September 8, 2010

Week of Meals

I started off last week with food on the mind.  On Sunday, I put together a week of meals (five meals). 
It didn't take too much time, maybe an hour or so, and I was able to reward myself for the effort with a nice home brew. I tend to get sick of planning, but I was motivated this week, and so I'd like to share. First here's the list of meals, and I'll post recipes below. 

Day 1: Mixed beans with tomato bruschetta
Day 2: Spaghetti with zucchini and basil
Day 3: Taco salad
Day 4: Mushroom and wild rice soup with peach-bibb lettuce salad
Day 5: Quinoa stuffed tomatoes with Cajun oven potatoes

On Sunday evening, Allison and Nico, came over for some dinner. We had gone on a bike ride to Mechelen along the canal or Vaartkom just north of the city. It was warm and sunny and was a break from how cold it has been in August.  During dinner, Nico and Allison talked about their 25 favorite meals. It was pretty hilarious because I think they have a shared Google Doc to plan meals. Nico is a fabulous cook (see here).  I loved their idea of a fondue-TV-movie dinner night and was inspired by their list of favorites, especially fried brie.

Here are the recipes:
Meal 1: Mixed beans with tomato bruschetta on homemade bread (Karl baked the bread).  
The beans are a simple recipe from my Deborah Madison cookbook.  It's a good way to use the small quantities of leftover dried beans. 

For the beans:
1 cup mixed beans, soaked and drained (any variety of beans will do, I used adzuki, chickpeas, white beans, and kidney beans)
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
few sprigs parsley and thyme
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil

1. Bring the beans, water, oil and aromatics to a simmer. Cover the beans slightly and simmer for 1 hour or until tender.
2. Season with salt, and serve with shredded parmesan, black pepper and fresh chopped parsley or other herbs.

Meal 2:  Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil
This also came out of my Deborah Madison cookbook. I've made it a few times because the zucchini just melts in your mouth and the fresh basil is very tasty.

Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil 
2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise, then in bits across
1/3 cup olive oil (use much less on a non-stick skillet, 3 T is fine)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk or half and half (I used milk)
1 lb of spaghetti (or enough for 4-6 persons)
fresh parmesan
1/2 cup of basil, torn into chunks

1. Heat up olive oil  in a wide skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Start heating up the water for the pasta
3. When olive oil is hot, add in garlic. When garlic is fragrant add in zucchini. Cook over medium heat until the squash is soft and brown (about 20 minutes)
4. When pasta water is boiling, cook pasta.
5. When squash is done cooking, stir in milk, salt and pepper. Adjust for seasoning. 
6. Combine the spaghetti with the squash and top with basil and parmesan

Meal 3: Taco salad with chips
I substituted lentils for the smart grounds featured in the recipe.

Meal 4: Mushroom and wild rice soup with peach butter lettuce salad
The soup comes out of my Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast Weeknight Meals. It's a pretty good collection, although I found many recipes to be very meat heavy. 

Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
1 T olive oil
2 cups mushrooms, sliced (any mix of mushrooms will do)
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped fine
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
1 package boil-in-the-bag wild rice blend
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 T basil
2 T parsley
1 tsp dried garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups milk (I used 1 cup soymilk, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 cup milk)

1. In a soup stockpot heat olive oil and add bell pepper and onion.
2. In a separate sauce pan heat up 2 cups water. 
3. Mix together ricotta, dried garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. 
4. Add mushrooms to soup stockpot and cook 7 minutes. 
5. When the saucepan full of water boils, add in a boil-in-the-bag wild rice blend, and cook according to package directions. 
6. When mushrooms have cooked down, stir in cheese and milk. Add more salt if needed. Bring to a boil until the soup thickens a bit. 
7. Stir in wild rice and heat through. 

For the salad (serves 2)
1-2 cups washed Bibb lettuce
1 peach, sliced
2 T pumpkin seeds

1.5 T fig or other flavored vinegar
1 T olive oil
1 T water
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together dressing and toss with the salad. 

Meal 5: Quinoa stuffed tomatoes and Cajun oven potatoes
I made this when Nico and Allison came over. It looks like a lot of work, but if you prep things in order everything comes together in about an hour.

For the potatoes:
8 small-medium waxy potatoes, washed and scrubbed
3 T olive oil

For the tomatoes:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 and 1/2 cups water
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1-2 cups chard, chopped
6 ripe medium-large Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise and pulp removed in a bowl
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/2 (or more) mixed beans (leftovers from earlier this week), omit if you don't have

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Quarter the potatoes in wedges and toss with 3 T olive oil. Set in a casserole dish and place in oven once hot. Ignore the potatoes while you prep everything else. These will take the longest to cook so get to them first. 
3. In a small sauce pan combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 and 1/2 cups water over medium-high heat.  Stir every 10 minutes. Quinoa will take 15-20 minutes to cook.  The quinoa is done when the water is evaporated and the quinoa looks light and fluffy. While the quinoa cooks you can prep the tomatoes and stuffing. 
4. In a wide skillet, heat up olive oil over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add in garlic and onion and saute for 3 minutes, or until onion is soft. Add in chard and continue to cook until chard is wilted. Turn off heat and set aside. 
5. In a greased oven casserole dish set tomato halves up.  Break apart the tomato pulp by chopping it up. You can mix it in with the stuffing or stir it with the chard-onion mixture
6. Mix ricotta, herbs, quinoa, salt and pepper and red chili powder together, stir in beans if you have them. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Fill the tomatoes with the mixture and then set them in the oven.  The tomatoes will cook for about 30 minutes.  Turn the potatoes to ensure they are getting nice and roasted. 

You can serve the roasted potatoes in any way, these are my 2 faves:
Rosemary with coarse salt and fresh pepper
Cajun seasoning
Just sprinkle over the potatoes once done and serve. 

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