I have been thinking a lot in the last couple of weeks about what it means to cook when you’re pressed for time. I’ve always had the luxury of time. Even when I juggled a full-time job and a site, the sum of my evening tasks were still only to make whatever I felt like making for dinner, and if dinner was done at 10 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m., we just shrugged it off.
Alas, as you other mamas out there know, the third trimester is all about waking up one day in a frenetic frenzy, as I did out of the blue yesterday morning. If we’re about to go into lockdown for a couple months, there is so much we have left to do: the upholstery needs to be steam-cleaned! The baby’s room needs a dimmer switch! The printer cartridges are, like, totally out of ink! And I haven’t yet learned to cook respectable meals in a minimum of time.
“Respectable” is a bigger deal than it may sound. There are no shortage of shortcuts for busy meal-preparers these days; in fact there’s an entire segment of the food industry (or dare I say, most of it) that exists to ensure that you won’t actually have to spend any time in your kitchen. But what about people like me? I love to spend time in my kitchen; I just need to become someone who knows how to do more with less of it. Or at least until That Thing That Kicks Me Nightly In The Ribs learns to peel carrots and shell peas.
I turned to an article I read almost five years ago for inspiration, one written by William Grimes, a former New York Times restaurant critic. Grimes found that in his retirement from food criticism, he’d never stopped critiquing the food in front of him, most recently his own. He’d lost interest in avant-garde experimentations, all-day home cooking projects and takeout pizza; his new, nonnegotiable demand was that he had solid one-star dining in his home, every night, and that he didn’t have to spend a lot of time preparing it. Grimes sifted through 30 Minute Meals, Everyday Food and Betty Crocker’s Quick and Easy Cookbook in search of what he considered “good” fast food: no canned green beans or canned onion rings. And he found some gems, such as this six-minute sauté from Jacques Pepin, which “takes almost no time to prepare, but the result looks more impressive than a lot of dishes requiring triple the time and effort”. We auditioned it tonight for dinner and give it four stars.
One year ago: Sautéed Radishes and Sugar Snaps with Dill
Two years ago: Red Pepper Soup
Asparagus with Chorizo and Croutons
Adapted from Jacques Pépin
First of all, some confessions: This may be a six-minute meal for you, but some of us still had to be pains in the tuchus’ about it. I ordered a par-baked country loaf from Fresh Direct that first needed to be baked and cooled, before it could be rendered into croutons. (Could I be more ridiculous?) Then I fell all gaga over some cranberry beans at the Greenmarket yesterday, so I had to shell and pre-boil them before adding them to the dish. (Though canned and drained beans, or skipping the beans entirely, would also do.) And yes, I know asparagus season has really passed but that off-season stuff isn’t a quarter bad.
And now, some cooking notes: The asparagus will be very al dente, cooked in this method. We love it that way, but if you like yours with more give, you can start it a couple minutes earlier in pan or steam it for a minute or two before you add it. Marcona almods are fantastic if you can find them, but because I couldn’t, I used slivered almonds which burned easily — not recommended; use the whole ones. The beans are optional and not part of the original recipe, but we liked them in there a lot.
1 pound large, thick, firm asparagus, lower third of the stalks peeled with a vegetable peeler or snapped off
1/4 cup good olive oil
4 ounces Spanish chorizo (but Portuguese chouriço will work as well), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups 3/4-inch bread cubes (croutons), preferably from a baguette or country bread loaf
1/4 cup whole almonds
1 cup cooked beans (optional; I used 3/4 pound fresh cranberry beans, shelled then boiled for 20 minutes in lightly salted water)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Make this right as you are ready to eat. Cut each asparagus stalk into 3 or 4 pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet until very hot. Add all the ingredients except the beans, if using, and salt and pepper. Cover and sauté over high heat for 5 to 6 minutes (thinner asparagus might be done sooner), tossing or stirring the mixture a few times, so it browns and cooks on all sides. Add the beans, if using, and salt and pepper, toss again, and serve.
