Being the food director of Bon Appetit is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, I get to eat delicious dishes all day that are in the works for the magazine and website. On the other hand, by the time I get home, after tasting multiple dishes, developing recipes, and writing about food, the last thing I want to think about is cooking dinner. So I have a handful of dishes up my sleeve that I turn to time and time again after a long, filling day at the office. They’re fast and they’re light, but they’re also 100% satisfying.
Polenta Cacio e Pepe
Cooking polenta in a pressure cooker is what makes this meal go lightning-fast (meaning 9 minutes), but you can absolutely still do it the old-fashioned way in a pot. Even that way, it couldn’t be easier. You likely have all 3 ingredients in your pantry already–polenta, butter, and some hard, salty cheese like pecorino. Oh, and salt and pepper, too, but that doesn’t even count.
Miso- and Mayo-Marinated Short Ribs with Spicy Sauce
If you don’t want short ribs, use thin-cut pork chops instead. Red miso is more robust than yellow miso, and won’t get diluted when it’s mixed with the mayo. If you find radishes with good-looking tops, don’t let them go to waste. Trim, wash, and dry them and dress along with the watercress for a bitter bite. You can also sub any green you like best.
Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce
Not all scallops are brought to the market equal. Dry ones are nonnegotiable in this dish, as the wet ones won’t get nearly as good of a golden-brown sear on them. You can ask your fishmonger what he’s selling. And now about that pan sauce. Congrats: You just made the classic French Grenobloise, named for the town where someone had the brilliant idea to combine toasty and rich browned butter with fresh lemon juice and salty capers.
12-Minute Saucy Chicken Breasts with Lime
True fact about chicken breasts: They’re sold skin-on and bone-in or skinless and boneless. To get skin-on boneless, you’ll have to rip out the bones yourself, but it will be worth it so that you can press the chicken flat for quicker cooking. What goes with it is pretty flexible, too. No limes? Use lemons. No tumeric? Use curry powder. No cumin? Omit!