Nourish

Your Weeknight Meal Planner: Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less

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

It’s that time of year again—al fresco dining, rooftop drinks, evenings in the park. With warmer days ahead, we know the kitchen is not the first place you want to spend your night. This week we’ve rounded up five tasty dishes that come together in just around 30 minutes, so you can spend less time inside. Start the week with a bowl that showcases the flavors and textures of a classic Italian Caprese salad. On Tuesday, channel the sunny French Riviera with our take on a Niçoise salad, this time with salmon. Beat the mid-week blues with a Plated favorite—a high-comfort pasta recipe using just six ingredients. Thursday calls for a fancy sandwich of melty brie topped with jalapeño-apricot jam. On Friday, treat yourself to a flavorful balsamic-glazed steak and seasonal salad combo to end the week.

Set the timer and get cooking. Now, on to the recipes!

Monday: Caprese Chicken and Quinoa Bowls

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
1 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 boneless skin-on chicken breasts
6 ounces baby spinach
¼ ounce basil, divided
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
¾ pint grape tomatoes
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Instructions:
1. In a medium pot, whisk together quinoa, chicken stock, tomato paste, 1 cup water, and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside, still covered, until Step 5.

2. While quinoa cooks, pat chicken dry with paper towel; season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken skin-side down. If all of the chicken doesn’t fit in the pan at once, sear it in batches, adding oil in between as needed. Sear until skin is golden and easily lifts from pan, 6 minutes. Flip and sear opposite side until cooked through and no longer pink, 6 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate. Set aside to rest.

3. While chicken cooks, rinse all produce. Pat spinach dry with paper towel. Roughly chop basil leaves, discarding stems; alternatively, grab a kitchen helper to roughly tear the leaves. (Pro tip: This recipe can also be made without ever lifting a knife—feel free to skip slicing the chicken before serving, too!)

4. Tear fresh mozzarella into bite-size pieces (another great task for an eager kitchen helper), and place in a medium bowl. Add whole grape tomatoes and half of basil to bowl with mozzarella and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.

5. To pot with cooked quinoa, add shredded mozzarella, spinach, and half of Parmesan, and stir to combine and slightly wilt spinach. If the spinach and cheese won’t quite fit in the pot with the cooked quinoa, feel free to mix everything in a large bowl instead. If desired, cut rested chicken into ¼-inch slices.

6. Divide spinach quinoa and Caprese salad among roomy serving bowls. In bowl from salad, whisk together balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Top bowls with chicken and garnish with remaining basil and remaining Parmesan. Drizzle over balsamic vinaigrette and dig in!

Check out the 2-serving version of this recipe for a great weekday lunch!

Tuesday: Salmon Niçoise Salad

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
12 ounces green beans
1 English cucumber
2 plum tomatoes
¼ ounce chives, divided
¼ ounce parsley
1 shallot
1 pound peanut potatoes
1¼ pounds salmon
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
8 ounces mixed lettuces
½ cup Niçoise olives
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Instructions:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse all produce. Trim and discard ends of green beans (line up the ends to trim them all at once). Halve cucumber lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise on a diagonal. Halve tomatoes lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ¼-inch half-moons. Thinly slice chives. Roughly chop parsley leaves, discarding stems. Peel shallot and mince enough to yield 1 tablespoon.

2. Season boiling water generously with salt. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Then, add green beans and cook until green beans are bright green and potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife tip, about 2 minutes more. Drain and return to pot, off heat. Meanwhile, pat salmon dry with paper towel.

3. Season salmon all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add salmon flesh-side down and sear until golden on bottom, 5 minutes. Flip salmon and cover pan, keeping lid slightly ajar for steam to escape. Continue searing until salmon is cooked through and opaque, 3–5 minutes more. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

4. Place pot with green beans and potatoes over medium heat and add butter, parsley, half of chives, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Cook, stirring, until combined and butter is melted, 1–2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside until ready to serve.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together Champagne vinegar, mustard, shallot, and remaining chives. Whisking continuously, slowly add ¼ cup olive oil until fully combined. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Add mixed lettuces to bowl with vinaigrette, waiting to toss until ready to serve.

6. Niçoise salad Divide mixed lettuces among serving plates. Place salmon in center of plates. Arrange olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes on 1 side of salmon. Arrange green beans and potatoes on other side of salmon. Traditionally, this salad is served with each ingredient in its own section. You can also toss everything together with the vinaigrette, then top with the salmon fillets. Drizzle any remaining Champagne vinaigrette over salmon Niçoise salad, and dig in!

Cooking for a smaller crowd? No problem, try the 2-serving version of this salad!

