School is starting next week. This fills me with dread. Not because it will be practically the first time in -- god, how many? thirty-seven years? -- that I don't have to be running around preparing for the first day of class, but because suddenly the completely undisciplined summer morphs into 7.15 am wake ups and preparing my daughter's lunch and making sure she's brushed her teeth and hair and then getting a healthy dinner into her at a reasonable time all while trying to, you know, work and Facebook and stuff. HOW WILL I EVEN MANAGE THIS LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE

Haha just kidding whatevs. Business as usual. My friend Laura was asking about weeknight dinners, preferably one-dishers, so I'm just posting some here. NO BIGGIE.

Arroz con Pollo, Sort Of
Serves 4

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks
1 TB Spanish smoked paprika, divided (or substitute Hungarian sweet paprika)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1.5 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp dried thyme (or substitute 2 tsp fresh)
1.5 c white rice (I use jasmine rice or Japanese short grain rice, depending on what's around)
2 TB tomato paste
3 c low-sodium chicken broth
12 oz frozen green peas, thawed
handful of chopped parsley

1. Sprinkle chicken with 1 tsp paprika and a generous pinch of salt and grinding of pepper. Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add chicken. Sauté until it loses its pink color and starts browning.

2. Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the pan, along with a good pinch of salt. Sauté until vegetables start to soften. Add thyme and tomato paste. Fry until the tomato paste loses its raw smell, then add rice to the pan. Stir the rice in the pan; after a minute add the chicken broth and another healthy pinch of salt. Stir the mixture well, and once it comes to a boil turn the heat down to medium-low and cover.

3. Allow the mixture to cook for 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender and the broth has been almost completely absorbed by the rice. Turn off heat. Stir in the green peas and allow to sit for 5 more minutes to heat them through. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Fried Rice or Noodles with an Ever-Changing Roster of Ingredients
Serves 3

3 cups LEFTOVER cooked rice, white or brown, at room temperature OR 12 oz Chinese egg noodles, cooked in boiling water and drained
2 TB canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp each minced ginger and garlic
8 oz of a protein, which might involve chicken breast cut into 1" strips, peeled and deveined shrimp, pressed tofu cut into strips, pork tenderloin cut into 1" strips, cubes of Chinese barbecued pork that you've got on hand, or bite-sized pieces of Chinese air-dried sausage that you keep in your freezer (like I do)
1/2 medium onion, diced
An assortment of vegetables, including some or all of: 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thinly on the diagonal; a handful of snow peas, trimmed; a handful of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" lengths; 2 celery stalks, diced; 1 c small broccoli florets or sliced bok choi or yu choi; 1/2 c thawed frozen peas
3 TB oyster-flavored sauce or 1.5 TB low-sodium soy sauce
A handful of chopped cilantro
Siracha chili sauce to serve

1. Heat 1 TB canola oil in a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. When hot, add the beaten eggs and stir with chopsticks or a fork until cooked. Remove the eggs, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan.

2. Add the remaining 1 TB oil to the pan. When hot, add the garlic and ginger. Once sizzling and fragrant, add your protein and stir-fry quickly until it loses its raw color. Add the onion to the pan and stir. After 30 seconds or so, add the rest of the vegetables. Toss and stir for a minute or four, adding 1/4 c water if necessary to allow the vegetables to cook slightly until crisp-tender.

3. When the vegetables and protein are basically cooked, add the rice, breaking up clumps with your hands as you add it to the pan. Toss and stir to combine with the protein and vegetables. Now add back the scrambled egg and the oyster sauce or soy sauce; stir-fry until well-combined and hot. Stir in cilantro leaves; serve with Sriracha sauce on the side.

Little Ears with Chickpeas and Zucchini
Serves 4

I like orechiette for this (a small, round, thick disk -- "little ears" -- but if I can't find them, I use medium shells (conchiglie). I prefer to use chick peas that I've soaked and cooked myself (in the pressure cooker, it's quite quick), but you can use canned if you'd like.

1 c dried chickpeas, which you've soaked and cooked (save the cooking water), or 2 c canned, rinsed and drained
1-1.5 TB olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 oz pancetta (optional)
1 small onion, diced
1 fresh red chili, sliced, or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 small zucchini, diced
salt and freshly-ground pepper
12 oz orechiette

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. When it comes to the boil, add 1 TB salt and the pasta, and cook till just shy of al dente (about 10-12 minutes). Drain and set aside.

2. In the meantime, heat oil and garlic in a sauté pan over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant. Add the pancetta if you're using it and let it render and get a bit browned. Add the onion and red chili and sauté over medium-high heat. When the onion softens and becomes translucent, add the zucchini and a good pinch of salt. Sauté until the zucchini is softened, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas and about 1/3 c of the chick pea cooking water, water, or chicken broth to the pan to loosen the vegetable mixture. Let it bubble vigorously for a minute or so and add the cooked orechiette, stirring until well combined. Add more liquid as necessary to keep the mixture a bit saucy. Season with salt and pepper (don't be shy with salt) and serve immediately.


Michelle :) said…
Loving the changed format of your recipes :) and nom nom nom!
Thanks for the suggestion, Michelle. I'm going to be slow converting the old recipes to the new format, but it'll happen sometime...
steven said…
I love the new format, too!