As a judge on Top Chef, Gail Simmons has developed a discerning palate. While filming, Simmons sometimes ends up having to taste as many as 75 plates in a sitting. But when it came to crafting recipes for her new cookbook, Bringing It Home, she focused more on family favorites—not the exotic cuisine she often tries on TV.
While Simmons is motivated to feel her best, she doesn’t believe in dieting or depriving herself of any food she wants. “I don’t say, ‘I ate this in the morning, I can’t have this later,’” she says. “But I am very conscientious. There’s very little processed food in my house. We keep tons and fruit and vegetables, always of a really good quality.”
Her cookbook is a reflection of how she eats when she’s cooking in her Manhattan kitchen. “I’m an omnivore in every sense of the word,” says Simmons, whose recipes include everything from a fully loaded burger and ultra-decadent sundaes to a “salad in a glass”—Simmons’s pineapple and avocado-laced take on green juice. “I love that vegetal green flavor,” she says. “It’s refreshing and delicious. But I also want a little protein with it, like a soft-boiled egg, if I’m having it for breakfast.”
Simmons’s other go-to recipes include the produce-packed warm farro bowls with roasted cauliflower and kale and simply grilled halibut with basil garlic green sauce. “Each recipe is based in the familiar but has a twist in it. Everyone sees wellness and healthy food in different ways. I believe to live the best life you can live, that means taking some risks with your food and trying something new,” she says.
Scroll down for three recipes from Bringing It Home.
Golden milk-mango lassi
Think of this easy but delicious yogurt drink as a next-level, sophisticated hybrid of your favorite anti-inflammatory turmeric-based beverage and a traditional mango lassi.“I make this for breakfast sometimes,” says Simmons. Toasted coconut flakes and pistachios add a nice finishing touch.
2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
1 ripe red mango, peeled and diced or 1 1/2 cups frozen cubed mango
1/2 cup well-shaken unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tbsp finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (from a 1 1/2-inch knob)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
3/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
4 to 6 ice cubes (about 3/4 cup)
1 Tbsp chopped unsalted shelled pistachios
1. In a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast the coconut flakes, occasionally shaking the pan back and forth, until the coconut is lightly fragrant and golden, about five minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
2. In a blender, puree the yogurt, with the mango, coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, salt, pepper, cinnamon and ice until well blended and frothy.
3. Divide the lassi among four glasses. Serve cold, topped with the cooled toasted coconut flakes and chopped pistachios.
Peppery Greens with Tahini Dressing
Simmons keeps “simple salads” like this one on repeat at home. “Since I’ve had a child I’ve spent more time in my home kitchen and am very conscious of what I’m cooking,” she says. Spicy greens like arugula and dandelion meet cooling avocado and a sesame-based Tahini dressing, while sunflower seeds add a flavor-packed crunch—you won’t even miss the croutons.
For the dressing
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from about 2 large lemons)
1/3 cup well-stirred tahini
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper or pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsps cold water
For the salad
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 medium carrots, peeled
3 oz torn mustard or dandelion greens (7 loosely packed cups)
3 oz baby arugula (6 loosely packed cups)
1 firm-ripe avocado, pitted and cubed
Aleppo pepper, for sprinkling (optional)
For the dressing
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, Aleppo pepper, salt, and water until smooth. Set aside dressing.
For the salad
1. In a small skillet, stir together the sunflower seeds, oil, cumin, ginger, and 1/8 tsp salt until well combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the seeds are fragrant and lightly golden, about four minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
2. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, peel the carrots lengthwise into ribbons (you will have a few carrot scraps, which can be saved for another use or an instant snack).
3. In a large bowl, combine the carrot ribbons, greens, avocado, and a generous pinch of salt.
4. Drizzle the Tahini dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with the sunflower seeds and Aleppo pepper, if desired.
“I make a lot of soups and stews,” says Simmons. “You can make them in a big quantity and eat them through the month.” Besides this hearty tomato soup that comes with a ton of healthy topping options to help you make it your own, Simmons is a fan of her so-called fully loaded chicken and matzoh ball soup, which has fiber-rich barley in it.
2 1/2 cups cubed baguette
1/3 cup coarsely chopped unsalted raw almonds
2 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 large roasted red pepper (from a jar), coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Gazpacho Toppings (see below), optional
Gazpacho Topping Ideas
Coarsely chopped hard boiled egg
Thin strips of Serrano ham, prosciutto or speck
Finely chopped cucumber
Quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
Coarsely chopped toasted almonds
Finely chopped shallot
Finely chopped red bell pepper
Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or chives
1. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and add cold water to cover. Let stand 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, spread the almonds on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly golden and fragrant, eight to ten minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
4. Drain and firmly squeeze the bread to remove the excess liquid. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, purée the drained bread, toasted almonds, tomatoes, red pepper, vinegar, garlic, paprika, salt and one quarter teaspoon pepper until smooth. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil.
5. Chill the soup until very cold, at least two hours or overnight. Stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin slightly if needed. To serve, sprinkle with toppings and black pepper, and drizzle with oil.
Reprinted from BRINGING IT HOME Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons. Copyright © 2017 by Gail Simmons. Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
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