Meal Plan: Peanutty Noodle Salad, Paninis Without a Press, and Please Wear a Mask

The Family Plan #33

Today’s rant is brought to you by the governors of Florida and Texas.

Here in NYC, most people wear masks. After living through three-plus months of fear and death, I don’t know a single person who’s against them. I definitely see people who skirt the rules and don’t wear masks religiously, and I’ve been known to grumble about the discomfort myself—but I haven’t come across anyone who’s outright refusing.

I also don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched by COVID—most of us have either had it ourselves, or a loved one has. This probably explains the mask acceptance.  I consider my family lucky: My mom, my older brother, and his wife have all been infected, and they’ve all survived.

If you live in an area where people are denying reality, I’m sending you strength. Stay home, as much as possible. Wear a mask when you go out. And wash your hands more than you think is necessary.

>steps off soapbox<

Here’s the plan for next week:


Sheet Pan Eggplant Parmesan with salad

Salting and draining the eggplant really does make a difference in the texture here, so don’t skip step 1—just make sure to give yourself a 30-minute head start on dinner. While the assembled sheet pan is in the oven, throw together a salad using whatever greens, etc., you have. Refrigerate the leftover eggplant parm for Thursday. ALERT: In writing this up, I realized I didn’t add extra mozz to the shopping list for Thursday’s sandwiches. If you don’t have enough, shredded mozzarella or provolone will also work.

If you like, get your food marinating for tomorrow before you go to bed tonight.

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photo courtesy Damn Delicious

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs or Marinated Tofu/Seitan, with a grain and vegetables

If you didn’t start marinating last night, don’t forget to give yourself plenty of time for it today. Cook a double-batch of whatever grain you’ve got to serve with dinner, and cook up some vegs, too—fresh or frozen. Refrigerate the extra chicken or tofu/seitan and grain for Friday.


Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

This recipe is very forgiving on the vegetable front—you can use anything you enjoy eating raw, really. Don’t forget to cook some frozen edamame to add to the salad.


Eggplant Parm Paninis with a side of vegetables

Hopefully you’ve got enough mozzarella (fresh or shredded) or provolone to add to these sammiches. You don’t need much, since the eggplant parm already has cheese—this little bit extra helps hold the sandwiches together. Here’s how to make them:

Take the eggplant parm out of the fridge an hour before you want to start, so it can come to room temperature. Split open 4 good-sized pieces of Italian or French bread or ciabatta, or lay out 4 flatbreads. If you have any pesto around, spread some on both sides of each one—if you don’t, lay down a few basil leaves. Add a little cheese to both sides, and divide the eggplant parm among the four bottoms. Put a little more cheese on top and close up the sandwiches. Brush both sides lightly with oil.

To cook them, use a panini press or one of these alternatives:

  • On a grill pan or in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat on the stovetop, with a sheet pan loaded with cans on top to press it down. Flip the sandwiches after about 4 minutes and repeat.

  • For an outdoor grill, prepare it for low heat, then follow the method above.

  • Grab your a waffle iron! Give it 3-4 minutes, then check.


photo courtesy Epicurious

Anything Goes Grain Salad

Pull out Tuesday’s leftover chicken or tofu/seitan and whatever grain you cooked, and knock yourself out. Scour your pantry, fridge, and freezer—you’ve got good stuff in there, I just know it.

Stay safe, be kind, wash your hands, and WEAR A MASK.