Dinner

15 Simple & Comforting Recipe Ideas for Dinner Tonight

Sheet-pan chicken, BBQ shrimp, mac & cheese—need we say more?

by:
January 19, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm an introvert and a homebody. Friday night to Sunday is this precious pause of time and space; I get to catch up with a close friend or two over a video chat and cuddle with my dog, Quentin. The weekend is a gift we don't take lightly.

But it’s a cycle: Sunday afternoon hits, and you start thinking about all the fun things you didn't get to this weekend. Then Sunday evening rolls around, and that Monday-morning meeting looms just a little larger with every passing hour. Before you know it, the weekend is gone...forever. It's the “Sunday Scaries,” as some people like to call that sudden surge of dread (and by “some people,” yes, I mean me).

In times like these, I like to turn, of course, to the kitchen. It helps to have a couple of simple, reliable dinners on hand—a warm and cozy stew, some crispy chicken thighs with white rice, or a plate of creamy risotto with shrimp, maybe. Protein and carbs, essentially, to ensure that you're fully fueled for the week ahead.

Shop the Story

Certain recipes can become ritual in and of themselves. This time of year, and especially on Sundays, I love making my chicken thighs with Magic Spice Blend. I bake off a whole sheet pan of them, have a couple for dinner, and find joy in knowing that I have extras to eat for lunch throughout the workweek. And there's immense comfort not just in the eating, but in the cooking as well.

This kind of cooking is, for me, a reliable way to give the weekend a proper send-off and ease into the week ahead. I appreciate the calmness of chopping vegetables and stirring them into butter, standing by the stove with a good book, waiting for a crust to bake or a stew to thicken. Quiet activities that force me to spend time in the kitchen, where I’m most myself.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“OMG, BerryBaby, I just went into reverie. When we were kids, our mom used to make her delicious caramel popcorn balls to give out to all the trick-or-treaters. My brothers and I would help her wrap them in Saran wrap and tie them with an orange ribbon. Of course, that was way back when we knew all of our neighbors, and delighted in receiving homemade goodies from our playmates' moms. Despite all the injustices and problems our country faced and had to solve, we all felt safe and loved within our neighborhoods and communities. Thanks for the memories. We're gonna make it. ”
— Sharon
Comment

For this and more, I've gathered 15 dinner menu ideas that are at once warm, soul-satisfying, and relaxing to cook. Dishes that I love eating, on Sunday and every day.


15 Dinners for Tonight

Sheet-Pan Chicken Thighs With Magic Spice Blend

Pro tip: Keep this sweet, spicy, smoky spice blend in a jar in your pantry and replenish it often—it's just as good on chicken as it is on cauliflower.

One-Pot Butternut Squash Stew with Fresh Mozzarella

This isn't the bland butternut squash soup you'll get at a fast-casual takeout lunch spot. Recipe developer Carlos C. Olaechea was inspired by pumpkin stew called locro de zapallo, noting this one has "a Peruvian soul and an American body".

Cheater’s Chicken Schnitzel

Restaurant-quality chicken schnitzel, but easier than your classic (and messy) flour and egg-dredging station? Sign me up.

Pesto Risotto for One With Shrimp

Looks like spring, but this creamy dinner is just as cozy on a cold night.

French Bread Pepperoni Pizza

Pizza night at home just got 500 percent easier. Thank you, bread!

Sheet-Pan Seafood Pot Pie

If you keep an emergency pie crust in the freezer at all times (just me?), this recipe comes together relatively easily, but it's always a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Kabocha Squash & Tofu Curry

Creamy kabocha squash (though you can use butternut, or even sweet potatoes in a pinch) paired with coconut milk and red curry paste is the stuff of dreams after a long day.

Busy Weeknight Bean Chili

Don't skip the crispy bean step in this minimal-ingredient, big-flavor meal. And hey! Now you have time to make cornbread.

Dad's South Indian Egg Curry

This pantry- and fridge-staple curry is best served with a giant pile of naan or fluffy rice, for getting every last drip of the sauce.

Pot Roast With 40 Garlic Cloves

Not a typo! This pot roast is seasoned with 40 cloves of garlic. Unless you have all afternoon, you may want to opt for pre-peeled garlic in this recipe.

