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What's your favorite old reliable recipe?
July 27, 2010 5:39 PM   Subscribe

What are you favorite reliable go-to recipes for everyday dinners?

I'm a reasonably good cook and have access to almost every imaginable ingredient. I like to plan out meals for my family (me+husband+daughter) a week in advance but I'm feeling like I'm reinventing the wheel each week by searching through cookbooks and blogs and my own archives for what to make each week.

It occurs to me that I need to expand my repertoire of standards beyond roast chicken and pasta with red sauce. Apart from those two (which are perfectly fine meals) I don't have a good collection of reliable easy dinners.

Criteria:
All cuisines are open.
We don't eat beef but otherwise there are no dietary constraints.
Ideally these meals would be ready in 45 minutes or less but don't have to be if they're really awesome.
The healthier the better.
Recipes don't have to rely on pantry staples. I shop pretty frequently but I suppose the more staples, the better.

This thread
from three years ago is similar but the criteria are somewhat different so I thought I'd ask again. Mostly I'm looking for recipes, not cookbooks generally.
posted by otherwordlyglow to Food & Drink (62 answers total) 377 users marked this as a favorite
 
Frozen tilapia filets, thawed and baked til done with salt, pepper, and paprika
+
just-cooked green beans OR roasted garlic asparagus OR roasted parmesan broccoli
+
roasted sweet potato chunks

= my favorite go-to meal. You can cook everything in the oven at once. Follow standard instructions for the fish (I think I do mine at about 10 minutes at 425) and play with the times for everything else (I usually let the sweet potatoes roast while the oven is heating and for another 10 minutes before I put the fish in.
posted by Night_owl at 5:44 PM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Risotto. Work out a basic risotto technique that works for you with a rice you like (we use Carnaroli rice when we can get it), and then throw in whatever takes your fancy. Left over sausages work well. Or pumpkin and blue cheese. Or smoked trout and baby spinach leaves. Pretty much anything works.

It's healthy and can be easily done in 45 minutes including preparation. All you need is rice and stock (and wine, but it's not compulsory, and dry vermouth works pretty well as a substitute but keeps a lot longer in the pantry if you don't feel like finishing off the bottle whilst you're cooking), plus whatever extra stuff you want to throw in. It's infinitely variable, and very yum!
posted by damonism at 5:46 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tofu stir-fry.

Very very roughly:

1 block firm or extra-firm tofu
2 onions
various peppers, broccoli, celery, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, carrots.
garlic & ginger

Heat up wok or deep pan. Add oil (I use peanut). Add tofu, garlic, ginger. Saute a bit, maybe add some red wine vinegar, maybe some oyster sauce, whatever.

Add other veggies based on length on cooking time (carrots & water chestnuts earlier than peppers, for example). Cover, simmer. Spices as you see fit (some sets of tarragon, mint, cumin, turmeric, hot sauces, basil, cloves, anise...)

Serve over grains? I usually do quinoa in the rice cooker.
Serves me for a couple of days. I'm eating it right now.

If you want to do it properly, you should saute/sweat the onions and garlic, maybe the tofu, in a smaller pan and then remove from heat, re-adding it later. But I'm usually too lazy.

20 mins cooking time or so, more depending on your grain.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:49 PM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's not only something I make at least once a week, but I link to it in AskMes whenever possible: Tagliatelle with Spinach, Mascarpone, and Parmesan. I use spaghettini, because that's what my kids like (I eat this while they have spaghetti with meatballs). Creme fraiche works as well as mascarpone and is usually a bit cheaper.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:55 PM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Our favorite quick go-to meal is beans and greens. Cheap, low-fat, and full of protein.

Saute some garlic and red pepper flakes (optional) in olive oil, add 1 or 2 bunches of kale, stripped from the stalks, torn into small chunks, and washed. Add 1 cup of water or broth (we like the Trader Joe's chicken stock packets) and cook until kale is tender, about 5-10 minutes. When ready to serve, dump in 2 or 3 cans of garbanzo beans and heat through. Serve with bread or grilled cheese sandwiches.
posted by rossination at 5:56 PM on July 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


The Best Tomato Sauce In The World. Well maybe not, but certainly the best achievable in the time it takes to boil pasta.

Obtain:
1 large can good quality diced or crushed tomatoes (depending on your preferred texture - diced produces a chunkier sauce)
1 onion, cut in half and peeled
1/2 stick of butter*
Salt and pepper to taste, maybe a sprig or two of basil or a shake of dried oregano or crushed red pepper - but keep it simple

Pour the can of tomatoes into a saucepan. Add the onion halves (you don't even need to chop them!) and the butter. Simmer while you boil your pasta. Remove onion halves (these are great added to soup stock). Salt, pepper, herb, and/or spice to taste. Pour over pasta. Nom.

*Because of this, it's not a great choice for multiple nights per week. But on a cold winter night when you're home late from work and it's either this or order chinese? This.
posted by Sara C. at 6:05 PM on July 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


For something fast, and a little different...

Yogurt Marinated Salmon (Dahi Machhali Masaledar)

1 cup plain yogurt
1/3 tablespoon cayenne pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (2 inch) pieces fresh ginger root, minced
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless salmon fillets

Mix everything except the salmon in a large ziplock bag. Add fish and marinate overnight.

When ready to cook, remove from bag and broil or grill until done. Approx 5 min each side.

Serve over quinoa or rice.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 6:05 PM on July 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Something that worked for me for the last 2 years, 5-6 days a week: brown rice or lentils in one pot, sauteed greens in the other pot (cast iron works really great).

Basmati Brown rice: rule #1 is to never stir it; when it's done, fluff it with a chinese stick and let sit for 10 minutes.

Lentils: rule #1 is to use the type with skin (brown or green, not red), organic. Lentils take about 10 minutes longer than rice (if they're organic, if not -- about the same as rice).

Sauteed greens: add oil to the pan, grind some pepper or cardamom, or both. Let it sit on low flame for 5-8 minutes (that's with cast iron, with steel probably less), add chopped greens. The best greens are swiss chard, kale, green squash, broccoli, snap peas, snow peas, yellow squash, celery, etc. Rule #1 is to add a couple tablespoons of water and sautee on low for ~15 minutes (I don't know if this is professionally considered sauteeing....) Stir them time from time. Organic greens are much better than regular in my experience. Add good salt 5 minutes before it's done (or when it's done and still in the pan). Olive or Saffron oil works best for me.

The best thing is that this meta-dish is so well rounded both in both nutrition and taste that I really don't feel like I'll ever need to or want to do anything else -- unless I decide to experiment just for fun.
posted by rainy at 6:07 PM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ooh, also, a fake frittata. I say fake because a real one is started on the stove, while mine is just cooked in the oven.

2 eggs per person
starch (I like diced and sauteed potatoes, about one per person, but leftover pasta or rice or sweet potatoes, enough for one serving each, all work fine)
protein if desired (sauteed mushrooms, diced ham, lunchmeat, black beans, chopped chicken breast)
flavorful veggies (diced tomatoes, roasted garlic, broccoli, cooked carrots, spinach, corn)


Make sure all fillings are cooked well. Beat eggs. Mix other ingredients except cheese in casserole dish (I usually use 8x8 for up to 4 people or 13x9 for more than that) and season liberally. Pour eggs over everything. Bake at 350 till eggs are firm. Sprinkle cheese on top and return to oven until cheese has melted and begun to brown.
posted by Night_owl at 6:08 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tuna melts

Quiche: eggs, whatever cheese you have on hand, veggies, in a pre-made shell

Chicken in enchilada sauce: saute onion in oil w/ a little cumin; add 1 can green enchilada sauce, 1 can green chilis, and 2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks, plus 1 Tb curry powder (trust me). Cook on medium until done. Serve over rice.

Mix cubed pineapple, diced red pepper, diced red onion, and chicken or tofu w/ oil (I use peanut with a little sesame thrown in), brown sugar, and lime juice. Spread on baking sheet and cook in an oven at 350 around 35-40 minutes. Serve over rice.

Casserole: take chicken or tuna, cooked noodles, 1 can cream-of-whatever. Mix. Bake in an oven at 350 around 35-45 minutes. Add other ingredients as desired (green onion, deli mustard, cheese, spices, etc.)

Grown-up chicken fingers: take 2 chicken breasts, slice them into strips. Place 1 or 2 large basil leaves on each strip. Wrap each strip in a thin slice of prosciutto. Drizzle w/ olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 for 25 min or so.
posted by pecanpies at 6:16 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Something very nutritious, reasonably fast/easy, and infinitely variable: veggies in quinoa. Simmer 1 part quinoa (well washed) in 2 parts water (or stock) for 15 minutes or until the water is pretty much gone. (You need about half a cup of quinoa per person. If your grocery store doesn't have quinoa you can buy it online.) Meanwhile, saute or oven-roast any vegetables you like* in olive oil, with some minced garlic. You can also throw in some dried chili flakes ("crushed red peppper") for a kick. Once they're both done, put the vegetable mix in the quinoa and stir it all together. Sprinkle with parmesan or feta cheese. If you have it (and have the time), chopped fresh parsley or basil is also good sprinkled at the end. Squeeze a bit of lemon onto it, and add salt and pepper.

Again, this is a very general template that can lead to lots of different recipes. Sorry about the lack of measurements and timing, but I just play it by ear.

