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5 dishes to cook this week: You want this sauce

Posted April 30, 2021 8:35 p.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2021 10:44 a.m. EDT

FILE -- Hetty McKinnon’s sheet-pan pierogies and brussels sprouts, in New York, Feb. 17, 2021. This ingenious recipe plays with the time-honored combination of Eastern European pierogies and cabbage, using brussels sprouts (a fellow brassica) and kimchi (fermented cabbage) instead. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini. (Linda Xiao/The New York Times)

If you are the owner of an outdoor grill, what a fast and delightful way to make dinner on a weeknight. Even if you don’t do anything fancy with it, it’s nice to just put some sausages or fish on there at twilight. (For the grill-less, these recipes work well in the oven, too.) And no matter how you prepare them, spring’s bright ingredients are a delight. Here are the five dishes to cook this week.

1. Garlic Chicken With Guasacaca Sauce

Simple to make, versatile in use and complex in flavor, guasacaca sauce is one of the wonderful condiments of Venezuelan cuisine. Creamy from the addition of avocado with a bright and tangy herb and lime base, it makes an evocative pairing for any vegetarian, seafood or meat dish. Here, it accompanies a sheet-pan dinner of roasted chicken and carrots but will do just as well with anything from the grill.

By: Yewande Komolafe

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 1/2 pounds carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths (1/2-inch wide)

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, drumsticks, breasts or a combination, patted dry

1 avocado, pitted and chopped

1 jalapeño, stemmed and chopped

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 cup chopped parsley leaves with tender stems

1 cup chopped cilantro leaves with tender stems

Preparation:

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup oil and grate in 2 garlic cloves using a zester. Add the carrots and toss to coat. Lightly season with salt and black pepper and transfer to a sheet pan, reserving the garlic oil in the bowl. Add the chicken to the bowl and coat with the remaining garlic oil. Arrange in a single layer on the sheet pan skin-side up between the carrots.

2. Roast until carrots are tender, and chicken is cooked through with crispy skin that’s browned in spots, 35 to 40 minutes.

3. While the chicken cooks, in a food processor or blender or using a mortar and pestle, combine the avocado, jalapeño, vinegar, lime zest and juice, remaining garlic clove, half the chopped parsley and cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Purée or pound into a coarse mixture. With the machine running or while mixing with a pestle in a mortar, slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon room temperature water. Purée or stir until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt if necessary. The sauce can be made a few hours in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.

4. Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup each parsley and cilantro over the chicken and carrots. Transfer to individual plates along with any pan juices. Spoon a few tablespoons of the guasacaca sauce on the side for dipping. Serve warm with additional sauce on the side.

2. Pasta Primavera With Asparagus and Peas

This simple pasta primavera uses a combination of the earliest vegetables available in spring — asparagus, peas and spring onions — making it a true celebration of the season. The sauce works best with springy egg pasta, preferably homemade or a good purchased brand. Make sure not to overcook it; you need the chewy bite to stand up to the gently cooked vegetables. If you can’t find good fresh English peas, you can substitute frozen peas, but don’t add them until the last minute of cooking.

By: Melissa Clark

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed

1/2 pound asparagus, ends snapped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup fresh English peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced spring onion, white part only (or use shallot)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, more as needed

Black pepper, more as needed

12 ounces fettuccine or tagliatelle, preferably fresh

2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, at room temperature

1/2 cup crème fraîche or whole milk Greek yogurt, at room temperature

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon

Preparation:

1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.

2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice snap peas and asparagus stems into 1/4-inch-thick pieces; leave asparagus tips whole.

3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add snap peas, asparagus, English peas and onion. Cook until vegetables are barely tender (but not too soft or mushy), 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

4. Drop pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente (1 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta, more for dried pasta). Drain well and transfer pasta to a large bowl. Immediately toss pasta with vegetables, Parmigiano-Reggiano, crème fraîche and herbs. Season generously with salt and pepper, if needed.

