As warm weather returns, so do the salads. A delicious salad topped with protein (boiled egg, grilled chicken meat, cheese) makes a filling meal that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. But salads are time consuming to make. Here are my shortcuts for hasty tasty salads.
- Chop, wash, and spin a big bowl of your greens. I usually buy Romaine because it keeps longer than other varieties of lettuce, but buy what you like.
- Make carrot ribbons from 2 carrots using a spiral vegetable slicer or a peeler. Toss with the greens.
- Chop 3 ribs of celery and mix with the lettuce and carrot ribbons. Seal and refrigerate.
- Boil 5-6 eggs, peel, and refrigerate.
- Cook 2-3 chicken breasts (I use the pressure cooker, but use whatever method works for you), chop, and store in a sealed container. Refrigerate. Or keep deli meats handy in the refrigerator.Your choice.
- Make a cruet of your favorite homemade dressing. I prefer a simple vinaigrette, but even mixing up a Good Seasons mix is better than buying a bottled brand because you choose your ingredients. Refrigerate.
- Grate a wedge of your favorite hard cheese (I like Parmesan) and store in the fridge.Already shredded cheese is fine, but freshly grated has better flavor.
- Wash several tomatoes and store in a basket in a cool, dry place in your kitchen. Do not refrigerate unless tomatoes get too ripe.
- Congratulations! You now have the makings of at least 5 chef salads you can pull together within minutes.
This is my salad, but you may use any variety of ingredients in yours. The secret to hasty tasty salad meals is advance preparation. Assembling the prepped ingredients into a tasty salad takes mere minutes. Enjoy!
At first glance, this recipe appears time consuming, not hasty. What makes this skillet pie a hasty tasty meal is the prep. You can make it the day before if you want. Then simply place the skillet in a 400°F preheated oven for an hour when you’re ready to cook. Make-ahead meals are so convenient. Today I made this one before heading off to church. When I got home, I simply baked and served. Meanwhile, I had the luxury of changing clothes, reading the Sunday paper, enjoying a cup of tea, and still had time to set the table and pour the iced tea.
Use the oven-safe skillet of your choice, but I prefer the 12″ Lodge cast iron skillet.
Chicken Skillet Pie
- 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken meat
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 ribs celery, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 cup mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
- 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 1 thawed pie crust
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Generously oil the interior surface of a 12″ cast iron skillet. Preheat over medium heat.
- Add onions, celery, and carrots. Cook for five minutes, or until onions soften.
- Add mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook five minutes.
- Combine the cooked chicken with the vegetables. Heat through.
- Combine soups and milk in a quart bowl or pitcher. Stir to blend.
- Remove skillet from heat. Stir in the soup mixture.
- Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and herbs over the top of the pie filling.
- Gently roll the pie crust until it measures 12″ in diameter (or whatever size skillet you use). Carefully lift the crust and place it atop the pie filling.
- Crimp edges of crust. Cut several vent holes in the top of the crust.
- Place skillet pie in oven on the middle rack. Time for one hour. Do not open oven door to peek until after 45 minutes. If your crust browns before time is up, turn off the oven.
- Carefully remove skillet from oven and allow the pie to cool for at least fifteen minutes before cutting to serve. Drape a towel or potholder over the skillet handle as a reminder that it’s hot.
- Cut into six wedges and serve.
You’ve had a long day. All you want to do is collapse in a chair and be served dinner. But you’re on a budget and trying to eat healthy meals, so you prefer eating at home instead of a restaurant. What a dilemma.
Sound familiar? Been there, done that. So I keep a few speedy-to-the-table meals in my cooking arsenal, including Hasty Tasty Spinach-Chicken Pasta. This one uses leftover, cooked chicken (but you could substitute other cooked meats or chopped Portobello mushrooms) and a package of triple-washed spinach. I also use a jar of light Alfredo sauce from my pantry (I stock up when my local grocer has a BOGO–Buy-One-Get-One-free). My recipe serves two, but you could easily double it. It’s thirty minutes, max, until you’re sitting down to enjoy your meal.
Even with the prepared sauce, this meal is fairly light and packed with nutrition. Don’t feel guilty for using prepared sauce when you’re eating almost two servings of iron- and fiber-rich spinach. Busy schedules call for compromise.
Note: For this recipe I used my Fasta Pasta microwave oven cooker to prepare the farfalle while I made the dish using my 12″ Gourmet electric skillet (by Kitchencraft). Use whatever cookware works best for you.
HASTY TASTY SPINACH-CHICKEN PASTA
- 2 ounces (1 serving) dried bowtie (Farfalle) or shell pasta
- 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
- 1 package (3-4 servings) spinach salad mix, washed and ready to eat
- Kosher salt
- 1 jar prepared Alfredo sauce, your choice.
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 clove garlic, grated or pressed
- 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
- Cook pasta in a separate pan or in a microwave oven pasta cooker until al dente. Salt generously.
- In a large covered skillet or electric skillet, wilt fresh spinach over low heat (225°F)
- Add the cooked chicken, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the jar of Alfredo sauce, stir, and cover. Heat through 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in cooked pasta, season with the grated garlic and nutmeg. Turn off heat.
- Divide and serve, garnished with Parmesan cheese.Enjoy.
Tip: Cooking for one? Leftovers taste great cold, too. Save half to take for lunch.
My healthy version of King Ranch Chicken posted three years ago is still my favorite, but I wondered if I could make it “hasty” without sacrificing the “tasty” part of the meal.
I consulted my good friend Betty (as in Betty Crocker) and her version takes shortcuts I decided to try. The biggest difference in my version and hers is my casserole soaks in the refrigerator for several hours before baking. Mine also has more ingredients. So if you’d like to make this casserole for your next covered dish dinner and you’re short on time, try Betty Crocker’s version. It’s tasty enough for my family, and a bit less work for me, although I still have to have my fresh cilantro garnish at the end. 😉
Remove from oven and top with chopped cilantro.