15 October 2022

Take It Easy by Gaby Dalkin of What's Gaby Cooking (Weekend Cooking)

Cover of Take It Easy by Gaby DalkinThose of you who have been reading my blog for a while will recognize Gaby Dalkin, from What's Gaby Cooking. I reviewed her first cookbook, What's Gaby Cooking, in 2018. Her second cookbook, Eat What You Want, came out in 2020. I've cooked many recipes from those books over the years.

Dalkin's newest cookbook is Take It Easy, which came out a couple of weeks ago. I received a copy because I'm a member of the Abrams Dinner Party review group. The subtitle of the cookbook is "Recipes for Zero Stress Deliciousness," and I am here to tell you that the subtitle doesn't lie. Everything I made from Take It Easy was simple to make and really tasty.

Dalkin's attitude toward cooking and entertaining has evolved as her life and the world have changed. Now that she's a mom, she doesn't have the time or desire to spend hours in the kitchen away from her family. In addition, since the pandemic, she is--along with almost all of us--entertaining in a totally different way from before. Gatherings are ever more casual and more about spending time with friends than about making impressive dishes. Laid-back, though, doesn't mean no flavor; it just means a slightly different kind of cuisine.

photo of chicken stir-fry in the panWhat hasn't changed is Dalkin's commitment to "simple, fresh, flavorful food that you can feel really good about eating." Also note that easy doesn't always mean last minute. Many of the recipes get their flavors from do-ahead marinating or pickling, for example. Others benefit from prepping and assembling earlier in the day, so dinnertime itself comes together quickly and effortlessly. The recipes in Take It Easy require no fancy techniques and almost no specialty tools.

Take It Easy includes recipes for the whole day: from breakfast to after-dinner dessert. Dalkin uses familiar pantry items, like canned beans, pickled jalapenos, and canned crushed tomatoes when it makes sense. She's California based, and many ingredients reflect that, such as fresh herbs, specific types of heirloom cherry tomatoes, and fresh fish. I had no trouble finding acceptable replacements at my local grocery. For example, I'm not sure the orange-red tomatoes I got at Wegman's were Sun Golds, but they were the right size and color; that works for me.

Here are some recipes I made:

  • Crispy Chicken Stir-Fry, with garlic, ginger, and bok choy (see photo, taken before the bok choy wilted)
  • Sausage Sheet Pan Supper, with a variety of bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and a Calabrian pepper vinaigrette
  • Aperol Tequila Spritz, made with lime juice and sparkling water
  • Korean BBQ-Inspired Meatloaf, with kimchi, gochujang, and finely chopped veggies
  • Creamy White Beans, with garlic, rosemary, and spinach topped with a Calabrian chile oil
  • Brussels Sprouts and Brie Gratin, which will absolutely make it a holiday dinner table around here (see photo)
  • Little Gem and Beet Salad, with a green tahini dressing
Photo of finished Brussels SproutsEverything, and I mean everything, was delicious. I've always loved Dalkin's salads, and I have a lot more marked to try. She definitely has a thing for cacio e pepe, because Take It Easy includes a handful of so-named recipes. I'm a fan, so no complaints here. Other members of the Abrams Dinner Party made the no-churn Tiramisu Ice Cream, and that one is on my list either for the holidays or for next summer. By all accounts, it's fabulous. Another winner has been the Cheesy Hamburger Helper-Style Pasta.

Vegetarians might turn to the Buffalo Cauliflower Bowls, Linguine al Limone, Castelvetrano and Artichoke Pizza, or the Spanish-ish Broccoli and Leek Omelet.

Recommendation: I'm a big fan of What's Gaby Cooking and of Gaby Dalkin's cookbooks, so I give Take It Easy two big thumbs up. Vegetarians will find a number of recipes to try and others that will take very little tweaking. Vegans may have less luck.

Here's a recipe that's on my list. Dalkin suggests serving these mushrooms with steak or roasted salmon; I think they'd be great with any simple meat. I'll be using a mix of store-bought mushrooms

photo of cheesy mushroomsCheesy Roasted Mushrooms
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds (910 g) wild mushrooms, trimmed and torn into large pieces, depending on size
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup (100 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup (110 g) freshly shredded Gruyere cheese
  • Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).

Place the torn mushrooms on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Transfer the sheet pan into the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes until the mushrooms are fully cooked and the edges are crispy, tossing 15 minutes through.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the cheeses on top.

Transfer the sheet pan back into the oven and roast for an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is fully melted. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, squeeze the lemon juice on top of the roasted mushrooms, and adjust the salt and black pepper as needed. Serve immediately.

Tip: You need ample room for roasting the mushrooms because otherwise they'll steam in the oven, and that's not what we're going for. If you find that your pan is too crowded and there's no space between the mushrooms, divide them between two sheet pans so you can achieve optimum crispy deliciousness.

Note: The recipe and scan are used in the context of a review; all rights remain with the original copyright holders. The photos are my own.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


Vicki 10/15/22, 6:45 AM  

All the food looks good. I don't like beets or mushrooms though.

Jackie McGuinness 10/15/22, 9:24 AM  

The meatloaf, Brussels sprouts and little gem/beets got my attention. Added the book to my TBR library list.

gluten Free A_Z Blog 10/15/22, 9:39 AM  

Her recipes do look very workable for a young mother. I am amazed how she was able to knock out a new cookbook with a new baby!! Enjoyed your review . Thanks.

Tina 10/15/22, 10:01 AM  

Anything with mushrooms appeals to us, that's a dynamite looking tray of mixed mushrooms. Will certainly look out for this cookbook,

Marg 10/15/22, 10:39 PM  

Sounds like a really practical cookbook. That mushroom recipe looks good! Not sure we can get red pepper (as a type of pepper and salt - not bell peppers) here. But maybe worth trying with paprika or something

Laurie C 11/2/22, 5:29 AM  

Everything you list sounds delicious! I'll definitely look for this cookbook.

Sherry's Pickings 11/15/22, 2:45 AM  

i love mushrooms! looks like some good recipes in this book. i am so addicted to cookbooks!

gluten Free A_Z Blog 11/19/22, 9:15 PM  

That is wonderful that you tried 7 recipes and loved them all. If I find 2 or 3 recipes in a cookbook that I like, I consider it worth it. I've never tried one of her cookbooks but they sound interesting. Thanks for the review.

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