It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
This is a fast and fresh tasting dinner option adapted from Cooking Light that literally cooks in minutes (so be sure to prep all of your ingredients before beginning to cook). There are just a handful of ingredients and best of all, everything is cooked in a single pan meaning cleanup is a snap as well. I’ve used flounder in this recipe but use whatever firm white fish you prefer.
BROWNED BUTTER FLOUNDER w/ LEMON SNAP PEAS
4- 6 ounce flounder fillets
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- Combine the flour, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and salt in a shallow dish.
- Dredge the fish in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
- Heat half of the oil in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat.
- Swirl the oil to coat then add the fish to the pan, cooking for 3 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
- Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to the pan.
- Cook for 1 minute or until the butter begins to brown.
- Pour the butter into a small bowl, stir in half of the lemon juice and the parsley.
- Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining oil.
- Add the snap peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until just tender crisp.
- Stir in the remaining lemon juice and zest and serve alongside the fish topped with the brown butter.
Spring is in the air, well sort of. At least it is here in Belgium. And the calendar definitely says it is spring which means that the fresh baby vegetables are beginning to replace hearty root vegetables at the stands in the markets. So what better way to celebrate the new season than with this easy risotto that is filled with the best fresh vegetables that spring has to offer?
Marking risotto is more of a formula rather than an exact recipe. Rice is slowly cooked in a mixture of broth and white wine. When the rice is al dente, you stir in the add-ins of your choice which in this case is the freshest of the baby vegetables I found at the market. Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you like or that look good. And the final touch is the creamy addition of both parmesan cheese and creme fraiche (you can substitute sour cream if you prefer) which adds a touch of tang while bringing the entire dish together.
Enjoy the risotto as a meal unto itself or alongside your favorite grilled meat. Just be sure to have the rest of your meal ready before you finish the risotto since it truly tastes best when eaten immediately.
GREEN VEGETABLE RISOTTO
3/4 c green beans, blanched and snapped into 1 inch pieces
3/4 c sugar snap peas
3/4 c asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 small shallot, minced
1 green onion – white part only- mince
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
top with sliced green onion (Green part)
- Fill a medium sized pan with water and bring to a boil.
- Add the green beans, snap peas and asparagus.
- Cook for 30 seconds, drain in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Combine the broth and white wine in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the temperature but keep the broth mixture hot.
- In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and saute until it is soft and golden.
- Add the rice and stir to combine making sure each grain of rice is coated with butter.
- Gradually add the hot broth to the rice by the ladleful, stirring to combine after each addition. Continue to stir the rice often to keep it from sticking.
- Continue adding the broth being sure to add the next ladle before the rice has cooked itself dry. Repeat this process until the rice is tender to the bite. You may not need to use all of the broth.
- Prior to adding the last ladle of broth, stir in the vegetables and the green onion to the rice and stir to combine.
- Off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and creme fraiche.
- Top with sliced green onion.
- Serve immediately.
It isn’t quite spring around here but the tease of warmer weather and definitely longer days has me thinking about ways to lighten up my menus. On sunnier days stick to your ribs stews are loosing their appeal and have me seeking out lighter fare. But lighter doesn’t have to mean less flavorful as this quick dish from the Noble Pig attests to.
The rich and tangy flavors of cilantro, cumin and ginger add spice to ground chicken (you can substitute turkey if you prefer) while the peas and fresh cilantro add brightness and the necessary vegetables that make this a complete dinner option. Its fast, delicious and sure to please.
1 large red onion; 1/2 chopped, 1/2 sliced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt plus more for garnish
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
4 pitas, for serving
- Combine the chopped onion, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of water in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until a thin paste forms.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and cook until golden, 4 minutes.
- Add the ginger paste and cook, stirring, until most of the water is cooked out, about 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken and cook until opaque, breaking up the meat.
- In a small bowl mix the yogurt with 1/4 cup water, add to the pan and simmer over medium-low heat until the meat is cooked through, 2-3 minutes more.
- Add the peas and the cilantro and season to taste with additional salt if desired.
- Meanwhile, heat another skillet over high heat. Brush the pitas with oil, season with a tiny amount of salt and toast in the skillet, about 1 minute per side.
- Divide the chicken mixture among the pitas.
The reemergence of a wintery blast of weather inspired to me make soup this past weekend. When it comes to beef I usually make a beef stew with red wine but decided to kick things up a notch by substituting Guinness Stout in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and turning the meal into a brothier soup since that is what is preferred by my fussy eaters. In addition to my usual soup vegetables, I added some barley for body and peas and red peppers for added color and flavor. The addition of the beer resulted in a hearty and comforting dish with a depth of flavor that is absent when using wine.
This recipe will make a reappearance in the fall since I am hoping that the weather will soon be turning too warm for hot soups. In the meantime, for those of you in cooler climates, try this. I promise that you won’t be disappointed.
GUINNESS STOUT BEEF & BARLEY SOUP
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound stew beef, cubed into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
10 baby red potatoes, cubed
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
2 bottles Guinness Stout
3 cups beef broth
3/4 cup pearl barley
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup baby peas
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is seared and brown on all sides.
- De-glaze the pan with the sherry. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes. Stir to combine.
