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Pork Chops With Chard and White Beans

We present to you a perfect, textbook weeknight meal: fast, satisfying, and just one dirty dish. Boneless pork chops are lean and cook up fast in a skillet but you could substitute boneless skinless chicken breasts or salmon filets in their place. While they rest, sauté some onion (or shallot or scallion), add some cannellini beans (or chickpeas or black-eyed peas), and toss in some Swiss chard (or spinach, kale, mustard greens or adult arugula) until wilted. See what we’re getting at here? Another great blueprint recipe meant for riffing. Put your own spin on it.

Strip Steaks With Chili Broccolini and Lemon Mayo

Thanks to a few key ingredients, this meal is packed with flavor—but takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. Sambal oelek, a chile sauce found in the Asian section of most grocery stores, adds a spicy-vinegary kick to soups, sauces, and in this case, broccolini. The tangy heat is balanced by the creamy coolness of citrus mayo, served alongside the veggies and caramelized strip steak. Sambal Oelek can be found in most supermarkets, but it’s often labeled Chile Garlic Sauce. Look for it in the Asian or International section of the store. If you prefer, use a ribeye or filet instead of strip steak.

Mason Jar Miso Ramen Soup

Gone are the days of tomato soup splattering in the office microwave. Prep and build these soup jars on Sundays, and you’ll have a warming, homemade lunch every day of the week. All you need to do is add hot water at lunchtime, which will cook the noodles and bring the flavors of the jar to life. Before digging in, drizzle with some soy sauce and sriracha (which you can keep handy at the office). Feel free to experiment with all sorts of veggies—both spinach and bean sprouts would be tasty additions. For bolder flavor, add more miso, or some chili-garlic sauce.

Vegetable Soup With Pearl Couscous and Salmon

Israeli couscous (a.k.a. pearl couscous) is really a tiny, toasted pasta, and when tossed raw into soups, it cooks in 10 minutes flat. The small pearls add depth to this one-pot recipe, and the starch they release gives the broth a velvety texture. Turmeric, a relative of ginger (and typically found in curries), has a pungent, peppery flavor, and adds earthiness to the soup as well. To speed up prep, buy skinless salmon—and be sure to buy fillets that have a fairly even thickness, so that they cook evenly. If you’re not a fan of salmon, try shrimp.

Old-Fashioned Apple Pie

There’s never a better time to bake an apple pie than during the first cool days of fall. So which of the thousands of varieties of apples is best? For pies and cobblers, you want apples that can withstand heat without losing their shape or zing. Granny Smith (tart and crisp), Golden Delicious (unbeatable crunch and flavor), and Braeburn (sweeter and slightly softer) are all good picks. For an exotic touch, add 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder to the filling. Or, for a savory twist, sprinkle ½ cup grated Cheddar over the top crust about 20 minutes before you remove it from the oven.

Sausage, Spinach, and Provolone Pizza

Between the spicy Italian sausage, hearty sautéed spinach, and piles of provolone cheese, this might just be one of the most satisfying white pies that exists. It’s quite important that you let your dough come to room temperature before trying to stretch it, otherwise it’ll be hard to stretch and you might overwork it. If you’re shaping it into a circle and it does spring back, let it rest for 15 minutes before continuing. Cooking the dough for a few minutes ensures that the toppings don’t turn it soggy. In other words, you can rest assured that this pizza has a crisp crust.

Creamy Polenta With Mushrooms and Baby Greens

Warm, creamy polenta pairs perfectly with an earthy blend of cremini and shiitake mushrooms. Alongside those mushrooms, shaved Parmesan cheese adds a double dose of umami to this vegetarian main. Because the polenta is the base of the dish, look for a high-quality, stone-ground variety. That being said, grits will work just as well—just be sure to stir in butter and salt, just like you would with the polenta. When you’re cooking the mushrooms, use the largest skillet you have, which will ensure that the veggies gets perfectly browned, and don’t steam. Fresh baby greens, added just before serving, make for a beautiful presentation.

Creamy Corn Pudding

Falling somewhere between a custard and spoon bread, there’s no simpler Thanksgiving side than this corn pudding. You’ll sauté some onions, combine the remaining ingredients in a blender, puree, and bake. It’s one of the lowest stress side-dishes you can serve and, since you can make it up to a day ahead, makes a fine addition to any holiday spread. We like it alongside turkey and gravy but it’s also great served room temperature at a summer potluck. Use frozen corn during the cold months and your freshest farm stand kernels in the summer.