Five dishes to cook this week: You’re going to love this pasta – The Denver Post

By Margaux Laskey, The New York Times

A few weeks ago, Jessica Grose, a columnist for NYT Parenting, asked newsletter readers about their best pandemic buys. That sparked some curiosity about what the best cooking-related purchases were in the past year. In at least one home, it’s a tie between a waffle maker, used all year to make Melissa Clark’s crisp, perfect yeast-risen waffles, and a Solo Stove fire pit, which made socially distanced backyard dinners (and s’mores) possible even in snowy February. Here are five dishes to cook this week.

1. Mushroom Pasta Stir-Fry

While stir-fries have long gone hand-in-hand with rice, this recipe shows the versatility of the dish. Here, a quick stir-fry is transformed into a flavorful, unconventional pasta sauce. Five spice is a Chinese seasoning that is said to incorporate all five tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. In this recipe, its blend of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and fennel intensifies the robust flavor of the mushrooms. Don’t overcook the broccolini; it should be crisp, with a bright green vibrancy. You could easily substitute broccoli, green beans, snow peas or other crunchy greens. And don’t skip the butter (or use vegan butter, if you prefer), as it provides a beautiful richness that brings the sauce and ingredients together.

By: Hetty McKinnon

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the pasta:

  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta
  • 4 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • 1 pound mushrooms (any small variety), trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons five-spice blend
  • 3/4 pound broccolini, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces, thick stems halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce (or vegetarian mushroom oyster sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chile oil or chile crisp

Preparation

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package instructions, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large (12-inch), deep skillet over medium-high. When hot, add 2 tablespoons oil and the mushrooms. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, giving it a stir every 2 minutes or so. The mushrooms will release lots of liquid, but it will evaporate as it cooks. When the mushrooms start to turn golden, add the garlic, five spice and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper, then cook for 1 minute. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and set aside.

3. While the mushrooms are cooking, make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk the oyster sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce, sesame oil and chile oil with 1/4 cup water until combined. Set aside.

4. Heat the same skillet back over medium-high. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the broccolini. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the broccolini is tender but still quite crisp.

5. Add the pasta to the pan, along with the sauce and the butter. Using tongs, toss to combine, then add the reserved pasta cooking water, 1/4 cup at a time, just to loosen the sauce. When the butter has melted, add the mushrooms and toss again. Remove from the heat. Serve topped with scallions.

2. Farro With Blistered Tomatoes, Pesto and Spinach

Here is an Italian-inspired recipe that uses store-bought or homemade pesto to season farro, which is then tossed with fresh spinach, roasted tomatoes, red onions and mozzarella for a complete vegetarian meal. Make it with fresh-from-the-market cherry tomatoes when they’re in season, but during the rest of the year, use grape tomatoes, as they tend to be more flavorful than cherry during the colder months. If you’d like, substitute arugula, or cooked broccoli raab or kale, for the spinach. It tastes delicious warm or cold the next day — and topping it with shrimp, chicken or scallops can make it feel new again. Before reheating, add a bit more spinach, drizzle it with a little olive oil and give it a good stir.

By: Yasmin Fahr

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, quartered and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the farro
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade pesto, plus more to taste
  • 1 lemon, zested (about 1 tablespoon) and juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 packed cups baby spinach
  • 1 (4-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks, or 1/2 cup ricotta salata, crumbled (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped

Preparation

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large covered pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the farro and adjust the heat to maintain a medium boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom, until tender and not too chewy, about 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, on a sheet pan, combine the tomatoes and onion wedges with the oil, making sure everything is well coated and glistening, then season with salt, pepper and the red-pepper flakes. Roast until the tomatoes blister and slightly deflate, 25 to 30 minutes.

3. When the farro is done, drain, then pour into a serving bowl or back into the pot. Toss with some olive oil, then mix in the pesto. Add the lemon zest and juice, then stir in the spinach. Set aside to cool slightly.

4. Scrape the onions, tomatoes and their juices into the farro; season with salt and pepper as needed. Add the cheese, if using, then garnish with herbs and serve.

