A good sequel can be hard to execute — see “Thor: The Dark World.” But the fervor with which you all wrote in requesting a follow-up to last month’s meal plan newsletter was so great that I had to take a crack at my own “The Godfather Part II.”
So I made you (another!) meal plan. The ground rules are simple: I pick recipes with plenty of ingredient overlap and occasionally make small substitutions. You get a budget-minded menu of three vegetarian recipes, minimal waste and maximum satisfaction. This selection shines a spotlight on fresh herbs, but don’t let the fear of them wilting scare you off.
Before you make crispy rice with lima beans and eggs, a vibrant and tangy chopped salad with feta and avocado and a chickpea salad with scallions, you’ll need a grocery list:
1 bunch fresh dill
1 small bunch parsley
1 bunch scallions
1 medium English cucumber
1 heart of romaine
1 small bunch celery
1 to 2 lemons
1 (at least 8-ounce) bag frozen lima beans or shelled edamame
Pita or sandwich bread
1 carton of eggs
5 to 6 ounces feta cheese
1 (single-serving) container plain full-fat Greek yogurt
4 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas
1 jar of your favorite green olives
Basmati or jasmine rice
I assume you have salt, black pepper and olive oil already, and it’s likely that you have mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and capers, too. If not, restock.
A common complaint about buying fresh herbs is that they go bad quickly. So treat them like a cherished bouquet: Trim the stems and place them in a glass of water, and then use a plastic produce bag to loosely cover the herbs. Pop them in the fridge and change out the water or snip the ends whenever the tops look a little wilty. (Basil is the exception: Leave it out at room temperature.) If space is limited, simply roll your herbs in paper towels and refrigerate them in an unsealed bag.
While I love an artful garnish, when I’m meal planning I prefer to reach for recipes in which tender herbs like dill and parsley (or other delicate produce like scallions) play a more substantial role. That way, I can all but guarantee I’ll use them up!
And as far as substitutions go, lemon juice steps in as a cheaper alternative to the red wine vinegar in the chopped salad recipe. If you already have the vinegar at home, just buy one lemon for the crispy rice. And if you get pita for the chopped salad, you can also stuff it with the chickpea salad for an easy, on-the-go lunch or dinner.
Chickpea Salad With Fresh Herbs and Scallions
One More Thing!
It helps to use delicate herbs like dill quickly, but if there’s any left over, use it in this easy dill vinaigrette. And while you could skip the parsley that appears in two of the recipes in favor of using only dill, buying some means you can use whatever is left to make a basic herb salsa. It’s a great repository for the zest of the lemons, as well as any remaining scallions.
Finally, I wanted to draw your attention to one smart reader comment below the chopped salad recipe, from Kel. B:
Meal prep tip. Combine the chicken peas, cucumbers, green olives, dressing, herbs, and feta. Keep in the refrigerator until you want to eat. Fresh romaine, fresh avocado, some more parsley, top with your refrigerated veggies, and croutons. Delicious recipe!
Thanks for reading, and see you next week!
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