Cooking with Convenience Foods
Sweet Potato, Balsamic Onion and Soppressata Pizza
Every winter, Green Aisle's backyard becomes a charcuterie cellar—the landlord strings homemade soppressata on the trees to dry. Adam Erace uses the soppressata to top this clever prebaked-crust pizza, along with mashed sweet potatoes and mozzarella cheese.
Country Pâté Banh Mi
Silken tofu blended with lemongrass and lime juice is a terrific dairy-free stand-in for mayonnaise in this riff on the Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. Adam Erace sometimes makes the sandwich with local scrapple (a hash of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and shaped into a log or loaf).
The beauty of this recipe is that it takes advantage of an array of terrific prefab ingredients, from prepeeled garlic and precut butternut squash to rotisserie chicken and frozen sofrito (the Spanish green-pepper-and-onion seasoning paste). Poaching the prepeeled garlic cloves in milk helps bring out an extraordinary depth of flavor.
Crisp Spiced Chicken with Hummus Vinaigrette
Green Aisle sells thousands of tubs of hummus made by local chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav. Hummus is the key to making this creamy, complex-tasting vinaigrette.
Apple-Butter Ice Cream with Ginger-Chocolate Ganache
Folding apple butter into vanilla ice cream is a great way to add elegance. Adam Erace also adds grated ginger to melted chocolate to make a fast sundae topping; for a more caramel-like sauce, substitute dulce de leche for the melted chocolate.
Black Bean Soup with Crispy Tortillas
This ultrasimple soup requires little more than a couple of cans of black beans, some onion and a bit of cumin.
For this supereasy lasagna spin-off, F&W's Grace Parisi skips pasta sheets and layers pocketless pita bread or naan from the grocery with store-bought marinara sauce, hot Italian sausage and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
Moo Shu Shrimp
Making this one-dish meal is even faster than waiting for the Chinese food to arrive—and it's a brilliant use of packaged coleslaw mix and presliced wild mushrooms. Since you can't buy moo shu pancakes at supermarkets, flour tortillas are a perfect cross-cultural substitute.
Skillet Chicken-and-Mushroom Potpie
Grace Parisi proves that making potpie doesn't have to take a long time with this one-skillet version, prepared with store-bought rotisserie chicken and—her stroke of brilliance—buttered white bread in place of the usual labor-intensive puff pastry crust.
Chickpeas and Swiss Chard in Parmesan and Sun-Dried-Tomato Broth
Top-quality jarred pesto is the key to this soup, contributing a lovely, herby nuttiness. Simmering the soup with a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind adds even more flavor complexity.
Curried Eggplant with Chickpeas and Spinach
Canned chickpeas are often used in salads or hummus, but F&W's Grace Parisi roasts them here with eggplant, prewashed spinach and onion to make a great vegetarian main course.
Potato-Crusted Salmon with Herb Salad
Preshredded potatoes, sold in plastic bags in the supermarket frozen-food department, usually end up as hash browns. This recipe suggests an entirely new use for them: seared onto fat fillets of salmon to form a fantastic crisp crust.
As if the chocolate-hazelnut spread gianduja isn't delicious enough straight off the spoon, Grace Parisi has folded in whipped cream and crème fraîche to create a truly decadent (and ridiculously easy) mousse. For a supereasy ice cream sandwich, spoon the mousse between chocolate wafers and freeze overnight.
Quick Chicken-and-Cheese Tamales
Grace Parisi mixes store-bought rotisserie chicken and cheddar cheese into a quick dough, then she wraps the tamales in plastic before steaming them.
Polenta Gratin with Spinach and Wild Mushrooms
Commercial wild mushroom mixes (usually a combination of shiitake, cremini and oyster mushrooms) are a godsend: Some invisible helper has already cleaned, stemmed and sliced the mushrooms for you. In this recipe, they are mixed with spinach and cream, then baked in a luscious gratin under smooth rounds of precooked polenta until bubbling hot.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Bars
Break-and-bake cookies, which come packaged in eight-inch squares, are the secret to these incredible ice cream sandwich bars. Simply roll out all the dough to create one giant cookie, then bake, slice and layer it with store-bought ice cream and hot fudge sauce. The best part: dipping the bars into crushed chocolate toffee candy to form a supercrunchy shell.