May 7, 2021


The accomplished food makers

More easy, fast, delicious recipes for your next week of meals

4 min read

After publishing our initial “Week of Meals” series back in March, we wanted to hear from you, our readers, before moving forward with it to see if this was something you wanted on a regular basis. Suffice it to say, the feedback we got was a resounding “MORE, PLEASE!” So, we’re here to deliver. While one day we may have the ability to do this series more often, for now, we’re going to make it a monthly recurrence. You can look forward to new “Week of Meals” recipes the first Sunday of each month. Each will be brought to you by SoCal chefs, food bloggers, cookbook authors and cooks of all stripes, with the intent to show you how they get dinner on the table quickly and easily without sacrificing flavor.

Our next installment of recipes comes from food blogger and author Jonathan Melendez. His recipes use inventive mash-ups and fun spins on classics to give you dishes that are new and approachable and, best of all, really, really tasty.

He uses frozen green peas to bump up the nutritional value and bright color of pan-fried falafels served with a lemony couscous and herby yogurt sauce. Store-bought taco seasoning — an all-in-one workhorse — flavors flat iron steak, grilled to perfection and served with a guacamole that eats like a salad thanks to large chunks of avocado, red onion and tomatoes. And Spanish chorizo and shrimp flavor a quicker-than-takeout fried rice that gives you all the crispy bits you want from traditional paella but in a fraction of the time.

Niçoise salad’s classic components, using high-quality canned tuna, get tossed in a tart mustard vinaigrette and strewn across warm baked potatoes for a filling weeknight dinner that’s ready once the potatoes come out of the oven. And finally, black beans and mushrooms — you can even toss in any straggling veggies in your crisper drawer — come together in an easy quesadilla served with a homemade avocado crema. All the recipes make great use of a small grocery list and save you time at the end of the day when all you want is a delicious meal on your plate with minimal effort.

If you’d like to learn more about Week of Meals — how to shop and cook for your family for an entire week without breaking the bank — I will be teaching a virtual cooking class at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12. I’ll be talking about how I approach and plan for cooking for the week and will focus on a simple recipe during the class. And, of course, I’ll be answering questions from participants.

The class is one of the Los Angeles Times’ “We Can Teach You That” series and tickets ($10 for subscribers; $20 for general public) can be purchased at

Black Bean and Mushroom Quesadillas with Avocado Crema

Canned black beans and sliced cremini mushrooms make up the bulk of these quesadillas, but feel free to add any greens or other chopped-and-cooked veggies to the mix to use up anything about to go bad in your fridge at the end of the week.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 25 minutes.

Black bean and mushroom quesadilla by Jonathan Melendez.

(Jonathan Melendez / For The Times)

Paella Fried Rice

Since it’s drier, leftover cooked rice fries up crisp and makes the ideal fried rice. Cured chorizo, shrimp and sweet paprika give this one a paella-like flavor, but you also use linguiça or another cured sausage to give it that characteristic smoky flavor.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 30 minutes.

Paella fried rice by Jonathan Melendez.

(Jonathan Melendez / For The Times)

Niçoise Salad Baked Potatoes

Choose the highest-quality canned tuna you can find for the salad in this dish. The salad itself is a great template for other vegetables and meats to pile on a baked potato, so use what you have. Boil the eggs while you’re making breakfast in the morning so they’re prepared and chilled in time for dinner.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour.

Nicoise Salad Baked Potatoes by Jonathan Melendez.

(Jonathan Melendez / For The Times)

Pea Falafel with Couscous

Frozen green peas are easy weeknight dinner stalwart and, here, they help bulk out chickpeas and put more greens, along with parsley and mint, into these pan-fried falafel patties. Use cashew or coconut yogurt for the sauce to make the meal vegan.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 50 minutes.

Pea falafel with couscous by Jonathan Melendez.

(Jonathan Melendez / For The Times)

Grilled Steak with Chunky Guacamole Salad

Grilled steak is a treat, but when marinated in flavor-packed taco seasoning and sliced, it’s a great indulgence for a weeknight meal. The guacamole salad comes together in no time and couldn’t be simpler. You can either make it while the steak is marinating or resting so you don’t waste a minute of time.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour.

Grilled steak with guacamole salad by Jonathan Melendez.

(Jonathan Melendez / For The Times)

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