Weekday favorites mixed in with the perfect summer cookout recipe

Episode 7: Gloomy summer evening dinner recipes

July 20 - 26

Part of making weekday cooking easier is having a set of go-to dinner recipes that with time, you can make without even looking at a recipe. I'm not quite there yet with all of these, but I'd like to think I'm getting there.

This week we had some of my favorites from previous weeks and added a few new recipes that we've been having without documenting like the chile colorado and the couscous recipe. On Sunday, we had this incredible deluxe vegan cookout recipe that is deeply inspired from Bryant Terry's Vegetable Kingdom.

Another part of making weeknight cooking easier is to have a plan in mind - to have a rough outline like a meal plan for what you'll have that week, with enough flexibility that you can change if some people come over, or if you end up eating out that night. This week I've added in a new functionality to the website so you can shop each recipe directly while on the page.

A few jobs ago, I worked as a digital product designer for HelloFresh, a meal kit delivery service. Their logistics operation was genuinely incredible, yet the enormity of it made it so it wasn't as easy to make same-day delivery a reality or to offer a nearly unlimited menu each week. This project, Meet the Meal, is my personal version of a meal kit delivery service. This week we added in the ability to shop the ingredients from each recipe, you simply click a button, select your preferred online grocery store, and you can have it packed and sent to your house. This feels like convenience and variety to the ultimate degree. If you'd prefer to buy in-store, you can also generate a shopping list in the same way.

I landed on using phyllo dough to make little triangles, almost like empanadas

Spinach triangles


Where Tuesday is my partner's comfort food day, Wednesday brings my childhood memories to the table. Growing up, one of my favorite dishes that my mother made was her spinach pie.

I'm not totally clear on how she learned to make it, but the savory dish has been my request every time I go back home.

The one thing that I never loved was the crust. In a moment of deep cravings of home and the realities of a supermarket in Berlin, I landed on using phyllo dough to make little triangles, almost like empanadas. These probably resemble a greek version of spanakopita quite closely. It's easy to make these vegan by simply omitting the cheese. They're just as delicious.

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One of the challenges in this Taco Tuesday endeavor is to find a way to have spectacular tacos that are either vegan or vegetarian

Smoky pulled mushroom tacos


Living abroad oddly has me craving traditions that I never even celebrated back home. Taco Tuesday was something that went totally over my head back in the USA, but there's something oddly festive about this tradition that I'm leaning into hard.

Plus, my partner being from Mexico, it gives us the excuse to eat a little bite of home at least once a week. One of the challenges in this Taco Tuesday endeavor is to find a way to have spectacular tacos that are either vegan or vegetarian.

I've seen some recipes floating around the internet of using oyster mushrooms for a pulled pork or shredded chicken approach. After looking through a bunch of recipes, I landed on this mishmash. It's so unbelievably delicious. If you're cooking with other people, have one person shred the mushrooms while you do the other bits and you'll have dinner in no time. José said these were the best tacos he's had in Berlin. When I sent the recipe to a friend back home who is also from Mexico, she loved them so much she shared the recipe with her colleagues. These are worth making

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In an attempt to use less dairy recently, I tried to make a vegan paneer cheese

Saag with vegan paneer and basmati rice


This recipe is a riff on Priya Krishna’s Saag Tofu from her cookbook Indian-ish. I made it for the first time a while ago and it was SO excellent that I’ve been anxiously waiting to make it again. In an attempt to use less dairy recently, I tried to make a vegan paneer cheese.

It’s nothing like paneer, I’ll be the first to admit but it adds a creaminess to the dish that makes it work. Ro make this vegan, swap the ghee with coconut or a neutral oil.

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For when you need super easy comfort food fast

German beef sausage couscous


First-off, I need to clarify that these beef hotdogs are a bit particular to Germany. The ones we use are translated to small beef sausages but they remind me more of a version on a hot-dog, so that's what I'm referring to them here.

