I have the best week-night dinner recipe. Please help me find more?
April 7, 2015 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Sukuma Wiki is hands down the best weeknight recipe. I'd like to find more like it. Keep reading for the particulars.

The virtues of this dish I'd like to replicate:

Fast & easy
Perfect for after work. The chopping takes about 10 minutes, the cooking takes about another 10. It's fairly brainless to do, and you really can't mess it up. It's okay if you add too much jalapeño or too much cinnamon, or not enough coriander, or whatever.

Additionally, the ingredients themselves are things you can find in nearly every grocery store. I don't have to hunt.

The few and simple ingredients cost me about 15 bucks, and it feeds 2 people. The spices (start-up costs) were more, but I'm open to that—if it's a dish I'll eat all the time.

It's super, super flavorful. No bland "diet" food here.

Low carb, nothing starchy. Tons of protein from the meat, and tons of leafy, nutritious greens and tomatoes.

Easily modified
Add beans or corn. Or make lettuce wraps. Or put it over couscous or in a tortilla, for the carb-ier of days. (This attribute is lowest on the list, but I do find it nice to be able to mix recipes up.)

That's it! Thanks for your help!
posted by functionequalsform to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 147 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh - and it doesn't have to follow the "meat + greens + spices" format. It can be "baked chicken + X + Y" or anything else. As long as it has the attributes listed above! THANKS!
posted by functionequalsform at 6:04 AM on April 7, 2015

I make cabbage with sausages kind of like your recipe. Chop onions, sausage and cabbage up and cook them in a big pan with some butter and/or olive oil and a big can of diced tomatoes and salt and pepper. I let it cook for at least half an hour or so to make the tomato flavor soak in.

I also make some baked chicken things - bake chicken and when it's almost done, dump out the extra juice and pour on a bunch of soy sauce and honey and broil for a minute to make the honey on the skin crunchy.

Or bake chicken breast or thighs and when it's done and you've poured out the juice, cut a slit in each piece and stuff in cottage or ricotta cheese then put mozzarella and spaghetti sauce on top and broil for a few minutes to let the cheese melt.
posted by artychoke at 6:18 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

OK -- This is my go-to weeknight one-pot meal. It does take a bit longer, but it lasts two nights for two people. In a large soup pot, sauté one onion, and a few carrots, celery and cloves of garlic. Then add some lentils (I don't do measurements, so I'd say a couple of cups or so). Then enough water to cover the lentils and veggies x 2…maybe 8 cups more or less. Then chuck in some salt, pepper and thyme, or whatever spices you like. All this comes to a boil. Chop and add in two more veggies…whatever you have on hand. Anything will do here…from cabbage to collards to fennel green. Turn to simmer. Now use some leftover meat from the weekend. This week I have some ham left over from Easter. Usually it's two ready made Applegate sausages that I just chop up and throw in. Let it cook for about 20 minutes or more, at least until the lentils are softish. Voila. You can eat this like a soup, or put it on top of rice, or mix into a salad. It's nutritious, filling, tasty and flexible. Sorry I don't have pix or a recipe. I just kind of create as I go with what I have on hand.

Often times, I'll do the first step of sautéing the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in the morning, then put the pot in the fridge and do the rest at night when I come home.
posted by zagyzebra at 6:24 AM on April 7, 2015

Sausage and lentils takes 20 minutes, start to finish: Cook lentils in a shallow pan, toss in cut up sausage. Season with thyme, oregano, garlic, onion.

Pork chop and sauerkraut: put pork chops in pan, dump over sauerkraut, braise on stove or even in oven.

"Taco chicken": Put boneless skinless chicken thighs (best) or breasts (alright) in pot, dump in a jar of salsa, braise for ~30-40 minutes until chicken shreds easily with a fork. Serve with taco shells, lettuce wraps, or whatever, and with all the condiments you want. (This can be made in the slow cooker too.)
posted by OmieWise at 6:51 AM on April 7, 2015

Here are a few of my brainless after-work recipes:
"Crack" slaw (it's a Reddit thread, but it's the best recipe for this I've found): Low carb and along the same lines as the recipe you linked above. Using coleslaw mix means the chopping is minimized.
Shakshuka: This is a vegetarian version (except for the eggs), but you can add meat to it too. Comes together really quickly from pantry ingredients.
Chipotle salsa baked chicken: Takes about 10 minutes to put together and then you just wait for it to bake.
Roasted spaghetti squash with sausage and kale: This takes very little time if you cook the spaghetti squash in the microwave.
All of the above are low-carb.
posted by peacheater at 6:59 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

