Meal Planning and Dinner in Five Minutes

by katie

People on cooking shows say this all the time, and I really believe it: you can make a healthy, delicious dinner at home in less time than it takes to pick up something or eat out.  It’s true!  Tom and I try to cook at home at least 5-6 nights a week, and are generally successful even though we both have stressful, full-time jobs.  The key is planning.  My mother always has a weekly menu written out, and I’ve adopted the same practice.  On Saturday or Sunday morning, while we’re still sitting around enjoying our coffee, I make a menu.  Then I use the menu to make a grocery list.  That way, when the week gets crazy, I know I have everything I need to quickly make anything on the menu.  Another key to this method, I think, is not assigning specific dishes to specific nights.  Being kind of loose about it allows us to eat what we’re in the mood for that day.  It also allows us to meal plan throughout the rest of the day for maximum health benefits.  For example, if we choose to have pasta one night, I know I need to eat a little lighter during that day.  Deciding what we’re going to eat for dinner the morning of also means I always have things thawed when I get home.  There’s nothing worse than being tired and hungry, and then remembering you forgot to thaw the shrimp for dinner.  Disaster.

Last night, we got a later start on dinner than planned.  Sometimes work just gets in the way, you know?  Luckily, I’d planned for just such a scenario.  We had some smoked salmon and romaine lettuce in the fridge.  Dinner was born!

A week or so ago, I was standing in the seafood department at the grocery store waiting for my turn at the counter.  I turned around and looked at the refrigerator case behind me and saw this amazingness.

photo (15)

Tom and I are both big fans of smoked salmon, so could not pass this up.

We used the smoked salmon to make tartines with goat cheese, and then I made a quick caesar salad to go with it.  It was such a tasty and fast dinner.  Tom was on toast duty.  He halved a small baguette, and then split each half open long-wise.  Then he brushed each piece with olive oil.  He toasted the pieces under the broiler for a minute or two, then spread each slice with goat cheese.  I put a piece of salmon on each tartine, and added some cracked black pepper.  While Tom was making the toast, I sliced up some romaine and mixed it with a TON of grated parmesan cheese.  I added cracked pepper to that and tossed everything with my new favorite caesar dressing, Ken’s light creamy caesar.  You seriously cannot tell this dressing is “light.”  It has so much flavor (probably from salt, but whatever).  The result was satisfying without being heavy.  And, in case it wasn’t clear, this dinner was ready in NO TIME.

photo (16)

Finished product immediately before consumption.  So fast and so good!

I really liked the flavor of the salmon.  I was worried that the ginger would be overpowering, but it wasn’t at all.  I was also concerned that the goat cheese would mask the subtle flavor of the tea cure.  Fortunately, I was wrong about that, too.  The flavors worked well together, and I was really pleased with this product.  It’s Charlie Trotter’s so I shouldn’t be surprised.