We here at New York Times Cooking love a good cry, whether we’re attending a wedding, watching that one episode of “The Last of Us” or chopping three pounds of onions for French onion soup. As Sara Bonisteel notes in her recipe, which has five stars and over 5,000 reviews, you’ll spend a good bit of time caramelizing all those onions, but it’s always worth the wait (and tears). A deeply flavored, savory-sweet bowl of sable-brown French onion soup on a cold winter weekend? With thick slabs of toast blanketed in melted cheese? We’re misting up a little just thinking about it.
Considerably quicker to make is Lidey Heuck’s sheet-pan chicken and potatoes with feta, lemon and dill, which comes together in weeknight time (45 minutes, plus whatever marinating time you can manage) but looks and feels weekend-fancy. The feta and lemon provide necessary acidity to level out the luscious potatoes and crisp-skinned chicken thighs; all you need to add is a simple green salad.
Colu Henry’s pasta alla vodka is similarly speedy and balanced in flavor, with its salty (but optional) pancetta, sweet tomatoes and onions, piquant vodka and savory cheese. As Colu encourages, open up a bottle of red and put on some opera — something hopelessly romantic and tearjerking.
If you’re searching for a showstopper, a whole roasted branzino — or any whole roasted fish, really — never fails to impress and is fantastically easy to put together. If you can preheat the oven and slice a lemon, you can handle Lidey’s foolproof recipe; the skin and bones insulate the delicate flesh and keep it from drying out. If there’s no branzino at your fish counter, our resident fisherman (and Cooking newsletter captain) Sam Sifton offers the following substitutions: “I’d go with black sea bass, or maybe red snapper if I could find small ones. That recipe wouldn’t be terrible with rainbow trout, either.”