Easy Weeknight Dinner

8 Sep

It’s no myth that eating healthier foods takes some time and effort.  Sometimes, it’s a lot of time and effort…it’s usually worth it to me, but there are some days when 4:30 arrives and all I want to do is have someone cook for me, clean up and refill my glass of iced tea. Many nights like this I’ve usually forgotten to take something out of the freezer, too.   But, when even a trip to Jason’s Deli or Chipotle costs us around $20 (and there’s no one really serving us), it’s not really feasible to go out as often as I’d like.  Plus, eating away from home really limits how much control over what’s being put in to your food. 

Last night was one of those nights.  We had a really busy (but fun!) day and about 4:00 I realized I’d not taken anything out to cook that evening.  Plus, I was TIRED.  I was on the verge of calling Justin to tell ask him to stop and pick up something for dinner, but at the end of the day, I knew he was tired. One more stop on the way home isn’t really his idea of relaxation, either.  Then, I remembered my trusty favorite for a night like this.  SALMON.  Salmon has always seemed to me like a special occasion or “company’s coming” kind of meal, but it really is the fastest and easiest dinner you can make.  Fifteen minutes (maybe 20 if you take the time to defrost the fish first) and you’re DONE.

Salmon also has a tendency to be pretty expensive, but this is the brand that I buy and I find it at Aldi at just over $4 for a 1 lb. package.  It’s enough for all of us to have a piece, with at least enough for one of us to have leftovers for lunch the next day.  If it’s still frozen, just put it in a sink of cold water for a few minutes.  It’s okay if it’s not 100% defrosted.

There’s only one or two things I buy at Aldi, but this is definitely worth a trip and I stock up when I’m there (at least four or five packages).  It’s wild caught salmon (no pink dyes added, antibiotics or “fishy” feeding practices) and I believe it’s from somewhere in the Pacific northwest area–Alaskan salmon (not to be confused with Atlantic salmon!) is best, but this is an affordable alternative.

Preheat the oven to about 420 degrees and place salmon in any baking dish or cookie sheet.  I usually drizzle the dish with a little bit of olive oil first.  Salt fish on both sides,  top with the seasoning of your choice and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  I used my new Parisien Bonnes Herbes spice blend from Penzey’s, a spice store that my mom found in Omaha.  I was absolutely thrilled to know they opened a store in Arlington, too!  I can’t wait to run out of something else, so I have an excuse to drive out there.  All of their spices are non-irradiated and smell FANTASTIC.  Our dinner had so much flavor!

I also used the greek seasoning to make our salad dressing.  Very delicious. 

While salmon is cooking in the oven, I make whole wheat couscous and a salad.  Couscous is done in about 5-7 minutes from beginning to end.  Yes, seriously.  Boil 1 1/2 cups of water (add a little salt if using water) or chicken stock; once it comes to a boil, pour in 1 cup of couscous, stir, cover with a lid and remove from heat.  That’s IT.  Last night I tried something different and we all liked it–I saved the cooking liquid from the chickpeas I made the night before and used that instead of water or stock. When it’s time to eat, just fluff with a fork.  

While the couscous is steaming in the pot and salmon still has a few minutes, whip up a quick salad.  This one had spinach, onion, walnut, chickpeas, parmesan cheese and greek vinagrette.  Voila!

No complaints, few dishes to clean, and eaten by an almost-three-year-old.  Success!



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