Louisiana Barbecued Shrimp

These shrimp are the stuff of weeknight dreams: fast, flavor-packed, and made with ingredients you very likely have on hand. I keep a bag of frozen, shell-on shrimp in my freezer at all times to throw this dish together at a moment’s notice. As Toni Tipton-Martin writes, be sure to serve alongside hunks of French bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

Garlicky Chicken With Herbs & Vinegar

Another dish (and another sauce) you’ll want to savor ‘til the last drop. Editor Rebecca Firkser’s adaptation of a New Jersey classic will become a new family favorite, just give it a try. Chicken legs and thighs get covered with a salty, umami-packed cheese and herb mixture, then baked and served smothered in a bright, tangy vinegar sauce. I like to serve it directly over rice so that none of the perfect sauce is wasted.

Miso-Mushroom Pasta

This is not your mother’s recipe taken from the side of a soup can. Miso paste lends a funky, earthy saltiness to this dish, which takes a classic creamy mushroom pasta to another level. It feels familiar and comforting yet at the same time, thoroughly modern.

Ditalini With Tender Herbs, Chickpeas & Yogurt

One of my favorite winter meals is pasta e ceci—chickpeas and ditalini pasta, typically with tomato and hearty greens like kale or escarole. Sohla El-Waylly’s one-pot recipe updates this classic with punchy swaps like anchovy fillets for tomatoes and tender herbs for hearty greens. What stays in a deep sense of comfort in the form of a warm bowl of creamy beans and salty pasta.

Sheet Pan Mac & Cheese

Nothing says comfort like mac and cheese, and nothing says simple like a sheet-pan dinner. Luckily, Food52 Founder Amanda Hesser came up with a version that’s the best of both worlds. This bakes in a fraction of the time as the classic version, yet delivers all the same warm, cheesy goodness—plus added crunch. If you’re the type of person that likes to pick the crunchy noodles off the top of a casserole dish, this is the recipe for you.

What do you like to cook to ward off the Sunday Scaries? Let us know in the comments below.

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • شهيوات بلادي مع أم نورة
    شهيوات بلادي مع أم نورة
  • Lorrie Hanawalt
    Lorrie Hanawalt
  • BerryBaby
    BerryBaby
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • Sharon
    Sharon
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

5 Comments

شهيوات ب. March 21, 2021
very nice receip and thanks a lot for it :)
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8-DSqNYX0Og3CJ_8m7aX5g
 
Lorrie H. January 19, 2021
I ward of the Sunday scaries by meal planning and shopping on Saturdays for the whole week. On Sunday I make a large casserole, stew or soup that can be frozen in batches and a pizza for dinner that night! I used to dread Sundays before I started this tradition but now I look forward to it. I find it relaxing and fun and makes the whole going back to work thing easier. The pesto shrimp recipe looks amazing and I will be definitely trying that and a few others. Thank you!
 
BerryBaby October 20, 2018
Definitely making your chicken recipe...looks delicious! On Halloween I make a pot of chili. We can eat between doorbell rings...but it's usually really busy for 2 hours straight with Trick or Treaters! Then tapers off for another one snd a half.
Always popcorn on Halloween, that is tradition. Something about the smell of fresh popcorn that takes me back to 1960 Halloween. Many people gave out little bags with fresh, warm popcorn or homemade popcorn balls. 👻🎃
 
Author Comment
Eric K. October 21, 2018
Thanks for sharing, BerryBaby! Love hearing about your Halloween traditions. We used to make caramel corn before trick-or-treating.
 
Sharon October 28, 2018
OMG, BerryBaby, I just went into reverie. When we were kids, our mom used to make her delicious caramel popcorn balls to give out to all the trick-or-treaters. My brothers and I would help her wrap them in Saran wrap and tie them with an orange ribbon. Of course, that was way back when we knew all of our neighbors, and delighted in receiving homemade goodies from our playmates' moms. Despite all the injustices and problems our country faced and had to solve, we all felt safe and loved within our neighborhoods and communities. Thanks for the memories. We're gonna make it.