Get inspired for the week ahead with our top picks from this week’s menu.
’Tis the season for office holiday parties, school treat swaps, and potluck dinners with friends. Even with end-of-year schedules packed with merry making, it’s worth taking the time to slow down and enjoy a special dinner or two (if only to get a break from all those sausage balls and reindeer cupcakes). Start off the week with an elegant-yet-easy risotto made extra fancy with brown butter and hazelnuts. Go lighter the following night with a steak, pecan, and blue cheese salad. Then, gussy up your usual weeknight chicken breast recipe with a miso compound butter and roasted rainbow carrots. Cozy up with an Italian-inspired sausage soup on a cold night, then round out the week with Spanish-inspired cod. Your dinners may not be as festive as boozy punch and gingerbread, but they’ll be way more satisfying.
Now, on to the recipes:
Monday: Acorn Squash Risotto with Sage Brown Butter and Hazelnuts
1 acorn squash
1 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
⅛ ounce sage
2 tablespoons hazelnuts
½ stick unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Halve acorn squash lengthwise. If you’re having trouble cutting the squash, try piercing it all over with a fork and microwaving for 30 seconds to 1 minute to soften slightly before halving. Using a large spoon, scoop out and discard seeds. Cut crosswise into ½-inch half-moons, then halve. Peel onion and cut into small dice. Mince garlic.
2. In a medium pot, bring bouillon cube and 5 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove pot from heat and cover to keep warm until Step 4.
3. While broth warms, heat 1½ tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add onion and garlic; sauté, stirring, until softening, 3–4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted and translucent, 2–3 minutes.
4. Add white wine to pot with rice, still over medium-high heat, and simmer until liquid is mostly absorbed, 1–2 minutes. Then, add warmed broth and ½ teaspoon salt, reserving pot for Step 6. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is mostly absorbed and rice is tender, 15–18 minutes more.
5. While risotto simmers, line a baking sheet with foil. Add acorn squash and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Arrange in a single layer, spacing apart, and roast until lightly browned and tender, 14–16 minutes.
6. While squash roasts, pick sage leaves, discarding stems. Roughly chop hazelnuts or leave hazelnuts in the bag and gently crush with the bottom of a heavy pan. Wipe pot from broth clean and return to medium high heat with butter. When butter is foamy, add nutmeg, sage, and hazelnuts. Swirl pot occasionally until butter turns golden and fragrant, sage leaves are crispy, and hazelnuts are toasted, 4–6 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired.
7. Once rice is tender, remove pot from heat and stir in Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Gently fold in roasted acorn squash. Divide acorn squash risotto among serving plates and top with sage brown butter and hazelnuts.
Tuesday: Steak, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Dressing
10 ounces rainbow carrots
½ pint grape tomatoes
2 ounces raspberry preserves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10 ounces mixed lettuces
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Halve carrots crosswise on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Peel shallots and thinly slice into rings.
2. On a baking sheet, toss whole grape tomatoes, carrots, and shallots with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¾ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Arrange in a single layer and roast until carrots are lightly browned and vegetables are tender, 14–16 minutes.
3. While vegetables roast, pat steaks dry with paper towel and season all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan 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 prefer your steak a little less rare, let it sear a little longer, 5–7 minutes per side, until medium. Transfer steaks to a plate and set aside to rest, 5 minutes.
4. While steaks sear, in a large bowl, whisk together raspberry preserves, balsamic vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Whisking continuously, add ¼ cup olive oil until fully combined. Set raspberry balsamic dressing aside until steaks are rested.
5. Once steaks have rested, find the direction of the grain (muscle fibers) and slice across it, rather than parallel, into ¼-inch slices—this ensures tenderness. Pat mixed lettuces dry with paper towel, add to bowl with dressing, and toss to coat.
6. Divide salad among serving plates. Top with roasted vegetables, sliced steak, and blue cheese. Drizzle over any remaining dressing from bowl, garnish with pecans.
Wednesday: Miso Butter Chicken with Roasted Rainbow Carrots, Bok Choy, and Brown Rice
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces baby bok choy, divided
6 ounces rainbow carrots
⅛ ounce cilantro, divided
½ cup brown rice
1 tablespoon miso paste
2½ teaspoons honey, divided
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds, divided
2 boneless chicken breasts
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Unwrap butter; place in a small bowl to soften at room temperature. Halve bok choy lengthwise and rinse thoroughly; cut crosswise into 1- inch pieces, keeping bulbs and leaves separate. Quarter carrots lengthwise. Roughly chop cilantro leaves and stems.
2. Season boiling water generously with salt.The amount of water isn’t indicated because you’ll drain the rice, just like pasta, when it’s finished cooking. Stir in brown rice and cook until tender, 22–25 minutes. Drain and return to pot, off heat, then cover to keep warm until ready to serve. Meanwhile, to bowl with softened butter, add miso paste and ½ packet honey (save remaining honey for the next step). Using a fork, mash until smooth and fully combined.
