I'm still trying to get a handle on family dinner. It's kind of like a mechanical bull for me: the whole thing feels always on the brink of disaster, but somehow I manage to hold on. And, to me, holding on - however tenuously - is worth it. I always feel better - physically and emotionally - when I've cooked for my family and we've had a meal together.
The challenges are that the dinner must be:
- ready in 45 minutes or less. My husband comes home at 5:30 to spend time with the kiddo while I cook and with a 7:00 bed time, I like to have dinner on the table by 6:20)
- semi-three-year-old friendly. We want to keep exposing him to new foods, but anything too completely foreign and/or spicy just means he won't eat dinner. We're working up to those . . .
Some weeks are more inspired than others and I'm in the process of compiling a list of go-to dinners to reduce my incidences of 4:00 panic because those moments are inevitably followed by pasta. (This New Yorker Cartoon comes to mind at least every other day.) In the meantime, I wanted to share my favorite and easiest dinner: Fancy Eggs on Toast.
Here's how it goes:
- Get your water boiling.
- Start cooking your vegetables. I usually like to do some greens (most recently we were using up some spinach) as well as some mushrooms. I sautéed the mushrooms first, pulled them out when they were done, and use the same pan for the spinach.
- Slice some really nice bread (I buy whole wheat multi-grain loaves that we use for everything - morning toast, sandwiches, this - from our local bakery. I keep them un-sliced which allows me to make thinner/easier to eat sandwiches for the kiddo and then cut thicker slices for something like this.) Maybe brush it with a little olive oil if you want. Put the bread (one slice for each person) on a baking sheet under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, flip it over and do the other side (which will take a bit less time). When you pull them out, consider rubbing each piece with the cut side of a halved clove of garlic. Why not?
- Cook some Seven Minute Eggs. OR some poached eggs. OR some fried eggs (these do not require boiled water, so that can be a plus). Your call. I like the Seven Minute Eggs because they require the least hands-on attention which means if I start the whole process by getting the water boiling, I can put the eggs in and keep cooking and everything ends up ready at more or less the same time, which is good because the major flaw of this dinner is that it gets cold pretty quickly (and it's tough to warm plates in the oven when you want to be using the broiler).
- Top it with salt and pepper. Maybe grate a little parmesan or pecorino on top for fun . . . ? You do you.
And that's it. Even when I went through a dark phase of accidentally overcooking eggs that were meant to be soft-boiled, this dinner was delicious and filling and pretty healthy in the scheme of things (and NOT pasta!). It's not rocket science, nor is it particularly surprising or innovative and I think that's the genius of this dinner: it's flexible, it's relatively quick and it's reliably delicious.