Even if you don’t have kids headed back to school, the end of summer feels like a second new year.
Vacations are winding down, fall projects are cranking up, and the holiday season will be here before we know it. Unlike the beginning of the year, we don’t tend to set eating and cooking resolutions in August, but it is a time to restock the pantry, fridge and freezer and dig up a few new recipes to add to our cooking routines.Adults need back-to-school lunch ideas, too — here are 3 recipes
We’ve gathered seven weeknight dinner recipes here, but you could also head to the library to check out some new cookbooks or go through your recipe clippings or those food magazines by the couch. Use sticky notes to flag the dishes that look interesting or snap a photo of the page with your phone. If you use a grocery shopping app, compile the ingredients you’ll need, or make an old-fashioned paper grocery list.
Carve out some time on a Sunday to make a loose meal plan for the week ahead or batch-cook some proteins or vegetables to use in several meals in the days ahead. You could also try out one of the curbside or grocery delivery services, if you are particularly pressed for time. I like to keep track of the new(ish) meals I make that my kids love, usually on a piece of paper on the fridge, and when I’m short on meal ideas, I can reference this list of past hits.Start the school year with healthier eating by making a few simple changes
Even with the unrelenting heat outside, it’s hard to avoid using my oven altogether, but I try to stick with quick-cooking pizzas, nachos and roasted vegetables, such as the recipes included here. There will be plenty of time for lasagnas, baked potatoes and roasts once fall finally arrives.Back to school: Tips on encouraging kids to make their own lunches
The World’s Best Sloppy Joe Burger in the History of the World
My father is from Sioux City, Iowa, so I grew up on loose-meat sandwiches and sloppy Joes like the kind they serve at Tastee Inn & Out. You can make your own with a mix of ground meats, and though tomato paste is ideal, you can use ketchup in a pinch.
— Christian Stevenson
1 pound ground beef, turkey or pork
Olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon English mustard
1/2 beef stock cube, to crumble in
Sea salt and black pepper
6 to 8 soft white buns
Pickles, sliced (optional)
Remove the meat from the fridge and then heat up a large saucepan over medium-high heat on the stove. Drizzle some oil into the pan, then brown the meat. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside in a bowl. (Don’t drain off any excess fat.) Add a little more oil to the pan, if needed, and saute the onion and garlic until softened.
Now add the beef back in with the rest of the ingredients. Slowly stir and cook on a simmer for at the very least 20 minutes. The longer you cook this, the better. Sloppy Joe sandwiches always taste better the next day, so you could batch-cook the filling and eat it through the week, or even freeze some for another time.
Spoon filling onto the bottom bun, top with a pickle and the bun lid. Sloppy Joes work well when the meat isn’t piled on too thick, as the wetness can overcome the bun and destroy it before you have finished. Less is more in the sloppy Joe bun. Makes 6 to 8 burgers.
— From “The Burger Book: Banging Burgers, Sides and Sauces to Cook Indoors and Out” by Christian Stevenson (Quadrille, $19.99)
Chickpea and Butternut Squash Tacos
These simple, budget-friendly tacos work just as well for Meatless Monday as Taco Tuesday. You’ll fall in love with the combination of crispy chickpeas and creamy butternut squash.
— Laura Fuentes
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
3 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes), divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 pound diced butternut squash, thawed if frozen
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1 cup finely chopped red cabbage
1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
1 large avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1 lime, cut into wedges
Heat the oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the taco seasoning, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, olive oil and water. Add the chickpeas and squash cubes and toss to coat well.
Transfer the seasoned chickpeas and squash to the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas are slightly crispy and the squash is tender.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and cilantro. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
To assemble each taco, start with a bed of cabbage, top with roasted chickpeas, squash, jalapeños and avocado, and drizzle some cilantro-lime sauce on top. Serve with additional lime wedges. Serves 4.
— From “The Taco Tuesday Cookbook: 52 Tasty Taco Recipes to Make Every Week the Best Ever” by Laura Fuentes (Fair Winds Press, $21.99)
Korean Glass Noodle and Vegetable Stir-Fry
This stir-fry from Marja Vongerichten uses glass noodles and a garden’s worth of produce, including tricolor bell peppers, green beans, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, edamame and spinach. Much of the flavor comes from a quick sauce she makes from soy sauce, honey, garlic and sesame seeds. I took major liberties with the sauce, swapping in liquid or coconut aminos for the soy sauce, which is far higher in sodium. The recipe is amenable to other substitutions and adaptations, too: You could use broccoli or cauliflower instead of green beans, kale or collard greens instead of spinach, and so on. You could include fewer vegetables, it’s true, but do me a favor and make sure to include more than one variety.
The noodles can be found in Asian supermarkets and in many well-stocked grocery stores. If you can’t find them, use thin rice vermicelli or any other favorite noodle.
— Joe Yonan
1 pound Korean glass/cellophane noodles (dangmyeon)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 cup liquid aminos or coconut aminos, or more as needed (may substitute low-sodium soy sauce plus 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar)
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 bell peppers, preferably a mix of red, yellow and orange, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into 1-inch matchsticks
2 cups green beans, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 cup snow peas, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup thawed frozen edamame or peas
3 cups baby spinach leaves
Sriracha, for serving (optional)
Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and drizzle with a little sesame oil.
In a small bowl, whisk together the aminos, sesame seeds and half the garlic.
In a large wok or wide, deep skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the mushrooms, onion and the remaining garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a plate and drizzle with a bit of sesame oil.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the wok and add the bell peppers and carrot. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, snow peas and edamame and cook until all the vegetables are just barely cooked through, about 2 minutes.