199 comments on asparagus with chorizo and croutons
Looks good, but is it hearty enough to be an entire meal?
Really depends on what you consider an entire meal, I guess. Worked great for us, but we’ve never been the steak-and-two-sides types on weekday nights.
Looks delicious! Colorful, simple, and it has sausage… yum.
Made your confetti bean salad and Roseann Cash potato salad today to RAVE reviews from both hubby and guests! Thank you thank you thank you. They ask what my secret is and I just say, “Oh, a little Deb.” Just FYI, my baby burrowed so far into my ribcage that I am now two inches bigger around on my chest. Yeah. So go ahead and look forward to THAT.
I pray you are blessed with a good sleeper. My son was (and is) a phenomenal sleeper, and my whole maternity leave I found myself pottering around the house looking for things to do because seriously, all that kid did was sleep. I cooked a LOT during this time. You’ve got a few more months before you have to worry about that little bundle of joy’s dinner. (Bottle and/or boob is pretty easy to whip out quickly.) Plus I like to think that sticking herbs and spices in his face early on and telling him “mmm smells good!” was beneficial to what is now his oh-so-sophisticated palatte. (What, pancakes with ketchup isn’t a gourmet combo?) I actually don’t think you’re supposed to do things early on like that cause of allergies and such but well, I’m not what you would call the most competent of mothers. I’m figuring things out just as much as he is haha.
Asparagus and chorizo?
Okay, if you’re going to keep cooking AT ALL after The Thing is born, you’re going to need yourself a really good baby carrier. I highly recommend the Moby Wrap, or if you’re not coordinated, the Baby K’tan. If you like buckles and straps, the Beco Butterfly is the bomb (and has great fabrics to choose from!). Bonus points for cooking dinner while you’re nursing wee one in the sling!!!
I love how beautiful the beans look in this dish! This dish sounds filling and delicious!
This is the most colorful dish I’ve seen in a while! Love it. It looks scrumptious—like a savory bowl of Skittles :P
I love all the food you make. You make me want to try new things, and thats saying something cause I’m so picky! Will you be going to the food and wine festival in new york this year?
Where do you find chorizo like this? I have lived in Il, Ia, Tx and Ky. and all chorizo at all the grocery store are loose like Jimmy Dean sausage. I have seen this on cooking shows and have always wondered. Looks like kielbasa.
Mexican chorizo usually comes uncooked, and is more sausage-like. Spanish chorizo is usually drier and cured, flavored/colored with a ton of pimenton. This was the latter, and we got it from D’Artagnan. That said, confusing me greatly, we also sometimes get an even drier, harder chorizo, also called Spanish chorizo, that’s best minced and almost used as a spice or flavor base. This was softer, but still closer to a salami than a sausage. Gosh, I hope that made sense.
This recipe is perfect for Portuguese chourico! Not available here in MD but I stock my freezer when I visit my native RI… I often use it in one pot combo dinners but this version is a new one for me….putting it in next week’s menu plan. Thanks!
Looks yummy! I think it would be great with a poached or soft boiled egg on top also. All that runny egg yolk would perfectly compliment the other ingredients. Of course, not exactly an option for you right now but soon…
is there another type of beans that might work as well? i’m not sure i’ve ever seen cranberry beans…
Mike — Cranberry beans aren’t a requirement, I just added them because I found great ones. If I were buying canned beans, I’d probably go for some giant white ones or chickpeas.
You put together the most amazing combinations of things.
I LOVE to be in the kitchen and after the birth of each of my kids, I really struggled to find time and energy to be in the kitchen. My partner doesn’t cook (at all!) so I just got depressed that we were eating thrown together stuff. But, you do start to find the time and balance to be in the kitchen again – it comes with time. Just wanted to say this because after each kid I started to lose hope I’d find time to be in the kitchen and missed it and then…voila…….a window opens and there you are again doing what you enjoy.
