Healthy dinners…fast!

Since time is at a premium, but so is eating healthy home-cooked meals, I latch on to any means possible to streamline the dinner prep process. My go-to meals tend to fall into one of these categories:

  1. Leftovers from the previous few days.
  2. Leftovers that I’ve frozen for a future meal, such as soups, stews, chilis or meat-and-veggie pasta sauces.
  3. Slow-cooker meals that I can assemble the night before, refrigerate, then let cook all day while I’m working.
  4. One-pot (or pan) meals that I can quickly assemble and let cook unattended on the stove or in the oven for two hours or less (such as this recipe).
  5. Recipes that I can toss together from pantry staples and have on the table instantly.

It’s number 5 that I turned to last night when I decided that defrosting frozen falafel balls wasn’t going to cut it. This go-to meal uses a can of tuna and a can of white beans as its backbone. From there, the options are endless.

You’ll want some sort of dressing, first of all. Last night I drizzled some olive oil and red wine vinegar over the tuna and beans, dolloped on a small spoonful of Dijon mustard, sprinkled on salt, pepper, and a little granulated garlic, then gently mixed it together. If I had walnut oil on hand, I would have used that, because I love it.

Next, you’ll want to add some veggies for color, texture, and because they’re vegetables. You should be eating a lot of vegetables. You ARE eating a lot of vegetables, aren’t you? Don’t make me come over there!

I added diced red and yellow bell pepper (which I already had prepped, because I’m SO on the ball) and some minced sun dried tomatoes (which I didn’t really care for in this…to overpowering), then spooned it onto a bed of baby spinach. I’ll often add diced red onion, but I didn’t have one on hand. You could add carrots, celery, diced cucumber, you name it. Fresh parsley would be great, if you have it.

Finally, you’ll want a few extras. I added a bit of feta cheese and a few walnuts (which would have been extra nice if I’d been able to pair them with walnut oil). Capers are great in this, and so are Kalamata or Nicoise olives. Almonds and pinenuts are great, but pecans might be odd.

If you felt like you needed a starchy carb, you could mix in some brown rice or quinoa.

This is tasty, quick, nutritious, versatile, and leans heavily on nonperishable staple items. It makes a lovely light dinner or lunch. Even better, now I have leftovers on hand!