If you've ever run a road race, triathlon or marathon (hell, if you've ever just run the kids to school), you know that it's an immense amount of work to best your time. Getting dinner ready in less time is, in my mind, a lot like trying to shave 3 minutes off your run (or morning routine). It sometimes doesn't matter how much additional conditioning you do, it's still going to take you at least 30 minutes.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know I have an addiction to the Food Network. Me and Anna Olson, this tight. And, of course, I love Jamie Oliver. In fact, I've been enjoying his latest show called 15-minute meals. I don't just love it because he somehow made the show's theme song, the 80's hit Buffalo Stance from Neneh Cherry, relate to food but because he really does prepare his meals in 15 minutes. Show off. Obviously, he's making lots of pasta and fish dishes. (God bless the man if he can get his menagerie of children to eat mussels but it's not happening in my house.) However, whenever I go to replicate the recipes in my kitchen, I can't get them done in 15 minutes. I think my kitchen has a weird time-warp. Or I'm warped.
Ok, I realize I don't have his knife skills but that can't be the only reason I can't pull off these dishes in 15. Maybe it's because I don't stroll into my kitchen and have everything nicely laid out on the counter waiting for me to jump in and prepare them. Instead, I'm usually digging around a cupboard (add 3 minutes for this exercise) wondering where the frig my box grater has gone to. (It was in the under bin of Scarlett's baby stroller. Obviously.)
It's the reason I've slowly used the last few weeks to super organize my kitchen. I started to streamline my drawers with the tools that I use regularly and remove all the extra gadgets (say goodbye to my egg slicer). I've also taken the time to buy the ingredients I use the most (spelt flour, brown sugar, sea salt, etc) and put them in mason jars and containers that are easily accessible. In fact, I've moved most of my household staples into mason jars–No more fiddling with half-opened packages. Now, before you roll your eyes and mumble to your keyboard, "Who has time for this crap?" please realize I don't either. This has been a slow simmer with me. I mean I bought the mason jars back in July. I percolated about what I wanted and then I finally started to bite the organizational bullet back in December. I didn't just wake up and get it done. If you wanted to tackle your kitchen because you think it needs an efficiency makeover maybe you'll be better than me and just do it in a day. Or maybe you're always efficient. Regardless, the result has, in my opinion, helped me be more efficient, not to mention, my cabinets look less junky. And it is, hopefully, shaving time off my dinner routine.
This recipe is an old one from Bon Appetit that I fiddled with. I've made it with spinach here but you could also use kale (with the tough stems removed). I love that it features walnuts since there is a lot of hype around walnuts and their antioxidant power for reducing inflammation.
I also find it fast. Is it 15 minutes fast? Sort off. If your knife skills are better than mine.
Sundried Tomato and Spinach Farfalli with Walnuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup drained and sliced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 cups baby spinach
1 pound farfalle pasta
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons vegetable stock or water
freshly grated parmesan cheese
In a small skillet, warm walnuts over medium heat so they release their oils and are warm, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and place in small bowl. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil and then add garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Saute until garlic is a golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add a handful of spinach in batches and cook until each batch is wilted.
Put a pot of salted water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain.
In a large serving bowl, whisk ricotta cheese with stock or water . (Use the water if you don't have any stock handy.) Then add spinach mixture, pasta and walnuts; toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste and grate fresh parmesan cheese over top and serve.