Best Weeknight Dinner Ideas, According to Eater Editors

Breakfast: easy. Lunch: not much of a labor. Dinner? Sometimes smoke can pour from your ears just thinking up an idea for what to cook. If you forgot to take something out of the freezer, or feel worn out from the struggles of daily life, you may frequently think, I guess I’m skipping dinner tonight. In a word: Don’t. With the following recipes, Eater editors fill you in on their evening meal go-tos, weeknight-approved.


Gochugaru Salmon with Crispy Rice

Eric Kim, NYT Cooking

It’s no secret that Eric Kim’s cookbook koreanamerican is a favorite of Eater.com — in particular, these smashed potatoes with roasted seaweed sour cream dip. Real Kim-heads, though, still turn to his plethora of recipes on NYT Cooking for dinner inspiration, as they now feel like the first underground album before the band blew up. (“Oh, you’re an Eric Kim fan? Name three songs from his first record.”) This recipe for gochugaru salmon is one of my favorites to cook on a weeknight because salmon is too often boring and bland, whereas Kim’s simple take invite gochugaru, maple syrup, and a healthy amount of butter to the party, all with little-to-no extra fussing about. Crispy rice and cucumbers: great sides. —Dayna Evans, Eater Philly editor

Black Pepper Tofu and Asparagus

Sarah Jampel, Enjoy your food

As a person who loves 1. dinner that comes together in less than a half hour and 2. black pepper, this recipe is basically a dream. I love that it only requires a small number of fresh ingredients (asparagus, fresh ginger, and garlic) and a bunch of pantry staples (rice, tofu, soy sauce). Plus it’s a simple enough recipe that refusing to use actual measurements won’t really throw things off — sure, you could measure out the soy sauce and rice vinegar, or you could just splash it into the pan based on what feels right. My only suggestion would be to completely disregard the measurements for garlic (go on and double up if you want, who’s stopping you?) and cornstarch; I’ve found that to get a truly crisp coating on each cube, you might just want to generously sprinkle it into the bowl and toss with your hands. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

Chicken Pie

Sylvia Rosenthal and Fran Shinagel, How Cooking Works

Every winter I make a chicken soup, and after fishing the parts from the stock and peeling the flesh from the carcass, I use the dark meat to make this chicken pot pie out of an absolutely shredded copy of this cookbook, which I think my mother got at one of her approximately 70 bridal showers. What makes me so fond of this recipe is, it has lemon in it, and now every other chicken pot pie bores me. No secrets; I just like it. Here is a dish that could not possibly be eaten outside of the hours of 8 and 11 pm during the months of January and February, without the lights dimmed and a profuse number of candles lit — that’s not lunch and it’s not a dinner party; that’s just dinner. Serve with a green salad, Lost Larson limpa rye, and a rambling anecdote about which recipes all the pie components are leftover from. — Rachel P. Kreiter, senior copy editor

Mushroom Stroganoff

Sabrina Synder, Epicurious

Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup formed the basis of some of my favorite foods growing up, so it’s only natural that when I don’t want to think out of the box with dinner, I go back to my most basic cravings: creamy, salty, mushroom-y. Though the canned stuff isn’t a regular item on my shopping list, mushrooms and sour cream or Greek yogurt are. Stroganoff is the simplest way to turn those things plus just a few more staples—like flour, butter, alliums, and stock—into dinner (I usually skip the wine, since I rarely have bottles sitting around). Tired on a weeknight isn’t my favorite way or time to mess around with new dishes; on those nights, a bowl of stroganoff always feels like exactly the right choice. — Bettina Makalintal, senior reporter

Chicken Lo Mein

CJ Eats

In the brief period of time when I was sucked into the TikTok vortex, I found myself captivated by a food blogger and TikTok-er known as CJ Eats. CJ’s recipes range from baked mac and cheese to copycat Benihana fried rice, but I was particularly enamored with his Chinese American recipes, many of which he inherited from his grandfather, a Southern Californian chef and grocery store owner — dishes like honey walnut shrimp, General Tso’s chicken, and beef and broccoli that really taste like what came out of a red-and-white ’90s Chinese takeout container. Cooking through his recipes, I’ve learned the techniques and ingredients that are key to nailing those dishes: how to velvet chicken, how to use just the right amount of MSG, and which specific soy sauces work for which recipes.

The recipe I most often revisit his chicken lo mein, which comes together quickly and is easily adaptable based on what I have in my fridge. I often use a few different varieties of locally made noodles, usually swapping the traditional lo mein for Umi Organic’s yakisoba. I’ve also been known to add a little extra shaoxing wine or sugar to make it a touch sweeter. But the resulting lo mein has that nice touch of char from the wok, that hit of salt from the oyster sauce and soy sauces, and the satisfying crunch of not-overcooked vegetables. —Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

spanakorizo

Sarah Jampel, Enjoy your food

My toddler still happily eats green foods, and I’m convinced that part of the reason why is that we regularly have green versions of kid favorites like pesto pasta and green smoothies. When I saw this recipe I was immediately excited by the prospect of adding “green rice” to our rotation. I’ve made this recipe a handful of times, but somehow never when I’ve had all the ingredients. It has never mattered that I didn’t have the right number of scallions, or that I subbed garlic for scallions, or that one time I didn’t even have a lemon. That’s why it’s quickly become a dinnertime staple in my household; it’s functionally a pantry recipe. This spanakorizo ​​has proven to be an adaptable, comforting, and delicious staple of our weeknight menu — and it’s not particularly challenging to cook, either. While not called for in the recipe, I highly recommend getting some high-quality feta to crumble and mix in before serving. And, if you do happen to have some leftover chicken, add that too to make this more of a complete dinner. — Hillary Dixler Canavan, restaurant editor

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