Most weeknights I'm happy to stick with the usual dinners that cycle through my meal plan week after week, but once in a while I want that little something extra. Maybe because we're having friends for dinner or my mom is in town, or I want to surprise my husband, or for no other reason than the fact that I want to treat myself.
Enter: everyday fast and fancy dinners. These meals check all the boxes for weeknight cooking, but still feel a little more special than your standard fare (without blowing your food budget on a single meal or needing to spend an extraordinary amount of time in the kitchen). These five recipes will teach you all the tricks and show you how it's done.
Your Meal Plan Deserves Everyday Fancy Dinners
My criteria for weeknight cooking is not unlike yours. I want nourishing meals that won't kill my food budget and that come together quickly and easily without too much cleanup. And once in a while I want to put a meal on the table that looks and tastes fancy.
Turns out, that's not asking too much and it's not far out of reach when you harness the power of everyday fast and fancy dinners. They look impressive and fancy, with a taste to match, yet they are deceptively easy to pull together on any night of the week. These are the tricks that make it happen.
Use one extra ingredient for a fancy twist.
Often just a tiny twist or a single ingredient will do the trick to take a recipe from good to gush-worthy.
- Mac and cheese turns into a luxe dinner reminiscent of spinach-artichoke dip when you ditch the cheddar for some fancier cheeses and veggies.
- A simple bourbon cream sauce seriously ups the ante on a seared flank steak dinner.
- Burrata leads the charge, along with crispy pancetta and fresh herbs, to transform plain spaghetti into a fancy spring pasta dinner.
- A mix of colorful potatoes and fragrant herbs instantly make a weeknight fish dinner way more vibrant.
- Parmesan cheese is mixed with crispy panko to give shake-and-bake pork chops a sophisticated spin.
Reimagine tried-and-true favorites.
You don't have to go totally off-script to get a fancy dinner on the table. These are weeknight dinners, after all. One smart way to make fancy meals come together quickly is by starting with some of your favorites. Spaghetti is regular on pasta night, but instead of the red sauce, reimagine this family favorite with springtime luxury in the way of peas, fresh herbs, and creamy burrata. Mac and cheese is a classic, and you can be sure everyone around the table will love our version inspired by spinach artichoke dip (it has four types of cheese!), How about an updated version of a nostalgic classic? We turn shake-and-bake pork chops into a modern sheet pan supper.