Tag Archives: dinner

The Art of the Dinner Salad: 5 Tips for Making a Pile of Veggies Feel Like a Meal

I love salad. Big fluffy green ones. Crunchy ones. Hearty ones. Every salad have a special place in my heart. If I’m being honest, I’ve been caught on many occasions making a midnight snack out of a head of lettuce and some leftover dressing, a time when any normal person would be munching on shredded cheese from the bag or jarred salsa and chips. (I’m just living my truth people!) But the hard reality is that most people don’t share this feeling with me—and it’s my mission in life to change their minds. And that starts with the dinner salad.

Raw and Roasted Chopped Salad

I get that a lot of folks are resistant to the idea of eating salad—and only salad—for dinner. But as a person who almost always has friends staying over at my place, and am therefore responsible for keeping them fed, I’ve had plenty of practice converting salad skeptics. Through much trial and error, I’ve come up with a formula for a dinner salad that will satisfy both my salad hater friends and my salad obsessed self. It produces a pile of veggies that is substantial, satisfying, and a main course in and of itself—no post-meal snacking required. Here’s how to do it.

kale and brussels sprout salad

Photo by Heidi’s Bridge, styling by Molly Baz

Massaged kale makes for a more substantial salad base.

Hearty Greens

A substantial base is the key to a proper dinner salad. This is no place for boxed “spring mix” or a head of delicate butter lettuce—you need something with some oomph. I love to use cabbage (red, green, savoy, napa), kale, collards, or mustard greens, which will be able to stand up to all the flavorful add-ins, toppings, and dressings that this salad wants without wilting. The trick to making these non-lettuce salad bases delicious is to massage them with some olive oil, lemon juice and salt after they’ve been cut up. This helps to break down the tough cell structure these veggies have, rendering them tender and ready to soak up flavor.

ba basics crispy thai chicken salad plucking rotisserie chicken

Alex Lau

Leftover rotisserie chicken, tinned fish, and crispy roasted chickpeas all add protein and heft.


A dinner salad needs protein to make it really feel like dinner. Anything goes! Shredded rotisserie chicken. Last night’s roasted salmon. Jammy boiled eggs. But nobody’s saying you have to use leftovers—you can sizzle up a steak or a pork chop just for this salad endeavor if you want to make it feel less hodge-podge. And do not despair, vegans of the world: Crumbled tofu, frozen-then-thawed edamame, or crispy chickpeas are all welcome here, too.

twice roasted squash with parmesan butter and grains

Photo by Marcus Nilsson, Food Styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, Prop Styling by Angharad Bailey


Raw & Cooked Veg

Now that you’ve got a sturdy base and some protein in the mix, it’s time to incorporate some supplementary cooked and/or raw veggies. Again, this could be repurposed leftovers—roasted squash from a few nights ago, stir-fried broccoli—or some odds and ends from meal prep, like quick-pickled cukes or shaved radishes. You want to shoot for contrast, if at all possible—soft, sweet roasted carrots paired with crunchy raw cauliflower, for instance, or tender herbs and sprouts with steamed chunks of sweet potato. And don’t forget about fruit! Slivers of tart-sweet apple or Asian pear can bring both acidity and a bit of welcome sweetness to the party.

tahini ranch dressing

Photo by Alex Lau, food styling by Rebecca Jurkevich, prop styling by Emily Eisen

This creamy Tahini-Ranch Dressing is the kind of sauce that dinner salad dreams are made of.


This is not the time for light vinaigrettes and the like—you want a dressing that packs a punch, something that has a little heft to it. Remember: Because you started with hearty greens instead of delicate lettuces, this salad can handle it. Think yogurt-based dressings, a rich tahini sauce, or a garlicky homemade ranch. If you are inclined towards something closer to a classic vinaigrette, consider adding a bit of extra citrus, a healthy spoonful of Dijon mustard, or a bunch of chopped herbs, all of which will give it the extra something-something this salad wants.


Photo by Ted Cavanaugh

Toasted nuts and seeds are always welcome.


