Five Weeknight Dishes: Taking advantage of summer produce

By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

1. Ginger Chicken With Sesame-Peanut Sauce

In this crisp-skinned chicken dish, full of bold, zesty flavors, chicken legs are flavored with toasted sesame oil, garlic and ginger, then roasted until golden brown. They’re served with a creamy peanut-sesame sauce that’s spiked with even more ginger and garlic, which can be quickly whisked together while the chicken legs cook. Be sure to save any extra sauce; it will keep for a week in the fridge and is terrific with cut-up vegetables as a snack, or spooned onto roasted or fried tofu.

By Melissa Clark

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 45 minutes, plus at least 1 hour’s marinating


For the chicken:

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 3 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed, safflower or other neutral oil
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

For the peanut sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably natural


1. Prepare the chicken: In a small bowl, mix together sesame oil, salt, ginger and garlic, and smear mixture all over the chicken and underneath the skin. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet (or plate), preferably on a rack to allow air to circulate, and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

2. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the rack under the chicken if you’ve used one. If the chicken isn’t on a rimmed baking sheet, transfer it to one (you can line it with parchment to make cleanup easier, but it’s not necessary). Pat the legs dry with a paper towel. Drizzle chicken with the neutral oil. Roast until the chicken is golden brown and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pricked with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes.

3. While chicken is in the oven, make the peanut sauce: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and ginger until combined, then whisk in sesame oil and honey. Add peanut butter and whisk until smooth. If the mixture is very thick (and this depends on your brand of peanut butter), whisk in a few tablespoons of cold water until it becomes a thick but pourable sauce.

4. Transfer chicken to a serving plate and carefully pour any pan juices on the baking sheet into the bowl with the peanut sauce. Whisk until combined. Taste the sauce and add more soy sauce, vinegar or honey if you’d like.

5. Drizzle or brush some of the peanut sauce all over chicken pieces, reserving some sauce for serving. Garnish with scallions and serve with reserved peanut sauce.

2. Coconut Rice With Shrimp and Corn

This summery, one-pot dish has everything you need: fresh shrimp nestled in creamy coconut rice, with pops of summer corn and basil. Lime cuts through the richness and adds some bright tartness. To easily shave corn kernels off the cob, lay your cob flat on your cutting board. With a chef’s knife, lob off one side. Rotate the cob so that the flat side is on the cutting board and repeat, running around all four sides. Frozen wild shrimp is an excellent weeknight staple, as it thaws and cooks quickly. You can always keep it on hand and thaw just as much as you need, which ensures optimal freshness.

By Samantha Seneviratne

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 45 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh (from 2 cobs) or frozen
  • 1 lime, zested, then sliced into wedges
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for serving


1. In a large, heavy pot, heat coconut oil over medium. Add the onion, ginger and jalapeño and season with the 3/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 6 minutes.

2. Add the rice and sauté for another minute. Then stir in the coconut milk and 1 1/4 cups water. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer but avoid scorching.

3. Stir in the shrimp and corn, cover again, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is cooked through and the rice is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Add more water by 1/2 cups throughout cooking as needed if the water has been absorbed, but the rice is still too firm.)

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest and basil; season to taste with salt. Serve immediately with lime wedges and topped with more basil.

3. Buttery Lemon Pasta With Almonds and Arugula

Brown butter, crunchy almonds and tangy lemon make a rich but balanced sauce for this pantry-friendly pasta. The arugula lends freshness and rounds out the pasta, turning this into a quick one-pot meal. If you want to increase the vegetables, you can double the arugula. (Just add a little more lemon juice.) And if you don’t have baby (or wild) arugula on hand, spinach or baby kale are fine, although slightly milder, substitutes. Don’t stint on the red-pepper flakes; their spiciness helps bring together the flavors.

By Melissa Clark

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


  • Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 to 5 ounces baby or wild arugula, coarsely chopped, or use baby kale or spinach (4 to 5 cups)
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving


1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until it is 1 minute shy of being al dente, usually a minute or 2 less than the package instructions. Scoop out about 1 1/2 cups pasta water, then drain pasta.

2. While the pasta cooks, in a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the foam subsides, the milk solids turn golden-brown and the butter smells nutty and toasty, 3 to 4 minutes. (Watch carefully to see that it doesn’t burn.)

