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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Another Microwave Meal

There was a time when I would often arrive home from the train well after 7:30, ready to eat without spending much time in the kitchen. Add in inviting friends over to share a late dinner, and I became adept at finding ways to make lots of foods in the microwave. The following recipe proved to be versatile enough that I called it my "starch sauce;" it could be relied on, with its various iterations, to work as well with baked potatoes as with pasta or even rice. The substantial sausage is a good flavor boost, though this could be made without any meat.


Note that many of the ingredients can be used starting in the frozen state--a great bonus if you are getting home late and don't have time for thawing anything! Even starting out frozen, the meal can come together in 20 to 25 minutes, just the right amount of time to cook some pasta or rice.

"Starch Sauce"

2 kielbasa--may be frozen (use the pre-cooked kind, not a sausage that would need to be cooked for an extended time)
2 medium or 1 large onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bell pepper, chopped (Trader Joe's has a nice assortment of frozen pepper strips that would work here--probably about a cup or so, cut into large chunks)
10 oz frozen chopped spinach
2 to 2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables of choice AND/OR 1 15 oz can garbanzo or kidney beans, drained
2 to 3 cups prepared spaghetti sauce
Italian seasoning, cumin and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Microwave the kielbasa for 1 to 2 minutes to thaw. Meanwhile peel, chop and mince the onions and garlic.

2. Cut the kielbasa in approximately 1 inch slices, add the onion and garlic, and microwave, covered, for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the bell pepper.

3. Remove the kielbasa from the oven and thaw the spinach in the microwave for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until just melted through. If using frozen bell peppers or frozen mixed vegetables, thaw these with the spinach too.

4. Add the peppers and spinach to the kielbasa mixture. Stir in the beans if using, and microwave 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture is heated through and bubbly.

5. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and seasonings. Heat a few minutes more and taste for any additional seasoning.

Serve over pasta, rice, or baked potatoes. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.

Serves 4 to 6 people. This is easily reheated or frozen too, in case you are cooking for just one or two.

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