Archive | April, 2010

Eating on the Fly:A Review of 20 Minutes to Dinner

20 Apr

There comes a point in your life when your time for cooking eggplant lasagna with roasted asparagus and toasted bread, sitting down with a glass of Pinot Noir, and taking in a French drama will run out. Maybe it is a new job, second job, huge project, or maybe you are just like so many of us juggling college course work. For these situations, when time is crucial, precious, and fleeting, quick meals are a must. I was blessed with the opportunity to review a cookbook that is all about quick meals, thanks to the folks at Book Publishing Company. 20 Minutes to Dinner is all about good food, fast—so you don’t have to get fast good.

20 Minutes to Dinner offers vegetarians a solution to empty stomachs, when you only have the time between classes to read, write an essay, and eat. Not only are the recipes fast but many provide ample leftovers—a godsend when responsibilities creep in and turn you into hungry night owl.

The Grub

Bryanna Clark Grogan begins her book with several different topics on low-fat eating, nutrition, and substituting different ingredients to meet the needs of those with allergies. But it isn’t until the second chapter that Grogan begins dishing out the recipes. In the “Homemade Basics” chapter, Grogan includes recipes on several different “staples” which provide building blocks to other meals. One such staple is the “Pan-fried ‘breast of tofu.'” This recipe paves the way for many possibilities. You can easily find yourself whipping up a batch of this tofu, and tucking the slices between some wheat bread and romaine lettuce for a quick lunch or dinner. After this chapter, the recipes are divided like so:

  • Quick Dips, Spread & Drinks—I’ll take the the Norwegian hot chocolate, complete with rum, after finals.
  • Speedy Soups, Sauces & Salads—Make the red chile and orange barbecue sauce to slather on tofu and grilled veggies.
  • Pasta & Pizza Express—Look to the Pizza Toppings page to figure out what to do with all your leftover arugula and artichoke hearts/
  • Fast Food Tonight!—Burgers, Wraps, Fajitas, oh my! Try the fajita filling in a warmed pita.
  • Flash-in-the-Pan Stir Fries—When it is the end of the week and a grocery trip is imminent, cook up the stir-fried peas and tofu with common ingredients.
  • Swift & Easy Side Dishes—The quick stove-top risotto could easily be an entire meal.

When thumbing through the book, I came across another tofu recipe: Teriyaki Tofu Burgers, and I knew I had to make them. The recipe is on page 108 and is quick to replicate and easy to follow, that is, unless you are looking at my copy, which now includes a couple drops of soy sauce. For this recipe, I like to cut the tofu into slices and wrap the finished product in a what tortilla with some lettuce, carrots, red onion, and a little Annie’s Woodstock dressing. But really, the recipe is so versatile you could stick the tofu just about anywhere and create several meals from just 20 minutes of cook-time over a weekend evening or a less busy weekday.

Grogan includes a lot of versatile recipes in the book, which is why I think it is a must-have for college students. And many of the recipes are just suited for making even easier than they already are, such as the “Chinese spaghetti.” This recipe features “1lb any vegetable”; anyone else thinking frozen stir-fry veggies? This recipe also lends itself to being a one-pot wonder with frozen veggies: simply steam the veggies in the microwave while the pasta boils on the stove.

I do have to say that there is no mention of time anywhere on any of the recipes . I guess the title says it all. But, Grogan does include nutritional information such as calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates for every recipe. In addition, the book has several “recipes” that are basically idea-generators that can really help you figure out what to do with leftover eggplant, chopped cabbage, and a few pieces of leftover tofu (see “mexican-style tortilla wraps”).  All in all, the recipes in the book provide to be time savers all around—saving you time in the kitchen cooking, saving you time the next day by not cooking, and saving you time deciding how to use all that pita bread and mushrooms. I recommend this book to all who want healthy meals but don’t always have the time.

In other news: I will be writing an article for Vegetarian Voice, so be on the lookout!