Spinach Pasta with Simple Baked Cod and Agrodolce

Bright green spinach pasta is topped with simple garlic and lemon marinated baked cod and covered in Agrodolce, a colorful, sweet and sour Italian condiment that turns a simple meal of pasta and fish into a gourmet feast.

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A plate of spinach pasta with baked cod and agrodolce

Spinach Pasta with Baked Cod and Agrodolce


  • Author: RebeccaBlackwell
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 4 generous servings

Description

Choose homemade pasta or dried. Tonight’s bright and colorful meal will take less than 1-hour unless you’re making homemade spinach pastaMy friend Judy got me hooked on pasta making and when I have a couple of extra hours in the afternoon, I find it an immensely satisfying activity. Adding some cooked spinach to the dough makes a gorgeously vibrant green dough and adds some subtle flavor. If making homemade pasta isn’t your idea of a fun afternoon, using a package of dried fettuccini is more than acceptable. If your market carries spinach fettuccini, use that. If not, just use plain.

1 batch of agrodolce makes more than you’ll need for tonight’s dinner. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator in a covered container. You’ll use it on Day #3 in Couscous Salad.

*This recipe has been modified to fit this week’s meal plan. Click here for the original recipe


Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 – 2 lbs cod
  • 1 recipe Agrodolce: Use unseasoned rice vinegar instead of red wine vinegar and add 1 diced red pepper.
  • 1 lb fresh homemade spinach fettuccini – OR – 12 oz dried spinach fettuccini
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Add the lemon zest, garlic, and olive oil to a small bowl and stir to mix.
  2. Lay the cod in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and smear it with the garlic, lemon, olive oil mixture. Sprinkle the surface of the fish with salt and pepper, and scatter the parsley over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 3 hours.
  3. While the fish marinates, make the agrodolce with the following substitutions and additions: Use unseasoned rice vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Add 1 red pepper, seeds removed and diced.
  4. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap from the fish and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the inside of the fish registers at 145 degrees on a kitchen thermometer, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
  5. While the fish bakes, get a large pot of water and a couple teaspoons of salt boiling on the stovetop. If using dried pasta, cook according to the package instructions. If using fresh pasta, cook for only 30 seconds to 1 minute in the boiling water. Pour the pasta into a calendar set inside the sink. Drain then pour into a serving dish and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice.
  6. Serve plates of pasta topped with a piece of cod and spoonfuls of agrodolce.

Sautéed Carrots and Asparagus

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A plat of perfectly sautéed asparagus

Sautéed Asparagus


  • Author: RebeccaBlackwell

Description

Sautéed vegetables are just about the easiest, fastest way I can think of to add more vegetables to a meal, other than just putting out some pre-cut carrot and celery sticks. The trick to perfectly sautéed veggies every time is to slice them uniformly and then cook them quickly in a very hot pan with a minimal amount of oil.

Cooking vegetables over low heat, or cooking them too long, or in too much oil, results in soft soggy vegetables – not very appealing, in my opinion. For bright veggies that are tender-crisp, cook them quickly in a very hot pan, using the minimum amount of oil necessary to keep them from sticking.

*This recipe has been modified to fit this week’s meal plan. Click here for the original recipe. 


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of asparagus
  • 6 large carrots
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • a lemon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Snap the asparagus spears in half, allowing them to break wherever they naturally want to. Discard bottom half of stalks or, reserve in the freezer for Cream of Asparagus Soup.
  2. Peel and trim the ends of the carrots, and slice them strips that are 2-3 inches long and no thicker than a pencil.
  3. Heat about 1 tsp of oil in a sauté pan or wok over high heat until the oil is just beginning to smoke. If using a 12-inch pan, add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the asparagus tips to the hot oil. If your pan is smaller or larger, adjust accordingly. You want to be able to spread the vegetables into an even layer across the bottom of the pan so that each pieces is touching the pan. If they are stacked on top of each other, there are too many in the pan at once.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, spatula, or tongs, toss the asparagus around in the hot oil for a few seconds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to toss until they are crisp-tender and blackening in spots. This will happen quickly. Have a fork ready beside the pan so that you can quickly remove one pice and bite into it to test.
  5. Immediately remove from the pan to a plate or serving platter. Repeat with remaining asparagus tips.
  6. If desired, squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the cooked vegetables and toss. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Notes

*Serve half the veggies tonight and reserve the other half for Couscous Salad on Day #3.