Wednesday: Brown Butter Orecchiette

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
⅛ ounce fresh sage
1½ pounds spicy Italian sausage
1 pound orecchiette pasta
1 half stick unsalted butter
2 cups peas
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Instructions:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, rinse all produce. Thinly slice sage leaves, discarding stems. Kitchen time-saver: Slice the sage together in one go. Stack picked leaves, roll the stack up, then cut the roll crosswise into thin slices. Separate with your fingers, and voilà. Pat sausage dry with paper towel.

2. Season boiling water generously with salt. Stir in orecchiette and cook until al dente, 11–12 minutes. Reserve 1½ cups pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside.

3. While orecchiette cooks, heat butter in a large high-sided pan over medium heat. Swirl pan occasionally until butter turns golden and fragrant, 7–8 minutes. Brown butter is easy to make, but does require paying attention so it doesn’t burn. If possible, use a light-colored pan so you can see the color change as it cooks. Swirl the pan around or stir often. Add sausage to pan and cook, breaking up, until browned, 4–5 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. Stir in sage, then set aside until pasta has finished cooking.

4. Once pasta is cooked and drained, return pan with sausage to medium heat and add peas and orecchiette. Cook until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Adding 2 tablespoons at a time, stir in reserved pasta cooking water, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until pasta is coated and sauce clings to noodles. Starchy pasta cooking water will give your sauce a perfect consistency and help it to cling to the noodles. Keep adding it until the sauce is silky—you may need more than you think. Remove pan from heat.

5. In a small bowl, set aside 2 tablespoons Parmesan for garnishing in the next step, then add remaining Parmesan to pan with orecchiette and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.

6. Divide brown butter orecchiette, spicy sausage, and peas among serving bowls. Sprinkle over reserved Parmesan, and dig in!

Pasta for date night? Yes, please! Check out the 2-serving version of this recipe.

Thursday: Brie Crostini

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 demi-baguettes
1 jalapeño
½ ounce basil
¼ cup walnuts
2 ounces apricot preserves
8 ounces Brie
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
9 ounces baby arugula
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Rinse all produce. Cut each baguette lengthwise into 4 slices. If you have one, use a serrated knife to cut the baguettes. It will easily saw through the crisp crust for thin, even slices. Halve jalapeño lengthwise; using a knife tip, discard seeds and stem, then mince. Always wash your knife, board, and hands after cutting spicy chiles. Roughly tear basil leaves, discarding stems.

2. Arrange baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle over 1½ tablespoons olive oil and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Add walnuts to sheet with baguette slices. Toast until crostini are light golden and walnuts are fragrant, 3 minutes (they’ll continue toasting in Step 4).

3. While crostini and walnuts toast, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add jalapeño (it’s spicy, so feel free to use less) and sauté, stirring, until beginning to soften, 2–3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in apricot preserves and 1½ tablespoons water to combine. No need to heat the apricot jam once it’s added to the sautéed jalapeño— the residual heat from the pan will gently warm it through.

4. While jalapeño sautés, cut Brie rounds into ¼-inch slices. Once toasted, top crostini evenly with Brie. Bake (with walnuts) until cheese is melted, 3–5 minutes. Then, using the back of a spoon, spread Brie evenly over crostini. Top with jalapeño-apricot jam and continue baking until jam is melted and walnuts are golden, about 2 minutes more.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, mustard, 3 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to combine. Pat arugula dry with paper towel and add to bowl with dressing, along with half of walnuts, and toss to coat.

6. Divide Brie crostini among serving plates and garnish with basil and remaining walnuts. Serve with arugula salad.

Friday: Balsamic-Glazed Steak

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 lemon
2 nectarines
¼ ounce basil
4 steaks
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
9 ounces baby arugula
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
4 teaspoons balsamic glaze
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

Instructions:
1. Place almonds in a large pan over medium heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer almonds to a cutting board. Wipe pan clean and reserve, off heat, for Step 3.

2. Rinse all produce. Halve lemon. Slice off rounded sides of nectarines and thinly slice, discarding cores. Roughly chop or tear basil leaves, discarding stems.

3. Pat steaks dry with paper towel and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan from almonds over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add steaks and sear, working in batches and adding oil as needed, until browned and medium rare, 4–6 minutes per side. If you feel like firing up the grill tonight, preheat it to medium high when you start your prep, then grill the steaks for 3–4 minutes per side. Add even more smoky flavor by halving the nectarines and grilling cutside down for 2 minutes before slicing. Remove pan from heat. Transfer steaks to a plate and set aside to rest.

4. While steaks sear, in a large bowl (big enough for the salad), whisk together whole-grain mustard, juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to combine.

5. Pat arugula dry with paper towel and add to bowl with dressing, along with feta, nectarines, and basil, and toss to combine. Once rested, cut steaks into ¼-inch slices. Cutting meat against the grain ensures tenderness. Find the direction of the grain (muscle fibers) and slice across it, rather than parallel.

6. Divide nectarine, basil, and feta salad among serving plates. Top with sliced steak and drizzle over balsamic glaze. Garnish with toasted almonds and dig in!

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