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The Simplest Noodles - The New York Times

Hello! And welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes. I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to cook when things feel out of control. My mom died when I was quite young, and the kitchen was her place, so when she died, it became my place, where I escaped to — and still do, to find comfort in making a recipe that will work if I just follow the instructions. How life-affirming, right?

These crazy days, I find myself gravitating toward comforting dishes, not necessarily of the mac and cheese sort (which I love, but ate my weight in back in March), but noodles and chicken and stews that have an air of familiarity with a touch of the unexpected. The dishes below are like that, I think. I hope that you like them and that you’ll cook them.

You can reach me at margaux@nytimes.com with questions, complaints and compliments. Have a wonderful week.

Here are five dishes for the week.

1. Ramen With Charred Scallions, Green Beans and Chile Oil

This beautiful tangle of noodles from Hetty McKinnon is a huge improvement on the vending machine ramen I lived on in my 20s. It comes together in about 30 minutes, and, if you use store-bought chile oil, it’ll be on the table even faster. Use fresh ramen or the rectangular dried packages hiding in your cabinet (but ditch the spice packet). I’m eager to try this with asparagus in place of the green beans.

View this recipe.

2. Braised Chicken With Artichokes and Mushrooms

When Peg Bracken shopped around her manuscript for “The I Hate to Cook Book” in the late 1950s, six male publishers rejected it. They said it would never sell because “women regard cooking as sacred.” (I rolled my eyes when I read that, too.) It took a female editor to appreciate Ms. Bracken’s witty instructions — “Let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink” — and her easy-to-follow recipes. This simple recipe, which is adapted from Ms. Bracken and uses canned artichokes, comes together in a snap. You could do this with boneless breasts or thighs, too, but reduce your cook time accordingly.

View this recipe.

3. Cowboy Caviar

Somewhere between a dip and a bean salad is cowboy caviar, or Texas caviar, as it’s called in some parts. This dish was created by Helen Corbitt, a dietitian from New York who moved to Texas in the 1930s to work in the restaurant industry. There are as many variations as there are stars in the sky, and I’ve never had one that I didn’t like. Once upon a time, when my kids went to school, I packed this in their lunchboxes with tortilla chips. You can also serve it alongside grilled chicken or stirred into cooled, cooked pasta for a quick and easy pasta salad.

4. Pasta e Ceci (Italian Pasta and Chickpea Stew)

This version of the classic Roman stew was developed by Colu Henry. It’s a big reader favorite, and for good reason: It’s vegetarian, it’s adaptable and you can throw it together in about a half-hour. Make it with any small, shaped pasta, but I like the way the chickpeas nestle into the dimples of orecchiette.

View this recipe.

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