California Rolls for a Crowd

Set Naz Deravian’s new sushi bake on the table with palm-size squares of nori, and let your guests happily help themselves.

By Mia Leimkuhler

I’m not supposed to play favorites with New York Times Cooking recipes — which is impossible anyway, given our vast database of winners — but reader, I must tell you how excited I am for Naz Deravian’s new sushi bake recipe (above).

For years, my party go-to has been Sheldon Simeon’s pan sushi dynamite, a recipe from his excellent cookbook, “Cook Real Hawai’i.” Pan sushi — or sushi bake — never fails to delight. How could it? It’s a generous sheet of sushi rice topped with fish that has been baked just long enough to marry with its sauce, placed on the table with palm-size squares of nori for D.I.Y. hand roll happiness.

Naz’s recipe has the same sushi-casserole heart, but with California roll vibes. Imitation crab is mixed with cream cheese, mayo and Sriracha, baked on vinegary sushi rice, showered with furikake and topped with sliced cucumber and avocado. Naz notes that you can use canned tuna or salmon (or, indeed, real crab) instead; I can confidently confirm that sushi bake is a great use of canned salmon.

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Another large-format fan favorite is Millie Peartree’s sheet-pan shrimp boil. Her recipe builds flavor in layers: First you roast seasoned potatoes, then broil them with buttered corn before adding shrimp that has been marinated in lemon, garlic and Cajun seasoning. “This dish brought back memories of visiting the gulf coast,” commented BubbaM, a reader who added sliced sausages to the dish. “Keeper recipe for sure.”

Speaking of crowd-pleasers: Here’s sweet and sour eggplant with garlic chips, a recipe from Sue Li with over 1,000 ratings and a five-star average. Sliced garlic does double duty, flavoring the oil as it fries and adding crunch to the finished dish. (If the recipe sounds familiar, it’s because my colleague Tanya Sichynsky sang its praises in her Eggplant Extravaganza Veggie newsletter.) Serve with rice and a chile-oil fried egg for an easy weeknight dinner.

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time to daydream about weekend cooking projects. These chilaquiles from Rick Martínez caught my eye, and not just because of that gorgeous color. Like eggplants, peppers are also at their peak, so I’ll add some to my farmers’ market basket, along with tomatoes to make Rick’s accompanying scarlet salsa guajillo. He helpfully provides an option for baking your tortillas instead of deep-frying to make totopos, and that’s exactly what I’ll do.

To go with my chilaquiles: Yewande Komolafe’s cucumber agua fresca with mint and ginger. I’ll double the mint syrup to take advantage of my overperforming mint plant, and to later sub in for the simple syrup in Rebekah Peppler’s adaptable old-fashioneds.

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Lastly, if you (like me) are very much not ready to trade flip-flops and peaches for skeletons and pumpkin spice, here’s our collection of easy recipes you have to make before summer ends. Spicy tomato and nectarine salad! Basil-butter pasta! Add your must-makes to your recipe box, and I’ll meet you here next week.

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