A Week of Dinner Recipes

Though I am undoubtedly an avid foodie, burnout is real. This semester, burnout has affected me beyond my academic motivation, and into the realm of cooking. Although cooking and making meals for myself is a practice that I usually get so much enjoyment out of, sometimes you really just can’t be bothered anymore. In an effort to pull myself out of my cooking rut, I decided to challenge myself to make a week of really good, hit-the-spot kind of dinners in the hope that it might give a little inspiration to anyone else in the same boat.

A little disclaimer is that all measurements are approximate as I am a firm believer in cooking for yourself and adapting recipes to your specific tastes and preferences (Note: not applicable to baking - I learned the hard way!).

Monday: Alison Roman’s Aubergine Parm

Alison Roman is a chef that I stumbled across about a year and a half ago as a result of her charismatic and delicious cooking videos with New York Times Cooking on YouTube. Since this discovery, I now own one of her books (highly recommend) and subscribe to the newsletter that she offered at the start of the pandemic, which accompany cooking videos on her new channel. It was through this happy avenue that I first saw her “A Little Eggplant Parm”. Cheesy, comforting, delicious, this dish is the perfect start to the week. Plus, it features one of my favourite vegetables; the mighty aubergine/eggplant. The dish happily feeds three, so can easily be used for lunches over the course of the week. The estimated cost, if buying all ingredients from scratch, is around£5 per serving.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large aubergines/eggplants, sliced about a finger thick

  • Olive oil

  • 1 small onion (yellow, white, or red), thinly sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 

  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional)

  • 1 tsp rose harissa

  • 2 cans whole plum tomatoes, crushed 

  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs (Note: I couldn’t for the life of me find panko breadcrumbs in St Andrews, so I made do with old toast, ripped it into very small pieces, toasted it lightly in the oven to dry it out, and crushed it into smaller ones with the back of a spoon before later pan-frying)

  • 1/3 cup (about) grated parmesan 

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried oregano

  • ⅓ cup coarsely chopped parsley

  • 2 bags of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn

To follow the recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6uauA-RY2Y&t=636s.

Pexels

Tuesday: Homemade Ramen Noodles

In direct contrast to Monday’s more indulgent, comfort-food style meal, Tuesday’s was refreshingly clean and packed with goodness. This dish is a combination of different recipes that I found online, that I have adapted to my preferences. Serving around two people, the cost per meal is £8.00.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of noodles (I tend to prefer flat rice or udon noodles)
  • 1.25 litres of boiling water
  • 1 sachet/tbsp of miso paste
  • 1 piece of thumb sized ginger, minced or grated finely
  • 2 cubes of vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 200g mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of soya sauce
  • 120g bean sprouts
  • Half a head of red cabbage (optional)
  • Fresh coriander

Method:

  1. Start by sauteing onion, garlic, ginger, and chili flakes with a dash of oil (vegetable or olive oil) in a large saucepan on a medium-high heat (5-8 minutes)

  2. In the meantime, add your mushrooms to a frying pan on medium heat with some oil and start cooking down

  3. Add 2 tbsp of soya sauce and miso paste to the saucepan and stir until it starts to brown

  4. Add the boiling water and vegetable stock to the saucepan, bring to a boil for five minutes, and then reduce to a simmer

  5. The mushrooms should have released all their water by now, so add in a dash of soya sauce

  6. Once the mushrooms are starting to look well done (slightly crispy and deep brown), take them off the heat

  7. Cook pack of noodles in a separate pan of boiling water according to packet instructions (usually three minutes)

  8. Serve broth into a deep soup bowl and add mushrooms, noodles, spring onions, bean sprouts, coriander and any other fresh vegetables that you fancy.

Ramen in a pan with sauce, and eggs and vegetables on the counter. Photo by Patchanu Noree from Burst/Shopify Wednesday: Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Pasta time! For anyone who is not the biggest fan of mushrooms, this one is not for you. But for those who are, think of this creamy mushroom pasta as a sort of veggie carbonara. This pasta dish serves one and is about£5.00 per meal.

Ingredients:

  • 150-200g mushrooms, sliced

  • Mixed herbs

  • 1 onion, sliced finely

  • Fresh thyme

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced/crushed

  • Pasta, I prefer spaghetti, penne or fusilli for this

  • Double cream

  • Parmesan

Method:

  1. Add mushrooms to a frying pan and sauté with onion, thyme, garlic, mixed herbs, and salt and pepper in olive oil

  2. Add pasta of choice (I usually have about 160g) to boiling water and cook according to packet instructions

  3. After about 10 minutes, add a dollop of cream and stir until combined

  4. Add a ladle or two of pasta water to emulsify the sauce and thicken it up, and then add the drained al dente pasta to the sauce

  5. In the pan, add a handful of grated parmesan, more thyme, and other herbs (if you have any on hand) and cook for a couple more minutes. Once the cheese has melted, serve.

