We’ve made it to Week 4, the final week, of meal planning with The Minimalist Kitchen. Thank you for cooking along! It’s funny, this book is a cookbook, yes. But’s it’s also a resource guide, with the recipes standing in as teachers (delicious teachers) showing your how to make your pared down, minimalist kitchen work to its fullest potential. If I had a dream, it would be that dinnertime would feel really doable, and that the kitchen might produce more joy (and food) than frustration. To that end, I’ve focused on super simple weeknight dinners this week.
I’d like to give a huge thank you to OXO for making the tour (online and in real life) possible. I’ve been leaning on their tools since day 1 in my kitchen. PS—If you’re cooking from the book, I’d love to see! Tag it #theminimalistkitchen or share a review and pictures on Amazon. Happy cooking.
Meal Plan: Week 4
M Kitchen-Sink Lentil Bowls (pg. 87)
Prep ahead: No prep needed. But for a super quick dinner or lunch, the lentils, carrots and sauce can be prepped in advance, if needed.
T Takeout Cashew Chicken (see below)
W Pan-Fried White Fish + House Salad (pg. 105/pg. 161)
Prep ahead: Make the vinaigrette in advance for a quick salad prep and easy salads throughout the week.
T Quick Vodka Pasta (pg. 95)
F Roasted Chickpea Bánh Mì Salad (pg. 158)
Prep ahead: Make the pickled radishes and carrots (or use up other pickled veggies here), avocado crema, and croutons in advance for a more efficient prep time, if needed.
S Night Off
S Crispy Pizza with Caramelized Onions (pg. 81)
Prep ahead: Make the caramelize onions and sauce in advance for a more efficient prep time, if needed
Make sure you can see the plan.
It’s true of my pantry—if I can see the ingredients, I use them. Out of sight is often out of mind. The same is true of a meal plan. When I can see it, I’m more prone to follow through with it. I have to help myself out in every way possible when it comes to dinnertime. For that reason, we have a 90lb. chalkboard hanging in the dining room. A visible plan is the best plan. (I’m working on a post with more meal planning design ideas coming soon.)
While I’m a big believer in being able to see your meal plan, I’m also a believer in keeping track of previous meal plans for reuse. To do so, create an excel document or keep a meal planner. Two friends have designed their own beautiful meal planners—FoodieCrush (Nourished Planner) and Love & Lemons (Meal Record & Market List).
Photography ©2018 by Time Inc. Books
Takeout Cashew Chicken
I’m not good at ordering takeout like my friends who keep a list of restaurants in their phone. The reason is, I can be pretty particular about meat. So much so, I’m often mistaken for a vegetarian. One good thing that’s come of it: I’ve gotten pretty good at cooking takeout at home. If you’re crazy like me (or not), I think you’ll love this salty-sweet dish. Aside from the rice, it comes together in a crowded cast-iron skillet. By the end of cooking, though, it fits in the pan perfectly, which feels like a victory for my minimal mind-set. Of course, if you have a wok, use it in place of the cast-iron skillet. Let’s just rename this Stay-in Cashew Chicken, or something like that
- 1 1⁄2 c. rice
- 1 tbsp. salted butter
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1⁄4 c. honey
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tbsp. neutral oil
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 3 c. broccoli florets (about 2 heads)
- 2 large carrots, thinly sliced rounds (about 1 cup)
- 1 c. frozen shelled edamame
- 1⁄2 c. chopped cashews
- 2 green onions, sliced
- Sriracha or harissa (optional)
Make the rice. In a small saucepan, cook the rice according to the package instructions, adding the butter and salt.
Assemble the sauce. Stir together all the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
Make the stir-fry. In a medium bowl, combine the cornstarch and salt. Pat the chicken dry, cut into cubes, and add to the cornstarch mixture, tossing to coat. Set aside. Prepare the vegetables.
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Once warm, add the neutral and sesame oils. Add the chicken, and cook for 4 minutes or until lightly browned but not cooked all the way through. Lower heat to medium, and add the broccoli, carrots, and edamame. The pan will be exceptionally full at first. Cook 5 minutes or until the vegetables are barely tender and the chicken is done, stirring frequently.
Pour the prepared sauce over the chicken and vegetables. Cook for a minute more. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve over the rice.
Garnish with the cashews, green onions, and, if desired, Sriracha.
Swap out broccoli for snap peas or cauliflower, or cashews for peanuts.