Hello, friends of Five Weeknight Dishes. During these strange days, are you spending more time than usual in the kitchen? I certainly am, what with all the canceled events, plus the added job of getting food on the table — not just at dinner! — for those of us sticking close to home. Fortunately NYT Cooking has pulled together a collection of lunch recipes.
So far, it doesn’t feel like I have much more time for cooking than usual. I’m busy taking stock of the pantry and making room in my freezer for the extra staples I can’t stop buying. I even invented a new cake to use up the odds and ends in my cupboards, a combination of banana bread and gingerbread. (Here’s the recipe.) Creativity and productivity are really good ways to stave off cabin fever, and now I have slabs of cake to cheer up my neighbors. What are you cooking?
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Here are five recipes for the week:
This savory noodle dish is one of the most satisfying things you can make with (mainly) shelf-stable ingredients. Fish sauce, oyster sauce and garlic all have umami, but it’s the big chunk of salted butter that generously amplifies all the flavors here. (Coconut milk will do the job for vegans.) Feel free to substitute the greens with your own favorite type.
What softens and sweetens these three big-flavored ingredients, as well as pulls them together, is a whole lot of minced shallots. You can hand over that part of the work to a food processor, since the bits are going to be cooked until they melt into the sauce anyway. Serve with toasted pita triangles or baguette slices, and lots of fresh herbs.
Chicken shawarma is not most people’s idea of a quick weeknight dinner, but here, those flavors are packed into a one-pot dish and everything cooks together. (You will want to marinate the chicken the night before, or as soon as you get home.) Cumin, paprika and garlic add earthy depth, and cool yogurt, mint and parsley come in at the end to breathe everything to life.
Keema is one of my weeknight staples: all the savoriness of a long-simmered Bolognese, and a lot more complexity, in a fraction of the time. The tomato-meat base combined with spices and a little fresh chile is quite magical, and much loved by meat-eaters in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s about time we had our own version, this one part of Tejal Rao’s collection of essential Indian recipes.