Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XXVIII
Welcome to the twenty-eighth edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! While we are in full-on packing frenzy mode, that’s not stopping us from having some delicious meals to calm our minds and soothe our stomachs. Plus, we have to get rid of the random food in our kitchen right? I thought moving meant you need to finish off those nine jars of pickles you see in the fridge as well as every last random box in the cupboard- no? Am I wrong? ;)
Thankfully, we do not need to do that and yet it still feels like we are trying to rid our apt of anything worthy of eating before our move. Not the worst idea, I suppose. This week’s meals were a few of our “classics” because they are terrific for busy weeknights - and boy, are we busy! They’re also seriously scrumptious, which is a required element when you need to pause between packing for a plate of a great meal.
Without further ado, or to stop my rambling about packing, let’s discuss this week’s dinners!
Sunday: While the original plan for this night was an easy meatless pasta and sauce, I decided while shopping that adding in meatballs would give it extra pizzazz. And be even more filling! Glad I made that last-minute change because we now have a new weeknight dinner staple that’s easy, delicious, and offers leftovers for days!
Dish: Capellini and Meatballs
Recipe: The recipe for the tomato sauce is from Dining In by Alison Roman, which was titled “Roasted Tomato and Anchovy Bucatini.” We made the tomato sauce according to this, but used a can of whole-peeled tomatoes instead of roasting them for the sake of time. And we used capellini pasta rather than bucatini due to convenience.
So while we used her recipe as the base, and it definitely would have been awesome on its own, we decided to add in the meatballs for extra heft. For the record, the sauce is a classic and has anchovies which really helped propel the flavor. So delicious!
In regard to the meatballs, it’s as easy as 1-2-3: I mixed together (by hand) one pound of meatloaf mix, one egg, and a small amount of GF Italian breadcrumbs (Aleia’s Artisan Foods brand). Once mixed well, I formed the meatballs (by hand) and created about eighteen of them, which were all about the same size. Seared in cast iron briefly on their own to get browned, they were eventually cooked through once added to the simmering tomato sauce. Man, that smelled good!
Outcome: OMG was this dinner way more awesome than we intended! While we knew that it would be delicious (because of the title alone) we didn’t quite realize how much we had been missing a good ‘ol bowl of hearty spaghetti and meatballs. Simple ingredients cooked well resulted in a beastly yummy dinner.
I’m glad we used thin capellini pasta to go with the hearty meatballs because anything bigger/thicker would have been a little too much, in my opinion. I suppose a traditional spaghetti would have worked, but we stick with capellini these days. I’m daring to say it’s very similar to my long-time favorite “angel hair” pasta which is why it’s stocked on our shelves.
As if the dish needed even more awesome packed into it, we sprinkled shreddd gruyere cheese on top. Yum! That was a good decision. And while we also added a little Parmesan after the photo, I need to say I liked the mellow tone of the gruyere against the bold tomato sauce and meat flavors. Have you ever tried gruyere on your pasta? I would say it’s a worthy cheese adventure! :) This dinner rocked and was a fantastic way to begin the week.
Monday: In an attempt to be healthier, we made a big “oven roast” filled with some of our favorite flavors and veggies. It was at this point in the week that I thought our packing was moving along and I could relax a little and enjoy a bright and fun dinner. Little did I know, it was only Monday. And that’s the feeling you get after being able to stay home on a weekday due to a holiday and being so productive you can honestly admit you could work from home, forever. :)
Dish: Roasted Sausages and Cauliflower with Cumin Seeds and Turkish Pepper
Recipe: This recipe came from Dinner Changing the Game by Melissa Clark. It is naturally gluten free so no changes had to be made! We used sweet Italian Sausage from a local company (Pig Rock Sausages) and purchased everything at our favorite Wilson Farm.
For the yogurt sauce, I enhanced it slightly with extra lemon juice and a little olive oil, plus extra garlic. If you would like the exact proportions, please let me know! :)
Outcome: Always a winner in our book! This dinner is so flavorful and filling without being overly intense. While I love a great bowl of carbs, there should definitely be some balance so that you can appreciate those times (bowls) even more!
My favorite elements of this dish were the multi-colored cauliflower and the toasted pine nuts. The cauliflower, once roasted, tastes about 10000% better than it does raw especially since it roasts with cumin seeds, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle some pine nuts on top and there you have a reliably amazing weeknight vegetable to serve as a side or main paired with sausage (as shown) or another protein of choice.
The great variety of textures, flavors, and overall fun on this plate always makes it a standout meal for us with the final touch of the scrumptious Greek yogurt sauce - must. Oh! And we sprinkled Aleppo (Turkish) pepper over everything which added a final, yummy twist to the dish.