Starting to look like a pretty great salad, huh? Hearty base, protein, extra veg, a knockout dressing. Only one thing stands between you and the best salad you’ll eat all year: TOPPINGS! Don’t. Skip. This. Step! Toppings are what makes a dinner salad the crunchy-salty-creamy-craveable meal it should be. The more the merrier, but as a rule, I like to make sure to have something crunchy (think pita chips, fried shallots, croutons, nuts, seeds) and something cheesy (crumbled feta, grated Parm, nuggets of goat cheese) to really take that salad to the next level. Toppings are like the icing on a cake, or the star on the top of a Christmas tree: optional, but…not optional.

Want to see the formula in action? Try this dinner salad on for size:



Raw and Roasted Dinner Salad

Place a rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 475°. First things first: Prepare your squash for roasting. Delicata is our favorite winter squash—it’s sweet, sturdy, and the peel is not only edible but delicious—but you can use an equal quantity of (peeled!) butternut or acorn squash here if you want. Slice 1 large delicata squash in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, remove seeds. Cut each half again lengthwise, then crosswise into 1″ pieces. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet.


Spaces That Spark Dinner

You can see it on the shelves at Target, on your Instagram feed, in the way you spend your expendable income. Spaces matter. And more and more, we want our spaces, the places we spend our downtime in, the dining room we fill our friends with, and the kitchen we make a mess in, to reflect who we are, to spark inspiration. To this end, we hack and we DIY and we mix metals to create a custom, personal look.

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Melissa Coleman

Restaurants and cafés do this, too. Beautifully. They create these spaces that make us pull out our phones in hopes of memorizing the clean lines against the warm woods and the collected vintage fixtures. They create these spaces that draw us back for another meal. And another. Sure, the food is good. But there’s something about the space that matters, too.

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Melissa Coleman

As you create a kitchen inspired by your favorite café, you’ll soon find you can customize just about everything, down to the toe kick. It’s the best part about kitchen design. It’s also the worst part. Too many options can feel overwhelming. That is until you get to that one spot in the kitchen that you can’t customize, the appliances, and the needle runs off the record. Can you hear it? Well, put the needle back on and press play, because personalized appliances are now available for the home kitchen. The brand: Café. The line: Matte Collection.

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And the people rejoiced before saying—What took so long? Who cares! They’re here, and they’re beautiful. Now, decisions, decisions. Matte White or Matte Black? I’d pick white. Brushed Copper knobs, Brushed Bronze, Brushed Stainless Steel, or Brushed Black? I’d pick copper. Prefer a different vibe? We can agree to disagree because, honey, you can have your Matte Black and Brushed Bronze range and cook in it too. This high-performance line extends from the fridge to the range to the wall ovens, dishwashers, and even microwaves, with customization available for each.

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It’s true; there is something special about spaces. They’re like mirrors. They reflect back inspiration. Inspiration to try a new recipe. To invite friends over. To fill the dinner table. To clean the colossal mess. There goes the needle flying off the record player again at the mention of cleaning. Maybe, just maybe, the pull of that copper bar across the dishwasher at the end of a dinner party will spark some sort of excitement to clean. If not, pour an extra glass of wine and turn up the music. Because come morning, a clean kitchen can be known to spark breakfast inspiration. That you can count on. Bon appétit!


Sheet-Pan Chicken That’s Dinner Party-Worthy? It’s All About the Marinade

Let’s start with a fact, because facts are all we can count on in this cruel world (kind of). The fact is this: Yogurt is the best meat marinade there is. Why? Well, science. Unlike some acidic marinades—your vinegars, your citrus juices—yogurt contains microbes and lactic acid, which peerlessly break down proteins and tenderize meat (no weird serrated hammers required) rather than toughening it. See, when you cook meat coated in a snuggly little blanket of yogurt, the heat caramelizes the milk solids in said yogurt, creating a crisp, smoky exterior and a hyper-tender interior, thanks to all the juices that get locked inside.

