Dinners with Easy Marinades and Sauces | Meal Plan Menu (5/10/21)

Dinners with Easy Marinades and Sauces | Meal Plan Menu (5/10/21)

This week of flavorful meals includes a jerk chicken salad, a Misir Wot recipe (ethiopian lentils with berbere spice), a Cajun chicken pasta recipe, and Asian pork chops. 

  • By Leila Kalmbach
  • May 7, 2021


Jerk Chicken Chopped Salad

This tasty dinner salad contains a variety of textures and flavors thanks to the sweet mango, spicy chicken, crunchy plantain chips, creamy avocado, and more. You’ll make a zesty jerk marinade for the chicken, which can be cooked on the stovetop or grill, then toss together the salad and dress it with a honey lime vinaigrette. This meal takes just 30 minutes of active time and contains 30 grams of protein — not to mention several servings of fresh produce!

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Make extra chicken so you can save time when you make Wednesday’s Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe. 

Diet Variation:

  • Using tamari instead of regular soy sauce is the only swap you need for a gluten-free dinner!
  • Swap honey and coconut aminos for brown sugar and soy sauce in the marinade and your meal will be paleo. 
  • Use tofu instead of chicken in the vegetarian version of this meal. 


Ethiopian Lentils (Misir Wot) and Collards (Gomen)

Two popular Ethiopian dishes come together in this easy weeknight dinner. Flavorful spices along with onions and garlic bring life to simple, healthy ingredients, and ghee or butter add richness. Balanced, well-rounded flavors will convert even vegetarian food skeptics, and it takes just 40 minutes start to finish. If you can find it, serve the meal with injera — a sour, spongy Ethiopian flatbread made of teff flour that’s full of nutritional benefits. 

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • This meal is spiced with berbere spice, a fragrant North African blend of spicy and sweet. You can buy it pre-mixed, or make your own with spices you likely already have.
  • If you can’t find injera, use any flatbread, or serve the meal with rice instead.
  • This meal can be made ahead of time and simply reheated when you’re ready to serve. It also makes a great freezer meal for a busy weeknight!

Diet Variation:

  • Serve this meal with basmati rice instead of flatbread in the gluten-free version.
  • Make Berbere-Spiced Meatballs with cauliflower rice instead of lentils and flatbread in the paleo version of this meal. 
  • No changes are needed for a vegetarian meal.

“Sometimes it’s easier for me to make a Cook Smarts meal than figure out what kind of takeout I want!”

— Rebecca C.K. (Member since April 2015)


Creamy Cajun Pasta with Chicken

This decadent-tasting pasta dish is spicy, creamy, and colorful — and surprisingly healthy. It comes together quickly, especially if you pre-cooked the chicken with Monday’s Jerk Chicken Salad. Fire-roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, and baby spinach add bright color, and you’ll use your favorite fun pasta shape for an even more visually appealing meal. A creamy white sauce pulls the dish together. This meal takes just 30 minutes to make, and contains just 12 grams of fat but 38 grams of protein!

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Leftover jerk chicken freezes well for future use, so make more if you’ve bought chicken in bulk!
  • You can also turn the leftover chicken into flavorful tacos, sandwiches, or wraps.

Diet Variation:

  • You’ll swap in tamari, gluten-free pasta, and gluten-free flour in the gluten-free version of this meal. 
  • The paleo version of the meal is a tasty Chicken and Sweet Potato Hash.
  • The vegetarian version uses pinto beans instead of chicken.


Asian Pork Chops with Ginger Miso Pan Sauce and Broccoli

These spice-rubbed pork chops are high in flavor thanks to Chinese 5-spice and other flavorful spices, as well as the rich pan sauce of fresh ginger, miso, sesame oil, and other savory ingredients. The pan sauce helps deglaze the pan and ensures that none of the delicious spices go to waste. The pork is served with a side of stir-fried broccoli and cashews with sesame seeds for a healthy, protein-packed meal.

Meal Planning Smarts:

  • Thinly slice leftover pork and use to make summer rolls. Learn how with this video.

Diet Variation:

  • Use tamari instead of soy sauce in the gluten-free variation of the meal. 
  • Make a few simple swaps for the paleo version, including using almond butter instead of miso, coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, and maple syrup instead of brown sugar.
  • Make Asian-Spiced Tempeh in place of pork for a vegetarian dinner.

All meals come with gluten-free, paleo, and vegetarian options, as well as a grocery list and optional weekend prep steps. Join our weekly meal plan service to get the grocery list, dinner steps, and more cooking tips for these 4 simple dinners.

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