Five weeknight dishes: The rice bowl you need for dinner and more

3 April 2024

If you eat meat, or have ever eaten meat, then I probably don’t need to mount an argument for bacon, a food so powerfully appealing that science has sought to explain the reasons why. Bacon is transformative in cooking, elevating other ingredients that share the bun, pan or plate. That, of course, includes eggs, which don’t need bacon’s help to be delicious but become even more so in a New York-style breakfast sandwich or a bowl of spaghetti carbonara.

Eric Kim brings that pairing to his easy recipe for bacon and egg don, a nontraditional but highly delicious addition to the world of donburi, the Japanese rice bowls whose numbers include katsudon and oyakodon.

Scroll down for that recipe, along with four other dinners for the week.

1. Bacon and Egg Don

In the pantheon of comforting donburi (Japanese rice bowl dishes like katsudon, oyakodon and gyudon), bacon and eggs aren’t traditional toppings by any means, but they sure hit the spot. Eggs, soft-scrambled in the bacon fat with mirin and soy sauce, serve as a gently sweetened duvet for the rice and a counter to the salty bacon. Mirin, the Japanese rice wine, does a lot of work here to take ordinary eggs and rice to restaurant-flavor heights. To level up the rice, stir in 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon mirin while fluffing it. A sprinkle of furikake (rice seasoning) and shichimi togarashi (seven-spice blend) might feel like gilding the lily, but their nuanced savoriness completes this dish.

By Eric Kim

Yield: 2 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


1 cup medium-grain white rice, such as Calrose
3 slices thick-cut bacon (5 ounces), halved crosswise
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Furikake and shichimi togarashi, for serving


Rinse the rice in a sieve under cold running water, shaking constantly, for just a few seconds. Add to a medium pot with 1 1/2 cups cold water and soak for 10 minutes. Bring the water to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to very low, cover and continue simmering without peeking for 17 minutes.
Remove from the heat, and as quickly as you can, open the lid, cover the pot with a clean kitchen towel and tamp on the lid again. Let the rice finish steaming, covered, until the grains are soft, distended and a little shiny, at least 10 minutes.
While the rice steams off heat, cook the bacon and eggs: In a cold skillet, lay the bacon in a single layer; add 1 tablespoon cold water and place over medium heat. Cook the bacon, flipping occasionally and lowering the heat if needed, until very crispy and the fat is evenly browned and no longer white, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet.
In a bowl, stir the eggs, mirin and soy sauce to combine. Add to the pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and vigorously with a flexible spatula for the first 30 seconds then occasionally, so you end up with large curds, 2 to 3 minutes. The eggs should be set but still wet on top. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid to continue steaming in the residual heat, just a few seconds.
Uncover your steamed rice and fluff with a fork. Divide the rice between a couple of bowls and dust with furikake. Now divide the eggs between the bowls, followed by the bacon and a sprinkle of togarashi.

2. Yogurt-Marinated Roast Chicken

Yogurt-Marinated Roast Chicken. There are lots of ways to roast chicken, but few deliver crisp skin and juicy meat as well as marinating the meat in yogurt. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne. (Matt Taylor-Gross/The New York Times)

Marinating chicken in yogurt, much like buttermilk, creates juicy meat and caramelized skin, but yogurt’s additional fat and lactic acid contributes extra richness and tang. The practice of marinating meat in yogurt likely dates as far back as 13th century Central Asia and has stood the test of time for good reasons. While you don’t need to add anything to the yogurt besides salt for it to work its magic, yogurt carries flavors well. For even more depth, consider fresh aromatics like chopped chiles, garlic, ginger and herbs, as well as dried spices like turmeric, cumin, za’atar and garam masala. As yet another bonus, you could serve more yogurt alongside to sauce the chicken. If marinating with Greek yogurt, thin it with a little olive oil until pourable — otherwise, its weight could keep the skin from crisping.

By Ali Slagle

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 2 hours


1/2 cup plain full-fat yogurt
2 teaspoons kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or coarse kosher salt
3 1/2 to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (or one whole chicken of equal weight, see tip below)


In a large bowl, resealable container or zip-top bag, stir together the yogurt and salt. Pat the chicken dry, then add to the yogurt and coat every nook and cranny with the yogurt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour but preferably longer, up to 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scrape off excess yogurt, then transfer the chicken to the sheet pan, skin side up. Roast until browned and cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes for pieces and 45 to 50 minutes for a whole chicken. (For the juiciest results, check that the breast is at least 155 degrees and the dark meat at least 165 degrees in the thickest parts.)

Tip: For even browning and cooking, if using a whole chicken, spatchcock it first. To do so, place the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down. Using sharp kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting on either side of the backbone to release it. Flip the chicken, open it up and set it breast side up. Flatten the chicken by pressing firmly in the center; you should hear a crack.

