Five Recipes for Fancy but Achievable Weeknight Meals

Jhere are some hills I would die on: star wars the prequels weren’t as bad as everyone said, the best s’mores are deep charred and a little salty, and we should all be making mussels on weekdays.

They might look fancy, but mussels are among the most economical seafood options (a 900g bag in a supermarket will cost you less than £8, and they’re often on sale). They are incredibly durable, and cooking them requires minimal time – or skill.

Recently, I hosted a small dinner party and whipped up a three-ingredient whipped ricotta, a few deceptively simple salads, and a one-bowl dessert before everyone arrived. I didn’t bother having the main event – ​​the mussels! – on the stove until everyone has arrived. Once I placed a large, shallow serving bowl overflowing with aromatic mussels on the table, my guests were delighted, even a little confused. I was in the kitchen for a few minutes! It was a Tuesday!

You too can brighten up any evening with a restaurant-worthy meal in less than 15 minutes: heat some garlic or shallots (or both!) in a little butter and olive oil. olive, mix your mussels, pour over white wine or broth, cover and steam until the shells open, and garnish with whatever fresh herbs you have.

With that in mind, here are some recipes that will have you raving about The Fancy Weeknight Meal.

Garlic and parsley steamed mussels

This is absolutely the easiest way to cook mussels and perhaps the most satisfying. A large jar of them makes an easy dinner party any night of the week. If you’ve never cooked mussels at home, start by rinsing and deburring them (just pluck them out or use a knife to remove the fuzzy tendril you see at the hinge of the mussel) if necessary. Don’t worry about the lack of salt: when the mussels open, they release their briny liquid into the pot, thus seasoning the wine.

By: David Tanis

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the toast

2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 or 2 whole garlic cloves for rubbing the toast

Pinch of crushed red pepper

1.8 kg of cleaned mussels

60ml white wine or water

1 baguette, split lengthwise, then halved crosswise

5 g coarsely chopped parsley


1. Heat the grill. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or casserole dish over medium heat. Add minced garlic and red pepper and simmer for 30 seconds without browning. Add the mussels, stir to coat and increase the heat to high. Add wine or water and put the lid on. After 2 minutes, stir the mussels, then replace the lid and continue cooking until all the mussels are open, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Paint the cut sides of the baguette pieces with oil and place the cut side up under the broiler to toast. Rub the toast with the remaining garlic cloves.

3. Stir the chopped parsley into the mussels, then pour the mussels and broth into bowls. Serve with garlic toast.

Gnocchi in plate with mushrooms and spinach

This platter dinner is inspired by classic steakhouse sides


This platter dinner is inspired by classic steakhouse sides: roasted mushrooms, creamy horseradish and mustard sauce, wilted spinach and roasted potatoes. Good kind of. Instead of whole potatoes, this recipe uses store-bought gnocchi, a super-quick substitute that takes on the fun combination of browned and chewy when roasted. This dish is hearty enough to be a full meal, but it would also make a great accompaniment to braised beans, roast chicken, a seared pork chop and, of course, steak.

By: Ali Slagle

Serves: 4

Total time: 35 mins


450g mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, maitake or cremini, trimmed and quartered (or cut into 2½cm pieces, if large)

1 package (340-510g) shelf stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

4 spring onions, cut into 2½ cm pieces

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

Salt and black pepper

140g baby spinach

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon of honey

1 tablespoon unsalted butter


1. Heat the oven to 220C. On a baking sheet, combine the mushrooms, gnocchi, 5 tablespoons of olive oil, the spring onions and the shallot. Season with salt and pepper, shake in an even layer and roast without stirring until the gnocchi and mushrooms are golden brown and crispy, 20 to 25 minutes. Add the spinach and the remaining tablespoon of oil, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Spread into an even layer, then return to oven to roast until spinach is tender, another 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix mustard, horseradish and honey until blended. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Add the butter and half the sauce to the baking sheet and stir until melted and glazed. Enjoy with the rest of the sauce on the side.

Summer Greens and Beans with Toasted Breadcrumbs

This light, plant-based dish was inspired by a traditional cassoulet, a French casserole made with beans, pork and duck and simmered in duck fat. In this quick, vegetarian take, olive oil replaces duck fat and chard stalks are gently cooked with spring onion, garlic and thyme to create the flavor base. Summer vegetables are simmered in infused olive oil until tender, then served with toasted breadcrumbs and fresh cracked pepper. The broth in this dish is the real star, so you’ll need plenty of bread to soak it all up.

By: Rick Martinez

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes


4 large spring onions, sliced

340g Swiss chard (about 1 large bunch), preferably green, stems separated and chopped, leaves torn into 5cm pieces

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 sprigs of fresh thyme

80ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

225 g green beans, trimmed and cut into 2½ cm pieces

360 g frozen (or fresh) lima or edamame beans, thawed if frozen

½ teaspoon of sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

30g dried or fresh breadcrumbs

Crusty bread, for serving


1. In a large saucepan, simmer the spring onions, chard stalks, celery, garlic, thyme and oil over medium heat until the oil is bubbling gently and the stalks Swiss chard are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. You want to slow cook the vegetables and infuse the oil; you may need to adjust the heat to avoid browning the vegetables.

2. Add green beans, lima beans, chard leaves, sugar, 2 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper and 480ml water to cooked vegetables. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until green beans are just tender, about 8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and toast the breadcrumbs, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl.

4. Divide the vegetable mixture into bowls and top with toasted breadcrumbs, a drizzle of olive oil and a grind of black pepper. Serve with crusty bread, to soak up the broth.

Chicken glazed with honey and shallots

A quick but decadent meal


The combination of a sweet glaze, zesty shallots and pan-roasted chicken makes for a quick yet decadent dish. Caramelizing the shallots first, then tossing them with sherry vinegar, gives them a marinated yet syrupy bite. A bit of heat from a spicy chilli and a bit of freshness from parsley leaves balance this savory dish. Serve straight from the stove, over cooked cereal or with a crunchy salad.

By: Yewande Komolafe

Serves: 4

Total time: 40 minutes


900 g chicken thighs or drumsticks with bone and skin (6 to 8 pieces)


2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or rapeseed

450g shallots (about 8), peeled and halved, quartered if large

3 tablespoons of honey

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1 fresh hot pepper, Thai type, scotch bonnet or serrano, minced with or without seeds

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

10 g fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


1. Pat the chicken dry and season with salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, turning frequently, until lightly caramelized on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the shallots to a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Place the chicken skin side down and sear without moving until the skin is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add 60ml of water to the pan. Use a spatula or tongs to loosen any stuck pieces. Stir the honey, lime juice, garlic and chilli into the liquid around the chicken pieces. Cover with lid or foil and cook until meat is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high and cook until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes more.

4. Toss the shallots with the sherry vinegar and parsley, and season with salt. Serve the chicken with the seasoned shallots and pour the pan sauce over everything.

Linguine with lemon sauce

The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity. All you need is pasta, a lemon, a knob of butter, a generous layer of heavy cream and a piece of the best parmesan cheese you can find.

By: Pierre Franey

Serves: 4

Total time: About 20 minutes


2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest, plus more for serving

225g fresh or dried linguine

4 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus additional cheese to serve on the side


1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

2. Heat the butter in a pan and add the lemon zest.

3. Immerse the linguine in boiling water. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.

4. Add the cream to the mixture of butter and lemon zest. Add pasta and lemon juice and stir until just warm. Add the parmesan and mix. Serve with additional parmesan and lemon zest on the side.

Point: If fresh linguine is purchased in 250g weight, use it instead of half pound.

© The New York Times

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