* I often use sauteed mushrooms and asparagus -- a trusty combo. Another idea: cut carrots and parsnips into bite-size strips and roast in the oven; these are good with rosemary as the herb and honey added at the end. Really, you can steal ideas from any other vegetable-based recipe, put them in quinoa, and there's your dinner.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:19 PM on July 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


One more we love in the spring:

Cook pasta, preferably a short shape like rigatoni, penne, corkscrew, etc. Cook a cup of frozen peas in the pasta water while the pasta is cooking. Drain; reserve some of the cooking liquid. Toss pasta and cooked peas together. Add fresh lemon juice, a little lemon zest, and cheese of your choice. Bleu cheese is divine. Add a little of the cooking water if using bleu cheese to melt some of the cheese into a sauce. Mmmmmm. Or, instead of the cheese, add prosciutto. Chopped basil might also be nice, or a little green onion.
posted by pecanpies at 6:20 PM on July 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


God, I meant to write "feta" in that last one, not bleu. Although, who knows - what isn't bleu cheese good on?
posted by pecanpies at 6:21 PM on July 27, 2010


Rempel Family Meatloaf.

I am not a member of this family, but they make great meatloaf.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:26 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fish tacos!

Tilapia filets - a little bit of flour, egg, and Panko bread crumbs. Pan fry in a little bit of oil.

Make a little pico de gallo - tomatoes, onion, cilantro, serrano, lime juice.

Tacos consist of a corn tortilla (fresh if you can find them), fish, pico, a bit of shredded cabbage, and some Crema Mexicana.

Delicious, fast, tasty.
posted by SNWidget at 6:26 PM on July 27, 2010


ETA: you can substitute beef for whatever. Turkey is good.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:27 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Black bean salsa soup is pretty much the easiest go-to meal ever (and what I'm eating right now!) It's pretty flexible- I usually use the equivalent of 2 cans of black beans drained and rinsed, a few tablespoons of salsa, and veggie stock in a blender. Blend to desired consistency- I add a lot of veggie stock because I like it thinner, but it's also good with less stock, it's almost a chili. Put in a pot and heat until warm, then serve with a dollop of sour cream and some cheese. Sometimes I saute onions and garlic in the pot before I add the soup, and it's really good as well. It can also be served with cheese quesadillas as dippers.

If you don't already make it, homemade sauce is really easy and SO MUCH BETTER than storebought. Onions and garlic sauteed in a pan, add fresh herbs (or Italian seasoning) and a can of crushed tomatoes.

I also like comfort food- sometimes all I need is a grilled cheese sandwich on good bread and tomato soup (Michael Chiarello's recipe is awesome if you reduce the olive oil and butter).
posted by kro at 6:33 PM on July 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


* pasta such as, orrechiette, tossed with shelled edamame and corn with some butter, the juice of one lemon and ground white pepper

* roast chicken pieces that are dry brined (fancy term for salting in advance) then pan roasted until very crispy to be finished in the toaster oven

* good toast with peanut butter and honey

* pork loin that is pan seared then finished in the toaster oven with an apricot, orange and mustard glaze (30 minutes)
posted by jadepearl at 6:34 PM on July 27, 2010


BEANS

Take black or anasazi beans, soaked twelve hours or quick-soaked [to quick-soak, put them in a pot with water, bring 'em to a boil, and then turn it off and let 'em sit for an hour]. Put them in a pot with twice as much water as beans. Simmer for an hour, adding to taste: honey; really good balsamic vinegar; really good olive oil; a dose of butter; and salt. It's kind of a back-and-forth between the salt and the honey to get it perfect. Try to time it right (removing the lid strategically) so that all the water boils off just as the beans are just the right softness to be eaten; but it's no biggie if you have to drain it a bit and re-season slightly at the end.

Seriously, best thing ever. I eat this four times a week. But then I'm a single guy who's really cheap, so who knows.

Also awesome: OMELETTES
posted by koeselitz at 6:41 PM on July 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


(You can actually just simmer those beans for 45 minutes if you want to, it should work just fine)
posted by koeselitz at 6:42 PM on July 27, 2010


Grilled Chicken over a mixed green salad with some crusty bread.
Steak and veggie skewers on the grill with rice.
Grilled (or pan-cooked) pork chops with steamed broccoli and carrots, mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.
Fajitas.

We don't really use recipes for 90 percent of our day to day cooking - just keep it simple.

Great question, by the way.
posted by jferg at 6:43 PM on July 27, 2010


Go to the Caribbean! Island pork tenderloin with Cuban black beans. The whole thing takes 30 minutes at most; 35 if you decide to have a mojito.

Island Pork Tenderloin
For pork
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon chili powder
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 2 pork tenderloins (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds total), trimmed of excess fat
* 2 tablespoons olive oil

For glaze
* 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
* 1 tablespoon Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco until consistency of wet sand. Set aside.

Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and cinnamon. Coat pork with this spice rub.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until just beginning to smoke, then brown pork, turning, about 4 minutes total. Leave pork in skillet.

Pat brown sugar mixture onto top of each tenderloin. Roast in middle of oven until thermometer inserted diagonally in center of each tenderloin registers 140°F, about 20 minutes. Let pork stand in skillet at room temperature 10 minutes. (Temperature will rise to about 155°F while standing.) Slice and enjoy!



Easy Black Beans

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 1 large jalapeño chili, seeded, chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon (generous) ground cumin
* 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
* 1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
* Fresh lime juice
* Chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, chili and cumin and sauté 30 seconds. Add beans and broth and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Coarsely mash beans with potato masher. Continue boiling until thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
posted by leeconger at 6:47 PM on July 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


1 lb. chicken sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces.
1 medium sweet Onondaga, chopped.
1 head cabbage, chopped.
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp paprika
Pepper to taste

In a lightly oiled skillet, brown the sausage, then add the onion and sautee at medium heat until translucent.

Add the cabbage, season, and cook until the cabbage is slightly wilted. Serves four!
posted by BZArcher at 6:49 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This week we're having:
*fajitas- chicken breast strips marinated in equal parts olive oil, maple syrup and lime juice. a little garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes for good measure. serve with tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, and shredded cheddar.
*hummus sprinkled with feta. carrots, broccoli, bell pepper and pita triangles for dipping.
*scrambled eggs with co-jack cheese, roasted red pepper, and chives on toast
*glazed salmon (honey, lime juice, chili powder) wild rice pilaf (from a box) and a green salad
*spaghetti (I buy the multi-grain kind that's high in protein) with fresh tomato sauce (throw chopped or canned tomatoes in a blender with a couple cloves of garlic and olive oil. season with salt and pepper to taste, and warm on the stove for a few minutes.) top with goat cheese, fresh basil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with the leftover green salad.
We've also been eating a lot of waffles and pancakes because they don't require heating up the oven (found some whole grain mixes at the local hippy grocery store) with fresh fruit, since there's so much of it available during the summer. Last week I made a blackberry sauce for the waffles... the kitchen was purple afterward, but it tasted pretty darn good.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 6:54 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's a good side to replace mashed potatoes:

You'll need a head of cauliflower, 2 oz cream cheese, and 2 oz sour cream.

Cut the cauliflower into florets and steam until tender. Mash the cauliflower and mix in the cream cheese and sour cream, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the mash into an oven safe dish, cover, and bake 20 minutes at 400F.
posted by BZArcher at 6:54 PM on July 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


It occurs to me that I need to expand my repertoire of standards beyond [...] pasta with red sauce.

You could also expand your repertoire of pasta with red sauce. Assuming that you make the same kind of tomato-based sauce each time (?), here are a couple of variations which are my standard go-to recipes & can be whipped up easily from long-shelf-life ingredients that I always have on hand:

PUTTANESCA (the whore's dish - because it has so much flavour, the cuckolded husband thinks his wife has been cooking all day)

Probably much like your red sauce, only you start by softening garlic, capers & anchovies in oil, before adding the tomatoes. Use capers that have been stored under salt, and chop the capers & anchovies up into a paste. If you have good olives (not marinated in brine) then roughly slice them & add them at the same point. I like a little chilli too - preferably fresh, but dried is OK. I usually make this without olives, because capers & anchovies last forever, but I don't always have olives on hand.

SUGO ALLA TONNO (sugu with tuna)

Lightly fry a reasonable quantity (say, half a tub / a few tablespoons) of tomato paste in olive oil until the oil takes on an orangey colour, and the paste starts to look a bit crumbly. Tip in a tin of decent chunky tuna, add a little water for moisture, a clove or two of garlic (peeled & chopped in half only), a bay leaf or two, and chilli if you like it. Using tomato paste instead of peeled tomatoes makes it deep & rich, and the initial frying takes out the sweetness & allows the flavour to permeate the oil. You can substitute other meats, but this is one of those dishes I make when I'm low on ingredients & want something simple & tasty, so a tin of tuna is ideal.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Lemon spaghetti is one of my go-to dishes, and it's quite easy to make (easier if you have a citrus reamer and zester).
posted by limeonaire at 7:44 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here, make a big pot of this, and have it either for leftovers or for lunches at work during the week. You may want to watch the salt a bit, it's very easy for this dish to be overly salty.

Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives

Ingredients:
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sweet or hot paprika
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1/4 tsp whole cloves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, more for frying
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger (I grate mine)
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
2 bay leaves
1 large pinch saffron
1 chicken (4 lbs) chicken, cut up (or a similar weight of chicken pieces)
Freshly-ground pepper
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 preserved lemon
1/2 cup pitted green olives (I like mine stuffed with garlic cloves)
1 cup chicken stock

In a skillet over medium heat, toast the first six ingredients until they start to smoke. Grind in a spice grinder (or coffee mill). In a large bowl, combine olive oil, spice mixture, garlic, ginger, cilantro, bay leaves and saffron. Mix to a paste. Add chicken, rubbing to coat all over. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. If you have time to do this, it makes the chicken all the more awesome, but you can make the recipe without marinading the chicken.