I love the topic of your post today. I, too, look forward to being in the kitchen (as do a lot of the people that tune in regularly, I’m sure) but there’s always that game of juggling it around life and everything that goes with it. I love that you’re able to take this issue and turn it into a great looking meal :-) Very inspiring! Which reminds me, I haven’t eaten dinner yet…
I’ve heard that preparing a lot of food ahead of the baby’s arrival and freezing it (ie soups, lasagna, etc etc) is a super big help. Or enlisting your friends and neighbors to bring food to you for a few weeks :)
Oh I can so relate to you’re experience as a full-time employee + (my attempt at) full-time food blogger. I’m completely ambitious at both and trying to live a balanced life…e.g. relaxing sometimes.
About the recipe: this is definitely a complete meal! And I’m learning to adjust to Spanish Chorizo. I purchased some hoping it’d crumble (fully knowing it wouldn’t) and was disappointed. BUT this meal sounds great if I sike myself out and pretend like its sausage, asparagus and beans (and CROUTONS!).
P.S. Shucking peas is going to be great for developing the kid’s fine motor skills.
This is JUST my kind of meal. I bet the croutons soak up that chorizo flavor nicely. Don’t be too hard on yourself if cooking is kind of complicated with a baby…and maybe it would help to make some dinners ahead and freeze them now?
Margi ~ I’m in TX. I generally find the chorizo near the deli case or near the gourmet cheese display, not in the same area where you find bacon or the Jimmy Dean kind of sausage. I often see them where they keep the hard salami. Hope that helps you.
I love quick skillet dinners like this and that looks delicious! I’ll bet it would be equally good with some spicy andouille sausage also!
You’ll love cooking with kids.
Sure you found ways to challenge yourself creatively with cooking before, but cooking with kids brings its own crazy demands. Frankly, I have never been a better cook than since I had the kids. I mean, I prepped and cooked a 10 course dinner once, over a couple of days and breastfeed through nearly the whole thing (buy a sling).
There are some amazing people out there who raised the game after the kids came along and they didn’t give in to processed food, white food, bland food or a steady diet of pancakes and frozen waffles and they’re not crazy food nazis who never let their kids eat a Hershey bar. You will be among us.
I can’t wait to see the amazing food you come up with as the baby is growing up. Although you probably won’t spend all weekend making 30 different flavors of jam, but anyway…I’m so excited for you. Congrats!
just so you know, you already make the lives of hundreds (probably more) of people more kitchen-friendly, more food-full, and heck, more stable just by doing what you do. if it helps at all when you’re feeling stuck and frantic for decent cooking options with limited time and resources, remember that you’ve already helped lots and lots of us cope with life. having someone who has gone before and has laughed at the culinary risks (and has even, gulp, allowed her husband to take pictures along the way) has made all the difference for me.
hang in there!
Have you read “Too Many Cooks”? (the author is a former chef with four kids) My husband gave it to me as an anniversary gift w/a very sweet note about how much fun he thinks I’ll have cooking with our kids!
It’s enjoyable and an encouraging read for future moms, I think! :)
Oh, to be that woman up above there with the amazing sleeper (Meleyna…is that your name? You are dead to me. I kid. Mostly.). I remember being in a hormonal daze and in tears not even a year ago, wondering what the f@*! happened to the fact that newborns were supposed to nap. That was not to be for me–my sweet Baby C didn’t take regular naps until nearly six months (she has always spat in the face of sleep training, though we still try, in vain) and just started sleeping through the night somewhat consistently at nine months. My point is this–plan for the worst, and hope for the best.
And on a brighter note, I just posted about finally feeling, 11 months into motherhood, like I’m getting back into some quality kitchen puttering time. My savior up until now, the way I’ve been able to do the cliched “quick and easy” while still feeling like I’m really COOKING in a satisfying way, has been the “Everyday Food: Great Food Fast” cookbook. In fact, all our meals this week are coming from that book. Lots of staples in interesting combinations. I can’t recommend it enough!
