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Who You Are In That Place | Fresh Ginger Cake

Who You Are In That Place | Fresh Ginger Cake
Spicy Ginger Cake | Delightful Crumb

I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of some coziness. It’s not only because the regular afternoon temperatures in Chicago have reached the approximate deep-winter lows for Oakland, though that’s part of it. There’s also the fact that California is burning, and my heart aches for my old home—disoriented, not relieved, to not be there myself. And I’m weary. All of this newness takes a toll.

The thing about being new to a place is that it’s not just the place that’s new, but also who you are in that place. My identity seems to be floating just a few inches above me, a reminder of the fact that I do indeed know who I am, if not what it means to be myself in this new place and season. It’s a normal byproduct of a big move—but it is disorienting and strange.

Someone asked me recently if I felt a resonance with California when I lived there—if I felt like a Californian. I have more than one answer to that question. When we arrived, I didn’t at all. I felt like a fish out of water, perhaps more than anything because people told me I was. They pointed to my Midwestern-ness with a set of assumptions that, like any set of assumptions, only partly fit but also gave me a window into what people had perhaps always assumed about someone “like me.” I probably let myself linger in this space for too long, seeing only the ways I might not fit. The fact that I was freelancing and baking at odd hours for little pay while looking for something more steady, new not just to Oakland but my marriage, 25 but mistakenly thinking that was well beyond the age for taking big risks or being unsteady . . . well, none of that helped.

But then, at some point, I turned a corner. I could guess about when that was, probably a year and a half in. But I didn’t realize it right away. More accurately, I woke up one day and found I fit in just fine. California is supposed to be for the people on the fringes, after all, so what does it mean to fit in anyway? And so, beginning one unidentified day somewhere in the first quarter of my California life, there I was, attached to this strange, beautiful place even when it confused me.

We labeled ourselves as Midwesterners in California, which summed up a set of things that was true of us in a way that was sufficiently accurate, even for someone as desperate to be understood as me. I could give people that and know they would understand at least two or three things about me, or at least they’d be confused in the right direction. We made friends with other Midwesterners-in-California, spotting each other from miles away, commiserating about the long trips to see our families and the lack of seasons, while also appreciating the absence of snow.

The person who asked me about feeling Californian told me that he moved to New York at 22 and felt 100% a New Yorker two months in—because he was 22 and it was New York. He was trying things on for size, which is precisely what one should be doing at that age. But it’s not quite right for the emotionally healthy 30-something. The young-person narrative is the one we’re most accustomed to discussing—there are so many movies about it, after all!—but plenty of us leave or arrive or otherwise change much later in life. My friend, by the way, left and left again. Or arrived, if you’d prefer to see it from that version of the map.

And so what of the Midwesterner who lived in California for seven years, then moved back across the country but not quite so far as where she is from? What about the me who lives in Chicago? I’m not sure yet. But I’m practicing patience, for as long as it takes.

It is in this spirit that I bring you ginger cake, just in case you need some comfort for autumn or adjusting or whatever season you are in. I read Samin’s story about this recipe and knew I had to make it. She talks about early mornings when she was new at Chez Panisse and working from the walk-in at very early hours, not her preferred time of day (nor mine). She would eat spicy slices of leftover ginger cake with steaming tea on her break, and who can refuse something warming both to body and soul on a tired morning or week or year? Not me. Let’s not even pretend resistance.

Fresh Ginger & Molasses Cake

Adapted very slightly from Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat

Makes 2 9-inch cakes

This cake is spicy and a little sticky and full of flavor. (If you’re looking for an option that is likewise nicely spiced but less sticky and more toward the bread side of the gingerbread/cake spectrum, I recommend this one, which is also delicious.) Samin’s rendition reminds me of the ginger cake from Crixa Cakes in Berkeley, CA, a high complement indeed. If you’re baking for everyday consumption, I recommend serving one cake fresh and saving the other in the freezer. Alternately, however, you can stack the two cakes for a fancy, layered presentation.

