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Logo for magazine's cooking column w/ Christopher Kimball and cooks of Milk Street.

Easy flavor-building techniques and unique combinations of bold pantry staples are our go-to solutions for getting dinner on the table fast. In our book COOKish: Throw It Together, we double down on those ideas while limiting the number of ingredients — without sacrificing taste. And that means you get a better weeknight dinner on the table, faster. For example, a broiler makes quick work of haddock filets for delicious sandwiches with a tahini spread. Fast-cooking skirt steak gets a spice rub for tacos with a green chili salsa. Broken vermicelli noodles bulk up our take on a Maltese omelet with spinach and pecorino cheese. And scallion, cilantro, and serrano chilies pack flavor into Vietnamese chicken meatballs.

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Skirt Steak and Green Chili Tacos

Makes 4 servings

We turn sautéed onion, poblano chilies, and cumin-seasoned skirt steak into an easy taco filling. Dousing it with lime juice after cooking keeps the flavors bright and balanced.

For the tenderest texture, slice the steak thinly and against the grain. And use a nonstick skillet, otherwise the steak’s seasoning may stick to the pan and scorch.

1 pound skirt steak, trimmed

1 tablespoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 teaspoons neutral oil

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 poblano chilies, stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips

¼ cup lime juice

Warmed corn tortillas, to serve

Thinly sliced radishes or chopped fresh cilantro or both, optional, for garnish

Rub the steak with cumin, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper, then cut into 5-inch sections. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the meat and brown on both sides; transfer to a plate. To the skillet, add the onion, chilies, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring until slightly softened, then uncover and cook until lightly browned; remove from heat. Thinly slice the steak against the grain and toss with its juices and lime juice, then toss with the vegetables. Garnish with thinly sliced radishes and/or chopped cilantro, if using. Serve with tortillas.

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Fish Sandwiches With Tahini and Yogurt
Fish Sandwiches With Tahini and YogurtConnie Miller of CB Creatives

Fish Sandwiches With Tahini and Yogurt

Makes 4 servings

For these easy sandwiches, we broil haddock fillets until tender and flaky. Haddock is lean and mild, so to boost flavor, first season it with olive oil mixed with aromatic coriander and cumin. And to add richness, the toasted rolls are spread with a mix of yogurt, tahini, and spices. Leafy greens, sliced tomato, shaved red onion, and fresh flat-leaf parsley are all delicious additions for these sandwiches.

½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt

¼ cup tahini

2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin, divided

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 4-ounce skinless haddock fillets

4 French rolls or Kaiser rolls, toasted

Heat the broiler with a rack about 4 inches from the element. Mix the yogurt, tahini, ½ teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon cumin, and ½ teaspoon salt; set aside. In another bowl, mix the oil with remaining 1½ teaspoons coriander, the remaining 1 teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place the fillets on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, then brush with the spiced oil. Broil until the fish flakes easily, about 4 minutes. Serve on toasted rolls spread with the yogurt-tahini mixture.

Vermicelli Omelet With Spinach and Pecorino
Vermicelli Omelet With Spinach and PecorinoConnie Miller of CB Creatives

Vermicelli Omelet With Spinach and Pecorino

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Makes 4 servings

For this dish, our version of the Maltese vermicelli omelet called froga tat-tarja, the pasta does not need to be cooked before it’s added to the skillet, making this a tidy one-pan recipe. In addition to pancetta for deeper flavor, we’ve added wilted spinach to give the omelet color and make it more of a complete meal.

You will need an oven-safe, nonstick 12-inch skillet for this recipe. Keep in mind that when removing the pan from the oven, the handle will be hot.

5 large eggs

2½ ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (1¼ cups), plus more to serve

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped

2 medium shallots, chopped

6 ounces vermicelli or angel hair pasta, broken in half

5-ounce container baby spinach

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the eggs, cheese, and 1½ teaspoons each salt and pepper. In an oven-safe, nonstick 12-inch skillet, cook the oil, pancetta, and shallots, stirring, until golden brown. Add the vermicelli and 3 cups water. Simmer, stirring, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the spinach and stir until wilted. Stir in the egg mixture, then cook without stirring until browned at the edges. Bake until set, about 4 minutes. Slide onto a platter and rest for 10 minutes. Serve with additional cheese.

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Meatballs
Vietnamese-Style Chicken MeatballsConnie Miller of CB Creatives

Vietnamese-Style Chicken Meatballs

Makes 15 to 18 meatballs

These quick-and-easy meatballs are inspired by traditional Vietnamese pork meatballs. They can be served with lettuce leaves for wrapping, piled onto cooked rice to make rice bowls, added to Southeast Asian soups, or tucked into a baguette with pickled vegetables and a smear of mayo. The meatballs also make great appetizers.

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If you double the recipe, form and cook the meatballs in two batches.

3 tablespoons neutral oil, divided

1 pound ground chicken

1 scallion, minced, or 1 medium garlic clove, minced

¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped, or ¼ cup lightly packed fresh mint, finely chopped

1 serrano chili, stemmed, seeded, and minced or 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

Grated zest of 1 lime

4 teaspoons fish sauce

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Sweet chili sauce, optional, for garnish

In a large nonstick skillet, swirl together 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons water. In a medium bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Mix with your hands, then shape into Ping-Pong-sized balls and place in the skillet. Heat over medium-high until simmering, then cover and cook until the outsides are no longer pink. Uncover and cook without stirring until browned on one side. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until well browned. Serve garnished with sweet chili sauce, if using.


Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.