If you decide not to marinate, then make the wet mix, but don't mix in the chicken; keep it aside for a minute.

If marinating, take the chicken out of the marinade and reserve. Pat the chicken dry, and season with the pepper. If you didn't marinate, pat the chicken dry and season with pepper.

In a dutch oven or large stew pot, heat 2 tbsps of olive oil. Fry the chicken on all sides till lightly brown. Add the onions and cook till lightly brown, about 3 minutes. Wash the lemon well in cold water, scoop out the flesh and discard, and slice the peel in strips, and add to the pan. Add the reserved marinade/wet spice mixture, the olives and the stock. Cover tightly and cook for 30-35 minutes over med-low heat, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the bay leaves. Taste the juices and adjust the seasoning. Serve piping hot over couscous or quinoa.

Toasting the spices is what really makes this dish pop, please don't skip that step.

I hope you enjoy it!!
posted by LN at 7:59 PM on July 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


BZArcher, what is sweet Onondaga? I love cabbage, but not quite sure what this is. Google tells me it's a place in NY.
posted by smalls at 8:06 PM on July 27, 2010


Easy, easy mid-week meals:

Nigella Lemon Garlic Chicken (I can make this blindfolded now, it's so easy. Also, we use cheaper cuts of chicken like thighs, which is a great budget stretcher. We frequently serve this for company.)

Two Alarm Chili (I totally cheat and use the kit this recipe comes from; it's really simple to make.)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:07 PM on July 27, 2010


Last one, I promise.

Carrot & Goat Cheese Soup

4 tblsp. butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 pounds of carrots, peeled and chopped.
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped.
4 cups of water
2 cups of chicken stock
4 oz chevre

Melt butter in a large pot and add onions.

Cook the onions on low heat, covered, for 25 minutes. Add water, stock, cheese, and carrots. Boil until carrots are soft.

Remove from heat and puree. Add water if needed to obtain desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!
posted by BZArcher at 8:14 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Smalls: That's my phone's spellchecker apparently deciding to spectacularly misinterpret "Onion". Sorry! Regular green cabbage is all you need, and a sweet onion, not a sweet Onondaga.

Though I am sure Onondaga is a perfectly nice town.
posted by BZArcher at 8:15 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


smothered onions sauce (marcella hazan)

per person:
  • 12oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes (or a couple diced by hand)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 stick butter

    simmer with the onion halves cut-side down in a saucepan for 45min. serve tossed with any kind of pasta, torn basil and parmesan too.

  • posted by rhizome at 8:55 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


    All interesting so far. More are welcome! (I too was confused by the Onondaga, especially as that's the name of a street in my neighborhood).

    Other things we do a lot of:
    -Roasted vegetables (cauliflower, kale, green beans, potatos, sweet potatoes, carrots....)
    -Pasta with veggies and/or sausage (whatever is leftover from previous meals)
    -I always keep a pizza in the freezer for nights when I just can't get it together to cook
    posted by otherwordlyglow at 8:58 PM on July 27, 2010


    Curry is dead easy. Warm a pan (woks work well) add oil (or ghee, if you've got it) and add a tsp each of garam masala, cumin, and coriander, and a half tsp of tumeric, chili powder, black pepper, and salt. As it forms a paste, add a couple cardamom pods. Then, thin sliced onions, minced garlic and ginger. After that, the sky is the limit. You could add bite-sized potato bits (boil them for five minutes then drain before adding to the curry), and bite-sized pieces of chicken. Stir them into the curry paste until the chicken is white on the outside, then add half a can of coconut milk, lower the heat, and simmer for about ten-fifteen minutes. If the coconut milk has separated a little, add more from the can, and stir it in. A tablespoon of tomato paste isn't a bad idea, either. Eat it with rice, and naan from the store (heat the naan on a fry pan, it'll taste better than warming it in the oven).

    Spanish omelets work well with salad. Slice potatoes into rounds, boil for five minutes, and drain. Saute some onions until they become soft, add thin slices of spicy sausage or ground chorizo, then the potatoes. Get the potatoes a bit browned, add salt, pepper, and if you've got it, smoked paprika. Scramble four eggs, mix in a tbsp or so of milk, and add it to the fry pan. Let it cook until you can shake the pan and see the omelet move as one piece, rather than a mass of goo. Put a plate over the pan, face down (the plate must be bigger than the pan!) and, very carefully, flip the pan and the plate together (one hand on the plate, one hand on the handle of the pan), then slide the omelet from the plate back into the pan. It looks more difficult than it is, but be ready for catastrophic failure the first time around, and do it over the sink. Return the pan to the stove, and cook the bottom of the omelet. You can slice it like pie, and it's quite good with a nice hot sauce like sambal or srihacha.

    For a nice, oil based pasta, warm some olive oil in a pan, and add small chunks of bacon or prosciutto (salami works too). Add some garlic, salt, and pepper. Slice some button mushrooms and saute them, then add a little white wine. Finally, toss in some shredded fresh basil. Drain the pasta and dump it into the saute pan, getting the oil well mixed into the pasta. Serve with lightly warmed crusty bread.
    posted by Ghidorah at 9:27 PM on July 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


    Pad Thai goes together surprisingly quickly if you have all the ingredients on hand and has become one of my regular recipes--30 minutes the first time or two, but completely doable in 20 minutes once you have the routine down. My approach is similar to this one, except I also use a 1/2 lb of ground turkey.

    Jambalaya is also another nice, flexible dish that you can easily adapt to your family's tastes and what you have on hand. It also has the advantage of requiring just a few minutes of chopping and sauteing, then you just let it simmer for 20 minutes while you futz around doing other stuff. This is pretty close to what I do.
    posted by drlith at 9:36 PM on July 27, 2010


    Ghidorah: naan is really easy to make!

    Naan recipe (all measures metric/Australian)
    1/2 c warm water
    1/2 c natural yoghurt (or sour cream)
    2T oil / butter
    1t yeast
    1t salt
    3c plain flour
    1) Combine it all, knead ~5 minutes (or whizz in food processor). Let it rise ~20 minutes.
    2) Divide into 7 balls, roll out. Poke holes in naan with fork (stops it bubbling)
    3) Bake on pizza stone ~250C (or as hot as your oven goes) until it's cooked to your liking (I like 'em a bit chewy)

    If desired, baste the naan with a garlicy butter mix before cooking (and after, if you don't like your arteries).
    posted by coriolisdave at 12:01 AM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


    If you have a little prep time the previous night, and you're into Indian/Middle-eastern food, this Tandoori Chicken is a great go-to:

    The Ingredients:

    * 1 small onion, quartered
    * 2 garlic cloves, smashed
    * 1 (2in.) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
    * 1/2 cup plain yogurt
    * 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    * 2 teaspoons salt
    * 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    * 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    * 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    * 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    * 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    * 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    * 1/4 teaspoon ground corriander
    * 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (approx 3.5lbs total), rinsed and patted dry

    The Procedure:

    Combine onion, garlic, ginger, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and spices in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.

    Make three diagonal cuts about 1/4in. deep in each chicken thigh. Put chicken and yogurt marinade in a large ziploc bag (or use your handy vacuum sealer!) and turn to coat chicken.

    Refrigerate, turning bag occasionally, for at least 8 hours (chicken can marinate for up to 12 hours).

    Line a broiler pan with foil and oil broiler rack. Preheat broiler. Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and arrange on broiler rack. Broil 5 to 6 inches from heat, turning once, until cooked through, 12 to 17 minutes total. If you end up with charred spots, that's fine — the toasted outside adds a layer of flavor. Serve over rice, garnished with lime wedges and cilantro, if desired.
    posted by frmrpreztaft at 12:38 AM on July 28, 2010


    Black bean burgers (I'm fond of Morningstar Farms) on lightly toasted buns, topped wih your favorite salsa (this part is important) and chopped onions. You can cook them in a 350° F oven for 24-30 minutes, turning once, or heat in a skillet. I've also seen people using lightly cooked portabellas as buns for sandwiches, which sounds delicious. Serve with lightly cooked corn and a carb of your choice (my mom relied on those microwavable packet noodles). Soup is always pretty easy—you just have to add stuff and check it occasionally. You can also get some pretty tasty Bertolli stuffed pasta that you just have to boil. I also love sauteéd mushrooms and squash (not usually together). I agree with the baked fish as well.
    posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 4:39 AM on July 28, 2010


    You should look at Bittman's 101 recipes, if you are not familiar. Some of my favorites are below:

    Gazpacho: Blend tomatoes, cucumber, a slice or two of bread, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper. Chill.

    Nicoise salad: Lightly steam haricot verts, green beans or asparagus. Arrange on a plate with chickpeas, good canned tuna, hard-cooked eggs, a green salad, sliced cucumber and tomato. Dress with oil and vinegar.

    Steak sandwich: Grill a steak; slice it thin. Butter a baguette on one side; put Dijon on the other side. Pile the bread with steak, roasted peppers, and something crunchy, like radicchio or fennel. Add mashed avocado.

    Lamb burgers: Ground lamb burgers seasoned with cumin, garlic, onion, salt and cayenne. Serve with couscous and green salad, along with bottled harissa.

    Quesadilla: Use a combination of cheeses, like Fontina mixed with grated pecorino. Put on half of a large flour tortilla with pickled jalapenos, chopped onion, shallot or scallion, chopped tomatoes and grated radish. Fold tortilla over and brown on both sides in butter or oil, until cheese is melted.

    Whole gutted trout stuffed with lemon and oregano or dill or fennel slices.