White beans, kale, chicken sausage (or sausage of your preference), onions, sauteed in a large ish pan. I use canned white (cannellini) beans for speed. The basic prep is a glug of olive oil in the pan, heat, throw in 1 onion roughly chopped, sliced sausage, cook till onions opaque. Drain and rinse beans, toss in the pan, then roughly chop kale and throw that in. You can use spinach or collards if you like. You can nix the beans if you like. You can add tomato. I season with some salt and pepper, sometimes smoked paprika if I remember. Cook till kale is nice and wilty.

The great part is that this can be made for one person or for 20 very quickly. The hardest part is probably cutting the onion (and weeping).
posted by thefang at 7:02 AM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Two of my staples:

1. Roasted chicken with potatoes and preserved lemon. You'll need to have a jar of preserved lemons on hand for this, but this is dead easy to make - you only need lemons, salt, and a jar (my recipe for preserved lemon at the end of this comment).* But once you have a jar of that done (it takes about 2 weeks to cure), then all you need is a couple chicken legs, about 4-5 potatoes, olive oil and salt. What you do is: chop up the potatoes roughly and toss them with some olive oil and salt, then spread that in the bottom of a pan just big enough to hold the potatoes and the chicken legs in a single layer. Fish out a couple of wedges of the preserved lemon, chop them up (or, if they're soft, just rip them into pieces) and tuck them among the potatoes. Add a half inch of water, lay the chicken legs on top of the potatoes, and roast the whole thing at about 450 for 45 minutes.

2. There's a sausage-and-pepper thing I do too - for two people, you'd need 2 ready-made sausages, 2 bell peppers, and maybe half an onion and one small tomato. You chop and saute the onion first, then chop the tomato and throw it in for a minute - then cut the tomato into strips and slice the sausages (I sometimes get fancy and chop that into strips too) and throw that in the pot with a drizzle of water, then cook on about medium-low for a half hour. (Check the pot now and then to make sure it's got enough water.) Serve over pasta or polenta.

* For a pint of preserved lemons (which is a decent size), you'll need a clean pint-size jar, about six or seven lemons, and salt. Quarter 3 of the lemons to start, then drop a couple of the wedges in the bottom of the jar. Scatter a good tablespoon of salt on top. Then add another couple lemon wedges, and another layer of salt. Keep going like that - and every so often press down on the lemons to make sure they're all smooshed in and that they start releasing their juice. If you need to quarter another couple lemons, do that - you want to fill the jar. Then when it's just about full, juice whatever leftover lemons you have and pour that juice in the jar; try to cover the lemon wedges/salt combo with the juice. Cover the jar and leave that on your counter for a week or so, giving everything a good shake once a day. After a week, move the jar into your fridge. To use a preserved lemon you just fish one back out of the jar and either chop it up or mush it - it can be quite soft. It's a great way to get some seasoning into things - I will often smear a mushed-up preserved lemon onto fish fillets before broiling them, or mash a piece with some butter and herbs to smear under the skin of a chicken (or a chicken leg) if I'm roasting it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:06 AM on April 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Another good weeknight recipe: One Pan Sage and Onion Chicken and Sausage. It does require premarination, but this can be done upto two days earlier, so you could definitely do this on a Sunday night and have it ready to go for Monday or Tuesday. Minimal chopping.
posted by peacheater at 7:40 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I like this recipe for Red Lentil Dal. I make things easier on myself by just putting my garlic cloves in a garlic press, and skipping step 2 and just chopping the tomatoes. In step 3, I heat the oil, add the spices till they start to pop, then add the onions and garlic and cook gently until translucent, about 3 minutes. Then I add in the tomatoes at this stage instead of step 4 and then proceed with the recipe as written after that. It's pretty easily modified in other ways if you want.

