Tag Archives: weeknight

Greek Chicken and Potato Traybake

The Greek dish known as kotopoulo skorthato is typically called “Greek garlic-lemon chicken” in English, but the ensemble also includes potatoes, making it a delicious complete meal. OK, so we added a side of roasted broccolini to make it a more veggie-forward dinner.

For this riff, Milk Street used their trusty traybake technique—roasting the ingredients on a rimmed baking sheet in a hot oven to ensure the quickest cooking possible and to develop nice caramelization.

As a finale, toss in black olives, dill and capers to ratchet up the flavors. If using chicken breasts, try to purchase pieces that are close in size so they cook at the same rate. Since we used both thighs (for The Hubs) and breasts (for Yours Truly), we cut the breasts halves in half again, making them more uniform in size to the thighs.

Because we cooked 4 pounds of chicken pieces (25% more), we doubled the spice mixture so that we had enough to sprinkle on all sides of each piece. This meal was sooo flavorful, and not difficult at all!

Don’t use extra-large bone-in chicken breasts if you can help it; 12-ounce pieces work best. If unavoidable, keep in mind that bone-in breasts weighing about 1 pound each require 40 to 50 minutes of roasting.

Greek Chicken and Potato Traybake

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼-½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 12-oz. bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts or 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1½ lbs. medium Yukon Gold potatoes, not peeled, cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
  • 2 lemons, halved crosswise
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. drained capers
  • 3 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh dill, divided

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. In a large bowl, stir together the oregano, pepper flakes, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the mix onto all sides of the chicken. To the remaining seasoning mix in the bowl, add the oil, potatoes, lemon halves and garlic, then toss to coat.
  • Place the garlic in the center of a rimmed baking sheet, then arrange the chicken, skin up, around the garlic; this placement helps prevent the garlic from scorching during roasting. Arrange the lemons, cut sides up, and the potatoes in an even layer around the chicken. Roast until the thickest part of the breasts (if using) reaches 160°F and the thickest part of the largest thigh (if using) reaches 175°F, about 30 minutes.
  • Using tongs, transfer the chicken and lemon halves to a serving platter. Push the potatoes to the edge of the baking sheet, leaving the garlic in the center. Using a fork, mash the garlic to a rough paste. Add the olives, capers and 2 tablespoons of the dill to the baking sheet, then, using a wide metal spatula, stir and toss the ingredients, scraping up any browned bits.
  • Transfer the potato mixture to the platter, placing it around the chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon dill.

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Adapted from a recipe by Rebecca Richmond for Milk Street

Tuscan Spring Soup

In Tuscany, the advent of spring doesn’t signal the end of soup season, like it might here in the Northeast. But it does mean the soups that are served take on a different tone. Tender vegetables meet a rich, meaty broth in this light Tuscan-inspired soup—just perfect for a not-too-hot Spring evening.

And while a hallmark of Tuscan cuisine is its rusticity, this soup is all about luxury. In stark contrast to the typical hearty Tuscan soups, which often cleverly repurpose scraps, only the finest ingredients go into a typical “garmugia”—a pairing of pricey meats and the season’s freshest vegetables.

In garmugia, meat is a seasoning, not the main event. To that end, Milk Street omits the veal, as the combination of beef broth and pancetta (plus a simmered rind of Parmesan) gives the soup a wonderfully savory depth that enhances the vegetables without competing with them.

For their clean vegetal flavors and year-round availability, this soup opts for scallions, asparagus, artichoke hearts and frozen peas. By cooking the vegetables in sequence—starting with the sturdiest, ending with the most delicate—each ingredient retains its character, ensuring that they’re not overcooked. The artichoke hearts are simmered first, then the asparagus, followed by the peas, all topped with a finishing sprinkle of scallion greens for a burst of zingy freshness.

“Each bite of the finished soup is a spoonful of spring in a bowl, no matter the season.”

Milk Street instructs you to simmer the optional Parmesan rind into the mix to boost the umami notes. Canned artichoke hearts do well here, but frozen artichokes also work—just defrost and pat dry before use (you’ll need about 2 cups). To serve on the side, make savory Parmesan toasts that are perfect for dipping into the broth.

