Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. Image courtesy of Jackson Whole Grocer & Cafe.
Deciding what to cook for dinner can seem like a constant conundrum—especially when you’re striving to create healthy and delicious fare. For inspiration on nutritious suppers to add to the repertoire, we invited our editors across the country to ask culinary experts in their areas for their favorite, go-to healthy work-week meals. Here, they share four options from Scouted chefs that you can feel good about—from vegan offerings to satisfying, meat-centric dishes—and whip up on even the most hectic weeknight.
Spiced Lamb Stew
“Nothing is better and more easy than a one-pot stew, especially during the winter! This is my go-to stew, and the protein can easily be substituted for beef or chicken,” says Ian Rynecki, executive chef at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards in North Garden, Virginia. “Spend a little bit of time cutting everything, then watch the magic happen over a couple of hours as all the flavors marry together in the pot. I’d wager you have the majority of these items (minus the lamb!) in your pantry.”
Yields 6 servings
- 3 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1.5-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch sections
- 1 onion, medium diced
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice
- 2 leeks, sliced into 1/4-inch half moons
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 head fennel, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon coriander, toasted and ground
- 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
In a stock pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the cubes of lamb shoulder and sear until dark brown on all sides. Remove the meat from the pot, and set aside on a small plate. Add the butter followed immediately by the carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes, leeks, fennel, and potatoes. Stir to combine and add the white wine to deglaze the pot. Scrape up any browned bits and continue to stir. Sprinkle the vegetables with the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the chicken stock, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Leave the pot lid slightly ajar, and cook for 1 hour or until the lamb is tender and pulls apart easily. Serve with rice, pasta, or Ian’s favorite, a baguette.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Ian Rynecki of Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is featured in The Scout Guide Charlottesville. Christy Ford and Susie Matheson are co-editors of The Scout Guide Charlottesville.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
“The Mediterranean Quinoa Salad is a flavorful dish that will quickly become a favorite around your table,” says Jeff Rice of Jackson Whole Grocer & Cafe in Jackson, Wyoming. “The quinoa base is packed with health benefits like high protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, while the fresh herbs and orange slices bring a welcomed brightness to these winter months. Plus it’s quick and easy, which makes this healthy choice ideal for weeknights! We also recommended adding a piece of grilled chicken to round out the meal.”
Yields 6 servings
- 1 cup Kalamata olives, drained and halved
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
- 2 oranges, zested, peeled, and cut into segments
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring quinoa and 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Spread cauliflower onto a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast until golden brown and slightly crisp, about 25 minutes. Let cool. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, cauliflower, olives, almonds, orange zest, orange segments and any juices, parsley, and mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Walnut and Tarragon Stuffed Mushrooms
“This stuffed mushroom is hearty and rich, but leaves you feeling light while satisfied,” says Chef Ryan Ross of Lovage & Co. in Warrenton, Virginia. “It’s a great addition to your vegetarian and vegan repertoire if you participate in ‘Meatless Mondays,’ or if you are simply trying to get more plant-based dishes under your belt. It’s a fast, simple, and forgiving dish to add into your rotation.”
Yields 2 servings
- 2 portobello mushroom caps
- 1 tablespoon heat-safe oil, such as avocado or melted coconut oil, for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil
- 1 small shallot
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 yellow onion
- 1 cup of cremini mushroom caps and stems, chopped
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons prepared mayonnaise, traditional or vegan
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scrape out the gills (the black soft feathery underside) of the portobello caps to create a space for the filling. Drizzle both sides of the cap with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the portobellos scraped side down on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, but leave the mushroom caps on the baking sheet.
While the portobellos are baking, chop the garlic, shallot, and onion finely. In a medium skillet, melt the butter and add the chopped garlic, shallot, and onion to the pan with a good pinch of salt. Sweat and sauté until caramelized. Add the chopped cremini mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add more salt, some freshly ground pepper, and stir in the walnuts, mayonnaise, and tarragon.
Flip the portobello caps over so the scraped side is up. Pile each one high with the cooked mushroom and walnut filling. Drizzle with a little more oil and parmesan cheese, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more until warmed through and golden. Serve with a side of arugula dressed with olive oil, lemon, salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
Stuffed Bell Peppers with Feta & Spiced Lamb
“This is a simplistic dish. Even though it may have a lot of spices to add flavor, there are only a few other ingredients. It’s healthy, and we added some time-saving tricks to make it even quicker. You can also put the bell peppers together ahead of time and then bake when you are ready,” says chef Erin Rowe of Honeycomb Kitchen Shop in Rogers, Arkansas.
Yields 6 servings
- 6 medium red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, 1/2 inch trimmed off tops with cores and seeds discarded
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper flakes
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
- 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- Fresh cilantro, chopped to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped salted, toasted cashews
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust oven rack to the middle position. Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Add rice, boiling until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the rice and transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and stir occasionally until softened and brown, about 5 minutes. Add ground lamb, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes; cook, breaking lamb up with a spoon until no longer pink, about 4 minutes (lamb cooks fast because it is such a lean meat, so stay close). Stir in garlic and ginger; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl with the rice. Stir in tomatoes, feta, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Place peppers cut side up in a 9-inch square baking dish, individual ramekins, or muffin tins (any dish that will hold them up vertically). Using a soup spoon, divide the filling mixture evenly among peppers. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons chopped cashews over each filled pepper. Bake until filling is heated through, about 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately with a simple salad or tossed greens.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Erin Rowe of Honeycomb Kitchen Shop. Honeycomb Kitchen Shop is featured in The Scout Guide Northwest Arkansas. Rebekah Lawrence is editor of The Scout Guide Northwest Arkansas.