Hi and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. As you may have gathered, I have a toddler, a kid who (lucky for me) goes wild for food. One of the joys of being with her lies in giving her something unequivocally awesome to eat for the very first time, and then watching her reaction. Over the weekend, that something unequivocally awesome was a hot dog.
When she likes something, she points insistently until she can have more, or squeals and waves her arms as though she’s splashing in a pool. When it’s love, she goes silent. (Adults, by the way, do this last one, too. The first time I made Samin Nosrat’s buttermilk-marinated roast chicken, the entire table went quiet.)
The hot dog was met with that reverent silence, and then a pure and frenzied burst of happiness. (Followed by tears, but that’s another story.) And I thought: We should eat hot dogs more often. So this week is devoted to dinners that are so cymbals-clashing good that everyone loses their minds. This is subjective, of course, as is everything related to food, so you tell me what works for you: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Here are five dishes for the week:
CreditJulia Gartland for The New York Times. Prop Stylist: Kristine Trevino.
Heaven is a big bowl of spicy noodles, a crunchy cabbage salad, herby tahini sauce, lemony scallions and an invitation to do up your bowl however you want. This Alison Roman recipe gives you options: Make just the noodles and the salad, or the noodles and one of the sauces. Or go big and make it all. It’s vegetarian, but it could be smart, if you were inclined, to roast extra chicken from the recipe below and shred it to add to the mix.
This is that incredible Samin recipe, famous from her Netflix show, and if you use bone-in thighs you could do it after work on a Monday. Marinate them as directed — which means you need to plan 12 to 24 hours ahead — and use plain yogurt if you don’t have buttermilk. Arrange the thighs in the pan without crowding them; you want some room around them, so use a second pan if need be. Roast for about 40 minutes at 425 degrees. Glorious. Serve with a big salad and potatoes or good bread.
This very easy vegetarian recipe has a devoted fan base, and there are good ideas for variations in the comments, for anyone who wants to play around with it. It is practically begging you to serve it with crisp, crusty garlic bread. Don’t say no. (Broccoli or broccoli rabe would also be a great addition.)
I know, suggesting that you make pizza isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel. But still: Don’t skip homemade pizza! The excitement when it emerges from the oven is really extraordinary. This one feels virtuous, with those greens on top, but I also have my eye on this bacon and egg number by Melissa Clark. And for the record I feel pizza counts as homemade even if you buy the dough, though if you were industrious or love a little project you could make the dough ahead and freeze it; here’s an easy recipe for that.
5. Mapo Ragù
This Korean-Chinese-Italian recipe is shockingly good in a way that stays with you days after you’ve eaten it. The onions cook for at least 20 minutes, and so until recently I’d never made it on a weeknight. Then I heard a rumor that Vaughn Vreeland, one of our video producers, caramelizes his onions ahead. And so I did that, too, cooking the onions on a Sunday while I had other pots going for dinner that night; later in the week, finishing the recipe was a breeze. If you don’t have a wok, use a very large skillet.
This newsletter was inspired by the delightful people who messaged me on Instagram asking if our girl loved her hot dog. Follow me there for more, and NYT Cooking on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. You can find all these recipes in your weekly plan; if you’re enjoying NYT Cooking then please subscribe. Previous newsletters are archived here. I’m email@example.com, and if you have any problems with your account, email firstname.lastname@example.org.