Quick Mediterranean Pasta Skillet

When we were first living together, my husband and I started making “clean out the veggie drawer pasta” once a week. It’s exactly what it sounds like: once a week, anything that was left in the drawer went into our dinner. Some weeks it was unexpectedly awesome – some weeks not so much. Over time, it evolved into a few different go-to dinners.

MedPastaSkillet

This variation of the pasta is my personal favorite. I’ll still make substitutions depending on what we have on hand – chicken instead of ham or peas instead of tomatoes make frequent appearances – but these are always what I hope to find in the drawer when we start prepping dinner.

MedPastaIngredients

I love how fast this comes together. I usually start my chopping right after I dump the pasta into the water and then by the time I’m ready to add the pasta to the skillet, it’s done cooking. Paired with a salad and a loaf of crusty bread, it’s an awesome, quick meal.

Quick Mediterranean Pasta Skillet

Serves: 4 Servings

Ingredients
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large ham steak, diced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ⅓ cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, julienned
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. of oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and ham and cook until onion is translucent and ham is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds more, until fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and sliced olives and cook another 1-2 minutes, until the tomatoes start to give up their juice.
  3. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to combine. Add more olive oil as needed to coat. Stir in Parmesan cheese, top with basil and serve.

Kate is a home cook and new mom  from New Jersey. In addition to sharing recipes with Eat at Home readers, she blogs her cooking adventures at Kate’s Recipe Box. When she’s not in the kitchen, you can find her reading or tending to her garden.

Naturally Quick Foods – 15 Minute Meal Series

We’ve been talking about making 15 minute meals.  I’ve shared quite a few recipes, but there are lots of possibilities for quick dinners.  When you’re looking for a speedy recipe, there are a few types of foods that work great.

Build your meals from these items and chances are you’re going to have dinner ready in a jiffy.

Beans

I like to use canned beans – black, kidney, pinto, red beans, refried…  They’re all good.  Beans add protein to your meal and pair up with all kinds of other foods.

If you’d rather cook your own from dry beans, here’s a great recipe to use:

slow cooker beans for the freezer done

 

Slow Cooker Beans for the Freezer

Pasta and Couscous

pasta

Almost all pastas will cook in under 15 minutes.  I really like angel hair and fresh or frozen tortellini and ravioli because they cook in about 5 minutes.

Add a sauce, meat, cheese and veggies and you’ve got the makings of a quick meal.

Rice

rice

My favorite rice to use when I need a quick dinner is jasmine.  It cooks in just 15 minutes.  And it turns out great every time.  For some reason, I have trouble cooking other types of rice.  It either takes forever or stays crunchy or the water won’t absorb…  But jasmine rice never lets me down.

Eggs

brown eggs

Is it even possible to cook eggs for a long time?  There may be a few dishes (quiche comes to mind), but most egg recipes are very quick to make.

Add veggies, garlic, cheese and maybe some meat and you’ve got a great dinner.

Tortillas

Using tortillas is a bit of a twist on the old sandwich routine.  Wrap nearly anything in a tortilla, then grill it or bake it or fry it or…  The possibilities are endless.  Quesadillas, quick enchiladas, tacos.  Bonus – these dishes are crowd pleasers!

Migas is a quick meal that combines eggs and tortillas.

Migas my favorite egg dish

What are your favorite ingredients to use for quick meals?

 

15 Minute Meal Series – Honey Lemon Pepper Salmon

honey-lemon-pepper-salmon

 

Fish generally makes for a fast meal.  It doesn’t require much cooking time at all.  If you keep the other ingredients simple, you can have dinner on the table quickly.

This Honey Lemon Pepper Salmon couldn’t be easier.

A drizzle of honey and butter.  A sprinkle of lemon pepper seasoning.  A quick trip in the oven.

And done!

You can find the recipe for Honey Lemon Pepper Salmon by clicking here.

This recipe is part of our 15 Minute Meals series.  Find the other recipes and tips in this series here.

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

15 Minute Sweet and Sour Chicken

15 Minute Sweet and Sour Chicken

 

I have a number of Sweet and Sour Chicken recipes on the blog.  This one uses popcorn chicken along with a homemade sauce.

The sauce comes from this recipe, which is one of our all time favorite meals.  It’s also a meal that makes me feel like I’ve really been cooking.  And it makes the kitchen look like a lot of cooking has happened!

This 15 minute version is so much easier and faster.  Admittedly, it isn’t quite as good as the all homemade version.  But 15 minutes is easy to do on a plain, old weeknight.

Here’s what you’ll need:

[Read more…]

Grilled Ham and Apple Sandwich with Chutney plus other grilled cheese and panini ideas – 15 Minute Meals

Grilled Ham and Apple Sandwich with Peach Chutney

 

The title of this post is so long, it kind of makes you wonder if I really need to write any more.

I actually do have more to say about this sandwich, grilled sandwiches and keeping dinner simple.

First, let’s talk Grilled Ham and Apple Sandwich with Chutney.  The idea for this sandwich came while we were in Disney World.  We stopped in Norway in EPCOT for dinner one night and ordered several sandwiches to share.

One of my boys is pretty picky.  He will eat no mayo.  Nor will he let any fruit touch his lips.  To accommodate him, I ordered a toasted club sandwich.  It had bacon, so I felt like I was in safe territory there.

But no.  He spied mayo listed for that sandwich on the menu board and he refused to try it.  So I gave him the Ham and Apple sandwich, cringing as he peeled off the apple.  Somehow I forgot that the sandwich also had chutney on it.  Chutney is a definite no-go with him.

