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Your November Meal Plan is Here
Weeknight Simple: Festive Edition
Do the holidays leave you feeling overwhelmed by a whirlwind of events and an endless parade of indulgent feasts? The fear of bloating, sluggishness, and that dread of the scale creeping up is all too familiar. In the words of Shark Tank, there has to be a better way!
Imagine a festive season filled with dishes that not only tantalize your taste buds but also nourish your body. Picture serving crowd-pleasing recipes that deliver a protein and fiber boost. This month, I've got you covered.
My festive meal plan is here to make your weeknights special and help you host vegetable-forward gatherings for your loved ones. I've handpicked four exquisite recipes, each a wholesome twist on the beloved Indian street food, 'chaat.' And as a bonus for Diwali, I’m sharing the secret to my fabulously purple Berry Cashew Burfi.
A quick refresher on Weeknight Simple, if you’re new to We Ate Well
Weeknight Simple is my brand new weeknight-friendly monthly dinner plan. 4 seasonal recipes - complete with shopping list and ideas for batch prep and leftovers, that will hopefully have you craving seconds.
4 slam-dunk complete dinner recipes that are dinner-soul-food: Soup, Bread, ‘Rice’, Pasta or Salad. Except they are v8well-ified. High-protein, high-fiber. Healthy fat. Vegan options and usually gluten-free. Ideas to batch cook or meal prep, and tips on reusing leftovers. It’s everything you told me you wanted!
Why just 4 recipes?
I’ve obsessed over this number, trust me. Could I have given you 8? Or 10? Probably. But what are the chances that you cook 10 new recipes in one month? It sounds overwhelming even to me and I’ve made a career out of cooking. But 4 new recipes a month, that sounds approachable. Maybe even in a week.
And hopefully, you like a couple of them enough to repeat (Cooking the same recipe a second time hits easier, like anything else). And maybe you’ll repeat it next month, if you like it enough. That’s my goal here. Repeatable, approachable, yet special recipes. If I’ve given you one go-to meal to add to your dinner rotation from this set of recipes, my work here is done.
What’s going to be special about Weeknight Simple? Lots of things. Obsessively tested recipes so you don’t have to wonder if they will work. A shopping list, organized by aisle. Overlap between ingredients to make shopping efficient and more budget-friendly. Brand recommendations and links.
Heads up! Weeknight Simple will be transitioned to a paid offering from 2024, but I will be making these first 3 months [Oct, Nov, Dec ‘23] open access to get you all cooking and get some feedback.
Here’s what’s in this special festive edition:
Brussels Sprouts Chaat with Masala Pecans and Pomegranates
Like Brussels sprouts? You’re going to LOVE my Indian take on this cruciferous vegetable, dotted with crunchy masala pecans and vibrant bright red pomegranate arils.
Cucumber Papdi Chaat
My wholesome take on the beloved Papdi Chaat replaces traditional flour-based rounds with refreshing cucumber slices. They're equally crunchy and provide a guilt-free base for your chaat toppings.
High-protein Bhel Puri
A mélange of textures with tofu filling in for the traditional potato, and puffed quinoa filling in for rice. This dish is packed with plant-protein and what’s more, you’ll never know how it went down!
Sweet Potato and Edamame Papdi Chaat
Another spin on Papdi Chaat but here we are thinking seasonally. Crunchy sweet potato chips fill in for papdi, and we add edamame for a protein-packed layer of texture along with crunchy masala walnuts.
Berry Cashew Burfi (Bonus dessert!)
My fabulously purple twist on the classic Kaju Katli is naturally sweetened with strawberries, blueberries and a touch of maple syrup. It's a delightful treat that will have your guests or host wowed, and it's also perfect for guilt-free afternoon cravings.
Servings, Batch Prep, Substitutions and Leftovers
Servings: The 4 chaat recipes will comfortably serve 2 as a dinner main with some leftovers. They will also serve 6-8 as a side, so I encourage you to serve them as sides for your festive gatherings. They will work all the way from Diwali to Christmas and leave everyone wanting more! If you’re taking one of the chaats to a potluck, I suggest taking the components and layering at the venue right before your meal.
What can you make ahead? Each of the chaats has a ‘masala nuts component’. While you can substitute store bought roasted/spiced nuts, I highly recommend making them per my recipe. Each recipe as written uses different nuts for variety, but you could choose one (I recommend peanuts) and make a big batch, so it works for all 4 chaats! This will shave off some non-trivial cooking time.
Have leftovers? They will work perfectly well in tacos, wraps or a Buddha bowl.
Let’s get to the shopping list. It is organized by supermarket aisle. You can see the ingredient overlap, I thought hard about this!
If you plan to make all 5 recipes, use the Grand Total column. Amounts for each recipe are given, in case you are only making a subset.
When I call for an ingredient you may not already have in your kitchen - eg. chaat masala or chickpea flour, I will do my best to ensure it gets used in future recipes and doesn’t go to the pantry graveyard.
I’ve also provided Amazon links to certain ingredients that you may not find in your local supermarket and suggested some brands that I often use.
Eggs are always large, butter is always unsalted unless mentioned otherwise
As it is sadly not summer any more, I recommend using organic frozen berries for the Berry Cashew Burfi
Essentials that I assume you have in your kitchen, if not, please add these to your first list
Extra virgin olive oil - I like California Ranch for everyday cooking
Avocado oil - I like Primal Kitchen or Chosen Foods
A pepper mill for freshly ground black pepper
Salt - I often use fine sea salt in my recipes. You can use kosher salt interchangeably. If using table salt, reduce the amount slightly and adjust to taste.
Nutritional information is provided per serving on a best-efforts basis and intended to be approximate. Please see disclaimer linked at the bottom of this email.
Umm, where are the Recipes? This time, I’ve include recipe cards (I know, fancy!) to print for your convenience (and hand out to eager party guests that love a particular dish!).
Click below for the printable version of recipes and shopping list.
If you haven’t already given me your feedback, please tell me what you wish for in a meal plan by taking this survey. I’m dying to hear from you!
PS: Want to learn how to make the Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie from my cookbook?
I’m excited to partner with the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh to teach an exclusive cooking series from The Vegetarian Reset! These are virtual cooking classes so anyone can sign up using the links below. Join us for the Thanksgiving Special and learn how to make this showstopper for your festive gatherings.
Thanksgiving Special: Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie | Nov. 14 | 6 - 8 p.m.
Gluten Free Baking: Hazelnut Brownies & Almond Flour Cookies | Vasudha Viswanath | Dec. 12 | 6 - 8 p.m.
Starting now and for the rest of the holiday season, I will mail you an autographed bookplate (it’s a sticker that will make your gift a signed copy) if you would like to gift a signed copy of The Vegetarian Reset to a loved one. I am also happy to mail it internationally but please allow enough time to get it by snail mail.
📗Respond to this email to request a bookplate, along with the name of the giftee and your address! Please note, you will have to buy the book yourself - you can use one of the links in the footer of this email or stop by your favorite bookstore.
I wish you and yours a healthy and enjoyable festive season. Bon Appetit!