The top weeknight recipes of 2022

By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

Weeknight cooking for the win: NYT Cooking has published its collection of the most popular new recipes of 2022, and at least half are dishes you can make at the end of the day without too much stress. There’s a need for that kind of cooking, and I sincerely hope we’ve helped meet that need for you.

I’ve chosen five weeknight recipes from the top 50 to share below, in no specific order. (The No. 1 recipe is a noodle dish from Kenji López-Alt’s exceptional new cookbook, “The Wok.” If you love garlic, this recipe is not to be missed.)

And finally, did you know that you can give a subscription to NYT Cooking as a gift? The perfect present for everyone on your list!

1. Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta amatriciana is a traditional Italian dish that features a sauce of guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), tomato, pecorino romano and chiles. Some variations include onion and white wine. The final product tastes much more complex than the ingredient list would suggest: This simple pantry meal delivers deep flavors, as the bright, tangy tomato base balances the rich pork, and a mix of dried peppers adds layers of subtle heat. Guanciale can be found in Italian specialty shops or online, but pancetta is a good alternative. Bucatini is a thicker pasta with a hollow center that captures the thick sauce, but spaghetti delivers equally tasty results.

By Kay Chun

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces guanciale or pancetta, chopped into 1/4-inch cubes (3/4 cup)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed with your hands in a bowl
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 pound dried bucatini
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for garnish

Preparation

1. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat olive oil over medium. Add guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. To the skillet, add tomatoes, black pepper and red-pepper flakes, and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and smashing tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon, until tomatoes have broken down and sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain.

3. Add pasta, tomato sauce and 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water back to the large pasta pot and stir vigorously over medium-high heat until pasta is evenly coated in the sauce, about 1 minute. (Add more pasta water if sauce is dry.) Remove from heat, stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt.

4. Divide pasta among bowls and garnish with more cheese and black pepper.

2. Greek Chicken With Cucumber-Feta Salad

This meal has the flavors of a Greek combination plate with chicken souvlaki, Greek salad and tzatziki, but it is streamlined for the home cook. Boneless chicken thighs are coated with herby, garlicky yogurt, then seared until tender inside and crusty and browned outside. Extra yogurt dresses cucumbers and tomatoes that have had a chance to drain with salt so they taste their most vivid. Feta and olives add briny bites to the creamy, crunchy salad, but feel free to incorporate other elements of Greek salad or tzatziki, like romaine lettuce, bell peppers, mint or dill, toasted walnuts or thinly sliced red onion. Eat with lemon potatoes or toasted pita.

By Ali Slagle

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or mint
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 1 1/2 pounds cucumbers (preferably Japanese, Persian or mini, seedless cucumbers)
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 4 ounces feta, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved

Preparation

1. In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt and garlic; season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/2 cup of the yogurt to a medium bowl and reserve for Step 5.

2. Coat the chicken: To the large bowl, add the oregano and stir to combine. Season the chicken all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the chicken to the large bowl and turn to coat; set aside.

3. Start the salad: Smash the cucumbers with the side of your knife until craggy and split. Rip into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces and transfer to a colander placed in the sink. Slice or chop the tomatoes into bite-size pieces. Add to the cucumbers along with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. (It may seem like a lot of salt, but most will drain away.) Toss to combine and leave to drain.

4. In a large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Scrape excess marinade off the chicken, then cook the chicken in batches, adding oil to the pan if necessary, until it’s well browned and releases from the pan, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and cook until cooked through, another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to plates to rest. (For grilling info, see Tip.)

5. To the medium bowl of yogurt, add the feta and mash with a fork until a chunky paste forms. Shake the cucumbers and tomatoes to get rid of any excess moisture. Add to the feta yogurt along with the olives and stir until coated. The balance is dependent on your produce and feta, so season to taste with salt and pepper until flavors are vivid. Eat alongside the chicken.

TIP: To grill the chicken: Heat a grill to medium and clean and grease the grates. Grill the chicken over direct heat until it’s well browned and releases from the grates, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip and cook until cooked through, another 5 to 7 minutes. (For a gas grill, close the lid between flips.)

3. Kung Pao Cauliflower

While kung pao chicken originated in China’s Sichuan province, it has become an iconic Chinese American dish. The popular stir-fry typically includes chicken, vegetables and peanuts tossed in a dark, salty, sweet and spicy sauce, but in this vegan take, cauliflower steps in for the chicken. Dark soy sauce is more caramel-flavored and less salty than regular soy sauce, and it adds color and richness to the dish. If you don’t have dark soy, substitute with regular soy sauce or hoisin sauce. Make sure you have a lid for your skillet or wok on hand before you start cooking, as covering the cauliflower allows it to cook quicker and more evenly.

