Friday, September 19, 2014

Quick Garden Confetti Rice with Masala Meatballs

Last post, we talked about getting dinner on the table every night, even with a challenging schedule. Today, I wanted to share with you a meal we had this week that was easy to make and that illustrates that you don't have to make every single component of a meal by hand to still have a homecooked meal.

Quick Garden Confetti Rice with Masala Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef (I used organic, grass-fed)
1 lb. pork sausage (I used pastured pork)
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 egg (I used pastured)
1 jar Indian masala sauce (mine was Patak's)

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl and shape into meatballs somewhat larger than a golf ball.  Top with masala sauce, cover with foil, and cook in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.  (Sometimes, these take 60 minutes for me if my meat isn't completely thawed.)

1 box Rice-a-Roni rice pilaf flavor
(You need about a handful chopped of each veggie.)

Meanwhile, with about 20 minutes til dinner, start cooking the boxed Rice-a-Roni.  Dice and add the veggies in this order:  carrots, then peppers, and then kale right before serving.  This allows the harder veggies to cook through without losing the integrity of the kale.

By using a boxed side dish mix and jarred sauce, meal prep was much quicker than if everything was made from scratch, but the main components of the meal -- meat, egg, and veggies -- came from sustainable sources (including my garden).  Plus, dinner was on the table in the time it took Mr. FC&G to drive home from work.  This recipe made about four complete servings, plus maybe an extra meatball or two.

The Analysis

Fast:  45-60 minutes is about as long as I'll spend cooking a weeknight dinner, so this fits in at the upper end.

Cheap:  The meat was about $10, and the sauce and Rice-a-Roni probably added about $3, plus some added expense for a bit of bread crumbs and a pastured egg.  Call it $14 for four servings, of about $3.50 per serving.  I don't think you could do a frozen meal or drive-through for much cheaper, and of course this is better for you.

Good:  This made a really complete meal, with fresh garden veggies and high quality protein from the sustainably-raised meat and egg.  It was also incredibly good, with the veggies and rice balancing out the heat from the masala sauce.  Plus, the leftovers meant that Mr. FC&G had something hot to eat even when he came home from work the next night at midnight.

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