This Broccoli Frittata is really easy.
posted by gudrun at 7:42 AM on April 7, 2015

Maybe a more boring answer than you are looking for, but I find it easy and cheap to mix and match veggies and meats for dinner. Here are some common capsules in our house:

Veggies (easy and cheap, minimal seasoning necessary):
--Kale - it takes 4 minutes. Just add garlic, sesame oil, and a little soy sauce.
--Steamed broccoli. Chop, place in steamer, wait 10 minutes, add butter or parmesan to serve
--Steamed cauliflower. Same as broccoli, wait 20 minutes
--Brussels sprouts. Baked, possibly with bacon or onion. Butter and salt/pepper to taste.
--Green beans. Stove top, with almonds. Good also with olive oil and shallots.

You can mix and match these with stove-top fried sausages (you can usually get pre-cooked kielbasas for $2-3 each, but raw sausage does not take long), with applesauce, mustard, or horseradish; baked or sautéed chicken with garlic, onion, oregano, parsley; or baked fish in a simple lemon/garlic sauce with thyme or rosemary.

Chicken Caesar salad is also super easy, and a great low-carb option if you skip the croutons. All you need is chicken, romaine, parmesan, and anchovies. You could also skip the chicken and use the salad as a side, or roll in a wrap to go.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:56 AM on April 7, 2015

Lemony Kale and Quinoa Salad from Budget Bytes seems like it should fit your criteria.
posted by capricorn at 8:47 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

i don't think this is what you're after, but it's what i cook when i want to eat cooked food and can't think of anything. Method: do everything sort of at once, so to speak. Peel and segment an orange. Fry an egg. Wash and sort and shake the water off of a packet of watercress and throw the wilted and yellow and broken bits in the recycling and the bag in the bin. Stack the orange segments on top of the watercress on top of the egg on top of a plate. Eat fast. Wash up. Oddly it goes. Or maybe it doesn't. Happened at random once and stuck.
posted by maiamaia at 11:31 AM on April 7, 2015

NB watercress used to be crunchy thick dark green peppery stuff you stuck the bunch in a jamjar on the windowsill and it lasted a week. Apparently humans got sick of bending over double in freezing cold streams uprooting it and now it's mown using some sort of machine. The resultant matte, yellowy, finely cut rubbish is the bits we used to throw away. Domestic rocket, which is milder and has bigger leaves than the wild stuff, might be a sort of substitute, but it's kind of sour or something, like mustard greens are, whereas watercress isn't, it's peppery. Also, like herring, what used to be poor man's food is now incredibly expensive. So if you're under 40 you've probably never eaten it. (And land cress doesn't taste like it and watercress doesn't grow in pots. Save your energy.)
posted by maiamaia at 11:34 AM on April 7, 2015

It may not be as specific as you're asking for, but my wife and I are totally excited by Mark Bittman's new book, How to Cook Everything Fast. It's the first cookbook I've ever had that has accurate cooking times. Each recipe has been carefully developed with handy "in-between" steps so you can prep and cook at the same time, which saves lots of time. Even if you haven't been excited by Bittman's other books, this one is just awesome.

Even better: everything we've cooked has tasted fantastic! Most of the recipes have pretty simple and inexpensive ingredients. The recipes have 1-3 variations printed right beside them to mix things up, along with super-simple side dishes. Most of the recipes are set up as one-pot meals as well.

It's also a huge book with tons of recipes. Seriously, this is a fantastic week-day cookbook and it's quickly becoming our go-to for everyday use. Worth a look at least.
posted by dellsolace at 1:16 PM on April 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Chicken curry in a wok?

In a wok, heat some oil or a mix of oil and butter.

When it is hot, add green curry paste to taste and stir till the aromas are strong and lovely - less than a minute.

Add chunks of chicken breast, stir til they have a little color.

Add chopped vegs to your taste: shallots or spring onions, bell pepper or chilies, any type of greens, cauliflower, potato, cherry tomatoes - it's up to you, this is easy, tasty food made with what is in the fridge, not something authentic and complicated.

Add a small can of coconut milk and an equivalent amount of chicken stock.

Flavor with lemon or lime juice and light soy sauce.

If you like it, add a lot of cilantro just before serving.

We sometimes eat it as a stewy soup, with flat bread, and sometimes with rice.

