Baked Basmati Rice & Salmon in white baking dish with Tomato Pomegranate Salsa in bowl on the side as well as Zest Kitchen + Home gray oven mitts
Weeknight Dinners – Full on Flavor, Low on Fuss

When you hear “weeknight meal,” what does that mean to you? Of course there’s no one-size fits all answer. To me, it means a meal of healthy vegetables and proteins made with easily sourced ingredients, but that’s also big on flavor.

I want my weeknight meal to be a complete, standalone dinner that doesn’t require a side dish. It need not be speedy, per se, but shouldn’t require a lot of fussing or active time. I don’t mind if something takes a while to bake in the oven, or bubble away on the stove so I can catch up with my kids when they get home from practice, or call my mom to check in.

You’ll love every one of these flavorful meals, each one of which can be on the table in an hour or less.

A Traditional Middle Eastern Comfort Meal


There are many versions of shakshuka, a popular breakfast dish originating in North Africa and the Middle East. Mine is adapted from Sami Tamimi’s cookbook, but brings in smoked paprika, roasted bell peppers and harissa sauce for more depth of flavor. I like to serve it as a weeknight dinner, with lots of warm crusty bread to sop up the sauce. If you happen to have any parsley or fresh cilantro around, chop some up and garnish the dish for a bit of brightness.
View Recipe

A Warming and Flavorful Miso Ramen

Miso Ramen with Cabbage

This can be a simple dish of noodles and cabbage in a supremely flavorful broth, or you can add hard boiled eggs, tofu, shredded chicken or other vegetables such as sweet potato to beef up the dish. It is worth seeking out dried shiitake mushrooms, usually found in the Asian products section of the grocery store, for this soup. They add a rich flavor to the broth which, when using boxed store-bought broth, aids in amping up the flavor.
View Recipe

Simple Baked Rice with Salmon

Baked Basmati Rice & Salmon with Tomato Pomegranate Salsa

Don’t be discouraged by the lengthy list of ingredients; many you'll likely have in your kitchen, and the recipe is actually very simple and straightforward. While the rice bakes, you prepare the salsa. The salmon goes on top of the rice toward the end and they are baked together to finish the dish. Top with a flavorful tomato salsa and serve.
View Recipe

A Thai-Inspired Sheet Pan Meal

Sheet Pan Drunken Tofu & Brussels Sprouts

Drunken, in Thai cuisine, refers to a spicy noodle dish otherwise known as Pad Kee Mao. It is believed the nickname came from the extreme heat level, which in order to quell requires an accompanying ice cold beer. My dish ditches the heat, but keeps the punchy flavor from oyster sauce, soy and fish sauces, and plenty of garlic. If you like the spice, go ahead and add a serrano pepper to the sauce, or drizzle a chili oil on the finished dish for a kick.
View Recipe

Healthy Broccolini Soup with Lentils and Crispy Cheese Croutons

Broccolini & Lentil Soup with Fried Halloumi

This is a warming, comforting and healthy bowl of soup with something special. If you aren’t familiar with halloumi, this Mediterranean cheese is dense and firm, and can stand high heat without melting into a puddle. Here, it is cubed and tossed in a skillet, crisping up nice and toasty for a deeply flavored garnish, akin to a crouton, but better. A note on the fresh herbs; I call for a mix of sage, thyme, parsley and basil, but you can use any combination of these, or just choose one herb. Also, make sure to use broccolini, sometimes called baby broccoli, and not rapini or broccoli rabe, which has a bitter flavor.
View Recipe
5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 months ago

5 stars
Luv these!
Tried to rate 5 stars! Came up incorrectly. I can’t wait to try lentil broccolini soup. 💜