Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

When you’re living in a city, food can sometimes be all about what’s convenient. We chatted with one of our favorite chefs, Alex Guarnaschelli, who gave us an assortment of ways to simplify our summer eating (including an amazing recipe you can watch her make in the slides above and find here). Easy homemade breakfasts, lunches to make and bring to work, summer appetizers, and other cities to escape to and eat in…it’s all here.

We’ve asked you before what your ideal food day is, so could you give us your ideal food day for summer in New York City?

I’d start with an egg sandwich at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop. I’d stroll around Central Park and stop for a cocktail at the King Cole Bar. Then I’d hit Little Italy and go to Di Palo’s for some prosciutto and Ferrara Bakery for a cannoli.

What are three easy go-to spring/summer recipes, each in three to five steps…

I love a spring salad with candied walnuts, oven-roasted parsnips and roasted seedless grapes. A simple vinaigrette with lemon juice, olive oil and some chopped dill. Yum.

I also love a soft shell crab sandwich with some spicy mayonnaise. Breaded and pan-fried soft shell crabs, Bibb lettuce and toasted sourdough bread. Maybe some slices of Beefsteak tomato with a squeeze of lime.

What ingredient should we all be cooking with right now?

I am really into wheat berries because they have great flavor and nuttiness. They take a while to cook but they are deliciously toothsome and tasty. I also love spring parsnips. They are so delicious roasted with a little maple syrup.

What an easy go-to homemade breakfast in under ten minutes?

Besides something obvious like oatmeal, I really love slow-frying a couple of eggs and toasting some rye bread with a dash of olive oil and marmalade – a breakfast sandwich on-the-go. I also love a quick salad! When I have time the night before, I cut up some melon, let it get ice cold, and then squeeze with lemon just before eating. I also sometimes just have a toasted corn muffin! It’s simple and takes me back to being a kid.

What’s the perfect smoothie comprised of? How do we make it?

I am not a smoothie type of person but on the rare occasion that I make one, I love carrot juice and fresh mango blended with a little Greek yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

What appetizers should one put out for their summer dinner party?

I think foods like pork spare ribs, prosciutto-wrapped grapes, and cherry tomatoes with goat cheese and herbs are always great go-to appetizers for me. I also love crostini – ricotta and herbs, Mozzarella and chopped olives or roasted eggplant with paprika are examples of what I might make. I love mini pieces of fried chicken with lemon wedges. I love a crudités platter too with a spicy dipping sauce.

A basic main dish that will impress guests, but actually didn’t take much work…

I love making ratatouille in advance and letting it sit overnight or for a few hours. Just roasted eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes with sea salt olive oil and fresh thyme. Then, I roast a piece of fish and drop it on top of the ratatouille with fresh basil leaves and lemon juice.

If you want to bring lunch to work, what are three things easy and fast to make in the morning? How do we make them?

I love a simple tuna salad with cherry tomatoes mixed with some olives, olive oil and lemon. I put a sturdy green like kale into the mix so it can hold up well until lunchtime.

I love to cook quinoa or wheat berries until tender and marinate them with some oven-roasted peppers, tomatoes and a spicy vinaigrette (made with toasted paprika, red wine vinegar and olive oil). Toss in some roasted almonds for crunch and added protein.

Your favorite restaurants to eat in New Orleans, Boston and Paris…

New Orleans: Pascal’s ManaleAugustK Pauls, and Café du Monde for beignets of course.

Paris: Guy SavoyLa RegaladeLes Mauvais Garçons

Boston: Craigie on Main

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ in fashion, what’s the new potato right now?

I think grains and grain flours (and flour alternatives) are really getting a stronger foothold in home cooking and I love it.

Your absolute favorite takeout spot and what you order…

Taboonette: Chicken sandwiches – any of them – and the pulled pork sandwich.

*Alex Guarnaschelli, photographed at Butter in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann. 

Get Alex’s recipe for Burrata with Romesco Sauce and Scallions here.

Want more Iron Chef? Read interviews with Jose Garces, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Michael Symon.