Don’t use ultra-slender asparagus, which will end up overcooked. Look for spears about the size of a pencil. To retain the bright-green color of the peas, don’t allow the soup to boil after the peas are stirred in.

Tuscan Spring Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
  • 3-4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens reserved separately
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1½ qts. low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 chunk Parmesan rind (optional), plus ½ oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated (¼ cup)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. crusty white bread, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths on the diagonal
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed

Directions

  • Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the element. In a large saucepan over medium, combine 1 tablespoon of oil and the pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta has rendered its fat and begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the scallion whites and thyme. Cook until the scallions are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the broth, the Parmesan rind (if using) and ½ teaspoon pepper, then bring to a boil over medium-high.
  • Meanwhile, brush both sides of the bread slices with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, then place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan, then broil until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • When the soup reaches a boil, add the artichokes, reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Add the asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is just tender, 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Stir in the peas, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring, until the peas are heated through, about 3 minutes; do not allow the soup to boil.
  • Off heat, remove and discard the thyme and Parmesan rind (if used). Stir in the scallion greens, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, drizzle with additional oil and serve with the Parmesan toasts.

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Recipe by Shaula Clark for Milk Street

Strip Steaks with Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce

In a recent Milk Street article we found this Strip Steaks with Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce recipe which pairs a meaty steak with the sort of tomato sauce that might typically be used on pizza. There are many ways to prepare the dish, but this simple version is perfect for a weeknight meal.

The sauce is made with canned tomatoes, a punchiness from garlic and pepper flakes, and the umami quotient gets a kick up with a few anchovy fillets (in case you’re worried, the sauce won’t taste fishy at all). Slice and sauce the seared strip steaks, then finish the dish with torn fresh basil and fruity olive oil.

Our steaks were actually grilled because we wanted to take advantage of the nice weather, but either stovetop or hot grill sears the meat nicely. We served ours with orzo treated with olive oil and parsley; another option is thick slices of warm, crusty bread to dip in the sauce. And if you are lucky enough to have any of that fabulous sauce leftover, use it on pasta.

NOTE: Don’t use extra-virgin olive oil to sear the steaks; its smoke point is too low. Use grapeseed or another neutral oil to achieve a deep sear and to avoid the off flavor of overheated olive oil.

Keep in mind, the original recipe from Milk Street indicated this recipe would serve 4 to 6. The portions would be rather paltry if trying to feed six people. Our two strip steaks were smaller and a bit thinner, weighing in at just over a pound for two of them which rendered three servings.

Strip Steaks with Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 1-lb. beef strip steaks, each about 1 inch thick, trimmed and patted dry
  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil

Directions

  1. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until beginning to turn golden, 30 to 60 seconds.
  2. Add the anchovies and pepper flakes; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes with juices, a few basil leaves and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until a spatula drawn through the sauce leaves a trail, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and set aside; wipe out the skillet.
  4. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and black pepper. In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the neutral oil until barely smoking. Add the steaks, reduce to medium and cook until well browned on the bottoms, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Using tongs, flip the steaks and cook until the second sides are well browned and the centers register 120°F for medium-rare, another 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  7. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and slice them on the diagonal ¼ to ½ inch thick. Return to the platter and spoon on some of the sauce.
  8. Tear the remaining basil and sprinkle it over the top, then drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

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Recipe by Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Chili-Soy Noodles with Bok Choy and Peanuts

These noodles are an addictive combination of salty, spicy and sweet. For best results, use thick Asian wheat noodles, such as udon or lo mein, that cook up with chewy resilience. We try to include vegetarian dishes into our repertoire of meals, and this recipe is anything but ho-hum. Plus the ease of prep and limited ingredients let you serve dinner in under a half hour.

Chili crisp, a Chinese condiment sold in jars, is chili oil amped up with with red pepper flakes and additional spices. If you can find it, it’s a more flavorful alternative to standard chili oil. We used a chili-garlic paste, including the full two tablespoons. In fact, The Hubs added even more to his portion before tasting it–which probably wasn’t that wise 😉

If you want to amp up the veggies, one reviewer suggested including mushrooms, which we both agreed would be a good addition. Our Udon noodles weighed in at only eight ounces as opposed to the ten ounces the recipe called for. Luckily we didn’t have another mouth to feed because we polished off the entire skillet’s worth!

