If there is anyone who seems to gracefully do it all — and I mean ALL — from heading up Goop, an addictive lifestyle site to launching a luxury-organic skincare line to winning an Oscar, it’s the impossibly effortless Gwyneth Paltrow. So when GP pens her third cookbook with Thea Baumann, “It’s All Easy”, offering up guidance on how to prepare simple, yummy recipes amidst our jam-packed lives, we listen. It’s no wonder the book is a New York Times bestseller.
Aside from its super-relatable premise, “It’s All Easy” hits home for me in more ways than one (so to speak) — Gwyneth also happens to be a fellow Amagansett resident. And the tome’s incredible photographer Ditte Isager? Her swoony Nordic inspired photography reigns high as one of my favorites – she also shot my Amagansett house for “The Inspired Home”.
After getting my hands on not one but two copies (I’m stocked at both my Brooklyn and Amagansett homes!), I can say “It’s All Easy” indeed lives up to its promise, and I’m hooked. The recipes are simple (really!), varied and veggie-filled — perfect for crazy-busy weeknights. Here, I’m excited to share three selections from the book. Read on for Szechuan-Style Green Beans, Seared Scallops with Watercress and Asparagus and Coconut Key Lime Tarts — all the makings for the swooniest summer meal.
SEARED SCALLOPS WITH WATERCRESS AND ASPARAGUS
Gluten-free, Under 30 minutes
We know scallops intimidate a lot of cooks, but they’re actually one of the easiest and quickest types of seafood to prepare. The most important things to remember are to get the skillet nice and hot, to make sure the scallops are dry so they sear rather than steam, and to not touch them until they’ve developed a nice crust on one side and are almost cooked through. Here we pair them with a warm spring salad and a quick brown butter pan sauce—make this for someone you’re trying to impress, or quarter the recipe and treat yourself to a restaurant-quality weeknight feast. You deserve it—you made perfectly cooked scallops!
16 diver scallops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 small lemon
A splash of champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
4 tablespoons olive oil
12 asparagus spears, tough ends removed
1 bunch of watercress, cleaned and dried
A large handful of sugar snap peas, cut into ½-inch slices (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
Coarse sea salt
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)
Remove the scallops from the fridge, use a paper towel to dry them very well, and season generously with salt and pepper.
Mix the lemon juice, vinegar, shallot, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the bottom of a large bowl.
Use a peeler to shave 4 of the asparagus spears and add them to the bowl along with the watercress. Cut the remaining 8 asparagus spears into ½-inch pieces and set aside.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the snap peas, and the asparagus pieces, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, or until just barely cooked. Add to the bowl with the watercress and shaved asparagus.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the sauté pan, then add the scallops, leaving them to sear on one side, undisturbed, until very crispy and almost cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the scallops, then reduce the heat to low and add the butter. The butter will immediately sizzle and start to turn brown. Turn off the heat (the residual heat will finish cooking the scallops).
Toss the watercress-asparagus salad to combine well. Divide the salad among four plates (or arrange it on one platter), arrange the cooked scallops on top of the salad, and pour the brown butter over. Garnish with a little coarse sea salt and serve with lemon wedges on the side, if desired.
Excerpted from the book IT’S ALL EASY by Gwyneth Paltrow. Copyright © 2016 by Gwyneth Paltrow. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
SZECHUAN-STYLE GREEN BEANS
Vegan, Gluten-free, Under 30 minutes
When I was in college in NYC, my sister and I would often meet for lunch dates at Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown. They’re famous for their soup dumplings (which we always got at least two orders of), but I love their Szechuan-style string beans, pan-fried to perfection in a spicy soybased sauce with ground pork, almost as much. These are my pork-free homage. Be careful, they’re spicy. —TB
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sambal oelek
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
½ pound green beans
3 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the green beans.
In a small bowl, combine the ginger, sambal oelek, tamari, sesame oil, and maple syrup to make the sauce.
Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook just until the water comes back to a boil, about 3 minutes; drain well and dry on a kitchen towel.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the green beans and cook until sizzling and beginning to blister, about 3 minutes. Add the sauce, turn off the heat, and let sit for 2 minutes before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.
Coconut Key Lime Tarts
Vegan, Gluten-free, No refined sugar
Key lime pie is one of my daughter’s favorite desserts, so I’ve made a lot of them over the years. While I’m a big fan of the sweetened condensed milk and sugar bomb that is the traditional recipe, I wanted to make a raw, vegan dessert highlighting the bright, citrusy flavor I love so much in the original without all the butter, sugar, and preservatives. Use natural almond meal or flour if you can find it, and be sure to put your coconut milk in the fridge overnight so the solids and liquids separate.
FOR THE CRUST
1 cup natural almond meal or flour
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
A pinch of salt
For the filling:
1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk, left in the fridge overnight
Zest of 5 key limes or 1 regular lime, plus extra for garnish
Juice of 3 key limes or one regular lime
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
To make the crust, place all the crust ingredients in a medium bowl and use your hands to mix thoroughly, making sure there are no lumps of coconut oil left. Divide the mixture into 8 (about 1 tablespoon each) balls if using a standard muffin tin or 24 (about 1 teaspoon each) balls if using a mini-muffin tin. Place one ball of dough in each well of the muffin tin. Wet your fingers with water and press the dough up the sides to make little tart shells. Place the tart shells in the fridge to set while you make the filling.
To make the filling, scoop out the solid portion of the coconut milk (leaving it in the fridge overnight allows the fat to separate from the liquid) and place it in a large bowl. Use a fork to break it up into an almost smooth consistency, then add the lime zest, lime juice, and coconut sugar. Whisk until the mixture is super smooth and has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Fill each tart shell with the coconut filling, garnish with extra lime zest, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
When ready to eat, use a butter knife to loosen the tarts from the pan, then pop them out. Eat immediately or store in the fridge so they keep their shape.