3. Stir in almonds, rosemary and red-pepper flakes, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the nuts are toasted and slightly darker in color, about 1 minute.

4. Add about 1 cup pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add lemon juice, zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a large pinch of black pepper, then add drained pasta and toss well. Add arugula, tossing until it wilts. Simmer for another minute, if needed, to thicken the sauce until it’s thick and glossy. If the mixture seems dry, add more pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time.

5. Taste and add more salt, red-pepper flakes and lemon juice, if needed. Serve topped with grated Parmesan and more red-pepper flakes, if you like.

4. Dumpling Tomato Salad With Chile Crisp Vinaigrette

Harness the crowd-pleasing power of dumplings in this hearty yet light main course salad. The base is simple and summery: Ripe tomatoes are lightly touched with salt, garlic and basil, providing a perfectly fragrant canvas for pan-fried potsticker dumplings. Salting intensifies the tanginess and fruitiness of tomatoes, while also coaxing out some of the juice, which becomes a light sauce for the dumplings. (Salting also works wonders for out-of-season tomatoes, meaning you could eat this salad all year round.) Use your favorite chile crisp as it is the dominant flavor in the dressing and will greatly impact the final dish; all brands of crisp will have different levels of saltiness and spice, so season accordingly.

By Hetty Lui McKinnon

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes


For the salad:

  • 2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (any variety), cut into roughly 1- to 2-inch pieces (at room temperature)
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal brand) and black pepper
  • 1 pound frozen potsticker dumplings (not thawed)
  • Neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons store-bought crispy fried shallots (optional)
  • For the chile crisp vinaigrette:
  • 3 tablespoons chile crisp (or chile oil)
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, or more to taste


1. Place the tomatoes on a large serving plate or in a bowl. Add the garlic, half the basil leaves, 1 teaspoon of salt and a big pinch of black pepper. Toss to combine and set aside.

2. To make the vinaigrette, combine the chile crisp, rice vinegar and soy sauce and whisk to combine. Taste and if it needs more saltiness, add ½ teaspoon more soy sauce.

3. Heat a large (12-inch) nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium high for 1 to 2 minutes until very hot. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil and, working in batches, add the dumplings, flat-side down, and cook until the bottoms of the dumplings are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan, just enough to cover the base of the dumplings, then cover and cook until the water has evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. (If your dumplings contain meat, cook for an extra 1 to 2 minutes, or according to packet instructions). Transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate and continue cooking the remaining dumplings. (If you prefer to steam the dumplings, see tip.)

4. To serve, place the warm dumplings over the tomato salad and drizzle with the chile crisp vinaigrette. Toss very gently. Top with the crispy fried shallots (if using) and the remaining basil leaves. Serve either while the dumplings are still warm or at room temperature.


To steam, arrange the dumplings in a steaming basket lined with baking paper or cabbage leaves, place over a pan of boiling water and steam for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Grilled Fish With Salsa Verde

This parsley sauce, made with capers and garlic, is a perfect complement to mild-tasting cod. You could use other fish, or try the sauce on grilled meat, chicken or vegetables. No grill? Broil the fish instead: Put it on a sheet pan, position the oven rack about 4 inches or so below the broiler and heat it to high. Cook the fish for just a few minutes; there’s no need to flip it, and it will cook fast.

By Martha Rose Shulman

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: About 30 minutes


For the salsa verde:

  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves (to taste), halved, green shoots removed
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (tightly packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves (25 grams)
  • For the fish:
  • 2 pounds cod
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


1. To make the salsa verde, combine the garlic, anchovy fillet, salt and capers in a mini food processor and pulse to a paste. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender and combine the ingredients in a jar and blend to a paste.) Add the olive oil and parsley and blend to a purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If using within a few hours, allow to sit at room temperature. Otherwise, refrigerate. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

2. Prepare a hot grill. When the grill is ready, season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides and brush generously on both sides with olive oil. Grill for about 3 minutes on each side, just until you can pull the flesh apart with a fork. Remove from the heat and serve with the salsa verde.


The salsa keeps well in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days and can be prepared in advance.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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