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Menu ideas: pasta with sausage, coconut chicken tenders, steak and potatoes

Looking for dinner ideas? We share our weekly menu plans.
A rice bowl topped with a fried egg
A rice bowl topped with a fried egg [ MICHELLE STARK | Times ]
Published Jun. 8, 2020|Updated Jun. 8, 2020

Whether you love to meal-plan or come up with your meals an hour before eating them, here are some ideas to help with dinnertime inspiration.


Steak and potatoes: It has been ages since I made a good steak at home. We haven’t been able to reliably find cuts of beef on the grocery delivery apps we rely on, so it’s mostly been chicken and pork in our house. But this week, there was a nice selection of steaks, so I ordered a large New York strip my husband and I could share. I seared it in a hot cast iron skillet until cooked through, then removed it from the skillet and added a bit of butter, some fresh rosemary sprigs and crushed garlic to the pan. I swirled that around a bit, then poured the flavored butter over the steaks. About an hour before, I had placed some russet potatoes in a 475-degree oven and cooked them until they were fork-tender. A perfect side to the juicy steaks. Something green is nice, too: This night it was sauteed green beans.


Rice bowls topped with fried eggs: Monday calls for an easy meal you don’t have to think about too much. Cook up some brown or white rice. Chop up and saute any vegetables you have in your fridge with a generous drizzle of olive oil and thinly sliced garlic: carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, scallions. If you’re low on veggies, use some canned beans instead. Spoon the rice into a bowl, top with the veggies, then scatter any fresh herbs you have on top: Cilantro, parsley and mint are ideal. Top with some crushed nuts, red pepper flakes, shredded cheese, if you like. And just before serving, fry up an egg, just until the yolk is set but still runny.


Pasta with sausage and greens: I like pasta as much as the next person, but a big bowl of relatively plain noodles does not do much to satiate me in the evening. That’s why I like to load up my pasta dishes with protein and veggies. You can find the full recipe for this particular meal in my column on this page. But the general idea is this: Cook up some sausage (or other meat) with sliced garlic in a large pot, then add leafy greens or broccoli or cauliflower, anything that will cook down pretty well. Cover it with olive oil and cook until meat is browned and veggies are cooked. Cook pasta in a large pot of water, then add to the pot and combine. Finish it all off with plenty of salt and pepper.


Carrot and coconut soup: This is one of my go-to weeknight recipes, from Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook Cravings: Hungry for More. Find the full recipe at It’s a great way to use up a bag of carrots. Teigen suggests topping the soup with crispy shallots, a simple topper I now make for lots of different soups and stews. Her method for making them is genius: Place 1 cup canola oil and 1 cup thinly sliced shallots in an 8- by 8-inch glass baking dish. Then, microwave the dish until the shallots are crispy. Start by microwaving for 6 minutes, then check them. If they’re not brown, microwave for 2 more minutes. Drain shallots over a strainer (save that now shallot-flavored oil!), give them a shake, then place on some paper towels to absorb the oil. Season immediately with a couple of pinches of salt.

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Kale salad with tomato toast: I have set a precedent in the house: Every time I make a kale salad, I make a couple of crispy kale chips to go on top. My husband calls it “kale two ways” and is now often disappointed at the sight of a mere “kale one way.” He was happy with this light dinner: a big bowl of chopped kale, thinly sliced red onion, some slivered almonds, lots of Parmesan cheese, a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and crispy kale chips on top. On the side, I served thick slices of sourdough toast topped with fresh tomatoes that I roasted in the oven with lots of olive oil and smashed garlic cloves (at about 300 degrees, for an hour), until they were very soft and spreadable.


Coconut chicken tenders: If you’ve got all-purpose flour, unsweetened shredded coconut and some bread crumbs, you can turn chicken breasts into these wonderfully coated chicken tenders. It’s one of my favorite chicken dishes to make at home. You can find the full recipe at To serve them, I like to cut some fresh pineapple into chunks and roughly chop a bunch of scallions. Both pair really well with the crispy chicken and also the sweet chile dipping sauce.

Related: A great way to use chicken breasts is to turn them into these coconut tenders

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