If you only had to ask us what you wouldn’t find on a dinner table in California, we’d be able to give it to you straight away without even flinching. Because the answer to that is just two words – Frozen meals. So then what would you actually find on your dinner plate in California instead? If you’re thinking avocados, that’s not it and you’ll just have to keep reading to find out.
But first, what exactly is Californian cuisine?
Without mincing words, it’s the art of whipping up a meal from the fresh bountiful found in California, be it from its land or sea. The state’s cuisine also places immense emphasis in bringing local fresh farm produce to table. Which is why you’d rarely find a dish in the state that lacks the color green (referring to veggies here). If you do find one, well it’s almost like you’ve found a needle in a haystack.
Now, few of the favorite vegetable candidates to join most meals in California are tomatoes, avocado, lemon, broccoli, artichoke and anything else that screams organic. If you have to concoct your Californian dinner, you’d need to get your hands on some super fresh veggies first. Always remember that fresh seasonal ingredients and sustainably grown produce are the two factors that play the lead role in making a genuinely good Californian dish. In addition to that, a majority of the dishes also showcase a good deal of seafood. After all, The Golden State does have a pretty amazing coastline, which makes it easy to reel in some fresh catch.
But hey, that’s just the tip of the ice-berg. California still happens to be one of those dreamy cosmopolitan cities which makes it into everyone’s bucket list. Besides, California is massive and there’s no one kind of cuisine that everyone follows. So you’re bound to find an innovative fusion with influences of Mexican, Chinese and European cuisines. A more apt definition would be ‘melting pot of cuisines’.
Now that we’ve prepped you (pun intended) with an understanding of the cuisine, let’s look at some of the top Californian dishes you can prepare for dinner.
Also Read: Top 10 Healthiest Cuisines
Most Hot Dinner Table Meals In California:
Cioppino is one hearty fish stew meal that originated in the city of San Francisco and before you struggle with how to say it, we’ll just help you out with that. The dish goes as (chuh-pee-noh). In its essence, it is an American-Italian dish and is put together by combining the fresh catch of the day with some chopped garlic, wine and tomatoes. Your superstar in the spotlight for this dish could be fresh Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels or fish – whatever makes you drool. It is very easy to source seafood in California because… well… California is right alongside the sea? A bowlful of hot Cioppino is a rich dinner and we bet you’ll need a second serving of it.
2. Southwest Skillet Chicken and Rice
If you’re looking for a quick one-pot dinner, you can definitely go for this dish without giving it a second thought. A one-pot meal like the Skillet Chicken and Rice is not just easy to put together, but it also helps you spend less time in front of the kitchen sink. After such a hearty meal, who wouldn’t want to comfortably turn into a vegetable on their couch? To prepare this dish, you’ll need chicken, rice and a combination of your favorite vegetables. This is a dinner idea that saves you time and effortlessly fills the belly. It would roughly take you 30 minutes to get this dish out on the dinner table.
3. Cobb Salad
The Cobb Salad is a true example of innovation in the kitchen and was invented by Robert Cobb who conjured the dish with some leftovers he found around him. Hard-boiled eggs, salad leafs, chicken breast, avocado, chopped bacon, tomatoes, and Roquefort cheese were the ingredients lying in his kitchen and that’s exactly the list of things you’d need to make your bowl of a bright Cobb Salad. For the greens, we highly recommend getting hold of iceberg lettuce, watercress, endive or romaine lettuce if possible. For the dressing, you’d need olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper and a vinaigrette. And voila, you’ll have your well balanced dinner ready to eat!
4. Sourdough Bread Bowl
Bread bowls are a great comfort food option for homemade dinners in California. Which is essentially a round sourdough bread with the insides scraped out to create room to fill it with stew, broth or chowder. It is fairly simple to put the dish together but we have to admit that the bread could get soggy if you don’t eat up the stuffing fast enough. But of course, a growling tummy gobbles all grub. Possible fillings you can choose from are clam chowder, cheesy broccoli soup, vegetable chowder, corn and chicken chowder, tomato basil soup or any other chowder or broth you prefer. Once you’ve filled the bread bowl, you can pull pieces of the bread and relish the filling.
5. Santa Maria Grilled Tri-Tip Beef
The Santa Maria style tri-tip originated from… no points for guessing – the Santa Maria Valley in California! An iconic dish for barbecue season, you can also have this tender mouthwatering delicacy at home if you have guests over for dinner. Even if you don’t, you can have the beef roast all for yourself. The tri-tip is also recognised as the Santa Maria steak.
The key step to getting this steak right is letting the marination settle in for a minimum of 6 hours. If you want the flavours to settle down even further, you could let the meat rest for 3 days too. For the marination you’d need salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, dried rosemary, cayenne pepper, olive oil, Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar (Nope, DON’T! It’s still vinegar). Don’t forget to plate up the meat with some fresh vegetables to balance the dish out.
These top specialty meal ideas from California will help you set up a nice warm home-made meal and banish the idea of take out. We know that ‘What’s cooking for dinner?’ is the most asked question. But you don’t have to be a Masterchef to whip up something that would even make Guy Fieri want to be a regular dinner guest at your table and ignore the fancy Californian restaurants.