Meatless Monday: Pesto TBM w RRP Sandwiches

I’m traveling for work this week, so for the two days Im home I planned easy, quick meals to minimize stress and maximize family time. This post title’s in code, but the secret is out now (ouch… that one was rough): pesto tomato-basil-mozzarella with roasted red pepper sandwiches were a big winner. A five minute meal! And delish times a million! Can’t beat that! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* fresh hearty loaf of bread of choice (I did a fresh Italian loaf), cut into thick slices
* your favorite jarred or homemade pesto sauce
* fresh basil leaves
* jarred roasted red peppers
* fresh roma tomatoes, cut into thick slices
* slices of fresh mozzarella (I bought the presliced package)
* balsamic vinegar

WHAT TO DO
Lightly toast your bread slices.

Spread each slice generously with pesto. For each sandwich, top one pesto-ed half with large basil leaves in a layer, followed by roasted red pepper pieces, then fresh tomato slices, and finally fresh mozzarella slices. Drizzle the cheese with a little balsamic vinegar and then top with the other pesto-ed slice of bread. Slice in half and serve! Try it with homemade garlic fries!!

Sheet Pan Garlic Salmon with Brussels Sprouts (and Broccoli)

The “work” part of my “work-dinner-family” trifecta has been crazy busy lately. We’re heading into a large conference, which just makes it normal work crazy times 500 (at least). So to maintain a semblance of balance in busy times, my solution is to really amp up my meal planning focus on quick and easy. Fish tends to be an easy and quick meal anyway, but pair it with one-pan magic? DING! DING! I planned to pair this garlicky salmon with just Brussels sprouts, but kiddo isn’t (YET) a b. sprouts fan, so I added a head of broccoli that I knew she would eat. After a long and tiring day, a fresh and bold simple meal was just what I needed–and my family loved it too! No leftovers! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1.5lbs brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
* 1 head of broccoli, broken down into florets (optional)
* 4T olive oil, divided
* 1t salt, divided
* 1/4t fresh ground black pepper
* 4 6oz portions salmon, skin removed
* 4t minced garlic cloves
* 1T dried oregano

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 450F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Put your Brussels sprouts (and broccoli, if you’re using it) in a large bowl, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and the black pepper, and mix until the veggies are well coated. Pour them onto the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes.

While that’s cooking, drizzle the remaining tablespoon of oil over the salmon. Spread the minced garlic evenly over the fillets, and then season evenly with oregano and the remaining 1/2-teaspoon of salt.

After 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Move the sprouts (and broccoli) to the edge, making room for the salmon. Place the salmon on the pan and bake for 12 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.

Toaster Oven Parmesan Toasts

These are so simple it’s almost a joke. The benefit-to-effort ratio is heavily off balance here. They are so good. And with 4 ingredients and 5 minutes to the whole shebang, how can you go wrong?? I served these alongside this also-absurdly-easy — and luscious — garlic and mushroom soup and they were PERFECT. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 loaf French or Italian bread, sliced thin on a diagonal
* olive oil
* freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* pinch of salt
* optional: dried or fresh parsley

WHAT TO DO
Place your sliced bread on the tray of your toaster oven in a single layer. Brush each slice with olive oil, and then grate the Parmesan over the oiled bread. Sprinkle with just a pinch of salt and set for two cycles on the toaster function at a medium toasting level. You want golden and crispy, not browned and hard! That’s it! Sprinkle with some parsley if you like (or don’t!). Voila!

Meatless Monday: Broccoli Lasagna

We’ve hit the part of winter when I just want deep, heavy, rich comfort food all the time. Chicago has this terrible sweet spot at this point in the season when it’s just grey all the time. Like, grey-grey. And indulgent comfort food seems like the only proper response. Except that, sigh, it’s not (isn’t it?).

This lasagna kind of turned out to be the best of both worlds. It’s lasagna, and if that’s not comforting, I don’t know what is. But it’s fresh and much lighter than a traditional lasagna, so you can feel better about the third and fourth helpings you’re definitely going to want. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 15oz package part-skim ricotta cheese
* 1 egg
* 1t salt
* 1/2t ground black pepper
* 1T oregano
* 1 small head broccoli, broken down into tiny florets
* precooked lasagna noodles
* 1 jar your favorite marinara sauce
* 1 8oz package shredded cheese (mozzarella or an Italian blend)
* garlic powder

WHAT TO DO
Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, oregano, and broccoli florets.

Spoon a bit of the marinara sauce into the bottom of an 8X11 to just cover the bottom.

Place a layer of noodles over the sauce. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture into a layer over the noodles. Pour half the marinara sauce over the mixture. Sprinkle garlic powder generously over the sauce, and then add half of the cheese on top. Repeat.

Bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, until the cheese melts and begins to brown, 30-49 minutes or so. Allow to sit/cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.