3. Skillet Chicken With Orzo, Dill and Feta

Chicken and orzo is timeless combination, simple and satisfying. In this recipe, you could use chicken thighs, but drumsticks make this dish super family-friendly. Of course, if you have a crowd that doesn’t love the classic feta-dill pairing, feel free to change the toppings. Mint or parsley work just as well for the herbs, and any salty, crumbly cheese is lovely here. You can dress this up as you like with cucumbers or cherry tomatoes, or green olives, served alongside or pitted, chopped and tossed in instead. Besides the obvious perk of its being a one-pot dinner, this recipe yields great leftovers. For the next day’s lunch, pull any remaining chicken off the bone, chop it, skin and all, and toss with the remaining orzo, vegetables and cheese. Know that the orzo — a very small pasta, not rice — soaks up all the liquid and flavor as it sits and cools, so you may need a drizzle of oil and lemon juice over the top to serve it the second day.

By: Sarah Copeland

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 35 minutes, plus marinating

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken drumsticks or bone-in thighs
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups orzo
  • 3 cups chicken broth or water
  • 2 small or 1 large thin-skinned (English) cucumbers, chopped
  • 5 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Castelvetrano or other green olives, for serving

Preparation

1. Cut one of the lemons into wedges and set aside. Juice the remaining lemon and combine with 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, in a large resealable plastic bag or in a bowl, along with the chicken pieces. Seal and shake the bag (or stir in the bowl) to coat. Set aside for 30 minutes, or refrigerate up to overnight.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip off, and cook until lightly golden all over, turning when the chicken releases easily from the pan, about 12 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

3. Add the onion to the pan and stir to coat with the remaining fat. Decrease heat to medium and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in the orzo and the broth or water. Cook until the liquid is partly absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Top with the chicken legs and cover with a lid or foil. Continue cooking until the orzo is tender, most of the liquid is absorbed, and the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more, depending on the size of your drumsticks or thighs. Remove from the heat and scatter the cucumber, feta and dill over the top. Serve from the skillet with lemon wedges and olives.

TIP: Some cast-iron skillets come with a matching lid, which is useful for making the skillet operate a bit like a mini stovetop oven, cooking evenly and basting the food with flavor and steam. If you don’t have one, use a lid from another pan, or two layers of thick foil, folded at the center and large enough to cover your pan.

4. White Bean Caprese Salad

Beloved pantry white beans add substance to this take on caprese salad, which comes together in no time. It’s a perfect side for grilled chicken or fish, and can be easily doubled to work as a main course when it’s too hot to turn on the oven. If you’re so inclined, a handful of spicy arugula, thinly sliced roasted red peppers or ribbons of prosciutto — or all three — would also be nice additions. This dish is easily transportable and tastier when eaten while sitting in a lawn chair.

By: Colu Henry

Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-ounce) can white beans, such as cannellini, rinsed
  • 5 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 5 ounces ciliegine (small mozzarella balls), at room temperature, halved lengthwise, or good-quality fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons good-quality balsamic vinegar, plus more as needed
  • Flaky salt

Preparation

1. In a medium bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, cheese and half the basil. Gently toss together.

2. Add the olive oil and season the mixture well with salt and pepper. Gently stir to combine.

3. Drizzle the salad with the balsamic vinegar and top with the remaining basil. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Add a drizzle or so more of oil and vinegar if needed. Finish with flaky salt.

5. Roasted Shrimp and Pineapple With Peanut Sauce

This tangy version of Thai-style peanut sauce, bright with chile, lime, and ginger, is excellent with chicken and beef — and outstanding with shrimp. Here, the sauce is paired with sweet, juicy pineapple and succulent shrimp, which broil in minutes. It’s a quick, satisfying dinner with the added bonus of leftover peanut sauce, which will keep well in the fridge for at least five days.

By: Melissa Clark

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably natural
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 pound cleaned large shrimp
  • 2 cups pineapple chunks
  • Whole cilantro leaves and torn basil leaves, for garnish

Preparation

1. In a food processor or blender, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, 3 tablespoons hot water, lime juice, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sriracha and a pinch of salt. Purée until smooth. Add more lime juice and or salt to taste. Scrape into a bowl.

2. Heat oven to 500 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together peanut oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and red-pepper flakes. Thread shrimp on skewers; brush all over with half the peanut oil mixture. Thread pineapple on separate skewers; brush with remaining oil mixture. Arrange shrimp and pineapple skewers on a large rimmed baking sheet.

3. Roast skewers, turning them halfway through, until shrimp is opaque, about 5 minutes, and pineapple is lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. (Use an oven mitt to remove shrimp skewers as they finish cooking but leave the pineapple in for longer). Sprinkle skewers with herbs and serve hot, with peanut sauce for dipping.

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