan pepper, and your chile crisp is ready. If you haven’t made chile crisp at home before, this quick version is a good introduction.

It’s a great, fast condiment to have on hand for vegetables, eggs, tofu, for anything, really, that needs a wee boost of heat, fat and flavor. If you cook some dried beans until they’re nice and tender, then ladle them and some of the cooking liquid over a little rice, try topping with chile crisp solids, a dribble of the dark red oil, along with cilantro and mint.

One last idea: crème fraîche. I rarely buy it, but when I do, everything I make feels so luxurious. I love Hana Asbrink’s quick pasta with peas and scallions, where it forms the base of a really fast, creamy, tangy sauce that won’t split, with a little Parmesan and lemon zest.

Palmitos Aguachile Verde (Chile-Lime Hearts of Palm)

Go to the recipe.

Chile Crisp

Go to the recipe.

Crème Fraîche Pasta With Peas and Scallions

Go to the recipe.

One More Thing

If you like the carrot-ginger salad dressing you often find in casual Japanese American restaurants, you have to try Eric Kim’s recipe for crunchy greens with carrot-ginger dressing. I didn’t realize I was in a bit of a salad rut until I made it — lively, colorful and so juicy! More excellent salad ideas here.

And finally, this newsletter celebrated its one-year anniversary last Friday! 🍰 Thank you so much for reading The Veggie, for emailing me fun links and notes on recipes, for asking great questions, and for being such a delightful bunch of readers. See you next week!

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