I’m home from The Minimalist Kitchen book tour, and as amazing as it was to travel and talk about this labor of love, it’s so, so good to be home. Home is where I’m happiest. Home is where we make homemade dinners. At the Q&A portion of an event, someone asked, after having mentioned that we’ve lived in a lot of places, which region held my favorite restaurants. Maybe it was because I was missing home, but I said that my favorite meals to eat are the ones we make at home. Of course, we like to go out to eat here are there (here’s my favorite restaurants in Minneapolis), but we’re always most satisfied from a homemade meal. After being home for a couple days now, I stand by my answer—home is where the dinner table is. The one that has stains and indentions from Hal’s art projects and last nights dinner.
Here’s Week 3 of meal planning with The Minimalist Kitchen. I’ll post a round-up of the book tour soon. In the meantime, 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.
M Asian Kale Salad + Maple Soaked Salmon (pg. 157/pg. 102) Prep ahead: Make the salad the evening before or morning of. Soak salmon the morning of as well. This meal prepares itself during the day.
T Pesto Pasta (pg. 97) Prep ahead: Make extra pesto for Sunday’s sandwich.
W Chicken Gyros (see below) Note: Use leftover tomatoes and red onions from the night before.
T Soba Bowls (pg. 91) Note: This meal comes together so quickly, no prep is needed. However, the sauce can be prepped ahead of time.
F Night Off
S Veggie Fajitas (pg. 79) Note: Swap guac for avocado slices if limited on time. Make Single Serving Margs (pg. 221) because it’s the weekend!
S Chicken Pesto Sandwiches (pg. 142) Note: Use leftover pesto from earlier in the week. Focaccia bread isn’t carried at every grocery store. Check in the bakery section of your store or source from a co-op, Whole Foods, or local bakery. It’s worth it!
Take inspiration from the fridge.
Thinking up dinner ideas from thin air can feel a little tedious. Instead, just open up the fridge. Take inventory and use leftovers as meal planning inspiration. This solves more than just the problem of ideation. It also solves the problem of waste. Turn the leftover pesto, pickled radishes, hunk of red cabbage, or carton of yogurt into a new meal before perishing.
This silicone roasting rack has become a favorite in my kitchen since writing the book. It moonlights as a trivet and takes up minimal storage space as it stacks neatly on top of itself. It cleans up so easily as it’s dishwasher safe. Use for traditional roasting or cooking bacon in the oven. For a low mess bacon recipe, see notes on pg. 132.
These gyros coat our hands in tangy tzatziki and fill our bellies all summer long. When stuffed full, they’re filling enough on their own for dinner. I like to source the fluffiest pita or naan for these. Find the best. Marinate the chicken ahead of time for a quicker dinner prep. You can do the same with the tzatziki. I’m not a natural planner. It makes me feel like I’ve lost all spontaneity in my life. But dinner works only when I plan ahead. And when I do, it feels like it practically makes itself. When possible, find ways to make the everyday work for you, not against.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1⁄4 c. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. lemon pepper
Neutral oil cooking spray
1⁄2 c. plain whole-milk yogurt
1⁄4 c. diced English cucumber
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
1⁄8 tsp. kosher salt
A couple cracks of pepper
4 cups thinly chopped romaine (or similar green)
2 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1⁄4 red onion, thinly sliced
1⁄4 c. sliced pepperoncinis
4 to 6 (6-inch) fluffy pitas or naan
1⁄4 c. crumbled feta
Marinate the chicken in advance. Place the chicken in a freezer-safe ziplock bag and pound out to about ¾-inch thick. Add the remaining chicken ingredients except the cooking spray to the bag. Massage together and place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate for 1 to 8 hours.
Make the tzatziki. In a small bowl, stir together all of the tzatziki ingredients. Cover and store in the fridge. This can be made up to 8 hours in advance.
Remove the chicken from the fridge about 15 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. Meanwhile, prep the serving vegetables. Set aside.
Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle on medium for 5 minutes. Once hot, lightly spray the pan with cooking spray, and add the chicken to the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F. Remove the chicken from the pan, and let rest for 5 minutes on a cutting board. Cut the chicken into slices.
To serve, place the pita directly over a gas flame to char the edges. Cover to steam. (If working on an electric stovetop, heat the pita on a warmed pan, and cover to steam.) Stuff each pita with the lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, red onion, and pepperoncinis. Drizzle liberally with the tzatziki sauce and sprinkle with the feta.
• Turn this meal into a salad, serving warmed naan wedges on the side. • I use this same chicken marinade when making chicken fajitas. In this case, there’s no need to reinvent the recipe since they share similar flavor profiles.
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