3. Sheet-Pan Pierogies With Brussels Sprouts and Kimchi

This sheet-pan dinner is a sure win in under an hour, with your oven doing most of the heavy lifting. Roasting pierogies yields a crisp, golden skin with a soft, pillowy interior but, if you don’t have pierogies, you could use gnocchi in their place. (No precooking required!) Cooking kimchi at high heat may feel like a surprising move, but it becomes sticky and caramelized, imparting lots of flavor and texture to the final dish. Finally, a dill sour cream adds a fresh richness, but feel free to swap out the sour cream and use a good-quality Greek yogurt, crème fraîche or even buttermilk (it will be runnier, so no need to thin with water).

By: Hetty McKinnon

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

1 1/2 cups cabbage kimchi

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 (13-ounce) packages fresh or frozen cheese or potato pierogies

1/2 small lemon, for serving

Handful of chopped dill, for serving

For the Dill Sour Cream:

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup chopped dill

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation:

1. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees. Add the Brussels sprouts and kimchi to a rimmed sheet pan. (A small amount of kimchi juice is fine and adds lots of flavor.) Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and black pepper, and toss to combine.

2. Prepare the dill sour cream: Combine the sour cream, dill, oil, lemon and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine. If the cream is too thick, add a tablespoon of water. (You are looking for the consistency of heavy cream.)

3. After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and add the pierogies. Drizzle everything with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, and, using a spatula, toss everything together. Return to the oven, and roast until the Brussels sprouts are tender, and the pierogies are puffed and golden, another 20 to 25 minutes. (Don’t flip the pierogies.)

4. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter with dill, and serve with dill sour cream and halved lemon.

4. Grilled Sausages, Onions and Peppers

There is no more reliable guest at a cookout than sausage, roasted over the open fire. But before you grill the meat, get some peppers and onions soft and dark and fragrant in the heat, and use these as a bed on which to serve the links. Italian sausage works beautifully here, as do hot links and bratwurst. If cooking brats, think about simmering them first in beer and onions, then finishing them on the fire.

By: Sam Sifton

Yield: 6 servings

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound sweet peppers (green, red and yellow, if available) seeded and cut into eighths

2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into large coins

3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste

1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste

2 pounds sweet or hot Italian sausages, or bratwurst or other fresh sausage

Preparation:

1. Build a fire in your grill, leaving one side free of coals. When coals are covered with gray ash and the temperature is medium (you can hold your hand 5 inches above the coals for 5 to 7 seconds), you are ready to cook. (For a gas grill, turn all burners to high, lower cover and heat for 15 minutes, then turn burners to medium.)

2. Meanwhile, toss peppers and onions with oil and sprinkle with salt. Lightly prick sausages all over so that they do not burst.

3. Put peppers and onions in a grill basket or directly on the grill, turning occasionally until they are softened and dark at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Move them to the side of the grill without coals.

4. Place the sausages on the hot side of the grill, cover and cook, turning occasionally until they are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

5. Transfer the peppers and onions to a platter and top with the sausages. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

5. Salmon in Parsley Sauce

Parsley is the herb taken for granted. A few sprigs solve the garnish problem. A scattering of chopped leaves enlivens almost any dish with a bright bit of green. But parsley can take a more assertive role, becoming the primary component of a sauce. Here, flat-leaf parsley is combined with capers, scallions and garlic to make a sharp, verdant sauce for salmon. It contrasts perfectly with the richness of the fish.

By: Florence Fabricant

Yield: 6 servings

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

4 teaspoons capers

1 tablespoon finely minced scallion

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds salmon fillets, cut in 6 portions

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

1. Combine the parsley, capers, scallion and garlic in a bowl. Stir in half the olive oil. Set aside.

2. Preheat a broiler or grill. Brush the salmon with the remaining oil and broil or grill close to the source of heat about two minutes on each side for medium-rare, or to desired degree of doneness. Remove from the heat and allow to rest two minutes.

3. Season the salmon to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Add the lemon juice to the parsley mixture, drizzle or brush this mixture over the salmon and serve.

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