Five easy recipes for dinner inspiration

Five easy recipes for dinner inspiration
This curry fish is a fast and warming stew (Getty/iStock)

I received so many emails in response to last week’s recipes using apples, and what to do if you end up with a quantity of apples that could be described as unreasonable – though let’s agree it’s a good problem to have. You like to fry them, grate them into oatmeal, cook them with bacon and Brussels sprouts, make free-form tarts with store-bought dough, bake them into crisps served steaming hot. The best reply, though, came from Yewande Komolafe, who told me she brought home “a very full bushel” from apple picking and then spent three days making her apple jelly.

This week, I’ve got five delicious, apple-free recipes for you. I want to make this for dinner tonight: Millie Peartree’s version of curry fish, for a fast and warming stew. I’d spike mine with fresh hot pepper, but you could make it mild.

Coconut curry fish

Jamaican curry powder plays a major role in this deeply savoury weeknight dish, giving the sauce its unique flavour and golden hue. The traditional spice blend is heavy on turmeric, and benefits from being toasted, which brings out its notes. This recipe calls for frozen whiting, which doesn’t hold up to frying but shines here, simmered in a sauce studded with red and green bell peppers. If whiting is unavailable, cod is also a good choice.

By: Millie Peartree

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes


2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium red bell peppers, deseeded and sliced into 0.5cm-thick strips

2 medium green bell peppers, deseeded and sliced into 0.5cm-thick strips

1 medium onion, sliced

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1½ tbsp Jamaican curry powder (hot or mild)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp grated ginger

4 (170g) fillets frozen fish, such as whiting or cod

1 (400g) can coconut milk

1 lime

2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced, for garnish

Fresh coriander leaves and tender stems, for garnish

White rice or couscous, for serving


1. Heat a medium (25cm) saucepan with deep sides over medium-high. Drizzle in olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add red and green bell peppers and onion, and sauté until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the curry powder to the pan, and toast for about 1 minute, stirring often to keep the curry from scorching. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the grated ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Place fish on top of cooked vegetables, or nestle them into the vegetables, if your pan is becoming too full. Pour coconut milk over fish and vegetables.

4. Cover and simmer over medium-low until fish is cooked and starts to flake about 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Squeeze lime to taste over the top and garnish with scallions and cilantro. Serve with white rice or couscous.

Traybake gnocchi with mushrooms and spinach

Inspired by classic steakhouse sides (Getty/iStock)
Inspired by classic steakhouse sides (Getty/iStock)

This traybake dinner is inspired by classic steakhouse sides: roasted mushrooms, creamy horseradish-mustard sauce, wilted spinach, and roasted potatoes. Well, kind of. Instead of whole potatoes, this recipe uses shop-bought gnocchi, a superspeedy stand-in that takes on the fun combination of browned and chewy when roasted. This dish is hearty enough to be a full meal, though it’d also make a great side to braised beans, roast chicken, a seared pork chop, and, of course, steak.

By: Ali Slagle

Serves: 4

Total time: 35 minutes


450g mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, maitake, or cremini, trimmed and quartered (or cut into 2.5cm pieces, if large)

1 (340-500g) package shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi

6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

4 spring onions, cut into 2.5cm lengths

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

Salt and black pepper

140g baby spinach

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp prepared horseradish

1 tsp honey

1 tbsp unsalted butter


1. Heat the oven to 200C. On a baking tray, toss together the mushrooms, gnocchi, 5 tablespoons olive oil, spring onions, and shallot. Season with salt and pepper, shake into an even layer, and roast without stirring until the gnocchi and mushrooms are golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the spinach and remaining tablespoon of oil, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Spread in an even layer, then return to the oven to roast until the spinach is tender, another 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the mustard, horseradish, and honey until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the butter and half the sauce to the tray, and stir until melted and glazy. Eat with the remaining sauce on the side.

Traybake Chicken with jammy tomatoes and pancetta

A relatively speedy traybake dinner (Getty/iStock)
A relatively speedy traybake dinner (Getty/iStock)

In this relatively speedy traybake dinner, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are seasoned with a savoury, cumin-scented spice mix and roasted with whole garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes, which turn soft and sweet in the oven’s heat. If you have ripe summer cherry tomatoes, you can skip the brown sugar. If you’d rather use boneless chicken breasts, reduce the cooking time by about 5 to 7 minutes. This makes a light meal on its own, but you can add rice or crusty bread, and maybe a salad if you need something more substantial.

By: Melissa Clark

Sevres: 4

Total time: 45 minutes


680g boneless, skinless chicken thighs

½ tsp salt, plus more as needed

9 whole unpeeled garlic cloves

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1½ tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving

1 tbsp sweet or smoked paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp brown sugar (optional)

¾ tsp ground cumin

400g cherry tomatoes (preferably different colours), halved

60g diced pancetta or bacon

Handful torn fresh dill, parsley or other herbs, for serving

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat oven to 220C. Season chicken all over with salt, and place on a rimmed baking tray.

2. Smash all the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and peel them. Finely grate one garlic clove and put it in a small bowl. Stir in the 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1½ tablespoons lemon juice, paprika, oregano, brown sugar (if using), and cumin. Pour over chicken, tossing to coat.

3. Add tomatoes and remaining smashed, peeled garlic cloves to the baking tray, spreading them out around the chicken. Season tomatoes lightly with salt and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Scatter pancetta on top.

