Welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes, where I pass on the recipes we’re currently most excited about after work at NYT Cooking HQ. We have people who grew up on frozen chicken fingers and people who grew up on roasted tempeh and brussels sprouts, but somehow we all came around to the idea that Dinner Matters — otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. And, I suspect, neither would you.
This week’s crush was a new baked pasta with sausage, tomato, mozzarella, ricotta and fresh basil (recipe below). It tastes 97 percent like lasagna, and genuinely shocked me when it came out of the oven less than an hour after I walked through the door. Our new sheaf of time-tested one-pot dinners is full of genius shortcuts like that. It might be in a sheet pan or a Dutch oven or a skillet — in any case, what comes out will put a positive punctuation mark at the end of the day.
Here are five recipes for the week:
The fresh mozzarella in this recipe is a deliberate choice: It doesn’t ooze, it melts. With fresh ricotta, it makes creamy pockets in this surprisingly quick casserole that will remind you of the layers of lasagna.
I love rice and always cook more than could possibly get eaten in one night. Result: There is always leftover rice of various vintages around, and combining them on a sheet pan to dry out for fried rice brings me weekly satisfaction. This is vegan but, like all fried rice recipes, it is super flexible: You might add eggs, tofu, and more or different vegetables.
Halibut is the meatiest fish I know, and pairing it with potatoes and rosemary is a really elegant way to emphasize that. You could serve this at a dinner party and call yourself a minimalist, or just serve it with boiled and buttered string beans on a Tuesday night and make yourself happy.
One of the virtues of reading the recipe all the way through before cooking is that you can sometimes make it go faster. Here, get the beans started on the stove before you make the herb oil, since that doesn’t need any cooking at all — just whizzing.
There is a lot of wisdom in the Notes on our recipes, especially about the choices we make along the way. “If I could tell my younger self to go ahead and peel the squash then I would have said ‘Bryan, peel that squash.’” Also, Bryan: If your supermarket has fresh squash already peeled and cubed, buy that instead. If you use it up quickly it’s just as good as fresh.
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