Noodles with Flank Steak, Bok Choy, and Black Bean Sauce
Chinese black bean sauce has the power to make anything it touches taste meatier and more robust. More importantly, it does so almost instantly, without any long simmering required. This is especially welcome on a busy weeknight, because all you have to do is prep and cook some vegetables and meat, boil some noodles, mix in sauce, and serve.
Normally, you'd chop everything into small pieces and stir-fry it all together for a dish like this. But if you want to add some extra dimension, try cooking the steak, bok choy, and mushrooms on a grill pan. They don't come close to mimicking the smoky aroma of a real charcoal grill, but they are good at replicating the char, making for a texturally diverse dish.
Make-Ahead Steak with Hazelnut Gremolata and Cauliflower
Gremolata is an incredibly easy way to add flavor to vegetables or meats. It's typically only made from three ingredients—parsley, lemon zest, and garlic—but the garlic has been removed in this recipe so it wouldn't compete with the rich, olive oil-fried hazelnuts. This dish works beautifully as a make-ahead or as a fast weeknight dinner. When left overnight, the flavors of the gremolata have ample time to permeate the cauliflower and steak with bright freshness.
Bone-In Pork Chop Sandwich
The toppings on this unusual Chicago classic are simple but essential. Each sandwich needs a smear of mustard and a load of sautéed onions. Don't cook the onions too much; they need to be brown, but still hold onto some texture. Oh, and if you're feeling brave, add some pickled serranos or sport peppers (pickled jalapeños also work). To be perfectly honest, The bone might not be absolutely mandatory, so you can go boneless if you absolutely must (just don't tell anyone, okay?)
Pork Chops with Fresh Peaches and Basil
When buying peaches for this recipe (or for any grilling project), look for ones that are on the firm side, with a slight give. Too ripe, and the fruit will completely fall apart over the heat; hard as a baseball and it won't have that requisite sweetness. The same goes for other summer stone fruits like apricots, nectarines or plums, any of which would be a great alternative in this recipe. The hot, thick pan drippings are perfect for pouring over the peaches and chops as a finishing touch, infusing them with flavor and lightly wilting the raw spinach served beneath.
Chicken-Green Bean Yellow Chili Stir-Fry
Jumbo lump crab meat stir-fried with long beans and yellow chilies is one of the most famous dishes at Krua Apsorn, one of Bangkok's top restaurants, and this variation with chicken breast meat is easy to make, packed with flavor, and contains ingredients readily available in the United States.
Herb-Filled Turkey Burgers with Cheddar Cheese
When deciding whether to buy turkey thighs or breast meat, you should know that the thighs have a bit more flavor but the breasts are leaner, so the decision is more about what you're looking for out of your dinner. We opted for thighs, but the recipe is full of flavor-boosting herbs and cheese, so you might not be able to detect too strong a difference. Just don't skip cooking the shallots in the skillet, as they soak up the flavor of the turkey burgers and add an extra oomph to the toppings. Adding tomatoes or using spinach or bibb lettuce instead of arugula is another excellent option.
Grilled Chicken and Spinach Salad with Honey Mustard
Summer is all about grilling and making salads. Combine the two into one big hearty dish and you've got the makings for a terrific main course salad that's perfect for a light but satisfying dinner. Chicken is a great choice for bulking up greens because it's quick to grill and goes with everything. If you decide to use leftover chicken instead of cooking it on the grill, the dish is even easier to assemble. For a final touch, toss in some crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds. With only minimal effort, this salad of juicy grilled chicken, grassy spinach, sweet mango, and zingy honey mustard makes for a quick, fresh meal that makes a lot of summer sense.
Roast Turkey and Black Bean Quesadillas
There are a few tricks when it comes to making great quesadillas. Stuffing plays no small part in it. The day after Thanksgiving, that means turkey (or leftover roast chicken throughout the year), along with shredded cheese (a good melting one like Jack or mozzarella-like Oaxacan string cheese), a secondary ingredient (you can go with leftover sweet potatoes or brussels sprouts or, as in this case, canned beans), and—and this is of vital importance—something pickled. That extra kick of vinegar is the key to brightening up its flavor. Pickled jalapeño is always a good choice, although this recipe uses leftover pickled banana peppers.
Seared Scallops with Pancetta and Brussels Sprouts
This dish fully exploits the great combination of Brussels sprouts and pork, with pancetta (or bacon if you prefer) complementing the sprouts, which are shredded with a mandoline into a hash/salad of sorts. After you've mastered the ominous-looking, but really very easy mandoline, cook the pancetta and shredded sprouts with shallots, before quickly searing the scallops.
Steamed Fish with Chard and Potato Hash
A quintessential breakfast sidekick, hash browns are hearty, filling, and perfect for soaking up a hangover or building up an energy reserve for the day. But they also work beautifully as a quick weeknight meal, which is what we're all about over here. On their own, hash browns aren't much to look at, but stir in some nutrient-packed chard and top it with a healthy protein like steamed fish, and you've got yourself a delicious one-pot, weeknight meal in 20 minutes—hard to beat, right?