    Salmon (or just about anything else) teriyaki: Sear salmon steaks on both sides for a couple of minutes; remove. To skillet, add a splash of water, sake, a little sugar and soy sauce; when mixture is thick, return steaks to pan and turn in sauce until done.

    Tacos: Stir-fry a pound of ground meat (or chopped fish) mixed with chopped onions and seasoned with cumin or chili powder. Pile into taco shells with tomato, lettuce, canned beans, onion, cilantro, and sour cream.

    Mideast marinated lamb chops: Shoulder cuts are the best and the cheapest; just don’t burn them. Marinate them briefly in yogurt, lemon, cardamom and mint. Serve with lemon and parsley.

    Skirt steak salad: Grill skirt steak 3 minutes a side. Salt, pepper, place over Romaine lettuce and drizzle with olive oil and lemon.

    Brown bratwursts with cut-up apples. Serve with coleslaw.

    Kielbasa with eggs: Chop salami, corned beef, or kielbasa and warm in oil. Scramble with eggs. Serve with mustard and rye bread.

    Chicken thighs brushed with pesto. Or basted with lemon juice and herbs.

    Fettuccine Alfredo: So-called Fettuccine Alfredo: Heat several tablespoons of butter and about half a cup of cream in a large skillet just until the cream starts to simmer. Add slightly undercooked fresh pasta to the skillet, along with plenty of grated Parmesan. Cook over low heat, tossing, until pasta is tender and hot.

    Tomato and basil pasta: Combine a couple cups chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of minced garlic, olive oil, and 20 to 30 basil leaves. Toss with pasta and parmesan. Great w/ Mozzarella.
    posted by xammerboy at 5:41 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Chicken Carbonara.

    Make pasta noodles. Fry bacon. Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded parmesan/romano with two eggs. Add crumbled bacon once it cools a touch.

    Drain noodles. Pour 1/4 cup of bacon grease over noodles; stir to coat. Then stir noodles like crazy while adding egg/cheese/bacon mixture, and cheese should melt to noodles while eggs cook and fix it there.

    You can theoretically put grilled chicken on top and serve, but I never get to the chicken step.
    posted by talldean at 5:59 AM on July 28, 2010


    You should look at Bittman's 101 recipes, if you are not familiar.

    And here they are.
    posted by Jaltcoh at 6:31 AM on July 28, 2010


    I make this a lot - it's easy, and pretty open to variations. AND DELICIOUS.

    1. Boil some water for a pound of pasta.
    2. Start cooking anywhere from 1/4 to 1 pound of hot Italian sausage. I use less.
    3. Cook it through. I add some chili flakes and harissa just because.
    4. While that's cooking through, cook your pasta. Ideally, these should finish up at the same time, but if you need to stagger the cooking, do it so the sausage finishes first - it's less finicky.
    5. Right before your pasta will finish, dump in like 2 or 3 pounds of spinach. Some people use less.
    6. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water.
    7. Mix the pasta/spinach into the sausage.
    8. Add in some grated parmesan cheese. I use a lot. Others use less. Try a half cup and see how you like it.
    9. Mix everything together; add some of the cooking water to loosen things up. You want the cheese, water, and sausage fat to combine into a pseudo-sauce.
    10. Grate more cheese over, if you'd like.

    Variations:
    - other greens instead of spinach; I particularly love kale
    - add beans (northern or chickpea are nice!) to the pasta while cooking, to warm them through.
    - I've made this with any two of the components when I was missing the third (so, pasta + spinach, pasta + sausage, sausage + spinach) and they're all wonderful.
    - you could probably use chicken sausage instead, to health it up a bit, and it's also fine without cheese at all.

    And now I want this.
    posted by punchtothehead at 6:37 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    A very not authentic red beans and rice-- saute onion, garlic, and bell pepper and add 2 cans of drained red beans. Add some water or broth, mash slightly, season, and serve over rice.

    A sweet potato and egg bake-- similar to this recipe, but I use less or no bacon and throw in a can of rinsed black beans at the end of the cooking time.

    What I call "snack for dinner." Slice and toast some baguette or other tasty bread. Make up small bowls and a platter or whatever you have around-- deli meats, cheese, jams/preserves, dried fruit, pickles, capers, olives, and interesting condiments. A messy Ploughman's Platter.
    posted by TrarNoir at 6:52 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Sweet Potato Burritos are awesome. And you can freeze the mix and trot it out when you don't feel like cooking.

    Patti's Mussels a la Mariniere are also tasty with bread for dipping.

    Roasted Rack of Lamb is super tasty and easily paired with steamed veggies.

    I haven't made this yet but Taco Stuffed Shells looks really good and you could go easy on the cheeses.

    Here's All Recipe's 45-minute meal recipes.

    Ooh, and Salsa Chicken. Yummy.
    posted by KathyK at 9:25 AM on July 28, 2010


    HOW ABOUT SOME SUPER QUICK AWESOME GARLIC SPINACH SOBA NOODLES

    courtesy of a snarky MeTa callout thread gone all pear-shaped

    although this is not my original recipe, I've made it a ton of times this summer to wild rave reviews. It's the best "too fucking hot" and/or "too fucking drunk" to cook recipe I have ever found.
    posted by lonefrontranger at 9:34 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I cook brown rice in the rice cooker. While it's cooking, cube up a sweet potato or two. Pan fry them in a small amount of oil until brown on all sides, adding salt, pepper, chili powder. Heat a can of black beans. (I drain/rinse them, add chopped onion, canned chipotle, garlic, cumin, chili powder, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a touch of water. They taste better to me that way, but you can use them straight from the can if you like.) Toast a handful of pumpkin seeds in a pan with very little oil, or in a toaster oven; toss with chili powder, salt, lime.

    When rice is done, top with black beans, sweet potato, pumpkin seeds, and sour cream or yogurt.

    Very yummy and healthy and easy and cheap. Also excellent with quinoa. (And platanos maduros, which are very simple to make but can be hard to find in the market.)
    posted by mudpuppie at 10:37 AM on July 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


    Huevos Rancheros--This dish is quite fast, but it takes a few of times to get it all happening together.

    Dice an onion, saute it briefly and then add a can or two of black beans.

    Gather (or prepare) salsa, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, hot sauce, shredded cabbage, sliced avocado, cilantro, queso fresco or feta.

    Microwave, steam, or lightly fry two corn tortillas per person.

    Fry or scramble two eggs per person.

    Assemble as follows: Put some beans on a plate, top with a tortilla, put more beans on the tortilla and other toppings as desired, top with second tortilla, put the eggs on top and season to taste.

    The only tricky part of the dish is cooking all the eggs and tortillas at the same time. Using the microwave to steam your tortillas is easy, put some drops of water on them, wrap them in a stack in a cloth towel, and microwave for 30 seconds. Add more time as needed.
    posted by OmieWise at 1:25 PM on July 28, 2010


    Oh, and this Mark Bittman recipe has become a quick standard in our house. It's always surprising how tasty and easy it is. I also think it has a lot of potential variations. (We add feta cheese when serving.)
    posted by OmieWise at 1:30 PM on July 28, 2010


    Peanut sauce - about 30 minutes:

    (Everything is pretty much to taste)

    Saute finely chopped garlic and ginger in peanut oil.
    Add 1/2 jar of crunchy peanut butter (the natural kind works best)
    1-2 cans of coconut milk
    1 jar thai red curry paste
    A few squirts of soy sauce and vinegar (rice vinegar is fine but even better is the nearly-black vinegar you can get in chinatown)
    A bit of brown sugar, corriander, lime juice
    Sriracha hot sauce to get it as spicy as you like it.
    Add cilantro at the very end as a garnish.

    You can simmer some tofu or chicken and some vegetables in a separate skillet and throw them in at the end so they stay crisp or you can just toss them in the sauce and let them boil. I like mushrooms. This is also good over a bed of steamed spinach.

    If it gets too thick add water.

    You can serve it with brown rice or noodles (if I'm feeling super lazy I make ramen without the flavor packets - very quick).
    posted by mai at 2:14 PM on July 28, 2010


    Frittata tonight. I need to remember that one since it's a great way for me to use up vegetables and other odds and ends in the refrigerator. I should probably do a weekly frittata for exactly this reason.
    posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:37 PM on July 28, 2010


    Taco-bean Salad:
    1 lb. of ground turkey (or beef) fried up into the tiny little bits stage
    Beans (canned or home cooked, kidney or pinto are best)..add to meat when the meat is mostly done)
    Salt, Pepper, Cumin to taste

    In a large salad bowl break up a head of lettuce (we like iceberg for this), throw in some sliced onions and quartered (or smaller) tomatoes. Poor in the a full package of the regular old fashioned Fritos.

    Poor the meat and bean mixture over the top and toss. Serve with a light vinagrette or just vinegar.
    posted by txmon at 2:47 PM on July 28, 2010


    Chicken & Rice w. Lemon & Thyme

    1 c. rice

    3-4 boneless chicken breasts

    4 sprigs fresh thyme

    3-4 tbsp butter

    a little olive oil

    1 lemon, zest and juice

    salt, pepper

    Put the water on for the rice. While the rice is cooking,
    Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces, season
    Melt the butter in a pan with a little olive oil --- helps keep it from burning
    Wait until the butter has entirely stopped foaming, and gotten a little toasty
    Brown one side of the chicken, remove to a warm plate
    add thyme and lemon zest, most of lemon juice, deglaze pan
    return chicken to the pan, toss for a few mintues
    Add cooked rice, last bit of lemon juice, toss

    Two pans, 25 mins, damn tasty. If I have it on hand sometimes I add a splash of wine. Also good with broccoli and asparagus --- put in a steamer basket over the rice.
    posted by Diablevert at 5:27 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    My offering is not a recipe but an ingredient. I have
    recently discovered smoked Gouda. It adds a great taste almost anywhere we have tried it- omelettes, tuna fish casserole, you name it. It's hard to believe I went this long before discovering it.
    posted by wittgenstein at 7:31 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    This time of year I keep doing the same lazy thing, where I take a bunch of meat or tuna fish or tofu, cook it or marinate it ahead of time for the week, and throw it in seasoned salads like Asian or curried or French chicken or tuna salad, stick it in wraps if it's tofu, or put it on a bed of seasonal veggies or crisp greens, like with beef. The following is my favorite super easy and fast way to cook a big London Broil-type cheap cut of meat. Let it rest, slice it up, and use it on salads. Yes it heats up the kitchen alas, but it's for a really really brief period of time unlike most roast-y things.

