A skillet dinner of spicy beans is a speedy winter staple at my house. Whether cumin-scented and chili-adjacent, or zapped with red pepper flakes, loads of garlic and olive oil, it’s a weeknight go-to when work runs long and evenings are short. Is there anything easier or more satisfying on a cold January night?
Actually, there might be, and leave it to Ali Slagle to serve it up. Her time-honored secret? Just add cheese!
As she’s already proven in her Cheddar-capped smoky black beans and her lasagna-like white bean tomato bake, there are few savory, soupy dishes that a gooey lid of melted cheese can’t improve. She works her magic again in this new cheesy green chile bean bake, where a layer of creamy Monterey Jack tops a skillet full of pinto beans, poblanos and salsa verde. Serve it over rice, with soft tortillas, or with tortilla chips for scooping. No utensils required.
Taking a cue from Ali, you could add some grated Parmesan to my skillet mustard chicken with spinach and carrots to cheese it up. Even if you didn’t, it’s still got plenty of verve from the fresh dill, white wine and scallions in the sauce, plus a good dose of mustard for tang.
Or keep your Parmesan for pasta, like Kay Chun’s smart, vegetable-forward caramelized brussels sprouts pasta with toasted chickpeas. It’s got a mountain of shredded sprouts that cook down until sweet and golden before being tossed with briny capers and soft, earthy chickpeas.
Strange to say but some things in this world are not improved by cheese, and one of them is salmon teriyaki, which already has a silky texture and plenty of richness under its syrupy-savory sauce. Serve it with steamed broccoli or snow peas for a light and colorful 20-minute meal.
Or if you’re feeling like soup, Hetty Lui McKinnon’s tofu and tomato egg drop soup is thick and gingery, with an almost porridge-like texture from the soft strands of beaten eggs. Heat-seekers shouldn’t stint on adding some chile crisp or hot sauce at the end: It sparks the gentle flavors and rounds everything out.
Finally, since it’s citrus season, how about a slice of lemon poppy seed poundcake for dessert? I created the recipe a few years ago for a summer picnic menu, but the cake’s bright flavors work equally well in the icy depths of winter. It’s excellent anytime you’re craving lemon cake, which for me is pretty much constantly.
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That’s it for now. See you on Wednesday.