Tahini Marinated Grilled Chicken with Couscous

Chicken thighs marinated in lemon, tahini paste, garlic, and herbs are grilled and served over couscous with a chili yogurt tahini sauce. Simple, quick, crave-worthy.

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Tahini Grilled Chicken with Couscous on a plate with tomato and cucumber salad.


  • Author: RebeccaBlackwell
  • Total Time: 30 minutes (plus time to let the chicken marinade)
  • Yield: 4 servings (plus planned leftovers)

Description

*For a family of four, this recipe makes enough chicken for tonight’s meal PLUS plenty of leftover chicken for Thai Chicken Soup on Day #4, and enough couscous for tonight’s meal PLUS couscous salad on Day #3. Reserve all leftover chicken and couscous in covered containers in the refrigerator.

Tahini is, essentially, sesame seed paste. Or, perhaps we should say, sesame butter. It’s smooth, creamy, and nutty, but milder and more savory than most nut butters. Good tahini is like peanut butter – so good you want to eat it by the spoonful. Bad tahini is bitter. Sometimes to the point that it tastes like there is vinegar in it. It also lacks luxurious creaminess, feeling chalky and grainy in your mouth.

So what kind of tahini do you buy? My two favorite brands are Pepperwood Tahini and Soom Tahini, neither of which are available in my local market, so thank the tahini gods for the internet. Both contain nothing but ground sesame seeds and are luxuriously creamy and delicious.

If you’re feeling a bit more industrious, you can also make your own tahini. This is article from the Kitchn that will show you how.

*This recipe has been modified to fit this week’s meal plan. Click here for the original recipe. 


Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups pure ground sesame tahini paste
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 3 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 – 6 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups dried couscous
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt, preferably Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp chili garlic sauce

Instructions

  1. Make the marinade: Add the olive oil, tahini, shallot, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, rosemary, parsley, soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Put the chicken in a shallow baking dish or bowl. Pour all except 1/2 cup of the marinade over the chicken. Turn the chicken in the marinade to coat each piece completely. Cover the chicken and the reserved 1/2 cup of marinade and put in the refrigerator. Let chicken marinate for at least 8 hours, and as long as 24.
  3. To Grill the Chicken: Heat an indoor or outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade, brushing off excess marinade as you do, and cook the chicken on the grill until no pink remains on the inside and the chicken registers 165 degrees on a kitchen thermometer. Alternatively, cut a pice of chicken in half and if there is no pink inside, the chicken is done.
  4. To Bake the Chicken: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chicken from the marinade, brushing off excess marinade as you do, and place in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, the chicken registers 165 degrees on a kitchen thermometer. Alternatively, cut a pice of chicken in half and if there is no pink inside, the chicken is done.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, cook the couscous: Add 3 cups of water to a saucepan. Add the butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in couscous. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
  6. Make the sauce: Remove the reserved marinade from the refrigerator and pour it into a bowl. Add the yogurt and chili garlic sauce and stir to combine. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt, honey, chili garlic sauce, if desired.
  7. To serve: pile some couscous on a plate, top with a piece or two of chicken and a spoonful of sauce.

Fresh Cucumber Tomato Salad with Mint

Fresh cucumbers and tomatoes are tossed in vinegar, oil, and fresh mint for a refreshing salad that is the perfect accompaniment to middle eastern inspired foods such as Tahini Marinated Grilled Chicken.

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Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Cucumber and Tomato Salad


  • Author: RebeccaBlackwell
  • Total Time: 10 minutes (plus 30 minutes of resting time)
  • Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 or 4 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper

Instructions

  1. Remove the stem and the core from the tomatoes and dice. Add to a bowl along with the diced cucumber.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to a small bowl and whisk with a fork to combine. Pour over the tomatoes and cucumbers. Toss the vegetables gently in the dressing to coat. Cover and let stand at room temperature or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors blend.

Couscous Salad with Spring Vegetables and Agrodolce

This colorful spring salad is a delicious mix of couscous, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, and arugula, all dressed up with spoonfuls of shockingly delicious sweet and sour Agrodolce. 

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A plate of couscous and vegetable salad with Agrodolce.

