Milk Street: Cookish

Throw It Together: Big Flavors. Simple Techniques. 200 Ways to Reinvent Dinner.


By Christopher Kimball

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Throw together fast, flavorful meals in no time with just a handful of ingredients with 200 highly cookable, delicious, and incredibly simple recipes from the James Beard Award-winning team at Milk Street.

In Cookish, Christopher Kimball and his team of cooks and editors harness the most powerful cooking principles from around the world to create 200 of the simplest, most delicious recipes ever created. These recipes, most with six or fewer ingredients (other than oil, salt, and pepper), make it easy to be a great cook — the kind who can walk into a kitchen and throw together dinner in no time.

In each of these recipes, big flavors and simple techniques transform pantry staples, common proteins, or centerpiece vegetables into a delicious meal. And each intuitive recipe is a road map for other mix-and-match meals, which can come together in minutes from whatever's in the fridge.

With most recipes taking less than an hour to prepare, and just a handful of ingredients, you'll enjoy:
  • Pasta with Shrimp and Browned Butter
  • West African Peanut Chicken
  • Red Lentil Soup
  • Scallion Noodles
  • Open-Faced Omelet with Fried Dill and Feta
  • Greek Bean and Avocado Salad
  • And for dessert: Spiced Strawberry Compote with Greek Yogurt or Ice Cream

When it's a race to put dinner on the table, these recipes let you start at the finish line.


It’s Not Cooking. It’s COOKISH.

Historically, I’ve had little love for cookbooks that promise meals in minutes or sport titles along the lines of “5-Ingredient Cookbook!” They too often deliver recipes that taste like they didn’t get much love and attention–somebody smeared mustard on chicken parts and threw them into the oven. My rule of thumb was you get what you deserve with speed cooking.

That was before I founded Milk Street, which completely changed how I cook. The classic American recipe handbook is based on a Northern European tradition that depends on time and heat to build flavor from mostly dull ingredients–big hunks of meat, root vegetables, etc. The rest of the world, however, takes a different tack. Time is no longer the key ingredient–it’s the ingredients themselves that make the difference. An approach which, it turns out, can be surprisingly speedy.

A bottle of fish sauce, a bit of miso, a good sherry vinegar, some smoked paprika, a tablespoon of Aleppo pepper, and a few of the many cooking techniques found in Sichuan cooking, for example, are transformative. Start there and you are almost at the finish line. And while you are at it, mix and match. Put sweet with sour. Mix creamy with crunchy. Add a touch of bitter when least expected. All of a sudden, that 30-minute supper looks a whole lot better. This is the heart of Cookish.

Cookish does have a few rules. It is a lot more than quick cooking. We depend on a powerhouse supermarket pantry, ingredients that do the work for us, like orange marmalade, miso, garam masala, black bean garlic sauce, harissa, Thai red curry paste, pickled ginger, ground turmeric. We offer alternatives for hard-to-find ingredients, though pretty much anything is now a click away.

We have limited ingredients to six, other than salt, pepper, oil, and water. Most recipes call for no more than one piece of cookware. And cooking techniques are dead simple, many of them borrowed from what we have learned on our travels. For those of us who grew up in New England, it is a world of cooking that offers myriad solutions to getting dinner on the table quickly.

Underlying all of our work on Cookish is the notion that a recipe has to be informed by an idea, a concept that makes it special. Whether that is a contrast in flavors or textures, applying a cooking technique typically used for one ingredient to another, or mixing different cultural traditions in one dish, a recipe has to sing for its supper. It needs to come alive and justify its existence on the plate. It’s not enough to be “good”–it has to be special.

Most of all, Cookish is about having fun in the kitchen. As we like to say, “Throw it together.” These recipes are a great foundation for learning how to cook without recipes. We all are looking forward to the day when we walk into the kitchen and simply throw dinner together.

That’s the promise of Cookish.


Christopher Kimball


Celery and Greens Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

Sweet-Sour Swiss Chard with Apricots and Almonds

Red Cabbage and Parsley Salad with Toasted Walnuts


Curried Carrot Salad with Golden Raisins

Fennel and Celery Root Salad with Pecans and Grainy Mustard

Jicama and Mango Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Beet and Carrot Salad with Horseradish and Dill

