Weeknight Shorts: Dinner Without Piles of Dishes

I love one pot meals. They aren't always practical, but they are so wonderful when time is short and you've already had a long day. However, sometimes they seem a bit thin on healthy ingredients and don't offer much in the way of a balanced meal. So understand that I'm offering you a simple dinner that does all of that and more:

My family loves this dinner. We help ourselves to seconds and there tends to be at least a little left over for my husband to take to work. Then he gets to grin while coworkers wonder what he's having for lunch when it's his turn at the microwave. I am particularly fond of this dish because it's chock full of great ingredients. You've got corn, onions, tomatoes, and black beans — all great foods to be putting on the table. If you wanted, you could even opt for whole wheat pasta and get a serving or two of whole grains in your dinner. While not what I'd consider low fat, it's not a particularly heavy dinner, either. It's just a good, simple, smile-inducing meal!

By the way, this dish also keeps particularly well. I've been known to toss it in a crockpot and keep it on the warming setting for picnic or pot lucking. If you opt to do that, you may wish to add a little extra chicken broth — something on the order of a half cup — to help keep things from drying out. You'll be feeling spoiled because you got dinner ready in less than 30 minutes, there's only one pot to wash, and your family will be asking for more and you can serve it up with a smile, because they aren't eating takeout junk. You just won parenting!

One Pot Taco Pasta

  • 1 - 16 oz. pkg. dried pasta (I used penne)
  • 1 ¼ c. frozen corn kernels
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 - 15 oz. can canned tomatoes (I used a fire-roasted variety with chilies)
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 - 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. cooked, crumbled chorizo (I usually just cook a double batch earlier in the week and plan for this one — you can also omit the meat)
  • ¼ c. shredded cheese (choose your favorite variety)

Add all but the last 4 ingredients (cream cheese, beans, chorizo, and cheese) to a large pot. Stir, cover, and bring to a rolling boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. There should be ¼ to ½ inch of liquid in the bottom of the pot when it is done. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream cheese, black beans, chorizo, and cheese. Let it rest for about 5 minutes to warm the beans and meat, melt the cheese, and absorb the excess liquid.

Serve in bowls with additional cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and sliced green onions, if desired.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

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