By Julia Moskin, The New York Times
Welcome back to Five Weeknight Dishes. As the weeks wear on, I am missing so much food I would like to be eating — hot popcorn at the movies, ice-cold Caesar salad at a restaurant, fried oysters on a planned beach trip — that it feels right and necessary to indulge in small ways, like melted cheese.
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I’ve reached the stage of provisioning in which there are leathery stumps of eight different hard cheeses stuffed into the door of the fridge, not to mention half bags of shredded mozzarella and stray Kraft singles. Our recipes often call for Gruyère for melting, but here’s a good thing to know: Most hard cheeses (like Cheddar, Comté, Manchego and generic “Swiss”) can be combined with a little bit of processed cheese (like American or shredded mozzarella) in any recipe that calls for a layer or topping of melted cheese. (For an all-cheese dish, I would be more picky, but who is in the mood to dig the fondue pot out of storage? Not me.)
Here are five real-world recipes for the week:
1. Potatoes au Gratin
By Mark Bittman
I usually add extra cheese, minced scallions and garlic to make this satisfying as a main course. Prepare a salad with a juicy, crunchy element, like apple slices or red pepper strips, to serve on the side.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 50 minutes
3 to 4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices Kosher salt and black pepper 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 to 3 cups half-and-half or heavy cream 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyère Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Seasoning each layer with salt and pepper as you go, layer the potatoes in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet.
2. Dot the top with 2 tablespoons butter. Pour in half-and-half. (It should come about 3/4 of the way to the top.)
3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low and cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, until the half-and-half has reduced by about half.
4. Transfer to the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and cook until the potatoes are fork tender and the top is nicely browned, about 8 minutes more. Top with grated cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melty and golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg, if using, and serve.
2. Curry Chicken Breasts With Chickpeas and Spinach
By Kay Chun
Crisp-fried chicken breasts have great texture, but they often need extra flavor, like this bath of melted butter, curry powder and lime juice that Kay Chun devised as a sauce for the chickpeas that go alongside. Try to get some of each element — chicken, earthy chickpeas, sweet spinach — in each bite.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 20 minutes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded 1/2-inch thick Kosher salt and black pepper 1/4 cup canola oil 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving 4 ounces baby spinach (about 4 packed cups) Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1. Place flour on a plate. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then lightly dredge in flour until coated.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add 2 chicken cutlets and cook until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to plates. Repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining cutlets, transferring cutlets to plates.
3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet, then curry powder and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until chickpeas are golden and starting to pop, about 3 minutes. Add butter, lime juice and spinach and stir just until spinach starts to wilt, about 30 seconds. Spoon chickpea mixture over chicken and top with cilantro, if using. Serve with lime wedges.
3. Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew
By Colu Henry
Yes, more beans, but hear me out: The roasted cherry tomatoes add depth and sweetness that most bean stews are missing. Plus, when the fresh parsley and lemon zest hit the top of the stew, they have just the brightness that your eyes and nose need at dinner time.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley leaves and tender stems 2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon) 2 (10-ounce) containers cherry or grape tomatoes 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons and more for drizzling (optional) 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves Kosher salt and black pepper 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans (such as butter or cannellini), rinsed 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, or water Flaky salt, for serving (optional) Toasted bread, for serving
1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, gently toss together the parsley and lemon zest with your hands until well combined; set aside.
2. In a large baking dish or on a sheet pan, toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup oil and thyme; season well with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until they have collapsed and begin to turn golden around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. When the tomatoes are almost done roasting, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large (12-inch), deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion, garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until the onion is softened and the garlic is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the rinsed beans and broth and bring to a simmer. With the back of a spoon or spatula, gently smash about 1/2 cup of the beans so they slightly thicken the broth. If you want a thicker stew, crush some more of the beans. Season with salt and pepper.
4. When the tomatoes are finished roasting, add them directly to the stew along with any juices that have been released. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more so the flavors become friendly; season to taste with salt.
5. Ladle into shallow bowls. Top each serving with some of the lemon-parsley mixture and drizzle with some more olive oil, and season with flaky salt, if you like. Serve with toasted bread.
4. Linguine With Chickpeas, Broccoli and Ricotta
By Sarah Copeland
This is a great dinner at the end of a day fueled by quick, unhealthy snacks — at the moment, that is most days around here. (Frozen pigs in blankets are my lunchtime weakness.) You can skip the separate kale chips to make it even faster — just use extra broccoli — and use a whole pound of pasta if that’s what your household needs.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 20 minutes
Kosher salt 12 ounces dried linguine or spaghetti 1 bunch broccoli or broccolini, trimmed and cut into thin florets (about 1 1/2 pounds), stems reserved for another use 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas or other white beans, drained and rinsed 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling Black pepper 1 bunch Tuscan kale (also known as cavolo nero or Lacinato kale), stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces 1 lemon 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 8 ounces ricotta, preferably room temperature Flaky sea salt
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and drain the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, heat the broiler and set a rack roughly 8 inches from the heat source. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli, chickpeas, garlic, red-pepper flakes and 1/3 cup oil until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on one sheet pan. Add the kale to the same bowl, and toss to coat in any residual oil. Drizzle with more oil as needed and toss to coat evenly. Spread out in an even layer on the second sheet pan.
3. Working with 1 sheet pan at a time, broil the broccoli and chickpeas, tossing halfway through cooking, until the chickpeas are toasty and the broccoli is tender and charred, 5 to 7 minutes. Broil the kale until just charred and crisp, about 5 minutes.
4. Zest the lemon, halve it, then cut 1 half into 4 wedges. Squeeze the juice from the lemon half over the roasted vegetables and season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water, the ricotta, butter and lemon zest and toss until well combined. Add the roasted vegetables and toss, adding more pasta water as needed.
6. Divide among four bowls. Season with flaky sea salt and pepper, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing on top. Drizzle with more oil, if desired.
5. Roasted Salmon With Peas and Radishes
By Kay Chun
The pink (salmon) and green (peas and herbs) of this new dish are really cheering, and the recipe is super flexible about types of fish, vegetables and herbs. The buttery sauce always comes through. If you haven’t tried cooking with miso, it’s available at many big supermarkets (look near the refrigerated salad dressings) and lasts more or less forever in your fridge.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 15 minutes
4 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon or trout fillets 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt and black pepper 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 bunches radishes with greens (about 1 pound), radishes halved, 1 cup leaves reserved (or 1 pound diced zucchini, or two 14-ounce cans whole artichokes, drained and halved) 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas (no need to thaw) 2 tablespoons drained capers 1 tablespoon white miso 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/4 cup chopped dill or parsley
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, coat salmon with 2 tablespoons oil, season lightly with salt and pepper and arrange skin-side up. Roast until fish is just opaque throughout and cooked to medium, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter in remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add halved radishes (not leaves), season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and slightly softened, about 8 minutes. (If using zucchini, you can reduce the cook time to about 5 minutes; if using artichokes, you’ll only need to cook about 3 minutes.) Add 1 cup water, the peas, capers, miso and mustard, and cook, stirring to dissolve the miso and mustard, until peas are tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and simmer until a light sauce forms, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in radish leaves and dill.
4. Divide vegetables among plates or shallow bowls and top with salmon. Spoon pan sauce on top and serve warm.
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