4. Roast until chicken is golden and cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir the tomatoes and pancetta, but don’t disturb the chicken.

5. Transfer chicken to plates. Stir the tomatoes and pancetta around in the pan, scraping up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom and sides, and stir in the herbs and black pepper to taste. Taste and add salt, if needed, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if you like. Spoon tomatoes, garlic, and pancetta over the chicken to serve.

Beans and greens stew with doenjang

A deeply comforting stew for colder nights (Getty/iStock)
A deeply comforting stew for colder nights (Getty/iStock)

In this deeply comforting stew, the hardest part is washing and chopping the greens, which is to say, not very hard. Earthy-sweet Swiss chard, especially rainbow chard, tastes beautiful here, but coarsely chopped spinach, kale, mustard or radish greens, napa cabbage or broccoli raab would be lovely, too. Canned cannellini beans, crushed lightly with a wooden spoon, thicken the gentle, savoury broth. The key to this dish lies in how you layer each ingredient into the pot: the onion and spring onions are first browned to start an umami-rich base; the Korean fermented soybean paste, doenjang (see tip), is bloomed in oil to awaken its deep, salty funkiness; and then the honey is caramelised slightly for sweetness and floral complexity.

By: Eric Kim

Serves: 2 to 4

Total time: 30 minutes


3 tbsp olive oil

1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 large spring onions, trimmed and cut into 1.5cm pieces

Salt and black pepper

3 tbsp doenjang (fermented soybean paste; see tip), plus more to taste

1 tsp honey

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 (440g) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 tsp soy sauce

½ bunch Swiss or rainbow chard, coarsely chopped with stems

1 large garlic clove, finely grated

Cooked white rice, for serving


1. Heat a large pot or casserole dish over medium and add 2 tablespoons oil, the onion and spring onions. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelised, about 10 minutes.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the remaining tablespoon oil and the doenjang, and stir until heated through and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Move the onion mixture to one side of the pot, add the honey and red pepper flakes to the empty side, and let the honey bubble and caramelise, about 1 minute.

3. Add the beans and stir to coat. Add the soy sauce and 2 cups water, raise the heat to high, and bring to a gentle boil, using the wooden spoon to crush some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken the broth.

4. Stir in the chard, cover the pot and reduce heat to medium-low, simmering until the greens have cooked down and darkened in colour, about 10 minutes.

5. Off the heat, stir in the grated garlic. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and doenjang as desired. Serve in large bowls over or alongside rice.

Tip: You can find doenjang, often labelled “soybean paste”, in any Korean or Asian supermarket and online. Funkily pungent and packed with savouriness, doenjang is a magical flavour booster that’s often compared to Japanese miso but can taste stronger and saltier. Full of fermented sourness, it is deserving of its own spot in the sun (and in your pantry).

Hot tofu sliders

Nashville hot chicken is seasoned with a bold dose of ground cayenne and hot sauce, deep-fried then brushed with a final coat of spicy oil. In these vegetarian sliders, hot butter imparts mild tofu with an extra-spicy kick reminiscent of the chicken that inspired them. Tofu has high water content, but a quick dredge in rice flour and a dip in batter creates a barrier that prevents excess splattering during frying. The carbonation in seltzer keeps the batter light and airy, perfect for delicate tofu (this is also a great trick for frying vegetables and shrimp). The result is a golden sandwich filling with a crispy exterior and soft centre. For larger sandwiches, stuff standard hamburger buns with two pieces of the fried tofu and finish with the toppings.

By: Kay Chun

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes


For the hot butter:

8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp distilled white vinegar

1 tbsp Louisiana-style hot sauce (such as Tabasco)

1 tbsp ground cayenne

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

For the tofu:

1 (400-450g) package firm tofu, drained

60ml whole milk

½ cup white rice flour

70g all-purpose flour

2 tbso cornstarch

2 tsp baking powder


120ml plus 2 tbsp chilled seltzer or club soda

Vegetable oil, for shallow frying

For assembly:


8 slider buns or 4 slices of white bread

Lettuce, such as iceberg or butter

Sliced dill pickles


1. Make the hot butter: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk until well blended. Set aside.

2. Make the tofu: with a hand on top of the tofu, cut parallel to the cutting board so that you have two equal rectangles. Quarter each of those rectangles, so you have eight pieces. Arrange sliced tofu on a paper towel-lined plate and top with another layer of paper towels; press to remove excess water.

3. Place milk and rice flour in 2 separate shallow bowls. In a medium bowl whisk all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking powder, and season with salt; add seltzer and gently whisk just to combine. Do not overmix; a few lumps in the batter are OK.

4. Heat 1.5cm of oil in a large cast-iron frying pan over medium to 200C. Working with 4 pieces of tofu at a time, dredge in milk, then in the rice flour, pressing all sides of tofu into the rice flour (the tofu should be completely coated with flour). Dip in the batter, allowing excess to drip off, and add to oil. Fry undisturbed until batter sets, about 2 minutes. Continue to fry, turning gently, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes longer, adjusting heat as necessary to stay close to 200C. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and season with salt. Repeat dredging and frying with the remaining tofu.

5. Spread mayonnaise on the insides of buns (if using sliced bread, cut into quarters for slider-sized portions). Arrange lettuce on bottom buns. Gently turn each piece of tofu in the hot butter to evenly coat, then place on top of lettuce. Drizzle with more hot butter, top with pickles, and finish with bun tops. Serve warm.

© The New York Times

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