I love this post so much. It felt like ages before I was back in the kitchen but return I did and now I still take as much or as little time as I want making meals. Sometimes baby-cakes eats right along with us if I happen to finish making dinner by the time she is hungry…sometimes she eats three hours before us and we eat after she goes to bed. :) This is all 18 months after having her, but that time when I thought I would never cook a decent meal ever again hasn’t come yet!
I could certainly see me making a large batch of this and having it for a couple of days.
Well, I will certainly never be pregnant but I feel your pain for not liking rushed cooking. I work nights and my girlfriend works normal hours so sometimes dinner is that half hour where our home time overlaps. I hate it, I want to spend as much time prepping my food (not to mention with her) as I can! But there it is, you do what you have to do.
This looks great, both of us love asparagus and chorizo, so it would work out perfect. I’m stealing this recipe as we speak. ;)
Looks delicious! What would you say to using canned asparagus? (I know, I know, don’t hate me :) )
I read the recipe title and was totally grossed out. When I think chorizo I think the Mexican kind- that’s mostly all you can find here in LA. But, after actually clicking and seeing the pictures and the recipe, I’m so sold. SM farmer’s market, here I come. Now where to find that chorizo…?
1. I’m not preggo, but today I also realized that I was out of printer ink and went and spent entirely too much on new cartridges since I don’t live anywhere near a re-fill store.
2. What I love about your site is that you challenge what most people’s ideas of dinner is. Dinner really shouldn’t be too heavy most times, and I like that you are content with really light food for dinner (even if you do make up for it with the desserts.) I’m slowly realizing that less is more when it comes to dinner, and usually my husband don’t feel like anything was missing.
3. Even though I’ve known you’ve been pregnant awhile, congrats and good luck with everything! That child will be well-loved and well-fed indeed. =)
oh yeah…chorizo. I work at a Whole Foods, and if you want the kind in the recipe…head for the specialty department (cheese, olives, charcuterie, etc.) and hopefully they should have it. Most regular grocery stores will carry it in the same area.
Hey! Those are Vermont Cranberry Beans! Today I planted a couple of rows of those using seeds saved from plants that I grew this spring. Excuse me for the geek out, especially on my first comment, but Eeee! I think that’s cool LOL
All babies are different, so what worked for me may not work for you but my babies liked being in a sling while I was working. As they got older and squirmier, or if I was doing something I didn’t feel comfortable having them close to, I would put them in a swing or a 3-in-1 high chair and set them up very close to where I was working so they could see me and we could interact. A supply of toys is a good thing to keep at hand otherwise I found my kitchen equipment pressed into use, and then lost LOL. As a last resort I would lay them on a blanket smack under the ceiling fan and turn it on, for some reason my children were fascinated by it. If that didn’t work I’d give up and go sit with them :)
i can only imagine that with marcona almonds this would the best ever.
OK, so I know all the mums are chiming in now, and I just had to add, I cooked a wedding cake last month and I have a 4 month old little girl….Read your wedding cake segments religiously before baking it…It was fantastic. Anyway, with a little planning and a good sleeper, you can still be cooking all kinds of things…Oh wait, I can hear hear my child rising early, must go. ha
Maybe a crockpot would be useful when the little one comes along. That way you could prepare the follow night’s dinner while dad holds the baby.
Mmm… chorizo and asparagus in one recipe? Must be good!
This post reminded me of my mum – when I left home at 18 she gave me a binder full of the recipes she had made most often since I was born, and in the introduction she told me she had become an expert in meals that could be made with a baby under one arm! Maybe that’s what you need :)
I enjoy your site and get lots of inspiration for our meals. Looking forward to you cooking baby food. I loved this task for my first, so much so that my husband would enter the kitchen and ask “is that for her or us”? Mostly it was for her and we got a take out pizza (ok only joking about the pizza). Now I just have number 2, so in a few months will be starting no salt organic blended food again! Enjoy the kicking it will be over too soon! Cheers
This looks like a complete and perfect dinner for me!
