Pasta: A One Dish Meal Recipe
It's easy to put together a balanced and healthy meal in one dish using pasta. On busy evenings, a quick pasta dinner is a much cheaper alternative to ordering pizza. It's also a whole lot healthier. The most important thing to do is to make sure to have certain, easily stored, long-lasting ingredients always handy in your kitchen for a busy night's meal. The other night, after another exciting volleyball match, I threw together a tasty dish using bresaola (an Italian air dried beef), green beans, fresh garlic, herbs and goat cheese. This followed my usual formula of some sort of pasta, mixed with some kind of meat and vegetable, and a sprinkle of cheese.
Bresaola is a flavorful, air dried beef that is great in pastas or on an antipasto plate.
Menu Shopping List
A menu shopping list can be a big help to busy moms on the go. At the beginning of each week, take a look at what evening activities are planned and then make a shopping list. If there is a volleyball game, late practice, track meet, or any activity that you know will take up a large part of your evening, you know you'll have very little time to prepare a good dinner. On those days, you're left with two choices: a crock pot meal or a quick, one dish meal made in a nice, big pan. If you've prepared a good menu shopping list, you'll have everything you need to prepare a quick and healthy dinner. For one dish pasta nights, you will need to have the following on hand:
- Pasta. Any pasta will do but I prefer a penne or thicker pasta as it holds your sauce better. If you are trying to avoid gluten, try a gluten-free pasta. I've used them many times and I really can't tell the difference.
- Olive oil. A good olive oil is the foundation to any good pasta dish.
- Foundation flavor. Give your dish a foundation of flavor by using fresh garlic, onions or both.
- Meat. You will want a quick meat that can be reheated. I prefer dried, or cured meats or pre-cooked chopped chicken.
- Vegetable. A balanced meal includes vegetables, so, you should not leave them out of your pasta meal.
- Cheese. For a creamy sauce try a creamy cheese like chevre or gruyere. If you just want a sprinkle of cheese over your olive oil based pasta, opt for a firm cheese like parmesan or feta, which is softer but somehow always holds its texture.
- Herbs. You can use either fresh herbs or dried herbs. If you use fresh herbs you will add them at the end of the cooking time. Fresh herbs will store for quite awhile in your refrigerator is kept in a glass of water (like a bouquet) and covered with a plastic bag. Dried herbs should be added at the beginning so the flavor has time to bloom.
The recipe shared today uses beef, beans, and goat cheese. Bresaola is an air dried beef from Italy. I purchased it as part of a package of Italian meat cuts at my local Costco. It has a savory, salty flavor which becomes more pronounced when it is sauteed in olive oil. The warm, beefy flavor combined with the freshness of the green beans and the creamy, tangy goat cheese made this dish a real comfort food.
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- 1-16 oz package dried penne pasta
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 cups Bresaola, roughly chopped
- 2 cups fresh green beans, washed
- 1/4 cup chevre, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, rosemary, thyme, basil, etc.
- Fill a large pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and add the penne. Cook for 9 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta in a strainer.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add Bresaola and garlic. Sautee until you can smell the garlic and the beef is warmed through.
- Remove the beef and set aside on a plate being careful to leave as much of the liquid as possible in the pan. Add the green beans and saute until they are bright green and tender-crisp. Return beef to the pan.
- When pasta has finished cooking, add pasta to the skillet with the beef and beans. Add the reserved pasta water and mix using a spatula.
- Add crumbled chevre and fresh herbs and stir to coat the pasta. Serve alone in a bowl or on a plate with a side salad.
All of the ingredients used in this simple method for making a one dish pasta dinner are easily stored and long lasting. I have even used canned artichokes in a pasta with dried salami and olives to make kind of an "antipasto pasta". Anything you can find at the store or local market will work for this recipe. I'm certain that, using this formula, you'll be able to come up with a great combination that your family will love and will be quick and simple to prepare.