Spicy Ginger Cake | Delightful Crumb

2 1/3 cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (4 ounces) peeled, sliced fresh ginger

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1 cup grapeseed (or other neutral) oil

1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

1 cup boiling water

2 large eggs, at room temperature

Whipped cream or powdered sugar, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set a rack in the upper third of the oven. Butter or oil two 9-inch cake pans, then line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment, too, then sprinkle generously with flour, tap out the excess and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, pepper, salt and baking soda.

In a food process or blender, purée the fresh ginger and sugar together until completely smooth, about 4 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the oil and molasses. Whisk to combine. Add the boiling water, whisking again until evenly combined.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and gradually whisk in the water-oil mixture until incorporated. Gradually whisk in the eggs and stir until smooth. The batter will be quite thin.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Drop the pans onto the counter from a height of 3 inches a couple of times to release any air bubbles.

Bake in the upper third of the oven for 38 to 40 minutes, until the cakes spring back from the touch and just pull away from the edges of the pans. An inserted toothpick should come out clean.

Cool the cakes completely on a wire rack. Unmold them from the pans and peel off the parchment. They will be delicate, so take care as you do so.

Serve the cake as you like: dusted with powder sugar, topped with cream cheese frosting or with whipped cream or ice cream alongside. Or, stack the two cakes for a more dramatic presentation. To fill and decorate with whipped cream, you’ll need about 2 cups of cream. Place one cake on a cake plate. Spread with whipped cream, then gently place the second layer atop. Spread the remaining cream onto the center of the top layer and chill for up to 2 hours before serving.

Tightly wrapped, the cake will keep for four days at room temperature, or for up to two months in the freezer.

Easy Roasted Eggplant Dip

Easy Roasted Eggplant Dip
Roasted Eggplant Dip | Delightful Crumb

It’s a lovely time of year, this moment where summer meets fall. The days toggle from hot to cool, there’s a new crisp wind on certain mornings, the markets burst with the last of summer’s bounty and the beginning of autumn’s. It’s hard to decide whether to dedicate the space and weight in the market bags to multiple ears of corn or apples or those first lovely squashes—which I know I’ll tire of at some point this winter, but that’s hard to imagine now. On top of that layer of heavy things, I balance fat eggplants and late-season tomatoes and whichever fresh green herbs are still abundant.

It’s an easy time to eat, though the truth is that I feel that way much of the time—every season but the deepest weeks of winter, and even then on my good days (stay tuned . . . ?). At the least, the market is my favorite starting point for a meal. My most beloved menus are an assemblage of things—some sort of bread as the anchor, plus multiple selections from among the following: dips and spreads, salads (raw or cooked, leafy and/or composed), soup (hot or chilled), cheeses, jams, good butter. It might be more work—though sometimes it isn’t. (Make something[s] ahead of time, buy a prepared option at the fancy store in your neighborhood, choose at least one item that requires nothing but slicing and assembling, etc.) It is usually more fun. It’s the best way I know to accommodate an allergy or aversion without much fuss—for either you or your guest. And it yields the loveliest, most generous table, save the likes of Thanksgiving.

This eggplant dip has been a staple of my spread this summer and fall. It could hardly be easier, and the results are delicious. You can make adjustments to your preferences, roast the eggplant while you do other things, prepare it ahead of time if needed. It’s excellent with flatbread, slices of good bread, crackers and/or crudités. I hope it finds its way to your table before you succumb to squashes—at which point you can switch to this fabulous number via Yotam Ottolenghi and welcome the change with open arms and a full table.

Roasted Eggplant Dip with Mint & Sumac

There are plenty of recipes along these lines in the world. This is my version, with many options included in the instructions that follow so that you can choose your own adventure. Additionally: if you don’t have mint or parsley, sub another soft green herb or skip this altogether. Sesame seeds and pomegranate seeds are excellent topping options as well.