I'm not sure what an American equivalent might be, but I'm sure you could make this with any type of pre-cooked sausage. My mother used to get some chicken sausages from Trader Joe's and I'm sure those would be perfect in this dish.

This couscous is by no means close to authentic. It's more of a flavorful weeknight rush dinner since it comes together in under 20 minutes. The sauce is super flavorful and includes some fresh veggies and a protein. You could absolutely swap in a vegan sausage of some sort in here and I'd imagine it would be spectacular.

Since I've found I'm a little sensitive to dairy, I've tried to find sensible replacements to it wherever I don't deeply miss it (it's about a slow habit change here). I've found that coconut yogurt plays best here - I tried cashew yogurt and almond yogurt since those are also easy options at my supermarket, but coconut yogurt seemed the most neutral in flavor funnily enough. If you're not sensitive to yogurt, absolutely feel free to use regular cows milk yogurt here.

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Northern Mexican comfort food

Chile colorado with beef and potatoes


José has shown me over time how flavorful and importantly, not overly spicy chile-based sauces can be. This chile almost reminds me of a more savory tomato-based soup. If you're the kind of person who can't tolerate black pepper, then this probably isn't for you. But if you're a fan of sriracha, this is probably up your alley.

After doing some research, it seems the chile california is similar to the guajillo, but much less spicy (lower on the Scoville scale). You can absolutely replace the chile california with a guajillo if that's what you have on hand.

This week, I've been feeling a bit under the weather. It brought up the topic of comfort food. What's the thing you turn to when you're feeling homesick? What about that amazing food you had while on vacation? Is it the sound of the ice cream truck and the taste of these fluorescent popsicles? Or is it chile colorado? When I'm sick, I often turn to simple soups and frozen strawberry popsicles (strep throat kid over here).

José always refers to these dishes from his Northern Mexico as tasting of "dirt" at first I wasn't sure what he meant by that, but as he's made more dishes for me, I've started to understand what he means. Just to be clear, it's a desirable taste, not a pejorative way to refer to his hometown food.

The flavor of dirt is the bitterness and astringency of the dried and then toasted chiles. In other dishes, it's the taste of cumin perfuming the dish and adding a depth of flavor.

In some ways, this chile colorado reminds me of a chile con carne home-cook style. Each ingredient speaks for itself, it comes together relatively quickly and it's made with a few key ingredients. This is the type of Mexican food that I've learned from José and have come to crave. Is it possible for comfort food to evolve over time and space?

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This recipe is outrageously savory and sweet and tangy and comforting all at the same time.

Roasted cauliflower with black-eyed peas and coconut-turmeric relish


There is so much that makes this recipe delicious. On the hunt for a fully-flavored cauliflower dish, I stumbled on this one by Claire Saffitz.

It's outrageously savory and sweet and tangy and comforting all at the same time.

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The best meat-free BBQ

BBQ oven-roasted carrots with slow-cooked corona beans


This recipe originally comes from Bryant Terry's Vegetable Kingdom. We're in full summer swing and the idea of a BBQ - but plant-based sounds so delightful on this Sunday morning. Bryant calls for dried beans, but I'm not quite there yet for regularly remembering to soak beans, so I went with canned beans.

Funnily-enough, it's SUPER easy to get these giant corona beans canned and they seemed like a weird timing with being in quarantine. Almost like a big f-u to corona (aka covid-19). Maybe it's just my odd sense of humor with all this.

Bryant suggests serving the dish with pikliz. I was a little hesitant to make yet another component of this dish, but honestly, the pikliz absolutely made this dish. Their fiery, vinegary, and crunchy bite add the ultimate touch to this dish.

Since I was seeing this condiment appear in many of the new cookbooks on my self, I was curious to learn a bit more and naturally searched online and started to find a bunch of recipes around Haitian cusine. I really like the simplicity of Renz's recipe and did a bit of a combination between these (plus the fact that I didn't have any carrots on hand after roasted them whole).

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Weekly dinner menus

Weekly Dinner Menu

September 21 - 27

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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