Easy Weeknight Dinner

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. 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.
  2. 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!

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