Chili-Soy Noodles with Bok Choy and Peanuts

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 10 oz. dried Asian wheat noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 1 lb. baby bok choy, trimmed and sliced crosswise into ½-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. chili oil OR chili crisp, plus more to serve
  • ¾ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender. Drain, rinse and drain again.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the neutral oil until shimmering. Add the bok choy and cook, stirring, until the stems are tender; transfer to a plate.
  3. In the same skillet, mix the soy, sugar, chili oil and half the peanuts. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
  4. Add the bok choy and noodles, then toss until warmed. Serve sprinkled with the remaining peanuts and drizzled with additional chili oil.

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Adapted from a recipe by Milk Street

Braised Asparagus with Lemon and Chives

Here, braising coaxes asparagus’s gentler side into the spotlight. It’s not the typical crisp-tender, not browned, nor vibrant green—but it may end up being one of your favorite ways to cook the spears. The vegetable is vigorously simmered in a copious amount of liquid, allowing the braising liquid to evaporate, leaving behind a light glaze that coats the asparagus.

As Cook’s Illustrated mentions, the crisp bite gives way to silkiness; the fresh vegetal flavor evolves into more-complex sweet nuttiness, and the braising liquid can travel into the spears, seasoning them inside and out.

The dish is finished with a less-is-more approach adding just a splash of acidity and a handsome sprinkle of fresh herbs to accentuate the vegetable’s sweet flavor.

FYI, this recipe is best with asparagus spears that are at least ¾ inch thick. We bought ours picked fresh at a local farm market. The benefit of thicker spears is you can peel off their firm, waxy skin without whittling them down to toothpicks.

Braised Asparagus with Lemon and Chives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. thick asparagus
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. table salt
  • ¼ tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1 tsp. juice
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh chives, divided

Directions

  1.  Trim bottom inch of asparagus spears; discard trimmings. Peel bottom two-thirds of spears until white flesh is exposed.
  2. Bring water, broth, oil, and salt to simmer in 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add asparagus in even layer. Reduce heat to maintain vigorous simmer and cover. Cook, gently shaking skillet occasionally, until asparagus is tender and can be easily pierced with tip of paring knife, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Remove lid and continue to cook, shaking and swirling skillet, until skillet is almost dry and asparagus is glazed, 1 to 3 minutes longer.
  4. Off heat, add lemon zest and juice and half of chives and toss to coat.
  5. Transfer asparagus to platter, sprinkle with remaining chives, season with salt to taste, and serve.

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Adaptable Taco Salad Bowl

With Cinco De Mayo right around the corner, this quick riff on taco salad might just be the ticket for dinner. Having a small party? Then just double the recipe and you can feed up to eight. Let guests prepare their own, layering on just the right ingredients to suit their own preferences. This way it appeals to vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Don’t eat red meat? Substitute ground turkey. Follow a vegetarian lifestyle? Swap out the meat for refried beans. Not into hot and spicy? Omit the jalapeños, and use a mild taco seasoning and salsa. Can’t tolerate raw onion? Cook it with the ground meat to eliminate some of the pungency.

Another fun twist is using beer instead of water when you add the seasoning to the ground meat. As you can see, this salad is very adaptable. I like to start with a layer of lettuce, followed by the meat mixture and cheese, then the peppers, tomatoes, onion, and olives. To finish, add a bit more meat and cheese, and a final topping of jalapeños and sour cream, if using,

To up the party ambiance, plate it all on some fun and festive picnic ware!

Adaptable Taco Salad Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 tostada bowls
  • 1 1⁄4 lbs. ground beef or turkey (or refried beans if going vegetarian)
  • 3 Tbsp. homemade or packaged taco seasoning
  • 3⁄4 cup water, or beer
  • 1⁄2 cup salsa (your favorite brand)
  • 1 head iceberg or Bibb lettuce, torn into 2-3″ pieces
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1⁄2 each large red and yellow bell pepper, cut into 1⁄4 dice
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1⁄2 red onion, cut into 1⁄4 dice
  • 1⁄2 cup black and/or green pitted olives, sliced thin
  • 1⁄2 cup pickled jalapeños, 1⁄4 slices, then chopped
  • Sour cream for garnish, optional

Directions

  • Prep all ingredients.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, brown the ground meat until there is no more pink, making sure to break up any large chunks.
  • Add the taco seasoning and the water (or beer), and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until it thickens. Add the salsa to the meat mixture and heta through.
  • While the meat is thickening, prepare the tostada bowls starting with a layer of torn lettuce.
  • Next, top with some meat and cheese, then add any of the other ingredients you prefer. Finish with another layer of ground meat and cheese, and top with sour cream and jalapeños, if desired.