Cook Pasta Alex Frank / Spoon

Thursday: Gochujang Salmon with Couscous

This delicious salmon recipe is a low-fuss go-to midweek meal for me. Gochujang is a Korean chili paste that you can find at the Morrisons in St Andrews, your local Asian supermarket, or a larger supermarket. It is not overly spicy, but gives the salmon a delicious smokey taste. This recipe serves one and costs about £9.00 per meal if you are buying all ingredients from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 salmon fillet

  • 2 tbsp gochujang paste

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

  • 2 tbsp soya sauce

  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, minced/grated

  • Tenderstem broccolini

  • 100g couscous

  • 1 lemon

  • 2 tsp paprika

Method:

  1. Combine gochujang, honey, sesame oil, soya sauce, and ginger in a bowl and mix until homogeneous

  2. Place salmon fillet in a frying pan over medium-high heat and season it with salt and pepper, before spooning on the gochujang marinade (Note: the salmon fillet can also be cooked in the oven)

  3. Put desired amount of couscous in a bowl (I usually do around 100g), mix in salt, pepper, and paprika, and cover with boiling water so that it is only just submerged

  4. Leave couscous for five minutes and then fluff with a fork before serving on a plate

  5. Add as much tenderstem broccolini as desired to boiling water and cook for three minutes, then drain and plate

  6. Flip the salmon with tongs when it appears halfway cooked through (4-5 minutes)

  7. When the salmon is cooked to your liking, place it on top of the couscous and squeeze lemon over the meal. If you fancy, you could put a dollop of sour cream or tzatziki (see recipe below) on the side.

Grilled salmon on a plate Photo by Malidate Van from Pexels

Friday: Homemade Chicken “Shawarma”

TGIF! In commemoration of the end of the working week, I wanted to make a fun meal to share with my flatmates. I spent seven of my adolescent years growing up in the Middle East, so I absolutely adore a good shawarma. Recently, I have been feeling a little homesick and nostalgic, which inspired me to create this recipe based on a combination of several that I saw online: on YouTube, by Binging With Babish, by Dimitri’s Dishes, and through a random Google search. Although the recipe is still being perfected, its pretty darn good (if I do say so myself!). If you're vegetarian, simply swap out the chicken for tofu, marinate according to the recipe, and cook how you normally would. On the pricier end of the spectrum, this dish averages out to £15.00 all up and serves around four people.

Ingredients:

  • 900g skinless boneless chicken thighs

  • ½ onion, sliced

  • Iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped or sliced

  • Hummus

  • 8 pittas (my favourite are the slightly pricier M&S ones)

  • Fresh parsley, chopped

Marinade:

  • 4 tbsp yogurt 

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed/minced

  • 2 tbsp olive oil 

  • Half a lemon, juiced

  • 1 tbsp sumac

  • 2 tsp tikka masala or curry powder

  • 1 tbsp cumin

  • 1 tbsp coriander

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 

Tzatziki:

  • 1 cup yogurt

  • 1 tsp tahini

  • ½ cucumber, grated

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • Handful of fresh mint

  • Half a lemon, juiced

Method:

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients into a bowl and stir until well mixed

  2. Place all chicken thighs in a large ziploc bag and pour in your marinade, closing the bag once all has been applied and massaging the marinade into the chicken. Leave ziploc bag containing chicken and marinade in the fridge to marinate for 4-24 hours.

  3. To make the tzatziki, combine all ingredients in a large bowl

  4. Once the chicken has marinated, preheat the oven to 220°C. Take the chicken out of the fridge and place in a large glass dish. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, flipping the chicken with tongs after 10 minutes.

  5. Set the table by putting out all additional toppings and then assemble “shawarmas” with hummus, chicken and sauce, tzatziki, chopped parsley, mint, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and any other toppings you desire. For a touch of spice, I also like to spoon a little bit of rose harissa onto the top of my shawarma.

A close-up of an open faced shawarma wrap Original photo by Amelia Ward

Saturday: Homemade Flatbread Pizzas

Its the weekend! On Saturday, I was looking to make something tasty, fuss-free, and quick. These flatbread pizzas are just that, and cheaper than most other frozen varieties. The estimated cost per meal is£3.00 and this serves two to four people.

Ingredients:

  • 250g self raising flour

  • 250g plain full fat Greek Yogurt 

  • 1 pack of mozzarella, finely sliced or torn

  • Tomato paste

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced/crushed

  • Mixed herbs

  • Toppings: basil, rocket/arugula, tomatoes, red pepper, mushrooms, olives, etc.

