Cookie molds are back in their drawers, and giant casserole dishes are back in their cabinets. Now you have to face reality: After a busy season of gathering, traveling, and breaking from routine, a return to everyday cooking can come abruptly. But a handful of light, nutritious recipes can make regeneration in the kitchen an exciting endeavor. Below are 13 dishes that will make you feel good while cooking or even eating.
1. Cod and Kimchi Stew
Kimchi is a great shortcut to delicious soups and stews. Like kimchi jjigae, this recipe from Rick Martínez uses fiery fermented cabbage as the base for a broth that doubles as the runny liquid for your favorite light white fish.
Recipe: Cod and Kimchi Stew
2. Chicken and Coleslaw with Miso-Sesame Sauce
You need little more than some cooked, shredded chicken and crispy greens and veggies from the fridge to make a hearty lunch or dinner. Kenji López-Alt amps up the standard salad ingredients with a go-anything miso-sesame vinaigrette. Really, that’s the name of the recipe! Whip up more than you need, as it keeps in the fridge for up to three weeks and can garnish even the simplest of meals.
Recipe: Chicken and Coleslaw with Miso-Sesame Sauce
3. Roasted Pumpkin with Honey Hazelnut and Hot Honey Chickpeas
This lively sheet dish from Melissa Clark is sure to cure cold weather blues. Winter squash and hearty, protein-packed chickpeas get a jolt of heat and warmth from spicy honey and spice, a concoction that often includes cumin, nutmeg, and coriander. Yogurt balls add a nice coolness.
Recipe: Roasted Honey Hazelnut Zucchini and Hot Honey Chickpeas
4. Greek Chicken-White Salad with Cucumbers
In this inspired Ali Slagle recipe, a garlic yoghurt dresses cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives for a creamy yet light salad reminiscent of both tzatziki and white-speckled Greek salads. Enjoy it alongside boneless, skinless chicken thighs that are simply spicy but perfectly flavored.
Recipe: Greek Chicken with Cucumber-White Salad
5. Coconut Fish and Baked Tomatoes
“The sauce in this recipe is literally the most incredible combination of coconut milk and ginger,” wrote a New York Times Cooking reader of this Yewande Komolafe recipe. “I can drink gallons.” If that doesn’t make you rush to the kitchen, maybe this is it: It rolls up on a sheet and takes only 35 minutes to prepare.
Recipe: Coconut Fish and Tomatoes Baked
6. Spiced Turkey Skewers with Cumin-Lime Yogurt
Lean ground turkey is much more exciting when shaped around skewers, like a Middle Eastern patty. Yasmin Fahr flavors the meat with cumin, turmeric and grated onion before combining it with yogurt for ultra-soft results. Enjoy the skewers with grilled pita or on greens mixed with plenty of cucumber, onion and herbs.
Recipe: Spicy Turkey Skewers with Cumin-Lime Yogurt
7. Tofu with Ginger Tahini Sauce and Bok Choy
Steaming may feel retro, but the technique yields supple textures and bland flavors that pair well with assertive sauces. Here, Kay Chun combines tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, scallions, and cilantro, while soft tofu and baby bok choy are lightly cooked. If you received a steam basket as a gift, this is the perfect opportunity to take it out.
Recipe: Tofu with Ginger Tahini Sauce and Bok Choy
8. Turkey and Lemon White Bean Soup with Greens
This bright, one-pot soup from Melissa Clark is full of healthy ingredients. Ground Turkey! Bean! Solid greens! Make it like broth or stew as per your preference and enjoy its ability to keep you up.
Recipe: Lemon White Bean Soup with Turkey and Greens
9. Ginger Chicken with Crispy Napa Salad
Lean chicken breasts get a bad rap, but Yewande Komolafe knows how to make them shine. Lightly beating the meat ensures that it cooks evenly and absorbs as much of the flavorful marinade as possible. A simple salad of napa cabbage, cucumber, chives, and mint adds a crunchy and summery feel no matter the time of year.
Recipe: Ginger Chicken with Crispy Napa Salad
10. Grilled Salmon and Herbed Asparagus
Chicken is your friend, especially if you like to eat at the table in less than 30 minutes. In this recipe from Yasmin Fahr, nutritious salmon and asparagus are quickly cooked side-by-side under direct heat, giving anything a nice char. A light dressing of soy sauce and mustard is drizzled over the fish, and a fresh herb salad on the side adds plenty of flavor to an otherwise simple weeknight pairing.
Recipe: Grilled Salmon and Herbed Asparagus
11. Mole Green
If you’re looking to add more green recipes to your cooking routine, look no further than this lush Mexican mother sauce. A blend of tomatillos, chiles, lettuce and herbs, Jocelyn Ramirez’s mole green can garnish your favorite roasted vegetables, meats or fish.
Recipe: mole green
12. Chicken and Mushroom Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps
A pantry-friendly soy sauce, scallions, garlic, ginger, and just a little sugar (for browning) go a long way. In this Kay Chun recipe, marinated chicken and onions are grilled with lightly oiled mushrooms until caramelized and then tucked into fresh leafy green lettuce. More finger food in 2023!
Recipe: Chicken and Mushroom Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps
13. Spicy Shrimp and Chickpea Salad
This salad from Yasmin Fahr takes very little time and effort; this is ideal if you are still working in the post-holiday fog. Lemon, lime, Dijon mustard, and Fresno chile add plenty of piquancy, bite, and heat to canned chickpeas and quick-fried shrimp.
Recipe: Spicy Shrimp and Chickpea Salad
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