Add the reserved sesame-garlic sauce, the noodles and spinach and stir-fry just until the greens wilt, 30 seconds. Taste, and add more aminos or soy sauce if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature, with Sriracha for drizzling if desired. Serves 6 to 8.
— Adapted from “The Kimchi Chronicles: Korean Cooking for an American Kitchen” by Marja Vongerichten (Rodale, $32.50)
Creamy Chicken and Tomato Pasta
Pasta dishes aren’t always the most exciting meal of the week, but this one uses shredded rotisserie chicken, asparagus, tomatoes and cream to amp up the flavor, texture and depth. If you’re a fan of olives or capers, consider adding a tablespoon or two of them with the chicken.
— Addie Broyles
2 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) dried campanelle pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces fresh asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped seeded Roma tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded purchased roasted chicken
1/3 grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Keep pasta warm.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. Add asparagus and tomatoes; cook and stir 1 minute. Add the reserved pasta cooking water, cream and remaining tablespoon butter; cook and stir until butter is melted and liquid is slightly thickened. Stir in chicken and Parmesan; heat through. Add hot cooked pasta. Top with basil, lemon zest and, if desired, additional grated Parmesan. Serves 4.
— From “Better Homes and Gardens Quick Homemade: Fast, Fresh Meals in 30 Minutes” by Meredith Corporation (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)
10-Minute Ravioli Soup
I really wish I was one of those people who had the time to make their own ravioli from scratch. But, sadly, my life is just way too busy. Hence why I am such a huge fan of store-bought ravioli, which can go from fridge to plate in a grand total of 3 minutes. And what if you could make these super-convenient dumplings of deliciousness even easier by, say, ditching the need to heat up a sauce and not even bothering to drain the pasta? Well, with ravioli soup you can do exactly this. Toss in a few super-quick-cooking vegetables or mushrooms, and you have a hearty soup made in a jiffy and for absolute minimal effort. You could put an Asian spin on this by replacing the sherry and Parmesan with thin slices of red chile, spring onions and sesame oil.
— James Wong
8 cups chicken stock
1 pound frozen mixed vegetables, such as carrot, peas, corn and green beans
1/2 small white onion, finely sliced
2 (14-ounce) packs fresh ravioli or tortellini pasta (any flavor will work)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 to 4 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as dill, parsley and mint)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Bring the stock to a boil in a very large saucepan, then add the remaining soup ingredients. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes until the pasta is tender. Serve scattered with the herbs and Parmesan, with a little drizzle of olive oil. Serves 4.
— From “10-a-Day the Easy Way: Fuss-free Recipes & Simple Science to Transform Your Health” by James Wong (Mitchell Beazley, $29.99)
Pizza With Broccoli, Mozzarella and Garlic
This quick pizza dough also makes delicious white yeast bread, which you can shape into rolls, loaves and braids. I find it convenient to pop a few rolled-out uncooked pizza crusts in the freezer so on an especially hurried weeknight, you can take one out, put the topping on and slide it straight in the oven.
— Darina Allen
For the pizza dough:
5 cups unbleached bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 heaping tablespoon granulated sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 (1/4-ounce) package quick-rise yeast
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
About 2 cups lukewarm water, more if necessary
For the pizza:
Semolina flour, to sprinkle
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
4 ounces broccoli, broccolini or romanesco, cooked
3 ounces buffalo mozzarella, torn
2 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Flaky sea salt
Chile oil (optional)
Make the dough: Sift the flour into a large, wide mixing bowl and add the salt and sugar. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or by pinching the fat into the flour with your fingertips, add the yeast and mix together thoroughly. Make a hollow in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil and most of the lukewarm water. Gradually combine to form a loose dough. You can add more water or flour if needed. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, cover and let relax for about 5 minutes.
Knead the dough until smooth and springy, 8 to 9 minutes by hand or 5 minutes using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let the dough relax again for about 10 minutes, then divide and shape into eight equal balls of dough, each weighing about 5 ounces. Lightly brush the balls of dough with olive oil. If you have time, put the oiled balls of dough into a plastic bag and chill in the refrigerator, which makes the dough easier to handle, but it can be used immediately.
Heat the oven to 475 degrees and put in a baking sheet to heat up. On a well-floured work surface, roll out a ball of dough to a 10-inch circle. Sprinkle a little semolina all over the surface of a pizza paddle, if using, and set the pizza crust on top.
Brush the edges of the crust with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle thin slivers of garlic over the crust, arrange the broccoli florets on top and sprinkle over the cheese. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season with flaky sea salt. Slide off the paddle onto the hot baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes. Drizzle with chile oil, if desired, and serve immediately.
— From “Simply Delicious: The Classic Collection” by Darina Allen (Kyle Books, $27.99)
If your only experience with nachos is the kind with bright yellow cheese that comes from a pump, you’re in for a treat. Homemade nachos are easy to make and crazy good to eat. These are loaded with cheese, beans, sour cream and salsa. Pickled jalapeños are the crowning touch; they really take nachos to the next level. They’re sold in cans or jars in the Mexican food section of the market. If you don’t like things too spicy, look for “mild” on the label. You can add any number of leftover sauteed or grilled vegetables or meats on these nachos, and instead of whole cooked beans, you can also use refried.
— Katie Sullivan Morford
5 big handfuls tortilla chips (about 8 ounces)
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked black beans or pinto beans, drained
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/3 cup salsa
1/2 cup pickled jalapeños
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread the tortilla chips across the baking sheet, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle the cheese over the chips, followed by the black beans. Bake until the cheese melts and bubbles, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon small dollops of sour cream and salsa over the nachos. Scatter the jalapeños over everything. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
— From “Prep: The Essential College Cookbook” by Katie Sullivan Morford (Roost Books, $18.95)