Our dinner routines, like most of the folks we know who work in food, are unconventional. Dinner is often a grouping of leftovers from work or a grain or starch accompanied by one of our homemade condiments. We get home late after long days in the kitchen and getting the knives out is the last thing we want to do, but like any other obsession, within a couple of hours the pull of the stove beckons and we jump right back in.
It is with these strange habits that we bring you our favorite ways to get dinner on the table without stressing. Follow the links for our favorite recipes and call our hotline (310.656.8800) with any questions!
1. Make your dinners the night before. I step in the door, run the bath for one of our three kids and warm up the dish I made the night before on the stove or in the oven. 20 minutes in and we’re sitting down and eating. Once the older monsters have washed dishes and wiped everything down, I’ll spend 20 minutes making dinner for the following evening and breakfast (because sleeping in an extra 10 minutes in the morning feels like winning the lottery).
2. Do-ahead condiments. The base for most of our meals are grains (rice, farro, etc), potatoes or pastas. To keep the “argh- (insert dish here)- again”! rants at bay, I take a few moments on the weekends to make sauces, dips and condiments to marinate, mix in or dollop atop said repeat starches.
3. Make 1-2 proteins a week. We save on time and money (and help keep the planet a little greener) by making one or two meat roast a week, parcelling them out here and between lunches and dinner, leaving room for vegetables to shine. One of our favorite vendors at the Santa Monica Farmers Market are Justin and Oliver from Peads and Barnett. We get one large chunk of pork belly a week at $12-$15; half gets gets roasted to crisp perfection and serve one night in tacos and the next day in sandwiches while the other half gets cubed to cook in the morning in place of bacon (it’s the best fat to fry eggs into)! Try roasting one large chicken as well- a 3-4 lb. bird will give you enough meat to toss into pasta, shred over a salad and serve over a bed of rice for three meals in one.
4. Vegetables + Oven = magic. Lose the bland side salads and make roasted vegetables the center of your meals. My favorite piece of equipment is a 16″ cast iron pan we got for $5 at a yard sale; she moves easily from stove to oven and is large enough to roast carrots, potatoes, braise chickpeas and perfectly caramelize Brussel sprouts.
5. Soups and Sandwiches make perfectly acceptable dinners. When making soup, be sure to double the recipe and freeze half for the occasional evening when nothing else will do but a chunk of crusty bread and warm soup you didn’t have to make that week. Give yourself an extra night off cooking a week by making your favorite monsters/roommates/spouse assemble dinner between two slices of bread.