week 9

FRIDAY: date night!
SATURDAY: hoisin salmon noodle bowls
SUNDAY: vietnamese pork stir fry
MONDAY: steak & onion sarnies
TUESDAY: kale & black bean burrito bowls
WEDNESDAY: lentils with fennel & halloumi
THURSDAY: zucchini-stuffed shells

oh how i love noodles! any kind really. but especially rice noodles or soba noodles. so good!  starting us off this week was a meal i’d made for the first time earlier this summer: hoisin salmon & soba noodle bowls. there’s a lot of stuff going on here: caramelised salmon plus roasted cauliflower & brussels spouts on top of a pile of soba noodles and coated in a lovely hoisin/tahini sauce. it’s supposed to be roasted broccoli but i just can’t, i’m afraid. i also streamlined her recipe a bit. basically i just baked the salmon in the oven cos that was way easier. then i broiled it for a minute of two to achieve the caramelisation. and i made a couple changes to the sauce: cut way back on the sesame oil (like 1 Tbsp instead of 6!) & halved the ginger, altho next time, i’ll decrease the soy sauce too. also, ¼ cup sesame seeds? that’s a lot; i just sprinkled about a tsp or so over each bowl. i think this is a very flexible recipe that people can get creative with and end up with an amazing meal. we loved it!

okay so I’ve made these steak and onion sarnies before and while they were tasty, i did not love them. the flank steak was a bit tough and more than a bit flavourless. which shouldn’t have been a surprise considering the recipe says nothing about marinating overnight, which is all i’ve ever done with flank steak. anyway, this time (because i didn’t want to give up),i used striploin and it was so much better! all that steak business aside… the real star of this recipe is the thick-cut caramelised onions! oh my goodness, they are amaaaaazing! i can imagine these onions in soooo many other sandwiches or burgers… they’re caramelised but still have a bit of crunch to them. oof! so good!!

this might well be my favourite vegetarian dish: lentils with roasted sweet potato, fennel and halloumi. i literally cannot get over how amazing it is — even as I’m eating it, I’m repeatedly saying, between mouthfuls, “omg, this is my favourite vegetarian dish. i literally cannot get over how amazing it is!!!” okay, so: roasted sweet potato, onion AND fennel! how good is that?? add that to some french green lentils (aka lentilles du puy) tossed with minced garlic and balsamic vinegar and a titch of olive oil. and then on top of everything, pan fried halloumi cheese!! whaaat? flavour explosion!! actually, this might be my favourite dish, vegetarian or not! i am thinking i will bring this to next summer’s block party and win all the prizes. but i will also make it loads before then.

my mum used to make stuffed zucchini boats in tomato sauce when i was little and i loved them. i think i even requested them for my birthday dinner one year. granted i never used to eat the “boat” part, just the filling, and that was fine, cos she and i both knew i didn’t like zucchini. fast forward to many years later when i found out that the delicious filling inside said boats was primarily zucchini.

guess what? i still don’t want to eat the “boats” so I’ve adapted my mum’s recipe a bit. now i just peel those pesky zucchinis, mix the chopped pulp with the rest of the filling and stuff it all inside some jumbo pasta shells. ah the memories..

zucchini-stuffed shells

250 g jumbo pasta shells
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
3 medium zucchini, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb lean ground beef
1 egg
½ cup fresh bread crumbs (i used ¼ cup dried bread crumbs)
6 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper, or to taste
1½ cups plain tomato sauce

bring large pot of salted water to boil. cook shells for a minute or two shy of al dente; they will continue to soften once stuffed and in the oven. preheat oven to 375°F.

meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp olive oil in large skillet and cook onion until soft, then add zucchini and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. season with salt and pepper. put in sieve or colander to drain (i got about 2 tsp of liquid out of this so would probs skip this step next time).

heat remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil in same skillet and brown the beef, seasoning with salt and pepper. drain off any fat.

in large mixing bowl, lightly beat egg ; add zucchini mixture and beef and combine. add bread crumbs, 2 tbsp parmesan cheese, oregano and salt & pepper. mix well.

when pasta is cooked, drain; rinse and drain again.

pour tomato sauce into a 9×13 baking dish. spoon filling into shells till full but not overflowing.  i managed to fill 25 and had about 7-8 leftover. arrange stuffed shells in baking dish with tomato sauce.  sprinkle remaining ¼ cup parmesan cheese over top.

bake for 30 minutes or so, or until tomato sauce is bubbling around the edges and cheese is melted.  remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.


didn’t get an opportunity to make the stir fry (new recipe) or the burrito bowls (old favourite) but there’s always next week.


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