Weeknight Dinner Recap: Volume XXV
Welcome to the twenty-fifth edition of Weeknight Dinner Recap! This was our first week back after living in Las Vegas, and it felt so good to be home and cooking and eating as we please. That said, it was an experience living and working out of a hotel room all week, but I was definitely happy to be eating together at home, rather than in a restaurant for every meal of the day. I was not tired of the abundant sunshine!
Good news for you, though, my guide to Las Vegas is available in Guides, if you’re interested and can be read right here.
Food this week featured some incredible dishes from my latest “favorite,” because my favorite book changes constantly. But this time around, I mean it! The majority of dinners this week were plucked straight out of Dining In by Alison Roman and I highly suggest you order/buy it immediately. I’ve written about it before, and call me a broken record, but it’s just so good.
Awesome recipes, relaxed tone, and the food comes out absurdly well. Like, so well, you want to eat it over and over and then make it again for your friends so you can continue blabbing on about how delicious the food is and how weeknight-perfect the recipes turn out to be. But that’s just me! I’ve tabbed many more recipes within it so I’m sure future meal plans will include another onslaught of dishes from this bright, joyful cookbook.
Now, on with the week. Let’s dive in to our dinner!
Sunday: The first full day back after a long trip is always a busy one, isn’t it? I felt glad to be back, but somewhat nuts once I realized everything we had to do on Sunday, before the work week. But! We tackled the to-do list, retrieved our cat from her vacation home, and made our meal plan. I guess the best way to handle a busy day is to just get going! It will all be done and then you can have a great meal afterward. Worth it!
Dish: Quick Weeknight Seafood Stew
Recipe: This was hand-picked by me from Dining In by Alison Roman. Grateful that no modifications had to be made and it was naturally gluten free! And that it truly was pretty quick given we made a full-on stew after a busy day.
More joyful? This recipe encourages lots of seafood which is healthy and yummy, plus it’s all simmering together, and that meant clean up wasn’t so bad! For seafood, this dish included shrimp, tilapia, and mussels. Quite the variety!
Outcome: What a breath of fresh air this one turned out to be! Pardon my skepticism as I remember being starving-beyond-hanger while it was being made and that caused me to panic that this simple, (very filling) stew wouldn’t be enough food. My eyes are bigger than my stomach (same for you?) and that especially rings true when I’m ultra-hungry. My mind blanks on everything that’s normal about portion size and self control.
Luckily, dinner was done shortly thereafter and my hanger was soothed by this delicious stew. The tomato-based broth really shined and we loved the seafood in each bite. While some may shy away from a fancy-ish sounding meal, I say come on in and join the table! This dinner was quick, flavorful, and not the least bit too-fancy for a weeknight. But, if we were to make it again, I think I’d add a side dish or appetizer, just in case we (or your guests) are starving upon arrival. ;)
Monday: These days, when we buy seafood for a Sunday, then we also plan some for Monday since two nights of fish is better than one! And, well, it’s shelf-life is short, so our seafood nights are always back-to-back. Unless we’ve bought frozen shrimp. But that’s another story for another time.
On this night, I was psyched because we had bought beautiful scallops while shopping and I know that any dinner involving scallops will be a good one. However, perhaps I underestimated the “good” this time around because this dinner was way better than just “good.” It was seriously fabulous. Maybe we need to make “scallop Monday” a new tradition?
Dish: Scallops with Corn, Hazelnuts, and Brown Butter Chermoula
Recipe: Dining In by Alison Roman once again, and for the win. This meal is entirely gluten free, no changes necessary. And while I had never had Hazelnuts or Chermoula on my dinner plate before, I’m so glad that I’ve had them now. Seared scallops cooked perfectly by Seth, which were then placed on this scrumptious layer of corn that’s been cooked in the North African sauce.
We followed her recipe as written, which involved roasting the Hazelnuts before crushing them (to be added as a final garnish). Toasted hazelnuts smell as good as you hope, and maybe better. And at this point, any recipe that includes brown butter is almost always one of the most delicious meals, ever. Too strong of a statement? I don’t think so. You just need to taste this plate of joy. Then you’ll agree. I know it.
Outcome: What else is there to say about this scrumptious seafood plat du jour? Seared scallops, corn, Chermoula (absurdly good), crushed Hazelnuts, and a squeeze of lime turn into a meal that’s just asking to be made again.
