Last week, I began my menu planning journey with What's Cooking Next Week?, coming up with a flavorful menu to get me through the workweek. That and the bottle of wine I housed on Wednesday definitely helped, so I'm back at it again for next week. Here's what's cooking.
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Pantry Items Cooking oil (I prefer regular olive oil) Cooking spray Balsamic vinegar Red wine vinegar Extra virgin olive oil Butter Dijon mustard Chicken broth Tube of tomato paste Kosher salt Pepper Crushed red pepper Dried Oregano Ground cumin Fennel seeds
Grocery List - Amounts based on servings for two people 1 lb Hot or Sweet Italian sausage (I like to lighten it up with Jennie-O's Italian Turkey Sausage Links) 2 boneless skin on chicken breasts (or buy in bulk and freeze) ½ lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined Grated parmigiano-reggiano 8 oz feta 1 small carton heavy cream 1 large package mixed greens 4 extra large bell peppers (I buy 3 red and 1 yellow) 2-3 heads garlic 2 large yellow onions 1 small red onion 1 package cherry tomatoes 1 cucumber 1 large or 2 small zucchini 1 large or 2 small yellow squash 2-3 lemons 1 bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley 1 bunch basil (perhaps you have some left from last week, you only need a bit) 1 small container Kalamata olives (check if your grocer's salad bar has good olives and get from there) 1 package whole wheat pita (I like a really good fresh baked kind) 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes 1 can chickpeas 1 pint vodka (or a large bottle - I'm sure you could figure out what to do with the rest)
Day 1 - Greek Salad w/ Grilled Shrimp & Pita
Place cleaned shrimp in bowl and toss with 1-2 tbsp olive oil, lemon zest, the juice of ½ lemon, 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, salt, & crushed red pepper. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and coat lightly with olive oil. Add shrimp and cook until opaque and slightly curly, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook on other side until pink and cooked through, about 1-2 more minutes. Remove from pan and prepare salad.
For the dressing, make a simple vinaigrette by whisking together 1 clove minced garlic, ½ tsp Dijon mustard, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly whisk in ½ cup good extra virgin olive oil.
In a large bowl, mix together ½ package mixed greens, ½ thinly sliced yellow bell pepper, ½ thinly sliced red onion, ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes, ½ cucumber peeled and sliced, ½ cup crumbled feta cheese, ½ cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed, and desired amount of kalamata olives. Toss with ½ of the prepared dressing and save the remainder for later in the week. Also save remaining vegetables and cheese for use later in the week.
Divide salad onto 2 plates and top with grilled shrimp. Serve with side of toasted pita, drizzled lightly with olive oil and sprinkled with oregano & crushed red pepper.
Day 2 - Whole Wheat Penne w/ Vodka Sauce
This can be made ahead of time and frozen or on a night where you have some time. Note: this recipe will make more than 2 servings.
Preheat large saucepan over medium heat. Coat with olive oil and add 2 links of sausage, removed from casing and crumbled. Freeze the rest of the sausage for use later in the week. If using a sweet Italian sausage (like Jennie-O's) and you want to add some heat, add a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper. Sauté crumbled sausage until nicely browned (browned food always tastes better!) before adding in 1 chopped medium yellow onion. Cook until onions are translucent, about 10-15 minutes then add 4-5 (or if you're a garlic lover like me, 8-10) cloves garlic, minced. Cook for another couple minutes and add ½ cup vodka. Allow the alcohol to cook off, about 5-7 minutes. Next, add 1 can crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to marry. Next, stir in 2/3 cup of heavy cream and chopped fresh basil and cook for 5 more minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, prepare whole wheat penne according to package directions (I always do one minute less for the perfect al dente, but go ahead and taste as it's cooking so it's just right for you).
Toss pasta with grated parm, then with sauce. Top with additional parm and more fresh basil if desired.
Day 3 - Couscous & Feta Stuffed Peppers w/ Mixed Greens
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 peppers by cutting off tops and scooping out ribs and seeds (like you're making a bowl out of the peppers). Place peppers in baking dish coated with cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes until softened. Set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare box of couscous according to package directions, substituting chicken broth for water and adding ½ tsp ground cumin for extra flavor. Refrigerate half for use later in the week.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat with olive oil and add ½ cup chopped zucchini, ½ cup chopped yellow squash, and ½ chopped yellow onion. Add ½ tsp fennel seeds, and salt and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add a couple cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute. Remove mixture from heat, add 1 tbsp tomato paste, ½ cup halved cherry tomatoes, ½ cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed. Add mixture to remaining couscous and mix in ½ cup crumbled feta. Add a bit of olive oil if mixture is too dry.
Stuff the peppers and bake for 15 minutes. Top with fresh chopped parsley or basil (whatever you have on hand).
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup good extra virgin olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste. Top with mixed greens, toss and serve along side of the Couscous & Feta Stuffed Peppers.
Day 4 - Lemon Chicken Breasts w/ Roasted Zucchini & Squash over Couscous
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat cast iron (or other oven safe) skillet over medium heat and coat with good olive oil. Pat chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. Cook chicken skin side down until skin is crisp and browned, about 5-6 minutes depending on size of breasts. Flip the chicken skin side up and off the heat, add 1/3 cup chicken stock, lemon zest, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2-3 cloves minced garlic, ½ tsp dried oregano, and 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley. Cut ½ lemon into wedges and arrange around chicken. Bake 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and skin is browned. Cover with foil and let rest.
Meanwhile, toss sliced zucchini and squash with olive oil, lemon zest, 1 clove minced garlic, salt and crushed red pepper. Spread on baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes or until crisp, turning halfway through and sprinkling with grated parm. Reheat leftover couscous.
Slice chicken and serve over couscous with pan juices and roasted vegetables.
Day 5 - Sausage & Peppers Pitas w/ Tomato & Cucumber Salad
Heat large skillet over medium high heat and coat with olive oil. Add the sausages and cook until browned on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Remove sausages and set aside. If too greasy, pour out a bit of oil. Add ½ onion sliced, and leftover red and yellow bell peppers sliced, cooking about 5-7 minutes until softened. Mix in ½ tbsp tomato paste, 2-3 cloves minced garlic (or more!) and a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper. Slice sausages and add to pan to cook through, about 7-9 minutes. Stir in ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute.
Meanwhile, toss halved tomatoes and quartered chunks of cucumber with leftover red wine vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
Warm pitas in oven until lightly toasted. Divide sausage and peppers into folded pitas and serve with tomato salad.
Reminder: leftover vodka is calling your name. Enjoy!