Home Cooking: 30-minute weeknight dinners
These three dinners have one thing in common — they were created at the end of a long day when I had little energy to cook but still wanted a “real” meal. I’ve provided shortcuts which make them essentially one-pot meals that can be ready in under 30 minutes.
Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas
This is a “clean out the vegetable drawer” meal, (which means you can use any variety of vegetables you want. These are the ones I had in my kitchen that needed to get used). It’s also a great way to get reluctant vegetable eaters to eat their veggies. Oh, and it’s incredibly delicious!
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
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1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 head of kale, chopped
1 Anaheim chili, diced
1 14-ounce can of black beans, drained
1–2 tablespoons southwestern spice mix
8 flour or corn tortillas
2 cups red enchilada sauce, store-bought or homemade (I’ve included a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce below, it’s nearly as quick as opening a can)
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large frying pan, add all vegetables and sauté in 1-2 tablespoons of neutral or olive oil, until softened. Stir in the drained black beans and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of southwestern spice mix.
Into a 9-by-13 inch baking dish, pour a thin layer of the enchilada sauce. Holding a tortilla in one hand, add a scoop of the vegetable/bean filling and a sprinkling of cheese, then roll up the filled tortilla and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Continue until all tortillas are filled, then pour enchilada sauce over the filled tortillas and top with more cheese. Bake for 15–20 minutes until warmed through, top with more cheese in the last 10 minutes.
Homemade enchilada sauce: 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons tomato paste, ½–1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 2–3 teaspoons southwest seasoning, pinch salt, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour or ground corn maize.
Directions: In a saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour or maize, stir for 2–3 minutes until the flour is cooked through. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, taste and increase seasonings to taste. That’s it! And yes, it’s actually better than the canned sauce.
Italian Sausage and Broccoli Rabe White Pizza
Broccoli rabe is my favorite vegetable. It’s a dark, bitter green that pairs deliciously with garlic and Italian sausage. The only place I’ve found it locally is Whole Foods Market in Frisco.
1 pound ground Italian sausage (hot or sweet)
1 bunch broccoli rabe chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 premade pizza dough
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, saute the Italian sausage and broccoli rabe together until the sausage is cooked through and the broccoli rabe is thoroughly wilted. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Meanwhile, toss, stretch, or roll out the pizza dough to fit a sheet pan or pizza stone. Top the pizza dough with sausage, broccoli rabe and garlic. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake until the pizza dough is cooked through and the cheese is melted. Allow the pizza to rest for 5 minutes before slicing the pieces. Note: feel free to add a base of tomato sauce on top of the pizza dough before adding the rest of the toppings.
Other meal ideas: After the sausage is cooked through, stir in a can of whole tomatoes, gently breaking up the tomatoes. Then serve the mixture over cooked pasta, use it in a baked ziti, or lasagna. I promise, you’ll love this flavor combination.
Pesto Salmon Zucchini Rice Bowl
Two shortcuts: You need two cups of cooked rice. I cooked the rice using my $15 rice cooker (a good investment if you cook rice often), while the salmon and zucchini roasted. If you want an even quicker shortcut, buy precooked rice packets and zap it for 90 seconds in the microwave. Second: I made my own pesto, but you could use store-bought pesto if you’re in a hurry.
1 salmon filet per person (I use frozen filets)
½ zucchini per person, quartered and sliced into two inch wedges
1 cup cooked rice per person
Pesto — I made a very quick pesto using 1 bunch dill, 1 bunch basil, 2 peeled garlic cloves, ½ cup walnut pieces, and about 2-3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, processed in a food processor.
Lightly spray a sheet pan with oil, place the salmon filets on the pan, add the zucchini spears and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 15-20 minutes until salmon is cooked through and the zucchini is softened.
Place the cooked rice in a bowl, add salmon and zucchini, then add a dollop of pesto. With a fork, gently break up the salmon into large pieces as you mix the zucchini, salmon, pesto and rice together. Serve immediately.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Home Cooking” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson taught herself to cook after college when she discovered dinner parties were a cure for loneliness. Her latest cookbook is “A Year in the Mountains Cookbook.” She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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