A lighter offering that would be incredible on a lazy summer’s day when corn is more in-season, but I just couldn’t wait that long. Thankfully, we keep corn on hand all the time, and love buying seafood year-round, so this dish was not out of reach. However, I have dreams of making it this summer in Maine, and sitting outdoors. I can feel that ocean breeze - almost!
A warm-weather dinner that sparkled in winter, we savored every bite and made sure our scallops were divided up evenly for fairness sake. And those crushed Hazelnuts were the perfect crunch on top. :)
Tuesday: Because traditions are great, and sometimes not entirely on purpose, our own weeknight tradition of “pasta Tuesday,” has become a happy accident that just keeps happening. And thus, a tradition has formed! What better way to recognize this fun night than by making one of our (now) new favorite pasta dishes? It really puts the pressure on all of our other pastas, since this one really sped ahead of the pack. And we aren’t looking back!
Dish: Whole Wheat Pasta with Brown-Buttered Mushrooms, Buckwheat, and Egg Yolk. Well! Clearly, I cannot eat whole wheat pasta (because, you know, WHEAT), but the day was saved by using Jovial Foods gluten free brown rice farfalle. One of the best shapes, honestly. As for the rest of the dish? No trouble at all (read: no gluten).
Recipe: Our third dish of the week from Dining In, I promised Seth we’d use another source for the rest of the nights. But I didn’t want to. There are many more gems of dinners in that book and I can’t wait to try more of them. However, this pasta dish had been sweeping the internet’s food world and so I knew we had to try it. Call it FOMO. It’s OK. I admit it. Because this dinner is SO FREAKING GOOD.
Ingredients-wise, we bought the requested two pounds of mushrooms, using some of our favorites as well as some the author recommended. Plus, we ordered a bag of buckwheat (Bob’s Red Mill brand) from Amazon; a sentence I never thought I’d write! So glad we have it though because once again, it was toasted to serve as a garnish, and OMG did it make the meal even better. Buckwheat, if you didn’t know, is gluten free, despite its name. Surprise!
We shredded way more than necessary of Parmesan for the finishing touch, and that egg yolk is raw, man. Pure, raw, and what we need to do for every pasta dish moving forward. Trust me. Or rather, trust this book and its author. She knows what to do.
Outcome: When your home has the scent of mushrooms crisping in butter for an extended period of time, you begin to get a little hazy, and all you can think about is the delicious food permeating your kitchen. That’s what happened with this dinner: GF pasta, a lot of mushrooms, an egg yolk, and crunchy buckwheat all mix together to form a meal that’s simply divine.
Maybe it’s so divine because of the simple ingredients and fairly straightforward nature of the meal, but whatever it is or whatever you think of this meal (from the photos at least) I say give it a shot and come thank me later. Stir that egg yolk in with the pasta and mushrooms and don’t you dare tell me you’re anything but in love.
Am I a little too intense with my declarations about these meals? I don’t think so, but I really love food. And I really love awesome food even more. On to Wednesday! ;)
Wednesday: We are in a bit of a see-saw pattern with flavors and meals since last night was meatless, and then tonight featured a dish with meat. Back and forth we go, but I tend to like that pattern these days since it provides a nice balance and can cure all of your cravings throughout the week. And you never feel like you’re missing out!
For this night, I decided to peruse recipes online, which I do often, but tend to revert back to cookbooks most of the time. Why’s that you ask? Beats me. I guess I just love combing over the books and holding them on my lap and looking at several at once for inspiration.
Searching online is equally successful and I’ve marked plenty of favorites on Instagram, but for the most part I’m old-fashioned in that I like to hold the book, add a sticky note to the page, and put it on our cookbook stand while in the kitchen preparing the meal. Funny, since all of this (what you’re reading) is solely available online, but the majority of our inspiration for it comes from paper. Food for thought. ;)
Dish: Kale, Sausage, and White Bean Soup
Recipe: Featured on one of my favorite blogs, The Lemon Bowl, which often has a lot of great gluten free dinner ideas! Liz, the author, is relatable, fun, and always up for sharing tips and tricks to make great food healthier than you think it could be. And she travels to very cool places, frequently, that are always being added to my “must go” list. That’s why I find myself saving so many of her posts! Plus, each time we try one of her recipes, it’s just as easy as advertised. And even more delicious than it looks! Check out her blog and Instagram account; I highly recommend it!
