From sad leftovers to dream dinners, here are five recipes to make this week
By Priya Krishna, The New York Times
My young, new-to-New York self had a simple but cost-effective weeknight cooking strategy: Buy the same few ingredients every week (pasta, spinach, tomatoes, feta, frozen dumplings, sausage, yogurt), throw a surprise item (sweet potatoes! cookie butter ice cream! an avocado!) into the cart, and make it all work with the rest of my pantry.
The meals were sometimes mundane, but hey, I fed myself, saved money and wasted nothing. My fridge is fuller now. But I still firmly believe that working with what you’ve got and not overbuying groceries (child-free privilege alert!) are good principles for weeknight cooking. This newsletter is dedicated to the ingredients I tend to have in my fridge, which I think of as ticking time bombs, mere days from becoming food waste. These use-them-or-lose-them ingredients, more than anything, dictate what I cook.
This is what I had left over one recent weekend: herbs, hot dog buns, ground meat, vegetable odds and ends (carrots, broccoli, onion), and dressed salad greens. And here are five recipes that came to the rescue.
1. Creamy Pasta With Ricotta and Herbs
In this simple, springy pasta, milky ricotta thinned out with a little starchy pasta cooking water makes for a saucy, soupy dish that’s seasoned with loads of black pepper and herbs. For the best flavor, use at least three different kinds of herbs, break out some nicer olive oil and look for fresh ricotta. Lemon lovers can grate in the zest of half a lemon as well.
By Melissa Clark
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 20 minutes
- 1 pound short pasta, such as shells, cavatappi, chiocciole, farfalle, ditali or wagon wheels
- 12 ounces fresh, whole-milk ricotta (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus more for serving
- 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped soft herbs, such as basil, chives, fennel fronds, parsley, mint, tarragon, chervil or dill (try for a combination of at least 3 kinds)
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 2 cups pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
2. In the same pot, make the sauce: Add ricotta, Parmesan, olive oil, pepper and a large pinch or two of salt, and stir until well combined.
3. Add 1 cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth. Add the pasta and herbs, and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth, soupy sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.
4. To serve, spoon the pasta into bowls and finish with more Parmesan, olive oil and pepper.
2. Salt and Pepper Shrimp Rolls
Inspired by jiao yan xia, the classic Chinese dish of head-on, fried shrimp finished with a Sichuan or white pepper salt seasoning, these shrimp rolls celebrate the flavors of salt and pepper. Peeled shrimp are seasoned, breaded with cornstarch and fried until super crunchy, then sprinkled with a black pepper-salt. Once cooked, they’re tucked into toasted rolls smeared with a zingy garlic mayo. Fresh cilantro, sliced chile and a squeeze of fresh lime brighten the hearty sandwich. Store any leftover pepper-salt in an airtight container and use it as a seasoning for roasted meats and vegetables.
By Kay Chun
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 15 minutes
- Vegetable oil, for frying (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 teaspoon grated garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 hot dog buns, preferably top-split
- 1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 shrimp), tails removed
- 1/4 cup whole (or 2%) milk
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
- Tender cilantro sprigs, for garnish
- Lime wedges, for serving
1. In a 12-inch cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat 1 inch of oil over medium-high until an instant-read thermometer registers 350 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and garlic; mix well. In a separate small bowl, combine pepper and salt.
3. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium. Using 1 teaspoon of garlic mayonnaise per bun, spread on outer sides of buns, then toast them until golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plates.
4. Season shrimp with about 1 teaspoon of the pepper-salt, dip in milk, then dredge in cornstarch, gently pressing so cornstarch adheres. Working in two batches, fry shrimp until crispy and cooked through, turning halfway, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season with more of the pepper-salt mixture.
5. Smear some garlic mayonnaise on the inner center of buns, then divide shrimp among buns. Top with chiles, cilantro and more pepper salt. Serve with lime wedges.
3. Rice Noodles With Spicy Pork and Herbs
This cold rice-noodle dish, dressed in vinegar and chile oil and topped with spicy pork, herbs and peanuts, has roots in Yunnan, a southwestern Chinese province, where the garnish may vary according to the kitchen and season. The dish is quick to put together but can be served at a leisurely pace: Plate it, or set all of the components on the table and let people put together their own bowls the way they like, to their taste. It’s in the spirit of the dish to improvise with what’s in season and what’s on hand.
Recipe from Simone Tong
Adapted by Tejal Rao
Yield: Serves 4
Total time: 20 minutes
- 1 pound thin, round rice noodles
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chile oil (like Lao Gan Ma brand)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 1-inch piece ginger, chopped
- 2 scallions, light parts chopped, green parts reserved for garnish
- 1 tablespoon yacai (Sichuan preserved vegetables, optional)
- Handful of herbs like mint, basil and cilantro leaves, washed
- 1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts, chopped
- 4 breakfast radishes, sliced (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook noodles according to instructions. Drain noodles while running under cold water, until they are cool to the touch. Set aside. Mix dressing by whisking rice vinegar, soy sauce, black vinegar, chile oil and sugar until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
2. Cook the pork topping: Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat, and add ground pork and salt. Pan-fry, breaking meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until no pink parts and no liquid remain in the pan, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and scallion whites, and stir occasionally until the raw smell has disappeared and the meat is starting to brown in places, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables, if using, along with a tablespoon of water, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more, or until mixture is darkened and thick. Set aside.
