Nourish

Your Weeknight Meal Planner: The Spice is Right

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

Our chefs know that if you start with quality ingredients, you don’t need much else to help them shine. That being said, what are commonly seen as “additions” to a meal—like herbs or spices—are actually big-star ingredients in their own right. We love to show off the way they can enhance a food’s natural flavors, or tie together seemingly disparate ingredients, sometimes in totally unexpected ways. This week, steal all the typical spice and subtle heat from Spanish chorizo, for a meaty beet filling in vegetarian tacos. To garnish a chicken, farro, and late-summer squash salad, add crunchy almonds tossed in smoky hickory barbecue spice. And if you thought our sweet-salty obsession ran deep, wait ’til you hear about sweet-salty-spiced. Our no-churn chai ice cream (garnished with dried rose petals, to boot) is here to answer all of your autumn prayers, no machine required.

Can’t find these spices where you usually shop? We’ve included some details for DIY blending, where it makes sense—or, you could always sign up for Plated and get exactly the right amount to spice up each dinner. Now, on to the recipes!

Beet Tacos

Monday: Chorizo-Spiced Beet Tacos

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
1 pound red beets
2 tomatoes
2 limes
4 scallions
¼ ounce cilantro
2 teaspoons chorizo spice mix (includes dried chiles, garlic, paprika, salt, sugar)
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans
12 corn tortillas
2 avocados
4 ounces queso blanco

Instructions:
Want to get a kitchen helper in on the fun? They can toss the beets in Step 2, wrap the tortillas and make the salsa in Step 4, then build the tacos in Step 6.

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse all produce. Peel beets, halve, and cut into ¼-inch half-moons. Hold each beet in 1 hand with a paper towel (to keep from staining) and peel with the other. No peeler? Trim ends of beets and stand on your cutting board. Then, cut downward, following the curve of the beet, to remove skin. Roughly chop tomatoes. If you have a zester and want to infuse your beans with even more flavor, zest up to 1 lime, then halve both limes, and cut 1 lime into wedges for serving. Trim and discard scallion roots and thinly slice, keeping whites and light greens separate from dark greens. Finely chop cilantro leaves and stems.

2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. On prepared sheet, toss beets with chorizo spice mix, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Arrange in a single layer and roast until golden brown and softened, 20–22 minutes.

3. While beets roast, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add scallion whites and light greens; cook, stirring, until softened, 1 minute. Add pinto beans and their liquid; cook until liquid is reduced by ¾, 12–14 minutes more. Remove from heat. Using a fork or potato masher, mash beans until smooth, then stir in lime zest (if using) and half of cilantro. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired.

4. Stack tortillas and wrap loosely in foil, leaving a small opening in the pouch for steam to escape. Place in oven (with beets) to warm for 5–10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, too tomato, scallion greens, juice of 1 lime, 2 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired to combine.

5. Halve avocados and discard pits; carefully scoop out flesh, discarding skin, then thinly slice.

6. Divide tortillas among serving plates. Layer with refried beans, chorizo-spiced beets, and tomato salsa. Crumble over queso blanco, then top with avocado. Garnish with remaining cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.

Chinese 5-Spice Flounder

Tuesday: Chinese 5-Spice Flounder

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
5.46 ounces coconut milk (or half of a 13.66-ounce can)
1 cup sticky rice
8 mini sweet peppers
2 scallions
¼ ounce ginger
2 cloves garlic
½ cup gluten-free soy sauce
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1¼ pounds flounder
½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder (that’s anise seed, fennel, cinnamon, clove, black pepper)
8 ounces sugar snap peas

Instructions:
Cooking with a sous chef tonight? Helping hands can whisk the stir-fry sauce in Step 3, season the flounder before roasting in Step 4, and sprinkle over the scallion garnish when it’s time to serve.

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Open coconut milk and pour into a small pot. Coconut milk solids naturally separate from the liquids during transit, but come together during cooking. Vigorously shake the can before opening to avoid a messy splatter. Add rice, 1 cup water, and ½ teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until liquid is fully absorbed, 14–16 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes.

2. While rice cooks, rinse all produce. Thinly slice mini peppers crosswise, discarding seeds and stems (don’t stress —do your best and move on!). Trim and discard scallion roots and thinly slice, keeping whites and light greens separate from dark greens. Trim and discard skin of ginger and mince. Mince garlic.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and garlic until sugar is dissolved and sauce is fully combined. Set aside for Step 5.

