Hello and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. A few weeks ago, I got a great email from a reader in Los Angeles who said that she’s been leaning into sheet-pan dinners in this stressy time, meals that “feel deluxe but are secretly super easy”: gnocchi roasted with squash; Santa Maria tri-tip with potatoes and broccoli cooked in the pan drippings; creamy burrata with burst cherry tomatoes on crusty bread. (Can I come over?)
But the best part of the letter was this description of sitting down to eat this shrimp dish she made for her partner: “What a WIN to see his eyes light up and his shoulders relax. For a minute, we were just two regular people, in a regular world.” I am verklempt.
1. Roasted Sausages With Grapes and Onions
Speaking of deluxe but super easy: I made this sheet-pan recipe using fat links of sweet Italian sausage from the butcher shop, and everyone loved it, including a 3-year-old. A few tablespoons of vinegar and the drippings from the sausage keep the red grapes from being too sweet.
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 45 minutes
- 1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups seedless red grapes (1 1/4 pounds), destemmed
- 1 teaspoon fennel, coriander, cumin or caraway seeds, lightly crushed
- 1 pound any sausages, poked all over with a fork
- 1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or sherry vinegar, plus more to taste
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. On a large (13-by-18-inch) rimmed baking sheet, toss together onion slices, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper, and spread in an even layer. Roast for 8 to 12 minutes, until the onions turn translucent and the thinnest pieces take on a pale gold color at the edges.
2. After 10 minutes, add grapes, seeds and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan with onions, and toss well. Spread in an even layer and nestle sausage into the mixture.
3. Roast until sausage has browned, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping sausage and tossing grapes and onions halfway through.
4. Transfer sausages to a platter or to individual plates. Add parsley and chives to pan with grapes and onions and gently toss (this warms up and wilts the herbs). Use a slotted spoon to transfer grapes and onions to plates with the sausages.
5. Add vinegar to rimmed baking sheet and scrape up any browned bits on the tray. Drizzle pan juices over the grapes and sausages, taste, and sprinkle more salt or vinegar on top, if desired.
— Melissa Clark
2. Spaghetti With Burrata and Garlic-Chile Oil
This recommendation is also inspired by that reader in Los Angeles: burrata for dinner, sort of a splurge, but a delightfully fancy thing to do. You could make this simple and sophisticated pasta recipe or just grill or roast some vegetables to go with the burrata and call it a day.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 20 minutes
- Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large head fennel (about 8 ounces), trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
- 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
- 8 ounces burrata cheese
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
- Black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Crack the fennel seeds with the flat side of a large knife or the backside of a heavy skillet. Heat the oil, sliced fennel, garlic, fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes in a large skillet over low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic and fennel are softened and the oil is deeply flavored, 12 to 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and return pasta to pot. Reserve a few tablespoons of the seasoned oil and fennel mixture, then add the rest to the pot with the pasta and toss to coat.
3. Divide the pasta and burrata among four shallow bowls. Spoon the remaining seasoned oil and fennel mixture over the top and season with flaky salt and black pepper to taste.
— Sarah Copeland
3. Weeknight Fancy Chicken and Rice
This one goes out to the reader who emailed to say that we publish too many chicken thigh recipes and requested chicken breasts. (It’s true that recipe developers love chicken thighs.) This delicious version of a pulao, or pilaf, is one of the best ways I know to use boneless, skinless breasts. The meat turns out plush, the rice gently spiced and with a glorious hue.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 50 minutes
- 1/4 cup ghee (or use unsalted butter)
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 6 green cardamom pods, crushed
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
- 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/4 cup sliced raw almonds, toasted
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1. In a medium saucepan with a lid, melt ghee over medium-high heat. Add onions, cardamom, star anise and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and a very deep golden brown, about 15 minutes, lowering heat if necessary to keep from burning them. Add garlic and turmeric; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or until very fragrant. Add chicken and cook for 4 minutes, stirring to coat chicken with the onion mixture.
