It’s What’s Fer Dinner

I made one of our favorite quick meals the other night– red lentil soup. It made me think about quick, wholesome, one-pot meals. Not the glamorous kind they always put in magazines, but the kind us mamas make all the time in the real world. I saw on the great blog Down to Earth a post and zillions of responses for super fast meals. These were the truly flash, emergency foods, ready in 10 or 15 minutes, like grilled cheese with tomato. But how about the more common just ‘quick’ meals? In the 30-45 minute category, and not making too many dishes please…

Don’t know why, but it took me years to discover red lentils, and their fantastic ability to cook in 20 minutes. They’re split, like split peas, which is why they cook in half the time. Throw the lentils in a pot of water with potatoes, carrots, onions and celery if ya got it. A bay leaf and some thyme are good, fresh rosemary is delightful. Black pepper is a must. Right before it’s done, add some chopped cabbage or greens, cook till tender, then stir in a healthy drizzle of olive oil or chunk of butter. Yum! And, maybe it’s just mine, but this is a hit with toddlers in this house.

Another quick toddler fave, since we always have lots of home canned salmon, is mac n’ fish (from what I’ve seen in Cordova, when kids grow up eating fish, they mostly love it)  Cook macaroni noodles. Put frozen peas in a bowl and pour hot noodle water over to thaw. Drain noodles. Dump a jar of salmon into the empty noodle pot, along with a good knob of butter, and plenty of black pepper. Add the noodles back in, along with the peas. Stir and serve!   ***It’s great with spinach too, and I sometimes stir in some cheese.

This is a family of mashed potato lovers, and I’ve never paid one iota of attention to the potato naysayers. They feel good and healthy to me, so long as they’re skin-in, and nothing is more satisfying. I often make a quick stir fry of whatever veggies we’ve got on hand while the taters cook. Often I start my fry with a frozen chunk of ground meat (when I wrap our meat for the freezer, I try to make the packages as flat as I can, so they thaw quick. Ground meat is perfectly possible to thaw while cooking, on a medium-low heat with a lid on. Just keep scraping the cooked parts off and pressing the still frozen part against the hot skillet)

If you have a pressure cooker, your fast meals can take it to another level! I’m a big fan of home canned soup. Bean soups can beautifully. See Making Your Own “Canned” Soup from my last life blog, Subsist/Resist.

What are your favorite quick, wholesome meals?

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