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Tips: Better Weeknight Dinners

JBF Editors

JBF Editors

January 14, 2016


Just because you worked late doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a satisfying, home-cooked dinner. So put away the cereal bowls and take-out menus: JBF staffers have some quick dinner tips that will have you sitting down to the table in a snap.

Put an Egg on It

“For Israelis, shakshuka is a breakfast mainstay. For me, it’s a reliably easy and satisfying weeknight dish. You can make a basic version with pantry items: olive oil; a medium onion, chopped; 2 or 3 crushed garlic cloves; a 28-ounce can of peeled whole tomatoes; and eggs. Sauté the onion and garlic in oil, then add the tomatoes. Season with salt, black pepper, and your preferred ground hot pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Use the spoon to make 1 or 2 dimples in the stew. Crack an egg into each dimple. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the egg whites look almost set. Remove the pan from the heat and keep covered; the eggs will continue to set, but the yolks should remain runny. Top with crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley if you have them. Beyond this template, shakshuka is a kitchen-sink wonder. Throw some chopped bell peppers in with the onions; let some collards or kale simmer with the tomatoes. Though not called for in traditional recipes, anchovies are my shakshuka’s secret weapon. Five or six fillets add subtle umami undertones.”—Anna Mowry, Special Projects Manager

Plan Ahead

“Weekend prep is a must. Wash and dry all greens over the weekend. Keep them in plastic bags or glass containers with a paper towel to soak up extra moisture. Roast beets and any other roast-able vegetable. Shake up a jar of vinaigrette with shallots, sherry vinegar, and olive oil. Make a pot of quinoa, farro, or barley. Salads, soups, or stir-fries will come together in minutes if you have all the components ready to go.”—Anya Hoffman, Freelance Writer and former Contributing Editor

Stop and Shop

“Since the Beard House is right around the corner from Citarella, I can usually pick up the clams and chorizo for linguine con vongole for two on my way home, and then dinner for my husband and me is done in about 30 minutes. I have also added some sliced roasted red peppers to this dish, or even a handful or two of raw baby spinach if I have it.” Get the recipe.—Victoria Jordan, Director of House Operations and House Events

Make Italian Comfort Food

“I once asked my Florentine friend, Gabriella, what her favorite comfort food was. She described this simple lemon pasta—the first thing she cooks when she comes home from a long trip. I made it for my husband that night and it quickly became one of our favorite comfort foods, too. Perfect on a busy night, it’s quick and delicious, and the best part is you likely have all of the ingredients on hand right now. Cook 12 ounces of linguine in a large pot of generously salted, boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, in a mini chopper, combine 2 ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese cut into chunks, zest of 2 lemons cut into strips with a vegetable peeler, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Pulse to finely grind and transfer to a large bowl. Add one egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of melted butter and stir to form a thick paste. Stir in 3 or 4 tablespoons of the boiling pasta water to loosen the mixture. Strain the cooked linguine, do not rinse, and while still hot, dump into the bowl with the other ingredients. Using tongs, toss quickly until the noodles are covered with the sauce and the cheese melts. Serve immediately.”—Mitchell Davis, Executive Vice President

Don’t Forget Protein

“I always keep a package or two of tempeh in my fridge. Tempeh is a complete protein (unlike beans), and it doesn’t require draining like tofu does.”—Ashley Kosiak, Program Coordinator

Make Your Pots Do Double Duty

“I keep my freezer stocked with fresh spinach and ricotta tortellini (which packs a protein punch, takes only two or three minutes to cook, and there’s no defrosting required) and toss them into a big pot of boiling, salted water. Then I add whatever fresh veggies I have in the fridge (spinach, kale, or broccoli are my usual suspects), blanch them in the same pot during the last minute or so of the pasta’s cooking time, and then strain everything at once in a big colander. Top the pasta and veggies with extra-virgin olive oil, grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, and some black pepper, and you’re done—with only one dirty pot in the sink."—Elena North-Kelly, Senior Editor​