Five 20 Minute Meals

Most people’s biggest excuse is that they don’t have time to cook… Well, you can throw that belief right into your compost bin. This is your go-to list for those late nights at the office or weekends where you are running around until it is time for a meal. These are some of my favorite recipes that will take you no more than 20 minutes to prepare! They all involve simple ingredients that you can grab on your way home so you will have a healthy meal in no time! Happy (quick) cooking 🙂

Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini Pasta

Lentils with Sweet Potato, Mushrooms and Kale

Lentils with Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms and Kale

White Beans and Cabbage

White Beans and Cabbage

Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad

Ravioli with Arugula and Pecorino

Ravioli with Arugula and Pecorino

Mini Caprese Bites

Mini Caprese BitesOn my honeymoon in Croatia, I became obsessed with Caprese salads and while I have yet to find a mozzarella in this country that even comes close to that in Croatia, this is a great dish to bring to a gathering. You really cannot go wrong when basil and fresh tomatoes are ever in the same equation! And when bringing something somewhere, I always love to add something fresh and healthy to the mix. This is not only appealing to the eye, but it is very easy to whip together, to transport and yes, it tastes delicious.

Mini Caprese Bites
 
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Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ pound fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Thread 1 basil leaf, tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto toothpicks. Place toothpicks in a shallow serving dish.
  2. Whisk together oil and next 3 ingredients. Drizzle oil mixture over skewers; sprinkle with basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Photo Credit: Framed Cooks

Arugula Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese

Arugula Salad with Peaches

Does anyone else literally drool over the peaches every single time they walk by the market? These days, I sure do! The peaches this year are absolutely beautiful and I must say, I have definitely made a couple ‘peach stops’ in the past few weeks and they taste as good as they look. Given that my eye has been on the peaches, I made this recipe last week for my book club and it was not only beautiful but also tasted yummy. Enjoy!

Arugula Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese
 
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Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 4 peaches on the firm side of ripe
  • 6-8 cups arugula
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • Approximately 4 oz crumbled goat cheese – more or less to your liking
  • Additional freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • Apple cider or a simple lemon vinaigrette
Instructions
  1. Slice the peach in half and remove pit. Cut each half into 3-4 slices.
  2. Place arugula in salad bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette to coat all the leaves. Divide onto plates.
  3. Divide peaches onto plates. Sprinkle each with basil and goat cheese.
  4. Grind a little extra pepper over each, if you like.

Photo Credit: Blue Kitchen

Vegan Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini

About 90% of the time I go out to dinner I want Italian food, so I love love love to experiment with healthy Italian dishes at home. I made this tonight and have a ton of leftovers… anyone want to come over?! I got the recipe from Veggie Belly but of course adapted it to make it my own. It was quite simple and very tasty. It will definitely fulfill your desire for a tomato sauce dish (which I love)!

Vegan Eggplant Rollatini
 
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Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided into 2 Tbsp portions
  • 2 medium eggplants, cut lengthwise into ¼th inch thick strips
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup couscous, uncooked
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10 oz mushrooms, diced
  • 12 oz spinach
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil or parsley
  • 1½ cups marinara sauce, use more if you like it saucy
  • ¾ cups of shredded mozzarella (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook the couscous according to package instructions.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Pan fry the strips on 2 Tbsp olive oil till both sides are golden.
  4. In a separate pan, heat remaining oil and cook onion until fragrant. Add mushrooms and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add spinach and garlic and cook until mushrooms are tender and spinach is wilted.
  5. Add cooked couscous to mushroom and spinach mixture.
  6. Place a spoon of the the couscous mixture on one end of an eggplant piece, and roll it. Repeat with all eggplant strips. Place the stuffed and rolled eggplants onto a baking dish. Add any left over couscous to the center of the baking dish. Sprinkle basil or parsley on top. Then pour marinara sauce over. Non vegans can add ¾ cups of shredded mozzarella.
  7. Bake till the sauce is bubbly, about 15 minutes.

 

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

Black Quinoa is a fun alternative to normal quinoa as it gives your dish a fun look. I made this the other night for my book club and the first compliment I got was on how good it smelled (thanks Alli) followed by several compliments on the taste. It is super easy to make for a big group and most importantly can be made ahead of time which is great when you are entertaining! You can find my homemade pesto recipe here.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
 
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry black quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced grape tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1½ – 2 cups pesto (more if needed)
  • 2 cups fresh basil, chopped
  • ¾ cup feta cheese (omit of looking for a vegan version)
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • Olive oil (drizzle as needed)
Instructions
  1. Combine the water and quinoa in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and let cook for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff with a fork and add stir in spinach while quinoa is still warm. Stir in pesto once spinach is mixed in.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the sliced tomatoes and cucumber. Add quinoa and basil and mix well. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice on top and add feta cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss everything together. Serve immediately or store in the fridge until serving.
  4. Serving suggestion: Can use any combo of veggies bell pepper, olives, zucchini, etc.

Recipe modified from Eat, Live, Run.

Crispy Polenta Stars with Pesto

Polenta Stars

My dear and very classy friend Alli hosts an Oscar party every year. She pulls out all the stops, red carpet included, so amongst our group of friends it is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year! That being said, there is no question that each year, I am thinking far in advance about what I can bring to this star studded affair. Sometimes it is fun to theme your appetizer or drink to the nominees but this is one that you can use year after year. By the way, you can check out Alli’s blog here. Beware, it will change your life!

