You’ll be seeing a lot more meal plans on Cook Smarts in the near future including a newsletter launch in the fall. All subscribers to the newsletter will get a meal plan every week in their inbox that’ll be peppered with cooking know-how, tips, and suggestions. There won’t be anything fancy in the menu – just simple, healthy, doable meals that everyone can cook and enjoy. We figure we can’t make it to everyone’s kitchen for an in-person cooking lesson, so consider these meal plans your virtual help line, cooking school, and organizer. You can sign up right here, and we’ll put you on the VIP waiting list. Before the newsletter launch though, we’ll be using the blog as a way to deliver our meal plans to you and would love to get your feedback in the meantime.
For this week, we’re combining two of our favorite things: pesto and reuse. Folks are constantly asking us how to be more efficient in the kitchen. Making a large batch of a simple (and currently seasonal) sauce like pesto on a Sunday night and then reusing it throughout the week is definitely one way to make your meals smarter and yummier at the same time. We’ve found a few other efficiencies too, such as making a large batch of caramelized onions and cooking whole grains earlier in the week. Carving out the time to prep will definitely require some habit / schedule changing for all of us, but once you do, it’ll make the rest of your week much easier.
A Week’s Worth of Pesto Uses – July 17th, 2012
Panko Pesto Crusted Salmon + Sautéed Swiss Chard with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
Grilled Tofu or Chicken + Pesto Potato Salad with Barley, Corn, and Peas
Spicy Pesto Pizza with Zucchini, Caramelized Onions, and Corn + Green Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese
Dirty Pesto Shrimp with Barley + Roasted Garlic Broccoli
To download the full plan with grocery list + very clear instructions on executing this menu, click here
To see one of our favorite ways to use pesto, check out our Dirty Pesto Shrimp with Barley recipe below:
Dirty Pesto Shrimp with Barley
- Barley or semi-pearled farro, cooked – 2 cups
- Shrimp, frozen – 1 lb.
- Roma tomatoes – 4
- Jalapeno – 1
- Smoked paprika – 1/4 tsp.
- White wine – 1/2 cup
- Limes – 1
- Pesto sauce – 3 to 5 tbs.
- Barley / semi-pearled farro: This meal plan calls for cooking these whole grains on your prep day (ideally a Sunday afternoon or evening), since they do take a bit to cook. However, if you’re looking to make just this recipe, cook 1 cup of barley / farro as you would pasta. Using a 3:1 water to grain ratio, bring a pot of water to boil. Add in a generous pour of kosher or sea salt and then grain. Lower heat, but keep the water at a boil. Cook until grains are tender – 45 minutes for barley (unless pre-soaked, which will cut cooking time in half), 25 minutes for semi-pearled farro. Store in an airtight container if not using right away
- Pesto: This meal plan also calls for making a large batch of pesto earlier in the week. You’ll have to get the pesto recipe by downloading the meal plan here (and know that you’ll be making enough for a week’s worth of delicious pesto meals!)
- Take frozen shrimp out of the freezer. Rinse shrimp a few times and then place in a bowl filled with lukewarm water
- Core tomatoes using a paring knife and then dice. Chop jalapeno by first removing the stem, slicing in half lengthwise, and removing as many seeds as you like (the seeds is where the heat is). Then chop jalapeno into strips lengthwise and form the dice by chopping perpendicular to the strips
- Drain shrimp. If the shrimp is still slightly frozen, run more lukewarm water into the bowl of shrimp until it’s no longer frozen. Once the shrimp is defrosted, toss with a generous pinch of kosher sal
- Heat a >3 quart saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tbs. olive oil to the pan. When the oil is warm*, add shrimp and toss until the shrimp is coated in the oil. Lower heat to medium and cook shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes until they’re light pink
- Then add leftover barley / farro, tomatoes, jalapenos, paprika, white wine, with a generous pinch of kosher salt. Simmer until the wine has evaporated and the shrimp are cooked through
- Spoon in a few tbs. of pesto and toss through until pesto is heated through. Squeeze half a lime into it. Taste and season with more kosher salt, paprika, or lime juice. In the photo above, I also had a few leaves of basil leftover, which I sliced up into ribbons and used as a garnish
Serve / Substitutes / Supplements
- Vegetarian: Substitute squares of tofu for the shrimp
- Kosher: Chicken thighs / breasts or a non-pork sausage will definitely do be delicious as well
- On the wagon: Feel free to skip the wine. The tomatoes will provide plenty enough flavor and liquid