Spring is the busiest time of year for my kids, with all the different sports they play. The activity level has already started to pick up and I can feel the stress of getting dinner on the table creeping up on me. Although I love to cook and actually enjoy spending a lot of time preparing dinner (I know some of you think I’m crazy), there are days when there just isn’t enough time to do that.
However, just because I don’t have the luxury of spending a few hours in the kitchen cooking dinner doesn’t mean I can’t try my best to put a healthy satisfying meal on the table. It can definitely be a challenge, but with a little planning, and a handful of “secret” sauces, dinner can be on the table in less than thirty minutes.
Here are a few tips and tricks for making a quick dinner:
- Have a few pre-made sauces on hand, e.g., basil pesto, sun dried tomato pesto
- Roast or blanch vegetables ahead of time for a quick side dish or to toss with pasta (can be done in large batches using a variety of vegetables), e.g., asparagus, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, sugar snap peas
- Grill or pan sear some boneless chicken cutlets ahead of time (or buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket)
One of the easiest dinners to make that I know my kids will always enjoy is pasta. They could probably eat pasta practically every day if I made it. Spring calls for lighter and shorter preparations, and one of my favorite sauces to have on hand is pesto in all different varieties.
The more traditional basil pesto is always a favorite, but so are Basil Garlic Scape Pesto, Swiss Chard Garlic Scape Pesto, Spinach Basil Pesto, and the Sun-dried Tomato Pesto recipe I am sharing today. Pesto freezes well too, so, often, I have a small container of one of these pestos in my freezer to stir into soup or mix with pasta for a quick and easy meal.
This past week, I had a taste of what our busy Spring season will be like. I had to leave our house at 4:30PM to pick up one of my kids and wasn’t going to get back home until 8:00PM. So, that meant I had to have dinner ready before I left the house. I started roasting the asparagus and cherry tomatoes and cooking the pasta at 3:30PM, and within 25 minutes, dinner was ready. I had just enough time to take a few photographs of this dish before feeding two of my boys and dashing out the door for the evening. Fortunately, I remembered to pack a container of this Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Chicken and Roasted Vegetables for my other son that I was picking up from school before heading straight to sports practice.
When I pulled out my recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto the other day, I realized I did not have any fresh basil on hand. Although basil is abundant in the summer here, it is expensive this time of year. So, when I received a sampling of Monterey Gourmet Foods™ products the other day, including a container of Basil Pesto with Almonds and Pine Nuts, I was thrilled. The basil pesto worked perfectly as a substitute for fresh basil.
I had never tried Monterey Gourmet Foods’ products before, which include pastas and sauces, but when I learned that their products are all natural, I knew I could use them to make a quick and easy delicious, satisfying, and healthy meal for my family in a pinch. Just a stir-in of basil pesto into marinara sauce, or a spoonful of their Cilantro-Lime Pesto on top of grilled chicken or fish would perk up any meal.
Monterey Gourmet Foods follows eight strict All Natural Principles. Their products do not contain artificial preservatives, chemically manufactured additives, artificial coloring, flavoring, or sweeteners, monosodium glutamate, hydrogenated oil, or irradiated ingredients, so you can be assured you are offering the highest quality food for your family. Any products containing dairy/meat are not from cows treated with rBST, rBGH or antibiotics. They also strive for Non-GMO status across their products.
I am so glad I pulled this recipe out of my tried and true recipe binder. My kids raved about this meal. I had forgotten how much they loved this recipe. I’ve got more sun-dried tomatoes, so I’ll be making a stash of this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto for one of my busy days.
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One winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card and VIP coupons for free Monterey Gourmet Foods product. To be entered for a chance to win please tell me what you would make using a Monterey Gourmet Foods pasta or sauce product. If you’d also like to share a recipe, feel free to post it on your blog/website and include a link to it in your comment.
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Monterey Gourmet Foods™ is a registered trademark of Pulmuone Foods USA, Inc.
- 1 cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons basil pesto
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup Romano or Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Place tomatoes and garlic in food processor. Process until almost smooth. Add basil pesto and process until blended. With machine running, gradually add olive oil. Add Romano cheese and process until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cook your favorite pasta until al dente and reserve ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid. Whisk some pasta cooking liquid into Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto until desired consistency is reached.
- Toss sauce with hot pasta, Roasted Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes and chicken.