3. Cilantro-Lime Salmon and Rice

Cilantro Lime Rice and Salmon. Bright and vibrant cilantro and lime liven up this weeknight-friendly, one-pot meal. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne. (Julia Gartland/The New York Times)

Bright and vibrant cilantro and lime liven up this weeknight-friendly, one-pot meal. Start by toasting rice in butter in a skillet to create a flavorful base, then, when the rice is almost finished cooking, add green beans and briefly marinated salmon to steam. Like many one-pot meals, this one is carefully calibrated so that each of the ingredients finishes cooking at the same time. Give the beans a head start to ensure they tenderize in the short time it takes the delicate salmon to cook through. To serve, garnish the finished dish with more cilantro and lime juice.

By Yossy Arefi

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 40 minutes


4 limes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
2 3/4 cups water or low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 pound salmon, skin removed, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
Black pepper, to taste


Zest and juice 3 of the limes into a medium bowl until you get about 1/4 cup lime juice. Stir in the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reserve half of the juice and zest mixture in a small bowl. Cut the remaining lime into wedges.
In a large skillet with a lid, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir until the rice is opaque and light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the water or stock and bring to a simmer. Cover with the lid and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the water is mostly absorbed and the rice is al dente.
Turn the heat to low and add the green beans to the pan in an even layer on top of the rice (if the pan seems dry, add a couple of tablespoons of stock or water). Cover and cook the beans for 5 minutes.
While the beans are cooking, add the salmon to the medium bowl with the lime mixture and toss to combine.
Uncover the skillet and shift the green beans to one side of the pan, then add the salmon to the other side, drizzling any remaining liquid from its bowl on top. Put the lid back on and steam until the salmon and beans are just cooked through, 10 to 15 more minutes.
Remove the salmon and green beans to a platter, then add the reserved lime mixture in the small bowl to the rice, along with all but 2 tablespoons of the cilantro. Stir gently to combine, then season the rice with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the remaining cilantro over the top. Serve rice, salmon and green beans with more lime wedges on the side for squeezing over the top.

4. Chickpea Stew With Orzo and Mustard Greens

Chickpea Stew with Orzo. A complex and colorful chickpea stew, this is rich with vegetables, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. You can vary the vegetables to use what you’ve got. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews. (David Malosh/The New York Times)

A complex and colorful chickpea stew, this is rich with vegetables, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. You can vary the vegetables to use what you’ve got. Here, I keep to the basics, adding carrots for sweetness, fennel or celery for depth, cherry tomatoes for looks. Tender greens, wilted into the bubbling mixture at the end, are optional, but they do add a bright, almost herbal note. I particularly love using baby mustard greens, which are pleasantly peppery. But spinach, arugula and kale work well, too.

By Melissa Clark

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small fennel bulb or 2 celery stalks, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (optional)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup roughly chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
1/2 cup whole-wheat or regular orzo
1 quart loosely packed baby mustard greens or spinach (about 5 ounces)
Salt and black pepper
Chopped scallions, for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more as needed


In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the carrots, fennel or celery, and onion. Cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes and rosemary, if using, and cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the broth, if using, or water, along with another 2 cups water, and bring to a boil.
Once the mixture is boiling, add the chickpeas, tomatoes and orzo. Reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer 10 minutes, or until the orzo is tender. Uncover and stir in the greens, letting them simmer until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add more water if you want the mixture to be more souplike, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped scallions (if desired), grated cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

5. Creamy Turmeric Pasta

Creamy Tumeric pasta. Nine ingredients may sound like a lot, but the only real work is slicing a shallot and two garlic cloves and grating the Parmesan. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews. (David Malosh/The New York Times)

This earthy pasta is cobbled together using ingredients that you almost certainly already have in your kitchen. Its approach is fairly standard: Melt some butter, saute some garlic and shallots, simmer with cream, then add some Parmesan and pasta cooking water to create a silky sauce. That alone would make a great meal, but what makes this recipe really special is the addition of ground turmeric, which gives this simple dish its vibrant color and sophisticated depth of flavor. This is meant to be a lazy meal — the kind of dish you throw together, then eat out of a big bowl while sitting on the couch — but if you’re feeling the need for something green, serve the pasta with a simple salad dressed with vinegar and olive oil.

By Sue Li

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


1 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 cup half-and-half
2 cups lightly packed freshly grated Parmesan (about 4 ounces), plus more for serving
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or chives


Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add turmeric and stir to toast, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the half-and-half then bring to a simmer.
Whisk in the 2 cups Parmesan, then add the cooked spaghetti and all of the reserved pasta cooking liquid and toss to coat. Serve with chopped parsley and more Parmesan.

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