By Hetty McKinnon

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small 2-inch-long florets
  • Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, core, seeds and membrane removed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, lightly ground in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or crushed with a rolling pin
  • 5 to 8 whole dried chiles, such as er jing tiao or chiles de arbol
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
  • Steamed rice, to serve

Preparation

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the dark soy sauce, soy sauce, black vinegar, sugar, vegetable stock or water, and cornstarch. Set aside.

2. Heat wok or large (12-inch) skillet on medium-high until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, the cauliflower florets and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and toss for 1 minute. Cover and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing the cauliflower every 1 1/2 minutes or so, until the cauliflower is crisp-tender and charred in some parts. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. In the same wok or skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of neutral oil, along with the bell pepper. Toss for 1 minute, then add the Sichuan peppercorns and whole dried chiles, and stir for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir for 30 seconds, then add the cauliflower back to the pan. Stir the sauce in the bowl to make sure the cornstarch is well incorporated, then pour it over the cauliflower and toss until the cauliflower is well coated. Toss in the peanuts and scallions, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Serve with rice.

4. Tajín Grilled Chicken

Tajín is a Mexican seasoning made from dried, ground red chiles, sea salt and dehydrated lime juice. It is great sprinkled over fresh cut fruit like mango and pineapple, or rimmed on an ice cold margarita. But it is also an easy way to add chile and lime to your favorite grilled meats, rubs or sauces. In this dish, the lime in the Tajín balances out the sweetness from the agave syrup, while the red chiles complement the smoky flavor of the chipotles. Serve the chicken as is or on toasted hamburger buns with a schmear of mayonnaise, chopped grilled scallions, cilantro leaves and sliced pickled jalapeños. This Tajín sauce also would pair well with grilled bass, cod or salmon, or with shrimp skewers.

By Rick A. Martínez

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil, for the grill
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • Sea salt (or kosher salt)
  • 1/2 cup light agave syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 3 chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped, plus 1/4 cup adobo sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Tajín Clásico
  • 8 scallions, root ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems

Preparation

1. Prepare a grill for medium-high, direct heat; clean the grates well, then brush them with vegetable oil. Alternatively, heat a grill pan on medium-high and brush the pan with oil.

2. Arrange the chicken on a sheet tray and generously season both sides with salt. Whisk together the agave syrup, orange juice, orange zest, chipotles, adobo, garlic, olive oil and Tajín in a medium bowl.

3. Brush both sides of the chicken with the Tajín sauce. Grill the chicken, turning and basting often with the Tajín sauce, until cooked through, charred but brick red and glazed, 7 to 9 minutes. Grill the scallions, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, about 5 minutes.

4. Serve the chicken with the grilled scallions, topped with cilantro.

5. Brothy Thai Curry With Silken Tofu and Herbs

A jarred red curry paste is the central flavor of this wonderfully restorative and nourishing broth. Coconut milk lends a subtle creaminess, and the cherry tomatoes become bright little jammy bursts. You can use fresh tomatoes when in season, but canned tomatoes do just as well. Ladle the piping hot broth over seasoned tofu pieces and fresh herbs: The delicate silken tofu used here will absorb big flavors from the surrounding liquid.

By Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 6 servings

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (14-ounce) packages silken tofu, drained
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
  • 2 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, scrubbed and grated
  • 3 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 (14-ounce) can cherry tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil and dill
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for squeezing

Preparation

1. Pat the tofu blocks dry with a clean kitchen or paper towel. Cut each block into 3 slices.

2. Heat a medium Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high. Add the oil and shallots, and stir until softened, 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and curry paste, stir, and cook until fragrant and the paste turns deep red, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the tomato juices thicken slightly, 4 minutes.

3. Pour in the vegetable stock, stir, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer to slightly reduce the liquid, 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, season to taste with salt and remove from the heat.

4. While the broth is simmering, divide the soft tofu into 6 bowls. Break each slice into 4 or 5 pieces. Season each bowl of tofu with 2 teaspoons of soy sauce and a few cracks of black pepper, and top with about 1/4 cup of the fresh herb mix.

5. Ladle the hot broth and tomatoes over the bowls of silken tofu. Top with sliced scallions and serve hot, with lime wedges for squeezing.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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