Copyright © 2011 by James Peterson

Photographs copyright © 2011 by James Peterson
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ten Speed Press, an imprint
of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Ten Speed Press and the Ten Speed Press colophon are
registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Peterson, James.
Kitchen simple / James Peterson. — 1st ed.
p. cm.
ISBN 978-1-58008-318-8 (alk. paper)
1. Quick and easy cooking. I. Title.
TX833.5.P48 2011
ISBN 978-1-58008-318-8
Printed in China
Cover and text design by Nancy Austin
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First Edition


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3/16/11 12:29 PM

Fennel Salad

Mushroom and
Tarragon Salad
It’s imperative to have fresh tarragon for this salad—
dried doesn’t have the same flavor. Most people don’t
think of making a salad entirely out of mushrooms, but
this salad is amazingly tasty and satisfying. Use cremini
mushrooms, if you can find them. The recipe calls for a
rather large amount of olive oil—the mushrooms soak it
up like a sponge. Serve the salad on its own or as part of
a crudité assortment (see page 61).

cup extra virgin olive oil
cup wine vinegar, preferably sherry vinegar


Rinse the mushrooms in a colander. Inspect the bottoms of the stems; if they are dried out or dark, trim
them off. Slice the mushrooms (include the stems) and
toss them with the oil, vinegar, and tarragon. Season to
taste with salt and pepper.
Serve right away or cover and keep in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.

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1/ 4

cup extra virgin olive oil

Small chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

Leaves from 10 sprigs fresh tarragon


1 large or 2 small bulbs fennel


11/4 pounds cultivated mushrooms, preferably
1/ 4

makes 4 first-course servings


makes 4 first-course servings

1/ 2

This simple and inexpensive salad has become all the
rage in Italian or Italianesque restaurants where it is
sold at a huge markup. To make this salad, it helps to be
equipped with a Benriner vegetable slicer (see page 12). If
you don’t have a vegetable slicer, you can make this salad
with a very sharp knife. Be sure to use your best olive oil.

Cut the green fronds off the fennel. (These can be saved
in the freezer; they’re great in broths. Or you can dry
them and use them as a seasoning for grilled fish.) Cut
the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom and use a
small knife to cut out the core from each half. Slice the
fennel as thinly as you can with a vegetable slicer or
sharp knife.
Just before serving, toss the fennel with the oil and
season with salt and pepper. (Don’t do this in advance,
or the salt will make the salad limp.) Arrange on individual plates. Use a cheese slicer or vegetable peeler to
shave off several thin slices of Parmesan for each plate
and arrange them on top.

Kitchen Simple

3/16/11 12:31 PM

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3/16/11 12:31 PM

Tomato Gratin


Essentially baked tomatoes, nothing concentrates and
underlines the flavor of tomatoes in quite the same way
as a gratin. One special trick: bake the tomatoes just long
enough for them to release liquid, then pour this liquid
into a saucepan, boil it down to a syrup, and sprinkle it
over the tomatoes during the final half hour of baking.
The only downside to a tomato gratin is peeling the tomatoes (if you leave the peels on, they come off and become
stringy) and the long cooking time, but the overall method
requires very little active time. Serve this gratin with
grilled meats or fish (its acidity accents seafood).
makes 4 side-dish servings
8 tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub a large gratin dish with
olive oil.
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.
Plunge the tomatoes into the pot, two at a time, and
let sit, over high heat, for about 45 seconds. Drain in a
colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Cut out
the stems and peel away the skins. Cut each tomato into
eight wedges for medium tomatoes or twelve wedges for
large tomatoes. Push the seeds out of each wedge with
your index finger. Arrange the tomato wedges in rows
in the baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes. Tilt the gratin dish to see how
much liquid has accumulated. If there’s more than, say,
1/2 cup, ladle off the excess into a saucepan. Return the
gratin to the oven and boil down the liquid until it’s
lightly syrupy. Pour this back over the gratin. Continue
baking until the tomatoes begin to brown around the
edges, about 30 minutes more. Season with salt and
pepper and serve immediately.


