5 quick weeknight meals

Monday, March 22, 2010

One of the things that I hear over and over again from people is how hard it is to fit meal planning and preparation into their busy schedules. I am no exception as I often find that I'm trying to come up with a quick dinner idea around 5pm. I try to keep the staple ingredients for my "go to" quick meals on hand for nights like that. Sometimes I'll cook a batch of rice, quinoa, or other grain to have on hand as well.

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Tacos - Sauté 1/2 an onion with 1 clove of garlic until the onion starts to brown. Add 1 can of black beans (rinsed well) and your favorite seasonings (I use coriander, lime juice, and chipotle chile powder). Chop some lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado and warm corn tortillas on a griddle over medium heat. Serve with your favorite toppings (salsa, lime, cilantro, etc.).

2. Fried rice - Lightly brown 1/2 pound firm tofu, set aside. Sauté 1 cup of sliced shiitake mushrooms in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add 4 cups brown rice (cooked), lots of black pepper, about 4-6 cups of fresh spinach, and 1/2 cup frozen peas. Cook until the peas are heated through and the spinach is bright green and wilted. Add the tofu, 3/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/2 cup toasted pecans (chopped), 2-3 Tbsp soy sauce, and 1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil.

3. Pizza - I make pizza crust in my bread machine a couple of hours before dinner. When it is time to cook, I just have to roll out the dough, add the toppings, and bake. For a thin crust pizza, I use this recipe. Try substituting whole wheat flour for a thicker crust or "00" flour for a really stretchy, smooth, tender, authentic Italian dough.

4. Tempeh sandwiches - Thinly slice tempeh, marinate for a few minutes in your favorite sauce(s), and brown over medium heat. I like toasted bread, sprouts, avocado, red onion, and Annie's Goddess Dressing for my sandwiches. These are great with sweet potato oven fries on the side. For fries, peel and slice sweet potatoes into fries. Toss with olive oil and your favorite seasonings (or just salt and pepper). Roast at 425° for about 15 minutes, flip them, then brown on the other side for 10-15 minutes (watch them closely, they burn fast!).

5. Gnocchi with pesto cream - Vegan gnocchi can be hard to find so I usually pick up a couple of packages when I do see it in the store. It cooks super fast (like 3 minutes) and my pesto cream sauce is the perfect addition. Sometimes I use this vegan alfredo and add roasted red bell peppers (from a jar) instead. This is great with roasted broccoli or asparagus (toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 400° until it begins to brown), and a vegan caesar salad on the side.

What are your favorite "go-to" meals?

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