At the end of a busy day you want to kick off your shoes, relax, and enjoy a tasty meal. Hungry as you are, you don’t want to spend lots of time on cooking. Frozen meals may be the answer, but they tend to be loaded with fat, salt, and preservatives.
How can you get a quick and delicious meal on the table?
Pre-chopping vegetables one answer. If you are cutting the tips off fresh string beans, for example, and cutting them into pieces, you may as well fix extra. The same is true of carrots and mushrooms. Weekends are a good time to prepare vegetables for the days ahead.
Cooking extra is another answer. When I’m cooking spaghetti or any other kind of pasta, I cook double the quantity I need. I drizzle a little olive oil over the drained pasta to keep it from sticking together. Extra pasta is refrigerated or frozen in plastic zipper bags.
A few days ago I bought a package of Chinese noodles. These curly noodle are packaged in separate bundles and cook in a matter of minutes. One bundle was enough for the low mein I was making, but I cooked the entire package. I put the extra noodles in a plastic bowl, fastened the lid securely, and popped them into the refrigerator.
It was extremely not the next day, and since I didn’t want to stand over a hot stove, I decided to fix a salad. Chinese noodle salad sounded good to me and I checked the refrigerator vegetable drawer to see the produce I had on hand. I found half of a red pepper, a hunk of red onion, and leftover green beans. I also had some leftover roast beef.
All of these ingredients would go well in a salad. Slicing the beef into matchstick pieces took only a couple of minutes. Cutting the red pepper and green beans took a few minutes more and, before I knew it, dinner was on the table. Though I considered a soy sauce dressing, I chose bottled Italian dressing instead. The result was one of the best salads I’ve ever tasted.
You may use a package of Ramen noodles for the salad. Shredded chicken may be substituted for the roast beef. Other vegetables, such as sliced fresh mushrooms, green pepper, and pea pods would also work well. Follow the directions on the Chinese noodle package to avoid over-cooking them. You may also use a different bottled dressing.
2 cups cooked Chinese noodles
1 cup cooked green beans, cut into one-inch pieces
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced purple onion
1/2 a red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup, or more, cooked roast beef, cut into strips
Bottle of Italian salad dressing with basil and Romano cheese
Small head of red leaf or green leaf lettuce
Put the cooked noodles and cut vegetables into a salad bowl. Drizzle with dressing, toss gently, and refrigerate for 15 minutes to blend flavors. Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and divide among plates. Spoon salad mixture over lettuce and lay roast beef strips on top. Pass extra dressing if needed. Makes four servings.
Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson