....I'm talking about dinner, of course.
One of the biggest challenges I hear from people, especially moms, is that it's so hard to get a healthy meal on the table quickly at night. I get it. I spend most of my days cooking for other people, and when I get home I want something easy. But I'm not a peanut butter and jelly sandwich kind of girl. I love to cook, but I like to eat even more, so I've found ways to get to the eating part as quickly as possible. And I don't compromise taste or quality. So here are some of my quick-cooking tips:
1) First of all, have a kitchen that supports your needs. In my pantry I always have a variety of grains, beans, quinoa pasta, canned tomatoes, panko, herbs and spices, vinegars, coconut milk, chicken and veg broth, onions, garlic and shallots. My fridge always has my favorite veggies (whatever is in season), romaine, eggs, cheese (can't help it), tamari, curry paste, Greek yogurt and corn tortillas. And my freezer holds nuts and seeds, frozen spinach, and puff pastry. I can make something quick and delicious with just these.
2) Let the supermarket help you out - a rotisserie chicken is a great buy. You can make sandwiches, soup, tacos or a stir fry in minutes. Bagged lettuces save you time cleaning, as most are triple washed. You can even find pre-sliced veggies for stir-fries and fajitas. They will cost you more than their non-prepped counterparts, but will save you valuable time at night.
3) Take your frustration out on a chicken breast. I always pound my boneless chicken breasts before cooking. It helps them cook more evenly and quicker, and you'll often find that one chicken breast, when pounded thin, yields two servings. Season it with a little salt & pepper and smoked paprika (trust me!) and sauté in a little olive oil for just about 3-4 minutes per side. I like to sauté thinly sliced onion and peppers in the same skillet and serve over the chicken for an easy-peasy side (or top, as the case may be).
4) Eat more seafood. Fish cooks up so fast. My favorite way to prepare it is to put it in parchment paper with some fresh herbs, citrus slices, capers and scallions, then wrap it up and bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes. The more thinly sliced veggies you put inside the packet, the more of a one-dish meal you've got. Try carrots, mushrooms, zucchini. This works with all seafood - shrimp takes about 8-10 minutes, fillets like snapper, salmon and bass take about 10-12, and thicker fillets like halibut take about 15. Added bonus - clean up is a breeze.
5) Salad is not rabbit food. You can make a really hearty dinner salad in a flash. Remember that rotisserie chicken? Slice it up and toss with mixed greens, chickpeas, cooked rice, fresh veggies and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I made the salad below in about 8 minutes tonight. I sautéed cubes of a sourdough baguette in olive oil, added sliced onion, a little garlic, halved cherry tomatoes and cooked until the tomatoes blistered. Then I added chopped romaine and balsamic vinegar. Tossed it all with a little bleu cheese....and voila. Completely satisfying. (If you've never grilled romaine or sautéed it, give it a try!)
6) Have breakfast for dinner. Here's another chance to get a bunch of veggies and protein all in one pot. Make a veggie omelet, or scramble eggs with some black beans, pasilla pepper, onion and salsa. If you want a fast yet fancy egg dish, whip up a fritatta: saute veggies in unsalted butter or olive oil, add 6 beaten eggs to the skillet (and some fresh herbs), cook on the stove top until mostly set, and then pop under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes until it puffs up. Bonus: you have extras for a healthy breakfast on the go.
So there you go....my quick cooking tips to get a healthy, tasty meal on the table in minutes. Dinner shouldn't be stressful.....I hope this helps.