Crispy Polenta Stars with Pesto
 
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Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups soy milk or water
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Fine Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup polenta or fine yellow cornmeal
  • Pesto
  • Homemade recipe can be found here
  • Garnish
  • Pine nuts or shaved parmesan
Instructions
  1. Line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper, and cut another piece of parchment to the same size.
  2. Place the milk or water, thyme, rosemary, and garlic in a pot over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the milk into a bowl; discard the garlic and herbs. Return the milk to the pot and place it over low heat. Add the polenta in a slow stream while you whisk it in vigorously with the other hand. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, until smooth.
  3. Pour the polenta into the prepared cake pan, and spread it out in an even ½-inch-think layer. Cover with the other piece of parchment and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Cut the chilled polenta into 20 rounds with a star shaped cookie cutter.
  4. Meanwhile prepare pesto according to directions.
  5. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan and saute polenta stars until slightly crispy on either side. Top with pesto and garnish of your choice.

Notes: You can always use premade tube version if you don’t have time or don’t want to make your own.

Vegan Basil Pesto

Pesto

I’ve always kind of liked pesto but ever since the first time I made it from scratch, I’ve literally been obsessed with it. The smell of the fresh basil is unreal and it definitely tastes as good as it smells!

Vegan Basil Pesto
 
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Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of fresh packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ⅔ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except oil in food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while food processor is running until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: This recipe does not have cheese, which is the taste I prefer but you can add 1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast.

Photo courtesy of Writing in Circles.

 

Open Face Veggie Taco

Raw Veggie Taco

This is something that I have almost daily. Most of you will think it is a weird breakfast item but I got in the habit of having a ton of veggies for breakfast when I did a 10 day challenge and haven’t gone back since. I used to always make this  on bread which is very yummy but there is something incredibly delicious about a corn tortilla!!!

Open Face Veggie Taco
 
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Serves: 1-2
Ingredients
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 2 Tbsp hummus
  • ½ avocado, sliced lengthwise
  • Handful of spinach leaves
  • ¼ cucumber, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 tomato, thinly slices (I prefer heirlooms if they are in season)
  • Olive/Flax oil
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Salt
  • Handful of basil leaves, chopped
  • Sprouts
Instructions
  1. Lightly toast the corn tortillas over the burner. Be on careful watch here!
  2. Layer ingredients in order starting with hummus and ending with tomatoes.
  3. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with lemon pepper and salt and then garnish with basil and sprouts. Serve open faced and eat with fork and knife!

 

Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini Pasta

I was a little skeptical of this dish. I saw a picture of it and it looked amazing but as I started making it, I wasn’t quite sure 1. how it would taste and 2. if it would actually fill me up… I do not like being hungry :). Let’s just say, I was incredibly surprised how simple, delicious and filling this dish was.

Zucchini Pasta
 
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 packages of cherry tomatoes (16 oz total) – set aside a few raw for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 zucchini (or any summer squash), thinly sliced lengthwise (I use my vegetable peeler) and cut into ¼ in strips
  • ⅓ cup torn fresh basil, plus leaves for garnish
  • Chili flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, oil and salt and pepper. In a pan, sautee until tomatoes cook down and garlic is fragrant – 10 or so minutes.
  2. Toss with raw zucchini and garnish with basil, chili flakes and left over cherry tomatoes.

Tip: If sauce is not thickening, you can always add a little tomato paste – or just give it more time 🙂

Vegetarian Spring Rolls

So, next to bruschetta, spring rolls are one of my favorite things. I absolutely love the texture and the freshness. This was my first go at making them and I must say, I was so excited when I enjoyed these beautiful fresh spring rolls that I had made myself.

I did learn some lessons along the way. Rice paper isn’t THAT easy to find. You may be able to get it at Whole Foods or other specialty stores but you can also get it online. I ended up getting Three Ladies Brand. Play around with the sauce to your desire. I tried 2 different ones and didn’t love either so I kinda combined two different ideas to make it my own.

Average Time: 30 minutes

Yields: 8 spring rolls

Ingredients

Peanut Sauce

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/3 cup – 1/2 cup hot water

Spring rolls

8 sheets of rice paper

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 package (14 oz) organic extra firm tofu, drained

2 Tbsp tamari

1 small head of red cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, shredded

1 bunch of basil leaves, stems removed

1 bunch of mint leaves, stems removed

Directions

1. Combine peanut butter, vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Thin with hot water (varies depending on the consistency you want your sauce).

2. Slice tofu into strips (approximately three inches long and 1/2 in by 1/2 inch). Preheat a saute pan with olive oil. Saute the tofu flipping occasionally until cooked to your desire. Add the tamari once the tofu is partially cooked. I prefer my tofu slightly toasted so I cook on a higher heat for a longer time each side.

3. Prepare a bowl filled with hot water. Dip rice paper in hot water until it starts to lose its stiffness and feel rubbery. Place rice paper on work surface and let sit 30 seconds. Layer ingredients on the third of the paper closest to you. Fold bottom of paper over ingredients. Fold sides, roll up (like you would a burrito) and place seam side down on plate.

4. Slice in half and serve with a side of peanut sauce.