Today: Amanda makes an easy, wholesome weeknight dinner -- is she feeling ok?
Shop the Story
I know it's irrational but sometimes dealing with ground meat seems so much more approachable than, say, a whole chicken or a steak. Yes, you can stick the former in the oven to roast and the latter under the broiler, and can have dinner ready without a whole lot of angst. But ground meat wins the battle for me. It requires no trimming or dry brining. It just goes into the pan and doesn't ask for a lot other than salt and a good bit of heat to brown.
A few years ago when I was working on The Essential New York Times Cookbook, I made Mark Bittman's Crispy Chickpeas with Ground Meat and it was a revelation. To make it, you toss some ground beef and chickpeas in a pan to get brown and toasted. You season them generously with cumin, dried ancho chile, garlic and pepper. Using the broth from cooking the chickpeas (because your kitchen is that efficient), you simmer the mixture a bit, then douse the pot of brown goodness with cilantro, add a little rice and yogurt, a salad if you're feeling ambitious -- and you have a fine and wholesome meal on your hands.
I've since messed with the recipe, replacing the beef with lamb and the starchy chickpeas with more buttoned-up and mineral-scented French green lentils. This is the kind of food I like making on weeknights. And if I were you, I'd double the batch so you have plenty left over for work lunches.
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).
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.