4. Line a baking sheet with foil and rub with 1 teaspoon canola oil. Pat flounder dry with paper towel and place on prepared baking sheet. Season all over with Chinese 5-spice powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper as desired. Roast until fish is opaque and cooked through, 7–8 minutes.

5. While flounder roasts, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add snap peas, mini peppers, and scallion whites and light greens. Cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, 2–3 minutes. Add sauce to pan with vegetables and cook, stirring, until sticky and coating vegetables, 4–6 minutes more.

6. Divide coconut rice and vegetable stirfry among serving plates. Top with Chinese 5-spice flounder, garnish with scallion dark greens.

Chicken, Farro, and Squash Salad

Wednesday: Chicken, Farro, and Summer Squash Salad

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
1 pint grape tomatoes
¼ ounce tarragon
2 lemons
¼ cup hickory-smoked almonds
1 shallot
4 boneless skin-on chicken breasts
1½ cups farro
12 ounces summer squash
4 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
Cooking with a helper tonight? They can pick the tarragon leaves in Step 1, whisk the dressing and toss the farro in Step 5, and garnish the finished plates in Step 6.

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Rinse all produce. Halve grape tomatoes. Roughly chop tarragon leaves, discarding stems. If you have a zester, zest up to 1 lemon, then halve lemons. Roughly chop almonds, or leave in bag and gently crush with the bottom of a heavy pan. Peel shallot and mince. Pat chicken very dry with paper towel and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken skin-side down and sear until skin is golden and easily lifts from pan, 5–7 minutes. Flip and sear until cooked through and no longer pink, 5–7 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside to rest; reserve pan, off heat, for Step 4.

3. While chicken cooks, season boiling water generously with salt. Stir in farro and cook until tender but still chewy, 12– 14 minutes. Perfectly cooked farro is tender, but still has some chew to it. Taste your farro before you drain it; if you prefer a more tender consistency, keep cooking a few minutes more. Drain farro and return to pot, off heat. Meanwhile, quarter summer squash lengthwise through stems; arrange cut-side down. Using a vegetable peeler, peel squash lengthwise into wide ribbons until you reach the thin center; alternatively, quarter squash lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise.

4. Place pan from chicken over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add shallot and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat; transfer crispy shallot to a large bowl (big enough for the salad).

5. To bowl with crispy shallot, add lemon zest (if using), juice of 2 lemons, and half of tarragon. Whisking continuously, slowly add ¼ cup olive oil until fully combined. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Add grape tomatoes, cooked farro, summer squash, half of Parmesan, and half of almonds to bowl with dressing and toss to combine.

6. Cut rested chicken into ¼-inch slices. Divide farro and summer squash salad among serving plates. Top with sliced chicken and garnish with remaining tarragon, remaining almonds, and remaining Parmesan.

Kimchi Burgers

Thursday: Kimchi Burgers

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
4 brioche buns
4 ears corn
¼ ounce cilantro
1 shallot
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup shredded green cabbage
½ cup kimchi
⅓ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 tablespoon kimchi spice mix (includes dried chiles, miso powder, garlic, sugar, ginger, scallion)
1½ pounds ground beef
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions:
1. Rinse all produce. Slice buns open horizontally, if they arrived whole. Shuck corn, discarding husks and silk; slice off kernels, discarding cobs. Need a trick for removing corn kernels from the cob? Lay each cob flat on your cutting board and carefully slice kernels off 1 side. Rotate cob and continue slicing to remove kernels on all sides. Roughly chop cilantro leaves and stems. Peel shallot, halve, and thinly slice, then place half in a medium bowl with rice wine vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add slaw mix and kimchi to bowl with shallot and toss to combine. Set aside to pickle until Step 6.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, gochujang (it’s a bit spicy, so feel free use less if you prefer a milder flavor), ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Set aside until ready to serve.

3. In a separate medium bowl, combine kimchi spice mix, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Pat beef dry with paper towel and add to bowl. Using your hands, mix well, then form into 4 equal patties, about 1-inch thick. Using your thumb, create a dimple on top of each. Burger patties tend to puff up when cooked. Creating a shallow dimple in the center of each helps them cook evenly and keep their shape.

4. Place buns cut-side down in a large pan over medium heat. Toast until light golden and warmed through, 3–4 minutes. Transfer buns to serving plates. Then, place pan from buns over medium-high heat with 1 teaspoon canola oil. When oil is shimmering, add burgers and sear until browned on bottom, 4 minutes. Flip and continue searing until browned and medium-rare, 3–4 minutes more. Transfer burgers to a plate; set aside to rest.

