Weeknight Kitchen with Melissa Clark takes on one of the biggest dilemmas of busy people: what are we going to eat? In each episode, you’ll join Melissa in her own home kitchen, working through one of her favorite recipes and offering helpful advice for both beginners and seasoned cooks. It’s a practical guide for weeknight eating, from the makers of The Splendid Table.
When you’re short on time but your stomach can’t wait, this recipe is just the ticket. You’ll have this pot of mussels and sambal on the table in a flash.
With a bigger-than-usual meat patty topped with mashed avocado and fresh pico de gallo, these burgers are a double handful of drippy good fun. Mexican chorizo does the heavy lifting, flavor-wise, along with a bounty of fresh cilantro in both meat and pico. As for the cheese, American is the platonic ideal for burgers—salty, creamy-melty, and, well, what burgers need in order to taste like burgers.
This is not your average garlic bread. Gochujang really makes this sing, providing a bit of spice, but also a deep, peppery flavor. And for those who don’t like a lot of spice, don’t worry—the cream cheese softens the impact to create something that is very balanced. This is perfect as a starter, or you could top it with some salad and a bit of thinly sliced ham to create a delicious lunch.
Fishcake recipes are always handy, featuring ingredients from the pantry. In Malta, similar patties are also made with corned beef. I like to serve these with plenty of lemon and a salad of iceberg lettuce. They are also nice eaten cold and can be added to a platt Malti.
I love classic chiles rellenos—I make them a lot in the summer, when poblanos are in season—but the traditional method of dipping them in batter and frying just a couple at a time makes them hard to cook for a crowd. This casserole solves that problem. It has all the fresh flavors I love, but I can make it ahead of time and then put it in the oven just before my guests show up. It even makes a great brunch dish; just assemble it the day before and throw it in the fridge overnight so it’s ready to bake the next morning.
Growing up, this is one of the things we often made for parties with other Japanese-Australian families and it was always a hit with everyone, especially with the children – we nicknamed this dish ‘yummy chicken’, which says it all really.
The key here is marinating the chicken in the sauce. Don’t be tempted to keep all the delicious marinade in the tray because it will just burn. Instead, drain off the marinade, cook it separately to reduce it, then use it as a glaze towards the end of cooking. You could use fish fillets here instead of the chicken, too. Sake is used for flavour and is a tenderiser, but if you don’t have it, you can use a splash of white wine instead. If you don’t have mirin handy, try a delicate honey instead, which is what my mother would have used.
This is one of my all-time favorite savory breakfast items. I created this recipe for a client’s child—a picky eater who wouldn’t touch any vegetables. I took some popular kid foods—potatoes, eggs, cheese, and milk—mixed them with some colorful veggies, then baked the mixture on a sheet pan. Cut into palm-sized rectangles, the resulting savory “pancakes” were a hit. They taste as good as they look and are filled with gut-friendly nutrients, including fiber and prebiotics. I like to use a box grater, but if you prefer a food processor or mandoline, that’s fine. Make sure not to overblend with the food processor.
On Sundays in South Africa, you can smell these curried lamb skewers cooking over live fires throughout every neighborhood as families gather around the braai, an Afrikaans word that describes both the social event and the actual technique of grilling over a live fire. These sweet and savory skewers can be made with pork, beef, or lamb and are displayed in almost every South African butcher’s counter or grocery store, already prepped and marinated for convenience. Stateside, I make my own sosaties with boneless lamb and marinate them overnight when time permits. We love serving these to guests who visit our home for a braai, with a round of Springbokkie (a traditional peppermint liqueur shot)—the best conversation starter!
This is a spectacularly refreshing salad, especially when it is made when cantaloupe melons are at their densely honeyed best. You can roast your own peppers or get them out of a jar if you are in a hurry but do make sure your tomatoes are sumptuously ripe. The bread will soften by soaking up all the fruity juices. This is one to make throughout the summer.
“If you keep a jar of concia in the refrigerator during the summer, you will always have something delicious for making sandwiches and pasta,” said Daniela Gean, a restaurateur in Rome’s Monteverde neighborhood. She’s right. This dish of fried zucchini marinated in vinegar, garlic, and fresh herbs is ubiquitous in Roman Jewish homes because it is equal parts tasty and useful. What’s not ubiquitous, however, is the way home cooks choose to slice their zucchini. Some insist it must be cut into long planks, while others argue that thin coins are the only option. (Call me a peacemaker, but I like both methods!)