Welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. As fervently as I believe in the power of a well-stocked pantry, there’s almost never a weeknight when I already have every single ingredient I need for dinner. Keeping fresh herbs on hand is an eternal challenge, on par with keeping track of internet passwords.
This week, even though I had strategically bought bok choy to make Ali Slagle’s quick sesame noodles as a one-bowl dinner, I still had to stop at the supermarket on the way home for scallions and ginger. If your supermarket is in a mall, like mine, it is way too easy to find yourself drifting away to sniff moisturizers and browse birthday cards when you really should already be in the express checkout line. Somehow, last-minute shopping always takes forever.
But this recipe saved my night, because once I finally got home, it genuinely took 30 minutes from start to finish. The technique of sizzling aromatics in hot oil to make a flavor bath for the whole dish may be unfamiliar, but it is quicker than making a pasta sauce. And it can make your house smell amazing.
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Here are five recipes for the week:
When the Notes for a recipe on NYT Cooking speak in resounding agreement, I listen. The full amount of red-pepper flakes in this recipe is probably too much for some eaters, so it’s best to start with half the prescribed amount and add as you go. Made with tofu or a plant-based ground meat instead of chicken, this dish is vegan and extremely satisfying.
This recipe really is a full pantry meal, because the only fresh ingredient called for is a green herb — and you can definitely use dried bay leaves instead. I doubled the amount of bay leaves called for because I love their bracing perfume, especially with lush ingredients like white beans, milk and olive oil.
Confession: I actually like this quick version of chicken Marbella even more than the one in my falling-apart copy of “The Silver Palate Cookbook.” Marinating chicken in vinegar overnight made me feel super sophisticated, but it never did much for the chicken except make it stringy. A hard sear and a quick simmer make it tasty.
Because it is already deliciously seasoned with garlic, fennel seed and black pepper, bulk Italian sausage meat is a great friend to the weeknight cook. Braising it with lentils and fennel (or its relative, celery, which I am way more likely to have on hand) into a one-pot meal is sheer genius.
Quick-poaching the salmon turns it light and flaky, and lovely in coconut milk brightened with ginger, lime, basil and cilantro. Because the dish will get more fishy as it sits, make sure to add the salmon only when the rice is cooked and you’re nearly ready to sit down to dinner.
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