Five Weeknight Dishes: Satisfying dinners to bridge summer and fall – The Denver Post

By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

You have to eat dinner tonight, and I think the five dishes below are exceptionally good. And now, for a limited time, you can view these recipes at no cost, along with about 22,000 others. Just download the NYT Cooking app to start your free trial.

1. Skillet Chicken With Peppers and Tomatoes

This one-pan dinner is coated in a sauce anchored by onion and garlic and a summery mix of bell peppers. A splash of sherry vinegar and squeeze of honey balance the mild flavors of the peppers with a little acidity and sweetness, while cherry tomatoes simmered into the sauce at the end add bright, tangy pops to the meal. A shower of fresh herbs is optional, but go with basil if you’d like a more assertive aroma. Serve everything over steamed rice for soaking up the sauce or with crusty bread for dipping.

By Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 4 Servings

Total time: 40 minutes


  • 2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (4 to 8 thighs)
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium bell peppers (any color or a mix of colors), diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley (optional)


1. Pat the chicken dry and season generously with salt.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until just starting to soften, 2 minutes. Add the peppers and cook until just beginning to soften, 1 minute. Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes and season lightly with salt. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are beginning to brown slightly, 2 minutes. Move the cooked vegetables to a plate.

3. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Place the chicken skin-side down and sear without moving until the skin is golden brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan.

4. Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet and stir and scrape to loosen any stuck bits. Stir in the sherry vinegar and honey. Cover with a lid or foil, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook until the meat is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Uncover, raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the sauce is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften and burst, 3 to 4 minutes, smashing open if needed. Return the onion-pepper mixture to the skillet, stir to coat in the pan sauce and cook, uncovered, until warmed through. Taste and add more salt if needed and remove from heat. Drizzle more olive oil over the top and garnish with a shower of basil or parsley, if using.

2. Cumin and Cashew Yogurt Rice

Yogurt rice is a nostalgic dish for many South Asians, and especially South Indians. It’s the ultimate comfort food, and a no-fuss dinner that’s easy to put together. Cool, creamy yogurt and crunchy, warm spices create a dreamy contrast that makes this dish feel more whole meal-worthy than snack-friendly (though it’ll serve you well for both). Traditional versions include mustard seeds, curry leaves and urad dal, but this variation includes a different set of pantry staples: cumin seeds, cashews and red chile powder. The trio, plus fresh green chiles, gets sizzled in ghee, enhancing all the rich, smoky, spicy flavors, then gets poured directly over the yogurt rice. Add grated carrots and zucchini to give the rice more heft, or try it with a different combination of spices.

By Priya Krishna

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 10 minutes


  • 3 cups cooked long-grain basmati rice, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger (from about a 1-inch piece, peeled)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (such as Morton)
  • 2 1/2 cups full-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (or unsalted butter)
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 Indian green chile or serrano chile, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile powder (such as Kashmiri chile powder or ground cayenne)
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro


1. In a bowl, combine the cooked rice, ginger and salt. Fold in the yogurt. The yogurt should evenly coat the rice, so that it resembles a thick rice pudding.

2. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the ghee. Add the cashews and chile, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cashews are lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Shift the cashews and chile to the side of the pan, and add the cumin seeds, toasting until they are slightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in red chile powder and asafetida (if using), then turn off the heat.

3. Pour the spice mixture over the rice and garnish with cilantro.

3. Salmon and Tomatoes in Foil

Here is a simple recipe for salmon prepared en papillote (a fancy name for “in paper,” though like most everyone else these days, you will use aluminum foil). Layer salmon, tomato and basil on lightly oiled foil and wrap it all up — you can even do it a night before cooking. When the time for dinner comes, you can steam, grill, roast or pan-grill the packages — though our testing shows roasting is easiest. You can substitute almost anything comparable for each of the ingredients: salmon can be replaced by any fish steak or fillet, or by boneless, skinless chicken breast. The herb and vegetable can also be varied at will, as long as the vegetable will finish cooking at the same time as the protein: if you were cooking broccoli, for example, you would have to cut it into small pieces; if carrots, you’d have to parboil them.

By Mark Bittman

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds salmon fillet, cut crosswise (4 pieces)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 basil leaves


1. For each of 4 packages, place one 12-inch-long sheet of aluminum foil on top of another. Smear top sheet with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, and layer a fillet of salmon, 6 tomato halves, salt and pepper, 4 basil leaves and another half tablespoon oil. Seal package by folding foil onto itself and crimping edges tightly. Repeat to make other packages, and refrigerate until ready to cook, no more than 24 hours later.

2. When you are ready to cook, heat oven to 500 degrees. Place packages in a roasting pan. (Or they can be cooked on top of the stove in 2 skillets over medium-high heat.) Cook 5 minutes (for medium-rare) to 8 minutes from the time the mixture starts to sizzle, or roughly 10 to 12 minutes total.

3. Let packages rest a minute, and cut a slit along the top with a knife. Use a knife and fork to open the package. Spoon the salmon, garnish and juices onto a plate, and serve.

4. Roasted Broccoli With Vinegar-Mustard Glaze

On its own, roasted broccoli is a treat: caramelized and crisp-tender, with frizzled florets and sweet stems. To prevent overcooking, roast at a high heat and on one side the whole time. Flipping the broccoli to brown on both sides increases the chance that it will dry out or turn to mush before the outsides are as caramelized as you like. To give the broccoli a little pizazz, this recipe takes inspiration from a classic mustard pan sauce, which makes chicken breasts or steaks sparkle. Toss the broccoli with butter, vinegar and Dijon mustard right out of the oven, and the heat from the sheet pan will meld them into a silky, bright sauce. Make it a meal by adding a few salted, boneless chicken thighs, brushed with olive oil, or maybe some white beans — or both.

By Ali Slagle

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch-long florets, stems sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the broccoli with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer, cut-sides down, and roast, without flipping, until browned and crisp-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Add the butter, vinegar and mustard to the broccoli on the sheet pan and toss until the butter’s melted, scraping up browned bits from the pan as you go. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Za’atar and Labneh Spaghetti

Creamy labneh produces a pasta dish with the texture of an Alfredo, but with a bright tang that brings levity. A Middle Eastern yogurt that is strained or hung until the texture of soft cheese, labneh provides a rich, luscious texture, but strained yogurts, like Greek yogurt or skyr, are suitable substitutes. Be sure to add the dairy at the end, and don’t let it come to a boil while you stir. Boiling will cause the yogurt to break, leaving you with a sauce that isn’t creamy or rich. If the pasta sauce tightens up and breaks from sitting for too long, there’s a simple solution: Add some reserved pasta water and stir vigorously over medium-low heat until the sauce comes back together, lusciously smooth, saucy and glossy.

By Ham El-Waylly

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces labneh (or strained yogurt, like Greek or skyr)
  • 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade za’atar


1. Over high heat, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta to the water and boil 1 minute less than package instructions, or until the spaghetti has a very tiny dry core when cut in half. Reserve 2 cups of pasta water, drain the pasta, then return the pot to medium-high heat.

2. Add the olive oil and garlic to the pot and cook, frequently stirring, until the garlic turns a light brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the cooked spaghetti and 1 cup of reserved pasta water and simmer until the pasta, pasta water and oil emulsify into a thick, starchy sauce.

3. Turn the heat down to low and add the labneh. Stir vigorously until the sauce is emulsified and the spaghetti is evenly coated. Do not let the sauce boil, or it will separate. If at any point the sauce seems to break and lose its creaminess, add splashes of pasta water and stir over low heat until the sauce comes back together.

4. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top generously with za’atar and a hefty drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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