Busy Night Dinners

May is a busy month. There's really no other way to put it. Between spring tossing absolutely beautiful, OMG-I-must-play-outside weather (the youngster gets pretty excited about it, too) in our laps, school gearing up for its last hurrah before summer break by hosting family events, school plays, picnic gatherings, and spring concerts, and the giant pile of spring cleaning (both indoors and outdoors) waiting to be tackled, dinner might seem like mission impossible. Fortunately, it doesn't need to be that way at all. Provided you plan ahead and have a few choice ingredients on hand, dinners like this can be on the table in less than a half hour:

I've purposely chosen ingredients for this dish that you are likely to have on hand, store very well, and don't require a trip to the grocery store or farmers' market. That said, if you have a bunch of delightfully fresh produce on hand to include in a dish like this, feel free to use them. They will only enhance the meal and bring wider smiles to the table. The version included below is the pantry/freezer version that can be tweaked to include fresher elements.

I opted to toss together a simple garlic-herb bread to have alongside this meal. The result is a decidedly casual, yet delicious meal that brings smiles to the faces of both kids and adults. Feel free to use any items you'd be happy to toss on your pizza -- bacon, sausage, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and more -- to make it your own. The great news is that it's hard to go wrong with a fantastic dish like this! Enjoy the easy dinner and all the adventures the season brings!

Pizza Pasta

  • 1 lb. dried penne pasta
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1 tsp. dry basil
  • 1 tsp. dry rosemary
  • 1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 oz. pepperoni, cut in half or quarters
  • 1 cup shredded cheese -- choose your favorite variety

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, add the ground meat, garlic, salt, pepper, and dry herbs. Stir to combine and cook until the meat browns, stirring occasionally.

Add the crushed tomatoes and pepperoni to the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet and stir well to combine. Sprinkle the pasta with the cheese, cover, and cook until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes