Sunday, October 29, 2006

40-Minute Anniversary Dinner

We're saving money--and sinking a lot into rent--so dining out has fallen away these days. Even for our 11th wedding anniversary we stayed home. The Bug had dinner in front of a movie on the tv and I made a quick, fancy dinner. The present for Juiceboy? I cleaned up as I went along so he didn't have to do any. (He had cleaned to kitchen to sparkling for me in the afternoon. What a great present!)

Have I mentioned that one of the suggested names for my blog was "Hours Later"? So the fact that I put together a nice dinner in about 40 minutes is quite amazing. With a silver-set table and everything. What did I forget? Pictures!

Prosciutto-wrapped Tenderloin
Wanting something fancy, fast and inexpensive, I opted for a pre-marinated pork tenderloin. On sale for $5 at Safeway, this choice cut of meat was marinated in lemon and herbs, and cooks in just...you guessed it, 40 minutes.

About 37 minutes in, I covered the tenderloin with thin slices of provolone cheese and thinner slices of prosciutto. Watch the folks cutting your prosciutto. Most of them have no clue that it should be paper-thin, and they'll try to cut it thicker than a ham steak. At $12.99 a pound, that's not a good thing.

Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Polenta
This is a creamy polenta cooked to bubbling in the oven.

One "log" of prepared polenta, in the refrigerated pasta section of your grocery.
About 1/4 cup 1% milk
1/8 cup Dried sun-dried tomatoes (these are not in oil, but I find them in the veggie section, under the fresh tomatoes, and under the jars of sun-dried tomatoes in oil).
1/4 cup Shredded asagio cheese or other hard italian cheese like parmesan.
About 1/4-1/2 cup Pesto, preferrably homemade with less oil.
Salt, pepper

Put the polenta in a large, microwave safe bowl, break up with a potato masher, then add milk and mash some more. Microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes, mix and mash. Polenta should mix easily but not be watery or soupy. Meanwhile, soak the sun-dried tomatoes in boiling water for about ten minutes until soft. When soft, chop coarsley. Add to warm polenta with the cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

Spray an 8x8" pan with cooking spray and press polenta into the pan. Then, spoon the pesto in lines across the polenta. Fold the polenta over from the edges to cover the pesto, creating a stripe of pesto in the center of the polenta. (If you just mix it into the polenta the result is a strange color, and the flavor isn't as vibrant.)

Heat for about 15 minutes in the 350 degree oven with the tenderloin.

Tri-Color Pasta Primavera
How lucky we are that we can get asparagus in late October! This dish takes advantage of many beautiful vegetables, and is super fast to make. I like spinach noodles that are meant to be al dente. I begin heating the water before I start anything and let it simmer until I'm ready for it. (This recipe makes enough for a whole meal for four. I used more veggies and less pasta since I had a starch with the polenta already.)

One shallot, diced.
Two cloves of garlic, minced fine.
One pepper each: red, yellow and orange, cored, seeded, and sliced into sticks (bigger than julliene, can't remember the right term).
A handful of asparagus, cleaned and sliced into 1" pieces. Find the smallest stalks you can.
Splash of white wine
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
Spinach fettucine, amount depends on your preference

Heat olive oil on medium low and cook shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add peppers and asparagus, cook about 5 minutes, until tender. Add wine and season with salt and pepper, adding red pepper flakes to your taste.

Serve immediately on top of fettucine. Top with a sprinkle of grated cheese and basil sprigs.

2 comments:

Pixie said...

Yum sounds really good. Happy anniversary. It's my parents 50th on Friday....imagine that!

Bon Vivant said...

You pay only $12.99 for prosciutto?

Happy Anniversary!