Hi and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. I’m back from vacation! It wasn’t exactly weeknight cooking, but I was cooking pretty fast and fuss-free, because who wants to pull out the mandoline at an Airbnb after a day of lazing around at the beach. (And, in fact, that wasn’t an option: My Airbnb didn’t even have kitchen knives.)
Now we’re in that shoulder season: Not quite in sweaters, but nearly done with tomato salads. I always think of this time as back-to-school, even though my household is made up of people who either haven’t been in school for many years or haven’t been on Earth long enough to attend. Most of the recipes below are in that school-time spirit.
One more thing: The chef Clare de Boer’s cooking diary, the food she makes when she’s off from work, came out while I was on vacation, and I’d hate for you to miss it. Clare is a wonderful cook and a preternaturally gifted writer, with superb taste too; just deeply unfair. Her recipe below — a supremely juicy BLT — is cribbed from her husband, but tell me if you make her cherry pistachio bombe. Or write to me about anything, anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Sign up here to receive the Five Weeknight Dishes newsletter in your inbox every Friday.]
Here are five dishes for the week:
Buttery, lemony chicken piccata is a crowd-pleaser, and it’s easy to pull off and dress up a bit (serve with roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe) or down (serve with noodles and broccoli). I’d make it with chicken thighs, which stay juicier and are thinner than breasts so I can skip halving or pounding.
Truly one pot, and zero colanders: This pasta cooks in stock, which reduces to become a silky, flavorful sauce. Younger eaters will love the shells. Older eaters will love the almond gremolata that can go on top. The dishes go quickly, so you’ve got time to watch Netflix. This recipe calls for vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian, but if what you have is chicken stock, feel free to use that instead.
A stew, because we’re ready for fall, but brothy and light, because — a technicality — it’s still summer. This is relatively fast to pull together, stocked with vegetables and heaven with garlic bread.
4. Juicy BLT
This to me feels like dinner on Thursday or Friday — looser and livelier than Monday’s salmon or spinach. (Clare has it for breakfast, which is epic.) We are still in tomato season, and for that I am grateful, but the genius of this BLT is that it works with garbage out-of-season tomatoes too, thanks to a quick bath in red wine vinegar. Serve with potato chips, or a salad if you are virtuous.