Already feeling bogged down by after-school activities, homework and getting a good dinner on the table for your family? Need a hand getting settled into your back-to-school weeknight dinner routine?
We're here to help! Today Chef Jeffrey Saad is sharing his best tips to make back-to-school weeknight meals easy and totally manageable.
1. Stock the pantry generously.
Keep the pantry stocked with wholesome, filling, delicious staples that create the base of a great meal easily. Canned beans, pasta (my wife being raised in Italy makes this a no-brainer!), Pomi tomato puree, or chopped tomatoes. These three can be mixed together or be the base of a quick meal by just sautéing garlic, onions and whatever veggies you have in the refrigerator.
2. Cook too much!
Leftovers (especially if stews/soups) are tastier the next day and easy to doctor up or merge with other ingredients to create a "new" dish. I love doing this with pasta. I will cook an extra pasta for my dish tonight and set it aside tossed in a little olive oil. One of the next nights I can do a quick garlic, olive oil, lemon, parsley and breadcrumb pasta in minutes. This is also a favorite of my son's for school lunch.
3. Puree vegetables.
Make a veggie puree out of the veggies you have and keep it in the refrigerator. Add a few scoops to pasta for a quick dish. Add it to the slow cooker with beans and tomato and you have a delicious stew. Add the veggie puree to cooked rice or orzo and you have a great base for chicken, chops, steak or fish.
4. Maximize day-old bread.
Take advantage of day old bread by pulse chopping in food processor. Sauté in olive oil and toss into pasta, salad or on top of any protein to add flavor, texture and a great flavor.
Lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest all add great flavor and a freshness to almost any dish. Grate over the top before serving.
Use these tips to make a great weeknight dish you can whip up in 30 minutes, like Jeffrey Saad's Lime Chicken Soup with Pinot Beans and Cilantro Pesto. It can be prepped the night before, used as leftovers and you can tweak the level of heat to your family's preference.