Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XLI
Welcome to the forty-first Weeknight Dinner Recap! This week is brought to you by our favorite local one-stop-shop, Wilson Farm, in Lexington, MA. All ingredients used in each dinner have come from this wonderful, family-owned-and-operated farm. And what a week of meals we had!
We always strive for a wide variety of flavors, proteins, and greens, seeking that which is most in-season and locally available. That being said, we love featuring recipes that are just going to taste amazing. And of course, all meals are entirely gluten free.
Not only was this a delicious dinner week, we capped it off with Memorial Day Weekend! Seth and I headed north for a couple days and I’ve included a mini-guide to all of the restaurants we visited as well as some extra photos along the way at the end of this Recap. It was a yummy weekend!
Now, let’s get to the week’s meals, shall we?
Sunday’s Dish: Cauliflower crust pizza with ramp pesto
Source: A variety! The crust recipe is from Food52 and the ramp pesto is Seth’s basil pesto but using ramps instead of basil. If you’re looking for proportions... I’m sorry. I don’t have them. But do know that it’s a lot of ramps!
GFMD: Naturally gluten free!
Outcome: The pizza itch struck! And we couldn’t resist! However, we are on a bit of a healthier kick so we decided to try the ever-elusive, and very appealing, cauliflower crust! Making it from scratch was an adventure in patience and hope since we had not made it before, but the results are in: we will definitely make it again!
The benefits of cauliflower crust pizza far outweigh (to me) the somewhat arduous process of getting all of the water (really, all of it) out of the mashed veggie before creating the crust. A necessary step to make sure the crust comes out a little more like pizza and less like a mushy base for your toppings.
While ours wasn’t exactly perfection, I’m determined to do this again because I felt way better about inhaling my pizza topped with all the goodies knowing the “crust” was just more vegetables and not actual dough. Of course, this could never replace a real crust (gluten free), but you know, the health bug has bitten and we are trying our best!
Toppings: we made fresh ramp pesto which was even more delicious than I remembered from the last time. If you love basil pesto, then I’m pretty confident you’ll love ramp pesto, too. A luxurious product only available for a brief time (around now), these veggies are part of the onion family and have a bit of a garlic-y spin to their flavor. So good!!
On top of the pesto, we sprinkled fresh ricotta, sun dried tomatoes, and turkey sausage. A winning combo of toppings that burst with flavor and definitely distracted us from the fact that the crust was a vegetable and definitely not real dough. However, I think that’s the beauty of a cauliflower crust: the very basic base allows you to use bright, exciting (indulgent) toppings which encourage you to forget about the healthier pizza you’re eating! How convenient! :)
Considering our first cauliflower crust experience was delicious, if not as crispy as we had hoped, it will not stop us from making this healthier pizza base again. In fact, I would even consider making it for a Friday night pizza party! :)
Monday’s Dish: Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Garlic Yogurt Sauce
Source: Exact recipes can be found in Dinner by Melissa Clark, but I adapted both slightly for my own preferences.
GFMD: Naturally gluten free! Rejoice!
Outcome: When left to my own devices, I’m usually guilty of making some pretty straightforward and not-too-exciting meals. That said, I do make them very flavorful and yummy as it’s a time when I can focus on my favorite flavors. So when Seth was getting home extra late from work, I did just that with my dinner choice!
Let it be known that roasted cauliflower with just olive oil, salt, and pepper, is one of the most scrumptious, satisfying ways to eat this vegetable. I love how the edges crisp from the olive oil and make the overall flavor and texture just perfect. Yum! I even enjoy roasted cauliflower cold - it’s that good after roasting!
When I’m not pairing it with anything else, I try to buy multi-colored cauliflower so that my plate looks a little more enticing than if it were just the plain, white kind. I love the bright green, purple, and orange varieties! It’s kind of like cauli-confetti!
To go with my “main,” I decided on my other favorite flavor: garlic Greek yogurt sauce! This sauce is one I’ve noticed in several cookbooks and after making it a handful of times, I’m now confident in making it “my way,” which has a little extra garlic and a splash of olive oil. Essentially, the sauce is combining basics that create an amazing flavor for dipping veggies, burgers, meatballs or many other dishes.
The ingredients: Greek yogurt, lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. That’s it!! If you would like the quantities I’ve stuck to recently, then let me know! Happy to share the wealth of this delicious and easy dipping sauce. Plus, it’s naturally gluten free! Hooray!
So, while you might be thinking that my dinner was fairly unexciting, it was actually a real treat for me! Yes, Seth would have enjoyed it, but I found making this easy, yummy dish for myself very reminiscent of meals I made long, long ago before Seth was around.
Back then, I literally made the easiest meals possible - single ingredient, barely any cooking involved, and hopefully delicious (cereal was prominent!). Man, I am glad times have changed! I am proud that my new version of Easiest Dinner (this one) is way healthier, more flavorful, and more interesting than those I made way back when. Dry cereal, anyone? ;)
Tuesday’s Dish: Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Burgers with Balsamic Onions
Source: What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food by Gaby Dalkin
GFMD: Just leave off the bun and these beauties are naturally gluten free! No changes necessary!
