Gourmet-yet-easy recipes that will transform your dinners (and lunches) into chef-level fare.
If just the thought of cooking five weeknight dinners in a row makes you anxious, good news: Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs of Food52 fame have a new book out that is a game changer. With tons of hearty recipes that turn supermarket ingredients into company-worthy meals—plus make-ahead tips and tricks for elevating leftovers—Food52 A New Way to Dinner ($35, amazon.com) is a must. We chose a few of our favorites from the book, and collected some pro advice from Hesser and Stubbs. So next time the “what’s for dinner?” question comes up, you can say, “I got this.”
Broccoli, Lemon, and Parmesan Soup
Serves: 4 for two dinners
Stubbs says: “This soup uses utilizes the entire head of broccoli—florets and stalk—which means no waste. By cooking the broccoli with garlic and olive oil at the beginning, you achieve complexity with very little effort. Once this first step is done, you're 15 minutes away from a vegetable soup hearty enough to build dinner around; slice a loaf of crusty bread, add some cheese or prosciutto, and you're all set. Leftovers make a perfect brown bag lunch.”
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 fat cloves garlic, smashed
4 pounds (1.8kg) broccoli, cut into florets and stems trimmed, peeled, and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 cups (1.9L) homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1½ cups (150g) grated Parmesan
Juice from 1 or 2 lemons
Crusty bread, for serving
- Combine the olive oil and garlic in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven and sauté over very low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the garlic softens and starts to turn golden.
- Add the broccoli to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat with the oil. Cover, turn the heat as low as it will go, and cook for about an hour, gently stirring from time to time, until the broccoli yields when you press it with the back of a wooden spoon. The garlic and broccoli will probably brown a little—don’t worry, this is a good thing.
- Add the chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool a bit.
- Puree half of the soup using a blender or food processor. Pour the pureed soup back into the pot and add the Parmesan and lemon juice to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cool slightly, transfer to lidded containers, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- The day of: Reheat gently on the stove over low heat, adding another squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.
TIP: If you’re in a rush, you can skip pureeing. Or, to make it fancy, puree all of the soup and dollop a little crème fraîche on top.
Brothy, Garlicky Beans
Serves: 4 as a side, with leftovers
Stubbs says: “This recipe is a great component dish to have on hand. It is tasty on its own, with rice and a salad; morphs easily into pasta e fagioli (thin with a little water, add some cooked pasta and top with olive oil and grated Parmesan); and can help stretch leftover stew if you need to feed an extra mouth or two.”
2 pounds (900g) dried white beans (such as cannellini or navy), picked over and rinsed
8 cups (1.9L) homemade or low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
2 large carrots, peeled and halved
2 ribs celery, with their leaves if you have them, cut into 3-inch lengths
4 shallots, halved
4 scallions, trimmed
6 fat garlic cloves, smashed
2 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig (or ½ tsp. dried)
1 handful flat-leaf parsley (leaves and stems)
Parmesan rind (optional)
¼ cup good olive oil, plus more for serving
2 cups (480g) canned chopped tomatoes (preferably Pomi)
- To quick-soak the beans, put them in a large heavy pot and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring them to a boil over high heat. Boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the beans soak for an hour.
- Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add the broth and, if the beans aren’t covered by at least 2 inches of liquid, some water. Add the carrots, celery, shallots, scallions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, Parmesan rind, olive oil, and 3 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer partially covered until the beans are nearly tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Add more water if the beans aren’t covered at any time. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more.
- Remove the aromatics and vegetables (cook’s treat!), taste the beans, and adjust the seasoning. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- The day of: Reheat the beans gently in a pot for 5 to 10 minutes.
TIP: You can use onions instead of shallots, leeks instead of scallions, sage or parsley in place of thyme and rosemary, and Pecorino rind rather than Parmesan. The beans in this recipe freeze nicely. Keep them frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. The morning you plan to eat them for dinner, move them to the fridge to defrost.
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Anchovy Dressing
Serves: 4, plus leftovers
Hesser says: “Hearty Brussels sprout leaves hold up for a few days in the fridge so you can dress this salad and serve a few ways during the week—on its own with a stew or pork chops; throw in some farro to make it a main course salad; and with the last bits, serve it over rice with fried eggs and hot sauce.”
3 anchovy fillets
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
2 tsp. grainy mustard
Large pinch of piment d’Espelette or other ground chile
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and very thinly sliced (you want 4½ cups)
2 handfuls of mustard greens, baby kale, or spinach, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces (about 4 cups)
¼ cup (25g) shaved Pecorino
- In a mortar and pestle, mash together the anchovies, garlic, and a pinch of salt until you have a pulp. If your mortar is large enough, make the rest of the dressing in it; otherwise transfer to a bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice, mustard, and piment d’Espelette, followed by the olive oil. Store the dressing in the fridge for up to a week.
- The day of: Combine the Brussels sprouts and mustard greens in a large bowl, pour in one-quarter of the dressing, and toss together until evenly coated. Add more dressing as you like and a squeeze of lemon juice to freshen things up. Pile the dressed salad into a serving bowl and top with the Pecorino.
TIP: This salad is best dressed at least 15 minutes before serving and will hold up in the fridge for two or three days. Brussels sprouts haters at home? Use shaved celery root instead, or fold the dressing into roasted beets, cauliflower, or broccoli.
Reprinted with permission from Food52 A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, copyright 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random HouseLLC.