Do you have those days where you fully intend on making a full meal for the family, but then once dinnertime hits you find that your plan was never put into action? Between school, soccer, and basic “Mom” functions in general I have really been trying to stretch my pantry staples into hearty, fresh, meals that can be cooked in less than 30 minutes (Oh geez, that was a corny line circa 1956, I need to read “The Feminine Mystique” apparently). I have a two and a half year old, and if you or someone you know has one you could understand why even trying to shop at the grocery store is totally impossible on most days. I think that there are a few pre-made items that are totally acceptable to use and actually make delicious homemade meals quick and easy. One of my “go-to” items is rotisserie chicken, depending on where you shop, some are better than others, but most times they are good, as is or as I like to do, removed from bones, skin removed, shredded and used as the protein in your dish. Another thing to have on hand that is a never a bad idea, is a good, high quality, no sugar added, jarred marinara. I’m kinda picky with what I will use, but there are some really good ones, buy your favorite. I also like to have dried mushrooms in my pantry and grains of all sorts. Right now I love polenta, its rich, filling, easy, and just happens to be gluten-free for those of you who try to avoid gluten. So here is a quick weeknight meal that your family will love, easy to be vegan as well, skip the animal products all together and it is still yum. —Alexandra V. Jones
Whole store bought rotisserie chicken, or home roasted chicken, bones and skin removed, meat shredded
big jar of your favorite marinara, or use 4 cups of homemade
Green bell pepper, diced small
palmful dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in ½ cup hot water, I love these because they add instant flavor and can are cabinet safe, if you prefer you can use 1 cup diced mushrooms of choice.
polenta or yellow cornmeal
In This Recipe
Bring stock to a boil, add salt, reduce heat to medium-high, add polenta, whisk vigorously and often for about 12 minutes, turn down to medium and whisk every few minutes while you make your sauce.
Place sauce ingredients in a saucepan, heat over medium until simmering, cook 15 minutes or so until green peppers are tender.
Add butter to polenta stir until melted. Top a scoop of creamy polenta with Cacciatore sauce and top with parmesan and fresh parsley.