While I wish it was possible to make every dinner special, some nights I have to focus on simply feeding myself. On those nights, this is my equation for a quick, tasty and healthy meal:
- at most 1 cup pasta (dry) or other grain of your choice
- at least 1 cup vegetables
- 1/2 cup protein
Specific to the photo above:
- 1 cup Garofalo 100% Whole Durum Wheat Farfalle (about 280 calories)
- 1 link Aidells Portobello Mushroom Sausage, chopped (150 calories, often I will only use half)
- 1/8 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
- 1/3 cup Rao’s Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce (about 50 calories)
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- While pasta comes to a boil and cooks (the variety above has to boil for 15 minutes!) Heat oil in saute pan, add yellow onion followed by sausage and saute over med-low heat until onion softens (and starts to caramelize) and the sausage browns.
- Add fully cooked pasta, tomato sauce and chopped spinach, combine to wilt spinach. Top with grated Parmesan if desired.
A couple notes about my go-to quick meal. Firstly, Garofalo Farfalle is unbelievable – unlike any whole wheat pasta I have ever had! Although it takes much longer to cook, I believe it is well worth the wait. Also, who doesn’t love bowties? (They do make several varieties if farfalle isn’t your thing).
Next, chicken sausage – I am never without chicken sausage in the fridge. There are so many flavor varieties and uses, it is my go-to quick protein! For dinner stir-fries I usually stick to hearty Portobello, spicy Cajun Style Andouille or the classic Sun-Dried Tomato with Mozzarella Cheese. For omelets or egg scrambles I like sweet Chicken & Apple or savory Spinach & Feta. (I only use half when adding to eggs or any dish that has additional protein.) I do always chop my sausage either into rounds (shown) or smaller. Also, I think it is important to brown your sausage – it improves both the appearance and texture.
Finally onto the yellow onion. Although it seems like a throw-away, don’t skip the yellow onion! It will pick up some of the flavor of the sausage and bring a wonderful dimension to the sauce. Onion is cheap, has a long shelf life (it does great in a ziplock in the crisper) and can bring that “something special” to your quick dish. Rao’s sauce (all varieties) really is superb and I recommend that everyone switch brands to Rao’s! However, if you decide to skip the sauce in lieu of olive oil, I would replace the onion with 1 diced garlic clove.
Above all else, quick dishes are meant for improvisation – take inventory of what is available to you and make it work!