Shrimp tacos and more weeknight recipes to make this week

By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times

I’m ready for spring. I love soups and stews — but this week I’m looking for food that veers away from heavy flavors and winter classics. I hope these dishes speak to you, too.

1. Shrimp Tacos

Spiced shrimp and quick-pickled red cabbage fill corn tortillas for dressed-up tacos that are easy to put together and sure to be a favorite. The seasoned shrimp is cooked in a heated skillet for a slight char, but resist the temptation to move the pieces before the contact side is properly browned. You can keep the add-ons simple with slices of creamy avocado, bits of fresh cilantro and acidic bursts from lime slices. Or bulk up with dollops of guacamole, chunky pico de gallo, and sour cream. The choice is yours!

By Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 4 Servings

Total time: 35 minutes


  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (1/4 small cabbage)
  • 2 limes
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream or crema
  • Pico de gallo
  • Cilantro leaves


1. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the cumin, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, black pepper and 1 tablespoon oil. Season the shrimp lightly with salt. If you have time, you can refrigerate the shrimp to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

2. Squeeze 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lime. Slice the remaining lime into wedges for serving. In a small bowl, quick pickle the cabbage by combining the shredded cabbage with the lime juice and a pinch of salt. Toss together and set aside.

3. Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium. Warm a tortilla in the dry skillet, flipping once, until soft and pliable, about 30 seconds. Place in a dish towel to keep warm. Repeat until all the tortillas are warmed, stacking and wrapping them in the dish towel until ready to use.

4. Heat a tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high. Add half of the shrimp and cook without stirring until the contact side is browned around the edges, about 3 minutes. Flip to cook the other side for 1 to 2 minutes, until the shrimp is fully cooked. Move to a plate and cook the remaining shrimp, heating up the remaining tablespoon of oil before adding the shrimp to get a nice sear.

5. To assemble, spread some guacamole down the middle of each tortilla. Divide the shrimp among the warm tortillas and top with crema, pico de gallo, quick pickled cabbage and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with lime slices for squeezing.

2. Spiced Roast Chicken With Tangy Yogurt Sauce

This weeknight meal is inspired by the spiced chicken and rice that draws lines at halal street carts across Manhattan. Whether it’s lunchtime or late at night, the scent and Mediterranean flavors of grilled and chopped chicken served over turmeric-tinged yellow rice (or wrapped in pita) alongside shredded iceberg salad lures a crowd. Everything gets an imperative, generous drizzle of that signature creamy and tangy white sauce, made here with a blend of yogurt, mayonnaise and spices. Fresh garlic, cilantro and lemon juice are combined with a tasty mix of fragrant spices, then rubbed all over the chicken before it’s roasted until golden and crispy. The iceberg-and-tomato salad offers a cool, refreshing contrast to the spiced chicken.

By Kay Chun

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


For the roasted chicken:

  • 1/4 cup neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt and black pepper

For the white sauce:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or whole-milk)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • A big pinch of granulated garlic
  • A big pinch of granulated onion
  • Salt and black pepper

To serve:

  • 1 small head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • Warm pita bread and hot sauce (optional)


1. Prepare the chicken: Heat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, fresh garlic, coriander, paprika, cumin, oregano and granulated onion with half of the cilantro and half of the lemon juice; mix well. Add the chicken, season with salt and pepper, and toss to evenly coat.

2. Spread the seasoned chicken in a single layer on a large sheet pan and roast until golden and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

3. While the chicken roasts, make the white sauce: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, granulated garlic and granulated onion; season with salt and pepper, then mix well; set aside.

4. Add the remaining cilantro and lemon juice to the roasted chicken and mix well, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Divide chicken, lettuce and tomatoes among 4 plates and drizzle with some of the white sauce. Serve with lemon wedges, plus pita and hot sauce, if using.

3. Roasted Fish and Broccolini With Tamarind and Black Pepper

A single skillet is all you need for this delicious, convenient and comforting weeknight meal. With its caramel-like tang and pleasant pucker, tamarind enlivens the marinade for fish fillets in this simple baked fish recipe. Rich with coconut milk and infused with garlic, ginger and freshly ground black pepper, the quick marinade glazes the fish and bathes the vegetables. Broccolini is used here, but cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or hearty leafy greens such as chard, turnip or beet greens can be substituted. This sauce is versatile and pairs well with most fish, so go with the fillets that look freshest at the market.

By Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 35 minutes, plus marinating


  • 4 fish fillets (6 ounces each), such as snapper, haddock, cod, striped bass, fluke, sablefish or salmon, skin on or off
  • Kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup store-bought tamarind purée or 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (see tip)
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, scrubbed and finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut cream or coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed
  • 1 pound broccolini (2 to 3 bunches), cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Steamed grains, such as rice or fonio, for serving
  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges, for serving


1. Season both sides of the fish lightly with salt and black pepper. In a large bowl, combine the tamarind purée, molasses, ginger, garlic, coconut cream, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Thinly slice 2 scallions and add to the marinade. Cut the remaining scallions into 1-inch pieces and set aside. Add the fish to the marinade and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 12 hours.

2. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large (12-inch) oven-safe skillet, combine the broccolini and chopped scallions. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Spread in an even layer, then place the fish right on top of the vegetables and pour any leftover marinade over the fish.

3. Roast until the fish is opaque but the center is not cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. The fish should not flake easily with a fork. Remove the pan from the oven and heat the broiler to high. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the fish.

4. Move the pan to the broiler and finish cooking, rotating the pan once, until the fish is tender and flakes easily and the broccolini is just tender and beginning to brown in spots, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the broiler and sprinkle the fish with chopped cilantro.

5. Serve the fish and broccolini over steamed grains, such as rice or fonio. Tip the pan juices over the fish and serve with lime wedges for squeezing.


Tamarind can be purchased as a purée or paste and varies in degrees of concentration. Taste store-bought tamarind before use to determine how acidic it is and how much to use in the marinade. Tamarind pods or pulp can also be purchased to make the purée at home. All options are available online or at African, Caribbean or Asian grocery stores.

4. Salt and Pepper Tofu

The joy of Chinese salt and pepper tofu is the contrasting crispy-on-the-outside, pillowy-on-the-inside textures. There is no need to press the tofu — a quick pat down with a kitchen towel is all that’s needed — as the moisture actually helps to keep the interior soft and tender. While potato or tapioca starch is often used for a light batter, nothing beats the accessibility and affordability of cornstarch to produce an enviable crunch. There are many versions of salt and pepper seasoning in Chinese cuisine — some contain Sichuan peppercorns or fennel seeds — but in this recipe, a spicy-sweet combination of white pepper, sugar, ground ginger and five-spice powder shines (see tip).

By Hetty McKinnon

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


For the salt and pepper seasoning:

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

For the tofu:

  • 1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, drained
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • Neutral oil such as canola or grapeseed
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1 long red pepper (such as Fresno) or long green pepper (such as jalapeño or serrano), thinly sliced
  • Cooked rice, to serve


1. To make the seasoning, combine the salt, sugar, white pepper, five-spice powder and ground ginger in a small bowl, and stir to combine. Set aside.

2. Place the drained tofu onto a clean kitchen towel and pat dry. Cut the tofu into 3/4-inch cubes.

3. Scatter 1/4 cup of the cornstarch onto a large plate or sheet pan. Carefully place the tofu cubes onto the cornstarch, then scatter the remaining cornstarch on top of the tofu. Using clean hands, gently dab each side of the tofu into the cornstarch until it is coated on all sides.

4. Line a large plate with a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel.

5. Heat a large (12-inch) nonstick or well seasoned cast-iron skillet on medium-high. Add 3 tablespoons of neutral oil and heat until the oil shimmers. Making sure the tofu pieces are not touching each other (you may need to work in batches), add the coated tofu to the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until the tofu is golden and crispy. Remove and place on the paper or kitchen towel to absorb excess oil. Continue with remaining tofu, adding more oil as needed.

6. The empty skillet should still have a small amount of oil, but if it doesn’t, add 1 tablespoon more of oil. With the skillet over medium heat, add the scallions and pepper and stir-fry for 30 to 60 seconds until softened and fragrant. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the same paper or kitchen towel.

7. Transfer the tofu to a plate and sprinkle with about half of the salt and pepper seasoning. Top with scallions and pepper. Serve with rice and the remaining salt and pepper seasoning.


This seasoning is great to have on hand for several applications; along with tofu, it can be served on top of battered vegetables such as eggplant or cauliflower, or over roasted vegetables or salads. Make extra and store in a jar with a tight lid.

5. Pasta With Fresh Herbs, Lemon and Peas

Buy a bunch of parsley along with basil or chives to keep on hand in your refrigerator. The herbs will keep for a week if properly stored. Produce departments often use misters, but greens don’t keep well once wet. When you get home, spin the herbs in salad spinner if they’re wet, wrap them in a paper towel and then bag them.

By Martha Rose Shulman

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: About 15 minutes


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, tarragon, mint and chives
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 3/4 pound pasta, any type
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or pasta bowl, combine the herbs, lemon zest, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.

2. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. A few minutes before the pasta is done, add the peas to the water. When the pasta is just about al dente, remove a half cup of the cooking water and add to the bowl with the herbs. Drain the pasta and peas, toss with the herb mixture and the cheese, and serve.


The herbs can be chopped several hours ahead, but don’t combine the ingredients until you’ve put the water on for the pasta.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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