Outcome: Holy burger night! This was one fantastic turkey burger! And what’s even better?! We didn’t even need a bun! This made it infinitely messier to eat, but you know, whatever. It was an awesome dinner!
We selected this recipe because anything that involves mashing sun dried tomatoes into meat and then grilling it seems like a recipe for success. Add to that the scrumptious, roasted balsamic onions and you are pretty much guaranteed a great meal.
Thankfully, that was the case with this new-to-us turkey burger from Gaby Dalkin’s latest cookbook. Her California style and taste is splashed over every page and I’m almost inclined to make every recipe in the book! Stay tuned on that idea... 😂
What I loved about this burger recipe in particular is that ingredients I’d normally put on top of the burger went inside it instead yielding a juicy, ultra-flavorful meat patty (what a weird phrase). Then! Even more deliciousness went on top of it to make this a burger tower fit for a health-conscious queen. Yes, I’m still starry-eyed for the Royal Wedding. No shame!
Take note: the roasted onions do take a little while in the oven so plan your desired eating time accordingly. The burgers are quick on the grill (pan) and then creating your tower is the bet part! We made the mozzarella a little melty by adding it before the burgers were done so they got some of the hot pan as well. Melty cheese on a burger is one of the most delicious combinations of all. I’m completely serious.
We paired these burgers with a quick arugula salad with tomatoes and mozzarella because we didn’t want any of the extra ingredients to go to waste. A salad is a much healthier side than other options I considered, but skipped, in favor of keeping myself on the health track. Besides, once you’re pairing salads with your burger there’s definitely no problem with have two burgers! And that’s exactly what we did. ;)
Editor’s note: You do you when it comes to buns and sides. I’m not here to judge or force you to be healthy. Ever. We’ve been skipping the extra carbs lately, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss them! This burger would be even more heavenly with a toasted buttered bun and some potato chips or even potato salad! Maybe that’s what we will do next! :) YUM.
Wednesday’s Dish: Asparagus Carbonara with Grilled Ramp Pesto Chicken
Source: Carbonara recipe is from Dinner by Melissa Clark.
GFMD: Since this dish is a version of pasta carbonara, but without the pasta, there were no changes necessary! Naturally gluten free and naturally delicious.
Outcome: We have been on a major greens kick lately and the top star of that has been asparagus! Available locally and super-fresh, this versatile veggie just keeps getting into our meals and I have no complaints!
This time around, I found a recipe for Asparagus Carbonara, which was described as being exactly like a pasta-based carbonara, but with asparagus instead of pasta. Brilliant! I knew we had to try it. And I’m so glad we did.
This meal had the exact same amazing, rich, creamy, and bacon-y taste of carbonara that we all know and love, but without the heavy after-effects from the pasta version. Not to say I don’t adore the one we’ve made with capellini, it’s incredible, but when you can substitute the carbs for asparagus and barely notice a difference? I’d say that’s a major dinner win that’s also a healthy alternative. I didn’t miss the pasta one bit! I know, you’re probably shocked and may even want to stop reading. Please don’t!
We decided to pair this carbonara plate with grilled chicken since the asparagus-based main was not as filling as I’d anticipated. Our grilled chicken was marinated in fresh ramp pesto we had made for a previous dinner (pizza) and then grilled on our stove-top grill pan. Scrumptious! Another healthier alternative to other ways we’ve made chicken in the past.
If you think we are permanently stuck on the health train, then you’re only partially right. While we are trying to make healthier, more veggie-focused plates, that doesn’t mean we are willing to sacrifice an ounce of awesome flavor. And we’re not giving up the yum entirely - see our weekend adventures below. ;)
I would recommend this asparagus carbonara and chicken dinner for your summer get togethers and a pretty quick weeknight option. Amazing flavors and you know, bacon, make this yummy combo a major mealtime success.
Thursday’s Dish: Cheese-belly Stuffed Chicken Burgers with Sour Cream and Guacamole.
Source: What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food by Gaby Dalkin
GFMD: Sure, you could use a GF bun for this one, but we opted for a lettuce wrap which in turn made the entire meal naturally gluten free!
Outcome: Wow! What. A. Dinner. Bright, flavorful, bold, delicious, spicy, new, and oh so good!! This burger takes the cake (haha) this week for one of my new favorite meals. Yes, those turkey burgers on Tuesday were definitely awesome, but these may have edged ahead just enough to win my unofficial “burger of the week,” award. :) I created the award just for this type of situation, of course.
I’m really leaning into non-beef burgers lately not only because of my wellness work (eating better), but because the outcomes have been so spectacular! I love that the meat (chicken in this case) is mixed with some incredible ingredients such as onion, Serrano pepper, cheddar, and cilantro, and the outcome is a burger bursting with flavorful joy. I couldn’t get enough of them!
