Five easy recipes to inspire you for dinner

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

I got so many emails in response to last week's recipes that used apples, and what to do if you end up with several apples that could be described as unreasonable, even though we agree it's a good problem. You like to fry them, grate them in oatmeal, cook them with bacon and Brussels sprouts, make free-form tarts with store-bought dough, and bake them in French fries served piping hot. However, the best answer came from Yewande Komolafe, who told me that she brought home "a very full bushel" of apple picking and then spent three days making her apple jelly.

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

Coconut curry fish

Jamaican curry powder plays a big part in this deeply flavorful late-night dish, giving the sauce its unique flavor and golden hue. The traditional spice mix is rich in turmeric and benefits from being roasted, which brings out its notes. This recipe calls for frozen whiting, which doesn't stand up to frying but shines here, simmered in a sauce peppered with red and green peppers. If whiting is not available, cod is also a good option.

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 of frozen fish, such as whiting or cod

1 (400g) can of 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 (25 cm) saucepan with deep sides over medium-high heat. Drizzle with olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add red and green bell peppers and onion and sauté until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Spice with salt and pepper.

2. Add the curry powder to the pan and toast for about 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent the curry from burning. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add grated ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Place the fish on top of the cooked vegetables, or place it on the vegetables, if your pan is getting too crowded. Pour coconut milk over fish and vegetables.

4. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until fish is cooked through and beginning to flake, about 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Squeeze lime to taste over top and garnish with spring onions 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 tray-baked dinner is inspired by classic steakhouse side dishes: roasted mushrooms, creamy horseradish mustard sauce, wilted spinach, and roasted potatoes. Well, something like that. Instead of whole potatoes, this recipe uses store-bought gnocchi, a super quick substitute that takes on the fun combination of brown and chewy when grilled. This dish is hearty enough to be a full meal, but it would also make a great accompaniment to baked beans, rotisserie 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 of 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 sheet, toss together the mushrooms, gnocchi, 5 tablespoons of olive oil, spring onions, and shallot. Season with salt and pepper, toss in an even layer, and grill without stirring until the gnocchi and mushrooms are browned and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the spinach and the remaining tablespoon of oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Spread into an even layer, then return to the oven to roast until spinach is tender, another 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together mustard, horseradish, and honey until blended. Spice with salt and pepper.

3. Add the butter and half of the sauce to the pan, stirring until melted and glazed. Eat with the remaining sauce on the side.

Baked chicken with tomato jam and bacon

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

In this relatively quick tray-bake dinner, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are seasoned with a savory cumin-scented spice blend and roasted with whole cloves of garlic and cherry tomatoes, which turn soft and sweet in the heat of the oven. oven. If you have ripe summer cherry tomatoes, you can omit the brown sugar. If you prefer to use boneless chicken breasts, reduce the cooking time by 5-7 minutes. This is 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 colors), halved

60g diced pancetta or bacon

A handful of torn fresh dill, parsley, or other herbs, for serving

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat oven to 220 C. Season chicken with salt and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

2. Crush all the garlic cloves with the edge of a knife and peel them. Finely grate a clove of garlic and place it in a small bowl. Add 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 the remaining peeled and crushed tomatoes and garlic cloves to the baking sheet, spreading them around the chicken. Season the tomatoes lightly with salt and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Spread the bacon on top.

4. Grill until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 30 to 35 minutes. After 15 minutes, stir in the tomatoes and pancetta, but don't disturb the chicken.

5. Transfer chicken to plates. Toss the tomatoes and pancetta into the pan, scraping up all the delicious browned bits from the bottom and sides, and add the herbs and black pepper to taste. Taste and add salt, if needed, and a splash of fresh lemon juice, if desired. Arrange tomatoes, garlic, and pancetta over 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 vegetables, which is to say, not very hard. Earthy, sweet chard, especially rainbow chard, tastes beautiful here, but coarsely chopped spinach, kale, mustard or green radishes, napa cabbage, or broccoli raab would also be delicious. Canned cannellini beans, lightly mashed with a wooden spoon, thicken the smooth, flavorful broth. The key to this dish lies in how you layer each ingredient in the pot: the onion and scallions are browned first to start an umami-rich base; Korean fermented soybean paste, doenjang (see tip), is made to bloom in oil to bring out its deep salty flavor; and then the honey is lightly caramelized 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 of 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 saucepan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil, the onion, and scallions. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.

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

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

4. Add Swiss chard, cover pot, and reduce heat to medium-low, simmering until vegetables have cooked through and darkened for about 10 minutes.

5. Off the heat, add 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 labeled "soybean paste," in any Korean or Asian supermarket and online. Funky spicy and bursting with flavor, doenjang is a magical flavor enhancer that is often compared to Japanese miso but can taste stronger and saltier. Full of fermented tartness, it deserves its own place in the sun (and in your pantry).

Hot tofu sliders

Spicy Nashville Chicken is seasoned with a heavy dose of ground cayenne and hot sauce, deep fried, and then brushed with a final coating of spicy oil. In these vegetarian sliders, hot butter imparts soft tofu with an extra tangy kick reminiscent of the chicken that inspired them. Tofu has high water content, but a quick dredge in rice flour and a dip in the batter creates a barrier that prevents excessive spattering during frying. The carbonation in the mineral water 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 crisp exterior and a soft center. For larger sandwiches, fill standard hamburger buns with two pieces of fried tofu and finish with 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 of 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 beat until well blended. Set aside.

2. Make the tofu: With one hand on top of the tofu, cut parallel to the cutting board so you are left with two equal rectangles. Cut each of those rectangles into quarters, so you have eight pieces. Arrange sliced tofu on a paper towel-lined plate and cover 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 together all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and season with salt; add club soda and gently whisk just to combine. Don't over-mix; a few lumps in the batter are okay.

4. Heat 1.5 cm of oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat to 200°C. Working with 4 pieces of tofu at a time, dredge in the milk, then in the rice flour, pressing all sides of the tofu into the rice flour (the tofu should be completely covered in flour). Dip into batter, letting excess drip off, and add to oil. Fry without touching until the dough sets, about 2 minutes. Continue frying, turning gently, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 more minutes, adjusting heat as needed to stay near 200°C. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt. Repeat the dredging and frying with the remaining tofu.

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

© The New York Times

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