Make-Ahead Main Courses
Chef Alex Raij made this big, impressive pie, which she calls pastel de parra, to snack on throughout the weekend; a big slice is also satisfying as a meal.
Meat Loaf with Creamy Onion Gravy
"This is a culmination of all the meat loaves I've ever eaten," says Andrew Curren, chef-partner of 24 Diner in Austin. "My mom always made a good meat loaf—it never had the tomato goo on top of it. Then I tasted a meat loaf that had cheese in it; that was a good idea. In Italy, I was introduced to soffritto and realized the importance of cooking with carrots, onion, celery." Curren serves the meat loaf with creamy gravy, which is also excellent on lunchtime meat loaf sandwiches.
Roasted Delicata Squash with Quinoa Salad
Quinoa is definitely a superfood: A grain-like seed, it's a "complete" protein containing all eight essential amino acids (another plus: it cooks much more quickly than most grains). To create a terrific vegetarian main course, Michael Symon of Cleveland's Lola tosses quinoa with arugula, apple, raisins and fresh herbs, then spoons the salad into a halved baked squash (a great source of iron and vitamins A and C).
You can roast fresh pumpkin for this dish or use canned unseasoned pumpkin puree, which is quicker. Like most lasagnes, this one is easier to cut if left to set for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Salmon with Curried Spinach
A good choice for a dinner party, this dish looks as if you've gone to some trouble when in fact it's really easy. And everybody likes salmon.
Pork Medallions with Curry-Honey Glaze
Steamed basmati rice and sautéed chayote or cucumber slices make ideal accompaniments to this dish.
Three-Cheese Baked Pasta with Porcini and Radicchio
This pasta features three types of cheese: fontina, asiago, and parmesan.
Fresh spinach ravioli are a clever shortcut for making lasagna: Each ravioli is already a mini layer of pasta, cheese and vegetable. This recipe is especially fast to make using pre-roasted or grilled vegetables from the deli counter.
Lasagna with Mushrooms and Lamb Sausage
Marcia Kiesel’s earthy, meaty lasagna features two types of mushrooms, rich mushroom stock, truffled pecorino cheese and spicy merguez lamb sausage.
Sardinian Stuffed Eggplant
Efisio Farris, the executive chef at Arcodoro in Houston, says that his mother used only eggplants from the first pick of the season (le primizie) for this dish because of their supple texture and earthy-sweet flavor without a hint of bitterness. But if you don’t have the primizie option, you should seek out firm, heavy eggplants with smooth, evenly colored skin. Check for ripeness by pressing them lightly; if this leaves an imprint, the eggplant is ready to use.
Stuffed Pork Tenderloins with Bacon and Apple-Riesling Sauce
Debra Whiting, the chef and co-owner of Red Newt Winery Bistro in New York's Finger Lakes, loves the fresh goat cheese from the local Lively Run Dairy so much that she always works it into her dinner menu. Here, she mixes the cheese with apple, sausage and greens, then stuffs it inside a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.
Red Chile-Chicken Enchiladas
Grace Parisi makes a slightly spicy red sauce for these enchiladas with smoky guajillo chiles and fruity ancho chiles.
This hearty cumin-scented casserole has an irresistible cheesy-crisp topping.
Short Ribs with Mushrooms and Spring Vegetables
To layer the flavors in this dish, chef Rory Herrmann at Bouchon in Beverly Hills marinates beef short ribs and vegetables in red wine overnight, then uses the marinade in the braise as well. Spring vegetables help lighten the rich stew.
"When you have leftover pickle juice, isn't it a waste not to use it to make chicken taste delicious?" asks Frank Falcinelli. He brines chicken breast in dill-pickle juice to flavor it and keep it moist in the oven, then serves it on top of supertender leg meat he's shredded and mixed with sautéed chard.
Celery Root and Mushroom Lasagna
"In Marche, we only make lasagna for special occasions like Christmas," Fabio Trabocchi says. For this streamlined version of his luxe lasagna in bianco (white lasagna), he layers flat noodles with a supremely rich sauce, along with a root-vegetable ragù, fresh mozzarella and whole basil leaves.
Southwest Seafood Chowder
As a native New Englander, chef Steve Sicinski loves clam chowder but prefers making a healthier version with Southwestern flavors.
Braised Pork Shanks
Pork shanks, which come from the front leg of the pig, can be chewy when cooked incorrectly. When prepared properly, however, they become succulent and flavorful. Tim Love thinks the best way to cook them is in a long, slow braise, as in the recipe here. Don't let the liquid boil, he warns, or it will toughen the meat.
These very tasty gnocchi are made with pâte à choux—the same dough used for profiteroles, cream puffs and éclairs—that is poached and then baked. You don’t need a light hand to make these, as you do for other forms of gnocchi; in fact, the dough comes together quickly in a saucepan and requires vigorous stirring.
Lentils with Red Wine and Herbs
Sophie Dahl fondly refers to this dish as Paris Mash because she used to make it in Paris while visiting an artist friend, Annie Morris. With herbs and a scattering of mâche (a sweet and tender green), the stewy lentils become a perfect combination of soup and salad. French green lentils work best here, because they hold their shape when cooked.
Julie's Texas-Style Chili with Beer
A blend of three chiles flavors this bold short-rib chili.
Slow Cooker Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
This tasty dish pairs well with a smooth, spicy California Pinot Noir.