Summer Suppers, Layer by Layer
On hot nights you need something quick but nourishing for supper — a one-dish, no mess preparation that doesn’t require heating the oven.
I do it all the time, summer or winter: an easy, delicious layered meal.
You’ll need an 8-9 inch skillet, preferably about 2-inches deep with straight sides — and a cover. Vary the ingredients and amounts according to availability and preference.
Start by bringing 1 ½ cups water and a reduced-sodium chicken bouillon cube to a boil in the skillet. Add two thinly sliced zucchini or yellow squash, or a combination, and one thinly sliced onion. Bring back to a boil, add 1 cup regular rice in an even layer, turn heat to medium-low, cover and cook about five minutes, until rice is almost tender. Cover rice with a thick layer of baby spinach leaves and pack down. Cover spinach with individually (still) frozen fish filets (tilapia, catfish, whitefish or other) or chicken breasts sliced horizontally into cutlets. Brush with bottled sauce: an Asian stir-fry sauce or marinade, mesquite or smoky barbecue sauce are nice. Sprinkle with chopped scallions. Cover and cook on medium-low for five or more minutes, until spinach is wilted and fish/chicken done. Bring the skillet to the table; cut through layers and serve with a spatula.
You can substitute couscous or orzo for rice and kale leaves (trim away all stems) for spinach. On a cooler day, protect skillet handle with foil and run under broiler to brown fish/chicken.
I’m also fond of a layered salad, made a few hours earlier with fresh-from-the-farmers’ market ingredients: Dissolve 3-4 tablespoons sugar in 1 cup boiling vinegar. Layer sliced tomato, peeled cucumber and sweet onion in a glass bowl, with a grind of black pepper between each layer. Pour hot vinegar over vegetables, cover bowl and shake to coat the slices. Serve marinated slices on a lettuce leaf.
Now all you need is an almost-instant layered dessert: Cut a bakery angel food cake into bite-sized squares. In parfait or wine glasses, layer the cake with thinly sliced strawberries and instant vanilla or cheesecake-flavored pudding. Try sugar-free pudding prepared in the blender with skim milk. Chill at least an hour. Just before serving, spritz with light whipped cream and a drizzle of warm reduced-calorie chocolate syrup.
Don’t tell anyone that this is a low-fat, moderate calorie, fiber and nutrient-rich meal.
Layers have always worked in the fashion industry. Why not food?
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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