This, friends, is the key to creating your new favorite all-in-one sheet-pan chicken dinner: Sheet-Pan Garam Masala Chicken, a dish so easy to make and so rewarding to eat that it’ll break through your self-imposed salad-only post-Thanksgiving diet and get you back in front of your neglected oven (that romaine’s poison anyway, y’all).

Sheet Pan Garam Masala Chicken

The first step to mastering this dish is an important one: You have to get the oven hot enough. This dish takes its inspiration from India, where meat marinated in spices and yogurt is sometimes cooked in a cylindrical clay oven called a tandoor, which is heated to temperatures up to 900 degrees. In our case, we’re not getting quite that hot. But if you preheat your home oven to 425 and move one of the racks to the upper third, you’ll still get the burnished, blistered skin and deep caramelization that makes tandoor cooking so delish.

Next, it’s marinade time. Grate up a three-inch piece of fresh ginger (definitely scrub it clean, but peeling is now officially optional), put one teaspoon aside, and dump the rest in a resealable plastic bag with two cups of whole milk Greek yogurt (I repeat! Whole milk!). Squeeze in a lemon’s worth of juice, cayenne pepper, and garam masala—which you can buy off the shelf or make yourself. Then seal up that bag and shake it, sh-shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture—seriously, classic white person Outkast reference aside, this is a good time to work out some rage and dance alone in your kitchen, a practice I recommend to all of you at least once a week.

Now it’s time to season your chicken pieces GENEROUSLY with kosher salt, stick ‘em in that bag, and return to your bag-shaking dance—working in batches if you need to (I did, which just meant more time for dancing). Once the chicken’s good and covered, set it aside to marinate, at least 30 minutes at room temperature or up to four hours in the fridge. Meanwhile, chop up a big ol’ head of cauliflower, drizzle ‘n’ toss with salt ‘n’ olive oil, and arrange it all evenly across a large, rimmed, foil-lined sheet pan. Part of the great joy of this dish is that it only requires one pan which means not only that you 🚨ONLY HAVE TO WASH ONE PAN 🚨but also that you can get away with not adding any exciting seasonings to the cauliflower—it’ll get its true flavor from what happens next, which is nestling your marinated chicken pieces in the middle of that cauliflower forest. As the chicken cooks, the cauliflower will soak up all the spiced chicken-y juices that come out. Mmmmm, spiced chicken-y juices.

Basically Garam Masala Chicken 04

Serve this juicy yogurt-marinated chicken to the squad, or keep it all to yourself.

So yeah, stick that baby in the oven and let it go until the chicken skin is blistered, the meat is tender to the bone, and the cauliflower is good and charred. You’ll want to turn the pan halfway through and move the chicken with tongs occasionally so it browns evenly, but the whole process shouldn’t taken more than 40 minutes. Spend that time dancing. That’s not a request. Your mom called me. She says you need it. It’s been awhile. Times are hard.

Okay well, you also need to spend some of those minutes preparing your chutney. But that’s easy. Just be sure to rinse your onion in cold water after you chop it to tone down the harshness.

At this point, your kitchen will be smelling real good because your one-pan dinner is ready to party. Your chicken should be crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and a wee bit spicy all over. Dolloping it with that zesty-zingy chutney lends contrast, keeping the meat-n-veg from tasting one-note and bringing the whole meal together with balance. Now all you have to do is eat up, then pat yourself on the back. For we should consider every day lost in which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one yogurt-marinated chicken.

Winner, winner, sheet-pan chicken dinner!



This Kimchi Udon Recipe Is My Desert-Island Pantry Dinner

Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.

I recently started watching a Korean cooking show on Netflix called Chef & My Fridge, in which Korea’s top chefs have 15 minutes to cook a dish for a celebrity guest using the contents of the celebrity’s personal refrigerator (yes, they physically transport the physical refrigerator to the film studio.) In the first episode, one chef turns a package of cinnamon cookies, a block of tofu, and a bottle of soy milk into a churros-inspired dessert of fried tofu cubes in a crunchy cinnamon coating with a sweet soy milk sauce. This got me thinking: Were the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen to have its own version of this brilliant show, the undisputed master of my fridge would be senior food editor Andy Baraghani and his Kimchi Udon with Scallions.

