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Dinner This Week: Caldo Verde

This week’s menus include Caldo Verde, Braised Halibut with Fennel and Tarragon, and Palak Dal (Spinach Dal with Cumin and Mustard Seeds) for dinner in about an hour
By Published Jan. 11, 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: Caldo Verde and Southern-Style Cornbread

Game Plan: Heat the oven and prep the ingredients for the soup. While the soup simmers in step 1, mix the cornbread batter. Bake the cornbread as the soup simmers in step 2. Finish the soup while the cornbread cools.

Caldo Verde is a traditional Portuguese soup of potatoes, greens (we like collards) and garlicky chorizo sausage. For a silky smooth, thick consistency, we puree a portion of the potatoes with olive oil and stir the mixture into the broth. A couple of teaspoons of white vinegar balances the richness of the rustic soup.  Southern-Style Cornbread starts with making a cornmeal mush (moistening some of the cornmeal with some water) to produce a savory quick bread with a fine, moist crumb. Baking the cornbread in a cast-iron skillet produces a crisp, golden crust.

Printable Shopping Lists: Caldo Verde and Southern-Style Cornbread

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Dinner 2: Braised Halibut with Fennel and Warm Farro with Lemon

Game Plan: Start by boiling the farro. As the farro cooks, prep the halibut ingredients. Once the farro is tender, it can be drained and held in a covered saucepan. While the fish is cooking in step 2, soften the onion for the farro. As the sauce for the fish reduces (step 3), finish the farro.

Braised Halibut with Fennel and Tarragon features moist, succulent fish; tender pieces of fennel; and a sauce with balanced flavor and just the right amount of brightness. We like halibut for its sweet, delicate taste and firm texture. Because the bottom of the fillets are submerged in liquid and will cook more quickly than the upper halves that cook via steam, we start by sautéing the fillets for a few minutes on just one side before we start braising. For Warm Farro with Lemon and Herbs, we prefer whole farro, which has a pleasant chewiness and a nutty flavor. The simplest cooking method is best: Just boil the farro in salted water for about 20 minutes until tender. After the grains are drained, we combine them with sautéed onions, a copious amount of fresh herbs, and a sprinkling of lemon.

Printable Shopping Lists: Braised Halibut with Fennel and Warm Farro with Lemon

Equipment Review

The Best 12-Inch Enameled Cast-Iron Skillets

Cheap and tough, a cast-iron skillet is a kitchen workhorse, but the upkeep makes some cooks balk. Could enameled cast-iron pans, which need no special care, top the classic?
Read Our Review

Dinner 3: Spinach Dal and Basmati Rice

Game Plan: Prep and start cooking the dal. Once the dal is simmering, cook the rice. As soon as the rice is removed from the heat to stand, complete the dal (steps 3 and 4).

Quick-cooking red lentils are the centerpiece of our weeknight Palak Dal. Once the lentils are softened, a vigorous whisk transforms them into a rustic, porridge-like stew without using a blender or food processor. Seasoning the lentils with a tadka (whole spices sizzled in ghee with aromatics) right before serving gives the dish loads of complexity, a gorgeous appearance, and an enticing aroma. For Basmati Rice Pilaf with light, fluffy, aromatic grains, we first rinse the rice to remove excess starch. Next, we sizzle whole spices in butter before toasting the rice itself. Finally, we add water and then cook the rice over low heat before removing it from the heat and allowing it to steam.

Printable Shopping Lists: Spinach Dal with Basmati Rice

To view more quick weeknight dinner ideas, check out the rest of the Dinner This Week series.


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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.