    Fast Oven-Grilled London Broil
    From Cook's Illustrated

    A crisp, brown crust is an essential element of a good London broil . Thoroughly preheating a heavy pan will produce an excellent crust, but the following trick will take your crust to new heights: Put a pizza stone in the oven as it preheats, and then place the pan with the steak on top of the stone. The stone conducts extra heat to the pan bottom for an extraordinary crust.

    Using a pizza stone in the oven helps superheat the pan bottom, but this method works well without the stone, too.


    Serves 4.

    1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless shoulder steak, about 1-1/2 inches thick, patted dry
    Salt and ground black pepper

    1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position; if using pizza stone , position it on rack. Heat oven to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes.

    2. Meanwhile, heat large, heavy, ovenproof skillet, preferably cast-iron pan or stainless steel with an aluminum core , for at least 3 minutes on stovetop over high heat. Generously sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and pepper; add to pan. As soon as steak smokes, about 5 seconds, carefully transfer pan to oven. Cook 3-1/2 to 4 minutes, then flip steak and cook until well seared and meat is medium-rare (125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer) , 3-1/2 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer to cutting board ; let rest for 5 minutes. Slice very thin, on bias against the grain; adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately with meat juices (or slice and store for later).

    This Sumac Chicken recipe requires, um, sumac (you can get it through Penzey's) and pomegranate molasses (not expensive but can be a little tricky to find; if you have a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean grocer that's your best bet), but other than that it couldn't be easier and it is so, so delicious. You just let chicken marinate. I got it from a previous AskMe response. This is what I wrote about it in my recipe notebook:
    You can make couscous or flavorful, chewy and fluffy rice instead of serving with bread and dip if you like; that's what we did tonight (though I did make muhammara for the first time, which I will tell you ALL ABOUT in a separate post).

    This is amazing, quite possibly my new favorite easy-peasy go-to flash-marinated (read: weeknight dinner) chicken breast dish. I'll admit it requires a couple unconventional ingredients--sumac and pomegranate molasses--but if you can find a Mediterranean grocer in your town you should be good to go. They're not even expensive (not even the pom stuff!) much to my surprise and relief. I picked up the pomegranate molasses for the muhammara and only realized it was called for in this filed-away dish as well uh, yesterday. How convenient. And I actually grabbed a bottle of sumac out of curiosity from Penzey's months ago and never got around to trying it, so this was my inauguration into a certain class of spices. My parents never used (and honestly I don't think have ever heard of) sumac or za'tar. Both are amazing, bitter-tangy and earthy but in a shockingly good way that spruces things up. I highly recommend them. I love how unusual and pricey spices are still not that pricey in the grand scheme of things. It's like buying a new color of paint for your palette.

    This was so much fun to make tonight. The weather was god-awful all day (the kind of relentlessly dark icky-warm, mildew-y-sensation storming that has you charging your phone and ipod and DS and whatever else to full capacity thinking there'll be a power outage), perfect for the soup event going on in town (a flat fee at the door gets you into an arena of local chefs' soups, as many samples with fresh bread as you like as you socialize and mill about) that we missed 'cause of Robert's unorthodox work schedule (and, ok, laziness on my part). I started this with a sense of grumbling drudgery due to my SAD I guess, and within five minutes I felt back to my old self: it smells amazing from the moment you start mixing things up thanks to that sumac, and my white baking dish, which I used to marinate the chicken in, was a sort of literal canvas--seared through with bright brick red color laced with greys and greens. It was so beautiful and it smelled so good. That to me is what I mean about cooking as therapy, soothing physical-emotional tidiness of expression. It really was today.

    And it's nice because you can marinate your chicken and get your salad assembled sans dressing hours ahead and then the actual cooking and dressing of the salad takes, you know, less than 10 minutes total.

    Robert and I sat down to dinner and talked about the usual but with breaks where one of us would just sort of exclaim how good it was. I think at one point I said something like "goddamn, Middle Eastern food is so good." It is. They have all the right priorities if you ask me. Those spices, the freshness and simplicity of everything but then dressed so incredibly brightly and well, g'ah. An hour after dinner, when Robert was in the thick of his schoolwork in the study, he decided to come back out here and hug me tightly out of gratitude and happiness. I felt the same way, seriously. It was that good and sustaining, the kind of dish that reminds you in concrete, direct terms how restorative and mood-elevating a solidly good scratch meal can be.
    A quick tip: full-meal salads and soups, once you've made various ones over and over, quickly prove to be a good way to make a foolproof and quick supper because you don't worry about under or overcooking meat, etc. And soup, once you get the basic template down, is shockingly fast--roast or parboil something starchy or rooty and/or get your meat component browned, fry up some aromatics, wilt some onions usually, add stock and parcooked starch/meat contents, simmer a bit (doesn't take as long as you think--30 minutes is often enough), add spices and thickeners if needed. And that's it! Endlessly modular. I love it.

    The following come from a handful of cookbooks geared towards precisely your question, and I highly recommend all of them, especially the Hensperger one. It's cheap and has really made my fast weeknight cooking delicious and painless. The cookbooks are Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking, The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper, and How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson (she goes through basic weeknight dinner approaches--stir fry, sautes, steaming veggies, pastas, quick roasts, soups, full salads, etc.--and explains the template and basics with lots of to-the-point helpful tips and guidelines, then follows up with a number of example recipes based off the templates with specific ingredient combos). Marian Burros' You've Got it Made is pretty retro but also useful in this arena. And for side dishes, I recommend Side Dishes Creative and Simple by Deirdre Davis. The Orangette blog has been excellent in teaching me tons of super delicious full-meal salads and sausage dishes too, by the way.

    Portobello Mushroom Sandwiches
    From Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    Serves 4.

    Cooking Method: Oven broiler (or charcoal or gas grill)
    Prep Time: 25 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 to 15 minutes

    Cranberry Dijon Mustard:
    1 Tablespoon olive oil
    1 medium-size shallot, minced
    1/4 cup Dijon mustard
    1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
    2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 Tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
    1 teaspoon dried marjoram or basil
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    Pinch sugar
    4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and (if you like) gills removed
    4 fresh round sandwich rolls of your choice
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    To make the mustard, heat the oil in a small skillet and saute the shallot until soft, about 3 minutes. Combine the mustard, cranberry sauce, cooked shallots, and vinegar in a food processor; pulse until pureed. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    To marinate the mushrooms, whisk together the oil, vinegar, marjoram, garlic, and sugar in a bowl. Set the clean mushrooms, stem side down, in a glass baking dish. Pour the marinade over the mushrooms. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

    Preheat the broiler or prepare a hot fire in a charcoal or gas grill.

    Arrange the drained mushrooms on a broiler pan and broil 6 inches from the heat, or place on the grill. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the mushrooms. Set aside to cool slightly.

    Lightly toast the cut sides of the split rolls. Place each on an individual serving plate and spread with the cranberry mustard. Place a grilled mushroom on each roll bottom. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Top with the other half of the roll and serve immediately.
    Personal Note: this doesn't require the homemade mustard step, so if you have a super favorite mustard already you could speed this up even more just using that if you wanted.
    Lemon Chicken with Mint
    From Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    This is one of those remarkable dishes that looks sooooo simple and turns out really delicious, and the individual ingredients add up to a whole lot more in flavor than expected. This recipe originally came from Anna Beck, whose family owed Tassajara Hot Springs in Big Sur, California, before the Zen monks took it over as a retreat and made it famous for vegetarian fare. This was the first savory dish in which I ever used mint. Serve with couscous and a steamed green vegetable of your choice.

    Cooking Method: Stovetop and Oven
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 40 to 45 minutes

    4 bone-in chicken breasts, skinned, or 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned, or a combination
    Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon, sliced
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons light brown sugar
    1 cup chicken stock or broth
    2 4-inch sprigs fresh mint

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 10 x 14-inch ceramic baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

    2. Drizzle the chicken with the lemon juice. Place the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a gallon-size zipper-top plastic bag. Add the pieces of chicken to the bag and toss to lightly coat with flour mixture.

    3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and sear until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. As the chicken browns, arrange it in a single layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle the chicken with the lemon zest and brown sugar. Place a slice of lemon on each piece, then pour the stock or broth over the chicken. Place the mint sprigs on top.

    4. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, uncovered, until the juices run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife. Discard the mint and serve hot.
    Personal Note: Beth isn't kidding when she explains how this simple chicken recipe is a lot more than the sum of its parts. The mint and lemon make for a fantastic aroma. I was way surprised when I pulled this out of the oven yesterday assuming it'd just be a ho-hum basic chicken dish, not meant to impress as a hot entree itself but to mostly be used as leftover material for fresh tossed salads this week. Well. It was so awesome looking and smelling--crispy and moist and freshly fragrant--it made it hard for me to want to assign it to such secondary status!

