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Technique

11 Weeknight Dinners for Whatever Mood You’re In

Easy meals with a delicious payoff.

By Team Made In
Aug 16, 2023
spaghetti bolognese
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Weeknight cooking can be thought of as akin to jury duty—some view it as an obligation required of all taxpaying adults, while others dread it more than a routine dental cleaning.

We (and our team of chef partners) are here to change the narrative. With the proper plan, recipes, and tools, weeknight cooking can be transformed into a meditative activity perfect for winding down from the day. All of these dishes are perfect for adding to a routine weekday schedule, and come together in less than 90 minutes—the majority taking under an hour from start to finish.

One-Pot Chicken and Rice

one pot chicken and rice

One-pot meals are the unequivocal hero of the weekday crowd, and this dish is no different. Flavorful and crowd-pleasing, it can be customized to your heart’s content by adding or subtracting any amount of vegetables. The only thing better than a recipe that uses only one pan? When that pan is an easy-to-clean Non Stick Saute Pan.

Chow Udon with Pork and Black Bean Sauce

udon needle

Takeout is never more tempting than it is after a long weekday—but it can be even more rewarding when you make a takeout favorite at home. Chef Ryan Wong of Los Angeles' Needle shared his take on the classic chow mein, utilizing Japanese udon noodles instead of egg noodles. The result is a quick-cooking dish that comes together beautifully when utilizing the high-heat capabilities of our Carbon Steel Wok.

Spaghetti Bolognese

This warming, comforting pasta recipe is perfect for cooler weather and having leftovers to actually look forward to eating. From Chef Tracey Malechek-Ezekiel of Birdie’s in Austin, the whole dish comes together in less than an hour in our Dutch Oven, but tastes like it’s been slowly bubbling away on the stovetop all day. Serve with your favorite high-quality dry pasta and a healthy topping of Parmesan.

#60 Fried Rice

The best part of leftover rice is, without a doubt, the potential for fried rice. This recipe from Chef Eric Silverstein of Austin’s The Peached Tortilla comes together in just 10 minutes and utilizes both day-old rice and lap cheong, a type of Cantonese sausage. This should be in stock at H Mart or another well-stocked Asian grocery store, but feel free to swap for another protein if you’re having trouble sourcing.

Lamb Chops with Mint and Salsa Verde

lamb chops recipe

Lamb doesn’t need to be reserved for special occasions. Case in point: this recipe for lamb chops. A quick sear on our Carbon Steel Griddle and a light dressing with a punchy salsa verde is all these chops need, perfect for a fancy-feeling weeknight meal that comes together faster than some evening commutes.

Quesataco

quesataco recipe

If the drive-thru is calling your name on the way home, resist the temptation and serve up this decadent combination of a quesadilla and a taco. Cheese is crisped directly on the Griddle, with toppings rolled into the melted cheese and transferred to a tortilla.

Our version uses crispy bacon and Anaheim chiles as a filling, but use whatever fillings and toppings are speaking to you (or need to be used)—bet you can’t get that at your local drive-thru.

Steak with Crispy Smashed Potatoes and Mushroom Pan Sauce

rhoda steak and potatoes

Steak and potatoes may be as standard as it can get, but that doesn’t give it license to be dull. This recipe from our Creative Culinary Director serves two and is perfect for a cozy date night in or a luxurious dinner for one (plus leftovers for lunch the next day).

While the dish comes together in under an hour, we recommend doing some advance prep and seasoning your steak with salt and pepper as ahead of time as you can—even up to overnight—to maximize the amount of flavor you’re getting.

Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

A simple curry like this one from Chef Jam Sanitchat of Thai Fresh in Austin is one that won’t ever disappoint, whether you’ve made it once or one hundred times. A Saucepan and an array of pantry staples is all you need to craft this flavor-packed classic dish that Chef Sanitchat calls her favorite Thai curry. Feel free to swap the chicken for beef, tofu, or whatever protein is lurking around your fridge or freezer.

Chilled Cucumber and Tofu Salad

cucumber salad

Some days call for meals that don’t require turning on the stove at all—and this tasty, refreshing salad is up for the task. From Los Angeles-based Chef Keegan Fong of Woon, all this salad needs from you is some knife skills, namely a roll cut for the Persian cucumbers. Enjoy right away, then let the leftovers marinate for up to three days—it only gets better with time.

Tomato-Braised Salmon

braised salmon

When you think of braising, you likely think of a day-long affair that makes use of pork shoulder or a similarly thick cut of meat. Chef Peter Nguyen asks you to put your preconceptions on hold for this warming, spicy, umami-laden tomato-braised salmon that’s ready in just 30 minutes. Our Dutch Oven perfectly mimics a Vietnamese clay pot, with the tight-fitting Cloud Cover Lid expertly redistributing moisture. This braise is on the saucy side, perfect for serving over rice.

Pasta with Quick Sausage Ragu and Broccoli Rabe

pasta with sausage ragu

Weeknight pasta is often the default, and for good reason: It’s relatively easy, filling, and leftovers the next day are all but guaranteed. Our Creative Culinary Director Rhoda Boone dials it up a notch with a surprisingly simple but nonetheless delicious sausage ragu that comes together in less than an hour.

Ready to Cook?

Weeknight meals often get a bad rap, and are thought to substitute flavor for convenience. Hopefully, these 11 dishes have proved weeknight-ready meals can be both delicious and relatively easy—and fast—to put together. With the right cookware, you’re set up for success no matter the weeknight.

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