Choose from any number of proteins we American cooks make for dinner via various methods on a busy weeknight. Examples: roasted chicken, grilled- or grill-panned steaks or pork chops, slow-cooker spareribs, pan-seared ham slices, broiled fish fillets, steamed or poached shellfish, etc. I refer to these as flash-in-the pan meals because they go from oven or cooktop in relatively short order. All you need is a side-dish -- a seriously scrumptious all-purpose side-dish.
Rice is nice and potatoes are great...
Rice is nice and potatoes are great. Rice is nice. That said, looking at the above example-list of proteins we American cooks make for dinner via various methods on a busy weeknight, for me, there's one or two items that, meh, rice doesn't do it for me. Potatoes are great. When it comes to potatoes, I adore them, but, unless it's a microwave-baked potato, potato dishes in general require more machinations than the average person has patience for at the end of a workday.
... and pasta is fine, but noodles are perfect.
Pasta is fine but noodles are perfect. Pasta is fine. That said, once again, looking at the above example-list of proteins we American cooks make for dinner via various methods on a busy weeknight, for me, there's one or two that, meh, pasta doesn't do it for me. Noodles are perfect. They can be cooked and drained in short order, and, a few pats of butter plus a spice or three turns them into a side of scrumptious comfort food. Add some steam-in-bag broccoli and in the same amount of time, the two team up to make one seriously scrumptious all-purpose side-dish.
8 tablespoons salted butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 10.8-ounce bags steam-in-bag broccoli florets, steamedor,
16 ounces 3-minute blanched and drained fresh broccoli florets
~Step 1. In a wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat and add 1 tablespoon sea salt. Add the noodles, give the water a stir, and cook, as package directs, until al dente, 8-9 minutes. Drain noodles into a colander and immediately return them to the hot stockpot on the still warm stovetop. Add the butter, garlic powder, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir until butter melts and spices are incorporated throughout the noodles to make a scrumptious, make-shift, spicy, garlic-butter-sauce. Briefly cover stockpot while steaming broccoli florets.
~ Step 2. Steam broccoli according to package directions, drain into colander, and add the steamed florets to noodle mixture. Serve this two-for one all-purpose side-dish immediately, in place of any other starch and any other vegetable.
Indeed, a seriously scrumptious all-purpose side-dish:
Special Equipment List: wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot w/lid; colander; large spoon
Cook's Note: This winner of a weeknight chicken dinner is taken straight from pages of my working parents' playbook. Before heading out the door in the morning, my mom would put four chicken breasts, doused with store-bought Italian dressing, in a bowl, and, at the end of the work day, dad would dredge the breasts in bread crumbs and saut them in a skillet, while mom cooked a box of kid-friendly pasta and readied some fresh green beans. It was simple and straightforward, nothing fancy, but, it was a dinner we all liked, right down to the vegetable. If we four could look back and critique our dinner menus, all of us would agree: we were not an easy family to feed. At the time, no one in our family liked asparagus. Times change, people change. Try my all-grown-up recipe for: ~ Spring Chicken w/Garlic-Butter Pasta and Asparagus ~.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)