Food + Wine

March 24-30 Mealplan

This week is triple-coupon week at my local HT. (For those of you who don’t know me that well, triple coupon week is like my marathon. All those other regular coupon weeks are simply my training for this very exciting, much anticipated event. Yes, I do realize as I write this how much of a nerd I must seem to all of you.)
So here’s what I’ve got going for this week…

*Salad with Grilled Chicken, Fresh Strawberries and Beets, Goat Cheese and Salty-Toffee-Rosemary Pecans

The base of this salad will be red leaf lettuce and it will be dressed in a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, the reduced caned beet liquid, strawberry preserves, rosemary and olive oil. The combination of flavors and colors in this salad is outstanding; the tangy, young goat cheese, the sweet, red strawberries and beets, and the crunchy, sweet and salty nuts. (*for the most amazing salad nut, don’t just toast them, candy them. Make a quick toffee-like mix in a saucepan by heating, on medium heat, 3-4 TB of sugar, a splash of water or apple juice, 1 TB of butter, minced rosemary leaves and a couple good pinches of salt then add your raw nuts once the mixture is golden brown and bubbly. (Gently swirl the pan while cooking and do.not.walk away)
*Chicken Burgers on Challah Bread with Candied Beets and Roasted Garlic-Rosemary Cream Cheese
A few months ago I made burgers using challah bread instead of a bun and they were the best burgers I’ve ever eaten. So I’m bringin’ back the challah…A ‘Challah-Back’, if you will:) I’m using ground chicken and spreading the toasted bread with cream cheese that I flavored with roasted garlic, rosemary, salt and lemon zest. Each patty will be topped with a couple of sliced beets that I candied in a rosemary simple syrup and a little butter. These burgers will, of course, be served with the ultimate at-home burger side dish: baked sweet potato fries. (*for those times when you are feeling incredibly lazy, the easiest way to season ground meat for meatloaf or burgers is to simply add a packet of onion soup mix to the raw meat before shaping it into loaves or patties. I always keep a box on hand for those really hectic days. It’s my mom’s trick that she learned from her grandmother and it’s really delicious.)
*Whole Grain Mustard Pork Tenderloin and Sauteed Spinach with Pine Nuts and Currants
If you haven’t had a dark, leafy green sauteed with some currants (or dried cranberries) and toasted pine nuts, you’re missing out. The colors alone are worth making it for and if you add a bit of minced, caramelized onions, it’s even better. Ideally this dish works best with kale but I happen to have spinach this week. And I thought a pork tenderloin that’s been slathered in whole grain mustard and salt, maybe a little sage, would be the perfect protein for the greens.
*Whole Wheat Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower, Bacon and Sage
I saw a picture of something like this in a magazine so I thought I’d try to make it at home. I have no idea what was in theirs or how they made it but it did give me the idea for this meal. I’ll roast some cauliflower, pan-fry some diced bacon with a few fresh sage leaves, and toss my cooked pasta will the drippings from the bacon and finish it off with lots of grated Parmaggiano Reggiano and fresh parsley.
*Grilled Skirt Steaks with Pineapple and Avocado Salsa, Cumin Scented Black Beans and Fried Plantains
Fried Plantains are such a favorite of mine. They’re sweet, a little savory and are a perfect accompaniment to a juicy, grilled steak and salty, spicy black beans. And as for the salsa, I have so many avocados in my kitchen that I honestly fear I may turn into one. I’ll just combine chunks of pineapple, (from the can, thank you very much), with some chunks of fresh avocado, diced onion, minced jalapeno and lots of fresh cilantro with the juice from the pineapple can and a little salt. You will probably be seeing a lot of avocados in the weeks to come, unless I just eat them all for lunch, which is highly likely. But just to be safe, be on the look out for a giant, green, bumpy-skinned fruit in heels.
*Calamari and Spinach Patties with Spicy Sesame-Garlic Broccoli
I’ve heard of calamari burgers done with calamari ‘steaks’, which are slices of the thick, fleshy part of the squid that have been breaded and fried. But I have a lot of calamari rings in my freezer that I thought I could turn into a burger the same way I do with shrimp, crab or other flaky fish. I’ll put the defrosted rings into my food processor with some sauteed carrots, onions, garlic and ginger, then mix in an egg and some bread crumbs until it can be packed into a patty. I’ll also add lots of defrosted, chopped spinach to pump up the fiber and vitamin it’ll be prettier that way. And this broccoli side dish is really delicious. You steam or roast some broccoli florets then toss with salt, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and whole cloves of garlic that were boiled until tender (you could always roast them, but the boiled version is a lot quicker for this particular dish).
That’s it for this week-
Happy Eating, Everyone!

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