Quick Weeknight Dinners and a Recipe 3-for-1
Around here, dinner happens pretty late at night, I guess. By the time we’re both home from work, and have gone to the gym and showered, we’re lucky if dinner’s on the table before 9 (more like 9:30 most nights…). I like to pretend we’re just trying to be very European– totally convincing, right? Some nights, cooking is just a pain. I don’t care how much you love it, there are times when you just don’t feel like putting in a lot of effort, especially that late at night. BUT that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with soup in a can or grilled cheese (which still totally have their place, for the record)! I’ve been on a “salad” kick of sorts lately– not necessarily the lettuce-based kind, since we eat those pretty regularly regardless. It’s more of a quinoa- or chickpea- based “salad” kind of thing. AKA “saladless salad” if you’re a super-awesome girl named Ellie who managed to make the most amazing lettuce-free salads for 4 years running in our college dining hall. She was definitely on to something– they’re just so easy! Plus they have a lot of appeal for Lazy Next-Day Me, who can just toss the dredges of last night’s dinner in a container and rush off to class (yes, I keep a spoon in my school bag all the time. No, I don’t feel weird about it).
Two weeks ago, I was very lazy and didn’t separate the 3-lb package of ground beef we bought into more manageable portions, so when it came time to thaw and use SOME of it, I had to thaw and use ALL of it. Which meant we ate beef-based meals for four days straight, plus a lunch or two for BF. On Monday/Tuesday we had enchiladas, and on Wednesday/Thursday we had srirachy joes (yeah, you know that sounds amazing). The recipe that inspired my srirachy joes can be found here, though I did a fair amount of tweaking (aka I used ketchup. And threw in some spices from the cupboard. Sloppy joes are great because you can ENDlessly tweak them to your own preferences). For the enchiladas, I used this super-easy recipe for red sauce and then just winged it. I had never made enchiladas before, but they aren’t exactly hard to figure out once you’ve got a sauce recipe. With that in mind, I’m going to post the following pictures and let you figure it out (have I mentioned recently that I am extraordinarily lazy?):
And there you have it, the laziest cooking blog post ever know to man (probably. Maybe. I don’t know)!
BUT there’s more, don’t you fret! After that loooooong week of red meat (this coming from a girl who didn’t eat red meat EVER during college), it was most definitely time for a break, and thus the salad kick began. I don’t have a picture of it, but a salad I made with quinoa, chopped bell pepper, feta, basil, pepper, and splashes of olive oil and red wine vinegar was DELICIOUS and I brought it for lunch every day that week. Once you cook the quinoa it takes maybe two minutes to do everything else. What?? So easy. DO ITTTTT.
For Lemony Chickpea Salad, mix:
1 can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 small Red Onion, chopped as finely as it needs to be for you to be able to eat it (I overestimated my ability to eat raw onions and made my pieces a bit too big–I learned the hard way that sniffling at law school tends to make people think you’re a 1L who can’t cut it)
1-2 T. chopped fresh Basil
1-2 T. Lemon Juice
A few handfuls (2 ish) chopped Walnuts
A few big handfuls roughly chopped Spinach or Arugula
1-2 T. Mayonnaise or Greek Yogurt
1 finely minced clove Garlic
Goat Cheese (I have no idea how much I put in, sorry– I’d guess about 2 ounces, but just put it in til you’re happy!)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Basically, all you have to do is chop two things and then mix it all together. SO EASY. And this salad is super versatile. We ate it on its own, but you could just as easily stuff it in a pita, or put it on a salad. If I had the time this salad and I would go on picnics together every day. It would be very romatic.
After quite a few meat-free days, I started to wonder if BF was sad about the lack of protein in his life. But I definitely wasn’t prepared to revisit meat yet. So I decided to get creative with eggs, while maintaining my staunchly lazy position.
Fried eggs are a weekday cook’s biffle. They’re fast, easy, and versatile. Oh, and also delicious. Seriously, what tastes better than a fried egg? Nothing, that’s what. And they go so nicely with greens, they really do. And toast (duh). And a smattering of strongly-flavored cheese. Mix all these things together and you get a filling, delicious, easy-peasy dinner. Or breakfast. Or hell, lunch! Or all three….
Fry the eggs with a generous amount of salt/pepper, and if you want to maximize deliciousness, do them over easy. Runny yolks = OMG yes please. Runny whites = no, ew, is that snot? For the toast, a nice sturdy bread (think French or Brioche types) will support the bevy of toppings you’re going to put on it. We had some Asiago Pesto bread from the local farmer’s market (thanks Mom and Aunt!), which worked beautifully. And if I hadn’t had pesto in my bread, I would have seriously considered spreading some on the toast. So if you don’t happen to have any pesto bread available, you should probably consider it too. And then do it.
To assemble, rub toast with a garlic clove (or spread on some pesto if you’re going that route). Layer on the garlic spinach and the eggs (if you’re BF, you’ll have 4 on your sandwich– I found 2 more reasonable). Top with the cheese of your choice — I used crumbled blue, but any strong cheese will be good.
This sammy is great by itself, but we had it with some beans that Mom/Aunt brought us (notice a theme here?) from the Country Cupboard in PA. I’m pretty sure I can safely say that the Country Cupboard is the most awesome place in PA. And that’s not a knock on the rest of PA– it’s just a testament to how great the Country Cupboard is.
Everybody has nights where they don’t feel like spending lots of time in the kitchen. These meals are a great way to still get a lot of flavor without sacrificing your whole evening to food prep. AND they consist of things you probably have in your cupboards already, or if you don’t, they are easily tweaked to accommodate what you’ve got on hand. As the semester goes on, I will probably return to these recipes more and more– thank goodness they’re so yummy and easy to change up!