Your Weeknight Meal Planner: Reinventing Takeout Favorites

Get inspired for the week ahead with our top picks from this week’s menu.

Here at Plated, we obviously love cooking and everything that comes with it but we all have nights where we crave our takeout favorites. This week, recreate some of those dishes from the comfort of your kitchen. Start the week with a cheffy take on lo mein, where saucy noodles are topped with salmon. Tuesday calls for a classic cobb salad with our signature Greek yogurt ranch. Next, move on to a veggie-focused, sushi-inspired bowl. On Thursday, it’s time for some Italian comfort food with much-loved spaghetti and meatballs. Finish the week with a super-speedy pizza, of course!

Put down the takeout menu and get cooking. Now, on to the recipes!

Monday: Sesame-Crusted Salmon

(Serves 4)

1 pound broccoli florets
3 tablespoons pickled ginger
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup mirin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
1¼ pounds salmon
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
¾ cup shredded carrots
¾ cup shredded red cabbage
¾ cup shredded green cabbage
1 pound long life noodles
canola oil
kosher salt
black pepper

This recipe gets even easier with a friend. Call in an eager helper to whisk the sauce and crust the salmon in Step 1, then separate the noodles in Step 4 (to keep them from sticking).

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse all produce. Cut broccoli into ½ inch–wide florets, if needed. Roughly chop pickled ginger. Mince garlic. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch, mirin, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and ½ cup water to fully combine. Set aside. Pat salmon very dry with paper towel; season all over with 1 teaspoon salt. Gently press sesame seeds into flesh. Press all the sesame seeds into the salmon’s flesh to avoid burning any while the skin crisps.

2. Heat 1½ tablespoons canola oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add salmon skin-side up; sear until seeds are golden on bottom, 5 minutes. Flip salmon and cover pan, keeping lid slightly ajar for steam to escape. Continue searing until fish is cooked through and opaque, 3–5 minutes more. (If you’d prefer to save on cleanup, transfer salmon to a plate, then wipe pan clean for the next step.)

3. While salmon sears, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large high-sided pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add broccoli and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3–4 minutes. Add slaw mix and sauté until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat and set aside until Step 5.

4. Season boiling water generously with salt. Over a clean, dry surface, use your hands to gently separate long life noodles (don’t worry if some are gummy and stubbornly stuck together; they’ll still taste great). Add noodles to boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until al dente, 2–3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water for 30 seconds to stop cooking.

5. Return pan with vegetables to medium-high heat. When vegetables are sizzling, add soy-ginger sauce (give it another good whisk to reincorporate cornstarch and sugar, if needed). Cook, stirring, until sauce is reduced by half and coats vegetables, 3–4 minutes. Add cooked long life noodles and toss to coat, 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

6. Divide vegetable lo mein among serving plates. Top with sesame-crusted salmon and enjoy!

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad

(Serves 4)

12 ounces oyster mushrooms
2 heads little gem lettuce
½ pint grape tomatoes
¼ ounce chives
1 lemon
2 tablespoons hickory barbecue seasoning
½ tablespoon dark brown sugar
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 ounces mayonnaise
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 avocados
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Preheat grill to medium heat, if using. No outdoor grill or grill pan? When seasoning the chicken in Step 3, you can skip rubbing with oil; then, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken; sear, working in batches and adding oil in between as needed, until cooked through and no longer pink, 6 minutes per side. Remove and discard mushroom stems, then wipe caps clean with a damp paper towel and cut into ¼-inch slices. Halve little gem lengthwise and rinse thoroughly, then thinly slice leaves crosswise, discarding tough stems. Rinse remaining produce. Halve tomatoes. Thinly slice chives. Halve lemon.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together hickory barbecue seasoning, brown sugar, and 1½ tablespoons olive oil to combine. Add mushrooms to bowl and toss to coat, then spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Roast until caramelized and crispy, about 15 minutes, then set aside until ready to serve.

3. While mushrooms roast, if using a grill pan, place it over medium-high heat now. Pat chicken dry with paper towel and rub all over with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. When grill is just smoking, add chicken and cook until lightly charred, cooked through, and no longer pink, 4– 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest for about 5 minutes.

4. While chicken rests, in a large bowl (big enough for the salad), whisk together mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, chives, juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons water, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to combine. Transfer half of Greek yogurt ranch to a small bowl and set aside for serving.

5. Once rested, cut grilled chicken into ¼- inch slices. Halve avocados and discard pits; carefully scoop out flesh, discarding skins, then cut into small dice.

6. Add little gem to large bowl with ranch; toss to coat, then divide among serving plates. Top with caramelized mushrooms, tomatoes, grilled chicken, and sliced avocado. Garnish with blue cheese, drizzle over reserved Greek yogurt ranch.

Wednesday: Vegetable Sushi Bowl

(Serves 4)

1½ cups sticky rice
¼ cup sushi vinegar, divided
1 English cucumber
3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce, divided
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, divided
½ pound cremini mushrooms
½ pound shiitake mushrooms
12 ounces carrots
⅓ cup sesame oil, divided
2 teaspoons wasabi paste
½ cup mayonnaise
2 avocados
2 nori sheets
kosher salt
black pepper

1. In a medium pot, combine rice, 2 cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir once, reduce heat to low, then cover pot and cook until water is fully absorbed, 12 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes. When cooking rice, exact timing is crucial, as is keeping it covered—no peeking! Fluff rice with a fork and stir in2 tablespoons sushi vinegar, reserving remainder for next step. Cover pot to keep warm and set aside.

