Friday, April 19, 2013

Making Ordinary Dinners So Much Better



This week, by happy coincidence, I have stumbled upon ways to make three of our everyday dinners so much better. 

First, roast chicken dinner. I usually make traditional bread stuffing, but only one member of the family really likes it. This week - stuffing the chicken with lemon wedges. So easy. The revelation? It flavours the whole chicken with essence of lemon. The lemon oils release into the flesh, the juice makes a reservoir of delicious flavoured pan drippings, which then make a wonderful, lemon flavoured gravy. What's not to love?

Second, Tuna Mornay. Old comfort-food standby with lots of stodgy white sauce. Yummy, but gloppy. Well, this week The Girl whipped up e's version, the tuna pasta bake. The Girl used a little less cream, and broccoli and peas for the veg. Everybody loved it. It was so much lighter, the tuna and lemon starred together, and it featured more vegetables than we usually see in a mornay. A winner.

Third, Pasta with vegetables. Generally, about once a week I whip a dish that is based on pasta with the addition of various vegetables, with a little stock, a little pasta water, and some finely grated cheese for the sauce. It is quite a dry pasta dish (in a good way, as opposed to a lot of liquid sauce). Sometimes I add a cube or two of the frozen pesto I make and keep in the freezer. This week I took it to the next level with the addition of a kind of fresh pesto. A handful each of wild rocket, parsley and basil from the garden, tossed in the blender with a little olive oil, nuts, salt, garlic, then toasted a little in the pan before adding the pasta and stock.

So far we have had this with roasted pumpkin cubes, broccoli and beans, and broccoli and bacon. As you may have guessed, local broccoli is really cheap right now, and has been a theme at dinner this week.

It is so exciting to find ways to make dinner better without having to get my head around whole new recipes.

7 comments:

GretchenJoanna said...

Thank you for some good tips! I can hardly use a recipe anymore - they take more time and mental effort than I usually have. As it is I can hardly get to the store...then I just try to use up all the too-many veggies I buy, before they spoil. A new way to combine things that isn't too complicated is encouraging, especially when it's just a slight twist on something I already make.

Jo said...

I can relate to your culinary problems. Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in the 1950s and get everything delivered?

Everyday Life On A Shoestring said...

I discovered the lemon and chicken thing a few months ago. Yummy. I like the sound of your fresh pesto, once our herbs get growing I'll try that. I had a bad experience with an all rocket pesto last year but diluted with other herbs it would be much nicer.

Heather said...

That pesto sounds delicious. Sometimes in addition to lemon halves I will stuff my chicken with a lot of fresh thyme and garlic. Yum, yum, yum!

Jo said...

Lemon and chicken, why did it take me so long? I love the addition of the herbs and garlic, Heather, and Everyday, can imagine all-rocket would be overwhelming. I'm thinking pretty much any green would be a good 'filler'.

e / dig in said...

so glad you liked the tuna pasta bake, jo! i'm going to cook that for my dinner tonight!
loving cheap broccoli down here, too :-)

lucindasans said...

We seem to go through fashions and seasons for dinner. For years we had a stir-fry focus, then pasta, then Indian. We also have dinners that we roll out for summer and others for winter. Mr Sans and I take turns cooking and we cook quite differently. But we menu plan so we don't cook the same style or meat. Funnily enough, one of my regulars, about once every three weeks, is pasta with vegies. I cheat and use a fancy Legos sauce to add flavour. I find quiche a good regular to mix up and make fancy.

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