After a full day of work, running errands and shuffling kids around, who has the time to prepare a wholesome, nutritious, non-microwaved meal? You do—that’s who! In less time than it would take for you to dial up and wait for restaurant delivery, or make it through a long fast food line, you can serve your family a fantastic meal they’ll not only love but that’s actually good for them, too.
One thing I always do as I’m cleaning up after the current day’s dinner is to start planning out our meal for the following night. Here are two recipes that take only 20 minutes to make (with a little prep the night before) and feed my family of four.
Salmon, Couscous & Chickpea Salad
2 salmon fillets (about 4-6 fingers each. I count an additional 2-3 fingers per person for plenty of leftovers)
2 lemons or 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 large shallot
2 medium or 1 large cucumber
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cup dry chickpeas (soaked)
1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
Salt and Pepper (Quick tip: Pre mix salt and pepper and keep in a container near your stove to shorten a step!)
Dill, fresh or dried
The night before
Set a small pot and a large skillet on the stove (I almost always use cast iron). On your countertop, place the container of couscous, can of chickpeas and lemons (if using fresh–remove from the fridge). Move salmon from freezer to refrigerator (if using frozen) to thaw.
Twenty minutes ‘til dinner—get to it!
1. Turn skillet onto medium-high; add a little olive oil.
2. Place 1-1/4 cups water in small pot; bring to a boil.
3. Slice one large shallot.
4. Rinse chickpeas.
5. When water is boiling, add couscous; remove from heat and cover.
6. Sprinkle salt, pepper and dill on one side of salmon; place spiced side down in hot skillet and sprinkle salt, pepper and dill on side facing up. Add shallot to plan.
7. Wait 3 minutes.
8. But really, no time to wait! Dice cucumbers and tomatoes and combine with chickpeas.
9. Flip salmon, wait another 3 minutes (test for doneness after 3 minutes—if a little underdone, it will cook on its way to the table).
10. Fluff couscous with a fork and re-cover.
11. Toss salad with a splash of olive oil, juice from one lemon or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, salt and pepper. (Salad can be served straight from this dish.)
12. Have kids set the table and get glasses for water (OK, this step could take an hour—sometimes I set the dinner table when cleaning up breakfast).
13. Remove salmon from heat and sprinkle with juice of a lemon or 2 Tbsp. lemon juice.
14. Pour couscous onto a platter, place salmon on top and pour juices and shallots over everything.
Buckwheat Noodle with Veggies & Tofu
1 package soba noodles
½ Tbsp. olive oil
32 oz. vegetable broth
1 cup water
Veggies of choice (approximately one cup per person. I often use whatever I have left in the fridge or sometimes turn to my pantry for veggies such as baby corn or mushrooms. Refrigerator options might be sliced summer squash, peppers, peas or mushrooms)
1/2 sliced onion
2 cloves diced garlic
4 handful greens (baby bok choy, Chinese cabbage, etc.)
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
Optional: touch of honey and wasabi
½ pound to 1 pound extra firm tofu, cubed (or any protein, such as, cooked chicken, soft/hard boiled eggs, shrimp)
Toppings: roasted seaweed strips, diced scallions, chopped cilantro and/or limes
Twenty minutes ‘til dinner—get to it!
1. Boil soba noodles as instructed on package (about 8 minutes once you have a full boil); rinse well with cold water. Start step 2 while waiting for water to boil.
2. In a medium stock pot over medium-high heat, add olive oil and sauté onion, garlic and any other raw veggies (besides peppers and greens).
3. Once veggies are just softened, add vegetable broth, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, water and honey/wasabi, if using.
4. If using canned veggies, add now (be sure to drain first).
5. Add peppers, tofu or other protein; season soup as desired now.
6. Prepare each individual bowl with soba noodles and a ladleful of veggies and broth.
7. Place toppings on the dinner table so your family can dress soup as they wish.
Dana Zucker is a home cook that likes to do it her way! She gets creative with nutritious ingredients to keep her active family—teenage twins and a vegan, triathlete husband—healthy and happy. Cooking with organic, local and whole food ingredients is key, whether she’s whipping up an early-morning breakfast, prepping afterschool snacks or getting dinner on the table at 10 p.m. Dana says, “We do eat out sometimes, and even cheat with some pre-made foods. But I try to balance making delicious foods with the reality of a busy schedule.” Dana’s recipes are a great starting point to find a style of cooking that works for your family. Her advice? Keep it real—and keep it easy!