This dinner looks like the perfect combo between me and my husband!
looks like a wonderful dish! Wait ’til that baby comes. You’ll find out what it means to be pressed for time!
The colors are beautiful together. I’ll have to try this with some veggie chorizo.
I heart Jacques.
Deb, Kids fit into the kitchen just fine, so don’t go scrapping all your “complicated”, made-from-scratch foods. So much of that stuff can be done a little here and a little there, in between nursings and diaper changes and cuddle times. You may want to start freezing and canning more things, though, putting up stuff that you can pull out at a moment’s notice—you know, like a hundred quarts of applesauce, canned peaches, pesto torte, etc… I have four kids and still make most things from scratch (though I’m not so high and mighty that I don’t occasionally sneak bowls of Peanut Butter Crunch cereal at bedtime).
Good cooking isn’t something just for people without kids—it fits perfectly into a family, too. Take courage, and keep a tight grip on that mixing spoon!
Yum! This looks delish! I agree with you on the being pressed for time cooking dinner thing. Our kids are older, so it’s different, but still, it’s stressful to have someone (or 3 someones, in my case) behind you every 5 minutes saying “When’s dinner ready? I’m STARVING!” Even better is the “I don’t think I like that! Eww, gross, vegetables!” Takes the fun right out of cooking sometimes! Causes me to tend to make “easy” stuff when I’m cooking for them. I’ll cross my fingers that your little darling naps from time to time for you. Also, think this will work without the croutons, to make it gluten-free?
I have a girl who is about to be four months. Before I had her, I became obsessed with cleaning bedding. Every down comforter and cover was washed/dry cleaned and every mattress was sprinkled with baking soda and vacuumed. My one piece of advice – if you are planning on breastfeeding, do not do this. It was a complete waste of time. I still laugh at myself when I think about it.
On to cooking with a baby. I recently went back to my full time job and this too was one of my tasks while I was on maternity leave. I was very nervous about working 40+ hours a week and caring for a baby and still being able to eat a non-cereal dinner at night. I have to say, it has been a lot easier than I thought. I read somewhere (I think in the NY Times) that you should have at least 4-5 meals that you don’t need a recipe for and that take under 20 min. I learned those meals. One is an egg sandwich with bacon – but my non-cooking husband can manage to make that one, so it is on the list! Also I have found to use nap time as prep time. Things are chopped, washed, and pre-cooked if possible while the babe is sleeping on the weekend.
Saying all of this, give yourself six weeks. Take every offer that someone makes to bring you food. My brain was mush for six weeks. I nearly forgot to eat some days.
And the recipe looks great – I can’t wait to try it. We always put chorizo in our burgers (try it, you will never go back).
I empathize with you! I used to stand in the kitchen cooking for hours before my first was born. Now, I do love those 30 minute meals. The exersaucer, swing, etc. will be your friend when you are trying to get a meal on the table.
We live in Chicago, which means restaurants aren’t as kid friendly as some suburbs. So, I do cook almost every night. You can do it! Chorizo and asparagus, yumm!
I love the colors – very festive. Could work well served all year round really. Thanks for the idea for dinner tonight!
Welcoming the beginning of a new era – the quest for homemade meals whose awesomeness may only be surpassed by the fact that they did not take forever. I look forward to this (crossing my fingers) new trend.
I don’t mind going nuts regularly. I am also compiling quick, easy, scrumptious meals for my future family. No plans yet but I am soooo type A.
A great, quick and easy creation. The combo of ingredients looks like they would pair wonderfully!
This is exactly the kind of quick meal that my family loves. Full of flavor, few ingredients, few steps. I think your family will subsist very well on meals like this. No need to panic!
I find inspiration in Nigella Express, and Peter Berley’s Fresh Food Fast, and the quick dinner sections of Gourmet. But I’m extra lucky, because my husband does the weeknight cooking, mostly, and I can do the fun, all-day weekend extravaganzas that I enjoy so much. I’m looking forward to seeing what else you come up with!
