Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XXXI
Welcome to the thirty-first edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! These weeks seem to be flying, don’t they? I feel like it was early January just a moment ago, and now look! We are almost at the end of March and... it’s still really cold! 🙄 Someday spring will make its glorious appearance and we will all forget about how long and ridiculous winter has been. I need the sun!
But for now, let’s focus on the week’s dinners and the plethora of delicious we had. Once again, there was a lot of variety, some new flavors, and much joy because, you know, dinner time rocks.
Let’s discuss the week, shall we?!
Sunday’s Dish: Mu-Shu Chicken Pancakes/Roll-ups/Tacos
Recipe: The recipe was a take on “mu shu pork,” from a past issue of Bon Appètit magazine. Happy to let you know the exact issue if you’d like!
GFMD: Combining our love for Asian-food flavors and the excitement we have for awesome Pig Rock Sausages (made here in Boston!), we slightly adjusted the recipe that we found. Make sure to use GF Tamari in recipes such as these and not regular soy sauce (there’s wheat in it! Yikes!).
Using GF chicken sausage instead of pork, Siete Foods cassava flour tortillas, and drizzling Fun Sauce on top of it all (recipe from Myers and Chang at Home), we created our own version of this classic dish that I loved long ago.
Outcome: Wow! This dinner was one of the most scrumptious and flavorful taco-like meals we’ve made in a while! I’m not sure why we haven’t made this sooner. Sizzling a bunch of ingredients in the wok or cast iron skillet and then throwing them all on a GF tortilla is almost always a recipe for success.
What I loved about this meal is that it came from a few different places, but came together to make a really cohesive dish. The cassava flour tortillas got perfectly warm and crispy, but their flavor is somewhat bland so as to not take away from the ingredients put on top of them.
We used chicken sausage instead of pork, which worked really well and again reminded me that it’s important to give chicken sausage a chance. It’s really good and somewhat healthier than the pork variety. Or so I believe.
Topping it all with Fun Sauce was not only a great decision, but it did, indeed, make the meal more fun. An apt title, I think, for a sauce that really enhances food and lends a special something to a plate that may need an extra boost (if the flavors deem it an appropriate option).
I loved filling these “tacos” with way too much mu-shu and having it fall all over the plate while trying to lift it up and take a bite. It is for this reason that I probably wouldn’t consider this dish for a dinner party. 😮
While I’m fairly capable of not devouring food in mere moments if it’s seriously good, I’m not capable of avoiding making a giant mess while said devouring is happening. But! This dinner was so good I may just have to take that chance so I can share it with others. My friends will forgive me, I hope. 😉
Monday’s Dish: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Lots of Kale
Recipe: From the February 2017 issue of Bon Appètit, I am always choosing recipes based on the photo - this has a great one. And if there’s no photo, then the ingredient list and hope play a big part. :)
GFMD: The only change necessary to make the meal entirely gluten free was to use GF pasta instead of regular pasta (we decided on farfalle). As usual, we used Jovial Foods brand gluten free (farfalle) pasta. It's delicious and comes in a wide-variety of pasta shapes. Plus, it's all-natural and has very few ingredients. The recipe called for spaghetti, but I dare say it was even better with the bow ties. ☺️
Outcome: What a nice surprise this turned out to be! Somewhat simple to put together and actually very quick in general, you’d never realize what a big bowl of goodness you’re making while it’s coming together.
You all know how I’m a full-fledged Kale Club member, so it was only natural that it would eventually make its way into our pasta bowls. And for good reason! Here’s another weeknight dinner that’s just a few ingredients, no meat, lots of kale, and a little extra spice. The result is a scrumptious bowl you’ll want on repeat whenever the mood strikes for easy, veggie-filled, and awesome, which I’m pretty sure is all the time. Right?
A note on this dish: be wary of the salt! Recipe recommendations included adding salt to the water for cooking both the kale and pasta, but that seemed a little too salty for us (crazy, I know. I love the stuff), so we did our usual salting of pasta water and just did a tiny sprinkle for the kale. This allowed for the kale flavor to be more pronounced (not overly salty) and for other ingredients, such as the bountiful red pepper flakes, to really stand out.
You’ve been warned; this casual pasta meal has a real hit of heat on top. 😎
Tuesday’s Dish: Grilled Greek Pizza!
Recipe: Grilled Greek Pizza is a recipe found online in Fine Cooking magazine. A couple quick google searches led us right to it!
GFMD: The only change necessary was to use a gluten free pizza crust. So we made our own from scratch using Bob’s Red Mill GF pizza crust mix. Otherwise, everything on top was naturally gluten free!
Outcome: Seriously savory right here! This was the perfect pizza to make after spending the day working from home due to a massive snowstorm. It had snowed for what seemed like forever and this pizza was just right for the occasion. A snowy night will always call for a big pizza. I dare you to disagree. ;)
Creating one, big rectangle pizza, we followed the recipe and topped it with numerous morsels of deliciousness including: olive tapenade, smoked mozzarella, merguez sausage from Pig Rock Sausage, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, feta, red onion, and oregano.
Every inch of this pizza was covered in flavor and every bite was just incredible. The merguez sausage was the standout ingredient for us as it was so scrumptious with everything else on the pie and had a flavor that was too good to resist (so we didn't. I ate a lot of it).
The fun of this pizza was creating the layers and layers of savory toppings, finishing it off with the grilled zucchini ribbons. That may be one of my new favorite ways to top a pizza - grilled zucchini! While roasted veggies are always excellent on pizza, grilled zucchini especially is now a welcome addition in future creations.
