Recipes for a Little Joy

What a week. How’s everyone doing out there? I’ve been thinking of those affected by Hurricane Ida (and everything else). And I hope you are doing OK. We had some flooding, lost some treasured things. But my family is safe, and we are grateful.

And, though I might dream of curling up with spoon, a jar of peanut butter and a bag of chocolate chips, I will cook. I will cook because it makes me feel better to make something beautiful when so many things are, well, not. With that in mind, the recipes I’ve chosen are surefire delights that are easy and fun to make. I hope they bring you a little joy and deliciousness this week.

Ali Slagle is a bit of a weeknight wizard when it comes to recipes. She just knows how to create something simple that’s also surprising and spectacular. Here, she makes use of the late-summer squash that’s everywhere right now by grating two pounds of zucchini, caramelizing it with butter and olive oil, adding a little garlic and basil, then tossing it with pasta for a maybe not very pretty, but very delicious vegetarian dinner.

Corn! Mango! Halloumi! If that isn’t a cheerful combination, I don’t know what is. Hetty McKinnon is a genius at putting together exciting, dinner-worthy vegetarian salads that don’t feel like a sad compromise. I love the squidgy chewiness of halloumi, but, if you have trouble finding it, queso blanco works, too.

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I love my slow cooker, and since in-person school is starting for my kids next week, I’m about to put it to work full time. This slow-cooker version of tinga, a Pueblan dish of braised chicken or pork in a chipotle, tomato and onion sauce, is from Sarah DiGregorio, and it checks all of the boxes: It’s truly “fix it and forget it,” it freezes well and leftovers are easily repurposed for enchiladas.

If slow-cooker recipes are my favorite, then one-pot meals are a close second. This one from Samantha Seneviratne combines jasmine rice, coconut milk, shrimp, corn and basil for ultimate summer comfort. It’s a milder-flavored dish, so add a little fish sauce or extra lime and jalapeño if you want something a bit more lively.

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A good Bolognese is my love language, but who has time for that on a weeknight? Thankfully, Dawn Perry came up with a quick version that uses Worcestershire sauce “to season the ground beef mixture with salt, acid, sweetness and funk in one shot.” It tastes complex, like it’s been simmering for ages, but you can get it onto the table in about a half-hour. Smart!

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