By Elke Probkevitz
We all get into that weeknight dinner funk where we’ve had enough of the usual dinners but we just can’t come up with anything original. Our dinner repertoire might just need a makeover. Let’s whip up something new for dinner and give our families a bite of something interesting.
Other-crusted chicken. Who says chicken needs to be encrusted in breadcrumbs? Try something new like crushed pretzels, crackers, a nut-and-spice mixture (pistachio is my nut of choice), or a grain like quinoa. Treat it the same as you would breadcrumbs, dipping the chicken in egg or coating in mustard before dredging in the coating of your choice. You will be surprised at how delicious these options are.
Breakfast for dinner. Who says eggs and pancakes are only for dinner? Eggs have so many variations, you can probably have them for all three meals of the day and still not get sick of them. Make an omelet or frittata filled with fresh veggies like asparagus, wild mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, spinach, or whatever you prefer. Add mozzarella or feta cheese. Opt for an Israeli dish of shakshuka with a simmering tomato and red-pepper sauce with poached eggs inside. Serve over brown rice or faro to make it a more filling dish.
Pancakes come in all flavors as well. Make a savory pancake with ricotta cheese as the base and serve with a little blueberry jam on top. Masa corn cakes made of corn meal with corn kernels are delicious and can be accompanied by sour cream, guacamole, and a fresh salsa.
Poached fish. Poached fish is an easy weeknight dinner that’s full of flavor and ready in no time. Simmer a white flaky fish in poaching liquid like olive oil, broth, white wine, or a combination. Add flavorful aromatics like fresh thyme or any herbs, lemon, shallots, and garlic. Simmer low and slow for about 20 minutes. Serve with a grain and fresh salad.
Meal in a bowl. Food looks beautiful when presented correctly, and one way to do this is to pile it up. Prepare a grain of your choice: brown or white rice, quinoa, faro, or bulgur. Place ¼ cup in the center of the bowl. Prepare a puréed vegetable soup. I like to roast tomatoes and garlic in the oven with a little olive oil and sea salt until caramelized and place it in a pot with some onions and garlic. Add vegetable stock and coconut milk and simmer. Purée with an immersion blender. Pour the soup around the grain and top with a protein of choice—a seared piece of fish, chicken, or steak. Voilà! An impressive, quality dinner your family will think you purchased at a restaurant and tried to pass off as your own. v
With Grains And Feta
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
¾ tsp. salt, plus more as needed
¼ tsp. black pepper
1¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled and divided
6 large eggs
4 cups cooked grains (brown rice, faro, or grain of choice)
chopped cilantro, for serving
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and red pepper. Cook until vegetables are softened, 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1–2 minutes. Add in cumin, paprika, and cayenne and cook 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until tomatoes have thickened, 10 minutes. Stir in half of the crumbled feta.
Gently crack eggs into a small glass bowl, then transfer into the skillet over tomatoes. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover skillet tightly with lid and simmer until eggs are just set, 7–10 minutes.
Pile some of the cooked grains at the bottom of each bowl and top with big scoops of sauce with an egg or two. Top off each bowl with some crumbled feta cheese and cilantro.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.