Meal Plan: Italian Chopped Salad, Flexible Mezze, and a New Subscription Option

The Family Plan #34

Happy Fourth of July! Who’s got plans for a social-distanced grillfest? We’re at our place upstate, just the three of us. Last night we grilled pizza (like I said, it’s one of my favorite things to grill) and tonight it’s good ol’, all-American hot dogs and burgers. We’ll also be grilling up some sweet onions for the burgers, and planks of potatoes to serve on the side.

Never tried grilling potatoes? It’s easy: Slice the spuds vertically, then simmer them in salted water until a knife goes in with a little resistance—you want them mostly cooked, but not so far gone they’ll fall apart on the grill. I like to do this part earlier in the day, to give the slices plenty of time to dry on a kitchen towel. Then, once the grill’s fired up, I brush each side with oil and pop em on. They’re ready when they’re tender all the way through and they’ve got nice grill marks on both sides.

About that new subscription option…

Before we dive into the meal plan, I want to say thank you. Taking the leap to offering paid subscriptions is pretty terrifying—I know what I’m doing is helping people, but would readers consider it helpful enough to pay for? Let’s just say there’s more than a little impostor syndrome in my life. But the response to my announcement has been tremendous. A few of you brought me to tears! I promise, I won’t bombard you with plugs for the paid plan—but until it launches on July 16, I will be mentioning it regularly.

(BTW, if you can’t swing the cost of a subscription right now, please don’t hesitate to reach out—just respond to this email.)

Subscriptions come in several levels. The basic plan is $7/month, or $70/year. Using the plans could save you that much on grocery bills in just one week. There’s also a “Founding Member” option, for folks who want to show a little more support—that’s $210 for the first year. Click here for any of those options:

Until the paid version launches on July 16, the Early Bird Special lets you save 20% off a year’s subscription by clicking here:

Get 20% off for 1 year

There’s also an option to send a gift subscription to a friend:

Give a gift subscription

Subscribers get the free Thursday issue as well as several subscriber-only benefits: The Saturday issue (i.e. today’s). Special discussion threads with the opportunity for special requests. Access to the full archive. And a new recipe index I’m creating, that will include links to every recipe used in The Family Plan. Folks on the free plan will get the Thursday edition every week.

Again, thanks so much for all your support.

Here’s the plan for next week:


Mediterranean Smashed Chickpeas with minted yogurt, pita, and other mezze-type stuff

First, cook up a pound of dried chickpeas—here are three different ways to do it. I like using the Instant Pot, since you don’t have to pre-soak. Once they’re done, measure out 4 cups to use tonight and refrigerate the rest for Thursday. Serve with the recipe’s minted yogurt and tahini sauce plus pita, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, olives, roasted red peppers—basically, whatever vaguely Middle Eastern foods you have available. (Reminder: If you can’t get past the Times’ paywall, here’s the recipe on a free site.)


Photo courtesy Food Network

Grilled Pizza with Prosciutto, Ricotta, and Arugula

The key to grilling pizza is to have all your toppings prepped and ready to go before the dough hits the grill. So if you’re using something other than the recipe’s lemony ricotta, prosciutto, and arugula, spend a few minutes getting it all set. Don’t expect toppings to cook much on the grill, since they won’t be there for long—precook pepperoni in a skillet, for example. And this is probably obvious, but just in case: The recipe has you divide the dough into two pieces, but you can divide it to yield one piece per family member. Then everyone can have their own combo of toppings.


Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Tacos

Don’t sweat it if you don’t have cauliflower—as long as you’ve got some vegetable that roasts well, you can substitute it here. Use the time while it’s in the oven to prep all the other taco ingredients. Serve everything salad bar-style if you’ve got picky eaters.


Nancy’s Chopped Salad with bread

This is a very flexible recipe. Prepared completely as written it’s a fantastic Italian-American salad, but if you don’t have all the ingredients you’ll be just fine. Grab those chickpeas from Monday and start chopping. Warm up some crusty bread to wipe the bowls—the dressing is amazing.


Photo courtesy MyRecipes

Spring Pea Pasta with Ricotta and Herbs

No snap peas? Swap in something else that blanches well, like chopped broccoli or a leafy green. Don’t be afraid to use frozen vegetables here, too. As for the herbs, I’d say you can use almost any combination that appeals to you—the parsley, mint, and cilantro from earlier recipes would be perfect.

That’s all, friends. We’ve made it through another week in quarantine.

Stay safe, be kind, and wash your hands.


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