Roasted Eggplant Dip | Delightful Crumb

2 medium or 1 large eggplant

Tahini

Greek yogurt

Extra-virgin olive oil

Red wine vinegar

1 lemon

Salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Aleppo or red pepper flakes (optional)

Flaky salt

Fresh mint or parsley

Sumac (optional but recommended)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice an “x” in the eggplant(s) in several places to prevent oven explosions. Roast for about an hour, flipping the eggplant once if you think of it, until the skin is dark and the eggplant has collapsed somewhat. A knife should slide through without any resistance. Let the eggplant cool slightly, until you can handle it without burning your fingers.

Once cool, scoop the eggplant flesh into a bowl. Don’t worry if some of the skin comes along (I like the added texture). Add a big spoonful each of tahini and Greek yogurt. Pour in a long drizzle of olive oil. Add a splash of red wine vinegar, the juice from half of the lemon, a generous pinch of salt, some freshly ground black pepper and, if you like, a pinch of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes. Use a whisk to mix aggressively.

Taste the dip and adjust any elements to your preferences. You might want to add more tahini or Greek yogurt for thickness and flavor (more depth from tahini or zing from yogurt), olive oil for richness, vinegar or lemon juice for brightness, salt for balance, etc.

Spread the dip on a plate, making swirls with the back of a spoon. Top with more olive oil, flaky salt, fresh herbs and, optionally, sumac or pepper flakes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with flatbreads, bread, crackers and/or crudités.

Hello, Discomfort! | Blueberry Almond Cake

Hello, Discomfort! | Blueberry Almond Cake
Blueberry Almond Cake | Delightful Crumb

Hello from Chicago, and from the uncomfortable in between! Moving, my friends, is no small feat, though any of you who’ve moved know that already. And, yes, I knew that, too, but it doesn’t make it easier, I’m sorry to say.

We’re on the other side of what, to me, are the hardest parts: all of the goodbyes and “lasts” back in our old city, the wait while all of our belongings made their way across the country in a moving container, carrying those precious belongings up the narrow back steps of our new building, cleaning an apartment that one might (reasonably?!) have hoped would already have been plenty clean, figuring out what doesn’t fit in a new space (i.e., the totally normal-sized bed frame), buying the replacements for both this and everything I gave away or tossed back in Oakland, trying not to dwell on all of the money a move requires, that short but awful moment when nothing feels familiar. Being past all that is a relief—but the challenges of arriving are far from over. While I’m now in possession of a Chicago library card and have found a good cafe for working, a nice coffee shop and a running route, I’m still scouting out the grocery stores and farmers’ markets. I don’t have a favorite restaurant or a church or a place where they know my name. I have, like, two friends. And I can’t for the life of me find great lighting for food photos in this apartment.

If I’ve realized anything this month, it’s about the last move, not this one. The transition to Oakland was so hard, and while I theoretically had a good handle on why, I’m realizing now that I never forgave myself for struggling as much as I did. I should have been able to handle it, right?! I can do hard things! But here I am, seven years older, married for seven years (vs. zero!), with plenty of therapy under my belt and a sense of the challenges of a big, cross-country move . . . and it’s still hard! Also, a lot of genuinely bad things happened during and right after that move: the job searching, the mugging, the health scare, etc. Of course it was hard. Of course I fell apart. I finally am extending grace to twenty-five-year-old me. Now I just need to work on grace for thirty-two-year-old me—who I am sure I’ll likewise understand better in retrospect.

I find myself feeling very ready for fall. For one, I’ve been waiting a mighty long time for a proper autumn season. Crisp air! Scarves! Tights! A physiological reason for warming stews! But it’s obviously more than that. I’m ready to be past this summer, the one in which we wrestled with the question of whether or not to move, made our decision, broke our own hearts, said goodbyes, moved out, moved in, started over. I would like to be on the other side, with art on the walls and enough friends for a dinner party.