    The one thing that boggled my mind a little was why the recipe doesn't call for deglazing the saute pan and making a quick sauce from the fond. It's begging for it in so many ways--the chicken was floured, so you bet there's brown bits in the pan, and then the dish goes in the oven anyway so why not spend 10 minutes while it's baking doing more stovetop patrol? I realize she's hawking the idea of uber easy fast weeknight meals, so maybe she thought that'd seem like too much, but seriously, it isn't--again, especially since it's baking away in the oven anyway. Granted, the stuff in the final oven step is so wonderfully fragrant and awesome maybe she thought it'd be overkill (I can see that, actually), but hey, why not a little extra liquid? So I deglazed with a skosh of dry vermouth and the chicken stock that you've already got on hand anyway for the oven step. Simple simple. Then just lightly whisk in some beurre manie (or Wondra flour on its own if you have it) to thicken, and voila. Would be nice on the suggested grains (couscous, or rice) you serve this with.

    This book, by the way, is worth its weight in gold to me. I don't know, so many of these "no really, I'm a harried mom trying to feed a needy cranky family on a Tuesday night too!"-perspective cookbooks are kinda...lacking in some way to me. Even Mark Bittman's tack with this tends to rub me the wrong way sometimes. But Beth is totally on the money in every way--you don't get the feeling she's cheating somehow, or asking you to, and you barely remember the "2 but not 3" rule of cooking (fast, cheap, tasty...healthy could be another longed-for attribute, I suppose). Everything in here manages to still sound really fresh and bright, but really is easy without being pathetic or embarrassing. It's hard to describe what I mean, but lots of these cookbooks rub me the wrong way and don't feel worth it, don't seem to really offer solutions for keeping this kind of promise, but this one actually does. There's little bullshit here. I also love her set up/introductory writing. Reminds me of Joyce Goldstein. You don't want to sacrifice everything, but let's also be practical, and to do that, instead of trying to shabbily substitute in ways that are a travesty, let's pare down and limit what we know we're capable of on this Tuesday night, alright? Etc. Great, honest. I recommend. /ramble, ramble
    Wine, Bread, and Cheese Souffle
    From Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    This rustic casserole is a cross between a souffle and a quiche. I have been making it for years. It has a crust of garlic-scented bread slices and a filling made with a dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc). Whatever type of wine you use will affect the character of the dish, so use something you like to drink. All you need is tossed greens topped with some chickpeas and sliced tomatoes to round out the meal.

    Serves 4.

    Cooking Method: Oven
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes

    6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
    8 slices (no more than 3/4 inch thick) day-old baguette, cut in half on the diagonal
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1/2 cup milk
    3 large eggs
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    Dash of Worcestershire sauce
    2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, such as Jarlsberg or Emmental (8 ounces)

    1. Preheat the ove to 325 degrees F.

    2. Cream together the butter and garlic in a small bowl. Spread the bread slices on one side with the garlic butter. Arrange, butter side down, in a 1 1/2-quart ceramic casserole of 7 1/2-inch souffle dish. It does not matter if there are some uneven spaces between the slices, but place as close together as possible, lining the bottom and sides.

    3. Whisk together the wine, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, paprika, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a medium-size bowl until smooth, 1 minute. Add the cheese and stir to combine. Pour into the bread-lined casserole. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bread is crunchy and golden brown and the filling is puffed and set. Serve immediately.
    Personal Note: Robert LOVED this. And it's easy so long as you have a souffle dish/big ramekin, and tastes just like Welsh Rarebit but better, more flavorful and faster. You will definitely want to eat something astringent and palate-cleansing like a simple salad with this, to cut the richness (Robert agreed and had a total hankering for some greens while eating it!). And while the usual wine sense is true, don't fret too much over it--Robert doesn't even like wine, any wine whatsoever, and he still loved the flavor it gave to the dish.

    Ours took a while longer to cook than noted, IIRC. So if it seems underdone don't worry; just keep an eye on it until crispy and golden on top.
    Tuscan Tuna and Beans
    From Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    Need a simple but substantial main-dish salad and time is of the essence? Here is one of the staples of Italy's scrumptious, economical cucina povera, tuna and white kidney beans, which should be among your staple pantry items. It's great with some crusty ciabatta bread to use as a scooper along with your fork.

    Serves 4.

    Cooking Method: None
    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Three 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    Three 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained well and broken into rough chunks
    2/3 cup finely chopped red onion
    3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    1 small clove garlic, crushed
    Pinch of salt
    2/3 cup olive oil
    1 to 2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated

    Combine the beans, tuna, onion, and parsley in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and salt; drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly. Pour the dressing over the beans and tuna; toss to combine. Place lettuce leaves on 4 plates and top with the salad. Serve immediately.
    Personal Note: Funny enough, I was just reading a ton of recommendations for this classic dish on AskMefi. Another good "no cook" meal for the summer repository, the stuff you turn to when it's so hot your brains are melting and the idea of putting anything together makes you feel nauseous.

    EDIT, now that I've made it: Wow, it's bizarre how tasty this is. It is extremely homely--I finished whipping it up and looked at it, not very excited and quite frankly a little worried I'd just wasted a ton of canned goods on something tasteless and cardboard-y--but the textures work beautifully, and it's refreshing and strangely luscious and full of flavor. Weird stuff. I was sure I'd have to at least throw some black pepper in to spice it up, but no...and it's obscene how "good" this is for you--beans! Tuna for a novel, balanced source of protein! Garlic! Heart-healthy olive oil! Leafy greens! Crazy how healthy it really is, and simple, but so delicious. Absolutely perfect for those hot blistering FAIL summer evenings when imagining making dinner or even eating it makes you ill.
    White Bean Soup with Greens
    From Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    Serves 4.

    1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard or escarole, ends trimmed
    6 cups chicken broth
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    1 15-ounce can white beans of your choice (I like cannellini), rinsed and drained
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
    Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    Red pepper flakes

    1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the greens and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until barely tender. Drain the greens into a colander, squeezing out as much water as possible. It is not necessary to cut the greens, because they will break apart while they cook in the soup.

    2. Add the broth to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, beans, and greens. Simmer gently, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, stir, and serve hot. Pass the cheese and pepper flakes at the table.
    Personal Note: I'm a little bit skeptical of the promise of awesome, hearty, rich soup that cooks for 30 minutes or less, yet this book features a whole chapter of 'em. We shall see! I must say I love the idea of soups so simple, where the star fresh ingredient is greens and everything else is just pantry standard fare. Gonna walk over to Easy Way and pick up some salad greens anyway--it's pretty out, and I have the time.

    EDIT, now that I've made it: Not the most flavorful, deep suppertime entry, but really easy and good for you on a weeknight. It has a special sentimental place in my heart too, because it was the first thing Robert managed to eat during his recovery from his mysterious stomach illness. I roasted a chicken, made stock, and at first was going to just have him try the broth. He said he was feeling a little better and wished he could, uh, get some roughage in his belly. He loved this soup, and it was gentle enough (he skipped the red pepper, of course) but had enough flavor to maybe remind his stomach of what it was missing, ha. I distinctly remember that evening at the table, and both of us beaming afterward because he could finally eat something. Aw.

    Anyway, this has a similar nutty but vegetal flavor composition as chicken with wild rice-type soups.
    Frittata of Green Apple, Cheese, and Greens
    Adapted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

    Excellent hot or at room temperature. Reheats well.

    Use a skillet with an ovenproof handle, and be careful if setting it out: the handle will be hot.

    Whether you call them frittatas or oven omelets, baking eggs with a saute or filling is much easier than fussing with a traditional omelet. Instead of the gymnastics involved in cooking and rolling a perfect folded omelet out of a pan, you put everything together, put it in the oven, and set a timer.

    With its cheesy greens and garlic, this oven omelet comes off more like a pizza than an omelet. The shards of tart green apple are totally unexpected and a great accent. This is portable food--good for potlucks, boat rides, and office lunches.


    Serves 3 to 4.

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Oven Time: 45 minutes

    1 bunch (5 stalks) greens such as Swiss chard, kale, or even lettuce greens
    Good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
    1 or 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch dice
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 large garlic clove, minced
    1/4 cup water
    1 crisp, tart apple (Granny Smith recommended), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
    5 large eggs
    3/4 cup milk
    1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, Asiago, or Fontinella cheese
    1 cup shredded Muenster or Monterey Jack cheese, or a related cheese blend

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Chop the greens into 1-inch pieces. Film a 9 or 10-inch skillet (with an ovenproof handle) with oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onions, chard stems, and a little salt and pepper. Saute until the vegetables are golden brown.

    Stir in the garlic and greens and allow greens to wilt. Add the water, and stir over medium-high heat until the leaves look like cooked spinach and the liquid has evaporated. Then stir in the apple and remove the skillet from the heat.

    In a bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and 2/3 cup of each of the cheeses. Pour the mixture over the cooked greens. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out with only a few bits of creamy egg and cheese clinging to it.

    Let the omelet stand for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting it into wedges.
    Personal Note: I've probably mentioned it before, but they're spot on about frittatas being the clumsy girl's friend whereas standard French omelets, not so much. I happen to be lucky too because I actually prefer the heartiness and deeper flavor of frittatas over omelets (cross my heart, this is not a case of sour grapes). It feels like a good encapsulation of my active preference for coastal Spanish and Italian/"Mediterranean" approaches to cooking versus finicky inland French ones--I kind of don't give a fig about lighter-than-air fluffy textures or finessing ingredients into forms and textures unrecognizable from their natural states. I like really good basic fresh food that is relatively unfussed with, to be honest, just juxtaposed with interesting other ingredients for curious flavor. So anyway, frittata it is. And how nice and yes, portable and convenient. It's one of my go-to templates for when we've run out of fresh food and/or I anticipate a harried or uncertain evening; the fact you can make it fast with few ingredients and minimal pots and pans and then just let it sit 'til everyone has a moment to eat is great.

