A simple formula for easy weeknight dinners (recipe included!)

April 6, 2017
A Simple Formula for Easy Weeknight Dinners, Weeknight, For Beginners, Template, Tips, Cooking Tips, Organization, Meal Plan, Meal Planning, Meal Planning Ideas, Menu Plan, Menu Planning, Grocery List, Grocery Shopping, Recipe, Dinner Ideas, Minimalist Cooking, Simple Cooking, Minimalism

I wasn’t going to post this recipe but then I figured I had to prove that dinner isn’t always a one dish wonder. Sometimes, my brain can think of dinner as a twosome or—um, yeah, walked right into that one—three-parter. These easy weeknight dinners are one of the simplest I can think of so basically two or three ingredients that together, make up dinner.

The formula for easy weeknight dinners

Not that we need to overcomplicate things, but basically this is how my brain thinks of it—aka, my (super duper) simple “formula” for easy weeknight dinners:

Two-part dinner: protein + veg
Three-part dinner: protein + veg + veg or carb

Need ideas? Think:

  • Chicken + asparagus + rice
  • Steak + broccoli + baked potato
  • Sausage + pepper + onions
  • Fish + sweet potato fries + green beans
  • Pork chop + cabbage + apple (ok, technically a fruit but anyway…)
  • Baked tofu + something + something

You get the idea. It’s not rocket science but an easy way to get dinner on the plate. How do you choose your combination? There are two ways to go about it:

  1. Choose ingredients that you know go together
  2. Wing it based on what you feel like, what’s on special and/or what looks good at the grocery store

I typically opt for the “fly by the seat of my pants” option, which has two benefits. First, it requires less planning so by default, it’s EASIER (and we can all get down wit dat) and second, it builds variety into your dinner routine.

Win. Win.

For this easy weeknight dinner, I opted for one of my favourite combinations (and a regular in my weekly dinner rotation): salmon + veg. There’s no plan beyond to buy the salmon and whatever vegetable(s) I’m feeling. In this case, I went with cauliflower because it’s in season and then added eggplant because I had it on the brain. I chose to roast everything in the oven so coincidentally, we ended up with a sheet pan dinner. Not the plan but…there you go.

The upgrade

At this stage, you can stop. Dinner IS done. I mean, what more do you need than delicious ingredients roasted in a little olive oil and s&p? The answer is nothing and yet…

You can consider an upgrade. By “upgrade”, I mean a lil’ boost to one or more of your ingredients. Think:

  • Herbs and spices (fresh or dried)
  • Crumbs or crusts
  • Sauces
  • Marinades
  • Toppings

I’m probably 50/50 when it comes to upgrading. In this case, I went full out with the Middle Eastern vibes, which is one of my favourites (prolly cuz we live in Brunswick, which has to be the falafel capital of Melbourne). I upgraded errything:

  • salmon ➾ dukkah
  • cauliflower ➾ ras el hanout spice
  • eggplant ➾ tahini yogurt sauce

Totally optional, totally delicious and, totally weeknight worthy. The key to making this speedy is having at least some of the “upgrades” ready in advance. In my case, I had dukkah in the pantry (you can make it or buy it) and tackled the sauce while the salmon and veg were cooking.

Sheet pan dinner: Dukkah salmon

Print Recipe
Serves: 2


  • 2 pieces of salmon, approx. 4 ounces each
  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut into pieces
  • 1 eggplant, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Ral el hanout spice
  • Dukkah (see link below)
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 2/3 cup thick plain greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup cold water
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped



Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit / 220 degrees Celsius.


Prep salmon: Making sure salmon is skin side down, pat dry and lightly brush with olive oil (I like to use a pastry brush). Season with dukkah.


Prep veggies: Coat cauliflower in olive oil and add ras el hanout. Halve the eggplant lengthwise and brush with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Assemble sheet pan dinner: Brush a large baking sheet with a generous tablespoon of oil. Arrange eggplant, cut side up, and cauliflower only.


Roast for 15 minutes and then flip the eggplant over. Add salmon to the baking sheet and roast for another 15 minutes. If the eggplant still isn't fully cooked, remove the salmon and cauliflower and continue baking for another 5 minutes.


While everything is cooking, make the sauce: whisk together tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Add water to thin until desired consistency.


Recipe for pistachio dukkah from Food 52.

Recipe for tahini yogurt sauce from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Note that the amounts above will yield enough sauce for four servings so if only cooking for two people, you will have extra. Woot!

So folks, a simple formula to fill one (or two?) of the slots in your weekly dinner rotation. What are some of your favourite two or three ingredient easy weeknight dinners? Lemme know!

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