It gets old, doesn’t it? Time and again I stand in the kitchen and tell myself I will turn over a new leaf; I will put more of an effort into making dinner.
We sit down to a meal we prepare five nights a week. It gets so boring. I may be good at remembering to take something out of the freezer to thaw and have vegetables in the bin, but beyond that, it’s a wasteland of creativity in my kitchen. Yes, I try to work magic with marinades and rubs. I pat myself on the back if I throw mandarin oranges in the salad.
We get home late, we’re cranky and we’re hungry. If I really want to get out of this rut, the solution has to be a meal that’s not only easy and quick but pushes me to add just a few more ingredients to dishes for a little oomph.
I don’t need to change the culinary world; I just need to pay a little more attention. When I was online at thekitch.com, I found these two recipes. They clear my doldrums hurdle without breaking a sweat. (Yes, I’ve been watching too much of the Olympics.) They take 30 minutes or less to make and rely on a lot of ingredients I probably already have in my pantry and garden, if I’d bother to look. If not, I should just stock up on a few more.
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Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Brie makes use of the basil and red peppers in the garden. Everything is cooked in one big skillet. It’s a meatless meal. You won’t miss the meat.
Steak lovers who cook will get a kick out of preparing Broiled Steak & Asparagus with Feta Cream Sauce. Why? Because you broil the steak on a rack right over the asparagus — all in the same pan, which means the vegetable gets a basting from some of the meat juices.
You can make the feta cream sauce up to a day ahead, and once you do that, cooking the asparagus and steak is a cinch.
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Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Brie
12 ounces linguine, broken in half
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 to 4 large garlic cloves, pressed
4 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes (or regular olive oil)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 ounces brie cheese, rind removed and torn into pieces
Grated Parmesan, for serving
Good-quality olive oil, for serving
Combine linguine, basil, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic in a 3-quart straight-sided skillet.
Add the water, olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes and a generous amount of black pepper and bring to a full rolling boil over high heat. Using tongs, stir and turn the pasta frequently to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, approximately 9 to 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. (If there is still a little bit of cooking water, pour some — but not all — into a separate bowl.)
Add the brie and toss with tongs until creamy and melted. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. The sauce will naturally thicken up after a couple of minutes. Serve with grated Parmesan and a swirl of good olive oil. (If the pasta does seem to need liquid, add back a few splashes of reserved cooking liquid.) Serves 4.
Broiled Steak & Asparagus with Feta Cream Sauce
Olive oil cooking spray
2 bunches asparagus (about 2 pounds)
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 sirloin tip steaks (each 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick; about 2 1/4 pounds total)
1 cup (about 6 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
Preheat the broiler with a rack about 4 inches from the heat. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and mist a wire rack about the size of the sheet pan with cooking spray.
Snap off the bottom of one asparagus spear, to see where it breaks easily. Line up the rest of the bunch and slice off the bottoms at the same spot. Place the trimmed asparagus on the prepared pan, drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and toss to coat. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer around the perimeter of the pan and set the wire rack on top, nudging the asparagus aside as needed so the rack lies flat and even.
Blot the steaks dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the steaks on the wire rack.
Place the pan under the broiler (the steaks should be about an inch from the heat). Broil, flipping the steaks once, until well browned and charred at the edges, 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. (If you prefer your steak more or less done, adjust the cooking time accordingly.)
While the steaks and asparagus cook, make the feta cream sauce: Combine the feta cheese, sour cream, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and cider vinegar in a food processor or blender. Puree the ingredients until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and give the sauce one last pulse. Pour the sauce into a bowl and fold in the chives.
Remove the pan from the broiler and allow the steak and asparagus to rest for 10 minutes on the rack. Transfer the steak to a cutting board before slicing it thinly against the grain. Serve the steak and asparagus with the feta cream sauce. Serves 4.
“Sheet Pan Suppers” by Molly Gilbert (Workman Publishing Co.)