Kimchi Udon

These ethereally simple noodles save me on the days when I’m too lazy to cook for longer than 15 minutes and too impatient to order takeout (this is a place I often find myself.) They require just eight ingredients that are in my kitchen at all times, and have no business tasting as delicious as they do given how easy they are to make. (They also feel like Andy made these just for me, based on the contents of my home refrigerator.)

Were Andy to do a quick scan of my fridge, he’d find the following ingredients: unsalted butter, kimchi, a tub of gochujang (the spicy-sweet Korean hot pepper paste), chicken broth, eggs, and a few dying scallions he would give me a whole lotta side-eye for.


Chung Jung One

Gochujang: Your pantry needs it and doesn’t even know it.

Next, he’d check my freezer and find the huge stash of frozen noodles I always have for bulking up a bowl of soup, toss in a quick takeout-style stir-fry, or to simply eat on their own mixed with a ton of ginger-scallion sauce. I buy the fat white udon noodles that come in three-pound bags from the freezer aisle of H-Mart, though you can also find them at other Asian supermarkets. They’re pre-cooked, which means all that stands between you and a bowl of glorious noodles is the 45 seconds you need to reheating them in some boiling water. Trust me: You want to keep frozen noodles around at all times.

Here’s the real genius of this recipe: It coaxes a handful of humble pantry staples (butter, kimchi, gochujang, and chicken broth) to produce maximum flavor in minimal time. You heat up some butter in a skillet until it’s sizzling, then throw in a handful of roughly chopped kimchi and a spoonful of gochujang. As the kimchi softens and the sugar in the gochujang caramelizes in the bubbly butter, you’re hit with an incredibly potent aroma that gets even more intense when you add some rich chicken broth. In the time it takes to bring a pot of water to a boil and flash-cook the noodles, the butter and broth mixture reduces and melds together to create a sauce that is further improved by the addition of MORE BUTTER. This may seem excessive, but that little bit of extra fat is critical to creating that velvety, perfectly emulsified crimson sauce that clings to every strand of udon. Break the egg yolk with your chopsticks or fork and mix it in there for even more glossy-saucy action (a poached or fried egg would also be great.)

In keeping with “Chef & My Fridge” rules, the whole dish takes about 15 minutes to cook, which you can easily confirm by, you know, making them. Right now. Time yourself, and thank me later.


A Cheesy, Bready Dinner to Please the Pickiest Eaters in Your Household

Sometimes I think that people are on to me when I talk up a new recipe I made for dinner.

“But did your kids eat that?” “No, did they really?” “Even the toddler, Deb?”

And then I have to mumble the truth, which is that the toddler wasn’t hungry because she had already eaten three raspberries and a Cheerio.

I’m exaggerating, but only a little. I have two kids. My nine-year-old son, Jacob, is the easy one. He’s a pretty normal fourth-grader, which is to say he’d still choose pizza, tacos, or spaghetti over most other things (who wouldn’t?). But he’s curious enough, so my husband and I can often talk him into trying new dishes, like, without bribery.

Then there’s my daughter, Anna. She’s three and she is, frankly, the child I had coming after years of cooking whatever I wanted and having everyone go along with it. She likes…I wish I could tell you. There was the time she demolished a lamb chop. She ate a stuffed pasta shell last week, once she’d scraped off the sauce and emptied the shell of its contents. And that wasn’t even a bad Tuesday night. She’s immune to reason, to negotiating, to begging. But I’m about to tell you something that sends shock waves through parent friends and will absolutely result in a phone call from my mother-in-law when she reads this:

I won’t go back to the kitchen and make another meal if my kids don’t like what I’ve cooked.

smitten kitchen kale mushroom strata

Illustration by Jordan Awan

I don’t aspire to unlock the Meanest, Most Terrible Mom Ever badge for refusing to be a short-order cook or to turn dinner into a battle of wills. I take this stance because I love cooking and want to protect this love by not burning out from preparing three dinners a night.

