Meal Plan: Meatballs a-Plenty, Grilled Vegetable Salad, and Chickpeas with Spinach

The Family Plan #31

I don’t have an intro for you. I’m just psyched to have an excuse to remind you about schweddy balls. All week long, as you’re cooking meatballs and using meatballs, you’ll be thinking about Alec Baldwin’s, um, cooking.

Here’s the plan for next week:


Meatball Parm Heroes, made with meat  or without

Remember, whichever meatball recipe you’re making, the plan is to double it for Friday. If you’re making the vegetarian version, prepare the mixture either Sunday or early in the day Monday, since it needs time in the fridge to come together. While the meatballs are in the oven, warm up some pasta sauce, cut open your bread, grab your mozz, and line a baking sheet with foil. Once those balls are cooked, set up a little assembly line: bread, meatballs, sauce, cheese. Put them on the baking sheet open-faced and run the whole thing under the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese. Refrigerate the extra meatballs.


Photo courtesy Epicurious

Crispy Tofu with Maple-Soy Glaze with rice and vegetables

This recipe is straightforward enough that you don’t need my help, I expect. My one piece of advice: The more moisture you press out of tofu, the easier it is to get it crispy. If you have the time, lay some kitchen towels under the tofu and more on top. Place a rimmed baking sheet and some heavy cans (or a cast-iron pan) on top of that and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. While it’s pressing, make a double-batch of rice and whatever fresh or frozen vegetables you have. Refrigerate the extra rice for Friday.

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Grilled Vegetable Caprese with Pesto

As far as the grilled vegetables go, you can use almost anything that appeals to you. Around here we’re big fans of grilled onions—cut them into wedges with the roots still attached so they don’t fall apart on the grill. And for the pesto, both the herb and the nut can be swapped for what’s available. Double that part of the recipe to use on (you guessed it) Friday.


Catalan Chickpeas and Spinach with bread

I should’ve noted in the shopping list that you can easily swap in frozen spinach here! Thaw it, squeeze out the excess moisture, and add it in step 3 as described. You won’t need to wait for it to wilt, but you do want to give it a chance to heat up and meld with the other ingredients. Don’t forget to consult the “Possible Variations” section before you start cooking, in case there’s anything you’d like to add.


Here’s my kid back when he used to enjoy my cooking. Pesto was my secret weapon when I wanted to introduce something new—he’d chow down and beg for more. Good times, good times.

Meatball Bowls with Pesto

Here’s the meal you’ve been working towards all week! Pull out the meatballs, rice, and pesto dressing. Reheat the meatballs and the rice if you like, or leave them cold/room temp. Chop up a bell pepper and/or tomatoes (or grab a jar of roasted red peppers), pull out a can or cup of frozen corn, and add whatever else you’ve got in the fridge and pantry that your family might like. Set everything out salad bar style and you’re good to go.

Stay safe, be kind, and wash your hands.