Let's say you want a BLT, except it's not quite peak tomato season and you only have a slab of raw pork belly, not bacon. That's the terrible dilemma I faced this week. But was that going to stop me? Of course not. I just had to get creative.
'Dinner Tonight' on Serious Eats
Whenever I'm looking for a side dish to pair with steak, my mind tends to gravitate toward mushrooms, since the two are such a fantastic pair. The only problem is a visual one: both are brown, making for a monochromatic dish. Steakhouses solve this problem by adding a completely unnecessary sprig of parsley; I decided to go all in and add as much green as possible, in the form of a lime-heavy pumpkin seed pesto.
Why go to the trouble of boiling noodles, draining them in a colander, rinsing them under cold water, draining them again, and then stir-frying them? Sure, sometimes I love making things needlessly difficult for myself, but this is not one of those cases. Instead, I was after a crunchy noodle base, which would maintain its integrity even after toppings and a strong sauce are poured on top.
Try as I might, I will never tire of in-season asparagus. But I do try to switch things up to make sure things stay interesting in the kitchen. One of my favorite variations is to pair the green stalks with white miso.
Peas are warmed and blended into a colorful purée seasoned with mint, topped with savory lamb sausage, and served alongside some warm pita.
Cheese curds are tricky little guys. While they might be all squeaky and salty when fresh, they can easily turn to rubber if too cold or melt into goo when warmed. What to do?
When it comes to convenient pantry staples to have on hand for a quick meal, a can of good Thai curry paste ranks up there with bacon and kimchi. Grab a can of coconut milk and whatever happens to be in the fridge, and twenty minutes later you have a stunningly spicy dinner waiting for you.
The cucumber and carrot salad provides a crisp and acidic counterpoint to the kimchi and bacon, and it's all housed in a steamy and super soft bun, which is "airy" in a way few foodstuffs can ever hope to be.
Instead of a bland, one-note dish, this complex vegetarian curry has a multilayered profile and a genuine kick.
Though the story of this dish is rather long, its appeal is immediate and clear. Shaved Brussels sprouts and apples combine to make a tart and acidic salad, which plays off a big meaty pork chop. It's obviously more a fall dish, but it's easy to admire all year long.
Reading through Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty, I came across a technique that I knew would truly set this stir-fry apart.
Something about the briny punch of the capers and the salty funk of the prosciutto sounded appealing when paired with the usually reserved and straight-laced green stalks.
Creamy, well-seasoned beans pairs well with the earthy, tender kale on this fried tortilla.
A quick meal of broiled salmon in a tart tomattillo-guajillo chili sauce served with broiled asparagus.
Bibimbap is not a strict dish, and a number of different ingredient combinations work. So, I decided to pick an assortment that would still provide all the contrast and color that I crave without taking multiple hours to prepare.
There is something so satisfying about a farro salad, especially when it's a complete meal. All you have to do is toss some in a big bowl, grab a fork, and dig in.
When it comes to cooking Asian noodles, I tend to obsess over each and every ingredient or make them needlessly fussy and complex. But I'm learning to lighten up and focus on simplicity. This week I decided what I could do with the trio of bay scallops, baby bok choy, and udon noodles.
At its base, this dish is about the interplay between sweet, plump shrimp and spicy red pepper flakes. The latter is cooked with sliced garlic until it perfumes the oil, so that every bite has its slight spark.
About once or twice a year, I'm struck by a desire to eat steak—and not just any old cut of meat, but a gigantic, thick-cut monster. While most of my cravings can easily be satisfied by going out to eat, I find the whole steakhouse experience prohibitively expensive. Plus, I feel like I'd have to wear a tie, and I really don't want to do that.
Tasting sort of like mini-burritos with all the extraneous ingredients expelled, two of these make for a solid meal. Just remember that the skirt steak needs to be coddled, or it will pay back your carelessness by being tough and chewy. Basically, it needs to be treated like the steak it is.