Yet I know enough to try, at least, to appreciate the moment, however uncomfortable and awkward I might find it. Grace Bonney recently quoted advice she received from an older woman about her own season of transition. This woman called it “the juiciest time,” which I love, and told Grace, Don’t rush through it. The freedom of the unknown is something you’ll come to enjoy more as you get older. There are people, I hear, for whom this comes easily, even people who are not “older”; I just happen to not be one of them. But I know it’s true. I know it’s a rich and fleeting window.

And if I squint hard enough, I can almost see it: the possibility and hope for all that might happen for this girl who lives in Chicago. After all, how could I have imagined everything that unfolded in the Bay Area? In the first months after that move, as one thing after another didn’t go as I’d hoped, a happy, full life felt impossible. This time, I have some proof—because things did work out, good emerged even from the bad, life offered up its magic. As it always does.

Furthermore, it’s still August, and there are peaches and tomatoes and corn and blueberries to boot. Blueberries had come and gone in the Bay, but they seem to still be abundant here—a little bonus, like those extra hours you gain when you cross the right time zones. So here is a favorite cake, delicious there, delicious here, captured in imperfect light and comforting indeed.

Blueberry Cake with Almond & Cinnamon

Very slightly adapted from Alison Roman‘s excellent Dining In

This cake is intended to be reminiscent of a muffin top, which it achieves, delightfully. It is nutty and yet light, with a comforting kick of cinnamon. Beating the batter for an extended amount of time gives the cake its lift, but don’t go beyond the time allotted or it might get too tall for the tart pan (no need to worry about this if you use a traditional cake pan).

Blueberry Almond Cake | Delightful Crumb

1 cup (100 g) almond flour

3/4 cup (90 g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional

1/2 cup (105 g) light brown sugar

1/4 cup (50 g) plus 3 tablespoons (approx. 40 g) cane sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Scant 2 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan or round cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Using an electric or stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the cane sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is super light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each, and then add the vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is pale and nearly doubled in volume, about 4 minutes.

Fold in the almond mixture until no dry spots remain. Gently add 1 1/2 cup of the blueberries, mixing by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup blueberries and 3 tablespoons sugar on top. Bake until the cake is deeply golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. It should start to crackle on the top, and a knife inserted in the center should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving. It will keep well, tightly wrapped, for several days.

Note: I’m aware that there’s something wrong with the comment function on my site right now—I’m working on getting to the bottom of it! Thanks for putting up with the lo-fi nature of this humble blog in the meantime.

The Next Next Adventure | Almond Rye Cake

The Next Next Adventure | Almond Rye Cake
Almond Rye Cake

I’m here today with cake and big news: Ben and I are moving to Chicago! It’s bittersweet and exciting and many other things—I’m full of all the feelings, and have been for months. I’ve lived not just in California but the Bay Area, Oakland and THIS apartment by Lake Merritt for seven years, years that have been full of so much life, good and bad and everything in between. We moved here freshly married, and we never had a plan as to whether we’d stay forever or just a short season. It became clear in what was a really challenging first year that it wouldn’t be the latter: we were going to stick it out, and we were going to make this work. Maybe we’d leave, but we wouldn’t leave defeated. We were going to create a life.

And so we did.

Grand Lake Theatre | Delightful Crumb
Lake Merritt | Delightful Crumb

Last fall, it felt like a switch flipped and we could consider, for the first time, the idea of moving. We wish we were closer to our families in Michigan; we’d long said maybe Chicago when people asked if we’d stay in the Bay—or, alternately, whether we’d be going “back home”—if only to have something to say. It’s wildly expensive here, as everyone knows. And while we love it, there’s also a way in which it never quite clicked.

