Hello and welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. By now have we all read this amazing article on “snowplow parenting”? It’s about parents who go to sometimes-extreme lengths to remove obstacles from their kids’ lives. The part I can’t get over is about a girl who didn’t like sauce: “Her whole life, her parents had helped her avoid sauce, calling friends before going to their houses for dinner. At college, she didn’t know how to cope with the cafeteria options — covered in sauce.”
This is truly remarkable for many reasons. But also: Sauce is awesome. Sauce is delicious. Sauce is useful. A life without sauce is one not fully lived.
So this week we are paying tribute to sauce. If you have strong feelings about sauce (Love it? Hate it and silently mouthed “finally!” when you read that article?) then tell me about it, or just send me feedback anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Here are five dishes for the week:
Oh, these noodles — or more specifically, the scallion sauce you toss them in, one of those little miracles that can live in a jar in your fridge and bring you joy every time you catch sight of it. Double the sauce, make it ahead if you’re a Sunday meal-prepper, and use it not just here but on roasted chicken and vegetables, tacos, eggs, rice.
The star of this recipe is that sweet and nutty and spicy (if you like) sauce, which you brush over boneless chicken thighs while roasting. You can also adjust it to suit what you’ve got, omitting the smoked paprika or molasses if you don’t have it (though, I have to tell you, it’s delicious as written). Serve with green beans or coleslaw, and rice if you’d like.
Yogurt sauce is one of my go-tos — I serve it with chicken and fish, carrots and broccoli. It takes two minutes to stir up and can tie together a whole meal. This simple fish, braised in a little butter and wine, comes with its own pan sauce too; that, and the yogurt, would be delicious with cauliflower, mashed potatoes, string beans, I could go on.
When I read the sauce line in that article I thought, with some horror, “But what about meatballs?” A meatball lives to soak up sauce! Save some time (and effort, and mess) by baking the meatballs on a sheet pan at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. You can use store-bought sauce, or homemade, or a cheater’s version: Heat a can of crushed tomatoes in olive oil in a pan with salt and pepper while the meatballs bake, then add the meatballs to the sauce after it’s been on the stove for about 30 minutes. Serve with any green vegetable you like.