What to cook this week

Sam Sifton

J Kenji López-Alt wrote a fascinating article for The Times recently about improving your cooking by using ‘culinary building blocks’ — homemade and store-bought sauces and compotes and condiments — to build fast flavour.

To go with his argument, he offers examples in the form of recipes. Making a big tub of his peppers and onions, for instance, allows you later to make ropa vieja, or braised sausages, or a vegan chili. You can even use the stuff to spruce up a grilled sausage. Likewise, his miso-sesame vinaigrette opens up loads of opportunities for fast dinners: a chicken and cabbage salad or a drizzle for grilled steak or salmon. And marinated chickpeas? They’re perfect for bulking up a salad, or for mixing with cooked whole grains. Make some today and that’s dinner tonight, and probably a few lunches down the line as well.

For Monday chef Sean Sherman’s roast turkey with berry-mint sauce would satisfy, as would his hearty three sisters bowl with hominy, beans and squash.

For dinner on Tuesday, I’m thinking, you might try this rigatoni and cauliflower al forno, at least if it’s chilly where you stay. If not: tuna poke.

Wednesday, whatever the temperature, you really should make this one-pot French onion soup with porcini mushrooms, which’ll remind you of restaurant eating, back when eating in restaurants was a solace and not something fraught.

Ropa vieja. PHOTO: THE NEW YORK TIMES

On Thursday, I like the idea of these seared scallops with hot sauce beurre blanc, in part for Kim Severson’s admonition that you not make the sauce with Tabasco.

And then, on Friday, you can round out the week with a rich, comforting chicken paprikash and a bowl of generously buttered noodles with just a quarter-cup of parsley for colour and freshness.

Thousands and thousands more recipes to cook this week are waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Go browse the aisles just as you might have once strolled through Macy’s, looking for gifts. Save those recipes you like. Now, it has nothing to do with potted shrimp or the price of halibut, but Anton Thomas’ video tour of his hand-drawn map of the Mississippi River is pretty cool viewing.

I don’t know why I didn’t get on this train when it first came into the station, but The Last Dance, the Michael Jordan documentary series? That’s some seriously cool viewing.