Weekday dinner inspiration: Penne With Roasted Red Peppers and Mozzarella and more

Mon | Going meatless

Penne With Roasted Peppers and Mozzarella is a flavorful meatless offering for a Monday night. Sure, you can go to the trouble of roasting red peppers but the jarred variety works just as well in this recipe. Kalamata olives add even more flavor. I like a green salad on the side.

Tues | Cupcakes? Not really

Mix up your favorite meatloaf melange but rather than cook it in a loaf plan, make Mini Meatloaves in a cupcake tin. They'll cook much faster than a whole loaf. Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Carve up the bird and make Mideast-inspired Couscous Salad. Follow the directions on a box of instant couscous and make enough for 4 servings. Add a handful of golden raisins as the pasta cooks (yes, it's pasta, not a grain). In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup lemon juice with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add 1 can drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, 1 diced cucumber, some red onion, the couscous and raisins and chopped fresh parsley. Refrigerate until needed. Great for lunch the next day, too.

Thurs | Stuff it

Cheddar Stuffed Chicken Breasts With Chunky Applesauce is a meal fit for company. Cut pockets in boneless, skinless chicken breasts and stuff with a piece of Cheddar cheese and a swipe of apple butter or apple jelly. (You may need toothpicks to secure opening.) Brown chicken on both sides then bake in a 350-degree oven with healthy scoops of chunky applesauce for about 35 minutes. Green beans and buttered whole-wheat noodles on the side.

Fri | Upper crust

Roast Salmon With Whole-Grain Mustard Crust, inspired by Food & Wine magazine, goes delightfully with wild rice. Use quick-cooking rice unless you have a lot of time. To make the fish, preheat oven to 400 degrees. For 4 (8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, mix 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons minced chives. Season fish with salt, place skin-side down on foil-lined baking sheet and slather tops with mustard mixture. Roast for 6 minutes then turn on broiler and let crust form.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>EASY

Penne With Roasted Peppers and Mozzarella

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely sliced

21 ounces roasted red peppers (from a can or jar), drained and sliced

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

½ cup pitted kalamata olives, drained

Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups uncooked penne rigate

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 fresh mozzarella balls, drained and sliced

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and gently saute the garlic until golden, then add the roasted bell peppers, capers and olives. Season with salt and pepper, stir, and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and add to the pan with the bell pepper, capers and olives. Sprinkle with the parsley and mix together.

Preheat boiler to high. Place the pasta mixture in an ovenproof dish, about 11 by 7 inches, and cover the surface with the mozzarella slices.

Season top with freshly ground black pepper and place under the preheated broiler for 5 minutes or until the cheese is golden and melted.

Serve hot.

Serves 4.

Source: Pasta Italiana by Gina D'Acampo (Kyle Books, 2012)

Weekday dinner inspiration: Penne With Roasted Red Peppers and Mozzarella and more 02/14/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 3:30am]

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