What I’m excited to cook this year


By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

I’m excited to cook. I was away for the holidays, so I entered January delighted to be in my own kitchen and swiping through recipes like I’m on a dating app. (There’s also the fact that it’s January, the best time of year to just stay home.) The recipes I picked below, specifically for weeknights, are high on my to-cook list.

1. Green Curry Salmon With Coconut Rice

Green Curry Salmon with Coconut Rice. Food stylist: Simon Andrews. (David Malosh, The New York Times)
Green Curry Salmon with Coconut Rice. Food stylist: Simon Andrews. (David Malosh, The New York Times)

Sweet coconut milk tempers the fiery pungency of Thai green curry paste in this easy one-pot salmon and rice meal. Fresh scallions and cilantro add herbal freshness, while chopped baby spinach makes the whole thing even greener. Note that different brands of rice absorb different amounts of water, so don’t be afraid to add more water as needed.

By Melissa Clark

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 1 hour


  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillets
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons green curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (or use a neutral oil, such as canola)
  • 1 bunch scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups sushi rice or other short-grain rice, rinsed well
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • Lime wedges, for serving


1. Lightly season salmon with salt and pepper, and spread 1 tablespoon curry paste all over the fillets. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a 5- or 6-quart Dutch oven over medium. Stir in scallion whites and most of the greens, reserving 2 tablespoons scallion greens for garnish. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and a pinch of salt, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.

3. Stir in coconut milk, remaining 3 tablespoons green curry, 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir in rinsed rice and reduce heat to low. Let simmer, covered and stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold in spinach, cilantro and a pinch of salt. If the rice looks dry and threatens to stick to the bottom of the pot, stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons more water.

4. Place salmon filets on top of rice, raise heat to medium-low and cook, covered, until salmon is just cooked through, 12 to 20 minutes, depending on thickness.

5. Remove from heat and taste rice for doneness. If the salmon is done before the rice, gently remove the fish from the pan using a metal spatula, transfer to a plate and tent with an overturned bowl or foil to keep warm, then continue to cook rice until tender, adding more water if the rice seems dry. Taste and season with salt as needed. Squeeze a lime wedge over the salmon and serve immediately, garnished with reserved scallions and more lime wedges on the side.

2. Crispy Pepperoni Chicken

Imagine a topping made of crispy pepperoni and crushed pizza crust, and you’ve got pepperoni crumbs, the genius creation of Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, authors of the cookbook “Italian American” and chefs at Don Angie, a restaurant in New York. To make them, cook chopped pepperoni until it gives off its salty, spicy, garlicky and brawny fat, then toast breadcrumbs in that fat. In the book, the crumbs are sprinkled on a wedge salad, but they do wonders for weeknight chicken, too. What simply seared chicken breasts lack in fat, flavor and texture, these crumbs make up for easily. As for sides, consider a radicchio salad, iceberg salad, roasted peppers, roasted broccoli raab or simmered broccoli.

By Ali Slagle

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, patted dry
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 lemon or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 ounces pepperoni, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup panko or dried coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (optional)


1. If you’re using chicken breasts, pound them to an even 1/2-inch thickness with a heavy skillet or meat pounder.

2. Season the chicken breasts or thighs lightly with salt and pepper. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, add the chicken to the skillet and cook until golden brown underneath, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until cooked through, 2 to 5 minutes.

3. Turn off the heat. Transfer the chicken to a platter or serving plates and squeeze the lemon over the chicken.

4. Wipe the skillet out, or if there are burnt bits in the skillet, rinse and dry it. Return to medium heat and cook the pepperoni, stirring often, until it starts to brown and the pan looks oily, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until browned and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. If at any point you don’t hear sizzling, that means the pan’s dry, so add more oil. (Turkey pepperoni is leaner than pork and will need additional oil.) Stir in the parsley, if using, then pile the crumbs on top of the chicken.

3. Kimchi Carbonara

Melanie Hye Jin Meyer is constantly researching Korean foodways to create dishes for her Korean-inspired pop-up restaurant Tiny Chef in St. Louis. Kimchi carbonara, which she was seeing all over Korean TikTok, spoke to her. “I love how Korea somewhat recently started introducing cheese on everything,” Meyer said. “I’m all for it, especially being from the Midwest.” This is her take on the cultural mashup as a Korean adoptee. She cooks down napa cabbage kimchi until soft, and cuts through the buttery base with white wine. The dish comes together quickly, so have everything prepped and ready to go before starting the sauce.