Couscous Salad with Spring Veggies and Agrodolce


  • Author: RebeccaBlackwell
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 large salads

Description

*This recipe has been modified to fit this week’s meal plan. Click here for the original recipe. 


Ingredients

  • Agrodolce, at room temperature
  • Cooked couscous, reserved from Day #2
  • 12 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 3 large carrots, ends trimmed and peeled
  • 1 medium to large yellow onion, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 16 oz cauliflower, broken into small florets
  • 16 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cups arugula, spinach or kale
  • 1 large lemon

Instructions

  1. Pull the Agrodolce and couscous that  you made earlier in the week out of the refrigerator and let them sit out for an hour or so to allow it to come to room temperature. Alternatively, heat them in the microwave (seperatly) in 10 second intervals, stirring and testing the temperature, until they are at room temperature.
  2. Remove the sautéed asparagus and carrots from the refrigerator that you prepared earlier this week and spread them out onto a plate. Heat them in the microwave in 10 second intervals, just until they are lukewarm – at about room temperature.
  3. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a skillet set over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the sliced onion, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to brown. Use tongs to remove the cooked onion from the pan and place it in a bowl with the carrots and asparagus.
  4. Put the pan back on the heat and add about 1 tsp more oil if the skillet is dry. Add the cauliflower florets, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and sauté until the pieces are blackening around the edges, about 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the florets from the pan and place in the bowl with the other veggies.
  5. Return the skillet to the heat and add 1 tsp more oil if the skillet is dry. Add the cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until their skin is blistered, 3-4 minutes. Dump the cherry tomatoes into the bowl with the other veggies.
  6. Add the arugula to the bowl with the other vegetables. Squeeze about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over the vegetables and toss to combine. Add the cooked couscous to the bowl with the vegetables and gently stir to combine.
  7. Divide the salad onto plates and serve topped with several spoonfuls of agrodolce.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

This Thai chicken soup is slightly spicy, light and creamy, and packed with tender chicken, bok choy, rice noodles, and the flavors of curry and coconut.

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Thai Chicken Noodle Soup topped with peanuts, cilantro, and chili garlic sauce

Thai Chicken Soup with Noodles, Coconut, and Curry


  • Author: RebeccaBlackwell
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings

Description

*This recipe has been modified to fit this week’s meal plan. Click here for the original recipe. 


Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or vegetable oil
  • 3 large shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp Thai seasoning blend (*I often use this brand of Thai seasoning. Or, you can mix up your own Thai Seasoning.)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Two 14-oz cans coconut milk, unsweetened, reduced or full-fat
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 lb bok choy, leaves removed, stalks chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz red curry paste
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • 7 oz pad Thai rice noodles
  • 12 pounds leftover cooked Tahini Chicken, shredded or cut into bite-size pieces

Garnishes:

  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Chili Garlic Sauce
  • Chopped scallions
  • Peanuts, roasted and salted
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallots and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are soft, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in cilantro and Thai seasoning and cook 1 minute longer. Add chicken broth, coconut milk, and sugar. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors blend.
  3. Add bok choy and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender. While the bok choy cooks, combine the lime juice, red curry paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce in a small bowl. Stir it into the soup along with the salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add cooked chicken and pad Thai noodles. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes to cook the noodles and warm the chicken.
  5. Serve with garnishes.

Perfect BLT Sandwiches with Special Sauce

It’s hard to beat a good Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. While this humble sandwich is free from pretense and fuss, it’s simplicity demands the highest quality ingredients and a really, really good sauce. Here’s how to make a kick-ass BLT.

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A perfect BLT sandwich with special sauce.

Perfect BLT Sandwiches {quality ingredients & secret sauce}


  • Author: RebeccaBlackwell
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 pound good quality, thick sliced bacon
  • 8 slices of thick-cut, hearty bread
  • 2 tbsp butter (optional)
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • Salt and pepper
  • Iceberg or Romaine lettuce

For the BLT sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp dill pickle relish
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat until warm. Add a few slices of bacon and cook until crisp on both sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain while you cook the rest of the bacon.
  2. Toast the slices of bread, buttering the outside of the slices. Buttering the bread is optional.
  3. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Assemble the sandwiches: spread one slice of bread with a generous amount of BLT sauce. Lay a couple slices of bacon over the sauce, top with a slice or two of tomato and a few pieces of lettuce. Top with another piece of toasted bread and serve.