Take a basic basic (burger and fries) and dress it up a bit, without too much extra work.

Instead of fries, upgrade to a quick potato salad that tastes great served warm. Most of the prep time is oven time (while you make the burgers), so you can get it done on a weeknight.

Use fingerling potatoes instead of anything more conventional. Yes, they look a little odd. Their flavor makes up for it.

Want to wing the potato salad instead of using a recipe? Quarter the potatoes, toss them in olive oil and salt, roast them in a hot oven for 25 minutes, then mix with Duke’s mayonnaise, a dash of cider vinegar, a chopped spring onion or two, some diced Wickles pickles, kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Good stuff there. Serve it on a bed of bitter greens to go heavier on the plant content. Pair with a burger (add blue cheese to beef, or maybe some green chile to turkey), and you’ve got a soul-satisfying dinner that’s easy and beyond basic.

Love to Cook: If you have the time and inclination, this recipe for blue cheese burgers with caramelized onions is worth the effort – especially when served on brioche. Since the burgers are so rich, this lighter potato salad recipe is a good companion.

Weeknight Reality: It’s hard to beat this simple blue cheese burger prep – it takes just minutes. Use the extra time (mostly roasting time) to make this tangy potato salad.

Need a Miracle: Same burger recipe as above; you’ll probably have to opt for purchased potato salad if you’re really in the ‘need a miracle’ mode; another option would be just to wash, halve/quarter, toss in olive oil and roast the potatoes while you’re making the burgers – takes only 20 minutes. Serve them plain instead of making potato salad.


tomatoes july 2014

Grilled Chicken | Fattoush

It’s tomato time! Few summer dishes show off tomatoes as well as a lemony fattoush salad. Although you can skip the pomegranate molasses without making much difference, the sumac is worth a trip to Penzeys (or your local spice store).

Love to Cook: Here’s Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s version from The Splendid Table and one from bon appetit. Both versions are similar, and either will yield a terrific result. Serve with simple grilled lemon chicken.

Weeknight Reality: This version from Eating Well is a little simpler and also has instructions for the grilled chicken.

Need a Miracle: Take the time to make the salad and serve it with rotisserie chicken from the deli (or grilled chicken pieces).



Carnitas with Salsa Verde | Stoneground Grits (or corn tortillas) | Cucumber & Herb Salad

If you have the time to cook the pork (it does the work; you just have to be there), true carnitas is delightful for tacos, or just on top of a big green salad. There are similar preparations that are much quicker, though, like crispy ground pork or buying smoked shoulder from a local BBQ shop.

Love to Cook: The cooking time for this carnitas recipe is 2-3 hours, but other than time it needs almost no attention until the very end. Martha Stewart’s version is a bit shorter and just as good. Use herbs of your choice for the salsa verde, and serve with thick, warm corn tortillas, or grits, or grit cakes, and a simple cucumber salad.

Weeknight Reality: Similar in taste and texture is this crispy pork, which uses ground pork and is ready in less than 20 minutes. The recipe calls for steamed rice, but corn tortillas would work here, too.

Need a Miracle: Most BBQ shops will sell plain smoked pork shoulder (pulled or chopped), without added sauce. Some groceries also carry smoked pork in the freezer section. Be wary of the ready-to-cook versions in the refrigerated aisle, though, as they are loaded with salt. Serve the meat with warm tortillas, cilantro, avocado, and lime, with or without a salad.



Lamb Burgers | Sweet Potato Oven Fries | Pickles

For a twist on ye olde standard burger and fries, try patties made with ground lamb, or a mix of lamb and beef, and sweet potatoes instead of a more traditional fry spud like Yukon Gold. if you have time, make some fresh, quick refrigerator pickles, which are ready in as little as a couple of hours.

Love to Cook:This Food 52 adaptation of a Food & Wine lamb burger recipe is tasty and not too challenging for a Friday night. The yogurt sauce actually works pretty well, too, with these spicy sweet potato fries (they take a little extra work but are worth the effort, if you have the time). Garnish your plate with these simple dill pickles, if you have cucumbers already in season.

Weeknight Reality: Here’s a different take on the F&W lamb burger – one that is more easily adapted to different tastes. To keep things simple, you could use Alexa brand sweet potato fries, tossed with a bit of paprika or red chile. And if you don’t have time or inclination to make pickles, there are dozens of boutique brands in most grocery stores these days, so try something new.

Need a Miracle: The only way to make the Weeknight Reality version even easier would be to make regular beef (or turkey) burgers and just season with salt and pepper. And really, there’s just not a thing wrong with that. Not at all.