Last year I bought a cookbook called, The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with your Kid One Meal at a Time, by Laurie David (BTW, she’s one of my favorite food/activist people on the planet). The cookbook is part recipes, part parenting philosophy, and part just darn good food advice. One of my favorite ideas from the book was having themed dinners each week (And, believe me, I’m not a big advocate for anything with a theme. When my first child was born, people would ask, “What’s your theme for the nursery? Winnie the Pooh? Disney Princess?” And, I would reply, “My theme is “Keep the Baby Alive”). Despite my theme-hatred, I did love the notion of Laurie’s theme Taco Tuesday. She wrote, “Ordinary weekdays developed a special occasion feel to them Miraculously, preparing dinner lost its drudgery. The enthusiasm was infectious. The kids would wake up all excited on a Tuesday morning and say, ‘Hey, it’s Taco Tuesday!’”
Just the mere thought of my girls one day waking up excited about what’s was for dinner made me quickly adopt Taco Tuesday in my weekly repertoire. Like Laurie, I found it easy to incorporate Taco Tuesday into my weekly meal planning/grocery shopping. I began making a big crock pot of black beans every couple of weeks and portioning out 1-cup amounts and freezing them specifically for Tuesdays. And, when grocery shopping over the weekend, I would also always be sure we bought corn tortillas and salsa. I knew if we had beans, tortillas and salsa we were golden, and if I had sauteed greens (mostly kale) and green olives it would be off the charts.
But this weekend I had a new idea. Taco Mondays. Why? We have just started to cook meat once a week (I think it’s a little bit of veganish guilt). Ok, let’s get this straight, “we” means my husband. I haven’t eaten meat since I was 14. I have cooked bacon a handful of times, but I usually burn it (I’m always afraid I’ll give my children worms if it’s not thoroughly cooked). On Sundays my husband tries to sneak in a little meat into our children’s diet by way of a piece of lean steak, fish or shrimp. Despite the fact there’s no alliteration, which my youngest quickly pointed out, it just made more sense for us to inaugurate Mondays as Taco Night and use up whatever leftover meat/fish might be available. Although we now don’t adhere to Meatless Mondays, a campaign near and dear, we do have Meatless Tuesday-Saturday, so I’m feeling okay about the sesimic shift from Tuesday to Monday.
Last night we had salmon tacos using the leftover salmon from Sunday night’s meal. And, we had enough ingredients for fresh salsa (fresh tomatoes from our garden -yum!), plus an odd assortment of other vegetables, including green beans, leftover calabacitas and a roasted orange bell pepper. The hodgepodge assortment of leftovers was a feast and one that came together with little effort and left everyone in the family with a full and happy tummy.
Easy Summer Salsa
- 2-3 fresh tomatoes, quartered
- 1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
- juice from 1/2 a lime
- 1 jalapeno, deveined and seeded, coarsely chopped
- pinch of sea salt
- drizzle of honey
- 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
Place all ingredients into a blender and pulse until well blended and saucy, but don’t over process because it will quickly turn into a puree and you’ll have salsa soup. Add your cilantro at the end because if you puree cilantro it has a tendency to turn soapy and not taste so great. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.