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Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce

This pescatarian-friendly twist on chicken piccata is an easy, go-to meal for anyone looking to save on time without sacrificing flavor. It’s such a quick and easy dinner to throw together, but the ingredients bring on BIG flavor.

Serve this with some simple pasta, risotto, polenta, or even just roasted vegetables. It goes with virtually anything and you can whip it up in under 30 minutes. We enjoyed it with steamed broccolini (which also benefited from the caper-lemon sauce), and a side salad.

With only two of us for dinner, we halved a one-pound piece of salmon providing each of us an eight ounce serving. It was sooo good, we cleaned our plates in no time!

Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Four 5- to 6-oz. skinless wild salmon fillets
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth or clam juice
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. capers, drained
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, about 1 large lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley

Directions

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dry the salmon fillets well with paper towel and season evenly with 1 teaspoon salt.
  2. Add the oil to the pan and heat an additional 30 seconds. Add the fillets to the pan, flesh-side down, and cook undisturbed until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes. The fish should look cooked up the sides of the fillets.
  3. Carefully flip the fish and cook an additional minute or until a thin metal skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out warm when touched to your bottom lip. Using a slotted spatula, remove the fish to a plate to rest.
  4. Return the pan to medium heat and add the shallot and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, adding more oil if needed. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant and soft, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the vegetable/chicken broth, lemon juice, capers and lemon zest. Simmer for 2 minutes to reduce slightly. Whisk in the butter and mustard until smooth and combined.
  6. Stir in the parsley and spoon the sauce over the salmon.

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Adapted from a recipe by Giada DeLaurentiis

Ginger-Curry Pork and Green Beans

Identity crisis? This quick meat and vegetable curry starts as a stir-fry then finishes as a braise—but a quick braise. Usually pork shoulder takes hours to braise in the oven, but since the meat is cut into thin strips, the time dwindles considerably. Boneless pork shoulder has a rich, full flavor; plus slicing it thin before cooking counters its chewiness.

Green beans cook alongside, absorbing the spiced broth and providing a fresh, vegetal contrast. Curry powder is used as a flavor base, and whole spices amp up the intensity. Just remember to remove the cardamom pods before serving (if you can see them). The Hubs got quite a jolt when he accidentally bit into one!

In some cases you have choices on which spice to use. We incorporated as much of them as possible, i.e. both onion and garlic. And in the case of the noodles, you can always substitute steamed rice instead.

Ginger-Curry Pork and Green Beans

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 1 lb. boneless pork shoulder, trimmed, cut into 2-inch strips and sliced ¼ to ⅛ inch thick
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped OR 8 medium garlic cloves, chopped OR both
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed OR 1 cinnamon stick OR 8 curry leaves OR a combination
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed and halved on the diagonal
  • 1 1⁄2 cups water
  • Rice OR cellophane noodles, cooked according to package directions

Directions

  1. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the pork, curry powder, 1½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the pork is well browned, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, ginger and cardamom; cook, stirring, until the onion is browned, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the beans and 1½ cups water; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the sauce clings to the meat, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your rice or cellophane noodles according to package directions.
  5. Remove and discard the cardamom from the sir-fry, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro OR toasted sesame seeds OR chopped chilies OR a combination

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Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Easy Mushroom Ragù

Mushrooms are widely known for their great taste and amazing health benefits. Packed with a ton of essential vitamins and minerals, they make for an excellent addition to your diet, adding flavor to many different recipes. Thank goodness we love them!

This hearty plant-based mushroom ragù consists of readily available fresh mushrooms and is ready in about an hour. Three types of the funghi are incorporated in this recipe, but feel free to use just one or two types to make the sauce even easier. Serve vegan ragù over polenta, pasta, couscous, or even as a topping for steak or chicken.

