A Quick and Tasty Weeknight Dinner

by | Aug 3, 2016

Both my husband and I work full time and when we get home from work, we want a fast but tasty dinner so that we can unwind for the evening. The key here is tasty. If it’s not tasty, why bother?

I try to set a 30 minute time limit for myself in which to have dinner prepped, cooked, and ready to eat. With a little bit of forethought and a well-stocked pantry and freezer, either or both of us can get this accomplished with no trouble.

One standby that we like to have is some type of pasta. This used to cause a bit of compromising on our parts. I really like a light, olive oil based sauce while my husband is the master of the yummy but heavier tomato based sauce. The following meal is one that we both always enjoy and even though we make it frequently, it is fresh and different each time we make it.

It begins with some fresh cherry tomatoes, preferably from our garden, but any tasty ones will do. The more colorful, the better.

Next we want some sort of protein. My favorite is chicken breast and my husband will always reach for beef or pork if given the opportunity. I cook the protein first so that I know for sure that it is cooked through. I like sushi and carpaccio, just not in my pasta!

The next step is to see what we have in the refrigerator as far as other vegetables are concerned. I really like to load up my pasta with fresh veggies and sometimes I use this opportunity to clean out the crisper drawers. If there are mushrooms, they will always be included. I also enjoy carrots, asparagus, green beans, squash, you name it and it can go into this dish. If we are cooking this pasta later in the week, there might not be a large selection but it will still be tasty.

I try to cut the veggies into similar sized pieces so that they all cook at the same pace. I also like to start out with some onion and garlic that I sweat for a while in olive oil. If I have some shallots, I will use those before chopping up an onion as I find them to be much milder. I let the onion or shallot cook a bit before I add some fresh minced garlic to the pan.

Once the protein is cooked, the veggies don’t take very long so I need to figure out what kind of pasta I am going to use. Angel hair is always my first choice because it cooks in about 2 minutes. I reserve about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water to help thicken the sauce at the last minute and makes all of the yummy vegetable juices adhere to the pasta better.

At this point I will think about making a salad to go with this meal, however, if I have packed the pan with veggies, I may not worry about that. I always like to have some bread with this kind of meal and my husband likes to toast or grill it then add butter, fresh garlic, and parmesan cheese for a nice gooey treat.

Everything should be cooked now so I drain the pasta, toss about a cup of the liquid in the pan with the meat and veggies, dump the pasta in, add some olive oil and fresh basil and give it a good stir before I load up the pasta bowls and throw some shredded parmesan on top. Now it’s time to put my feet up and see how my hubby’s day went and see if there is a good show to watch on TV and settle into our evening.

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I’m Shirl and I’m part of the Tillie Moon trio. The other two partners are my sister, Judy (13 years my senior), and her daughter, Jen (10 years my junior). Together we make up one terrific team. Each of us has our own singular talents and skills and what one of us may lack, the other two more than make up for. Read More

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