Everything you need to buy and prep for Paola Briseño-González’s Week of Meals recipes

The grocery list and prep work needed for Paola Briseño-González's recipes, including these braised Za'atar Beef Cheeks.
(Silvia Razgova/For The Times)

Week of Meals is a weeknight dinner series that brings you five easy-to-prepare weeknight recipes from one shopping trip that costs less than $100. Here’s your grocery list and the prep work for Paola Briseño-González’s recipes to do on the day of shopping to set yourself up for effortless cooking the rest of the week.

These ingredients will need to be purchased if you don’t already have them.

Meat and seafood:
2½ to 3 pounds trimmed beef cheeks (or beef chuck)
1 pound large shell-on shrimp tails
2 lobster tails, fresh or frozen (or 4 ounces cooked lobster meat)

1¼ cups (10 ounces) labneh or plain Greek yogurt
½ cup (4 ounces) crema or sour cream

2 pounds tiny “peewee” or marble potatoes
1 pound tomatillos
1 pound fresh in-shell garbanzo beans (or another fresh bean like romano)
4 ounces oyster mushrooms
4 poblano peppers (1 lb. 6 oz.)
2 fresh güeros chiles (yellow chiles) or 1 banana pepper
1 serrano chile
2 fennel bulbs with fronds attached
2 green mangoes
2 small yellow onions
6 garlic cloves
1 zucchini
1 ear of corn
1 packet (5-ounce) fresh herb salad mix or tender baby greens
1 medium butternut squash (2 to 2¼ pounds), or 5 cups butternut squash cubes (½-inch)
3 lemons (for 5 tablespoons juice, plus wedges for serving)
1 lime (for 1 tablespoon juice)
1 bunch basil (for ¾ cup leaves)
1 bunch mint (for ¾ cup leaves)
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley (for ½ cup leaves)
1 small bunch cilantro (for ½ cup leaves)
1 small bunch tarragon (for ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon leaves)

2 cups Israeli couscous
6 large dates, such as Medjool

Bulk nuts/spices:
¾ cup za’atar
¼ cup raw pepitas
2 tablespoons shelled pistachios

1 package/loaf Barbari bread or lavash
2 dozen corn tortillas (6-inch)

Deli counter:
8 ounces feta, preferably sheep’s milk, such as Hungarian or Valbreso
4 ounces whole Castelvetrano or other green olives
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

We’re expecting you to already have these ingredients. If you have to buy them, you will use them again and again in other recipes.


Oil and Vinegar:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons granulated sugar


This is the cooking you’ll want to do on your shopping day, preferably Sunday, to get more of the laborious or time-consuming tasks out of the way.

Braise the Za’atar Beef Cheeks:
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a heatproof bowl, pour 2 cups boiling hot water over 6 large, pitted dates. Cover and let steep until cooled to room temperature.

Mix ½ cup za’atar with 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a small bowl. Cut 2 ½ to 3 pounds trimmed beef cheeks (or beef chuck) into 3-inch pieces and pat dry. Working one at a time, press the beef cheeks into the za’atar mix, coating the meat evenly, and transfer to a plate.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add half the beef pieces and cook, flipping halfway through, until browned, about 20 minutes. Return the browned beef to the plate. Add 2 tablespoons more vegetable oil and repeat browning the rest of the beef. Wipe the pot dry and reserve.

While the beef browns, combine the rehydrated dates and their soaking liquid, 2 cups more water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a blender, and purée until smooth.

Transfer the browned beef back to the Dutch oven, add 2 bay leaves and 2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves, then pour in the pureed date mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and transfer the pot to the oven and braise until the liquid is reduced and the meat can easily be broken with a spoon, about 2 hours.


Remove the pot from the oven and let cool. Store the beef in the pot or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate up to four days, or until ready to use in the Za’atar Beef Cheeks With Fennel and Mango Salad.

Shell fresh garbanzo beans:
Starting with 1 pound fresh in-shell garbanzo beans (or another fresh bean like romano), remove their thin outer shell. This will take a while if doing it alone; recruit others in your home to help you. You should get about 2 cups shelled beans. Transfer the beans to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or until ready to use in the Couscous With Fresh Garbanzos, Feta and Alguashte Dukkah.

Prepare poblano peppers:
Place 4 poblano peppers (1 lb. 6 oz.) directly over your stove’s gas flame at its highest setting. Use a pair of tongs to carefully turn them until blackened and charred on all sides, 5 minutes per side. (Alternatively, blister the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet under a broiler.) Remove from the fire and immediately place the peppers in a large bowl, cover with a large plate to allow steam to soften the peppers, about 15 minutes. This will make peeling the burnt outer skin much easier.

When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove most of the skin by rubbing it off with your fingers. Tear them open and remove stems and scrape most of the seeds and strings with your hands. Rinse the peppers under a stream of water to remove any remaining seeds. Shake off any excess water and slice the peppers into large strips (you don’t have to be so precise as they will go into the blender). Transfer the peppers to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 5 days, or until ready to use in the Shrimp, Mushrooms and Zucchini With Poblano Labneh Sauce and Corn Salad.

Paola’s neighborhood grocery store:
Super King Market 02, 2716 N. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles, 90065, (323) 225-0044

Get the recipes:

Butternut Squash Flautas With Salsa Verde Cruda

Time 55 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Za'atar Beef Cheeks With Fennel and Mango Salad

Time 40 minutes
Yields Serves 4