Classic or vegan mushroom ragù will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container; in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, spoon the ragù sauce into a pot over medium heat until warmed through. If it has become too thick, add a little more liquid (water or vegetable broth) to loosen it a little.

Make it even a bit healthier by using a whole wheat pasta. Of course if you add grated cheese like we did, it is no longer vegan, but we were OK with that.

Easy Mushroom Ragù

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 oz. portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, more for later
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 15- oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and season with another dash of salt. Add a drizzle more of olive oil and a little bit of the broth. Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften and cook down a little bit.
  3. Add the thyme, oregano, parsley, and a good dash of black pepper. Stir.
  4. Finally, add the red wine, tomato sauce, and the remainder of the broth. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or so covered, then uncover and allow the mushrooms to cook some more (about 15 to 20 minutes) until the mixture thickens to a ragù.
  5. To finish, taste and adjust salt to your liking. Stir in a bit more fresh parsley. If you like, add in the chopped hazelnuts (optional).
  6. Serve with your favorite pasta, polenta, or even pearl couscous

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Adapted from a recipe by Suzy Karadesh

Thai Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Coconut Rice

Thai stir-fries are one of our favorite go-to’s; and this recipe rachetes it up a notch with the addition of Thai cashews (find them at Trader Joe’s). And if you like bold flavors, then this will end up on your short list.

Originally from Milk Street, we scaled back on the chicken by 25%, but increased the bell pepper quotient by 100%, adding a yellow one along with the red pepper, making it more veggie-forward. Another change was doubling the sauce (except for the garlic). These alterations are noted in the recipe below.

And while you could pair it simply with steamed jasmine rice, you might want to try the Coconut Rice recipe below for even more depth of flavor.

I have to give a shout-out to these fabulous Trader Joe’s Thai cashews. Not only are they a fabulous snack right out of the bag, but they’re perfect for this dish. If you can get your hands on them, by all means do so.

NOTE: Don’t discard the marinade after draining the chicken. It’s mixed with ¼ cup water and becomes a sauce that lightly coats the chicken and vegetables.

Thai Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry with Coconut Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 4 tsp. white sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Ground white pepper
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths; save some of the dark green cut into smaller pieces for garnish
  • 1/2 cup roasted Thai cashews, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Start coconut rice, directions below.
  2. For the Stir-fry: In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon white pepper. Stir in the chicken, then marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, pressing the chicken to remove excess marinade. Stir 1/2 cup water into the marinade and set aside.
  4. In a 12-inch skillet or wok over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in an even layer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.
  5. Heat a bit more oil in the wok, stir in the bell peppers and scallions. Stir-fry for several minutes until just starting to brown. Add chicken back to the veggies.
  6. Stir the marinade mixture to recombine, add to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Toss in the cashew pieces, cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and clings to the chicken, about 2 minutes.
  7. Taste and season with white pepper. Spoon over cooked coconut rice and garnish with scallion greens.

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Loosely adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Coconut Rice

Coconut Rice

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut water or water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 2-inch strips of lime zest

Directions

  1. Place jasmine rice in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clean. Drain well, it works best to tap base of sieve with your hand or against the sink.
  2. Heat coconut milk and coconut water in a medium non-stick saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, season with salt, sugar, lime zest strips add rice and bring to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid has been absorbed (you may find there’s a few small pools of liquid at the top and that’s fine), about 20 minutes.
  4. Uncover over low heat for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve warm.

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Adapted from a recipe by CookingClassy.com

Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs

For this dish, use whole farro, in which the grain’s germ and bran have been retained. It has a nutty flavor and delicately chewy texture, and some brands cook in as little as 20 minutes, making it one of the fastest-cooking whole grains. (Ours took 30 minutes.)

The simplest cooking method is best: Just boil in salted water for about 20-30 minutes until tender and drain well. Warm farro can be tossed with sautéed aromatics, olive oil and herbs for a simple but satisfying side dish such as this one. It went wonderfully with our Shawarma Chicken.

We were fresh out of mint, so in lieu of making an extra trip to the grocery store, we just substituted two tablespoons of fresh oregano, which was one of the herbs in our main chicken entrée.

Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1⁄2 cups whole farro
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Directions

  1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add farro and 1 tablespoon salt, return to boil, and cook until grains are tender with a slight chew, 20-30 minutes. Drain farro, return to now empty pot, and cover to keep warm.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat, until shimmering. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened and slightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cooked farro, stirring frequently until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, mint, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

Baked Salmon with Vegetables and Feta

This one-pan dinner is ready in no time, and you’ll love the bold Greek vibes in this dish. A perfect weeknight meal, this easy, “fancy” salmon recipe with vegetables and feta is brimming with healthy ingredients and enlivened Mediterranean flavors.

A couple of suggestions so that your salmon won’t dry out. Bring the fish closer to room temperature before baking. About 15 minutes before you start cooking, set the salmon on the counter to get it as close to room temperature as possible. Allowing the salmon fillets to return to room temperature helps them cook more evenly.

And, cover with foil to bake. Covering the pan with foil will trap the moisture and help cook the fish so that it is perfectly tender, moist, and flaky. Here, you’ll also par-cook the vegetables briefly before adding the salmon in.

The original recipe indicated to first cook the vegetables for 5-10 minutes before adding the salmon. We did not feel they were ready at that point and cooked them an additional 5 minutes, totaling 15 altogether. Since our fish was one slab, we let it sit out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Plus, due to the size and thickness, it took double the time at 20 minutes to cook to medium, 130°F after adding it atop the vegetables, covered with foil.

So we had to bide our time a little longer, but it was sooo worth the wait!

Baked Salmon with Vegetables and Feta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. sumac
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, cored and sliced into thin sticks
  • 5 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
  • 4 to 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5 to 6 oz. feta cheese block, cut into large chunks
  • 6 to 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 6-oz. portions salmon fillet
  • 1 to 2 large lemons, halved, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, sumac, and cumin.
  3. In a baking dish or sheet-pan, arrange the tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, and 4 to 5 whole garlic cloves. Nestle the chunks of feta in between. Sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons of the spice mixture and a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil.
  4. Place the sheet pan in the heated oven on the center rack. Bake for 15 minutes until the veggies start to soften.
  5. Meanwhile, pat the fish dry and season on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper and the remainder of the spice mixture.
  6. Carefully remove the sheet pan/baking dish from the oven and add the fish in with the veggies and feta.
  7. Cover the sheet pan/baking dish with foil and return to the center rack of the heated oven. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily. (As one thick slab, ours took 20 minutes to reach the preferred 130°F.)
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately squeeze lemon juice onto the fish.

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Adapted from a recipe from Suzy Karadheh

Vegetable Fried Rice

Similar to it’s meat cousin, Pork-Fried Rice, this vegetable version with simple seasonings and a balance of mix-ins makes for a frugal and incredibly satisfying meal—or side dish. Typically you use day old rice, but if you cook rice like pasta, in other words in a lot of water with salt for 10 minutes then drain and cool it, you don’t have to make it ahead of time. Plus cooking it like pasta rids the raw grains of any surface starch so that it readily breaks apart into individual grains.

But, if you have leftover rice here’s the deal. Day-old jasmine rice works best; the varietal is loaded with a popcorn-y aromatic compound that perfumes the fried rice with gorgeous fragrance, and when stir-fried, the hard, dry clumps relax into tender-firm, distinct grains. All rice should be roughly room temperature when you stir-fry. 

To make fluffy, tender pockets of scrambled eggs, pour the raw beaten eggs into oil that is just smoking (not merely shimmering); the eggs will puff as their water rapidly turns to steam and their proteins set.

There’s no garlic or ginger to mince, no spices or curry paste to bloom, and no sauce to mix up, which keeps the prep work minimal and the backdrop neutral, not plain, simply highlighting the namesake ingredient: rice. However, you may want to serve with soy sauce on the side for those who wish a bit more flavor.

In case you are curious why this is labeled vegetarian, since they are not technically animal flesh, eggs are usually thought of as vegetarian. Eggs that have been fertilized and therefore have the potential to become an animal may not be considered vegetarian.