Arugula and Avocado Salad with Jalapeño Vinaigrette

Shaved Carrot Salad with Olives and Parsley


Honey-Caraway Parsnips with Cider Vinegar

Broccoli with Browned Butter and Almonds

Minty Radishes and Snap Peas

Sweet Potatoes with Cumin and Cilantro

Tomato and Watermelon Salad with Basil and Goat Cheese

Tomato-Zucchini Tart

Beet and Pumpkin Seed Salad

Harissa-Spiced Cauliflower-Almond Soup

Asparagus with Pickled Ginger and Scallions

Charred Broccoli with Miso Vinaigrette

Charred Corn with Coconut, Chilies and Lime

Carrot Soup with Rosemary and Ginger


Skillet-Charred Brussels Sprouts with Coriander and Cashews

Skillet-Charred Brussels Sprouts with Sesame and Scallions

Skillet-Charred Brussels Sprouts with Apple, Pecans and Pecorino

Skillet-Charred Brussels Sprouts with Dates and Pickled Peppers

Mustard-Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Butternut Squash with Hoisin and Chives

Chutney-Roasted Eggplant with Scallions

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Harissa and Pistachios

Seared Radicchio with Sherry Vinegar, Blue Cheese and Walnuts

Roasted Fennel with Capers and Olives


Indian-Spiced Seared and Steamed Green Beans

Seared and Steamed Green Beans with Anchovies, Garlic and Capers

Seared and Steamed Green Beans with Ginger and Coconut

Seared and Steamed Green Beans and Tomatoes with Feta

Turmeric Potatoes with Red Onion and Chutney

Roasted Pepper and Walnut Salad with Mint and Feta

Broiled Asparagus with Cardamom and Orange

Sweet-and-Savory Skillet-Steamed Eggplant

Roasted Green Beans and Shiitake Mushrooms with Pecans

Roasted Carrots with Turmeric-Honey

Pan-Seared Broccolini with Pork and Oyster Sauce


Chermoula-Roasted Whole Cauliflower

Chili-Garlic Roasted Whole Cauliflower

Ginger-Hoisin Roasted Whole Cauliflower

Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Cumin and Turmeric

Curried Potatoes, Tomatoes and Cabbage

Pozole with Collard Greens

Vegetables are a great fit for the no-fuss philosophy of Cookish.

Most of the problems associated with vegetable dishes stem from doing too much—they’re cooked too long or smothered in a muddle of flavors. So, we look for easy ways to highlight the fresh flavor of vegetables and add interest to the plate with pops of contrasting ingredients and textures.

Take carrots, often served up as watery boiled coins or swamped in gloopy mayonnaise slaws. Instead, we grate them to break down cell walls and release more flavor. We balance that intense, earthy sweetness with warm spices in our curried carrot salad, one of a clutch of dishes that show off the bright freshness of grated root vegetables. And we don’t stop there. Shaved and wilted briefly in the microwave, sweet and smooth carrot strips are combined with the mild brininess of olives in our carrot salad inspired by a Moroccan classic. Softened and pureed, carrots make a simple, and colorful soup—we add the unusual pairing of rosemary and ginger for a spicy-herbal kick. And when roasted, the sugars in carrots caramelize. We find a scattering of honey, turmeric and cumin or coriander seeds with a splash of lime complements the carrots’ mellow sweetness.

We avoid over-boiling and instead use a low-liquid technique that preserves the color, flavor and texture of vegetables. We begin by simmering them in a small amount of water, then remove the lid so the moisture evaporates, leaving plenty of flavor behind. The whole process is done in about 20 minutes and we do this with dishes as varied as broccoli paired with nutty browned butter and almonds and a crisp dish of radishes, mint and snap peas. Meanwhile, we turn up the heat to tackle the challenge of much-maligned Brussels sprouts, and conquer the bitterness of the brassicas by charring them in a hot skillet; they turn out crisp, sweet and earthy.

Steamed green beans are another side that can easily turn humdrum. So we blister and char them in a hot skillet to develop flavor before adding liquid. Adding just a bit of water to the hot pan creates a burst of steam that quickly cooks the beans with no chance of sogginess. We came up with four variations, including one inspired by Indian sabzi that uses unsweetened shredded coconut, poppy seeds and ground cardamom.

Some of our vegetable dishes can easily be turned into mains, like our turmeric potatoes inspired by South Asia’s aloo chaat street food and our pan-seared broccolini with pork. And our whole roasted cauliflower presented with a few flavor variations makes a simple—and fabulous-looking—supper. You put in 10 minutes effort, the oven does the rest.

Celery and Greens Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

This refreshing salad with plenty of texture was inspired by a recipe in “Catalan Food” by Daniel Olivella. We soften and flavor the celery with a brief soak in a lemony vinaigrette, then toss it with parsley, frisée and toasted walnuts, which add richness and a little umami. The salad is good with grilled meats and seafood, hearty braises or even a platter of cured meats and cheeses.

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon OR 1 lime

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

10 medium celery stalks, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 4 cups)

2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, torn if large

1 medium head frisée OR chicory OR escarole, cored and torn into bite-sized pieces (about 4 cups)

½ cup walnuts OR hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the zest and juice, and oil, then season with salt and pepper. Add the celery and toss, then let stand for 10 minutes. Add the parsley, frisée and nuts, then toss again. Season with salt and pepper.

