Even with the best-laid plans, cooking during these strange times can be a challenge. So we've put together three recipe pairings, each with an entree and a side, that call for ingredients you may already have on hand. But if you don't have a particular ingredient or the supermarket is out of stock, don't worry; we've also provided ideas for subsitutions.
Dinner 1: Garlicky Spaghetti with Lemon and Leafy Green Salad
Game Plan: Start by bringing the pasta water to a boil. Next, cook the garlic mixture for the pasta, using any unattended time to prep the salad ingredients. Toss the salad once the pasta is done.
Both of the recipes in this pairing are customizable. For Garlicky Spaghetti with Lemon and Pine Nuts, the only two flavorings that we consider absolutely necessary are the garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. With those ingredients alone, you can produce a great pasta dish. The recipe works best with a long strand pasta, but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. The Parmesan and pine nuts add richness and texture, but other cheeses (try Pecorino Romano) and nuts (we like slivered almonds), are good, too. The Leafy Green Salad can also be adapted. Feel free to use any type of vinegar in the dressing, but make sure to stick with a 4:1 ratio of oil to acid.
Dinner 2: Scrambled Eggs with Bacon
Game Plan: Start by oven-frying the bacon. Prep the ingredients for the eggs while the bacon is in the oven. Once the bacon is done, scramble and cook the eggs.
There are few meals that are easier or more comforting than breakfast for dinner. Perfect Scrambled Eggs are great plain, but it's easy to toss in a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs or 1/2 cup of grated cheese (or both) to dress them up. Don't have half-and-half? Not to worry: Milk is a fine substitute (even chicken broth will work). And what is breakfast without Oven-Fried Bacon? Cooking bacon in the oven is easy and mess-free. It also means you can throw a couple of extra slices onto the the baking sheet to use in BLTs later in the week.
Dinner 3: Crispy Chicken Cutlets and Sautéed Peas
Game Plan: Start by prepping the chicken (steps 1 and 2). Prep the ingredients for the peas before pan-frying the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked, keep it warm in a 200-degree oven while you sauté the peas.
This menu features two ingredients that many cooks keep in their freezers: boneless, skinless chicken breasts and peas. The panko breadcrumbs in Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken Cutlets are the key to a crispy texture, but if you don't have them on hand, you can make your own. To do so, feed crustless sandwich bread (white is best, but other varieties will work) through the largest grating disk of a food processor, then bake the crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet at 300 degrees until dry but not toasted, about 6 minutes. Sautéed Peas with Shallot and Mint can be made without the shallot and almost any fresh herb can be used instead of the mint. It is also really good with double the amount of garlic!