Rush Hour

I love being able to put dinner on the table during the week in less than a half an hour. In fact, I suspect that I'm not alone ... given the popularity of this column! Being able to avoid hours in the kitchen when your week hits its busiest strides means being able to enjoy a good meal without resenting the time it takes to get it there. And I imagine that most people, like me, find that as the weather warms up, that desire to get it done quick is ever increasing.

That's why I'm sharing one of my favorite toss together meals with you this month. It's actually more of an equation than a recipe. Here's how it works: Start with a pound of pasta -- any kind -- and get it on the stove. Then season and broil some of your favorite fish -- it can be anything from tuna to catfish to salmon -- and flake that with a fork. Then toss the pasta and fish with any number of fresh and cooked veggies and some flavorful liquid -- I usually use white wine or chicken stock -- and any extra seasonings or cheese you like and you've got dinner!

I like using rotini with Cajun-seasoned catfish, roasted corn, green onions, cherry tomatoes and chicken broth for a taste of the south. I like using penne with lemon-pepper tuna, capers, peas, red onions and white wine with a little lemon zest for a Mediterranean taste instead. You get the idea. As long as you've got a pasta pot and a broiler pan, you can have a quick and healthy one-dish meal on your table in minutes without having to work too much.

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Orchiette with Salmon and Asparagus

  • 16 oz. dried orchiette pasta
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 8 oz. boneless, skinless salmon fillet
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes -- halved
  • 2 T. white wine
  • Extra seasoning to taste

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, but do not rinse.

Remove the woody ends of the stems of the asparagus and cut into bite-sized pieces. Steam for about 7 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from the steamer and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl and rub into the fish fillet. Place the fillet on a broiler pan and broil 5-6 inches from the heat for 4 minutes on each side. Remove the fish from the oven and flake into bite-sized pieces.

Toss the pasta, asparagus, fish and the remaining ingredients together. Serve hot. Sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese, if desired.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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