The recipe called for topping each one with homemade guacamole (recipe from the same book), sour cream, salsa, and sliced red onion. Now, we almost skipped the sour cream, but omg I’m so glad we didn’t! I added just a smear of it under the burger on my plate so that every bite had the cool creamy flavor to balance the juicy, spicy burger, and the splash of guacamole on top. SO. SO. YUMMY.
Of note, we opted for pre-made salsa because we just decided not to make it from scratch (yikes!), but I think that was our one mistake. It worked, but I really think a freshly-chopped chunky tomato salsa would have been way better for this set of flavors. However, the guacamole was from-scratch and that was incredible!
A final comment on my lettuce-leaf wrap: yes, we did opt for bunless burgers, and I have no qualms about it. These burgers were so amazing that I didn’t notice the lack of bun whatsoever. Seth wrapped a lettuce leaf around his entire burger tower and, while very messy, was as delicious as if he had a bun instead.
Sure, you may disagree, saying that a bun is a required burger element, but that’s not always how I feel. These chicken burgers, with all of their yummy toppings, were a stellar dish bun-less and all. :)
Friday + Weekend: Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! For the unofficial start of summer, we decided to skip town early on Friday and head north to one of our favorite towns, Ogunquit, Maine!
Filled with memories, this beautiful town has been important to me my entire life - even before I could walk! While I have enough stories, memories, and details to last far longer than this blog post, I’ll just share the highlights of this weekend with you, for now.
Post-Maine, we stayed local, went shoe shopping, saw some friends, and you know, the usual meal planning! Here is the highlight reel of our weekend, Memorial Day Edition!
Maine - food:
Cornerstone in Ogunquit: our favorite for great GF pizza, the extensive beer list (for Seth), and the relaxed atmosphere. Snag an outdoor table under the umbrellas for a beautiful afternoon soaking up the sun and yummy food! The lobster pizza is amazing, but honestly, they’re all scrumptious.
Barnacle Billy’s in Perkins Cove: Another great place for cocktails, beer/wine, and an awesome view of the Cove, I love spending summer days outdoors enjoying a bunless grilled hotdog, clam chowder or lobster bisque, or even a whole boiled lobster! We enjoy coming here for lunch or dinner and relaxing with the Cove view, and not a care in the world except what to order next! Note: a full sit down restaurant with waiter service is right next door in case you’d like a larger menu.
Joshua’s in Wells: A beautiful restaurant for a special occasion or any occasion, we adore this incredible spot for the impeccable food, amazing waitstaff and calm, cool setting. We love the quaint bar that has a small number of seats and just two high top tables, but you may prefer the lovely dining room that offers a more formal experience.
The food is just fabulous; every bite more delicious than the last. The staff is very knowledgeable about food allergies and I was easily able to eat an incredible meal, worry free. Tip: order the house-made ice cream. It’s UNREAL.
Federal Jack’s in Kennebunkport: A split decision to head north on Route One, we went up to Kennebunkport for a little change in scenery and perhaps even more delicious food! This is a spot my family went to often when I was really young, so it was a definite blast from the past. Seth and I grabbed seats at the expansive outdoor seating area, and had a couple snacks with some rosè for me and a local beer for him.
Surprise, surprise, the gluten free menu is gigantic!! I could barely believe it! Since it was late in the day, we just had two small plates, but I know if we go back the options are pretty much endless in terms of gluten free goodness. How convenient! We loved this spot for the relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, outdoor tables, and ease-of-eating (for me). A perfect place to spend a hot afternoon, or evening, in the great town of Kennebunkport - such a beautiful area if you haven’t been before!
Amore Breakfast in Ogunquit: This funky, friendly spot has a new location in the center of town and it’s fantastic! Open only for breakfast and lunch, this warm and inviting restaurant offers everything you want for breakfast and more!
An extensive gluten free menu including pancakes and waffles, I could barely breathe I was so excited that I could basically order anything I wanted!
While not a designated GF restaurant, the server informed me allergens are taken seriously and there are precautions taken to avoid cross-contamination. Yay! Tip: order the bacon waffles since they are a dream come true. ;)
Rococo in Ogunquit: Not much more to say than Most Awesome ice cream! We really love this sweet shop for their unique flavors, extremely friendly staff, and the precautions taken to ensure a safe scoop for me! Honestly, I don’t eat ice cream that often and we never buy it at the grocery store, but we definitely splurge for Rococo. It’s incredible!!
My favorite flavors right now include Salty Sweet Cream and Cuban Coffee. But these are plenty more delicious options as well. Tip: you can join a club that ships Rococo to your home! ;)
Maine is a very special place for me and I hope this list of eateries is helpful! There are plenty more that have gluten free options, but I wanted to share exactly where we went during our short visit (and where we go most often)! We will be going back throughout the summer so I’ll be sure to let you know where else we go!
We hope you had a wonderful weekend and got to indulge in some of your favorite foods as well!
Cheers to an absurdly delicious week of meals, and a wonderful, extra-long weekend!
Mollie and Seth