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Weeknight dinners with all the planning done for you

Our new series, Week of Meals, aims to make your decisions about what to eat for dinner a lot less stressful.
These glazed chicken thighs with cucumber salad are a part of our new Week of Meals series. Prop styling by Kate Parisian. Food styling by Leah Choi.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

A full calendar year into the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns, I know that a lot of people are tired of having to plan what to cook for dinner (trust me, I’m one of you too). That’s why we’ve started a new series called Week of Meals. In the series, you’ll go on one shopping trip, your total will be less than $100 for all the ingredients you need, and we’ll show you how to use up every bit of them to make dinner every weeknight for four people. I’m kicking off the first one in this series, but with each successive Week of Meals, we’ll have a different Southern California chef, cookbook author or recipe developer put their spin on the concept, showing off how they create dinner for themselves from what they can find at their local grocery stores.

For my series, I wanted to show you how I like to eat: plenty of vegetables, lots of acidic dressings and, if I’m eating meat, it’s mostly fish. I buy a few pounds of white fish fillets — you could use salmon too — and roast them until tender. One half gets stirred into spiced rice for a bare-bones kedgeree-style dish served with frozen peas that are dressed with lots of fresh mint and lemon. The other half is used to make fish cakes that are fried while cauliflower florets roast in the oven and lots of herbs get chopped for a bright salsa verde.

Like the fish, one loaf of bread stretches over several meals. First, I use the biggest, best-looking slabs as the foundation for a pile of Swiss chard greens mingled with Swiss cheese and lightened with radishes that have been spiked with hot sauce. Next, I tear up more of the bread into rough croutons, which then become a crunchy garnish to simply roasted mushrooms and broccolini served with a vinegar-heavy cherry tomato and shallot salad. Finally, any remaining bread gets ground into crumbs to help bind the aforementioned fish cakes.

Then, to finish the week strong, I brown some boneless, skinless chicken thighs until golden and then simmer them in a soy-and-honey marinade packed with orange zest and sesame seeds; this mixture reduces to a thick glaze/sauce that coats the chicken wonderfully. I serve it with a chilled cucumber and red chile salad tamed by slices of orange and a healthy pinch of cilantro. This meal, like all the dinners in the series, may require slightly more work than ordering takeout or microwaving a film-topped tray, but with all the planning done for you, you’ll find it easier and more fulfilling to fall back in love with cooking all over again.

Spiced Rice and Fish With Minty Peas

This recipe is made for large flakes of meaty white fish such as cod or haddock, but salmon or any fish you prefer can work. Stirred into rice flavored with cumin, coriander and chile flakes, the fish is perfumed with flavor. Frozen peas are cooked until tender, then tossed with lots of lemon juice and fresh mint for a bright contrast to the rice.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 50 minutes.

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Spiced Rice and Fish With Minty Peas.
(Silvia Razgova)

Fish Cakes With Salsa Verde and Roast Cauliflower

Left-over fish shines in these simple cakes, flavored with shallots and bound with fresh bread crumbs. A fresh salsa verde made of cilantro and mint lightens the fried cakes served with charred cauliflower florets — or you can use broccoli, Brussels sprouts or romanesco instead, if you like.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 45 minutes.

Fish Cakes With Salsa Verde and Roast Cauliflower.
(Silvia Razgova)

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Swiss & Swiss Toasts With Spiked Radishes

Thick slabs of toast make a great foundation for a tangle of sautéed Swiss chard greens and Swiss cheese, flavored with Worcestershire sauce. Spicy radishes, marinated in a hot sauce vinaigrette, add pops of crunch to the warm, cheesy toasts.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 40 minutes.

Swiss & Swiss Toasts With Spiked Radishes.
(Silvia Razgova)

Roast Mushrooms and Broccolini With Sesame Crumbs and Pickled Tomatoes

Meaty roasted mushrooms and broccolini serve as the main focus in this simple vegan dish. Cherry tomatoes — always in season and sugar-sweet — are lightly pickled in vinegar with sliced shallots. The tomatoes add a sharpness to the roasted vegetables sprinkled with toasted croutons spiced with coriander, chile flakes and sesame seeds.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 45 minutes.

Roast Mushrooms and Broccolini With Sesame Crumbs and Pickled Tomatoes.
(Silvia Razgova)

Sticky Orange Chicken Thighs With Chile-Cucumber Salad

Oranges are used twice here: Fresh slices are tossed with cucumbers and spicy sliced red chiles for a refreshing salad, and the zest is mixed with soy sauce and honey for a simmer-sauce that reduces to a sticky glaze around browned chicken thighs.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

Sticky Chicken Thighs With Orange and Cucumber Salad.
(Silvia Razgova)

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