Tuesday: A warm front dropped by in late February so we rejoiced! And made this very summery bowl in the hopes that we had somehow skipped from winter to June without missing a beat. Unfortunately, it was a very short-lived warmth, but we tried to savor every second! And then it snowed. ;)
Dish: Zucchini noodles with turkey and basil pesto
Recipe: This is a pretty simple and quick meal that we created last summer when our basil plant was forcing (allowing? granting?) us to make fresh pesto at least once a week! For this version, we made zucchini noodles to keep it lighter and tossed those with (store-bought) pesto and ground turkey. A fresh and filling meal that makes you think spring/summer even when the weather isn’t quite cooperating. Of course, I added toasted pine nuts on top! :)
Outcome: Reliably delicious and time-saving, this dinner made me yearn for warmer nights and less responsibility (AKA my youth?). It also reminded me that very few ingredients really can make a fantastic dinner and that the more intricate recipes, while tending to be fabulous and crave-worthy, don’t always fit into our weeknight lives. A semi-sad realization that I’m still coming to terms with many days later. 😬
We loved this meal for its nostalgic effect and even more so for its ease: we were actually able to get some packing done afterward! And a lot of Olympics-watching. Let’s be honest. ;)
Wednesday: Sometimes life throws a fun curveball into the week and that’s exactly what happened on this night! We went out! Yahoo!
Instead of our usual cooking and packing (this week at least), we drove out of the city to see my family and had a celebratory dinner for my sister’s birthday! :) Yay! And it was over 70 degrees in Boston which is unheard of during winter! It felt amazing... briefly.
While I didn’t take many photos, I snapped a few fun ones to remember the evening. I love nights like this that are out of the ordinary and filled with family fun. I’m also always in the mood for a surprise dinner that’s a lot more exciting than what we had planned. ;) The packing struggle was real.
Thursday: The countdown to our move is way on and now that we got the keys, I can barely contain my excitement! This meant that our focus has splayed in every direction, including dinner. I had planned meals this week that I thought would be great, classic easy dishes that would get us back to packing in no time. Instead, we had dinners that were good, but left us hungry for more (food) and the exhaustion in general by the end of the evening encouraged lots of Olympics. Those skiiers! Those skaters! The luge! How?! I loved it all.
In other news, the dish planned for Thursday fell on the floor while it was being prepped, pre-cooking. This led me to sit on the kitchen floor, feeling kind of miserable in a self-pity (woe is us) manner, and barely managing to decide on an alternate plan. Of course, I’m being dramatic. Very. But this scene did actually happen and I did then bite chunks off of the giant ricotta salata we had bought for the dinner that was no longer going to exist.
Thankfully, Seth picked me up off the floor, knocked some sense into my ridiculous-ness (told me to eat more cheese) and handled the rest. We had another meal planned, of course, since we had gone out on Wednesday, so we made it on Thursday. Minor crisis averted. But I did have a lot of that cheese.
Dish: Winter Vegetable hash with jalapeños and fried eggs, side of sausage. Memories of a dinner that wasn’t.
Recipe: This winter hash recipe is from Dinner by Melissa Clark. We added the sausages as a side dish since they were going to be part of our other plan (that was on the floor, then trashcan).
Outcome: Well, this wasn’t the official meal for the night, but it was part of our week! It was delicious as all veggies mushed together and then topped with a fried egg tend to be, and it was not too filling! Thankful for the sausages on the side! :)
My favorite aspect of the veggie hash was the flavors created from letting them all cook together, and the great aroma that filled our not-packed-yet kitchen. And the yummy bite of egg yolk mixed with the veggies - so good - makes this dish a major brunch contender as well. I’d probably serve it with a biscuit, or two. ;) In fact, that might be a good way to bulk this up for dinnertime. No one says “no” to breakfast foods at dinnertime, right?
Real talk about this dinner: delicious on its own, I would admit it needs a side or an appetizer to make it a bigger meal next time we make it. While filling for some, my hunger levels are wacky-high when I get home from the gym, and well, sometimes a plate of cooked veggies just won’t cut it! Proclaimed (by me) while packing dishes a couple hours later: why am I still so hungry?! 🙃
Friday: TGIF! What a week! I’m glad it’s done and now we can finally pack it all up and gear up for the move. I know I said we’ve been packing a lot, and we have, but there’s a lot more to do. Thankfully, it’s now the weekend so we can really get it done. Oh, and find and buy a new couch!
I had noted in my Insta Stories recently that we had found a great one, but alas, our minds have been changed. We are still on the hunt! Couch shopping is something I used to dream about (bear with me), but now that it’s something we have to do, and fairly quickly I might add, it’s not as simple and dreamy as I anticipated! Have you had a similar experience? 🤷♀️ So many choices, sizes, fabrics, shapes... the list goes on...
I know I’m rambling about furniture shopping and I’m sorry. I can hear your eyes rolling back and your fingers tapping away from this post. This is supposed to be about dinner! And it was. And it will continue to be. Just as soon as we move into our new home. ;)
Hope you have a relaxing and delicious weekend!
Mollie and Seth