Midweek meals made easy with Catherine Fulvio
One phrase I’ve heard far too often during the lockdown is “What’s for dinner?” We can easily fall into the rut of cooking the same recipes over and over again because we know they appeal to the family. But bringing something new and fresh to the table is what we really want to do.
So, this week I’m focusing on some easy meals that everyone can help prepare. Delegating is key and kids will thank in the future for giving them these life skills, knowing about seasonal fruits and vegetables, learning some knife techniques, measuring, keeping the kitchen tidy and clean. , and to have a little laugh too.
Building confidence in the kitchen is so important, adapting a recipe or sometimes not using one, having an enlightened understanding of flavors, and growing and using fresh herbs are all skill levels learned by making. Having the know-how on using gadgets like zesters, blenders, hand whiskers, and juicers and being careful about safety will help create a stress-free and happy experience.
Quick tips for getting organized
- Pick out favorite family meals and make sure you have a cupboard stocked with the right dry items.
- Have a selection of quick and easy recipes, like stir-fry or pasta dishes.
- Try to prepare your meals on an afternoon during the weekend if possible.
- Make good use of your freezer for items like homemade tomato sauces, blanched corn. soups or chopped herbs in ice cube trays.
One of my favorite gadgets is this food prep set which includes a fine and coarse zester as well as a mandolin with 3 different thicknesses for slicing. The handles have a good grip and there is a non-slip part on the front so you can use them directly on a smooth surface.
Joseph Joseph Go-to Gadgets 2-piece food prep set, € 26.95 + shipping, thekitchenwhisk.ie
Zucchini and tomato balls in the oven
“Mini meatballs in a homemade tomato thyme sauce and topped with zucchini slices. This dish freezes well. Instead of using beef, try turkey or ground pork for a delicious change the family will love. “
For the zucchini
- 1 zucchini cut on the bias
- Rapeseed oil
For the tomato sauce
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1 tsp of chopped thyme
- 400 g canned diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of honey
For the meatballs
- 300g lean ground beef
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tsp of chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tsp tomato ketchup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 50g grated or torn mozzarella
- A sprig of flat-leaf parsley and a little chopped parsley, to garnish
- You will need a 20cm x 25cm baking dish
- For the zucchini, preheat the oven to 190 ° C / convection 170 ° C / gas 5. Place the zucchini slices on a baking sheet, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, drizzle with a little oil and roast for 18 to 20 minutes, turning once. Reserve, ready to assemble.
- To prepare the tomato sauce, heat a saucepan with oil, place the spring onions and sauté until cooked but not brown. Add the garlic, thyme, diced tomatoes and honey, simmer for 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- To make the meatballs, place the beef in a bowl with the shallots, thyme, rosemary, garlic, breadcrumbs and ketchup and mix well. Moisten your hands with water and shape into balls the size of a walnut. Arrange on a plate, cover and let stand 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- To cook the meatballs, heat a pan with a little rapeseed oil and place the meatballs in the pan. You may need to cook them in batches. Brown on all sides, lower the heat slightly and cook until cooked through. To check, cut a meatball in half.
- To assemble, layer the zucchini slices and tomato sauce in the gratin dish. Add a little mozzarella. Place the meatballs on top and a little mozzarella between the sauce. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garnish with a sprig of parsley.
Baked sausage pasta
“A great, creamy and flavorful pasta dish that sets in no time. If you want to reduce the cream, use half vegetable broth and half cream.”
- 1 zucchini, roughly chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 5 sausages, each cut into 5 pieces
- 250g uncooked penne
- 250 ml of cream
- 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan
- 100 g of broccoli florets, steamed
- 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley, to garnish
- 1 teaspoon of chopped thyme, to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 180 ° C / 160 ° C / gas 6.
- Place the vegetables and garlic on a roasting pan, pour in a little rapeseed oil, add salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprigs of thyme. Roast 15 minutes before adding the sausage pieces and cook for another 12 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the sausage pieces), stirring occasionally until cooked through.
- Brush a 25 cm gratin dish with melted butter.
- Cook the pasta in a large saucepan according to the instructions on the package and then drain it.
- To assemble, pour the cooked pasta, roasted vegetables and pieces of sausage into the gratin dish. Pour over the cream and sprinkle with grated Parmesan and mix well. Arrange the steamed broccoli and tomato halves on top. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and thyme to garnish.