15 Essential Building Blocks for Quick Weeknight Meals

We're talking about kitchen essentials all month. Last week we talked about recipes to know by heart, but this week we're going even more basic: Essential building blocks of weeknight meals. These are the staples (and skills) you use to build a meal — the roasted vegetables for a sandwich, the strips of chicken breast to top a salad, the fluffy couscous you eat with chickpea stew. Crumbled bacon, hard-boiled eggs, steamed vegetables.

Do you know the best way to cook a pot of beans? Brown rice? Lentils? Do you know how to poach an egg in the microwave, or the best way to cook moist, tender chicken breasts? Read on for these and more — we've illustrated 15 essential basic skills for making quick, tasty, nourishing dinners.

LEGUMES, GRAINS & RICE
• 1 How To Cook Beans: A Fast, Foolproof, No-Soak Method
• 2 How To Cook Dried Lentils
• 3 How to Cook Quinoa
• 4 How to Cook Couscous
• 5 How To Cook Brown Rice
• 6 How To Make a Quick Bowl of Polenta in the Microwave

VEGETABLES
• 7 How to Bake a Potato in the Oven
• 8 How To Quick-Roast Vegetables Under the Broiler
• 9 How To Steam Vegetables

EGGS & MEAT
• 10 How to Cook Moist and Tender Chicken Breasts Every Time - Also see How To Roast a Chicken.
• 11 How To Cut Up a Chicken: The Video
• 12 How To Make Perfect Bacon in the Oven
• 13 How to Hard-Boil an Egg
• 14 How To Poach an Egg in the Microwave - Also see How To Poach an Egg: The Video
• 15 How To Fry an Egg: The Video

....and a BONUS: How To Crack an Egg With One Hand: The Video - This is hardly an essential of the weeknight kitchen, but we just think it's fun!

What are your essential skills for weeknight meals? What do you think is important to know how to do for a quick meal in the middle of the week?

(Images: See linked recipes for full image credits)