Coconut Saag is as Soothing as It Sounds

October 12, 2023
Dining & Wine
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The soothing rhythms of cooking — the chopping and peeling, the sautéing and simmering — are part of why so many of us take to the kitchen in times of turmoil and stress. Maybe we can’t control the world at large, but we can lift our little part of it by nurturing ourselves and loved ones with something good to eat. And the act of preparing a meal can be a genuine balm.

In Priya Krishna’s new recipe for coconut saag (above), there’s just the right amount of slicing and blending to make it meditative and calming without taking up the entire evening. Ready in 35 minutes, it leaves plenty of you time (which for me means staying in the kitchen to make dessert). For saag lovers, Priya’s vegan riff on the classic North Indian dish is not to be missed. She swaps in coconut milk for the usual cream and extra-firm tofu for the paneer. (You can certainly use cheese, however; feta and halloumi work beautifully if paneer is hard to find.)


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Also vegan but even faster is Kay Chun’s 20-minute tofu and mushroom jorim. Based on the Korean dish usually made with beef stewed in a gingery sauce, Kay’s version calls for shiitake mushrooms for depth and a chewy texture next to the soft cubes of tofu. The leftovers are excellent served cold from the fridge for lunch the next day.

If your family’s idea of a grounding meal is chicken for dinner, my garlicky chicken with lemon-anchovy sauce is punchy and bright, with anchovies that melt into olive oil, leaving their saline, umami essence, and capers that turn crisp and salty as they fry. Serve with crusty bread to catch the vibrant sauce.

In Spain, macaroni and chorizo is classic comfort food. Ali Slagle’s take — pasta with spicy chorizo — calls for a mix of tomato paste, onions and the paprika-laced pork sausage, which cooks down into a smoky, silky sauce. Be sure to look for Spanish chorizo, which is cured and shelf stable (like salami), rather than the fresh Mexican chorizo sausages.

And about that dessert: Genevieve Ko’s buttery apple pie bars are not always a weeknight pursuit. But when you need to cozy up in the kitchen, these gently spiced treats deliver the pleasures of apple pie without having to roll out pie dough. The recipe makes two dozen bars, plenty to share with anyone else in need of some sweetness.

To read these and all the other recipes at New York Times Cooking, you’ll need to subscribe. If a technical snag rears its ugly head, email the smart people at cookingcare@nytimes.com for help. And I’m at hellomelissa@nytimes.com if you want to send me a note.

That’s all for now. I’ll see you on Monday.

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