Hello and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes, which this week is inspired by a photo a friend posted on Instagram: a recipe from the Pink Book, her binder of keeper recipes. (The tradition began with her in-laws, she wrote, whose original binder was pink; everyone in the family has to vote yes on a dish for it to enter the book.) It was a warm-weather dish of cold noodles by the chef Simone Tong, though she also mentioned others, among them Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock’s tomato and okra sauté, Meera Sodha’s wild mushroom pilau, the meatballs from Frankies Spuntino in New York.
I don’t have a Pink Book, though I wish I did, both for the repository that it would be and the sheer sight of a pink binder on my kitchen shelf. But like all home cooks I do have keeper recipes, the ones I always come back to. They tend to fall into two categories: recipes that pioneer new ideas, like kale sauce for pasta, and gold-star versions of standard dishes.
A few of mine are below, and I asked a few members of the NYT Cooking staff for theirs, too. And yours, please? Tell me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I would be remiss not to mention that there is a virtual Pink Book on NYT Cooking: your recipe box. Register if you haven’t yet, and then start saving recipes.
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Here are five dishes for the week:
Tejal Rao, our California restaurant critic, said that this versatile sauce from the chef Joshua McFadden offered a keeper technique for her. She suggests adding other leafy greens and herbs to the kale sauce; layering it with cheese and either lasagna noodles or parcooked rigatoni and baking it; whisking it into eggs for a frittata; or skipping the cheese and tossing it with toasted cumin and fried paneer.
The method in this recipe by Kay Chun is a standard one, and worth committing to memory: Roast oiled, seasoned chicken thighs on a sheet pan surrounded by vegetables, and finish it with acid. Adding scallions to the pan is a light-bulb moment; slice a few extra fresh ones to scatter on top to serve, so that scallion flavor really hums.
I’ve written about the cookbook author Naz Deravian’s dill salmon before: It’s a simple recipe with a sippable marinade that combines olive oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, dill, turmeric and lime juice. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen those ingredients listed together in one recipe before, and the result is dynamic and wholly delicious.
This is the recipe by Simone Tong that landed in the Pink Book. Its sauce is rooted in the pantry — the ingredients are rice vinegar, soy sauce, black vinegar, chile oil — and the rest is adaptable for what you have on hand. Swap tofu or another meat for the pork, or alter the vegetables as you like.