The cookie cutters are back in their drawers and the giant casserole dishes in their cabinets. Now, you must face reality: After a busy season of gathering, traveling and breaking from routine, the return to everyday cooking might feel abrupt. But a handful of light, nourishing recipes can make resetting in the kitchen an exciting endeavor. Below are 13 dishes you’ll feel good about cooking and even better eating.
1. Cod and Kimchi Stew
Kimchi is a great shortcut to flavorful soups and braises. Like kimchi jjigae, this recipe from Rick Martínez uses the fiery fermented cabbage as the base for a broth, which doubles as the poaching liquid for your favorite mild white fish.
Recipe: Cod and Kimchi Stew
2. Chicken and Cabbage Salad With Miso-Sesame Vinaigrette
You need little more than some cooked, shredded chicken and whatever crisp greens and vegetables are in the fridge to make a satisfying lunch or dinner. Kenji López-Alt amps up standard salad components with a miso-sesame vinaigrette that’s good on anything. Really, that’s the recipe’s name! Whisk up more than you need, as it keeps for up to three weeks in the fridge and can dress up even the simplest of meals.
Recipe: Chicken and Cabbage Salad With Miso-Sesame Vinaigrette
3. Roasted Honey Nut Squash and Chickpeas With Hot Honey
This vibrant sheet-pan meal from Melissa Clark is sure to cure the cold-weather blues. Winter squash and hearty, protein-packed chickpeas get a jolt of heat and warmth from spiced honey and baharat, a blend that often includes cumin, nutmeg and coriander. Dollops of yogurt add welcome coolness.
Recipe: Roasted Honey Nut Squash and Chickpeas With Hot Honey
4. Greek Chicken With Cucumber-Feta Salad
In this breezy Ali Slagle recipe, a garlicky yogurt dresses cucumbers, tomatoes and olives for a creamy but light salad, reminiscent of both tzatziki and feta-flecked Greek salads. Enjoy it alongside simply seasoned but exquisitely flavored boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
Recipe: Greek Chicken With Cucumber-Feta Salad
5. Coconut Fish and Tomato Bake
“The sauce in this recipe is literally the most incredible combination of coconut milk and ginger,” wrote one New York Times Cooking reader of this Yewande Komolafe recipe. “I could drink gallons of it.” If that doesn’t have you running for the kitchen, maybe this might: It comes together on a sheet pan and takes just 35 minutes to prepare.
Recipe: Coconut Fish and Tomato Bake
6. Spiced Turkey Skewers With Cumin-Lime Yogurt
Lean ground turkey is infinitely more exciting when formed around skewers, à la Middle Eastern kofte. Yasmin Fahr seasons the meat with cumin, turmeric and grated onion before combining it with yogurt for supremely tender results. Enjoy the skewers with grilled pita or over greens mixed with plenty of cucumber, onion and herbs.
Recipe: Spiced Turkey Skewers With Cumin-Lime Yogurt
7. Tofu and Bok Choy With Ginger-Tahini Sauce
Steaming can feel retro, but the technique yields supple textures and gentle flavors that pair well with assertive sauces. Here, Kay Chun whisks together a dressing of tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, scallions and cilantro while soft tofu and baby bok choy gently cook. If you’ve ever received a steamer basket as a gift, here’s the perfect chance to break it out.
Recipe: Tofu and Bok Choy With Ginger-Tahini Sauce
8. Lemony White Bean Soup With Turkey and Greens
This bright, one-pot soup from Melissa Clark is jam-packed with wholesome ingredients. Ground turkey! Beans! Sturdy greens! Make it as brothy or as stewlike as is your preference, and revel in its ability to sustain you.
Recipe: Lemony White Bean Soup With Turkey and Greens
9. Ginger Chicken With Crisp Napa Salad
Lean chicken breasts get a bad rap, but Yewande Komolafe knows how to make them shine. Lightly pounding the meat ensures that it cooks evenly and soaks up as much of the zesty marinade as possible. A simple salad of tender napa cabbage, cucumber, chives and mint add crunch and a summery feel no matter the time of year.
Recipe: Ginger Chicken With Crisp Napa Salad
10. Broiled Salmon and Asparagus With Herbs
Your broiler is your friend, especially if you like to get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. In this recipe from Yasmin Fahr, nourishing salmon and asparagus cook quickly side by side under direct heat, which gives it all a nice char. A light brushing of soy sauce and mustard on the fish and a fresh herb salad on the side add plenty of flavor to an otherwise straightforward weeknight pairing.
Recipe: Broiled Salmon and Asparagus With Herbs
11. Mole Verde
If you want to incorporate more green recipes into your cooking routine, look no further than this verdant Mexican mother sauce. A blend of tomatillos, chiles, lettuce and herbs, Jocelyn Ramirez’s mole verde can dress up your favorite roasted vegetables, meat or fish.
Recipe: Mole Verde
12. Chicken and Mushroom Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps
A pantry-friendly marinade of soy sauce, scallions, garlic, ginger and just a teensy bit of sugar (for browning) goes a long way. In this Kay Chun recipe, marinated chicken and onions, as well as lightly oiled mushrooms, are grilled until caramelized and then tucked into fresh green-leaf lettuce. More finger food in 2023!
Recipe: Chicken and Mushroom Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps
13. Spicy Shrimp and Chickpea Salad
This salad from Yasmin Fahr requires very little time or effort, which is ideal if you’re still operating in a post-holiday fog. Lemon, lime, Dijon mustard and Fresno chile add plenty of tang, bite and heat to from-the-can chickpeas and quickly seared shrimp.
Recipe: Spicy Shrimp and Chickpea Salad
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