It can be made with pork, as well, or entirely vegan, and shrimps can be added in the last minutes.
posted by mumimor at 3:07 PM on April 7, 2015

I'm a fan of Cajun-ish breaded fish. Mix together some corn meal, flour, salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning (some mixture of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic/onion powder, oregano, whatever) and put it on a plate. Take a filet of a white fish (I prefer catfish due to its texture and price), dredge it in egg, then dredge in your flour mixture. Cook in a pan of hot oil for 3-5 minutes a side, until the breading is solid and the fish flakes at its thickest part.

I like to serve it with ersatz tartar sauce (mayo, mustard, turmeric, garlic powder, lemon, diced pickle, hot sauce/sriracha/gochujiang), lemon-parmesan broccoli (which is itself ready in 30 minutes or so), and some rice. Almost all the ingredients are flexible (omitting half the spices wouldn't hurt it much) and it makes for great leftover sandwiches.
posted by Turkey Glue at 3:44 PM on April 7, 2015

Some of my favorite dishes that my family would cook all the time and that I now replicate for quick dinners:
- Tomato and egg: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/stir-fried-egg-and-tomato-352835
- Luffa and egg: if you happen to live next to an Asian grocery store that sells luffa, try this out: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/12/stir-fried-luffa-gourds-eggs-recipe.html
- Baked brussel sprouts: sprinkle some salt, pepper and olive oil on top of the sprouts and stick them in the oven
- Baked salmon: sprinkle salt, pepper and squeeze some lemons on top of the salmon and stick it in the oven
posted by movicont at 6:03 PM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sausage scramble

1 apple
1 stalk of celery
1 lb. sage sausage

Chop apple. Chop celery. Crumble sausage in skillet. Add apple and celery. Cook until sausage is browned. Serve in bowls.
posted by maurreen at 8:16 PM on April 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Broiled Chicken and Artichokes.

This is my go-to meal when I have a friend over. Easy enough that you can keep up a conversation while putting it together. I usually halve the amount of chicken, and keep the amount of artichokes the same.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 7:44 AM on April 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I do have a meat + greens + spices combo that is fantastic: Italian Wedding Soup.
It's pork/beef/whatever + spinach/kale/whatever + basil, oregano and parmesan (not a spice but you get my drift).

The labor in this recipe is in rolling the meatballs, especially since they are supposed to be tiny-ish. But make them big if you don't care and either way this is a super fast, super healthy, super delicious soup-meal. Go ahead and follow that recipe the first time you make it; after that you can just wing it. I like the meatballs to be as soft and smooshy as possible, so I use lots of bread/cracker crumbs and milk for mine. You can use whatever ground meat you want, or combination thereof. I think pork + turkey is pretty awesome. Or just turkey, but the fat in the pork makes it taste better. For greens, you can use spinach, or kale or collards or whatever. You can add pasta, or not add pasta. You can use chicken stock for a base, or just water. It's delish.
posted by kitcat at 1:43 PM on April 13, 2015

I just discovered something that was an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING side dish and could easily be adapted into main-dish status with the addition of a protein. Technically the baking time puts it out of your "fast" range - the cookbook I had called for this to be baked for 45 minutes at 350 degrees - but I threw it in the oven next to a roast chicken for 20 minutes at 425 and it came out fine. Basically it's just potatoes au gratin - except you use chopped tomato instead of milk.

For one person (which is how I do quantities of everything) you need a small potato, a small tomato, a garlic clove or two, olive oil, and a handful of parmaesan cheese. Chop the tomato and slice the potato and garlic. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a dish that's big enough to hold the potato slices in a single layer, then...lay in the potato slices in a single layer. Drizzle a tiny bit more olive oil on top and scatter the garlic slices over the potato. Then dump all the chopped tomato on top of that, and sprinkle with the cheese. Fling that in the oven - for best results, it should be at 350, but 425 is fine if you're in a hurry - and leave it there until the potato slices are tender and the top's starting to get a little bit of a crust.

I made this on a whim this weekend as an accompaniment to some roast chicken and it is now a new contender in my "I don't know what else to make for dinner" mental hitlist as well as my "I need comfort food" list. I bet it would be amazing if you also threw in some slices of precooked sausage (in fact, I may try that myself this weekend as a test).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:50 AM on April 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Pan-fried Giant White Beans with Kale

I use canned, non-giant white beans (either cannellini or habichuelas), and it's so amazingly good. Your recipe reminds me of it, so I'll have to try it out.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:09 AM on June 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

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