Recipe from Melanie Hye Jin Meyer

Adapted by Elyse Inamine

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 1 pound thick spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 small shallot, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced napa cabbage kimchi
  • 1/4 cup kimchi juice (see tip)
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup red spinach or regular spinach, thinly sliced
  • Gochugaru (Korean red-chile flakes), for sprinkling


1. In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Before draining, reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the shallot. Cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

3. Deglaze the skillet by adding the white wine and stirring to loosen any browned bits, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and the pepper. Let simmer until slightly reduced, about 1 minute.

4. Slip the kimchi into the skillet and cook until the cabbage is slightly wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and toss well to coat.

5. Once the pasta is incorporated, remove from the heat, add the kimchi juice, egg yolks and cheese, and toss vigorously to coat the pasta. If the pasta seems dry, add some reserved pasta cooking water. Divide among four bowls and top with the spinach, more Parmesan and a sprinkle of gochugaru.

TIP: If your kimchi doesn’t have enough accompanying juice, Meyer suggests squeezing the kimchi a bit to wring out more. The kimchi will also lose a bit of juice after it’s chopped, so make sure to use that as well.

4. Pork Chops With Kale and Dates

Pork Chops with kale and Dates. Food stylist: Cybelle Tondu. (Johnny Miller, The New York Times)
Pork Chops with kale and Dates. Food stylist: Cybelle Tondu. (Johnny Miller, The New York Times)

A fat and juicy pork chop will always shine on a dinner plate, and these are especially star-worthy. For browned outsides, evenly cooked insides and fewer splatters, cook them over moderate heat and flip often. Use this method for basic pork chops, or continue with the recipe for a tangy and bittersweet tumble of kale, dates, garlic and vinegar inspired by bittersweet meat dishes like suon kho, orange beef or root beer-glazed ham. Instead of kale, use another bitter green like escarole or radicchio, but keep the dates, which contribute a sweetness far more nuanced than straight sugar. Eat with roasted potatoes, grits or on top of a thick piece of toast.

By Ali Slagle

Yield: 2 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


  • 2 (1- to 1-1/2-inch-thick) bone-in pork rib chops (10 to 12 ounces each), patted very dry
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 fresh rosemary sprigs or sage leaves (optional)
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed very well and peeled
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves torn
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or Sherry vinegar


1. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Season the pork chops all over with salt and pepper. Add the oil and the pork chops to the skillet. Cook, flipping every 2 minutes, until browned on the outside and the internal temperature in the thickest part is around 130 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes depending on thickness of pork chops. If your chops have a fat cap, using tongs, stack both chops on top of one another, then grab both chops together and hold upright to sear the fat caps until crisp, about 1 minute.

2. Turn off the heat, add the butter and rosemary, if using. Tilt the skillet and baste the pork by spooning the butter and drippings over the pork for about 1 minute. Transfer the pork and rosemary to a plate, leaving the drippings in the skillet.

3. Add the dates and garlic to the skillet, then pile in the kale but don’t stir. Return the skillet to medium heat and cook untouched until the dates and bottom layer of kale is charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add a tablespoon of water, then cook, stirring often, until the kale is dark green and slightly wilted, another minute or two. Remove from the heat, stir in the vinegar, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. To serve, discard the rosemary. Slice the pork away from the bones and thinly slice against the grain. Eat with the kale and any resting juices.

5. Roasted Mushrooms in Ata Din Din

Earthy mushrooms hold their own among a piquant red pepper relish — a riot of flavors. The relish’s base is known in Yoruba as ata din din, a condiment like sauce common throughout West Africa made from ground bell pepper, onions, chiles and sometimes tomatoes. Roast the mushrooms until lightly browned and crisp, as they absorb a lot more flavor when they’ve been slightly dehydrated. Pickled onion adds crunch and a hint of acid, and a scattering of fresh herbs gives it all a refreshing lightness, while being a pretty garnish. Serve over steamed rice and fried sweet plantains, or reserve as a vegetable filling for moin moin.

By Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 40 minutes


  • 2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, oyster, maitake and shiitake, cleaned, trimmed and torn or cut into 2-inch pieces, if large
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, scrubbed and cut into slices
  • 1 red scotch bonnet or habanero chile, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as cilantro, dill or parsley, or a combination


1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.


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