Mark Bittman's enchiladas, poached fish and more

Map out your weeknight meals with these recipes from Mark Bittman. Here, he makes four dishes that require only one grocery list: Stewed vegetables, tomatoes and beans with couscous, grilled chicken with cilantro and lime, poached fish in ratatouille, and chicken enchiladas.

Shopping list:

2 whole chickens

2 fish steaks


20 tomatillos

4 medium poblano chiles

2 or 3 serrano chiles (optional)

6 onions

Red onion


2 red or green bell peppers

2 cans whole tomatoes

1 ½ to 2 lbs. eggplant

8 cups chickpeas or cannellini beans

2 zucchinis

½ cup kalamata olives




Fresh parsley or dill

Lime juice

Olive oil

Vegetable stock

Peanut oil (or grapeseed)

Queso fresco


Black pepper



Mexican or other oregano

Crushed red pepper (optional)

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    • 1 cup white or whole wheat couscous
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
    • 2 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, with their juice
    • 8 cups cooked or canned chickpeas or cannellini beans, drained
    • 2 zucchini, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
    • Black pepper
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, for garnish


Baking Directions:

1. Put the couscous in a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid and add 1 1/2 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil. 2. Put the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. 3. When the water with couscous has come to a boil, cover and remove from the heat. Let white couscous steep for about 5 minutes, whole wheat for about 10. (Or you can let them sit for up to 30 minutes or so, depending on how hot you want them.) Fluff with a fork.4. To the skillet, add the tomatoes, beans, zucchini and the salt and some pepper to the skillet. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, the beans begin to get soft and creamy, and the mixture begins to thicken, 10 to 15 minutes. If the mixture looks too thick, stir in a splash of water. 5. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Reserve half of the vegetable-bean mixture and refrigerate. Serve the rest on top of the couscous, garnished with the herb.

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    • 6 tablespoons peanut or other neutral oil, like grapeseed
    • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
    • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 2 tablespoon chopped shallot or onion
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 whole chickens, 6 to 8 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 16 pieces, or any combination of parts
    • Lime wedges for garnish


Baking Directions:

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill or broiler to moderate heat and put the rack about 6 inches from the heat source. If grilling, keep part of the grill cool for indirect cooking.2. Combine oil, cilantro, lime juice, shallot or onion, cayenne and some salt and pepper. If you're grilling, spread some of the mixture all over the chicken. If you're broiling, spread a little of the mixture on a foil-lined pan; put the chicken pieces on top and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Spread a little more of the mixture on the chicken. 3. To grill: put the pieces skin side up on the cooler side of the grill. After some of the fat has been rendered, turn the chicken; if it flares up, move it farther away from the fire, or turn it skin side up again. Baste the chicken as it cooks. When the skin has lost its raw look and most of the fat has been rendered, after about 20 minutes, move the chicken directly over the fire. Cook, turning as needed, until both sides are nicely browned and the flesh is firm and cooked through (to check for doneness, cut into a piece close to the bone; the juices should run clear), 5 to 10 minutes longer. To broil: Start with the skin side down and broil, making sure the pieces do not burn, until it's nearly done, about 15 minutes, then turn and cook until done, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Baste the chicken as it cooks. When the chicken is done, drizzle it with the remaining mixture and garnish with additional chopped cilantro. Reserve half the chicken and refrigerate; serve the rest with lime wedges.

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    • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds eggplant, preferably small
    • Salt
    • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more or less
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • Reserved tomato, zucchini, and bean sauce from Day 1
    • 2 fish steaks or sturdy fillets, 3/4 to 1 pound each
    • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
    • 2 tablespoon capers, optional
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or dill, for garnish


Baking Directions:

1. Peel the eggplant if the skin is thick or the eggplant is less than perfectly firm; cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and salt them if the eggplant are large and time allows. Put the olive oil and all but 1 teaspoon of the garlic in a large, deep skillet, preferably nonstick or cast iron, over medium heat. Two minutes later, add the eggplant. Stir and toss almost constantly until the eggplant begins to release some of the oil it has absorbed, after 5 or 10 minutes. 2. Add the reserved tomato and bean sauce along with olives, capers and crushed red pepper to a small skillet with a lid or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Cook until eggplant is tender, 20 to 30 minutes.3. Lay the fish in the sauce and add water, if needed, so that the sauce comes just up to the top of the fish, not over it. Bring to a boil, then cover and remove from the heat. The fish will be done in about 10 minutes (a thin-bladed knife inserted between bone and flesh should reveal little or no translucence; if not, return the pan to a simmer and cook for another minute or two more). Remove the fish with a slotted spoon and serve, topped with vegetables and a little of the broth, garnished with the herb.

Thursday: Chicken enchiladas
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  • For salsa:

    • 20 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
    • 4 medium poblano or other mild fresh green chiles, roasted and cleaned
    • 2 or 3 serrano or other hot fresh green chiles, (optional), roasted and cleaned
    • 6 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed
    • 4 large onions, diced
    • 10 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons Mexican or other oregano
    • 2 cups vegetable stock or water
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • For enchiladas:

    • 4 cups green enchilada salsa (see above)
    • Neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, for frying 24 small corn tortillas, plus more if any break
    • 1 grilled or broiled chicken with cilantro and lime
    • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco for garnish
    • 1/2 cup chopped red onion or scallion for garnish
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
    • Lime wedges for garnish


Baking Directions:

For salsa:1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the tomatillos on a baking sheet and roast until the skins are lightly browned and blistered, about 20 minutes. Remove the tomatillos; when they're cool enough to handle, chop them finely, along with the chiles, saving their juices. 2. While the tomatillos are roasting, put the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatillos, chiles, oregano, stock, and a large pinch of salt and pepper; stir and bring to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.3. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Use an immersion blender to purée the finished sauce in the pan. Or cool the mixture slightly, pour into a blender or food processor, and purée carefully. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 days.For enchiladas:1. Prepare the salsa if you haven't already. (You may cool and refrigerate the salsa for up to 2 days; reheat gently before proceeding.)2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spoon a thin layer of the salsa into the bottom of a 9 × 12-inch baking dish. Put about 1/2 inch of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, cook the tortillas, one at a time, until softened and pliable, about 10 seconds. Add more oil to the pan as needed. Drain on paper towels.3. First, pull the chicken meat from the bone and break it into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle a heaping tablespoon of shredded chicken in the center of each tortilla, roll tightly, and put the enchiladas in the prepared dish, seam side down. The rolls should be packed in snugly against one another. Cover the top with some more sauce and bake for 25 minutes. When the enchiladas come out of the oven, sprinkle them with the queso fresco, onion, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges on the side and pass the remaining salsa at the table.

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