I had the best salad at this little cafe in Boston called Za. It was one of their incredible blackboard specials; mixed greens topped with ricotta salata and fried eggplant and the freshest mix of tomatoes and red onions and my god was it incredible. So incredible that it is the inspiration for this week's menu, only this time, I'll be amping it up with toasted pine nuts and a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. OMFG I can't wait.
Here's what I'm making:
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Pantry Items Olive oil (regular and extra virgin) Canola or peanut oil Balsamic vinegar Cooking spray Chicken stock Heavy cream Eggs Flour Panko breadcrumbs Parmesan Raspberry jam Salsa Reduced fat sour cream Dried parsley Dried basil Cayenne pepper Chili powder Crushed red pepper Salt Pepper Dry Sherry, optional for pasta
Grocery List based on servings for 2 w/ leftovers 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts ½ lb shrimp, fresh or frozen 1 large eggplant 2 oz ricotta salata 4 oz fresh mozzarella 6 oz shredded cheddar cheese 1 medium yellow onion 1 medium red onion 1 red bell pepper 1-2 heads garlic 2 limes 3 tomatoes 1 bunch arugula 1 head lettuce 1 bunch fresh cilantro 1 package button or cremini mushrooms 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes 1 can black beans 1 package penne Whole wheat tortillas ¼ cup pine nuts
Day 1 - Ricotta Salata, Crispy Eggplant & Arugula w/ Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette *Makes extra Crispy Eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and slice eggplant into ½-inch-thick round disks. (If wanted, you can salt the slices, set on a rack, cover and let sit for an hour to remove excess moisture and bitterness. Rinse off excess salt when done).
Set up a 3-part breading station with flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan, parsley, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper and dip into flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs, pressing to coat.
Coat a nonstick baking sheet lightly with oil and arrange eggplant slices in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and bake about 30 minutes, flipping once until crisp and browned once both sides. *Reserve half for use in day 2.
Meanwhile, lightly toast pine nuts in a pan and prepare raspberry balsamic dressing by whisking 1 tsp raspberry jam, 1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar, and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss arugula, ½ sliced red onion, 1 wedged tomato, and toasted pine nuts. *Reserve half for day 2.
Top salad with ricotta salata and crispy eggplant. Drizzle with raspberry balsamic and serve.
Day 2 - Broiled Eggplant Parmesan *Uses leftover Crispy Eggplant *Makes leftover Marinara for Shrimp & Penne in Tomato Cream Sauce
Heat a skillet over medium-high and coat with olive oil. Add ½ chopped medium onion, salt, and crushed red pepper, sautéing until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cloves minced garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, a pinch of dried basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes. *Set half aside for use in day 4.
Heat broiler to high.
Coat a baking dish with cooking spray and add a spoonful of sauce to lightly coat bottom. Arrange eggplant into dish and top with marinara and slices of fresh mozzarella. Top with grated parmesan.
Broil until dish is bubbly and cheese is golden brown on top.
Serve hot w/ leftover arugula salad & raspberry balsamic.
Day 3 - Cilantro Lime Chicken Salad *Makes leftover Grilled Chicken
Rub chicken breasts with 2 tbsp olive oil, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, salt, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tbsp lime juice, and 1 tbsp chopped cilantro.
Heat a large non-stick grill pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Add chicken and grill until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes per side. *Set half the chicken aside for use in day 5.
Meanwhile, toss chopped lettuce, 1 chopped tomato, ½ sliced red onion, ½ sliced red bell pepper, and ¼ cup rinsed black beans. Top with slice grilled chicken, shredded cheddar, and serve with salsa, sour cream, and lime.
Day 4 - Shrimp, Mushrooms & Penne in Tomato Cream Sauce *Uses leftover Marinara
Heat a large saucepan over medium-heat and coat lightly with oil. Add sliced mushrooms, 2 cloves minced garlic, salt and crushed red pepper, cooking until softened, about 5 minutes. If using sherry, deglaze the pan with ¼ cup.
Stir in ¼ cup chicken stock and leftover marinara. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
Defrost, peel, and de-vein shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and add to sauce. Once opaque and cooked through, add in ¼ cup heavy cream.
Meanwhile, cook 2 portions penne according to package instructions.
Toss pasta with sauce and shrimp and serve hot topped with parmesan.
Day 5 -Grilled Chicken Burritos *Uses leftover Grilled Chicken
Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat lightly with oil. Add ½ slice yellow onion, ½ sliced red bell pepper, and 2-3 cloves minced garlic, sautéing until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of chili powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to taste.
Shred leftover chicken and add to pan with ¼ cup salsa, ¼ cup rinsed and drained black beans, and chopped fresh cilantro, cooking to warm through.
Warm tortillas and pile mixture into center and top with shredded cheddar cheese. Fold to form burritos and place back into the grill pan coated with cooking spray, browning on both sides.
Slice and serve hot w/ a side of salsa and sour cream.
Enjoy and in case you missed it, check out last week's menu with healthier takes on Asian Potstickers and Mac & Cheese!