Sweet-Sour Swiss Chard with Apricots and Almonds

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

This sweet-tart side combines crisp-tender chard stems and silky, succulent leaves. Chewy dried apricots and crunchy toasted nuts add contrasting flavor and texture. Use rainbow chard if available—the multihued stems make the dish colorful. If you like, to make the chard even heartier or turn it into a vegetarian main, simply stir in a can of white beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained, at the very end.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 bunches Swiss chard (1½ pounds total), stems cut into 1-inch pieces, leaves torn into rough 2-inch pieces, reserved separately

2 medium shallots, halved and thinly sliced

¾ cup dried apricots, chopped OR golden raisins

¼ cup balsamic vinegar OR red wine vinegar OR white wine vinegar, plus more to serve

2 tablespoons honey, plus more to serve

¼ cup slivered almonds, chopped OR pine nuts, toasted

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chard stems and shallots, then cook, stirring, until beginning to brown. Add ½ cup water and the apricots. Cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated. Add the chard leaves, then toss until wilted and tender. Off heat, stir in the vinegar, honey and almonds. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with additional vinegar and honey for drizzling.

Red Cabbage and Parsley Salad with Toasted Walnuts

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

This colorful chopped salad, full of contrasting flavors and textures, comes together quickly thanks to the food processor. If you prefer, the cabbage and parsley can be chopped with a chef’s knife. Either way, the nuts or seeds are best chopped by hand, as they become a little dusty when pulsed in a food processor. The salad pairs well with roasted or grilled meats, poultry or salmon, or stuff it into flatbread with hummus or falafel. It can also be made into a heartier dish by folding in cooked bulgur, brown rice, farro or lentils.

1 pound red cabbage (1 small head), cored and cut into 2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons lemon juice OR ¼ cup sherry vinegar

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems (about 4 cups)

1½ cups walnuts, toasted and chopped OR 1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted and roughly chopped

3 scallions, thinly sliced OR ½ cup golden raisins, roughly chopped OR both

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon ground allspice

In a food processor, pulse the cabbage until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl, then add the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Toss until the cabbage wilts. In the processor, pulse the parsley until roughly chopped, then add to the cabbage along with the walnuts, scallions, oil, allspice, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss, then season with additional salt and pepper.



When root vegetables such as carrots are shredded, cell walls break down and release sugars and other compounds, resulting in sweeter, more intense flavor. This technique also boosts the flavor of salads by creating more surface area to which dressings can cling.

Left to right: Fennel and Celery Root Salad with Pecans and Grainy Mustard, Curried Carrot Salad with Golden Raisins, Jicama and Mango Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette, Beet and Carrot Salad with Horseradish and Dill.

Curried Carrot Salad with Golden Raisins

Start to finish: 35 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 4 to 6

Let shredded carrots stand for 20 minutes in the dressing to slightly soften them and give the flavors time to meld. Serve this salad as part of an Indian-inspired meal or alongside roasted chicken, pork or lamb.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 medium carrots (about 1 pound total), peeled

¾ cup golden raisins OR dried cranberries

½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, curry powder, ginger and 1¼ teaspoons salt. Using the large holes of a box grater, shred the carrots. Add the carrots, raisins and cilantro, then toss to combine. Let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then toss again.

Optional garnish: Toasted sesame seeds OR chopped roasted cashews

Fennel and Celery Root Salad with Pecans and Grainy Mustard

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Sweet, fresh fennel and crunchy celery root complement each others’ flavors and textures. Once cut, celery root oxidizes, so shred it after the fennel, then immediately toss the vegetables with the dressing to prevent discoloration. This salad is excellent with roasted pork, chicken or beef.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 medium fennel bulb (about 8 ounces), trimmed

8 ounces celery root, peeled and halved

1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Using the large holes of a box grater, shred the fennel and celery root. Add the shredded vegetables and parsley to the dressing, then toss. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the pecans.

Jicama and Mango Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Jicama is a root vegetable with a mild, refreshing flavor and a light, crisp texture that shreds nicely. To peel the jicama, use a paring knife, cut into chunks and peel each piece, as the skin can be difficult to remove with a standard vegetable peeler. For this salad, choose a firm, slightly underripe mango, as a ripe one will be too soft to shred.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lime juice

½ teaspoon ground allspice

Kosher salt

1 or 2 Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, halved and thinly sliced

12 ounces jicama, peeled and halved

1 firm mango (about 12 ounces; see note), peeled

½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, allspice and 1 teaspoon salt, then stir in the chili(es). Using the large holes of a box grater, shred the jicama, then the mango, rotating the mango when you reach the pit; discard the pit. Add the jicama, mango and cilantro to the bowl, then toss. Let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then toss again.

