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Weekday dinner inspiration: Grilled Caesar Salad and more

It's our anniversary!

This May marks five years since I started suggesting easy meal ideas for readers. I've never been particularly good at math, but that will be about 1,300 dinner ideas, with a few repeats now and again. Wow. Even I am surprised by that number. You've heard plenty from me over the years, but now I'd like to hear from you. Tell me: Which ideas have made their way to your dinner table? Are we over rotisserie chicken? What would you like to see more of? And most importantly, I'd like your opinion of the column. Look for your input in a future section.

Email comments to jkeeler@tampabay.com and put MEAL IDEAS in the subject line or mail them to Janet K. Keeler, Tampa Bay Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701. Include your name, city of residence and daytime phone number.

Mon | Meatless meal

Speaking of repeat suggestions, this Garden-Fresh Ratatouille from a 2009 column can be served over penne pasta for a one-dish meal. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. Add diced eggplant, bell pepper, tomatoes and zucchini. Season with salt and pepper, plus dried Italian seasoning blend (basil, oregano and thyme). Cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is soft. Finish with fresh chopped parsley. A few shaves of Parmesan to garnish.

Tues | Chop chop

Pork Chops With Herb Sauce gives some serious flavor to grilled meat. To make the sauce, mix ½ cup olive oil with the juice and zest of 1 lemon, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of minced fresh mint and 1 tablespoon of minced fresh oregano. After the chops are grilled to your satisfaction, spoon the herb mixture over the top. Let it sit for a minute to wilt slightly. Serve with buttered, small red potatoes and sliced tomatoes.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

It's Taco Salad Wednesday at Stir Crazy, and of course we're starting with shredded meat from a store-bought bird. Pile the lettuce in a large, shallow bowl and add veggies of your choice (we like diced tomatoes and lots of scallions). Scatter seasoned black beans on top, then layer on chicken and shredded cheese. Garnish with salsa, sour cream and even guacamole if you'd like

Thurs | Stick it

Serve Spicy Chorizo and Shrimp Kebabs with brown rice studded with sliced scallions (or very thinly sliced leeks). To make the skewers, thread chunks of cured chorizo alternately with peeled uncooked shrimp and grape tomatoes. Brush them with olive oil mixed with garlic. Grill for about 3 minutes per side, until shrimp is pink. (The kebabs can also be cooked on a stove-top grill pan.)

Fri | Grill it all

Grilled Caesar Salad (recipe below) can be made alongside steaks or pork chops . "Grilled" salad may seem a bit strange but you'll be pleased at the charred, smoky taste the heat gives to the lettuce. It'll just take a few minutes to wilt slightly; don't leave it on too long or you'll end up with mush.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586. Follow her on Twitter at @roadeats.

>>EASY

Grilled Caesar Salad

2 heads romaine lettuce, trimmed and halved lengthwise

Extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 ounces shaved Parmesan (see note)

1 anchovy fillet, halved (optional)

Preheat a grill or heat a cast-iron grill pan. Brush the cut sides of the romaine with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Grill, cut side down, until charred and blackened in a few places, about 2 minutes.

Transfer the lettuce to a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and the lemon juice, and scatter shaved Parmesan cheese over the top. Garnish with the anchovies, if desired.

Note: To shave cheese, use a potato peeler, gliding it over a chunk of Parmesan.

Serves 2 to 4.

Source: Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan, 2013)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Grilled Caesar Salad and more 04/16/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 15, 2013 5:17pm]
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