Our most popular series, Easy Weeknight Meals (over 5 years and counting) is where I ask friends to share what dinners are in heavy rotation for a busy weeknight. I’ve tried so many of the delicious recipes featured, and collected the best of them while you’re staying safely at home…
Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Sweet Corn Salad. “My friend Erin has the most amazingly simple and healthy recipes on her site, Naturally Ella. This one’s my favorite for weeknights because it’s so easy and delicious. The zesty lime and spiced beans are a big hit! Using handmade tortillas makes a big difference. If it’s a really busy night I use canned corn and canned black beans. If I have some on hand, I add five minute pickled onions for an extra pop of color.”
Fettuccine with shredded zucchini, fresh ricotta and lemon zest. “My youngest son loves to get involved in the kitchen and can do with this recipe by helping to grate the zucchini. This is a dish that I like to sprinkle some chili flakes onto for some extra zing.”
Bulgogi with Kimchi. “Put your piece of beef in the freezer 30 min. to 1 hour before you begin to cut, it’s easier to get very thin pieces. You can cut and marinate the day or morning before. Once that part is done, it comes together really quickly. Serve with kimchi (usually found in the refrigerator section next to the produce) and rice. Here’s the recipe I love from Savory Sweet Life.”
Vegetarian Lentil Soup.“I came across this recipe years ago when I was searching for meals that were high in iron to feed my vegetarian babies. This meal is SUPER easy to make and my kids wish they could eat it every night. I serve this soup with a side of warm pita for dipping”.
White Bean Chicken Chili. This chicken chili recipe is my absolute favorite and the ingredients are simple. I almost always use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store too (major time saver).
1 large onion, chopped
3 tsp cumin
3 15 oz cans white beans
1/2 tsp oregano
5 cups chicken broth
6-8 cloves of garlic
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 cup sour cream (not lite)
3 cups shredded monterey jack cheese (1/2 lb)
Bring onion, beans, broth to a simmer. Add chicken and simmer for 20 minutes. Add spices, garlic and simmer another 20 minutes. Add sour cream and cheese just before serving.
Mediterranean Plate. “This is a great one for an easy Friday night! Throw some red pepper hummus, toasted whole wheat pita bread, olives, feta, and cucumber or tomato on a large platter and you’re good to go. Not gonna lie – I buy everything pre-made, but it’s a real time saver and it looks so nice on the plate. Sometimes I add a little leftover roast chicken or falafel (from frozen- Trader Joes) or even canned sardines for more protein.”
Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce. “I love it because it is beyond simple (three ingredients!) and uses items that I typically already have on hand. My kids eat it too.”
Tomato Pesto Ziti. This is super yummy and easy because you don’t need to remember measurements, no cups or tsp in this recipe at all. A couple handfuls but those can be as much or little as you want. You make it once and you’ll never have to look at a recipe again!
1 onion, chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 container of prepared pesto (7 oz is the full container, so 3.5 oz)
Penne noodles (or other)
Handful of fresh spinach
1 block of mozzarella chopped into small pieces
Handful of shredded parm
Boil water and then cook noodles. In a separate skillet, saute an onion in olive oil until soft and a large add a can of chopped tomatoes. Add half a container of the pesto. Mix together in a casserole dish with cooked penne, a few handfuls of fresh spinach and chopped bites of mozzarella. Bake for about 30 minutes at 375 until juices are bubbly. Season with salt and pepper. Delicious! If you’re feeling super ambitious, you can add sausage at the beginning before the tomatoes.
Teriyaki Stirfry. “This is a teriyaki sauce from Cooks Illustrated. It is my “clean out the fridge” meal. I use whatever veggies I have on hand…carrots, peppers, onions, cabbage, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, and then stir fry it with chicken…if I have that on hand…ha! And once everything is cooked, I add the teriyaki sauce. I serve it over rice or quinoa…I really love it with quinoa”
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
2 tablespoons mirin
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger, and garlic in small saucepan; stir together mirin and cornstarch in small bowl until no lumps remain. Stir mirin mixture into saucepan. Bring sauce to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to 3/4 cup and forms syrupy glaze, about 4 minutes. Cover to keep warm.
Chicken Gyros. The easy marinate is what makes this dish so delicious. You toss the chicken in marinade and let it sit and then the rest of the dinner is less than 10 minutes of cooking and assembly away. The cold tzatziki sauce (I kind of cheat to make it super easy) and crisp veggies served with fresh fruit on the side are perfect for a hot summer day.
Toss these together and marinate for at least an hour then throw on the stove (with marinade juices) over medium-high heat right before eating:
1-2 lbs boneless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 t of dried oregano
juice of 1 lemon
2 T olive oil
1 medium onion sliced
1-2 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 t of fresh dill chopped (I used dried sometimes too)
pinch of salt and pepper
Serve the chicken on oven-warmed naan bread (we LOOVE the garlic naan from Whole Foods). Top with romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce. I love Ina’s version, but you can make an easy 2 minute version by mixing greek yogurt with a bit of lemon, olive oil, shredded cucumber (or not), dill and salt.
Grilled Chicken and Corn Summer Salad. “My all time favorite summer salad with grilled chicken and corn. It’s a HUGE hit whenever I make it too.”
Spice Rubbed Chicken and Veggie Tacos with Chipotle Cream. “This first one is one of my all time favorites! I don’t usually put the zucchini in, but I do add a red onion. Also, I normally grill the chicken on the grill and then pan fry the veggies…fajita style. The chipotle cream is an absolute must! And I’ve never tried the cilantro slaw because Justin hates cilantro so you can omit that if you’d like”
Crisp Black Bean Tacos. “I like this one because I almost always have everything for it on hand, except for the cabbage. I’ve substituted a lettuce for the cabbage in the slaw a few times, and while it doesn’t have the same crunch, it still tastes super delicious.”
Vegetarian Lentil Soup.“I came a across this recipe years ago when I was searching for meals that were high in iron to feed my vegetarian babies. This meal is SUPER easy to make and my kids wish they could eat it every night. I serve this soup with a side of warm pita for dipping”
Chickpea Curry. “If you are lucky enough to live near an Indian restaurant, pick up some naan to go along with your meal. We buy flatbread (from the deli section), then toast it in a frying pan with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then cut into triangles”.
Fancy Chicken Quesadillas. “Since arriving to the US less than a year ago, this is a new addition to our family’s meal routine. Our range cooker has a griddle which isn’t something you usually find in a UK kitchen so we are loving experimenting with it. We often make these quesadillas with leftover chicken for a fast dinner after the kids swimming class on Wednesday evenings. They’re quick and easy and the chicken can be substituted for other protein or left out for a vegetarian options.”