Assembling cassoulet, proofing sourdough bread or constructing a Harry Potter Sorting Hat croquembouche are all worthwhile pursuits, but, for many people, the word “cooking” means weeknight cooking: recipes that are fast and easy without sacrificing a little excitement. Those are exactly the kind of recipes NYT Cooking readers loved most this year.
The Top 5 recipes of the year are below. Some are innovative in method or flavor, which means you get to try something new without having to dedicate the entire weekend to it; all are just plain delicious.
Via Carota’s Insalata Verde
Samin Nosrat, a columnist for The New York Times Magazine and author of “Salt Fat Acid Heat,” adapted this green salad from Via Carota, a charming Italian restaurant in the West Village of Manhattan. These aren’t your typical weeknight tossed greens: The recipe calls for triple-washing five types of lettuce. But the results are worth it. This salad is also versatile (use whatever good-quality greens you can get your hands on), and the perfectly balanced dressing keeps in the refrigerator for several days.
Pork Chops in Lemon-Caper Sauce
Sam Sifton, The Times’ Food editor, found this 35-minute recipe for pork chops bathed in lemon juice, white wine, capers, garlic and shallots in Toni Tipton-Martin’s new cookbook, “Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African American Cooking.” He called it “a dish of smothered pork chops, essentially, made into something glorious and elegant.” Readers went crazy for it — especially when they discovered it works just as well with boneless chicken breasts.
Huli Huli Chicken
In 1955, Ernest Morgado, a Honolulu businessman, served a group of farmers grilled chicken that had been marinated in teriyaki-style sauce. It was a hit, and Morgado started selling it with the name “huli huli.” (Huli means “turn” in Hawaiian, referring to how the chicken is flipped during cooking.) This recipe, adapted from “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes From Hawai‘i” by Alana Kysar, starts with marinating bone-in chicken in ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic and ginger, then grilling. But readers found that the recipe also works well with boneless thighs, and that those without grills can roast it in the oven.
Creamy Chickpea Pasta With Spinach and Rosemary
Readers clamored for chickpea recipes this year, and this hearty vegetarian pasta dish by Alexa Weibel, an editor at NYT Cooking, did not disappoint. It comes together in about a half-hour with just a handful of ingredients: chickpeas, pasta, heavy cream, garlic, shallots and spinach. Browning the chickpeas first, removing half of them from the skillet, and then letting the rest break down to thicken the sauce yields a delightfully creamy-crispy dish that’s very difficult to stop eating.
Vinegar Chicken With Crushed Olive Dressing
A reader posted a note on the NYT Cooking website calling this saucy, tangy sheet-pan chicken “lick-your-plate good,” and many others agree. The recipe, by our columnist Alison Roman, is as simple as can be: First, roast the turmeric-dusted chicken on the sheet pan. Then use a combination of fresh garlic, parsley, crushed Castelvetrano olives and a bit of water to deglaze the pan for a quick sauce that’s poured over the roasted chicken. We like it served with rice. (This recipe appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Oct. 2.)