This week is an attempt at finding delightful ways of adding more veggies to comfort food classics

Episode 6: Because pasta and pizza are comfort food

July 13 - 19

With quarantine in full-force, I've been trying to reduce refined carbohydrates from my dinners. It seems like a simple way to lighten up meals now that I'm living a very sedentary lifestyle. But this week I was just really craving creamy pastas. I was very tempted to go full-out and just make a tray of mac and cheese...but this whole project started off as a way to encourage myself to eat more produce RATHER than more pasta, so I tried to find some fun ways to incorporate more flavor and veggies into the meals.

Rather than taco-Tuesday, we did pizza Friday this week after many weeks of no pizzas. Admittedly pizza Friday doesn't have the same ring to it as taco-Tuesday, but it's become a go-to in our home. There's really nothing quite like having homemade pizzas on the balcony with a great rosé in the summer. So although we're in full-quarantine still, I'm finding ways to indulge in the everyday.

There is a pretty wide mix of dinners this week - most are vegetarian, while some are vegan, and others are pescatarian.

If you make any of these recipes, I'd love to see how they go! Reach out on instagram and tag #meetthemeal.

Inspired by shrimp scampi but lightened up for everyday dinners

Garlicky shrimp and zucchini fettuccine


I was craving the garlicky-shrimp flavor of shrimp scampi. But this dish is usually made with a ton of butter and is a bit light on the veggies. This pasta dish was an attempt at making a super easy weeknight meal leveraging zucchini to add a bit of volume without a ton of calories to this dish.

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Who needs tuna for a great classic sandwich?

Chickpea salad open-faced sandwiches with a side salad


This recipe was originally inspired by Jenné Claiborne's Chickpea "Tuna" Salad. Growing up, I have fond memories of rainy days listening to the thunder while we'd eat open-faced tuna melts. The other day I made myself one for lunch and it had me thinking if it might be possible to make a vegan version of this comfort-food meal. I really loved Jenné's idea to use seesawed, something from the water, into this plant-based version.

I found that I really missed the briny flavor of tuna, so I added in some chopped capers, but you could just as easily use olives to add that salty tang.I also subbed coconut yogurt for mayo. This might be a personal thing, but my parents always subbed yogurt for mayo in tuna salad to make it a little lighter, so I did the same here.

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Mung bean sprouts are little emeralds in this dish.

Carrot and sprouted mung bean warm salad


This recipe is based on Ottolenghi's salad of mung beans and carrots. I recently found this mung bean sprouting kit I had purchased years ago. It seemed like it was more than time to sprout the beans. Surprisingly with the heat we're having, they were sprouted in a day.

I couldn't believe how quickly they grew. I didn't have enough of my sprouts to serve two people, so I picked up some more mature sprouts from the supermarket. It was nice to have the mixture.

I wanted to increase the protein a bit to balance out the meal, so I added in roasted pumpkin seeds and topped off the salad with a little pumpkin seed oil. I had never really seen this back in the USA, but it's very popular here in Germany. Fun tip, pumpkin seed oil is delicious over vanilla ice cream with a few flakes of salt.

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Bold flavors in a simple pasta dish.

Herby peas with fettuccini


This recipe was a super improvisation. I've had some peas taking up space in the freezer so when I was craving a comfort meal....er...I was craving mac and cheese...I tried to think about how I could have a creamy pasta that had some more veggies into it. I always have loved mac and cheese with peas so this is a take on that idea.

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This pizza celebrates chanterelles in their early season

Chanterelle, leek, fennel, and blue cheese pizza


This pizza was a deep improvisation. In retrospect, I really made more of a flammkuchen than a pizza, but it was tasty none the less. If I were to make it again, I'd stretch it out more like a flatbread and cut into smaller squares to snack on with a nice rosé on the balcony.

But this pizza is a wonderful celebration of a few seasonal ingredients. I've noticed these thin and tender fennel bulbs in the supermarket lately. They're these thinner ones, not the round bulbous ones that appear in the thick of winter.

The pizza dough is a simplified version of Bon Appetit's perfect pizza dough. You can absolutely let it ferment for up to three days in the fridge, but it's also totally fine to use an hour or two after. The pizza will simply come out more doughy the earlier you use it. The pizza dough makes 6 pizzas. For this recipe you'll only need 1/6 of the pizza dough recipe, but it keeps in the fridge well. If you really need to get ahead of yourself, you can make the other pizzas and slightly undercook them and stick them in the freezer for a later pizza date. I have a freezer about the size of a shoebox so it's not an option for me.

Another note I have for future versions is to try it with finely zested lemon on top over the fennel. I wonder if it would impart a freshness that could be nice.

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A truly spectacular dinner for a polarizing veggie

Kohlrabi caesar salad with smoked trout


I first had this salad last year when I went to Oberlin in Providence, RI for my birthday dinner. We were having a beyond excellent meal and then this salad came out. I was completely blown away.

I’ve been living in Germany for a couple years and Kohlrabi is a perma-veggie here. I felt there had to be a way to celebrate this polarizing veggie. Here is a delicious option.

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An exploration into veggie-based green sauces

Oven-roasted zucchini with cabbage-peanut pesto and roasted chickpeas


Bryant Terry has a really beautiful collard-peanut pesto and zucchini recipe in his cookbook Vegetable Kingdom. I wanted to attempt it, but it's nearly impossible to find collards in Germany so I thought maybe I could replace them with savoy cabbage - another tough green that seems like a German supermarket staple.

I have to admit this recipe didn't quite work how I made it. The pesto came out kind of pasty and the chickpeas came out a bit dry and powdery. BUT I think this recipe provides a nice basis for improvements for the future. I suspect if I followed Bryant's recipe more to the letter this would have come out deliciously because the picture he has is so enticing.

This recipe left me craving the chickpeas from the cauliflower and spiced chickpeas from a few weeks back. And the zucchini left me wanting either a tahini-based herby dressing or a simpler roast with garlic, olive oil, oregano, and lemon.

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Weekly dinner menus

Weekly Dinner Menu

September 21 - 27

Restaurant food can be home-cooked
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Every Sunday evening, I send out a newsletter with the following week's dinner menu, and the seasonal produce featured. The newsletter is free, and I won't share or sell your email address.

If it turns out it's not the content you're looking for, you can easily unsubscribe with a link at the bottom of the email. This project was originally a way to wrap my head around the evolving seasonal produce in the supermarkets.

I'm so excited to share the journey and learn from you as I go along!

- Julia Feld