Method:

  1. For your sauce, add olive oil, onions, and garlic to a saucepan on a medium heat and cook until translucent or darker, according to preference. Add half a tube of tomato paste and stir well until it starts to brown. This is a very basic sauce now, but if you have any spare cherry tomatoes then roughly chop them, add to the mixture, and apply a lid to the pan to cook them down for 5-10 minutes.

  2. Put flour in a large bowl and add yogurt and a pinch of salt until the mixture starts to get sticky and you can form a homogenous ball

  3. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin to expand the dough into the desired shape and size of your pizza

  4. Place an oiled pan onto high heat and allow to get hot before you place your flatbread on the pan

  5. It should start to form slight air bubbles, so flip when this is the case and it starts to brown slightly. Do the same to the other side and then take off the heat.

  6. Preheat the oven to 180-200°C. Spoon sauce onto flatbreads and add your toppings (saving any fresh leafy greens to add once it has come out of the oven). Place pizzas on a tray in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese has fully melted.

Flatbread Pizza Jenny Georgieva / Spoon

Sunday: Lemon Asparagus Risotto

Sunday Funday, which for me means that I will be catching up on work, completing tutorial assignments, and getting ready for the week ahead. I like to take a little longer on Sundays to make a really nice, home-cooked meal, and a delicious vegetable risotto is just that. For me, the formula for a risotto is pretty simple, and usually consists of whatever vegetables I have left in my fridge that need using up. This meal serves two and the average cost per meal is£7.00.

Ingredients:

  • Risotto rice

  • 3 sachets of vegetable stock

  • Olive oil

  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

  • Asparagus, chopped

  • White wine (if you have an open bottle in the fridge)

  • 1 onion, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced/crushed

  • Frozen peas (if you have a bag in the freezer)

  • Parmesan, grated

Method:

  1. Sweat down the garlic and onion in a good glug of olive oil on a medium to low heat (8-10 minutes)

  2. In the meantime, boil about two litres of water on the hob and add in three sachets of vegetable stock (or according to the ratio specified on the box). Allow to simmer gently.

  3. Add risotto rice (depends on how much you usually have, but I like to have leftovers so will typically do about 120g) and cover with garlic, onion, and olive oil to toast it for a couple of minutes

  4. If you have some white wine handy, add a good glug to submerge the rice, and if not, add a ladle of vegetable stock instead

  5. Allow the rice to absorb the liquid and then keep adding in ladlefuls until the rice cooks fully, stirring occasionally to keep the rice off of the bottom of the pot (usually around 30 minutes)

  6. When the rice is close to being cooked (10 minutes from the end), add in chopped asparagus, frozen peas, lemon juice and zest, and a handful of grated parmesan. Continue to add ladles of vegetable stock.

  7. Once the risotto has fully absorbed the liquid and tastes ready, remove from the heat and serve. Top with olive oil, parmesan, and/or any fresh herbs that you have lying around.

And thats it - a week of dinner recipes! Obviously I am no chef, but I hope you have enjoyed this handful of recipe inspiration from meals that I love to cook, which have helped make week 1358905 of lockdown a little more interesting. Happy cooking!

  1. 1. Monday: Alison Roman’s Eggplant Parm

    Alison Roman is a chef that I stumbled across about a year and a half ago as a result of her charismatic and delicious cooking videos with New York Times Cooking on Youtube. Since this discovery, I now own one of her books (highly recommend) and subscribe to the newsletter that she offered at the start of the pandemic, which accompany cooking videos on her new channel. It was through this happy avenue that I first saw her “A Little Eggplant Parm”. Cheesy, comforting, delicious, this dish is the perfect start to the week. Plus, it features one of my favourite vegetables, the mighty aubergine/eggplant. The dish happily feeds three, so can be easily be used for lunches over the course of the week, which is usually what I prefer to do (I am BIG into leftovers).

     

    Ingredients

    2 large aubergines/eggplants, sliced about a finger thick

    Olive oil

    1 small onion (yellow, white, or red), thinly sliced

    4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

    Crushed red pepper flakes (optional) 

    4 anchovy fillets (optional), plus more if you want 

    1 tsp rose harissa

    2 cans whole plum tomatoes, crushed 

    ¾ cup panko bread crumbs // I couldn’t for the life of me find panko breadcrumbs so I made do with old toast, ripped it into very small pieces and toasted it lightly in the oven to dry it out and crush it into smaller 

    1/3 cup (about) grated parmesan 

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried oregano

    ⅓ cup coarsely chopped parsley, divided

    2 bags of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn

    To follow the recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6uauA-RY2Y&t=636s.