After a LOT of experience in cooking dinners at the various kitchens of my friends, I have learned the value of prep work. Pre-slicing veggies, allowing sauces to chill overnight, dividing ingredients into ziploc baggies – these make the night-of preparation MUCH easier. This was especially the case for a meal I made with two close friends, TJ and Elise – I had prepared the tomato sauce, washed the vegetables, mixed the vinaigrette, and even pre-measured the pasta! As a result, this beautiful Chicken Sausage Marinara with Zucchini came together in less than 20 minutes.
Now when I was a little girl, my idea of a quality chicken dish was a mound of breaded, fried tenders with oodles of ketchup. It never occurred to me that this simple meat could be SO adventuresome – you can imagine that when I tried my first link of sweet apple chicken sausage, I discovered a whole new take on poultry. It’s not AS healthy as the breast, but is still way healthier than beef or pork sausage (and fried chicken tenders, for that matter). You can choose whatever type sausage you prefer, though I recommend sticking to either a spicy or sweet variety.
The sausage paired beautifully with marinara – I added some zucchini slices and fresh basil to give it more of a “springtime” effect. Even though this recipe might seem fancy, it is seriously a piece of cake (but healthier than cake?) I guarantee it will please even the pickiest of eaters – click HERE to see the recipe! The side was a Cranberry-Kale Salad with Seeds. This was a little experiment of mine in terms of process, and worked out quite well. You can pretty much add anything you want in terms of fruit and/or nuts, but I went with cranberries, pepitas, and sunflower seeds – click HERE to see how to this colorful salad is made.
The beauty of prep work is the efficiency that follows – time seems to “fly by” as an hour-long recipe comes together in a matter of minutes. As a result, you have more time to be social, and have fun with you guests – this led to my musical choice: Short Ride in a Fast Machine, by John Adams. Now this is definitely a FUN piece, but it also works well with the parallel concept of prep work. Short Ride relies on the basis of repetition, and throws in the occasional curve of rhythm and tone. It’s very short, just under 5 minutes, and yet grows in complexity and character as the piece builds – a ton of “flavor” in a short amount of time 🙂 The below recording is with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony – enjoy!
“Short Ride in a Fast Machine,” Wikipedia.com