Weeknight Cooking

Dinner This Week: Weeknight Cioppino

This week’s menus include Cioppino, Vegetarian Mapo Tofu, and Thick-Cut Pork Tenderloin Medallions for dinner in about an hour.

Published Nov. 29, 2023.

Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.

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Dinner 1: Cioppino with Romaine and Watercress Salad

Game Plan: Prep and start cooking the cioppino, using any unattended cooking time to prep the salad ingredients. As the cioppino broth comes to a simmer at the end of step 4, toss the salad.

Cioppino, a seafood soup popularized by Italian immigrants to San Francisco, starts with a quick base of lightly browned onions, canned tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and clam juice for added briny flavor. To ensure that the clams and mussels don’t break up the flaky halibut, we first poach the fillets in the tomato broth and then transfer them to a platter to keep warm while we steam the mollusks in white wine and butter. The two components are then combined into one flavorful stew before serving. Romaine and Watercress Salad with Apple and Kohlrabi combines crisp romaine lettuce with spicy, tender watercress. Thinly sliced kohlrabi and sweet apple combine cohesively with the salad greens and provide complexity.

Printable Shopping Lists: Cioppino and Romaine and Watercress Salad

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Dinner 2: Vegetarian Mapo Tofu and Charred Green Beans

Game Plan: Prep and microwave the green beans (step 2). Next, prep and cook the Mapo Tofu. Once the sauce is thickened at the end of step 6, cover the pot and set it aside off heat while you char the green beans. Gently rewarm the Mapo Tofu before serving, if necessary.

Our Vegetarian Mapo Tofu is potent in flavor, with balanced spiciness. We start with cubed soft tofu and poach it gently in a mushroom broth to help the pieces stay intact in the braise. For the sauce, we use plenty of ginger and garlic along with four Sichuan pantry powerhouses: Asian broad bean chili paste (doubanjiang), fermented black beans, Sichuan chili powder, and Sichuan peppercorns. We finish with just the right amount of cornstarch to create a velvety consistency. Skillet-Charred Green Beans have a soft, appealingly dense, satisfying chew and concentrated flavor. To achieve those results, we first soften the beans by steaming them in the microwave. Then we char them in a skillet, without stirring, in a couple tablespoons of hot oil. Once they are charred, we season them with a lemony salt-and-pepper mixture.

Printable Shopping Lists: Vegetarian Mapo Tofu and Charred Green Beans

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Dinner 3: Pork Medallions and Roasted Butternut Squash

Game Plan: Start by prepping the squash and putting it in the oven to roast. Once the baking sheet with the squash has been rotated, prepare the pork.

Our recipe for Thick-Cut Pork Tenderloin Medallions starts with cutting tenderloins into 1½-inch-thick pieces and tying them to create neat cylindrical packages that can be easily seared on all sides. The searing process has the extra benefit of producing enough fond to create an easy, flavorful pan sauce. For Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Maple, we peel off not only the tough outer skin but also the fibrous layer of white flesh just beneath, ensuring supremely tender squash. To encourage the squash slices to caramelize, we roast them in a 425-degree oven on the lowest rack and use an extended baking time to evaporate the water in the slices. Melted butter instead of oil promotes the flavorful Maillard reaction. Finally, a topping of pecans and goat cheese add crunch and creaminess.

Pork Pan Sauces: Hoisin-Sesame; Maple-Mustard; Apple Cider

Printable Shopping Lists: Pork Medallions and Roasted Butternut Squash

View more weeknight dinner ideas below, or check out all of the Dinner This Week menus.


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