5. While burgers sear, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large nonstick pan. When oil is shimmering, add corn, remaining shallot, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through and bright yellow, 3–4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in mozzarella and pepper as desired until cheese melts and coats corn.

6. Add half of cilantro to bowl with slaw and toss to combine. Layer bun bottoms with kimchi burgers, then top with slaw. Swipe gochujang mayo on bun tops. Serve cheesy corn alongside and garnish with remaining cilantro.

Cooking for a smaller crowd. We’ve got you covered with the 2-serving version of this recipe.

Spanish-Style Chicken Thighs

Friday: Spanish-Style Chicken Thighs

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
1 cup saffron rice
8 chicken thighs
1 tablespoon paella spice mix (includes garlic, onion, turmeric, paprika, saffron)
8 mini sweet peppers
¼ ounce parsley
4 tomatoes
¼ cup Castelvetrano olives
2 yellow onions
3 cloves garlic

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil for Step 3. In a small pot, combine saffron rice, 1½ cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir once, reduce heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer until water is fully absorbed, 10–12 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, still covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork, then set aside uncovered to release steam until Step 5.

2. While rice cooks, pat chicken very dry with paper towel; season all over with paella spice mix, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper as desired. Heat a large high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Carefully hover your hand a few inches away—when you can easily feel heat, add chicken skin-side down. Sear until skin is golden and easily lifts from pan, 5 minutes. Flip and cook 1 minute more (it’ll finish cooking in the oven).

3. Transfer chicken to prepared baking sheet, skin-side up; reserve fat in pan, off heat. Roast until skin is crisp and chicken is cooked through, 20–30 minutes. To tell if your chicken thighs are cooked through, rely on temperature, not color. Unlike the white meat in chicken breasts, the dark meat in chicken thighs may be slightly pink in color, even when done. USDA recommends cooking chicken to 165°F. Meanwhile, rinse all produce. Roughly chop mini peppers, discarding seeds and stems. Roughly chop parsley leaves and stems, keeping separate. Roughly chop tomatoes. Halve olives. Peel onions, halve, and thinly slice. Mince garlic.

4. Discard almost all fat from pan from chicken, leaving behind a thin layer. Pouring the fat down the drain might damage your pipes—instead, pour it into a heatproof container once it’s cooled slightly, and dispose in the garbage. Return pan to medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add mini peppers and onions; sauté, stirring, until softened, 4– 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, and parsley stems; sauté, stirring, until tomatoes have softened and garlic is fragrant, 2–3 minutes more.

5. To pan with vegetables, still over medium-high heat, stir in cooked saffron rice, Castelvetrano olives, and ½ teaspoon salt to combine. Cook until flavors have melded, 2–3 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

6. Divide saffron rice and vegetables among serving plates. Top with Spanish-style chicken thighs. Garnish with parsley leaves.

Try the 2-serving version of this recipe for date night!

Chai-Spiced Ice Cream

For Dessert: Chai-Spiced Ice Cream

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
8 ounces heavy cream
3½ ounces condensed milk
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
3 tablespoons pistachios
2 tablespoons coconut flakes
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons dried rose petals
1 8″ aluminum tin
1 parchment paper

Instructions:
1. Reshape aluminum tin if bent. Trim parchment paper to match size of tin and set both aside, keeping separate, for Step 3.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk heavy cream until thickened and stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Add condensed milk, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, and ⅛ teaspoon salt to bowl with whipped cream. Whisk to fully combine and thicken as much as possible (condensed milk might weigh down the whipped cream, so whisk vigorously to help it stay fluffy).

3. Pour ice cream base in tin and spread in an even layer. Place trimmed parchment on top of ice cream, pressing to adhere. Transfer tin to a flat surface in freezer and chill until thick and custard-like, 45–60 minutes.

4. While ice cream chills, roughly chop pistachios. Kitchen time-saver: Leave pistachios in their bag and gently crush with the bottom of a heavy pan. Heat a medium nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Carefully hover your hand a few inches away—when you can easily feel heat, add pistachios and coconut flakes. Toast, stirring, until light golden and fragrant, 2–3 minutes. Add sugar and ⅛ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until sugar melts and clings to nuts, 1–2 minutes more. Transfer to a small bowl; add rose petals and toss to combine.

5. When chai-spiced ice cream has reached desired consistency, scoop into bowls. Sprinkle over pistachio-rose topping.

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