Meatless Monday: Bruschetta Pasta

Ticking all the boxes for Monday dinner requirements, this dish is a total winner. It’s easy as anything; it’s light; it’s full of flavor; it’s kid-friendly; and it’s FAST. Plus, you could easily turn this into a non-meatless dish by adding grilled chicken or quick-seared shrimp, so it’s also totally modifiable, which adds bonus points! Who doesn’t love bruschetta? A perfect combination of acidic tomato, earthy basil, sweet balsamic, a punch of garlic – another example of ticking all the boxes, right? And pasta… DUH. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDbruschpasta3
* 3T balsamic vinegar
* 2t minced garlic
* 1-2 shallots, minced
* 3-4 large Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
* big pile of fresh basil leaves (~1/2C tightly packed), sliced into ribbons
* lemon pepper
* 1lb wide noodle pasta (like fettuccini, tagliatelle, etc.)
* 1/4C olive oil
* freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

WHAT TO DO
Heat a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions (approximately 6-8 minutes usually).

While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, dice and mince and slice everything else.

Add the balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, and minced shallots to a large serving bowl. Let it sit for a bit to allow the flavors to come together a bit. Add the tomatoes, basil, and lemon pepper. Mix carefully to combine, and then let it sit and marinate a bit while the pasta finishes cooking.

As soon as the pasta’s ready, drain it and add it directly to the serving dish. Pour the olive oil over it, and then carefully mix everything together until the noodles are all coated and everything is well blended. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan and enjoy!

Quick Meal: Honey-Lime Salmon

If you’re looking for healthy, easy and quick to prepare weeknight fare, salmon is one of the best choices you can make. It’s one of the most nutritional fishes you can eat, and it’s chock full of all the good stuff: antioxidants, healthy fats and oils and omega-3s, and a boatload of other vitamins. It’s also incredibly easy to prepare, totally versatile, and FAST. And the fast part is actually what I’m selling here, because I’m not a nutritionist or a health expert by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. This quick little preparation will not disappoint. It’s light and delicate, but drops the flavor and could pair well with a whole variety of veggies or pastas or whatever you want. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 4 6oz (fresh) salmon fillets
* 2T olive oil, divided
* 1/2T honey
* zest and juice of 1 large lime
* 1t minced garlic
* 1/2t salt
* 1/2t black pepper

WHAT TO DO
Place your fillets into a large shallow baking dish and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the honey, the zest and lime juice, the garlic, and the salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the salmon, and flip it over a few times to make sure it gets on both sides of each piece. Allow it to set a minute or two to absorb some of the flavors (you can also truly marinade your fish in this mixture, up to four hours if you want, and then cook, but for a busy weeknight, which is what I’m working with, that’s not likely going to work).

Heat the second tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Place the salmon in the hot pan, skin side down, and pour the additional honey-lime mixture in as well.

Cook the fish until it’s pink 3/4 of the way up, about 4 minutes or so. Then flip it over and cook it about 2 minutes more to finish.

Beautiful crust on the outside, soft, delicious, flaky perfection on the inside thanks to 5 minutes of prep followed by 6 minutes or so of cooking. I’d say that’s a pretty solid weeknight dinner win, wouldn’t you? And btw, it’s a kid-friendly win, too. Not too strong of flavors, easy

, flaky texture, and so so good for them, but they don’t even know it!

Panko-Parmesan Chicken Over Simple Salad with Burrata

True story: the only reason I didn’t post our Meatless Monday dinner last night was that I fell asleep early. Like, early-early. That literally never happens and I’m still wondering if maybe I’m suddenly narcoleptic. But anyway, you’ll just have to wait a week for that one. Onwards.

