I have been really mulling over how I would frame this particular discussion-I wasn’t sure if I wanted to release these recipes one by one, or loop them together in the same post, but I came up with a happy medium-thankfully-and I hope you like the layout also!
So here you are, my take on fresh, plant-based meal options that save time by cooking one day over the weekend and having fast, healthy options for those evenings that time isn’t always a guarantee.
I have often thought about that weekend day that likely involves going to the market, making a meaningful meal that doesn’t involve too many steps while you prepare several days’ worth of lunches and dinners to make things easier for a few days. I get it. With that in mind, I am here to help simplify that process with fresh pasta and steamed veggies, my take on curry croquettes, and a delicious vegetarian enchilada recipe, all that can be simplified and recipes that build on some amount of decent forethought in preparing a good deal of the ingredients over the weekend.
Now, for Meal 1: Fresh Cheese Tortellini and Steamed Veggies with a Lemon-Butter Sauce.
If any of your stores supply it, I would suggest in buying one of those large containers of fresh cheese tortellini (the family-size packets that total 2 pounds, 8 ounces), reserve enough for one meal, then spread the rest on a baking sheet and freeze them. After, piece them out for three more meals and add them to freezer bags. Doing it this way saved 50% in purchasing them in a smaller quantity, which would total 4 if we had purchased them that way. It’s also a pinch to get together for a speedy meal should our schedules require it!
Wash and drain 2 pounds of fresh green beans. Reserve one pound and spread the other on a baking sheet to freeze for later use. Slice 4-5 carrots at an angle.
Prepare the steamer basket by placing it in a bit of shallow water and a lid and pot of salted hot water for the pasta on the boil. Add the carrots and green beans for your current meal into the steamer and turn on the heat. Cover to steam.
In a small skillet, add 3-4 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat, a small shallot if you have it, garlic, a tablespoon olive oil, lemon rind (about a teaspoon will do), grated pepper, and a little crushed red pepper (should you not have little ones eating with you). Let this make a beautiful sauce for your green beans and pasta. Double the sauce recipe if you want the whole pound batch of steamed green beans double as a quick salad for weekday lunches or double as an even faster dinner side. (I would recommend adding some freshly sliced plum or cherry tomatoes right before serving and a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar.) This sauce should come together in under 5 minutes, and mind the temperature to ensure it doesn’t burn the garlic or shallot. Bonus points if you have some chives or parsley to add at the end!
I also made a quick mixed fruit and celery applesauce to go along with this that is incredibly easy to make. (I highlighted this recipe earlier last week on my Instagram-be sure to follow along for quick recipes!)
Next, cook the pasta according to the package directions, spoon a little sauce over the top of the pasta and the veggies.
I like to improvise this idea and take it in another direction. Take that Sunday roasted chicken. After you have carved slices at dinner, debone the chicken and make a bone broth with scraps from the last several days’ veggie skins, a head of garlic, and one bunch of parsley. Use some of the reserved chicken and add to a casserole with brown rice, cheese, and broccoli. I will rotate this idea and add these recipe themes in from time to time going forward, so I will be sure to expand on this as we go along.
Now that your belly is full, and your steamer is almost out of water, time to add more to that baby and let’s prep for the next few days!
Throw in the rest of the 1 pound bunch of green beans in the steamer. They are great as a salad with a bit of a vinegar-based dressing and marinated for up to three days. The ones in the freezer can be prepared quickly by heating a large skillet with water over medium-high heat and adding the frozen green beans in three batches to just blanche them and add to a butter garlic sauce, perhaps also topped with almonds? What’s your favorite take on green beans?
Turn on your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I was lucky enough to find beautiful kabocha and acorn squashes at my local market, but butternut or pumpkin would also be wonderful as well. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, brush with oil and dust with salt and pepper, then place cut-side-down on a silpat. Roast for 30 minutes or until you can pierce with a fork. Let these cool, then add them to a covered container until you are ready to use them!
Peel 5-6 large sweet potatoes and cut into cubes. Add to your steamer basket and cook until tender. Let cool and put in a sealed container until you are ready to make the croquettes and/or enchiladas.
I also use black beans in the enchiladas. I just happened to have some canned black beans so I wasn’t in a need to make them, so if you only have dry, be sure to soak and prepare those too. Beans can be terribly time consuming to make during the week-unless a slow cooker is involved!
If you decide you want extra sweet potatoes for the week, you can add some whole that have been pricked with a fork onto the baking sheet with the squash. Roasted sweet potatoes can be filled with cheese, chili, and any number of ingredients for a satisfying lunch.
Meal 1: Fresh Cheese Tortellini and Steamed Veggies with a Lemon-Butter Sauce