Quick pasta dinner that doesn’t come out of a bag!

I keep seeing these ads on TV for some steam in the bag dinner with like pasta and chicken, and veggies.  They have this intro that says something like “who says sauteing, and chopping and peeling at the end of the day is relaxing?”  These commercials bother me, a lot.  Are we that lazy?  Obviously, since I and at least some of you are on gluten-free diets we can’t eat these, but if you are looking for a quick meal like this there is a way to do it.

How many people do you have to feed?  Figure one ounce of pasta per person.  What do you like?  Farfalle? Penne? Whatever.  Cook that according to the directions on the box.  Drain it, and rinse it with cold running water to cool it.  Drain it, put it in a container to store it, toss it with some olive oil,  and put it in the fridge till you need it for later.

At work we make a mix of tomatoes, white wine, fresh basil, olive oil, and garlic.  It’s really simple, and works really well.  Go.  Do that! The easiest way to cut something leafy like the basil is to take the leaves, and kind of roll several of them together.  Then take your knife, and slice through all of them.  This is called chiffonade.  Whatever you feel like is fine.  This is going to be the sauce part of the pasta.

So, now you can pick whatever you feel like having in your pasta.  Chicken?  Peas? Broccoli? Mushrooms?  The sky is pretty much the limit.  The real key is to make sure that whatever it is will cook quickly.  Something like chicken could be cooked ahead, and sliced or cubed so that when you put it in all you have to do is get it hot.  Veggies will mostly go quick, so unless you have something like eggplant that will take some time don’t worry about them.  Just cut them small enough that they are about the same size as everything else.

When it’s dinner time, get a skillet that is big enough to fit all of the stuff that you want to put in there, get it good and hot.  Add some canola oil.  (Now is NOT the time for you to use your nice extra virgin olive oil!  You’ll be wasting it.) Once the oil is hot, add whatever will take the longest.  Since I’m not giving a specific recipe, I can’t help you here.  Once you have in the veggies, and chicken or whatever, and they are getting hot, add the tomato mixture.  Carefully, and remember that you can always add a little more if you want, but its a bit tricky to take it out.   You’ll see the liquid start to boil.  Add the pasta, and toss or stir.  This will get everything coated in your sauce, and heated through.

That’s it!  Put it in your serving bowl or on plates or however you want to eat, and you’re done!  Toss a little cheese on top, and everybody will be thrilled!

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