    Already knew about the usefulness of dumping leftover too-iffy-for-fresh-salad fridge greens into frittata, a good trick indeed. It was the inclusion of apple that really intrigued me--I've never put fruit in my eggs, and you know how much I like firsts when it comes to flavor pairings. And it just seemed like it made a lot of sense really--like a punchier sauteed-to-dripping-sweetness onion, you know? So I actually upped the apple here from the original recipe, and halved the amount of onion called for. Also did some cursory googling beforehand and discovered Martha Stewart has a good recipe that's very similar (makes sense; she seems a fan of fruit in dinner meals...her turkey burgers have sultanas in them, so good). Both Robert and I loved the outcome; it's not cloyingly sweet but definitely adds an unusual and welcome zing to the whole thing. The touch of nutmeg is great too. I highly recommend you try it if you've got an apple or two lying around.

    I recommend using a nicely seasoned cast iron here. I know you can use other ovenproof skillets, but cast iron really is a wonder here, provided your seasoning's up to scratch. Ever since I found that cast iron-obsessed blogger via Mefi months ago my cast iron's been gorgeous and so much easier to work with. It really is non-stick, practically more so than any of the manufactured nonstick cookware I've used before. This frittata came right off the pan clean as could be, which is never quite the case when I use my other pan...and (not that it matters too much) it will keep the frittata nice and warm much longer, if you know it'll have to sit a while before you partake.

    The nice thing about frittata is that when it comes to filling there are no rules really save for things that obviously contribute significant moisture or whatever (say, frozen spinach). Don't have chard? Use something else and see if you like it. You probably will--it's generous that way.

    I also like how ironically we've wound up eating healthier lately BECAUSE we ran out of fresh food and are too busy right now to cook for long bouts or head to the grocery store (final week of school for R's half-semester)--we've inadvertently been eating tons of fruits and veggies at dinner because we ran out of meat a week ago, and produce is more forgiving anyway. A couple nights in a row we've sat down and it dawned on me in dinner alone we were getting the daily recommend "strive for 5" servings of produce. And it was easy and good too, because it's so much harder to fuck up cooking with fruits and veggies. We've had sparing bits of tuna and eggs and scatterings of various nuts and whole wheat grains (in the form of pasta, bread, etc.) to go with it all. Yum. Funny how eating even healthier than usual proved more convenient--a pleasant surprise.
    Italian Sausage and Red Sauce with Rice
    From Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    This is real home cooking, but it is home cooking in Europe as well as in the United States. I love red sauce of any type over rice. To my surprise, my friend in France agreed with me. "Oh, we eat riz et tomates all the time!" she exclaimed. My love affair with the local market's homemade Italian sausage inspired m to add that to this sauce, and I vary the cheese, sometimes using Parmesan, other times Asiago or Pecorino-Romano. You don't even need the vegetables if you don't want them. There is a dash of juggling here: make the sauce first, then put on the rice, and finally cook the sausage.

    Serves 4.

    Cooking Method: Stovetop
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: About 35 minutes

    3 Tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1 medium-sized zucchini, diced, or 4 to 8 ounces fresh white mushrooms, sliced
    One 32-ounce can tomato puree or one 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, seeded if desired and hand-crushed or pureed
    One 6-ounce can tomato paste
    Pinch dried oregano or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or basil (I used way more fresh basil)
    3 1/2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons water
    1 3/4 cups long-grain white rice
    1 1/2 pounds Italian pork or turkey sauce, casings removed (you can have a mix of mild and hot, but I used all hot sausage, yum)
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    3/4 cup grated Romano, Parmesan, or Asiago cheese

    In a deep saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini or mushrooms and saute a minute or two to soften. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, and oregano or basil. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

    In a medium-size saucepan, bring the 3 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the rice, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, 20 minutes.

    In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage with the 3 tablespoons water. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned, breaking it apart as it cooks. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, draining off any fat, and add it to the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the sauce for 10 more minutes, or until the rice is done.

    Ladle the rice into shallow bowls, top with some sauce, and pass the cheese at the table.
    Personal Note: Funny enough, someone on AskMefi was just asking about how to use up a ton of long grain white rice they'd bought in bulk to be thrifty. I wouldn't have thought to treat it JUST like spaghetti, right down to the red sauce, until I tried this recipe.

    It is surprisingly tasty. She's not kidding about it feeling really down-home-y basic too, in a good, comfortingly simple straightforward sort of way. Reminds me of my dad's casserole of pork and beans in bright red sauce.

    I couldn't find gigantic cans of tomato puree (? I can be pretty blind at the supermarket) plus to be honest it didn't appeal to me aesthetically so I used a can of precious San Marzano plum tomatoes that was sitting in the back of my pantry waiting for its day in the sun. Because of that switch this was almost identical to my Rao's recipe for spicy sausage and San Marzano sauce, only cooked faster. Has the same principle of needing minimal seasoning thanks to all the flavor in good Italian sausage, yum. I reckon the San Marzanos made our sauce tangier, which is just great by me. Yum.

    I didn't futz with the nerve-wracking balancing act of cooking the rice while the other two things were also going on. If you have a way to avoid that, I suggest it (I used my rice cooker). Even balancing the sausage-browning step with the bubbling red sauce was a little bit much, but then, I don't care much for multi-tasking right at the heat source. My kitchen's too crowded for that anyway.
    Escarole and Sausage Soup
    Slightly adapted from Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    This thick and hearty soup comes courtesy of Julia Wiley, a modern-day farmer who owns Mariquita Farm with her husband. I got it from their charming e-newsletter called The Ladybug Letter. Escarole, with its head of broad pale green leaves, is a boutique vegetable these days in the sense that old becomes new again. It is a mild-flavored member of the endive family and is a green greatly favored in European-style soups for its flavor.

    Serves 4.

    Cooking Method: Stovetop
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: About 40 minutes

    1 lb. hot Italian sausage (pork or turkey), casings removed
    1 large yellow onion, chopped
    2 to 4 cloves garlic, to taste, minced
    3 cups chicken stock + 1 cup water
    1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
    1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    1 3- to 4-inch hunk Parmesan rind (optional but incredible...if you don't have it, I still strongly suggest you put in some shredded Parmesan, the good, truly nutty kind)
    1 large bunch escarole, cleaned thoroughly under running water and coarsely chopped
    Salt and freshly ground pepper (optional...mine was so mind-blowingly delicious I didn't season it one bit, which I find amazing)

    In a large saucepan or non-reactive Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until no pink remains. Remove the meat to a bowl.

    Add the onion to the sausage drippings and cook until transparent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until just fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the stock, water, tomatoes with their juice, beans, and cheese if using; bring to a low boil and return the sausage to the soup pot. Reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for 20 minutes.

    Add the escarole and simmer, partially covered, for 5 to 8 minutes, until greens are wilted. Season if necessary and serve hot.
    Personal Note: This is so freaking good and simple, fast, and easy it's hard to believe; it's one of those "eye-rubbing" seems-too-good-to-be-true magic recipes. The ingredients are few and rather easy to procure (if you can't find escarole, chard, dandelion, kale, or spinach will do in a pinch according to Hensperger; I just happen to have a new found love for escarole thanks to Cook's Illustrated and Orangette), and it is SO SO DELICIOUS. Every single major ingredient, simple as they all are, is a workhorse here; the nuttiness of the cheese, the strong rich spicy flavor of the sausage, the creamy beans, everything makes it perfect. It smells divine from the very beginning when you brown the sausage. And I happened to be super lucky in that right before we left for our honeymoon my beloved Aunt Laurie (who is one of the best cooks I've ever met...she's the one who hand cuts all of her pasta, eep) was in town and gave me a big brown sack full of garlic that's the real deal. Much much needed here, and made me so homesick--it's the kind of garlic where as soon as you pick up a head to break off cloves, before you've even shelled them off the air is heady with earthy awesomeness...mm. Ack! Will be a staple cold-weather soup for me from now on, I'm certain. It's that easy and good.
    I've mentioned special-k's Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup before.

    Composed salads full of fruit, nuts, cheese, crunchy romaine and a good dressing, are delicious light but satisfying summer meals. Nicoise is great too. And fattoush, panzanella, taboule...

    Sausage is great because it cooks quickly, and topped with deglazed pan sauce with fruit or veggies cooked right in with the sauce (I like cream and apples per Orangette, but roasted with red grapes is awesome too) it's yummy.
    posted by ifjuly at 7:58 PM on July 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


    Oops, got cut off.

    Italian Sausage and Red Sauce with Rice
    From Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    This is real home cooking, but it is home cooking in Europe as well as in the United States. I love red sauce of any type over rice. To my surprise, my friend in France agreed with me. "Oh, we eat riz et tomates all the time!" she exclaimed. My love affair with the local market's homemade Italian sausage inspired m to add that to this sauce, and I vary the cheese, sometimes using Parmesan, other times Asiago or Pecorino-Romano. You don't even need the vegetables if you don't want them. There is a dash of juggling here: make the sauce first, then put on the rice, and finally cook the sausage.

    Serves 4.