2. Add stock and remaining salt, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Add rice, stir and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice has absorbed liquid, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 12 minutes. Remove lid and fluff rice with a fork.
3. Transfer chicken and rice to a bowl, taking care to remove and discard cardamom pods and star anise. Garnish with apricots, almonds and cilantro. Serve at once.
— Sara Bonisteel
4. Gochujang-Glazed Eggplant With Fried Scallions
Inspired by gaji bokkeum, a Korean stir-fried eggplant dish, this brilliant recipe is salty, hot, sweet and heaven with rice and something green for dinner. Put the rice on the stove not long after you salt the eggplant, and they should be done at more or less the same time; once the eggplant is ready to cook, everything moves quickly.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 45 minutes
- 1 pound Asian eggplant (about 3 large; preferably Korean, or Chinese or Japanese), halved lengthwise and cut into 4- to 5-inch segments
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons gochujang
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 packed teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 scallions, trimmed, cut into 3-inch segments, then very thinly sliced lengthwise, white and green parts separated
1. Place the eggplant in a colander set inside a large bowl or the sink. Sprinkle with the salt, toss to combine and let sit for 30 minutes to remove excess moisture.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, add the gochujang, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic. Whisk to combine, then set aside.
3. To a large nonstick skillet, add the olive oil and the white parts of the scallions. Turn the heat to medium and fry the scallions, stirring often, until crispy and evenly browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried scallions onto a paper towel.
4. Reserve a small handful of raw scallion greens for garnish, then fry the remaining scallion greens in the oil until crispy and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer fried scallion greens onto a paper towel.
5. Remove the skillet from the heat and carefully pour the hot scallion oil into a glass container or measuring cup.
6. After the 30 minutes of salting, dry the eggplant segments with a paper towel. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the reserved scallion oil.
7. When the oil starts to shimmer and you see a wisp of smoke, add half the eggplant, cut sides down, and fry until browned and starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip once and cook another minute on the other side. Transfer to a plate, add 2 more tablespoons of scallion oil back to the pan, and repeat to fry the second batch of eggplants. (If you are lucky enough to have any scallion oil left, use it to fry eggs or to dress a salad.)
8. Finally, sauce the eggplants: Add the first batch of eggplants back to the pan alongside the second batch. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour the reserved gochujang sauce over the eggplants. Toss until evenly coated and the gochujang starts to caramelize, about 1 minute.
9. Plate the eggplants on a large platter and garnish with the fried scallions and the reserved raw scallion greens. Serve immediately. (To store for later, transfer to a resealable container and keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. This dish tastes great cold, straight out of the fridge, or at room temperature.)
— Eric Kim
5. Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
A particularly satisfying iteration of a simple idea: a big pot of meatballs in tomato sauce, for when the world weighs on you (or for when you want everyone to really, really like you). Go ahead and prep the meatballs in advance, and bake rather than fry them for less mess and time at the stove.
Yield: 28 meatballs, 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 50 minutes, plus chilling
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, more for serving, if desired
- 1/2 cup panko or other plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- 1/4 cup chopped chives or basil
- 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane or minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, very cold
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
- 3 cups marinara sauce, more to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine cheese, breadcrumbs, onion, chives, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes, if using, and mix well. Add turkey and egg and blend with your hands until well-mixed. If you’ve got time, cover mixture and chill for an hour or up to 24 hours. These are easiest to form into balls while very cold. Form into 28 meatballs, each about 1 1/4-inches in diameter.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan. When hot, add enough of the meatballs to fit in one layer without crowding, and brown on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate, add another tablespoon of oil to pan and brown another layer of meatballs, transferring them to the plate as they brown. Repeat until all meatballs are browned, adding more oil to the pan as needed.
3. When meatballs are all browned, add marinara sauce to pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits on the pan bottom. Return meatballs and their juices to pan, shake pan to cover the meatballs with sauce, and lower heat. Partly cover pan and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Serve hot, drizzled with more olive oil and sprinkled with more cheese, if you like.