08 March 2013

Don’t Give it Another Thought

20130307-202207.jpgKielbasa Vegetable Skillet Dinner (and photos) by Debra Meadow of Blue Raven Wellness

I’m all about the real food. I’m also all about the quick and easy dinner. Today I’m here to tell you that they’re not mutually exclusive!

Some of my favorite dishes, which happen to be the most nutritious, are long-simmered braises and broths. They take hours to cook, but not your hours. As a nutrition coach, sometimes I find myself standing in the kitchen after a day of thinking about what everyone e20130307-202110.jpgxcept my own family is going to eat and I don’t have hours. I’m tired and maybe a touch cranky that it’s come to this. That’s when this quick skillet meal saves the evening – and my flagging energy and mood.

This quickie does require that you have some items on hand and it’s why I like to keep one or two Olympic Provisions applewood smoked kielbasas in the freezer. The vegetables for this meal can be the good keepers, like cabbage, carrots, onions, root veggies like parsnip, rutabaga and celeriac, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, Jerusalem artichokes and even hearty greens. These are things you stock up on regularly at the weekly farmer’s market, right?

Also a time and thought saver: this mélange requires no additional flavors, save the smoky sausage and a bit of sea salt and pepper. I have nothing against herbs and spices, but there are times that even taking the lid off the jar of dried oregano seems overwhelming. Critical kitchen lesson number one: When you use good ingredients, they can provide all the flavor you need. In this case, the kielbasa and its rendered fat lend a smoky richness to the dish that perfectly complements the sweet and bitter notes in root and cabbage family vegetables, respectively.

So next time you’re at the market, stock up on sausage and some of the better keeping veggies and give yourself a night off from thinking in the kitchen.

Kielbasa Vegetable Skillet Dinner

1 kielbasa (Olympic Provisions is a good one), sliced
7-8 cups of coarsely chopped vegetables of your choice
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium high heat, sauté the sliced sausage until it is well browned. With a slotted spoon, remove the sausage and some of the rendered fat, leaving about 3 tablespoons in the pan to cook the vegetables. (Save the reserved fat for sautéing vegetables another day. It is full of flavor!) Add the vegetables to the pan and sauté. Place the lid on the pan for part of the cooking time to allow vegetables to steam as well as sauté. Cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender crisp and still have some “tooth” to them. Return the sausage to the pan and combine well. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

Serves 3 generously.