Weeknight Kitchen with Melissa Clark takes on one of the biggest dilemmas of busy people: what are we going to eat? In each episode, you’ll join Melissa in her own home kitchen, working through one of her favorite recipes and offering helpful advice for both beginners and seasoned cooks. It’s a practical guide for weeknight eating, from the makers of The Splendid Table.
Make the labneh: Line a medium sieve with muslin or finely woven cheesecloth and place atop a container large enough to catch any drips. Transfer the yogurt to the muslin and place the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight. The liquid that separates is whey and can be saved for another use, such as baking sourdough, adding to salad dressings, or fermenting. Store the labneh refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 10 days.
Most North American Jews are familiar with sweet noodle kugels. But there are also many savory noodle kugel varieties, which can include garlic, onions, mushrooms, or even spinach. This kugel is a recipe from my husband’s grandmother, Baba Billie. It has an extra garlic kick, fantastic mouthfeel, and a nice crunchy top. You can use fresh garlic if you want, but I think the jarred garlic in oil really is the preferred ingredient.
This salad is my riff on kasha, the name given to toasted buckwheat groats cooked (in water or milk) throughout Russia and Ukraine. The word kasha basically translates as ‘porridge’ but although in the west we think of porridge as a breakfast food, kasha is commonly a comforting, hearty, savoury dish or side at lunch or dinner – often far less liquid and overcooked than oat porridge. By all means you can serve this salad hot, but I especially like it served at room temperature. The key really is toasting the buckwheat first – it brings out an extra nutty flavour and also stops it all from being too mushy.
Because barley is the first crop to ripen in the spring it has become a symbol of new life and hope, making it the perfect grain for this vibrant springtime salad.
Too often a bit part player, peppercorns here shine as the star performer. Used in quantity, they bring a bold piquancy that hints at an early Asian heat before chilies were brought to the continent. This is balanced by their fragrance as well as by a tangle of sweet, caramelized onions. Use Tellicherry peppercorns if you can as they are especially grassy and bright.
Pepper is native to the steamy, knotted jungles of the Indian Ghats, thriving in the cycles of heavy monsoon rain and sultry heat. Walk through rural areas during harvest and you will have to weave around patches of peppercorns left out to dry in the hot sun.
Tastes great with: Toasted bread (as a starter), or pasta or couscous (as a main course)
I don’t do many trends or fads, but this one is worth it. I love zoodles—not because they are healthy but because they taste so good! This is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them, smothered in cheese. These are great on their own but also served with a nice grilled steak.
Think of this as a sort of hot caprese salad —by cooking the tomatoes in a foil packet on the barbecue with their vines, aromatic herbs, oil, and salt, the flavors concentrate and intensify. They work beautifully with the mozzarella, as you would expect, with added interest from the crushed coriander seeds —simple yet luxurious
One of the most popular recipes in The Green Roasting Tin is the Indonesian gado-gado: crunchy potatoes with an addictive peanut, coconut, and chili sauce. It occurred to me that the dressing, slightly adapted, would work beautifully with grilled corn on the cob —and joy, it did! This is now a summer staple.
Could I write a book without featuring crispy gnocchi? Of course not. So I give you my proudest barbecue creation. Forget about threading just plain old vegetables on a stick —here, you intersperse veggies of your choice (I’ve done bell peppers here, but see the note below) on skewers with just-blanched gnocchi. The result is crisp perfection like you wouldn’t believe.