A bonus of this experience is that we found out that we can use our grill pan to get those must-have grill marks on the zucchini slices! Hooray! While we are loving our new apartment, an outdoor grill is not something available to us yet. Someday! :)
Wednesday’s Dish: Mustard and Dill turkey burgers with Raw and Roasted Kale with Pistachios and Creamy Pecorino.
Recipe: The recipe for the turkey burgers can be found in Weeknight Gluten Free by Kristine Kidd and the kale salad is from Dining In by Alison Roman.
GFMD: What's wonderful about many foods in life is that they naturally gluten free (I'm looking at you fruits, vegetables, cheese, meat, poultry, beans, rice, and chocolate); the majority of un-processed, all-natural foods that you find in the world are already gluten free and ready for you to use as you please - how nice!
We love finding recipes that are entirely GF because it makes dinnertime that much more fun: no changes needed! And that was exactly the case with this meal.
Both recipes were naturally gluten free and did not require "gluten free versions" of any pantry items. I love pasta and coating a protein to make it crispy with breadcrumbs, but I get even more excited about meals where we don't even need to reach for those items.
Outcome: We had made these turkey burgers fairly recently and I was so blown away by their flavor and awesome-ness, we had to have them again! But since we had them previously with sauteed kale, this time we decided to try a salad version. Yup! More kale. Yay!
However, this was not a typical kale salad. Not at all. In fact, this kale salad was so different than ones we'd had before, that it may need to be our new staple for whenever the occasion calls for kale salad. And I think there is a fair number of those instances in general. Right?
The salad was topped with oven-roasted kale leaves and toasted walnuts (rather than pistachios - although I love those too). Underneath those leaves was perfectly-dressed raw kale that had this amazingly creamy, but light pecorino dressing. Ah! Even thinking about it now, I'm salivating and wishing we could have it as part of tonight's meal. But we can't. Because we're done planning and kale salad didn't make it on for this week. Whoops.
This dinner was a joyful, scrumptious reminder that healthy food can be just as drool-worthy as the less-healthy plates we sometimes enjoy. And while that seems like a pretty obvious statement, I think we can get wrapped up in the treat meals (pizza, pasta, etc) and forget that healthy food can be just as enticing.
In fact, I may argue that some of the healthier dinners we've had have actually been more incredible than the indulgent ones. Shocking? Somewhat. But not surprising. I already want this entire meal, exactly like this, again soon. Care to join me?
Thursday’s Dish: Pounded Flank Steak with Zucchini Salsa and Split Pea Salad
Recipe: The steak recipe came from the August 2017 issue of Bon Appètit magazine. The Split Pea Salad came from (where else?) Dining In by Alison Roman. I'm sure you've noticed we use that book a lot. No apologies here. It's freaking awesome.
GFMD: Once again, both recipes are naturally gluten free! No adjustments necessary. Of course, I should note that there is mustard in the salad. And when buying mustard, or any condiment, read the ingredients on the jar to make sure it's all GF. Often the jar/bottle/comtainer is labeled GF too. Just double check! Safety first.
Outcome: What turned into one of the most decadent meals of the week, started slightly shaky as our smoke detector went off amidst cooking the steak! One of the loudest noises I've ever heard in my entire life, it tried to derail our dinner by scaring us to death (SO LOUD!), but it did not win. And instead, we got to (eventually) enjoy this amazing meal with one of the best salads of my life. I know, I’m like a broken record. But this one specifically was UNREAL.
A realization amidst chewing was that we didn't even need the steak for this dinner. The salad was packed with peas, split peas, potatoes, bacon, and tears of joy. So, that pretty much covers your bases for veggies and protein and savory goodness thanks to slab bacon, one of the wonders of the pork-loving world.
The steak was delicious, topped with a bright, light raw-zucchini salsa, which we did enjoy. However, I may say that to keep this steak as the star of the plate, we should pair it with something slightly less brag-worthy next time.
This steak has a powerful flavor on its own and I think it deserved a less-showy salad next to it. Perhaps in the future I would calm down so much as to just include a baked potato. I know, right? What am I thinking?
But really, when both selections on your dinner plate are too yummy for words, then you need to make some sacrifices to let them both shine. The salad was the clear winner of this dinner, but that steak deserves a second chance. It's only fair.
Friday + Weekend: Oh hey, Friday! This weekend kicked off Seth's birthday week and so we celebrated accordingly: by eating a lot and spending time with friends and family!
On Friday night we had an early dinner at Legal C Bar in Lynnfield, MA, which was delicious (my resistance to fried food drops below zero when I go there), and then we gathered a small group to enjoy a birthday brunch at Gaslight in the South End in Boston on Saturday morning. A wonderful time was had by all and guess what? I had kale! On my eggs! I just can't get enough. And now that song is in my head... ;)
Saturday night found us back in the 'burbs and we had a great meal at Il Casale in Lexington, MA where I ordered my usual: arugula salad and then a large portion of scrumptious shrimp risotto (my parents were with us and my dad ordered the same as me. This happens often!). I almost always order this exact meal and it's so good every time. I just love it.
Like clockwork, or just the end of the weekend, we did our meal planning on Sunday as well as grocery shopping and our now-fun routine of laundry - in our apartment! Seriously, having a washer and dryer mere feet from your living room is life-changing. Or is that sad to admit? Whatever. We love it. But possibly a little too much. :)
We hope you had a delicious weekend filled with incredible food and spending time doing your favorite activities, too!
Mollie and Seth