Outcome: This soup was so good!! Simple ingredients, naturally gluten free, and packed with veggies and protein. This was a real treat on a very cold winter night. I especially enjoyed the kale/sausage/bean ratio and how every bite had some of each - a real success point of this recipe! Also, the broth was absurdly flavorful and light, without taking hours and hours to achieve that feat. Major win.
Soup has a tendency to overwhelm me at first sight, simply because I fear them to be all-consuming in regard to time. However, I need to fluff away my fears entirely because this one (and that stew from Sunday) were a lot quicker than I could have ever guessed. While there’s time involved for letting it all hang out and cook, it’s definitely not a category to avoid for a busy night.
Actually, I could imagine serving this soup to a group (have I explained my love for rhyming, yet?) for a fun alternative to a more labor-intensive dinner party offering. What would I serve before it? A number of options come to mind, but for some reason a magnificent cheese platter sounds about right. Sound good? Soup’s on! ;)
Thursday: While we stick to concrete recipes most of the time, once in a while I get a pang for very specific flavors and foods we’ve made in the past. I’m not against repeat meals in the least. Let me state that as fact. But there comes a time when you acknowledge your flavor cravings and make exactly what they want. Trust me, they will thank you.
I’m also of the mindset that Thursday nights are a great night to try something new, or make something you love. It’s almost the weekend and you deserve to dine well! And so that’s exactly what we did for this dinner.
Dish: Roasted cauliflower and shrimp with yogurt sauce (for dipping!)
Recipe: While this dinner was quite awesome, it did not come from a single recipe. It’s actually three! When I decided on the flavors I wanted, I knew exactly where to turn: Dinner by Melissa Clark. We used her recipe for roasted cauliflower with cumin seeds as well as the one for roasted shrimp, putting the dishes together for a complete meal.
As for the yogurt sauce? I have seen this recipe in several of our cookbooks with slight variation, and decided at this point, I’ve made it often enough so that now I’m creating my own version! Same sauce, but with minor adjustments for quantity of each ingredient. Look at me! Improvising! Hooray! ;)
While I cannot remember exact amounts, I will share the following for how I made it: one cup Greek yogurt mixed with sea salt, cracked black pepper, lemon juice, fresh chopped raw garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil (optional).
What I love most about the sauce is that you can really adjust it to your preferences and taste. I always add extra garlic, for example. (Does that disgust you? I hope not!) I guess you can do that with every recipe, for anything, to an extent, but it works especially well for this one. It has an incredible flavor and went perfectly as a dip for our yummy cauliflower and oven-roasted shrimp. Mmm! I’d like some right now. Please. :)
Outcome: Well, this dinner was just plain great! I was so glad we could easily combine a couple strong recipes to make a full, delicious meal, and that it included my current-favorite yogurt sauce.
The cauliflower with cumin seeds is a permanent fixture now on our roasted veggie options as it is so darn awesome every single time. The colors don’t taste differently, but I think the bright yellow cauliflower is my preference. Love that color!
Roasted shrimp is also a fun new way to make shrimp quickly and with terrific flavor. We had not roasted it too often years ago, mostly going for the sauté, but roasting yields the same great result, with far more ease. Once they’re in the oven, there’s not much else to do! We used frozen ones this time around, but fresh/non-frozen would work well, too.
We sprinked toasted pine nuts and Aleppo pepper over everything because those are tricks to garnish success in our house. Scrumptious!
Friday: Hooray for the weekend! While we did cook on Friday night, a rarity, I’m just going to tease you with the photo below of our fantastic dinner. Hint: it rhymes with shmasta and tastes like a smile. :) I’ll share all of the details in next week’s Recap. Be patient!
Over the weekend, we celebrated my mom’s birthday (yay! Hi Mom!) and I baked a lot for this month’s baking feature. It’s going to be so good! Hope you’re hungry because it will be available before Valentine’s Day so then you will know what to make for everyone you care about. You’re welcome. 💕
And finally, Sunday night, we ate the superb leftovers from our Friday night feast, and then watched the Super Bowl with friends. The outcome was not what we had hoped, but it was a fun gathering nonetheless. Good thing we now have the Olympics to focus on because that was a rough game. ;)
I hope you had a great weekend too filled with some fun, delicious food, and close friends. We will see you back here next week!
Mollie and Seth