It’s August already! Back to school is on the minds of children and parents alike. The return to academia means different things to different people. But one thing that it means to most families is less time to prepare food during the week. Even with this time crunch, you can still make a delicious and healthy meal at home. iCook is sharing three recipes with you that are devilishly simple, fast, healthy and taste great!
Pasta is a great base for a meal and can be cooked in 15 to 20 minutes. The trouble is what can you pair with it that can cook in that amount of time? Well, I’m going to share not one, but two recipes that both have pasta. One is a rustic red sauce with sausage and cannellini beans, and the other is a chili rubbed steak with pineapple salsa. Both are delicious.
Occasionally we make a dish called “African Beef and Rice”. I’m not sure if it’s African but it’s incredibly simple, takes no time and can be a stand-alone meal or your main course with a side vegetable. It’s a one pot dish which also helps with clean up time. It has kidney beans, onion, bell pepper and tomatoes as well as ground beef and rice. Make it as spicy or bland as you like.
Want something different? Why not try fish for a fast weeknight dinner? Broiled or grilled salmon or halibut can be cooked in literally minutes. Pair the fish with a green salad or some steamed vegetables and a fast cooking starch like couscous and you have a full, well rounded meal in 15 to 30 minutes.
Give your fish a Mexican twist by preparing fish tacos. Dice up a meaty fish like Mahi Mahi and mix it with taco seasoning. Cook it in a hot pan with a little oil and you have fish tacos, hard or soft shell in less time than it takes you to shred lettuce for the taco. Some refried or black beans and Spanish rice will round out a quick meal.
My family almost always sat down for dinner, or at least we did until my brother and I were old enough to drive and hold down jobs. Those were the times when we shared our news of the day or caught up on what was happening with our family. I hope these suggestions and recipes allow you to share some dinner time with your family and friends even on busy weeknights.
Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.
Start a pot of water boiling to make your pasta. Make sure to salt your water and use a bit of oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. We like either penne or pappardelle. If you are using fresh pasta, remember that it cooks much faster than dried pasta.
Add the olive oil to a large deep skillet or pot on medium high heat. Add the sausage in pieces. When the sausage is almost done, add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and allow cooking about 10 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients stirring well. Salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce looks a bit dry, add a little water or red wine.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer about 15 minutes covered. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot over pasta with parmesan cheese garnish.
Remember this is a base recipe and you can easily add other vegetables. Fresh vegetables cook quickly especially if chopped into small pieces (the better to hide them). If using frozen broccoli or spinach, be sure to thaw it out completely before adding to the pot or you must extend the cooking time several minutes. Typically, I cut up my vegetables as the sausage is browning to save time but feel free to prep them before starting to cook. You can also skip the pasta and serve this like a stew with nice crusty bread.
Total Prep and cook time about 40 minutes. Serves 4.
Recommended wine pairing with a Pinot Noir or Chianti.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook your penne pasta for about 13 to 15 minutes.
While the water is heating, heat your broiler. Rub the steak with 1 tsp of oil, ½ tsp of chili powder, and ¼ tsp of salt. Broil the meat until medium rare, about 4 minutes per side. Let it rest for 5 minutes and then cut it diagonally into slices.
While the steak is broiling, combine the pineapple, remaining ¼ cup of oil, jalapeno pepper, onion, lime juice, cilantro, black pepper and remaining salt and chili powder in a large stainless steel or glass bowl. After you have sliced the steak, stir it into the salsa.
Drain your pasta and toss it with the steak and salsa. Enjoy.
Prepare in Large skillet or pot with lid.
Brown the meat in skillet (use a little oil if using lamb). Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Bring to boil then reduce heat to low and simmer covered about 20 minutes. Check seasoning and adjust to taste and allow to simmer about another 5 to 10 minutes or until rice is done. If getting dry, add another ½ cup of water. Don’t stir too often or rice will break down and dish will become mushy.
Makes about 4 full servings as main dish.