Top 5 Everyday Exotic Dinners

Unless I'm feeling particularly inspired, throwing a party or testing out recipes for a blog post, on a daily basis I often fall into the same old pasta, chicken, whatever rotation. There's only so many nights, however, that a person can stand the same old boring thing before one's taste buds threaten to go on strike. After a particularly boring week in the way of culinary endeavors I found five incredibly easy dinner recipes that include things I eat normally spiced up with tasty, exotic twists.

5. Representing North Africa: Spaghetti Squash with Moroccan Spices

Spaghetti Squash is easily one of my favorite discoveries as it is a nutritious pasta alternative, insanely easy to cook up and just plain cool. The Moroccan-inspired spices give the mild squash really good flavor and because the squash is just as good cooked in the microwave as it is in the oven, it's super quick to make.

4. Representing Australia: Vegemite Chicken

You either like Vegemite or you hate it. Personally, I can't see what's not to like, as it's savory, salty and reminiscent of meat though it is a vegetarian product. Vegemite also happens to be pretty healthy despite the salt content. Some prefer their Vegemite spread on toast or with cheese, but I prefer using this Aussie import to make ridiculously tasty, sweet and savory chicken. You can also use Marmite, but if you do, please let me know if you can tell the different between the two because I can't.

3. Representing India: Tandoori Spiced Flank Steak

When in need of red meat, it's amazing what just a few spices can do to completely change a boring, old steak. The marinade in this recipe helps to pump up and tenderize the lean flank steak giving tons of flavor without any added fat. Pair this with some simple greens and naan for a much more interesting steak night. If you feel like getting a little fancier, this slightly more involved tandoori steak recipe is delightful.

2. Representing South America: Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf

While I have absolutely no idea if Peruvians enjoy turkey and quinoa meatloaf, I certainly enjoy their spices in it. The quinoa gives the turkey wonderful texture and nutty flavor that more than makes up for the lack of beef. My favorite part of this recipe, though, is the spice blend that includes Aji Amarillo and cumin. This is definitely not your mama's meatloaf. If you insist on taking the fun out of it, you can use a jalapeno instead like this recipe.

1. Representing the Caribbean: Jerk Tilapia

A few years ago when my palate was still very uneducated, I went to Jamaica and managed to avoid all jerk-flavored foods aside from one teeny, tiny bite. Obviously I was insane then and with my newfound sanity I can now fully appreciate jerk seasoning. As a pretty widely available and versatile fish, mild tilapia and intense, complex jerk seasoning make for a happy marriage. Admittedly, this one requires quite a bit of ingredients, but you'll want to make a big batch of the seasoning to "jerk" other proteins.

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