What I do instead sounds radical but shouldn’t be: I cook what I crave, then tweak as needed to convince the kids to come along for the ride. I try to limit the number of ingredients I suspect they’re going to push back against to one—two, tops—per meal, because there’s no worse feeling than coming to the table and seeing nothing that you like to eat. I’d rather try to sell them on something I’m really excited about because I know it’s delicious than wear myself out making food that so zaps my cooking joy that I don’t want to make dinner again until they’re in college.

This strata—essentially a savory bread pudding—was a recent success. Whenever I can, I like to treat meat as an accessory rather than the centerpiece. But kids are not renowned for their enthusiastic consumption of heaps of vegetables, so I home in on the ones I know they like. When all else fails, I blanket everything in melted cheese. I try to use more nutritional breads, like a whole wheat sourdough, and a greater portion of vegetables (there’s over a pound of greens and leeks in here) than anything else. The eggs provide protein, the cheese creates an irresistible bronzed lid, and the entire thing makes phenomenal leftovers reheated in the oven, which feels like winning the lottery.

My daughter ate five whole bites of this before she realized what she’d done and shoved the rest away. This, my friends, is what we consider a home run.

Get the recipe:


Deb Perelman is the author of two best-selling cookbooks inspired by her beloved blog, Smitten Kitchen.

This Ground Beef Meatball Recipe Is My New Weeknight Dinner Secret Weapon

I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m definitely not a do-or-die carnivore either. I’ll take a baby steak over a hulking rib eye any day, and most of the time I’ll opt for crispy glazed tofu over either. My meat philosophy is simple: Use meat as a seasoning in a dish, not as the dish. These crispy beef meatballs, which pair ground beef with crunchy chopped walnuts, briny capers, and plenty of herbs, neatly fit the bill. They come together in no time, and are a delicious, economical, all-purpose protein that can round out any otherwise plant-based meal.

Meatballs may have a rep for being stodgy and taking forever to cook, but these crispy little guys are a whole different breed than the spaghetti-dwellers you may have encountered before. (No shade intended—Sunday Supper, I’ll always love you!) I’d even dare to call 2018 ‘The Year of the Meatball’ here at BA, where we like ‘em golf ball-sized and paired with a bright herby sauce. Here’s how these come together.

Sheet Pan Beef Meatballs with Salsa Verde

Before you do anything else, preheat your oven to 425° and arrange a rack in the middle. We’re going to prep two things at once here—the meatball mix and salsa verde—so grab two bowls and grate a garlic clove into each. Finely chop up any mix of herbs that gets you going (I went with dill and basil) and split the pile between the bowls, then do the same for capers. You’ll need to chop up some walnuts too, but save those all for the meatball mix, where they’ll add a fun layer of texture and nutty flavor.

Now it’s time to bring the meatballs together by adding an egg, paprika, salt, oil, along with a cup of panko breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands, then add the beef and continue to mix gently until it’s incorporated but not overmixed. If you work the mixture too much, the meat will become tough and springy, so be gentle. If you want to check your meatball seasoning, now is the time! Pinch off a little piece and crisp it in a skillet to give it a taste. Once you’re happy with the flavors, drizzle some olive oil onto the sheet pan, roll the meatballs into golf ball-sized balls, and into the hot oven they go.

Another thing I love about this recipe: It’s ridiculously fast. These meatballs only need to bake for about 10 minutes or so. Set a timer, and give the pan a shake halfway through to encourage crispy browning on all sides. While the meatballs cook, you can finish the salsa verde by adding lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Don’t be afraid to add more lemon juice or salt if the flavors aren’t quite there—you want a bright, punchy sauce to stand up to the meatballs. When the meatballs are done, transfer them to a platter and serve with that salsa verde on the side for drizzling.

Nobody will fault you for eating these crispy meatballs straight-up, but they’re a versatile ingredient for countless other meals too. Use them to anchor a grain bowl, round out a noodle-y soup, or add some heft to a plate of roasted veggies. Share them with friends, or hoard them all for yourself and eat them for lunch all week. Just know that when the first batch runs out, round two is never that far away.

Get the recipe: