March 23, 2011

By Jenna Weber

Welcome spring this week with these tasty, quick meals! They can all be prepared in under 30 minutes and even kids will love the bright-green minestrone, full of healthy veggies to ward off any lingering winter colds. For a quick, time-saving tip, slice and prep your veggies right when you come home from the grocery store and store them in sandwich bags. When you're ready to cook, just take out what you need and store the rest for healthy snacks on the go!

Grocery list:
2 French baguettes
1 lb. sliced black forest ham
1 wedge Brie cheese
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes
Romaine lettuce
2 lemons
1/2 lb. pecan pieces
Fresh parsley
1 leek
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 bulb fennel
1 bag small pasta (such as alphabet or orzo)
1 can cannellini beans
1 large bunch rainbow chard
1/4 lb. sugar snap peas
1 bag frozen green peas
1 poblano pepper
Fresh mint
Parmesan cheese
Stone-ground grits
Sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices thick-cut bacon
1 lb. raw shrimp
1 bunch green onions
4 cloves garlic

Gaulois Sandwich
Makes 4

2 French baguettes, sliced in half and split down the middle
1 lb. sliced black forest ham
4 oz. Brie cheese, divided into chunks
1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
Romaine lettuce
1 lemon
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup fresh parsley

1. Layer ham, Brie, and sun-dried tomatoes on the open baguettes. Broil for a couple minutes until cheese has melted.

2. Remove sandwiches from oven and top with lettuce, pecans, parsley, squeeze of lemon, and olive oil.

Springtime Minestrone
A hearty soup full of healthy greens to ward off colds!

Serves 4

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 leek, sliced thin
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 bulb fennel, chopped
1 cup small pasta (such as alphabet or orzo)
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 large bunch rainbow chard, roughly chopped
1/4 lb. sugar snap peas, chopped in half
1 cup frozen green peas
1 poblano pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Fresh grated Parmesan for serving
Squeeze of lemon for serving

1. Roast poblano pepper either over the flame on your stove (if you have a gas stove) or under the broiler until black and charred. Set aside to cool and then remove seeds and chop.

2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add leek and cook for 5 minutes, until the leek is bright green and soft.

3. Add stock and pasta and bring to a simmer. Let cook for another 5 minutes and then add sugar snap peas, chard, beans, salt, and pepper. Simmer for only a couple of minutes before adding the roasted poblano pepper, peas, and mint. Continue cooking until pasta is just tender.

4. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon.

Shrimp 'n’ Grits
A tasty Southern favorite that comes together in a flash!

Serves 4

1 cup dry stone-ground grits
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. butter
4 slices thick-cut bacon
1 lb. raw shrimp, tails off
1 cup sliced green onions
4 cloves garlic, minced

1. Bring water to a boil on the stove and add grits, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until grits are creamy and all water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Take off heat, stir in cheese and butter, and set aside.

2. While grits are cooking, fry bacon over low heat in a large cast-iron skillet. When bacon is crispy, remove from pan and crumble (don’t pour out grease). Turn up the heat and add shrimp to the pan, cooking for about 30 seconds until shrimp turn pink and curl up. Remove shrimp to a plate to keep warm and add sliced green onions, garlic, and crumbled bacon to skillet, cooking for another 30 seconds.

3. Pour green onion mixture on top of grits and top with shrimp.

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