What's for dinner? Cookbook author Mark Bittman answers that question with two renditions each of three iconic dishes—a quick version for hurried weeknights and a plant-based one to please vegans and nonvegans alike.

By Maggie Glisan Carson Downing and Greg Luna
August 06, 2019
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Mark Bittman is known for flexible, simple recipes, and his new book, Dinner for Everyone, takes that approach a step further. He starts with a classic dish like stir-fry, pizza, or tacos, then adapts it three ways: fast, vegan, and elevated for company. He shares the fast and vegan versions here to solve your daily dinner dilemma.

Left: Credit: Carson Downing


Fast Moussaka

Mark streamlines this classic Greek dish by baking eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and lamb together—eliminating the need to precook each separately and assemble the layers. He stirs in a cinnamon-and-oregano-spiced sauce to the "miracle" moussaka and returns it to the oven.

Get the Lamb Moussaka Recipe

Meatless Moussaka

Mushrooms replace traditional lamb in Mark's shepherd's pie-inspired take on moussaka. He tops the dish with mashed sweet potatoes and a cashew cream sauce.

Get the Mushroom-Sweet Potato Moussaka Recipe
Left: Credit: Carson Downing
Right: Credit: Carson Downing


Fast Cacciatore

The Italian hunter stew typically involves hours of simmering meaty bone-in chicken pieces in a tomato-based sauce. On a weeknight, Mark builds flavor fast by searing quick-cooking drumsticks then braises them in a sauce of tomato, balsamic, and dried herbs for 20 minutes until tender.

Get the Drumstick Cacciatore Recipe

Meatless Cacciatore

"This is the kitchen-sink version of cacciatore," Mark says. His vegan spin includes mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, potatoes, and fava beans, but you could use almost any vegetable you have on hand.

Get the Vegetable Cacciatore Recipe
Left: Credit: Carson Downing
Right: Credit: Carson Downing

Pot Pie

Fast Pot Pie

"Think of this as the pot pie version of cobbler," Mark says. Topping creamy chicken-and-vegetable filling with stir-together biscuit dough makes it possible to whip up homemade pot pie in about an hour.

Get the Chicken-and-Biscuit Pot Pie Recipe

Meatless Pot Pie

Mark's riff on pastilla—a North African sweet-savory chicken pie—features a hearty Moroccan-spiced filling of parsnips, dried fruit, nuts, and olives beneath a flaky phyllo crust.

Get the Moroccan Pastilla Recipe

Mark's Cooking Musts

Marks' long-running column in The New York Times was called "The Minimalist" for a reason. Here are a few of his most basic tips for home-cooking success.

Buy the Best: Always start with quality ingredients. He says, "I let what I find at the market determine what I'll make for dinner instead of the other way around."

Taste as You Go: Often all you need is salt and pepper to make good ingredients taste delicious. For Mark, that means kosher salt and freshly ground black peppercorns.

Stock Up: When you have a well-stocked pantry, adapting a recipe or experimenting with flavor is easier. Use recipes as a blueprint; play with spices and seasonings to keep them interesting.


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