Hello and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes, a newsletter for busy people who still want something good to eat.
As a home cook and an editor, I love and seek out recipes that are animated by a great idea: a clever technique, a sharp shortcut that defies conventional wisdom, a magic combination of flavors or textures, or an ingredient moonlighting in a new context. Those are the recipes I try to give you in every newsletter, and this week’s is really chock-full of them. Cacio e pepe — but made with farro, and using a technique that is easier than the classic. Chicken adobo — but made with cauliflower, which also turns it vegan.
On another note, last week I asked how the weather was where you are, and what you’re cooking, as food and weather are inherently entwined. It was wonderful and fascinating to read your emails. (The farthest came from a town outside Berlin, where it was about to snow and the writer had just cooked chopped cauliflower al dente and used it in a salad with smoked salmon and mustard vinaigrette. Ooh!) Keep sending them, or just reach out with your cooking quandaries. I read every note: [email protected]
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Here are five dishes for the week:
1. Farro e Pepe
Traditional cacio e pepe is simple but finicky to make. Samin Nosrat changes that by using an immersion blender to make the sauce here, a foolproof technique she found in a YouTube video featuring the Roman chef Flavio de Maio. Samin pairs the sauce with farro, for a consistency that she likens to risotto, but you could use it on pasta. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a food processor.
Melissa Clark takes the reliable combination of broiled fish and butter and spikes that butter with garlic, ginger and curry powder. The results are abundantly more flavorful, with next to zero extra effort on your part. I’d want potatoes alongside, but if you make rice, you can cook extra to reheat and serve with the cheese buldak or cauliflower adobo below. (Not as good as freshly made rice, but definitely good enough and saves you a pot to clean.)
Cheese buldak takes chicken braised in a sauce made with spicy gochujang and gochugaru, staples in Korean cooking, then covers it with shredded mozzarella. (The origins of the dish likely have something to do with the arrival of pizza chains like Domino’s in South Korea, and with them a mountain of low-moisture mozzarella.) This recipe comes from Maangchi, the YouTube star and cookbook author, and it’s really easy to make.
I made this recipe by Ali Slagle for dinner on Wednesday and was delighted anew by how smart and simple it is: a vegan take on chicken adobo that comes together within 45 minutes, but keeps the delicious flavors of the Filipino classic. We had it with rice, and next time I’ll fry an egg to serve on top, too (which, of course, makes the dish not vegan).