Say It With Carbonara

Hello and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes, though really my thoughts are with dessert today, chocolate desserts in particular. Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and while I have zero plans to cook an elaborate dinner, and might even order takeout, I will grab this moment to make something obscenely chocolaty. The current contenders: chocolate lava cake, double chocolate cookies, bittersweet chocolate soufflé or maybe even a chocolate caramel tart.

But sadly this is not a desserts newsletter. (Unless you want a special desserts edition? If so, let me know: [email protected]) This is a newsletter about the stuff you cook before you get dessert.

All but one of the recipes below are very simple, though I think special, too. They are good for weeknights and also work for Valentine’s Day if you don’t want to do something “romantic” but do want to show someone love. (Especially the spaghetti carbonara. Say “I love you” with carbonara.)

And a very happy Lunar New Year to all who celebrate! Mouthwatering recipes for the holiday are right this way.

Here are five dishes for the week:

1. Chicken Piccata

You could just as easily make Ali Slagle’s recipe for this Italian-American classic after work as you could cook it for Valentine’s Day before watching “Moonstruck.” Some people don’t like whole lemon slices, with rind and pith — too bitter — so you could either blanch the slices before adding them to the pan, or try using lemon zest instead.

View this recipe.

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2. Sheet-Pan Baked Feta With Broccolini, Tomatoes and Lemon

You may have seen this recipe by Yasmin Fahr before: It was one of our most popular vegetarian recipes of 2020. I thought of it while I watched TikTok videos of people making feta pasta, a recipe that’s freshly gone viral. Yasmin’s has more vegetables, though you could still serve it with pasta.

View this recipe.

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3. Spaghetti Carbonara

Ian Fisher, a former New York Times correspondent in Rome, perfected this recipe, which he described as a “deli egg-bacon-and-cheese-on-a-roll that has been pasta-fied, fancified, fetishized and turned into an Italian tradition.” If you do this one right, it’s sublime.

View this recipe.

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4. Thai-Style Sweet and Salty Shrimp

This recipe is adapted from the chef Kris Yenbamroong’s pad Thai from his revered Night + Market restaurants in Los Angeles. Ali Slagle uses the simple sauce from that recipe — equal parts sugar, fish sauce and vinegar — to quickly simmer shrimp. So delicious, so easy.

View this recipe.

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5. Mushroom Bourguignon

I’ve thought many times of sharing this great Melissa Clark recipe with you but stopped because it seemed like too much for a weeknight. I was newly inspired when a friend told me she made it after work with frozen precut mushrooms; she also skipped making the topping in Step 4. You could also use regular onions instead of leeks, which are fussier to clean. Definitely dust with smoked paprika to finish, though. And try it as written when you have more time.

View this recipe.

Another way to say “I love you” is give someone a subscription to NYT Cooking. Or get a subscription for yourself and make them roast oysters with tomato butter, or the best Caesar salad, or steak au poivre! Follow NYT Cooking on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, or follow me on Instagram. I’m [email protected], and my colleagues at [email protected] can help you with any technical issues.

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