He’s getting older, so he didn’t say anything about the chutney at the time. He did switch sandwich choices at that point.  And his retelling of how he handled the event was hilarious.

Grilled Ham and Apple Sandwich with Chutney “recipe”

I hesitate to call this a recipe.  Basically, you’re making a grilled cheese sandwich that involves these ingredients:

  • Cinnamon swirl bread
  • Deli ham
  • Thin sliced apple (I like granny smith)
  • Swiss cheese
  • A bit of chutney (I used Slow Cooker Peach Chutney)

There’s no secret method to this.  Just assemble the sandwich and toast in a skillet.

The great thing about this is that picky eaters can have grilled ham and cheese.  You can eat the good stuff.  Everybody’s happy.

Grilled Cheese Ideas

Sandwiches make for quick dinners.  Weeknight family meals don’t have to involve elaborate recipes.  Sometimes, it’s best to keep things simple.  But it is fun to change up the sandwich occasionally.  Try something new!

Here are some ideas of things to include on your grilled sandwich.  Or drag out your panini press or George Foreman grill instead of a skillet to change up the cooking method.

  • Brie and Apple
  • Bacon
  • Several types of cheese on one sandwich: provolone, American, Swiss, Cheddar etc
  • Cream cheese
  • Laughing Cow cheese spread
  • Tomato
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Onion or red onion
  • Sauteed onion
  • Banana peppers
  • Green chilies
  • Pickles

What do you like to put on your grilled sandwiches?

 

Easy Side Dishes – Beyond Steamed Veggies – Rounding out 15 Minute Meals

I have a tendency to focus on the main dish and forget the sides.  Until we’re nearly ready to sit down.  And then it’s time to quick thrown some veggies in a pan to steam or pull together a salad.

32 Simple Side Dish Ideas

 

This is a post I wrote last year with side dish ideas that go beyond steamed veggies.

These are all easy ideas though.  Some have a simple recipe. Others don’t require a recipe at all.

All of them will help round out your weeknight meals, but still keep it fast.

Click here to see 32 Easy Side Dish Ideas.

Think simple for sides.  Here are a few other ideas that work well:

  • Raw veggies – carrots, celery, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers etc.
  • Fruit (especially good with breakfast for dinner meals)
  • Cheese slices (with soup)
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn – healthier than chips, but great with sandwiches

What are your go-to quick side dishes?

15 Minute Meal Series – Chicken and Kale with Tortellini

Chicken Tortellini with Kale 15 minute meal

 

This recipe makes use of several quick meal tricks:

First, it’s built on pasta. Pasta is fast to cook, making it a great ingredient to build a meal on.

Second, this one uses rotisserie chicken (or other chicken that you’ve cooked and frozen).

Third, the veggie is added to the main dish.  A bag of pre-cut and cleaned kale requires no extra prep work.

I’ve linked to this recipe before, but it is one of our favorites.  This has become a go-to recipe for us.  It’s a big bowl of easy comfort food.

Find the recipe for Chicken, Kale and Tortellini here.

 
15 Minute Meals for Back to School

This post is part of our new series on 15 Minute Meals.  You can find the other posts in the series linked here.

15 Minute BBQ Chicken Nachos

15 Minute BBQ Chicken Nachos

 

My family loves nachos.  And bbq chicken.  And cheese.

So I knew this recipe would be a hit.

The fact that it only takes 15 minutes is a huge bonus.

That worked out really well the night I made them.  Due to a flat tire on one of the cars, we ended up eating in shifts again.  Nachos don’t hold over very well, but since they’re so quick to assemble and only need a few minutes under the broiler, it’s easy to make several batches.  That way everyone gets to eat them fresh.

We munched these with a Southwestern Chopped Salad kit I picked up at Kroger.  It turned out to be a great combo!

Here’s what you’ll need for the nachos:

[Read more…]

Pizza Sloppy Joes – 15 Minute Meal

We talked about sandwiches for dinner yesterday, so I thought I’d share another type today.  The original name I came up with for this one is Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes, but I think I like the name Pizza Sloppy Joes better.

Italian Sausage Sloppy Joes

 

These are quick and easy to make and they do have all the flavors of pizza.  Or at least pizza that’s topped with sausage.

The ingredients are common pantry ingredients, with the possible exception of the Italian sausage.  I’ve been finding that a package of Italian sausage is a great thing to keep on hand, so I often have a pack in the freezer.  I often use it instead of hamburger in recipes.

Pair this quick meal with carrot sticks.  Or salad.  Or even popcorn.

Family dinner doesn’t need to be complicated.

Keep it simple and enjoy your time together!

Find the recipe for Pizza (Italian Sausage) Sloppy Joes here!

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

This post is part of our new series on 15 Minute Meals.  You can find the other posts in the series linked here.

 

15 Minute Meal Series – Pepperoni Pizza Pasta

pepperoni-pizza-pasta-done

 

Pasta meals are often quick to fix.  They also tend to be inexpensive.  Win-win.

This recipe uses pepperoni for protein and flavor.  That means that there’s no meat that has to cook.  You can’t get easier than that.

I make mine chock full of bell peppers and onions.  Feel free to add any pizza topping that your family likes.  Mushrooms, banana peppers, olives or anything else your imagination and pantry yield.

Click here to see the recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Pasta.

15 Minute Meals for Back to School

This post is part of our new series on 15 Minute Meals.  You can find the other posts in the series linked here.

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