Week of Meals: Food blogger and author Jonathan Melendez's recipes

·3 min read
pea falafel with couscous, black bean and mushroom quesadilla, Grilled steak with guacamole salad, nicoise salad baked potatoe and Paella fried rice by Jonathan Melendez
The second installment in our new recipes series comes from L.A.-native food blogger and cookbook author Jonathan Melendez. (Jonathan Melendez / For the Times)

This is the second installment in a series called “Week of Meals,” which will give you five weeknight dinner recipes with all the planning and strategizing built in. Each meal will make four servings, come together — start to finish — in less than 60 minutes, and require 10 or fewer ingredients (not counting cooking oil, salt and pepper or water). The groceries for all five meals can be bought from a single grocery store in a single shopping trip (remember, we’re looking to alleviate your frustration) and will cost less than $100 total.

Food blogger and cookbook author Jonathan Melendez provides the recipes for this second installment in our Week of Meals series. Here’s how he plans out his weekday meals and what ingredients inspire his food, full of creative spins and mash-ups of classic dishes.

“When I go to the grocery store, I like to make the trip as fast and as painless as possible. I have a rough idea going in of what I want to make throughout the week, but I typically base my recipes on what is on sale that week or what looks particularly good that day. So my proteins will typically change based on what is available.

“I like to think that I have a specific way of picking what dishes to cook, but honestly it’s solely based on what I’m craving. I tend to not eat a lot of red meat on a regular basis and so every once in a while, I’ll indulge in a steak. I’ll normally go for a flat iron steak because it’s easy to cook, won’t break the bank and has a great flavor profile. A simple taco seasoning mix can transform a steak from bland to flavorful without any effort. Just use a low-sodium version so you can control the amount of salt going into your dish.

“I grew up eating a lot of tuna sandwiches because they were economical, and so now as an adult I like to grab a can or two and keep it in the pantry at all times, for those nights when I don’t really feel like cooking. Instead of a mayo-based salad, I like to make a more grown-up version with all of the classic Niçoise flavors in a simple vinaigrette. I’ll pile it into baked potatoes for a satisfying dinner.

“If there’s one pantry staple I can’t live without, it would have to be rice. I often joke that I can eat rice every day, which isn’t necessarily a joke. I love to cook up a batch of long-grain rice on Sunday and then will use it to make a Spanish-inspired paella fried rice with shrimp and chorizo. This dish is always best with rice made a day or two before, as it will have a chance to dry out a bit in the fridge.

“The rest of the week I try to force myself to eat relatively healthy. This way I won’t feel so bad when I’m indulging over the weekend. I’ll focus more on vegetable-heavy recipes, which allow me to use up any produce fighting to survive in my fridge. Sautéing or roasting various veggies like mushrooms and onions, along with a can of black beans, and adding it to a quesadilla is a great filling vegetarian meal without a lot of effort.

“When it all comes down to it, cooking shouldn’t be a tedious chore without enjoyment. Utilizing the grocery store in these clever ways maximizes your time and ensures success in the kitchen.” — As told to Ben Mims

Jonathan’s neighborhood grocery store:

Ralphs, 2675 Foothill Blvd., La Crescenta-Montrose, (818) 249-5448

Here’s everything you need to make the first Week of Meals recipes:

Get the recipes:

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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