And so, we started exploring the possibility of Chicago and of a summer move, and the path was winding to say the least. It seemed good, and then it didn’t, and then it did again. All of my feelings about the Bay Area seemed to coalesce—just as we considered leaving! We reflected on past decisions and sought wisdom on this one. I made pro/con lists. Ultimately, the answer we got to all of that discerning was that we should, or at least could, try and see what might happen. And when we did, the doors opened. I work remotely and can keep my job, which was a factor in considering this in the first place, and Ben ended up with a compelling offer at a great school. As painful as it felt to leave everything here, there were no barriers to pulling up our roots.

Even so, we had to decide. I realized, literally when we sat down with dinner and a bottle of wine to hash it all out, that I didn’t want it to be a decision. I wanted it to be clear: this or that, right or wrong, here or there. And yet. I don’t actually want to live in a world like that, and I don’t believe we do. Sometimes there’s a right answer, but often there is not. Rarely are things clear and easy, even if we look back and tell the story that way. I’d been saying to people that we were really confident about our move out here from Michigan, but while packing up my books, I found an article I wrote in 2013 for Remedy Quarterly in which I state that we moved to the Bay Area with an average of 75% certainty between us. So much for that memory!

And so, here we go, on to the next adventure. It’s bittersweet, but I’m incredibly grateful to love these things—this place, my community, the life we built here—enough that it’s hard to leave.

Certain seasons of life, I’ve found, are essentially about one thing—one lesson or specific focus or set of experiences. But these seven years were not like that. This was time enough for several seasons, with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns. I can’t tie an easy bow on what this time has meant, and I’m not interested in doing so. It’s hard to even describe why we’re moving in a succinct and straightforward way. I have far more to say on my time in the Bay and this decision and the topic of transition, but I’ll save it for later, once I’m on the other side.

San Francisco Skyline
Ocean Beach

For now: cake!

This cake, which I didn’t make with plans to post (hence my super casual stoop photos!), was the last thing I baked in my kitchen before boxing up my pots and pans two weekends ago. I made it primarily to use up a lingering box of almond paste, but I left out the wrong pan in my early round of packing up kitchen equipment and ran out of all-purpose flour. I tossed in some rye flour instead and used a lemon rather than an orange. All told, I made a bunch of modifications and worried that this last cake on Wayne Ave would be a flop that I’d take it way too seriously and/or as a metaphor. But it didn’t, not at all, and I’ll take that as a reminder that things don’t always go wrong. This cake would go splendidly with any summer fruit and a big spoonful of whipped cream, or stand alone with coffee or tea.

I can’t wait to make it in my next kitchen.

Almond Rye Cardamom Cake

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh’s Sweet

The original recipe calls for a 9-inch Bundt pan and baking for 50 to 55 minutes. As my Bundt pan was packed away, I’ve not yet tried this. I’m sure it’s lovely, but I’ll also say that an 8-inch round yields a satisfyingly tall little number. The cake emerges with a golden top that has a slight, pleasant crackle, and it’s even got that delightful crumb.

Almond Rye Cake

7 oz (200 g) almond paste, broken into pieces

1 cup (200 g) cane sugar

1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (250 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional

Zest of 1 lemon

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

6 large eggs

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup (90 g) all-purpose flour, plus additional

1/2 cup (50 g) rye flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease and flour an 8-inch round pan with at least 2-inch sides. Place the almond paste in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Add the sugar and beat on medium-low speed for about 3 minutes, or until the almond paste breaks up. Add the butter, lemon zest and cardamom and continue to beat. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl from time to time. Add the almond extract and beat to combine.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Add this to the creamed mixture slowly, beating on medium-low speed until the batter is just combined.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Keep an eye on the cake, and if it begins to brown, tent it with foil. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then tip the cake from the tin before letting it continue cooling.

Serve at room temperature, with fruit and/or cream if you like. The cake will keep well for several days, wrapped tightly with plastic, and also freezes well.

Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette for All Manner of Vegetables

Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette for All Manner of Vegetables
Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

I think a lot about vegetables and how to prepare them, which will surprise no one. When it comes to eating vegetables, I personally am pleased with many simple things: a handful of snap peas, a perfect green salad, a straightforward smoothie. But that’s only the beginning. While I don’t eat meat, I also don’t subsist on raw cucumbers and kale, as some people still assume. This is neither sufficient nutrients nor excitement enough for me or for you. And while we’re all much more accustomed to stunning veg dishes than we were only a decade ago, thank goodness, there’s more progress to be made. Vegetables still have some work to do to impress those raised on canned green beans or gently cooked Brussels sprouts or the sad restaurant salads of yore—and maybe the rest of us, too.

Some days, perfect produce prepared perfectly is sufficient. The green salad at Via Carota, which I have eaten at its source but have not yet made at home, is an excellent example. So too is the composed salad category, should you find you have some top summer produce on hand upon returning from the farmers market or, should you be so lucky, your backyard garden.

But some days, more pizzazz is in order. Enter this caper-raisin vinaigrette. It’s punchy, bright, packed with flavor and more than enough to convince a zucchini skeptic of the humble squash’s potential. The recipe comes from Six Seasons, a cookbook by Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland—absolutely a restaurant worth visiting next you’re in that fine city. This little condiment demonstrates why McFadden is known for his way with vegetables. It is delicious, and it elevates simply cooked vegetables to great new heights—ideal for these summer days when you want to minimize the time spent at the oven, and perhaps redirect that attention to the grill and conversation with friends, cold beer or lemonade or rosé in hand.

And so, if you are yet to be convinced that vegetables are exciting, I offer you this caper-raisin vinaigrette and a plea to try again. For all the rest of you, here’s one more for your collection!

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette

Adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons

I use this vinaigrette most often with zucchini, as outlined below, but broccoli, turnips, eggplant, and potatoes would all be excellent foils. It’s also quite forgiving, so, for example, use the small-sized tin of anchovies you find at your grocery store, and don’t worry if you have black raisins rather than golden ones. If you are a vegetarian (not a pescatarian), I think this would still be delicious sans anchovies, if slightly less punchy.

As for the zucchini preparation, I don’t have a grill, but I’ve included those instructions as well—it’s summer, after all! I often forget to salt the zucchini beforehand, and it turns out just fine either way.

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vin.

1/3 cup golden raisins

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

One 1.6- to 2-ounce tin anchovies, drained

About 3/4 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving

1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for serving

Kosher salt, plus more for serving

For the zucchini:

Zucchini (about 1/2 pound per person is generous)

Big handful of cherry tomatoes

Red pepper flakes

Fresh lemon juice

Dried breadcrumbs, optional

Freshly ground black pepper

To make the caper-raisin vinaigrette, put the vinegar and raisins in a small bowl to let the raisins plump for about 30 minutes.

Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely minced, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the capers and anchovies and pulse until you have a coarse paste. Add the parsley and pulse until completely chopped, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the raisins and vinegar and pulse until the mixture is blended but still slightly coarse. Scrape the mixture from the processor into a bowl and whisk in the olive oil to make a slightly chunky dressing. Taste and adjust with more salt or oil, if needed. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

To serve over zucchini, begin by preparing the squash. Trim the ends and halve lengthwise. Generously salt the squash on their cut faces and leave to drain for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours (transfer to the refrigerator if leaving for more than 2 hours). If you forget this step, don’t worry—it will still be delicious.

When ready to prepare the squash, blot it with paper towel to remove moisture and excess salt.

Heat a grill or the broiler to high. Cook the squash (without oil) until both sides are lightly browned and it is just tender.

Pile the squash into a bowl, tumble in the tomatoes and drizzle with a glug of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, several twists of black pepper and a generous amount of lemon juice. Toss gently. Add a couple of big spoonfuls of the caper-raisin vinaigrette and toss again. Taste and adjust the flavors with more vinaigrette, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and/or lemon.

Arrange on a plate and shower with breadcrumbs, if using, and a few leaves of parsley.