Paella (from How To Cook Everything: The Basics). This is a bare bones version of paella, but the simplicity of ingredients makes for a meal that comes together much more quickly. I made it on a Sunday night, but I think you could squeeze it in on a weeknight in about an hour. I made it even less authentic because I used pedestrian paprika instead of smoked, but didn’t feel the dish suffered too much.
Black bean and sweet potato tacos with cumin cabbage slaw and avocado. I prepped the black beans and sweet potatoes just like I do for burrito bowls. The slaw is just sliced cabbage, a sprinkling of salt and cumin seeds, and a squeeze of lime (adapted from The Homemade Kitchen). I ate the leftovers for lunch sans tortilla, just in a big pile and was just as delighted.
White bean and tuna salad with caesar cabbage slaw. I had to go to an all day training and bring my own lunch. Since there was no microwave access taco leftovers were out, so I made a couple quick salads the night before to bring. Using cabbage with the caesar dressing makes for a salad that stays crunchy even when dressed the night before. I dumped the bean salad over the slaw when I was ready to eat and mixed them into a happy harmony.
Baked potatoes with pan seared broccoli and cabbage, bacon bits, and cheddar cheese sauce. I started with the potatoes in the oven, then crisped up the bacon. I drained off most of the fat, but left a bit in the pan to sear the broccoli and cabbage while the potatoes finished cooking. I used essentially the same cheese sauce as I make for this mac and cheese, but used 8 oz of sharp cheddar instead of the bleu cheese. This is not a meal to make on the regular, but worth the indulgence every so often.
Fish and chips with tartar sauce. Another indulgent meal (it is a birthday week in these parts). The amount of fish called for to feed 2 people is insane. I use 1 lb of fish for 3 servings which doesn’t make for any leftovers (which I don’t want anyways). I could have done with some more tartar sauce though. The batter is easy to make, sticks well, and is well seasoned (which is my complaint with most fish batters).
A party meal! We hosted a birthday party and offered up a full spread. Charred onion dip, smoked salmon dip, cheese and crackers, buffalo cauliflower pizza, loaded potato bites, kale salad, banana cream pie donuts, and grapefruit cake. The potato bits, kale salad, and grapefruit cakes are all from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and I would highly recommend for a party or otherwise.
Beef ragu and pinci (from Pasta by Hand). The last of the requested birthday meals. The ragu takes a whole afternoon (give yourself at least an hour to put together the sauce, then it simmers for 3 more), but is intensely tomato-y and beefy and wonderful. The pinci are one of the easier pastas I’ve made from this book, and really you are just rolling long tubes (with 2 farm employees in the house, we refer to them as worms). The full recipe makes a huge batch of sauce, but it freezes well.