3. On a baking sheet, toss carrots and bok choy bulbs with 2 teaspoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Arrange in a single layer and roast until lightly browned and tender, 15–18 minutes (move on to Step 4—but don’t forget to come back!). Then, add half of sesame seeds and remaining honey to baking sheet; toss to combine.
4. While vegetables roast, pat chicken dry with paper towel and season all over with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken skin-side down and sear until skin begins to brown, about 6 minutes. Flip and sear opposite side, about 5 minutes more.
5. With pan still over medium-high heat, top chicken with miso butter. Continue cooking, spooning melted butter over chicken, until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, about 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat. Transfer miso butter chicken to a plate and set aside to rest.
6. To pot with brown rice, still off heat, stir in bok choy leaves and half of cilantro, then divide between serving plates. Top with roasted rainbow carrots and bok choy bulbs, then miso butter chicken. Garnish with remaining cilantro and remaining sesame seeds.
Thursday: Italian Sausage Soup with Caramelized Fennel and Ditalini
1½ pounds sweet Italian sausage
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 bulbs fennel
1 clove garlic
½ cup white wine
4 teaspoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper 6
4 ounces chicken stock
6 ounces baby spinach
6 ounces ditalini
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add sausage and cook, breaking up, until browned, 7–8 minutes (move on to the next step—but don’t forget to come back!). Remove pot from heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl, leaving behind any juices in pot for Step 3. Set aside.
2. While sausage cooks, drain diced tomatoes, discarding juices. If leeks have dark green tops, trim and discard them. Halve leeks lengthwise, then cut crosswise into ¼-inch half-moons. Place in a bowl of cold water, separating pieces with your fingers, to let dirt sink to bottom. Don’t drain leeks, or the dirt at the bottom will pour over them. Instead, use a slotted spoon or your hands to remove them from the water. Rinse fennel and halve, then cut cores out in a wedge shape and discard; slice as thinly as possible. Mince garlic.
3. Remove leeks from water; pat dry with paper towel. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in pot from sausage over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add leeks and fennel. Sauté, stirring, until fennel is softened, 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add wine and cook until mostly evaporated, 1–2 minutes. Increase heat to medium high. Cook, stirring, until fennel and leek are browned and caramelized, 2–3 minutes more.
4. To pot with vegetables, still over medium-high heat, add tomato paste and crushed red pepper (skip or use half for less heat). Sauté, stirring, until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper as desired.
5. Add stock, drained tomatoes, and browned sausage to pot with vegetables. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors have melded, 5–6 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse spinach and pat dry with paper towel.
6. Once soup has simmered, add ditalini to pot, still over medium heat, and cook until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Then, stir in spinach to wilt, 1–2 minutes more. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper as desired. Divide Italian sausage soup among serving bowls, sprinkle over Parmesan.
Friday: Tomato-Poached Cod with Roasted Brussels sprouts and Manchego
12 ounces peanut potatoes
12 ounces Brussels sprouts
½ pint grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons roasted salted almonds
⅛ ounce parsley, divided 2 cloves garlic
10 ounces cod
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 packet honey
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 ounces shredded Manchego cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Rinse all produce. Halve potatoes. Halve Brussels sprouts lengthwise through roots. Halve tomatoes. Roughly chop almonds. Finely chop parsley leaves, discarding stems. Mince garlic.
2. Roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts On a baking sheet, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired, then arrange cut-side down on 1 half of baking sheet. On other half of baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and black pepper as desired, then arrange cut-side down. Roast until browned and tender, 15–18 minutes.
3. While vegetables roast, pat cod dry with paper towel and season all over with ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper as desired. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium high-sided pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add wine, tomatoes, and garlic, and stir to combine. Nestle cod into tomato mixture, then cover and simmer until fish is opaque and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. A steady simmer will gently cook the cod and infuse it with flavor from the sauce. Be sure the sauce doesn’t boil or bubble too vigorously. Remove pan from heat.
4. While fish cooks, in a medium bowl, whisk together sherry vinegar, ½ packet honey, and crushed red pepper (skip or use half for less heat) to fully combine, saving remaining honey to sweeten a cup of tea. Add Manchego, almonds, and roasted Brussels sprouts to bowl, and toss to coat. Sprinkle half of parsley over roasted potatoes on baking sheet and toss to coat.
5. Divide poached cod between serving plates. Then, return pan with tomato sauce to medium high heat and cook, mashing tomatoes with the back of a fork, until reduced by half, 3–4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper as desired.
6. Spoon tomato sauce over poached cod. Serve with roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Garnish with remaining parsley.
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