Week Night Dinner Series: Late-Night Supper Salad

This is an occasional series on healthy, quick-to-make, late-night dinners.

I usually get home from work anywhere from 5:30 to 6 p.m. If I go to the gym or for a walk, dinner gets started after 7 and we eat after 8. So I know all about late-night dinners. I came up with this recipe (a word I use very loosely) on a late Saturday night when we were on our way home, tired and hungry. It is so easy, and with just a few ingredients, it literally takes minutes. So quickly in fact that the eater of the house had just barely settled down with some chips and salsa to tide him over until we ate when I said dinner was ready!

This dish  has the perfect combination of what nutritionists say you need in each meal–protein, carbohydrates, and good fat–and it’s all wrapped up on one salad plate. Flavorful greens, some sweet grape tomatoes, heart-healthy olive oil, and protein from steak (or another kind of meat if you prefer). And it’s a perfect meal if you are running late and not sure what to make; you can grab the ingredients at the supermarket on the way home.

I don’t usually go for ready-made ingredients, but sometimes I splurge on crumbled cheese. It’s a great addition to the salad, I love gorgonzola, but you can substitute feta, goat, parmesan, or leave it out if you prefer. For the meat, you can broil it, grill it, or pan sear it. Vegetarians can use beans in place of the meat; I’ve done that too. You can add extra veggies if you like, and if you want some zing, add a splash or two of lemon juice or a tangy vinegar!

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Late-Night Supper Salad

1 salad bowl or plate of greens (baby spinach, spring mix, et. al)
A few grape tomatoes, halved
About 4 ounces of cooked protein (steak, chicken, fish, pork)
Extra virgin olive oil
A couple teaspoons of crumbled cheese (gorgonzola, goat, feta, parmesan, etc.) (optional)

Take a salad plate or bowl and add the greens and tomatoes. Add the meat, and top with the olive oil and cheese, if using.

Week Night Dinner Series: Beef and Lentil Hash

A cold and foggy morning.

A cold and foggy morning.

As I was lamenting what to make for dinner the other evening, I started pondering the fact that so many of my articles and recipes are for special evenings or weekend cooking. But what about work nights? Believe me, I certainly am one for opening up a jar of spaghetti sauce and boiling up some pasta. Or tossing some chicken sausages together with some veggies. Or a big salad with some added chicken. Work night dinners need to be quick, easy, and healthy, so I thought I’d start this series where I occasionally will pass along a recipe that fits this description perfectly.

One of the big things these days in the nutrition world is to have a good fat, a healthy protein, and a complex carbohydrate in one meal. This dinner brings together all three, healthy olive oil for the fat, some lean beef, and lentil beans. Add some spices and it is dinner! The only thing that really takes any time is cooking the lentils, but you can either make them in advance, or put them on to cook when you get in the door. Once you put them in boiling water, it takes about 30 minutes for them to get soft, so you don’t need to hover around the stove, you can go off and do other things.

From beginning to end, once the lentils are cooked this takes about 15 minutes at the most to put together. And this can be versatile too; I thought some mushrooms might be a great addition, or if you have some leftover rice or another grain, you could toss those in too. Add a simple green salad and you have dinner for a work night!

Beef and Lentil Hash
Serves 2

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
½ of a large onion, finely chopped
½ pound beef
About 1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
A few dashes of curry powder
A dash of cayenne pepper (optional for those who aren’t chili heads!)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add the onion and cook until soft.
2. Add the beef and cook until done.
3. Add the lentils and spices. Dinner is ready!

Cook’s Notes:
• To cook the lentils, take a medium-sized saucepan, fill with water, and bring to a boil. Stir in ½ cup of lentils and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes or so.
• If your beef is rather fatty and gives off a lot of grease, just drain it in a colander before adding the lentils and spices.
• I didn’t measure the spices, I just tossed in enough to flavor the dish. You can do the same; experiment by adding as much or as little as you would like!