This post is in partnership with the American Dairy Association North East
By: Chef Anne Piorkowski, New York Kitchen
Confession: I am a terrible meal planner. Oh, I have GOALS to spend Sundays portioning proteins and roasting vegetables. But, in the words of Johnny Cash, that ain’t me, babe.
Invariably, I stumble out of my office at 4pm with proteins still in the freezer and a kitchen full of bits and bobs that require every last bit of brain power I have to make into a meal. Sometimes my brain rewards me with a meal that ticks all the requirements I have for a weekday dinner:
- Fast. This gets to the “table” in about 30 minutes (Have I eaten it straight out of the pan, hunched over the stovetop? Sure have, and I’m not the least bit sorry about it).
- One pan. I am lazy about dishes, pots in particular. The fewer I have to deal with, the better.
- Crammed with good nutrition, because our family of five have likely been grazing the goodie cupboard and we all need a good dose of calcium, vitamin D, protein and potassium that a milk-rich, veggie-focused meal provides. Knowing that my family’s meals are supported with the health benefits of milk helps provide comfort during these unprecedented times. Not to mention milk makes everything creamier and cozier.
- Delicious. I am not here for food that feels like punishment. This has the added bonus of walking a delicate line between virtuous and indulgent.
Quinoa “Carbonara” with Roasted Vegetables and Homemade Ricotta
My kids love to get creative in the kitchen; food science is like magic. This recipe includes making the best ricotta cheese you’ve ever tasted, a perfect at-home New Year’s Eve activity for the whole family. All you need to do is slowly bring milk, acid and salt to a simmer, and watch the magic happen—because cheese IS magic. What’s more comforting on a cold day than creamy, fresh, warm ricotta?
Here quinoa gets a vaguely carbonara treatment, with parmesan and eggs whipped to an indulgent sauce. If you’re better prepared than me, you could do a real carbonara with rendered pancetta or bacon to stellar effect. You could also invite me over for dinner that night, please and thank you.
Also, this came when I had mounds of summer squash, zucchini and tomatoes to use up. You could slow roast some tomatoes (all your tomatoes, coated in olive oil, tossed with any herbs or garlic on-hand and thrown on a sheet tray in a 250 degree oven until your house smells so delicious that you remember those tomatoes you left in the oven–about 3 hours prior, in my case) or you could channel the great Ina Garten and remember “store bought is fine.” Deliciously adapt this recipe to incorporate seasonal produce like butternut squash and kale or asparagus, or any vegetables catching your fancy! This meal always serves our hungry family well, and it’s a comforting recipe we come back to time and time again as it delivers on taste, ease, and comfort – and who doesn’t love a little comfort food these days?
2 Whole Zucchini/Squash
A few glugs of olive oil
1 cup Uncooked Quinoa
1¾ cup Water
1 tsp Salt
1 cup Parmesan, extra for serving
3-4 cup Fresh Spinach
1 cup Slow Roasted Tomatoes, or sundried tomatoes packed in oil
1 cup Homemade Ricotta (super easy to make, and nutritious! see recipe below)
- Rinse and drain quinoa under cool running water. Chop the zucchini/squash. Rustle up a large, deep sauté pan. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Toss in zucchini, season with salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned (don’t toss about too much or the squash will break down). Add the quinoa and toast until the water has evaporated. Add 1 ¾ cup water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 min.
- Whisk the 2 eggs and 1 cup parmesan together.
- Preheat broiler.
- Check that the quinoa and roasted vegetables have absorbed the water and are fully cooked through. Stir it about to release some of the steam heat. Stir in fresh spinach. Pour in egg/parmesan mixture and stir. You should have a nice thickened sauce with no curdles (thanks to the fresh spinach absorbing some of the heat). Top with roasted tomatoes and dollops of ricotta. Maybe throw another handful of parm on there, treat yourself. Pop the whole thing under the broiler for about 5 minutes to get a nice final toast and serve.
Ridiculously Easy Homemade Ricotta
This is where the food magic happens! Easy homemade ricotta is the perfect way to involve your kids while we look for new ways to stay entertained at home. Since many of us might be spending a chilly New Year’s Eve inside this year, this recipe doubles as an activity. Plus, this ricotta will lend itself well to other warm, comforting meals – think lasagna or easy baked ziti.
2 quarts Whole Milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Cheesecloth (no cheesecloth, no problem—a cotton flour sack towel can work in a pinch)
- Line a large sieve with a cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.
- Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, anywhere from 2-10 minutes, depending on your stove.
- Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it sit there and drain for 1 hour. Discard drained liquid and chill the ricotta, covered. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, but trust me, the kids won’t let it last that long.
Now that you’ve made a delicious family meal, make sure to enter the #MakeMilkMoments sweepstakes, brought to you by our friends at the American Dairy Association North East, for a chance to win $500 plus a nostalgic gift basket filled with classic cereals, board games, an instant camera, and more! The perfect gift basket for staying indoors with the family and making more memories this New Year’s Eve.
Entering is easy! Simply capture a photo or video of your family enjoying a special moment with nutrient-rich milk, tag @AmericanDairyNE and share it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #MakeMilkMoments, now through January 3, 2021.
For more details about the #MakeMilkMoments sweepstakes, visit americandairy.com/makemilkmoments.