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What’s on your menu for Sunday supper?

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

Sunday supper. Is it still a roast chicken, mashed potatoes  and peas?

Or is it a pot roast with carrots and potatoes? Fried chicken?

Those dinners are comforting, they make us feel secure. We tell stories of Sunday suppers at Grandma’s house, remembering her perfect biscuits, how juicy her chicken was. We might argue about which was her best dessert, apple pie or hummingbird cake?

My grandmother was a meat cooker. She made roasts, which my grandfather loved, and vegetables, no casseroles. She put butter on absolutely everything, which is one reason her steaks tasted so good. Mashed potatoes were full of butter.

She lived in the city, near a Jewish deli, a butcher and a bakery. Dessert was usually something from the bakery, because she thought that was better than anything.

Sunday dinner was usually beef; she made a pot roast that included red wine vinegar, a smidgen of ketchup, Gravy Master and green peppers. It was always accompanied by roasted or boiled potatoes and carrots.

We’d have corned beef round, because she thought the brisket was too tough. My grandfather loved a leg of lamb with mint jelly. And at Christmas, it was a standing rib roast. “First cut,” she’d tell the butcher. It was perfectly cooked every time, with rich beef fat-roasted potatoes.

My father liked roast chicken, but he absolutely hated carving it. It had to be sliced thin, not served in pieces, which is the preferred way today. One day, he’d had enough. Instead we ate breasts and thighs, already cut up. I came up with a recipe for chicken coated with Dijon mustard and cooked in white wine.

We’re all busier now, and everyone seems to be on some sort of diet.

Let’s try eating a little lighter and sneak in a new recipe once a month or so. Creamy Spinach Pasta

12 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta (wheat, chickpea, if possible)

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

1 Tbsp. thinly sliced shallots

1 1/4 oz. mascarpone cheese

4 ounces fresh baby spinach

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. lemon zest (1 lemon)

Crushed red pepper, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water

Transfer pasta to a large bowl; add garlic, shallot, mascarpone, spinach, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid. Stir until cheese has melted and mixture is combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add additional cooking liquid as needed to loosen sauce. Divide pasta among four bowls. Sprinkle with lemon zest and, if desired, crushed red pepper.

Serve with a green salad.

Here’s a different way to have Sunday chicken, with plenty of flavorful ingredients. With tomatoes and chickpeas, this is a complete meal.

Greek Grilled Chicken

4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 medium red onion, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds

1 large yellow squash, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch planks

Cooking spray

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes

1 cup drained and rinsed no-salt added chickpeas

1 1/2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (1/3 cup)

8 pitted kalamata olives, halved

Preheat grill to medium (350 to 400 degrees). Lightly coat chicken, onion and squash with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and 1/4 tsp. of the salt. Place chicken on oiled (with cooking spray) grates; grill, uncovered, turning occasionally, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of meat registers 165 degrees, about 8 minutes. Remove from grill. Place onion and squash on oiled (with cooking spray) grates; grill, uncovered, until lightly charred and softened, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill.

Whisk together dill, oregano, oil, vinegar and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl until combined. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, feta and olives; toss to coat. Coarsely chop onion and squash; add to mixture in bowl, and toss to coat. Chop chicken into 1/2-inch pieces; fold into salad mixture. Serve immediately.

Easy Spanish Tortilla Casserole

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for baking dish

1 tsp. garlic powder (or fresh garlic)

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

12 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup milk

3 cloves garlic, minced

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with a thin layer of olive oil; set aside.

Place the potatoes, onion, oil, garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper in large bowl and toss evenly to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Bake until the potatoes are almost fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until completely mixed and slightly frothy. Add sour cream, milk, garlic and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and whisk to combine. Pour over the potatoes.

Bake until the top is light golden-brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and garnish with chives, parsley or cilantro. Serve warm or room temperature. Your favorite hot sauce or salsa goes well with this dish.

A chopped vegetable salad is a good way to round out the meal.

Dare we suggest a fish bake for Sunday dinner? With the varieties of fish available, surely there’s one everyone can agree on. There’s good, old-fashioned tuna casserole, and salmon patties, but try using flounder, tilapia and firm white fish like halibut, haddock or cod.

Potato Chip Crusted Fish Fillets with Lemon-Garlic Aioli

2 pounds white fish fillets, such as cod or haddock

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 cup crushed potato chips

3/4 cup breadcrumbs

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towel.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic and black pepper thoroughly. Refrigerate 30 minutes while preparing and baking the fish.

Combine the garlic powder, paprika, crushed potato chips and breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Put the beaten egg in a separate shallow bowl.

Dip a fish fillet into the beaten egg on both sides, and shake off the excess. Dip it in the potato chip mixture on both sides and again shake off the extra. Place the fillet on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fillets.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve immediately with the lemon-garlic aioli on the side.

Variations: Use salt and vinegar potato chips and make a remoulade sauce: Combine 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp. spicy mustard, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. pickle juice, 1 tsp. hot sauce, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning.

Tortilla crust: Use 1 cup crushed tortilla chips and 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper to the dry mixture. Make a jalapeno tartar sauce by adding either fresh diced jalapeno or pickled jalapeno and a little lime juice.

Chopped Raw Veggie Salad

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

5-8 radishes, sliced with a vegetable peeler

1 small head broccoli, chopped into bite-size pieces

1 cucumber, chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup halved red seedless grapes

2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Dressing:

1 minced garlic clove

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Toss all the vegetables in a bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredient. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and refrigerate for flavor to blend. Sprinkle with sunflower and sesame seeds.

This is a great side dish that can go with any meal, and it contains no oil, to control calories.

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