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B131321f 0260 4041 b901 97ebf457f2be  2016 05 17 16 16 16

Cheat Code Weeknight Spaghetti - another dish that is clearly "Brutta ma buona" (ugly but good): Put pot of salted water on to boil.

Fry cubed zucchini in olive oil in a large skillet just until slightly brown but still a bit firm; remove, add sliced mushrooms (cheat code: buy pre-sliced) adding another glug of olive oil. Remove from skillet.

Put bulk Italian sausage you cooked with an onion and garlic over the weekend (key cheat code) in the skillet with strained or chopped Pomi tomatoes, or tomato sauce from the freezer, defrosted; bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with the lid slightly ajar.

Chop parsley. Put WW spaghetti in when the water boils. Two minutes before it’s done, scoop a half cup or so of pasta water and add it to the skillet with the parsley and zucchini and five or six leaves of blanched kale, coarsely chopped; stir well, test for salt, and cook over medium heat while you drain the spaghetti.

Stir mushrooms into the sauce, add the noodles and some freshly ground pepper; toss, cover, and cook over low heat for 2 minutes, tossing it all again after 1 minute. Serve with grated parmesan.

I can put this one-dish dinner on the table in 30 minutes; cleanup takes less than 10. To keep this app from crashing, I’ll put the cheat codes in the comments. ;o)

#cheatcode #weeknight #weeknightdinner #PrepOnceEatTwiceOrThrice #CookOnceEatTwice #sausage #kale #spaghetti #mushrooms
#HowMotherCooks #nocontest

Cheat codes:

Cheat Codes:

This one is key to getting this dish on the table in 30 minutes: Saute sausage and onion together in advance. It will keep for at least 4 days in the fridge. If you don’t do the pre-cooking, add on 15 - 20 minutes. Start by putting the bulk sausage into a hot pan, breaking it up with a spatula; cut your onion while the sausage is cooking.

Use bulk sausage instead of sausage in casings for quicker prep.

I often cook double what I need of onions + sausage and freeze half. I use that in the same dish over the next month or two, either in pasta, or cooked down a bit more while my oven is heating for topping pizza. I add fresh herbs, lemon zest and crushed fennel seed to brighten it up a bit.

When cooking onion components for advanced prep, I generally do not bother washing the skillet between batches.

When grating hard cheese, always grate 2-3 times what you need, refrigerating the rest for future use.

Blanch kale the minute you bring it in from the market. Squeeze it out hard between your hands. Double cheat: don’t cut it until you’re ready to use. It’s easier to grab from the blanching water if the leaves are whole, plus, it keeps better in the fridge when whole leaves are squeezed well and left in a tight ball until used. It's also more efficient to cut that way.

Wash and dry your zucchini when you bring it home from the market. So easy, and one less step making a weeknight dinner. (I rinse and air dry while putting away other items, doing other advance prep.) I actually cubed and fried zucchini for this dish on Sunday, as well, but I could just as easily have done it is the first step in my skillet on the night I served the dish.

To speed up that big pot of boiling water, divide the cooking water between your large pot and tea kettle. Two burners are better than one!

To keep the post-dinner cleanup to 10 minutes, use short pockets of non-active time while cooking to clean up as much as possible as you go along. I’m not slavish about this. I just do whatever is convenient that won’t slow down the cooking process.