This dinner sounds and presents fancy, but takes no time to pull together. It is simple, quick, beautiful, and undeniably delicious. Just a few ingredients and a little prep and you can plate this light, simple, lovely dinner for your family, even at the end of a busy day. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDPankParmChxwSal5
for the salad
* arugula and baby spinach
* 1 1/2 Persian cucumbers, chopped
* handful of grape tomatoes, halved
* juice of half a lemon
* olive oil
* salt
* lemon pepper
* 1 ball burrata

for the chicken
* 1-1 1/2lb thin-sliced chicken breasts (or regular chicken breasts pounded thin by hand)
* 2 eggs, beaten
* ~1/4C+ Panko breadcrumbs
* ~1/4C+ grated Parmesan cheese
* olive oil
* lemon wedges for serving

WHAT TO DO
Prepare your salad by adding all of the ingredients besides the burrata to a bowl and mixing to combine. Place the burrata in the center of the bowl for serving. Set aside.

PankParmChxwSal3

Heat about 2 tablespoons or so of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Prepare your beaten eggs in a bowl, and in a shallow dish mix together some Panko with some Parmesan cheese – about equal parts. I completely eyeball this, but I’d guess about 1/4 cup or so of each. Better to underestimate and have to add more than to overestimate and have to waste any Panko and Parmesan.

Coat each chicken breast first in the egg and then in the Panko-Parmesan mixture, then place into the oil to fry lightly, about 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. With thin-cut breasts, really watch your time. They’ll cook quickly and you don’t want the meat to become dry, but you do want the crust to be golden, which is why I keep the stove temp no higher than medium.

When your chicken is done, slice each breast into strips.

Serve a nice helping of salad, breaking the burrata up as you serve, then top with the sliced chicken breast. Squeeze a little lemon over the top and you’re done. Faux fancy!

PankParmChxwSal4

Shortcut Teriyaki Beef Stuffed Peppers

In the early days of this blog, I was admittedly embarrassed when I wrote a post about an all-microwave-made stuffed pepper meal. Except it was AWESOME and changed the stuffed pepper game for me altogether. Traditionally, stuffed peppers are made with green peppers baked with a filling of a combination of rice, ground beef, and tomato sauce. But I find green peppers too bitter when they’re cooked and who said you have to stick with tradition, anyway? Including the traditional cooking method, right? Red peppers are sweeter to begin with – they’re tender and delicate when they’re cooked. Paired with traditionally Asian flavors, these stuffed peppers take the whole game to another level flavor-wise and time-wise. Seriously superstar weeknight dinner here, people. Trust me. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2 large red peppers – look for rounder, close to symmetrical peppers
* 1/2C uncooked quick cook (like Minute) white rice
* 1/2C low sodium beef broth
* 1/2lb lean ground beef
* 3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, divided
* 1/2C shredded red cabbage
* 3T brown sugar
* 2T low sodium soy sauce
* 1T sweet chili sauce (there’s a great one at Trader Joes that I love)
* 1t garlic paste (you can get this in the produce aisle at your regular grocery store, usually near the bagged spinach and small packages of fresh herbs)
* 1/2t ginger paste (same location at the store as the garlic paste!)
* 1/2C shredded mozzarella cheese

WHAT TO DO
Cut your peppers in half and clean them of seeds and stems, leaving four small “bowls” of fresh pepper. Place them into a square baking dish and cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Use a fork or knife to poke a few tiny steam holes in the plastic wrap, then place the baking dish into the microwave and cook on high for 4 minutes.

Place the uncooked rice and beef broth in a bowl. Allow to sit and soak a few minutes, then cover tightly with plastic wrap, poke one or two small steam holes in the plastic, and microwave on high for 4 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef with two sliced green onions (leave the third for garnish) and the red cabbage, stirring occasionally, breaking up the beef and mixing everything together until the beef is cooked through. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, chili sauce, and garlic and ginger paste, and stir to combine. Cook 2-3 minutes until most of the sauce is absorbed. Remove from heat.

teriyakipep1

Add the rice into the beef mixture and stir to combine. Scoop the mixture evenly into the four cooked pepper halves. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, then re-wrap the baking dish in plastic wrap, poke some steam holes, and microwave another 4 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh green onion slices for garnish and serve.

Beautiful and impressive, both in presentation and crazy awesome taste. But easy peasy lemon squeezy to make. I’m not even a little bit embarrassed. A modern day microwave dinner that’s totally legit. This technique is the new tradition!

teriyakipep4