    Cooking Method: Stovetop
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: About 35 minutes

    3 Tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1 medium-sized zucchini, diced, or 4 to 8 ounces fresh white mushrooms, sliced
    One 32-ounce can tomato puree or one 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, seeded if desired and hand-crushed or pureed
    One 6-ounce can tomato paste
    Pinch dried oregano or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or basil (I used way more fresh basil)
    3 1/2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons water
    1 3/4 cups long-grain white rice
    1 1/2 pounds Italian pork or turkey sauce, casings removed (you can have a mix of mild and hot, but I used all hot sausage, yum)
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    3/4 cup grated Romano, Parmesan, or Asiago cheese

    In a deep saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion until very soft, about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini or mushrooms and saute a minute or two to soften. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, and oregano or basil. Bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

    In a medium-size saucepan, bring the 3 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the rice, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, 20 minutes.

    In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage with the 3 tablespoons water. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned, breaking it apart as it cooks. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, draining off any fat, and add it to the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the sauce for 10 more minutes, or until the rice is done.

    Ladle the rice into shallow bowls, top with some sauce, and pass the cheese at the table.
    Personal Note: Funny enough, someone on AskMefi was just asking about how to use up a ton of long grain white rice they'd bought in bulk to be thrifty. I wouldn't have thought to treat it JUST like spaghetti, right down to the red sauce, until I tried this recipe.

    It is surprisingly tasty. She's not kidding about it feeling really down-home-y basic too, in a good, comfortingly simple straightforward sort of way. Reminds me of my dad's casserole of pork and beans in bright red sauce.

    I couldn't find gigantic cans of tomato puree (? I can be pretty blind at the supermarket) plus to be honest it didn't appeal to me aesthetically so I used a can of precious San Marzano plum tomatoes that was sitting in the back of my pantry waiting for its day in the sun. Because of that switch this was almost identical to my Rao's recipe for spicy sausage and San Marzano sauce, only cooked faster. Has the same principle of needing minimal seasoning thanks to all the flavor in good Italian sausage, yum. I reckon the San Marzanos made our sauce tangier, which is just great by me. Yum.

    I didn't futz with the nerve-wracking balancing act of cooking the rice while the other two things were also going on. If you have a way to avoid that, I suggest it (I used my rice cooker). Even balancing the sausage-browning step with the bubbling red sauce was a little bit much, but then, I don't care much for multi-tasking right at the heat source. My kitchen's too crowded for that anyway.
    Escarole and Sausage Soup
    Slightly adapted from Not Your Mother's Weeknight Cooking by Beth Hensperger

    This thick and hearty soup comes courtesy of Julia Wiley, a modern-day farmer who owns Mariquita Farm with her husband. I got it from their charming e-newsletter called The Ladybug Letter. Escarole, with its head of broad pale green leaves, is a boutique vegetable these days in the sense that old becomes new again. It is a mild-flavored member of the endive family and is a green greatly favored in European-style soups for its flavor.

    Serves 4.

    Cooking Method: Stovetop
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: About 40 minutes

    1 lb. hot Italian sausage (pork or turkey), casings removed
    1 large yellow onion, chopped
    2 to 4 cloves garlic, to taste, minced
    3 cups chicken stock + 1 cup water
    1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
    1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    1 3- to 4-inch hunk Parmesan rind (optional but incredible...if you don't have it, I still strongly suggest you put in some shredded Parmesan, the good, truly nutty kind)
    1 large bunch escarole, cleaned thoroughly under running water and coarsely chopped
    Salt and freshly ground pepper (optional...mine was so mind-blowingly delicious I didn't season it one bit, which I find amazing)

    In a large saucepan or non-reactive Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until no pink remains. Remove the meat to a bowl.

    Add the onion to the sausage drippings and cook until transparent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until just fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the stock, water, tomatoes with their juice, beans, and cheese if using; bring to a low boil and return the sausage to the soup pot. Reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Cook for 20 minutes.

    Add the escarole and simmer, partially covered, for 5 to 8 minutes, until greens are wilted. Season if necessary and serve hot.
    Personal Note: This is so freaking good and simple, fast, and easy it's hard to believe; it's one of those "eye-rubbing" seems-too-good-to-be-true magic recipes. The ingredients are few and rather easy to procure (if you can't find escarole, chard, dandelion, kale, or spinach will do in a pinch according to Hensperger; I just happen to have a new found love for escarole thanks to Cook's Illustrated and Orangette), and it is SO SO DELICIOUS. Every single major ingredient, simple as they all are, is a workhorse here; the nuttiness of the cheese, the strong rich spicy flavor of the sausage, the creamy beans, everything makes it perfect. It smells divine from the very beginning when you brown the sausage. And I happened to be super lucky in that right before we left for our honeymoon my beloved Aunt Laurie (who is one of the best cooks I've ever met...she's the one who hand cuts all of her pasta, eep) was in town and gave me a big brown sack full of garlic that's the real deal. Much much needed here, and made me so homesick--it's the kind of garlic where as soon as you pick up a head to break off cloves, before you've even shelled them off the air is heady with earthy awesomeness...mm. Ack! Will be a staple cold-weather soup for me from now on, I'm certain. It's that easy and good.
    I've mentioned special-k's Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup before.

    Composed salads full of fruit, nuts, cheese, crunchy romaine and a good dressing, are delicious light but satisfying summer meals. Nicoise is great too. And fattoush, panzanella, taboule...

    Sausage is great because it cooks quickly, and topped with deglazed pan sauce with fruit or veggies cooked right in with the sauce (I like cream and apples per Orangette, but roasted with red grapes is awesome too) it's yummy.
    posted by ifjuly at 8:00 PM on July 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


    MAINS

    roasted sweet potatoes and onions (with side salad)

    thai vegetable curry (canned curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, assorted veg - recipes abound on the internets)

    sauteed kale and white beans with toasted walnuts (finished with lemon juice and grated parm)

    grit style "golden bowl" (grit-style tofu over whole grains with various veg)

    burrito "bowl" with black or pinto beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream, avocado

    nachos (same as burrito bowl over baked tortilla chips)

    pizza (rolled-out pizza dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day) with various toppings: red sauce, fresh mozz, goat cheese, carmelized onions, figs, whateva!

    lentil stew (black or more often red split lentils cooked with onions, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and sometimes sweet potatoes, then roughly pureed) - served with a salad, a poached egg, or a fresh roll

    SIDES

    beet salad (roasted beets, goat cheese, vinaigrette)
    grapes
    carrots
    hummus
    posted by halfguard at 1:03 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I should add that Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day) is a godsend. Makes it soooooooooo easy to whip up a fresh loaf of bread, fresh dinner rolls, fresh pita, or a quick pizza.
    posted by halfguard at 1:05 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Roasted potatoes:

    1. Cut a bunch of potatoes into wedges.
    2. Add salt and dried herbs. (I generally use rosemary or oregano.)
    3. Add a bunch of vegetable oil. Cover and shake to coat evenly.
    4. Cover in foil and bake at 375F for ~20m.
    5. Remove foil, toss potatoes. Bake at 350F for ~20m. Toss again and bake for another 15-20m, until done.


    Pan-fried potatoes:

    1. Heat a non-stick pan to medium-high temperature. Add olive oil.
    2. Sautee some garlic for 30s.
    3. Add diced onions and potatoes. Fry until potatoes have browned, 10-15m, stirring occasionally.
    4. Cover with lid for 10m or until soft. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    posted by archagon at 2:17 AM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


    If I spend a lot of time cooking on a weekday (to me, an hour is a lot of time on a weekday), ideally I end up with leftovers. I typically do a whole chicken for just the 2 of us, and then use it for chicken sandwiches for lunch for a few days after that initial dinner.

    Chicken with thyme, lemon, and garlic

    1 whole chicken, I like to use about 6-7 pounds
    couple of garlic cloves, pressed or minced
    the zest of 2 lemons
    a crapload of fresh thyme leaves trimmed from the stalk
    olive oil

    Make a paste of the garlic, thyme, and lemon zest, and add oil to stretch the paste if you want. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cut sporadic 1-inch holes in the chicken skin (over breast, thighs, legs) and stuff the paste under the skin, spreading it to cover as much of the meat as you can. Don't worry about the hole openings. Pat chicken all over with a little bit of olive oil, and then salt and pepper on top of that. Roast chicken for at 375 for 1 hour or until the internal temp reaches 160. LET IT REST COMPLETELY UNMOLESTED for 20 minutes before cutting into it.

    I like to serve this with a green salad with gorgonzola cheese, grape tomatoes, and whatever nuts I have on hand, dressed only with olive oil and the juice from those zested lemons.
    posted by ImproviseOrDie at 2:32 PM on August 2, 2010


    I really like this poached pork recipe for summer. It takes a little while to cook, but it makes for excellent leftovers for future lunches or dinners. I generally serve it with white rice and some sort of raw vegetable salad (or just sliced cucumber). It tastes quite fine without the umeboshi, if you do have a little trouble finding them in a reasonable quantity (I seem to only ever be able to find them in huge jars).

    Also Night_owl's suggestion is very close to one of my own go to meals (although fish filets are actually unusually hard to find in Japan). I tend to dredge the tilapia in flour (optionally also egg and bread crumbs) and pan-fry them. And I'll do buttered noodles as a starch.

    Fried rice is also good for various and sundry leftovers--I've had it made with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and it was particularly tasty!
    posted by that girl at 9:08 PM on August 2, 2010


    Oregon cooked shrimp, some mayo, tarragon and dill, and a bit of pepper, mix it together, slice an avocado, put it on top of mixed greens that's been lightly tossed with Girard's champagne dressing. Viola. 17.5 at the restaurant, your cost, 4 bucks.
    posted by donaldjans at 10:59 AM on August 5, 2010


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