3. When you’re ready to serve, divide cool, drained noodles into four individual bowls, and top each with a tablespoon of vinegar dressing followed by a pile of ground pork, herbs, peanuts and radishes, to taste. Serve with any remaining garnish, and additional chile oil and chile-oil solids, on the side.
4. Sheet-Pan Bibimbap
Bibimbap, a Korean mixed rice dish, is a kaleidoscope of flavors and textures. The popular dish has multiple origin stories and, like banchan and kimchi, many variations. Cooks who ordinarily keep namul (seasoned vegetable) banchan in the fridge may add them to a bowl with leftover rice and seasonings like spicy-sweet gochujang and nutty sesame oil, for example. Or, if starting their bibimbap from scratch, some may prep each component separately. But here’s a fun way to accomplish everything at once: Roast a melange of bits and bobs on one sheet pan as rice heats and eggs oven-fry on another. The caramelized sweet potato and salty kale in this formula come highly recommended, but you can use any vegetables on hand, reducing cook times for delicate options such as spinach, scallions or asparagus.
By Eric Kim
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 35 minutes
- 6 ounces oyster mushrooms, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 medium sweet potato (about 6 ounces), scrubbed and thinly sliced into half-moons
- 1 small red onion (about 6 ounces), thinly sliced crosswise into half-moons
- 3 packed cups coarsely chopped Tuscan or curly kale (from 1 small bunch)
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 cups cooked medium-grain white rice, preferably cold leftovers
- 4 large eggs
- 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, plus more to taste, for serving
- 4 teaspoons gochujang, plus more to taste, for serving
- Kimchi, for serving (optional)
1. Position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat oven to 450 degrees.
2. On a large sheet pan, arrange the mushrooms, sweet potato, red onion and kale into four separate quadrants. Drizzle the vegetables with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat, keeping the types of vegetables separate. Try to not crowd the vegetables; you want them to brown, not steam. Roast on the top rack until the sweet potato is fork-tender, the onion and mushrooms are slightly caramelized and the kale is crispy but not burnt, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place another large sheet pan on the bottom rack to heat. When the vegetables are almost done cooking, in the last 5 minutes or so, remove the heated pan from the oven and evenly drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil on it. Spread the rice over half of the pan. Crack the eggs onto the other half and carefully transfer to the oven. Bake until the whites are just set and the yolks are still runny, 3 to 6 minutes (this time may vary depending on your oven, so watch it carefully).
4. To serve, divide the rice evenly among four bowls. Now divide the vegetables evenly as well, placing them in four neat piles over each portion of rice. Use a spatula to slide the eggs over the vegetables. Drizzle each bowl with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and dollop with 1 teaspoon of gochujang, adding more if desired. Mix everything together with a spoon or chopsticks before diving in, and serve kimchi alongside, if you prefer.
5. Loaded Baked Frittata
Sautéed onion, pepper and spinach lace this sturdy frittata that’s as good warm out of the pan as it is cold. Bacon and goat cheese enrich the mix, which can be eaten alone or put in a sandwich (see tip below). This recipe is, of course, delicious as is, but you can also take a cue from one of our commenters, Joan, who made this with leftover peppers and onions, adding sliced roasted baby potatoes. Ready in 45 minutes, it lasts for up to three days in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy it as long as it lasts — which may not be very long.
By Genevieve Ko
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 45 minutes
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely diced bacon
- 1 cup diced onion (from 1 small onion)
- 2 cups diced red or orange bell peppers (from 2 peppers)
- 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Set aside.
2. Put bacon in a 10- to 12-inch cast-iron or oven-safe nonstick skillet. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add onion, peppers and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the spinach a handful at a time, stirring after each addition, to wilt.
4. Reduce heat to low and pour in the egg mixture. Stir well to evenly distribute the vegetables, then smooth the top. Drop small nuggets of goat cheese evenly on top. Transfer to the oven.
5. Bake until the top is golden brown and the eggs are set, 20 to 25 minutes. When you shake the pan, the eggs shouldn’t jiggle. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes.
6. Cut into wedges to serve warm or at room temperature.
TIP: To make into sandwiches, slide the frittata onto a cutting board. Cut to match the dimensions of your bread, trimming the rounded edges if needed. Sandwich between the bread and serve immediately or wrap tightly in foil, plastic wrap, or wax paper to pack for lunch. A sandwich assembled in the morning should be eaten by lunch.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.