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.
I love this fast and flavorful shrimp dish from Cooking Light. It is both light and satisfying and when paired with a crusty loaf of French bread for sopping up all of the tasty broth, it makes for a perfect end of the week dinner. It is so good that it takes me far away from the dreary winter weather we’ve been having and places me on a Greek island. One can dream……….
GREEK SHRIMP w/ WHITE BEANS & FETA
1 cup finely sliced fennel bulb
1/2 cup finely sliced onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 cup chopped plum tomato
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the oil, swirling to coat.
- Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add the fennel, onion, and oregano; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Add the tomato; cook 2 minutes.
- Stir in the stock, beans, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
- Gently stir in the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until shrimp pink.
- Remove the bay leaf, stir in parsley and pepper.
- Sprinkle feta over top.
Nothing satisfies on a cold day more than soup. Most weekends I will make a big pot of whatever strikes my fancy. I allow it to simmer on low all afternoon then we enjoy it with crusty bread for a Sunday night dinner. There are always leftovers which is perfect since soup tastes better the next day. I have yet to find a soup that I didn’t like but this minestrone is a soup that I absolutely love.
It is more of a method rather than an exact recipe; I will use whatever vegetables I have on hand or whatever looked good at the market that morning. I like to be heavy handed with the vegetables and go lighter on the pasta and beans but you could easily add more of the later if that is to your liking. Not only is this soup vegetarian but it is also low in sodium. Rather than using a pre-made broth, I simply add water as the soup base and allow the cooking vegetables to flavor the broth. The results? A rich, tasty and satisfying soup that everyone will love. Serve it with crusty French bread and dinner is served.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 leek, quartered and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small eggplant, diced
1 cup Brussels sprouts, quartered
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 26-ounce can tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup small pasta (shells or elbow macaroni works well)
1 large handful fresh basil, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Grated parmesan cheese, to serve
- Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot set over medium high heat.
- When the oil shimmers, add the onion, leek, celery and carrots and stirring occasionally, cook until soft but not brown, 4-5 minutes.
- Add in the zucchini, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, beans and canned tomatoes. Stir well.
- Add enough water to the pot to cover the vegetables by 1 inch.
- Bring the soup to a simmer then reduce the heat and cook uncovered until the vegetables are soft, 35-45 minutes.
- Add in the oregano and thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- At this point you can proceed to the next step or cover the pot, turn the temperature to the lowest setting and allow to sit until you are ready to proceed.
- Return the temperature to medium-high.
- Once the soup is boiling again, add the pasta, stir well and cook until the pasta is al dente, approximately 6-8 minutes.
- Stir in the basil, adjust the seasonings and serve, topped with grated parmesan cheese.
I love panzanella, the classic Italian bread salad. With ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and crusty bread it is hard not to love it and I’ve been known to eat a bowlful or two as dinner on a hot summer evening. But sometimes even the most classic of recipes needs to be kicked up a notch. And with that you have a garlicky flat bread panzanella that was inspired by the Yankee Kitchen Ninja.
Flat bread is easy enough to make from scratch but my local grocery store carries a fabulous garlic and olive oil drenched one that is just too good to resist. When warm, the bread is perfect for absorbing the juices of the salad. For added color I like to use multi-colored grape tomatoes but feel free to use whatever flavorful variety you prefer. And because the beans add an added burst of protein, with a glass of Chianti, this salad is substantial enough for a light dinner on a hot summer night. Enjoy.
GARLICKY FLAT BREAD PANZANELLA SALAD
2 small garlic flat breads, heated in the oven and cut into bite-sized pieces
Scant 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup pickling cucumbers, cut into coins
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup orecchiette shaped fresh mozzarella or other small balls, drained
1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed
1/4 cup sliced green onion
- Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.
- Place the flat breads on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting into bite sized pieces.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, beans, green onion and stir to combine.
- Add the flat bread, toss well and serve immediately.