Beet and Carrot Salad with Horseradish and Dill

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Shredded red beets and carrots tossed with lemon juice, horseradish and good measure of fresh dill make a salad that’s vibrant in both flavor and color. The beets do not need to be peeled before shredding, but do scrub them well, then pat them completely dry. Shred the carrots before the beets so the carrots aren’t stained by the beets. That said, after tossing, the entire salad eventually will turn deep red.

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 medium carrots (about 8 ounces total), peeled

2 medium red beets (about 8 ounces total), trimmed, scrubbed and patted dry

⅓ cup lightly packed fresh dill, roughly chopped, plus more to serve

1 tablespoon caraway seeds, crushed

In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, horseradish, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then let stand for about 10 minutes. Using the large holes of a box grater, shred the carrots, followed by the beets; reserve separately. Add the shredded vegetables, dill and caraway to the bowl, then toss. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with additional chopped dill.

Optional garnish: Sour cream

Arugula and Avocado Salad with Jalapeño Vinaigrette

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Using pickling liquid in a salad dressing is an easy way to boost flavor while also adding acidity. In this vinaigrette, pickled jalapeños bring heat while their liquid lends an extra dose of green-chili earthiness. The pumpkin seeds and avocado offer enough richness to make the salad a light main course, or pair it with sliced grilled skirt steak or hearty grains, such as barley, farro or quinoa.

3 to 4 tablespoons pickled jalapeño slices, chopped, plus ¼ cup pickling liquid

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 cups lightly packed baby arugula

3 radishes, halved and thinly sliced OR ½ English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro OR 4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

2 ripe but firm avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced


  • "Every recipe has an implicit guarantee... Easy, quick, works, boom."—The Atlantic, on Tuesday Nights
  • Milk Street founder Kimball (Milk Street: The New Rules) collects solid recipes with six ingredients or fewer that build flavor with powerhouse components rather than fussy prep. Most of these meals, in which 'time is no longer the key ingredient,' are prepared in a single pot. The simplicity is appealing and the flavors are bright...The quick-and-easy concept is carried out consistently, and this clever title will be a boon for weeknight cooks.—Publishers Weekly
  • [R]eaders will delight in these fresh, surprising dishes, which usually take 30 minutes or less to prepare...The splashy color photos of the finished dishes are smartly laid out, and the recipes are easy to follow, certainly plentiful, and helpfully organized into vegetable, beans and grains, pasta, seafood, chicken, pork, beef, and dessert chapters. Another strong outing by Kimball and his popular Milk Street crew. —Booklist
  • Once again, Christopher Kimball and the rest of the James Beard Award-winning team at Boston’s Milk Street have penned a cookbook that uses transformative ingredients and clever techniques to make deliciously quick weeknight dinners. —Mercury News
  • Kimball says when he founded the Milk Street empire from which this latest cookbook was born, he seized onto a more global view of cooking -- that it's the ingredients that matter most. Here he makes a compelling case for what he deems is a "powerhouse supermarket pantry" -- miso, garam masala, harissa and ground turmeric to name a few -- and delivers on the promise the investment brings...This is a recipe collection bursting with ease, allowing a handful of key ingredients to orient a dish.—CNN Travel
  • Milk Street delivers another winning resource for home cooks seeking flexible, practical recipes that deliver maximum flavor with minimal time and effort.—Library Journal
  • Back in March, everyone seemed to be getting reacquainted with their kitchens, rediscovering untouched corners of the pantry and nurturing sourdough starters... Eight months in, even the most enthusiastic cook could use a break from routine. Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Kitchen... is perfectly poised to meet that need.

    The Capital Times
  • "...the essence of good cooking."—Atlanta Journal Constitution
  • Learn how to make recipes that take less work, fewer gadgets, and come alive with flavor. Every cook can find something here that will become a family favorite or simplify the process of getting supper on the table every night.—Waco Tribune-Herald
  • ...hit all the right notes for pandemic cooks.—New York Times

On Sale
Oct 13, 2020
Page Count
352 pages

Christopher Kimball

About the Author

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street is located at 177 Milk Street in downtown Boston and is dedicated to changing the way America cooks with new flavor combinations and techniques learned around the world. Milk Street is home to Milk Street TV, a three-time Emmy Award winning public television show, a James Beard Award-winning bimonthly magazine, an award-winning radio show/podcast, a cooking school, and an online retail store with over 1,500 kitchen tools and ingredients. Milk Street is the author of 10 cookbooks, including "Cookish," "Vegetables," and the James Beard winning "Milk Street: Tuesday Nights." Milk Street also invests in non-profit outreach, partnering with FoodCorp, Big Sister Association of Greater Boston and the Boys & Girls club of Dorchester. 

Learn more about this author