- Add the stout, broth, barley, bay leaves, thyme and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the beef is tender and the vegetables can easily be pierced with a fork.
- Adjust seasonings. Add the red pepper and peas and cook until heated through.
The soup can be made ahead of time then reheated when ready to serve. I like to make it the day before I want to serve it so the flavors have time to meld. If possible, add the peas and red pepper right before serving since you don’t want them to over cook and turn mushy.
I’ve always been a fan of chicken pot pie. It is the ultimate in comfort food and is the perfect use for both left over chicken as well as those chicken breasts in your refrigerator that need jazzing up. And because I’m a fan of pot pies, I naturally gravitate to them when they appear on a restaurant menu. So when I spotted something called “Queen’s Pie” on a restaurant menu recently I just had to inquire as to what it was.
My inquiry was met with a chuckle from the waiter who went on in broken English to describe a dish that contained chicken, meatballs and vegetables in a creamy broth. To me it sounded a lot like chicken pot pie and that is exactly what it was and it didn’t disappoint.
Back at home I set out to recreate this dish. Because I made this for a weeknight dinner, I used pre-made meatballs and puff pastry shells that just needed to be heated in the oven but if you have the time, could make both of these from scratch if you prefer. I augmented the meat with a generous amount of vegetables–in this case peas and corn–since they are favorites in my house and combined in all in a creamy sauce. The results were a hit. After all what isn’t to love about a chicken pot pie with meatballs!
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into small coins
1 stalk celery, diced
1 leek, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dry sherry
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 bay leaves
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
24 – 1/2 inch meatballs
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup canned corn
6 puff pastry shells
- Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, leek and salt and saute for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent.
- Add in the garlic and saute for 15 seconds or until fragrant.
- Stir in the flour and the sherry, scraping up any stuck bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the broth, cream, and bay leaves and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
- Gently stir in the chicken and meatballs.
- Season with salt and pepper and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Discard the bay leaves and stir in the peas and corn, heating until the vegetables are hot.
- Cook the pastry shells according to package instructions.
- To serve, generously fill the pastry with the meat mixture.
Fall means stews and one of my favorite fall dishes is a hearty chicken stew. You really can’t go wrong when you combine chicken, potatoes and vegetables in a rich broth. But sometimes I like to change things up a bit and when that is the case, this French inspired chicken stew from Cooking Light is just what the chef calls for. The classic ingredients remain but instead of a cream based sauce, the broth for this stew is a white wine reduction. The result is a lighter yet equally flavorful dish that is sure to please.
Serve it as is with crusty French bread for sopping up the sauce or on top of egg noodles.
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1-inch-long, ½-inch-thick strips
4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup dry white wine
¾ cup water
1¼ cups sliced carrots
1½ tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
12 small red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
8 baby portobello mushrooms, halved
12 small pearl onions
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 cup frozen petite green peas
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
- Add the pancetta and salute until crisp, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chicken and cook for 8 minutes, turning once.
- Sprinkle the flour, pepper, and salt evenly over chicken mixture, turning chicken to coat; cook for an additional minute.
- Stir in the wine and water.
- Add the carrots garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, onions and thyme; stir well.
- Bring the mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes or until the chicken is very tender.
- Add the peas to the chicken mixture.
- Bring the stew to a boil; cook 2 minutes.
Duck is so plentiful here in Belgium that it has been making a regular appearance on our dinner table since we arrived in the country. I’ve been marinading, grilling and roasting it (and making good use of the resulting delicious duck fat) but have recently been expanding my horizons and cooking the meat in different ways. We are also fans of curry at my house, in particular red curry, so this recipe, adapted from Saveur magazine seemed like a natural fit. And I was right.
Like most curries, the ingredients are simple and variable but the results are always packed with flavor in every bite. Here crisp pea pods, chunks of fresh pineapple and sweet grape tomatoes are simmered in a rich red curry ladened coconut milk. Basil–the Thai variety if you can find it–and kaffir lime leaves add complexity to the dish. (You can find kaffir lime leaves in most Asian markets or as I do, in the Asian section of my local grocery store). And of course there is the duck; other meats will work as well but the duck makes the dish taste that much more luxurious. And since the curry cooks up so quickly it makes for a perfect weeknight meal. Enjoy!
THAI RED CURRY w/ DUCK
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
1 pound duck breast, cut into bite sized pieces
10 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
1 cup fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1″ chunks
1 cup pea pods
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar
6 Thai chiles, stemmed
20 grape tomatoes, halved
3 green onions, white part only
Leaves from 10 basil stems
- Heat 1 cup of the coconut milk in a large pot over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring often, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the curry paste and continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is very aromatic, about 5 minutes more.
- Add the duck to the curry mixture and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the duck is cooked through, about 7 minutes.
- Add the remaining coconut milk, lime leaves, and 3⁄4 cup water.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring, until the flavors have melded, about 2 minutes.
- Add the pineapple, pea pods, fish sauce, sugar, and chiles and continue to simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pineapple is fork tender, about 5 minutes more.
- Stir in the tomatoes, green onion and the basil and simmer the curry for 1 minute more; the tomatoes and basil should retain their shape and bright color.
- Serve the curry with steamed jasmine rice.