2. While rice cooks, rinse cucumber and quarter lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ¼-inch pieces. Place in a medium bowl with 2 packets soy sauce, half of sesame seeds, remaining sushi vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Set aside until Step 6. Remove and discard mushroom stems, then wipe caps clean with a damp paper towel and roughly chop. Wiping mushrooms clean instead of rinsing prevents them from absorbing water. They won’t brown well if they’re too wet. Rinse carrots and cut crosswise on a diagonal into ½-inch slices.

3. Heat half of sesame oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, 8–10 minutes (move on to Step 4, but don’t forget to come back!). Add remaining soy sauce and cook until liquid is reduced and slightly thickened, about 30 seconds more. Remove pan from heat and add pepper (no need for salt; the soy sauce adds saltiness here). Set aside.

4. While mushrooms cook, heat remaining sesame oil in a separate large pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add remaining sesame seeds and stir to combine, 1 minute more. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

5. While carrots cook, in a small bowl, stir together wasabi and mayonnaise to fully combine (wasabi is spicy, so start with 1 packet and add more depending on your taste preferences). Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired.

6. Halve avocados and discard pits. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out flesh, discarding skins, then thinly slice. Break nori into small pieces. Divide sticky rice among serving bowls. Once vegetables are cooked, top rice with sections of cucumber, mushrooms, carrots, avocado, and nori. Drizzle over wasabi mayo and dig in!

The 2-serving version of this dish also makes a great work lunch!

Thursday: Spaghetti and Meatballs

(Serves 4)

¼ ounce parsley, divided
2 shallots
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1½ pounds ground beef 1
pound fresh spaghetti
2 16-ounce jars marinara sauce
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse parsley, pat very dry with paper towel, and roughly chop leaves, discarding stems. Peel shallots and mince. Mince garlic. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside for Step 3.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large high-sided pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add shallots and garlic and sauté, stirring, until shallots are softened, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, reserving pan for Step 5. Add breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons ricotta (feel free to dollop remaining ricotta over the pasta in Step 6), half of parsley, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to bowl with aromatics. Pat beef dry with paper towel and add to bowl.

3. Using your hands, mix meatball mixture to thoroughly combine, then form into 20 equal balls, about 1½ inches thick (call on your hungry companions to help you with this part!). Arrange meatballs in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, spacing apart as much as possible. Bake until cooked through and slightly browned, 15–18 minutes.

4. While meatballs bake, season boiling water generously with salt. Add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 2–3 minutes (fresh pasta tends to stick together more than dried pasta, but stirring can help prevent this—and trust us, it’s worth it!). Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside.

5. Use any remaining downtime while meatballs bake to pour a glass of something special (see recipe tip). Once meatballs are browned, return pan from aromatics to medium heat, add marinara sauce, and bring to a simmer. Stir in cooked spaghetti. Add reserved pasta cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until sauce is silky and clings to noodles. Add baked meatballs to pan with spaghetti and stir to coat.

6. Divide spaghetti and meatballs among serving plates, then sprinkle over Parmesan and remaining parsley. Dig in!

Spaghetti and meatballs for date night? Yes, please. Check out the 2-serving version of this recipe and opt for an Italian red wine to match. Try a Nebbiolo—its high levels of tannins and earthy flavors are a perfect match for the beef and sauce. Plus, it’s an excellent value, as it’s from the same region (and made from the same grape) as its more expensive cousins, Barolo and Barbaresco.

Friday: Four-Cheese Pizza

(Serves 4)

1½ pounds pizza dough
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons flour
¾ teaspoon dried basil
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
2 ounces shredded Fontina cheese
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
2 ounces shredded provolone cheese
½ ounce basil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Remove pizza dough from bag and let soften at room temperature. Pizza dough softens as it warms—the longer you let it sit at room temperature, the easier it’ll be to roll out. We recommend about 15 minutes. Place whole garlic cloves on a small piece of foil, drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil, and season with a pinch of salt. Bring edges of foil together and seal to form a pouch. Place garlic pouch in oven and roast until garlic is tender, 7 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. While garlic roasts, sprinkle flour onto a clean, dry surface, coating a rolling pin or your hands with a thin layer. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Roll or stretch doughs into rectangular shapes, rotating frequently and working from center to edges, until ¼-inch thick—this is a great task for a kitchen helper. If you don’t have a rolling pin, try lifting the dough with your hands, letting gravity help stretch it down. Using your fingers, gently pull the edges, feeling for thicker areas so the dough doesn’t tear.

3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment papers and rub each with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add doughs, stretching to reach edges of sheets, and rub 1 teaspoon olive oil on top of each, leaving a 1-inch border. Scatter over spice mix, Fontina, mozzarella, and provolone (enlist your helpers for this step). Bake until crusts are crisp and cheese is bubbling, switching baking sheets halfway through if on separate racks, 10–12 minutes total.

4. While pizzas bake, rinse basil and roughly chop or have your helpers tear the leaves, discarding stems. Rinse tomatoes and halve (this keeps the tomatoes from rolling off your pizza, but you can also leave them whole).

5. Carefully open garlic pouch to allow steam to escape. Place roasted garlic in a medium bowl and mash with a fork until smooth. Whisk in balsamic vinegar, 3 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Add basil and tomatoes to bowl with vinaigrette and toss to combine. Set aside until pizzas are baked.

6. Sprinkle Parmesan over four-cheese pizzas, then spoon over cherry tomatoes and basil. Cut into slices and dig in!

Make the 2-serving version of this pizza next time the kids are out.

Love experimenting in the kitchen? Try Plated!

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