I find meal planning to be a fun puzzle and it’s where I get extensive use out of my components and base recipes. I think in terms of meal planning/prepping, recipes are too limiting. It’s much easier to mix and match based on what you already have on hand. There’s a freedom that comes from tossing big recipes out the window.
What do I mean by components and base recipes?
Components: small recipes that produce an item that is used in various meals/forms. Sauces are an excellent example of this and simple roasted vegetables are both solid examples.
Base recipes: generic recipes that you can use components in. Master the basic concept of a recipe and use it across seasons and flavor profiles. Good examples of this are frittatas, grain bowls, and pasta.
And so, each week, I’m planning to share four ideas/recipes that work well together in a week. These recipes are often made from base recipes and use components I prep on the weekend. Use as-is or riff on endlessly (because the end goal is for you not to have to use recipes!)
This is one of those funky dishes that uses one of my favorite components: carrot puree. Once you prep the puree, this dish comes together quickly. Make a batch of carrot puree and use for this recipe and the carrot pasta.
Polenta swaps: This recipe uses non-traditional amaranth for the polenta base, but you could easily use traditional polenta or go a slightly different route by using millet.
Veg Puree: Swap out the carrot puree for sweet potato, butternut squash, or even beet puree.
Toppings: Use whatever nuts/seeds you have on hand (pecan, sunflower, or hazelnuts), and you can easily use fresh parsley than the parsley oil.
A classic from the archives, this chickpea stew is a solid favorite (as long as I have good bread to go with it). It’s also a wonderful way to use more of that parsley oil made to go with the amaranth polenta.
This is an odd little dish, but it is terrific for a quick, weeknight dinner. It uses the carrot puree from the polenta dish and made a bit creamier with the help of cashew cream (which can also be prepped on the weekend).
Veg puree: Similar to the polenta, you can swap the carrots out for something else. I love using sweet potato and butternut squash puree with pasta.
Greens: I mention this in the post, but arugula can be swapped out for other greens. You could use garlicky greens or go as simple as swapping spinach for the arugula.
Recipe 4: Falafel Bowls with Arugula + Hummus
Finally, a dish that gets made with some variance each week. Depending on if I remember or not, I’ll make falafel using pre-cooked beans (like in this recipe). I usually don’t add the quinoa, but the option is there.
If, however, I need to make hummus at the same time, I’ll soak two bowls of chickpeas (one for hummus and one for the falafel). Serve the bowl with arugula, hummus, and grains. I like to use bulgur for a quick-cooking option.
One other option: ditch the hummus for a simple cashew cream sauce. Add garlic and lemon juice into the premade cashew cream and let sit for a few minutes. This is a great option if you have leftover cashew cream from making the pasta!
I did not like tomatoes as a child. My mom grew tomatoes in our garden and I always turned up my nose at them. What a missed opportunity to enjoy something so delicious! As an adult with my own garden, I was excited to grow a big harvest this summer. Unfortunately, both tomato plants died before they produced any fruit! If you’re lucky enough to have a homegrown bounty of fresh tomatoes still warm from the summer sun, I beg you to make this marinated tomato and avocado salad.
In fact, I beg you to make this marinated tomato and avocado salad even if you don’t have a vegetable garden. That is, unless you’ve discovered this recipe in the dead of winter and all you can find are bland greenhouse tomatoes. In that case, bookmark this page and come back in summer when tomatoes have the absolute best flavor. I used pearl tomatoes on the vine for this recipe because they’re the perfect bite size when sliced into quarters. Feel free to use whatever tomatoes you have on hand!
This marinated tomato and avocado salad is a fantastic summer recipe whether you’re barbecuing at home or headed out for a picnic. The tomatoes can chill in the fridge while you prep the rest of your feast, making this a really simple recipe to prepare if you’re in charge of multiple dishes. Dice and add the avocado just before serving for the best results.
While incredibly fresh and delicious on its own, there are many ways you can bulk up this marinated tomato and avocado salad if you need to feed a crowd. Try adding cooked quinoa, couscous, or farro. Or, turn it into a pasta salad by adding cooked and cooled shells or penne. I have big plans to spread this salad on crusty bread for a bruschetta-inspired appetizer.
1 or 2 ripe avocados, diced (depending on your preference and the size of your avocados)
⅓ cup cilantro, chopped
Quarter the pearl tomatoes and place them in a large bowl. Peel the red onion and cut it in half from tip to root. Place the flat part of the onion on your cutting board and carefully slice it into thin half moons. Add the onion to the bowl with the tomatoes.
Combine the chopped garlic, lime juice, olive oil, agave, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. The marinade should be salty, tangy, and just a tad sweet – adjust the ingredients until balanced.
Pour the marinade over the sliced tomatoes and onion and gently toss to coat. Marinate the tomatoes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Just before serving, drain any excess liquid from the tomatoes. Tip: if you’re serving this salad with cooked quinoa, couscous, or pasta, reserve the marinade for extra dressing. Transfer the marinated tomatoes and onions to a serving platter and add the diced avocado. Top with chopped cilantro and serve fresh.