Tight schedules need not trump a good meal. You can make healthy, easy dinners and still have enough time to get in everything else on your list. "The Simpler The Better: Sensational One-Dish Meals" is the third cookbook in "The Simpler the Better" series, created by Leslie Revsin in an effort to help her busy daughter feed her family well. Co-author Rick Rodgers was invited on "Today" to share these spring and summer one-dish recipes.
This chunky salad needs no greens, although you could serve it on top of a handful of mesclun, if you like. It has a kind of simplicity that is reminiscent of certain Asian dishes, even though its flavors are firmly in the French realm.
- 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1-1/2 pounds skinless salmon filet, cut into 2 or 3 pieces to fit the skillet
- 1 scallion
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Preparation: Grate zest from lemon. Squeeze juice from lemon; you should have 1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice. Snap woody ends from asparagus. Cut spears into 1-1/2-inch lengths. Thinly slice white and green parts of scallion.Whisk lemon zest and juice with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil; set the vinaigrette aside. Fill large skillet half full with lightly salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Arrange asparagus in a single layer in skillet and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook asparagus until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus. Using a slotted spatula, transfer asparagus to colander. Add salmon to water and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until salmon is just opaque when flaked with tip of a knife, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spatula, transfer salmon to bowl with vinaigrette. Using a fork, break salmon into bite-sized pieces. Add asparagus, scallion, and tarragon, and mix gently to combine. Season with salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve warm. Variation: Instead of the asparagus, use 6 ounces sugar snap peas for the asparagus. They will only take 2 or 3 minutes to cook to crisp-tender. Substitute fresh dill for the tarragon. Simple tip: Don't forget to grate the zest from citrus (in this case, the lemon) before squeezing the juice. Actually, with the new very fine zesters on the market, forgetting to do so isn't the disaster it used to be. Regardless, when writing a recipe, I always put the lemon zest before the lemon juice, just as a helpful reminder. Dress it up: Top each serving with crisply cooked crumbled bacon. Use a combination of 1 teaspoon each finely chopped fresh tarragon, parsley and chives instead of just tarragon. If you would like to serve the salad on greens, they should be also dressed with lemon vinaigrette. Make a double batch of the lemon dressing; pour half of the dressing into another medium bowl. Add 4 cups mixed greens, such as mesclun, and toss well. Serve equal amounts of the greens in bowls, and divide the salmon salad among the bowls.
Thai cooking has bright flavors, but you don't really need to get authentic ingredients to create a spicy stir-fry in that cooking's tradition. Of course, if you have access to Thai fish sauce, holy basil, and chiles, you can use them. Otherwise, use supermarket groceries, just as I often do, and you will be perfectly happy with the results.
A few well-chosen ingredients, an oven, a pan, and…dinner! It should always be this simple, and this delicious.
- 4 pounds pork spareribs, cut into slabs as needed to fit pan
- 4 teaspoons salt-free Cajun seasoning
- 4 ears of corn
Preparation: Husk corn and remove silk. Break or cut each ear in half crosswise. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil large roasting pan. Season ribs all over with the Cajun seasoning and 2 teaspoons salt. Arrange ribs, overlapping as needed, in pan. Roast for 1 hour. Turn ribs and roast for 30 minutes more. Remove pan from oven. Place corn around ribs, rolling ears to coat in juices. Roast until ribs and corn are tender, about 30 minutes more. Transfer ribs to carving board and let stand 5 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve with corn. Variations: Substitute baby back ribs for the spareribs, adjusting the cooking time. Roast the baby back ribs for 1 hour, then add the corn to make a total cooking time of 1 1/2 hours. Simple tip: Cajun seasoning should be a mix of herbs and spices without any salt. Watch out for Creole seasoning, which is usually mostly salt with a bit of other seasonings. If you want to make your own Cajun seasoning, mix 2 tablespoons sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon each dried basil and thyme, 1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon ground hot red (cayenne) pepper. Dress it up: Use your favorite barbecue sauce on the ribs, if you like. During the 30 minutes of roasting, brush or slather the sauce on the ribs. Roast the ribs for 15 minutes, then turn the slab and brush the sauce on the other side. Roast for 15 minutes more.
Excerpted from "Simpler the Better: Sensational One-Dish Meals" by Leslie Revsin and Rick Rodgers. Copyright © 2005. Excerpted by permission of John Wiley & Sons. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.