Cioppino, San Francisco's iconic fish stew, is a great recipe because it comes together quickly, has a ton of flavor, and feels like an adventure as you uncover different bites of seafood lurking in the tomato broth. Whatever you do, make sure to serve it with some thick, toasted bread drizzled with olive oil, either lining the bottom of your bowl or served on the side—or, if the mood is right, opt for both!
Skillet Halibut with Charred Corn Salad
In addition to embracing light and healthy fish, this recipe takes advantage of fresh summer vegetables in the form of a simple charred corn salad flavored with tomatoes, jalapeños, and mint. You can skip the charring of the corn if you want to cut down on cooking time, but it does add a nice smoky flavor. And, if the combination of fish and cheese doesn't bother you, then a little crumbled feta makes a great, tangy addition to the salad.
20-Minute Thai Red Curry Noodle Soup with Chicken
The soup is not traditional by any means, but jarred Thai red curry paste shares many flavors in common with traditional tom yum soup—the lemongrass, chilies, and galangal, for instance—so it makes a pretty good substitute for the real deal. Start by frying the paste in a bit of oil to help bloom and deepen its flavors, then whisk in some canned broth, fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice, along with a couple small pieces of chicken breast. Add noodles and some additional aromatics, and you'll get something not quite as fast as instant ramen, but with its balanced flavors of hot, sour, salty, and sweet, it's a heck of a lot tastier.
Clams with Linguini, Garlic, and Tomatoes
You can make this simple linguine with clams any time of year, as cherry or grape tomatoes are easy to find, but Sungolds are packed with flavor and have a gorgeous color that elevates this dish from its winter counterpart. This recipe has a lot of depth of flavor for such a quick-cooking dish, thanks to the aromatics (onion, garlic), plus the wine that's used to deglaze the pan. Adding half of the tomatoes during the cooking process adds even more depth, which contrasts nicely with the fresh tomatoes and parsley used at the end. Plus, it's fast, easy, healthy, and can all be made in one pot with minimal effort in about 20 minutes.
Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Herbed Ricotta
This is one of those quick and easy pasta dishes that can be completed from start to finish in under twenty minutes if you have everything on hand, making it a great option for a busy weeknight meal. Once you set the pasta water on to boil, you simply fry up some garlic in a little olive oil, add a touch of chili pepper, salt, and pepper. Add those halved cherry tomatoes into the pot and cook just a few minutes, until the tomatoes begin to soften, stir in some chopped basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and the sauce is complete. This is the sort of past dish that exemplifies the principles of Italian cuisine—it truly couldn't be simpler, but by using the very best, freshest ingredients, you can create an amazing dish in a matter of minutes.
Make-Ahead Mustardy Quinoa with Sausage, Potato, and Tarragon
A simple vinaigrette of mustard, olive oil, and fresh tarragon goes a long way in this full-fledged meal of a potato salad, contouring the sweet, mild flavor of the potatoes without overwhelming, and preserving the texture without becoming something gloppy and scoop-able. Crispy sausage is a natural accompaniment, as is the rendered fat whisked into the dressing. Quinoa soaks it all up—and provides (with arugula) a delicious disguise for a summer picnic hankering.
Pepper and Egg Sandwich
This standard Chicago lent dish can often disappoint, with mushy peppers and overcooked eggs. But in this recipe, instead of cooking the peppers over moderate heat until soft, cook them over high heat, like fajitas. This results in peppers and onions with a slight smoky char, along with some actual texture. As for the eggs, which should be creamy and soft, go in the opposite cooking direction—low and slow.
Vegan Black Bean and Squash Chili
A chili that's quick, healthy, and vegetarian. It gets substance from butternut squash, peppers, and black beans, while dried oregano, cumin, and chipotles in adobo add flavor and heat. Avocado and cheese are necessary additions, not only for added flavor but also for their creaminess, which helps to offset the heat from the peppers. If you're a chili-head, you can go for the whole can of chipotles, but as it is, it's still got some kick. Use vegan cheese to make this dish 100% vegan.
Stir-Fried Green Beans and Five-Spice Dry Tofu
There's tofu, there's silken tofu, there's firm tofu, and then there's tofu gan. The latter denotes "dry" in Mandarin, and being so expelled of water content, it has a pliant, rubbery texture that makes it easy to slice up and stir-fry. It's hard to find outside Asian grocery stores, but you can make it yourself by steeping firm tofu in a five-spice and soy sauce broth. Stir fry it with some green beans, chili, and ginger, and you've got a flavorful and crazy quick dinner.
Kale, Parmesan, and Fried Egg Tartine
Putting shredded marinated kale on a pizza is fantastic—it browns and crisps and becomes wonderfully sweet—so why not on a tartine? For this Kale, Parmesan, and Fried Egg Tartine, toast the bread, then cover it with as much kale as possible (it shrinks down as it cooks) before broiling it until crisp and topping the whole thing with an egg fried in olive oil and plenty of Parmesan cheese.