Chef Chris DiMinno of Portland’s Clyde Common is our featured chef this month at Williams-Sonoma. We’re huge fans of his cooking style, which stars high-quality ingredients cooked simply. That’s why we asked DiMinno for his best tips on recreating a farm- or garden-fresh meal at home — see his responses below for easy, delicious ideas.
“At home cooking is even easier, because you’re your own critic,” says DiMinno. “You can do as little to the ingredients as possible.”
Greens: Blanch them in finish with lemon juice and olive oil — simple and healthy.
Meat: For a good steak, DiMinno relies on salt, pepper and a grill.
Cauliflower & winter squash: Toss in salt, pepper and olive oil and place on a sheet tray, then roast it in the oven until it browns.
Mushrooms: Saute, starting with olive oil and finishing with butter.
Tomatoes: Eat them raw. “That’s all I eat during tomato season: raw tomatoes,” says DiMinno. Slice them and marinate with your favorite vinegar, olive oil and salt.
Summer squash: Grill it and, in the chef’s words, “eat it straight.”
“In the restaurant I have to refine my techniques a little more, because people don’t want to pay $12 for a salad of raw vegetables,” he says. “People need something they can’t have at home. Dishes need a spark to make people say, ‘I would never think of doing that.’”
To get to that point, DiMinno’s team undertakes hours of research, trial and error. When he wanted to serve perfectly grown raw turnips and radishes, they turned the dish into a play on crudites: vegetables in dirt. The vegetables were served in mason jars with a layer of vinaigrette on the bottom, “dirt” made from hazelnut meal and raw vegetables sticking out of the top.
“95 percent of our dishes start as something anyone can make at home, so we have to take a step back and ask ourselves how to make it better,” says DiMinno. “We’re always working toward version 2.0.”