A bowl of black beans with some rice, bread, or greens is a meal in itself, but it's also a side dish to round out about any meal. The trick, if you could call it that, is to stick to dried beans that can slowly release their starch into the cooking liquid, and use a balance of aromatics to enhance their flavor.
'easy' on Serious Eats
Grilled summer fruit is always a welcome addition at the table, and these peaches get extra boosts of flavor from sticky caramelized shallots, cooling buttermilk dressing and crispy bacon.
As much as I now love real-deal Sichuan kung-pao chicken, my absolute favorite Chinese dish as a kid was this mildly spiced Americanized version—and to be honest, I still love it today. Just because it's a Chinese-American standard, complete with slightly-gloppy-sauce and mild heat doesn't make diced chicken with peppers and peanuts any less delicious. Here's how to make it at home.
Quick and easy stir-fried lo mein noodles with cabbage charred until sweet, sauteed mushrooms, and Chinese chives in a light sauce.
The key to the deeply-seasoned potatoes in this tangy and creamy salad is to cook them in water seasoned with salt and vinegar. A dressing flavored with olive oil, sour cream, and dill binds it together.
Radicchio, a hearty bitter lettuce, becomes remarkably sweet and succulent when charred over a live fire. Served with a drizzle of good olive oil and saba—a sweet wine-based condiment—along with a sprinkle of gorgonzola cheese, it's the best vegetable you've never grilled.
Polenta is the kind of stuff that's just begging for a flavorful sauce to be spooned into it. But pan-seared steak doesn't really provide much sauce of its own. The solution: Toss some juicy cherry tomatoes and chilies into the skillet as the steak finishes cooking. Their natural juices pick up the flavorful pan drippings and—with just a touch of olive oil—emulsify into a rich, flavor-packed pan sauce.
Crunchy and tender baby bok choy goes for a spin with a punchy sauce made with lots of garlic and fermented black beans. It's a flavor-packed stir-fry with minimal prep and all the flavor, minus the gloppy sauce.
Pan-fried whitefish is the perfect blank canvas for a medley of fresh and bright summer flavors: sweet corn, red onion, avocado, tomatoes, and basil, all tossed in a bright lime vinaigrette. The resulting dish—quick and easy to prepare—is full of flavor and color, texture and tang.
Perfect is a word that I throw around a lot, and it's always with the understanding that it's a goal that can be strived for but never achieved. This particular recipe for egg salad is about as close to perfect as I've ever had. It's not fancy, there are no special ingredients, but it's well balanced, with bright, fresh flavors and a texture that spans from rich and creamy to crisp and crunchy.
Tender baby spinach and red shen choy are briefly simmered just until wilted, then served very simply in a broth flavored with lightly browned garlic. I can't think of an easier way to put a delicious side dish on the table.
How do you make the world's fastest strawberry shortcakes without sacrificing flavor or quality? Super-easy cream biscuits are the key to this summer dessert that comes together in 25 minutes or less.
Salmon and lentils is to France what peas and carrots is to the States: an absolutely classic pairing. In this simple, satisfying one-pot dinner that plays off the famous couple, crispy salmon is served in a broth of lentils flavored with caramelized shallots and mustard.
This dish, which is made up of equal parts beef and greens in a light but flavor-packed black bean sauce with garlic doesn't quite qualify as a side dish, and seeing as I'm using a mixture of kale and frisée—two decidedly Western greens—it doesn't quite qualify as "Chinese greens" either. But the basic techniques I use in ut—just a quick stir-fry with no blanching—is a method that works with any kind of hearty green leafy vegetable, whether it's Chinese or not.
Paneer makhani, or butter paneer, is a staple in America's Indian restaurants for a reason: it's hard to beat chunks of fresh cheese in a creamy, buttery tomato sauce. It's also drop-dead simple to make at home.
Spicy, vinegary, and flavor-packed, this quick chili recipe relies on raw Mexican-style chorizo (you can make it yourself or buy it from a store), with a few simple flavor additions, a couple of cans of beans, and a quick simmer.
Stir-frying in a light sauce flavored with a little soy sauce and a lot of garlic is my go-to method for cooking Asian greens. Quick, simple, and flavorful, it's really hard to go wrong, no matter which greens you decide to cook.
Thin, tender strips of lean marinated pork are tossed with Chinese chives and yellow chives in a light coating of soy sauce and Shaoxing wine seasoned with white pepper. This is a quick and easy dish that goes from fridge to table in about 30 minutes.
A simple dish of pasta tossed in a creamy, lemony, sherry sauce, with sweet red peppers and gently poached chicken.
Spicy chorizo sautéd with avocado and poblano peppers makes for a flavor-packed, adult-friendly upgrade to standard sloppy joes while still maintaining the sweet and savory quality that makes the originals so darn delicious. Once you've got the chorizo on hand, this recipe comes together in under 30 minutes.