January’s Culinary Theme: No Fear New Year

Here in the Plated Test Kitchen, we couldn’t be more excited for a bright, shiny, delicious New Year! Our theme this month is “No Fear New Year,” and as ever, we’re hoping to introduce you to some of your new favorite meals and innovative techniques, so that the kitchen continues to be exciting, yet not intimidating. Recipe editor Leah Bhabha dishes on some of this month’s most sensational meals.

In honor of the new year, we’re including a lot of veggie-forward options to keep in line with any (and maybe our own) healthier resolutions. When we want the texture and sauciness of pasta without the carb-heavy feeling after, we love to swap in spaghetti squash. This month, we’re showcasing the versatile veggie in multiple ways, from our Popular Recipe featuring tender strands of spaghetti squash enrobed in creamy Parmesan garlic sauce to our Spaghetti Squash Amatriciana, coated in a spicy tomato sugo studded with pancetta. Our hearty Tuscan Ribollita soup with cheesy garlic bread is another love letter to seasonal produce; filled with tomatoes, white beans, carrots, and kale, it’s a warming stew that will brighten even the coldest of days. Of course, we’re celebrating winter, the prime season for citrus, combining juicy blood orange with quinoa, creamy burrata cheese, and roasted carrots in a grain bowl to remember. One of our favorite orange varieties, the Cara Cara, adds zing to avocado salsa for fish tacos.

Aside from keeping things light, this month, with the weather ever-cooler, we’re spicing things up with quite a few internationally-inspired meals that you won’t be able to resist. Fall-apart tender chicken with rice and queso fresco breaks down one of our favorite cooking technique (braising), while beef empanadas with salsa roja are almost as fun to make as they are to eat. Our Thai beef lettuce wraps are simultaneously light, hearty, and absolutely packed with flavor. All month long we’re offering Middle Eastern-style Chicken Shawarma with a crunchy chopped salad and creamy tahini drizzled on top.

And when it comes to keeping things approachable in the kitchen, we often find that our friends and customers struggle with cooking rice, so we’re including a whole host of imaginative (and tantalizing) ways to perfect your technique. From bok choy fried rice to bibimbap loaded with roasted shiitake mushrooms and crispy sushi rice to bánh mì-inspired rice bowls piled high with caramelized cauliflower, pickled veggies, and refreshing cilantro, we’ve got rice on the brain.

But fear not, we haven’t forgotten about the winter need for sweet treats of all kinds. We’re embracing a signature New York City dessert: the frozen hot chocolate, and spiking it with a little chili powder for even more intensity. Who can resist a perfect brownie swirled with peanut butter for a gorgeous marbled appearance? Not us. Get ready to add “brown butter frosting” to your arsenal of dessert recipes, with our applesauce cake topped with pecans and the most creamy, nutty, irresistible icing!

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