Melissa Clark's Basic Meals Done Better

Melissa Clark—a mom, cookbook author, and New York Times Food columnist—takes your everyday (yawn) dinners to the next level with a few simple swaps.


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Black Bean Skillet Dinner

Black Bean Skillet Dinner

Veggie Chili

This is my version of vegetarian chili, which I simmer in a shallow skillet instead of a deep pot so that it comes together quickly enough for any given weeknight (wider pan = quicker evaporation = dinner on the table faster). I like to serve this with quick-pickled onions—red onions soaked in lime juice, salt and sugar—to add a tangy bite to the beans, contrasting with their starchy softness. There’s also a lime crema in this recipe, which may feel like one step too many on a weeknight, in which case you can absolutely skip it. Or substitute a dollop of yogurt straight from the container to add a little creaminess. But do make the pickles; they’re worth the extra 3 minutes it takes to throw them together.

Makes 4
Prep 10 m
Cook 34 m

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Vietnamese Caramel Salmon

Vietnamese Caramel Salmon

In Vietnam, thick bone-in catfish steaks are simmered in a dark and highly peppery caramel for upwards of an hour, until the fish practically falls apart in its bittersweet, pungent sauce. Here, I’ve replaced catfish with salmon. And by using brown sugar instead of making my own caramel, I’ve also speeded up the process so that the whole thing is ready in less than 30 minutes. The salmon still has time to absorb all the intense flavors of the caramel, but it doesn’t overcook.

Makes 4
Prep 15 m
Cook 6 m
Broil 5 m

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Roasted Turkey Breast with Rosemary and Anchovies

Roasted Turkey Breast with Rosemary and Anchovies

If it’s not Thanksgiving or Christmas, people tend to forget about turkey beyond a club sandwich or a substitute for ground beef in burgers and the like. Turkey parts, either legs or breast, make robust meals any time of the year. Here,
I roast a boneless whole turkey breast that’s been rubbed down with a potent paste of anchovies, garlic, rosemary and lime zest, then plopped right on top of a thicket of rosemary needles for roasting. The breast emerges moist and very fragrant, ready to be sliced and served hot. Leftovers are excellent, of course, in sandwiches.

Makes 6
Prep 20 m
Rest 10 m
Marinate 30 minutes or up to 24 hours
Roast for 25 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

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Do Different Daily

Do Different Daily 2018

This icon appears on pages where our experts share how to do things better and create more time for yourself and your family.


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Sesame Chicken with Cashews and Dates

Sesame Chicken with Cashews and Dates

Stir-Fry

In the classic Taiwanese dish—called Three Cups Chicken—a sauce of toasted sesame oil, dark soy sauce and honeyed rice wine gives pieces of chicken and scallions an extraordinary depth of flavor, while chiles and fresh ginger add verve. In my version, I also toss in slivers of dates and roasted cashews to add both a sugary depth and a substantial crunch. It makes a great dish ever so slightly more interesting, both texturally and flavor-wise. 

Makes 4 - 6
Prep 15 m
Cook 17 m

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Cumin-Chicken Meatballs with Green Chile Sauce

Cumin-Chicken Meatballs with Green Chile Sauce

Meatballs

These relatively mild, cumin-flecked chicken meatballs are a gentle foil to the vibrant, fiery green chile sauce served
with them. Chile pepper avoiders (i.e., my daughter, Dahlia) will happily eat the meatballs plain, while heat seekers
(i.e., the adults, such as my husband and me) can slather them in sauce. If you love garlicky, spicy, herbal flavors, keep this sauce recipe handy. It’s excellent on pretty much everything, from roast chicken and fish to grilled steaks, to burgers, to plain rice, and will keep for a week in the refrigerator. It’s also nice cooled down with a drizzle of plain yogurt, which makes it appealingly creamy too. You can use either white- or dark-meat chicken to make the meatballs; the white meat will be milder, the dark meat more tender. Or substitute ground pork or turkey.

Related: Melissa Clark Reveals Her Biggest Kitchen Flop & More

Makes 4
Prep 20 m
Broil 7 m
Cook 2 1/2 minutes

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'Dinner: Changing the Game' Cookbook

Melissa Clark Cookbook Cover Dinner: Changing the Game

Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

Recipes reprinted from Dinner: Changing the Game. Copyright © 2017 by Melissa Clark; $35.