Vegetable Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 oz. white mushrooms, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice, room temperature
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup frozen peas

Directions

  1. Beat eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt in bowl until well combined. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch carbon-steel or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until oil is just smoking. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a large plate.
  2. Add eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until very little liquid egg remains, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to the large plate.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty wok and reduce heat to medium. Add carrot and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to plate with eggs.
  4. Add scallion whites and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to now-empty wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir until combined. (It’s OK if some clumps of rice remain.) Spread into even layer. Sprinkle pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt evenly over rice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and pressing on rice with spatula to break up clumps, until grains are separate and heated through, 2 to 5 minutes longer.
  5. Add peas, egg and mushroom mixture, and scallion greens and cook, stirring frequently and using edge of spatula to break eggs into small pieces, until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Serve with soy sauce.

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Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Bean and Vegetable Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

This cold-weather salad from chef Carla Hall hits all the notes: sweet, savory, spicy, and salty—with a bit of crunch from the squash seeds. Here, Hall uses her Country Ham Potlikker as an umami-rich base for a spicy vinaigrette that gets its silky texture from blended cannellini beans. 

But the thing is, most people are not going to have this potlikker broth on hand. We had some leftover from our Smothered Pork Chops dinner in which you had to pre-make the Country Ham Potlikker. Our suggestion is to use a mix of oil and vinegar instead, you won’t have that smoky ham flavor, but you will be keeping the meal vegetarian.

*We decided to roast our fennel slices since I didn’t shave them thin enough. Basically, place the fennel on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle olive oil all over, sprinkle with salt and pepper, rub it all together with your hands, then roast for about 30-35 minutes in a 400° oven. This can be done ahead of time, simply cover the roasted fennel with foil until ready to mix in with the other ingredients.

Bean and Vegetable Salad with Potlikker Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chilled Country Ham Potlikker
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed, divided
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal, or 1 1/4 tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium delicata squash, halved, seeds removed and reserved, sliced crosswise 1/2″ thick
  • 3 extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large sweet-tart apple, (such as Honeycrisp), cored, quartered, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1 large fennel bulb, quartered, shaved in very thin slices (*See note above for roasting option)
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Blend vinegar, potlikker (or substitute), mustard, and ¼ cup cannellini beans in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, stream in vegetable oil; blend until emulsified. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  2. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°. Divide sliced squash between 2 rimmed baking sheets; drizzle 2 Tbsp. olive oil over. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt; season with pepper. Roast 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse squash seeds and pat dry. Toss seeds with cayenne and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small bowl; season with salt.
  4. Sprinkle seeds over squash. Continue to roast until squash is golden brown and tender, 13–15 minutes more.
  5. Combine squash and seeds, apple, fennel, kidney beans, and remaining cannellini beans in a large bowl. Toss with ½ cup vinaigrette. Taste and add more vinaigrette if needed. Add parsley, season with salt, and toss again.
  6. Transfer salad to a platter; serve any remaining vinaigrette alongside.

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Recipe from Carla Hall for Bon Appétit

Umbrian-Style Chicken alla Cacciatora Revisited

Did you know that Umbria, in central Italy, is home to a tomato-free version of Chicken alla Cacciatora? Rather, the rustic braise gets it character from lemon, olives, garlic and herbs. Capers also are customary, but this version uses pancetta instead to build rich, savory depth. Finally, alternatively to cutting up a whole chicken, which is what we usually do, here we substitute bone-in, skin-on thighs.

Strips of lemon zest are simmered into the sauce to infuse the dish with subtle citrusy notes. For easiest results, use a sharp vegetable peeler to plane off wide strips of zest from the fruit; each piece should be roughly 2 to 3 inches long. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe skillet for this recipe, our 3-quart Le Creuset “Baby Blue” enameled cast-iron pot was perfect.

Fantastic! The combination of flavors had so much depth, we wanted to lick our plates clean. I know we loved the previous version using an entire chicken and capers, but this riff may have raised the bar to another level…

Umbrian-Style Chicken alla Cacciatora

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. pancetta, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup pitted green or black olives or a combination, drained and halved
  • 4 strips lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook without disturbing until golden brown on the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a large plate.
  3. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet and set the pan over medium. Add the pancetta and onion, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the wine, bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, olives and lemon zest. Return the chicken skin up to the skillet and pour in the accumulated juices. Transfer to the oven and cook until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 175°F, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the skillet from the oven; the handle will be hot. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a serving platter, then remove and discard the rosemary and lemon zest. Bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice and vinegar, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce around the chicken.

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Adapted from a recipe from Milk Street