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Try sprinkling the gratin with grated ParmigianoReggiano cheese about 10 minutes before taking it out
of the oven. Also, try pouring a little cream into the
gratin when you pour the reduced tomato liquid on top.
You can also sprinkle the gratin with chopped basil just
before serving.

Tomatoes à la Provençale
Many recipes for baked tomatoes call for cooking them
rather quickly, in a hot oven. The problem with this
method is that the tomatoes are left watery. A better
method is to cook them slowly and for a long time so
that the water they contain evaporates and their flavor
makes 4 side-dish servings
4 medium tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced and then crushed
to a paste
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/ 3

cup bread crumbs (made by working 2 slices
slightly stale white bread through a strainer)


Stem the tomatoes and cut them in half through their
equators. Squeeze out the seeds and set them, cut side
up, in a baking dish. Smear garlic on top of the tomatoes and in the openings. Sprinkle over the parsley and
bread crumbs, pressing them into the openings, and
slide into the oven. Season with salt and pepper. Turn
the oven to 350°F (there’s no need to preheat).
Bake for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes look shrunk
and wizened. Serve hot or warm.

Kitchen Simple

3/16/11 12:32 PM

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3/16/11 12:32 PM

Pasta and Peas
While recipes for this dish abound, this particular recipe
is inspired by one from Justin Schwartz’s wonderful book,
Naples at Table.
makes 6 first-course or 4 main-course servings
4 tablespoons butter
One 4-ounce slice prosciutto (1/4 inch thick),
cut into 1/4 -inch dice
1 small onion, chopped
One 10-ounce package frozen peas or
10 ounces fresh baby peas
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped

Pasta with Porcini
Mushroom Sauce
Dried mushrooms are among the most flavorful of all
foods—a few slices of mushroom will go a long way.
When shopping for dried porcini, available in gourmet
supermarkets, look for mushrooms that still feel flexible
through the bag, rather than completely dry and brittle.
Look for mushrooms with the largest slices you can
find, rather than little chips. You should be able to smell
the fragrance of the mushrooms through the bag. Keep
unused porcini tightly wrapped in the freezer.
makes 4 light main-course servings


4 large pieces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked
for 30 minutes in just enough water to cover

1 pound dried pasta, such as spaghetti
or linguine, or 11/ 2 pounds fresh

1 cup heavy cream

Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

1 pound dried pasta, such as fettuccine
or linguine, or 11/ 2 pounds fresh

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium
heat. Add the prosciutto and onion. Cook, stirring
occasionally, until the onion turns translucent, about
10 minutes. Add the peas and cook just long enough
to heat them through and, if they’re fresh, lightly cook
them, anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes (taste one to
determine doneness). Add the parsley and season to
taste with salt and pepper.

Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to serve
at the table

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, boil dried pasta according to the instructions on the package, or if fresh, for 30 to 60 seconds,
until soft, with the slightest resistance to the tooth.

Squeeze the mushrooms over the container you used
to soak them in so you catch all the soaking liquid. Pour
the soaking liquid into a saucepan, leaving any grit
behind in the container. Add the cream to the soaking
liquid as well as the mushrooms and simmer gently
until the sauce barely begins to thicken. Season to taste
with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta and transfer to a heated bowl. Toss
it with the pea mixture. Serve in heated pasta or soup
plates. Pass the Parmesan at the table.

Boil dried pasta according to the instructions on
the package, or if fresh, for 30 to 60 seconds, until soft,
with the slightest resistance to the tooth.
Drain the pasta in a colander and transfer to a
heated bowl. Pour over the sauce and toss. Serve on
heated plates. Pass the Parmesan at the table.


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Kitchen Simple

3/16/11 12:33 PM

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3/16/11 12:33 PM

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