Five 5-Ingredient Dishes

In this month in which we're celebrating five years of bringing you issue after issue of food, fun and fitness, it only seems appropriate that we look to the power of five. Therefore, we're bringing you five simple recipes featuring five ingredients each (not counting water and seasoning). We hope you enjoy them and make them part of your simple eating plans.

Let me give you one word of caution before we get to the recipes. Avoid skimping on the quality of the ingredients you choose for these recipes. Because there aren't a lot of ingredients involved, each one stands out prominently in each recipe. Now, highest quality doesn't always mean fresh. I wouldn't dare suggest that a "fresh" tomato in Wisconsin in February is going to be able to hold a candle to a good quality canned plum tomato. So choose your ingredients wisely and you will be rewarded again and again by these gems. Enjoy discovering the power of five!

Quick Rosemary Pasta

If good fresh tomatoes aren't in season, try using canned tomatoes. Their flavor is often better during the off season.
  • 1 c. diced tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed rosemary
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 9 oz. hot cooked pasta (I like penne)
  • 1 oz. grated parmesan cheese

Mix the tomato, rosemary and olive oil together in a small bowl. Sauté briefly in a small skillet over medium heat until the rosemary is fragrant.

Toss the tomato mixture with the hot pasta and your choice of seasonings and sprinkle with the cheese before serving. Serve with hot crusty bread and a simple spinach salad for a quick and delicious meal.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Spinach-Prosciutto Frittata

Eggs for dinner? Sure, when it's an elegant frittata.
  • 5 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 c. skim milk
  • 2 oz. prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 c. packed baby spinach leaves, sliced into thin strips
  • 4 T. crumbled goat cheese

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together -- adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the prosciutto and spinach and pour into a heated nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat by lifting the edges of the egg mixture frequently to allow uncooked egg to slide to the bottom of the skillet.

When the egg mixture is nearly entirely set, sprinkle the top of the mixture with the goat cheese and finish the dish under the broiler. The frittata is done when the egg mixture is set and the goat cheese is slightly browned.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Simple Grilled Vegetables

Enjoy the same great meal in the cold weather by using your broiler or, if you're adventurous, firing up the grill anyway!
  • 8 oz. whole portabella mushrooms
  • 1 sweet red pepper, cut into quarters
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 4 T. crumbled feta cheese

Place the mushrooms, pepper, olive oil and vinegar in a large resealable plastic bag. Toss to evenly coat all of the vegetables. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Prepare the grill for cooking. Grill the vegetables for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until they are softened and smoky. Sprinkle with feta cheese and seasoning to taste before serving.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

Chicken and White Bean Quick Stew

This quick stew is a good standby for me during the week. I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and it makes a healthy and filling meal.
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1 (16 oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 oz. baby spinach leaves

Cook the red pepper in the olive oil in a medium skillet until tender, but not browned. Add the chicken and beans and cook until heated through. Add the spinach leaves and remove from the heat. Mix to incorporate; season to taste. Serve in bowls with fresh bread.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Quick Chicken Quesadillas

Great as a meal or a snack, these quesadillas are a great way to enjoy leftover chicken.
  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 T. seasoned olive oil
  • 6 oz. sliced chicken
  • 2 T. sliced green onions
  • 1/2 c. grated sharp cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly brush the flour tortillas on one side with the seasoned oil (I like to use chili-garlic oil). Arrange the remaining ingredients on two of the tortillas -- using the side that is not oiled. Press the remaining tortillas onto the mixture, leaving the oiled side up.

Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Flip the tortillas and bake an additional 5 minutes. Allow the quesadillas to cool for 5 minutes before slicing into pieces and serving.

  • Yields: 2 main course servings or 4-6 appetizer servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes