Hi there! Thank you so much for subscribing to The Fresh Letter. As a little token of my appreciation, I’m sharing a peek at the Friday newsletter, which I’ve dubbed The Fresh Letter Menu.
You can read more about this resource here, but in short, every Friday, I carefully curate a selection of recipes that come together to create a cohesive weekly meal plan. I share helpful tips and thoughts alongside each recipe to make cooking them a breeze. Everything is meal prep-friendly, so cook as much or as little as you’d like from it and as far in advance as 4-5 days before you plan to eat it. If this seems like it might be helpful, you can (for $1 a week!):
For this edition of The Fresh Letter Menu, I focused on little swaps, omissions, and shortcuts you can take to make each recipe I’ve shared a bit easier without sacrificing much in terms of flavor. In honor of Lunar New Year, tomorrow’s meal plan highlights some of my favorite Asian and Asian-American recipe writers. Upgrade to receive that and all future meal plan emails! Or maybe give it as a gift to a foodie Val-or-Gal-entine. Now, let’s get into it:
Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs (GF) I’ve made this Julia Turshen dish a number of times and it’s always been a slam dunk. It’s fairly low lift but if you’d like to make it a true breeze, I recommend picking up a jar of your favorite marinara sauce and skipping the homemade sauce all together.
White Bean and Kale Soup with Sausage (GF, VO) This soup works great on a menu with the kale salad below because both only call for a partial bunch, so together, you’ll buy a single bunch and use it up, instead of being left with a sad half bunch that wilts in the fridge. Prep the kale for both all at once, even if you plan to make the soup one night and the salad a few nights later or vice versa. Kale holds up chopped in the fridge for many days. Sub with plant-based sausage for a vegan version.
Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Garlicky Chickpeas (GF, V) The built-in protein in the form of chickpeas makes this salad main dish-appropriate, and the dressing from the lovely Remy of Veggiekins is also an I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-dairy revelation. My notes: when making kale salads, I always remove the entire stalk rather than just the bottom as called for in this recipe. If you have one, pulsing kale in a food processor a couple times is a really quick way to chop it and make it easier to digest. As with all cruciferous veggie-based salads, feel free to pre-dress this and store it until you plan to eat it. The longer it marinates, the better.
Miso Roasted Cauliflower (GF, V) I wrote this recipe and think it’s extremely straightforward. My guidance here is on multitasking: first, get the oven preheating, then do the prep for the cauliflower and pop it into the oven. While it roasts, start working on something else. Seems like a no-brainer, but I promise, consistently following this order of operations with roasted veggies will help get dinner on the table so much faster.
Massaged Winter Brussels Sprout Salad (GF, V) I think this salad is gorgeous as is, but if it feels a little ambitious for you (no judgment!), here are the ways I would simplify it without losing much of the flavor: opt for store-bought toasted or candied nuts, and sub the segmented oranges with canned mandarins. Since roasting the grapes will lend a lot of depth of flavor and is as easy as popping them in the oven, don’t skip that. The salad won’t be exactly the same, but you’ll get close. I also think this would be stupendous with a little crumbled feta if you eat dairy.
Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter (GF, Veg) Since we have the oven in play with a few of the other recipes here, I’ve opted to include a steamed, rather than roasted sweet potato recipe. There’s not a whole lot I’d change about this recipe, though you can definitely get away with omitting the toasted sesame seeds. They do add a nice crunch so you can also opt to buy them pre-toasted. Find these in the unfortunately vaguely named “international” aisle of your local market or from H-Mart or another Asian grocer.
Bonus! For this week’s menu, I also recommend picking up a good crusty bread from a local bakery (we’ve been really into the sourdough bread from Austin’s Easy Tiger) because it’ll make creating a full meal out of the soup and meatballs a breeze. Bake it yourself if you’re feeling extra ambitious. If you don’t think you’re going to get through it within a couple days, slice it and pop it in the freezer so you can pull out a slice-or-two to toast as needed.
That’s a wrap on this week’s menu. If you liked what you read here and think this resource could be useful to you, upgrade your subscription here.
With love and a tip of my chef’s hat,