Deb – Quick and delicious, this sounds great! I am going to try this with green beans instead of asparagus. Thanks for all of your delectible and informative posts.
Linda — Great idea. Almost wish I’d thought of it first as I of course (always) have green beans in the fridge from the market and it would be much more seasonal that way. Thanks for the idea.
I wish you luck Deb. I’m mom to an almost 8 month old, and my cooking has definitely changed. I look forward to a shift into more streamlined cooking as you juggle a baby and life in the kitchen. I’ve made many of your recipes, but hope to make even more as you develop your streamlined “mommy” cooking skills. Because they are definitely different then pre-baby cooking skills!!! So far I’ve found my slow cooker indispensible (cooks dried beans perfectly), and am a big believer in cooking in bulk. One batch of enchiladas equals several nights I don’t have to make dinner! Good luck in these last few weeks… go out to dinner occasionally, since once the baby gets to be about 3 months old, that becomes a challenge too. :)
i bet you’ll have so much fun cooking with your kids. children always love to feel like they’re helping out, and maybe eventually they will learn how to peel carrots and shuck peas! then they’ll be really useful. my mom never called herself a cook, but i always had fun making food with her.
this is a great recipe. i love making my own croutons.
I love anything with asparagus in it, but this is inspired…
This is absolutely my kind of dish. I bet it would work well with green or yellow wax beans in place of the asparagus, too… and now you’ve got the wheels turning in my head :)
That’s such a unique dish! Thanks for the recipe.
LOL – yeah that wonderful bout of nesting is great for getting things done and driving the dads into a frenetic frenzy. Don’t argue with a nesting pregnant woman.
Mine manifested itself into sewing diapers until 2am every night the last two weeks of my second pregnancy. Talk about cutting it close. Cooking with kids is always interesting. Mine loved the sling and the mei tai because my movement kept them soothed on my back while I cooked.
The dish looks yummy although I’m a latin shame since I’m not crazy about chorizo.
What a colorful dish! I can think of all kinds of options that can be used to make this a technique driven dish rather than a static recipe. This would be a great way to use up leftover meat and poultry, too. Ajust seasonings and fat and vegetables and you can spice it up or dress it down to your families preferences. Good find, Deb.
Hmmm – I tried the Jacques Pepin version and didn’t much care for it (though as I noted at the time I omitted the almonds – possibly a mistake). I’ll have to get some chorizo and give your version a go, since I do love asparagus.
I’ve got news for you, you may still eat at 10 pm for a while or whenever you can get a bite in. the freezing food ahead of time idea is a great one. I wish I had taken the initiative to do that, but thankfully lots of friends brought us food (mostly lentil soup :)
Ari from Baking and Books has a delicious recipe for vegetarian chorizo that would probably work well here. It wouldn’t be in chunks (though theoretically it could be pressed into a shape, hardened, and cut), but it would be a delicious way to make it accessible for those of us who are vegetarian.
I don’t have any kids, but I hate that feeling that I’ve spent all evening cooking dinner, so faster yet still healthy homemade foods are always something I’m looking for.
That looks great! I am food-obsessed and don’t use all the “quick” things that are marketed either. Are mashed potatoes in a plastic tub really worth eating? Anyway, I have 5 kids, 6 years and under and my oldest love to help me cook. The best advise I have for cooking while you are mothering little ones is to plan. We have a menu for the week that follows a pattern, pasta one night, vegetarian one night, etc. and that has been a life saver. It allows me to plan in several new dishes each week so I can satisfy my need to try new things but not run myself ragged trying to figure out a new recipe every evening.
Cooking good meals can be a challenge when babies are small. I found, though, that as soon as my Mira was about one year old, she started to love sitting up on the counter while I was cooking (it did make it hard to move around the kitchen, and a high chair would have been safer…). Now we cook all the time together, and she LOVES baking. Last night she said, “let’s cook up a pudding!” She’s only 3 1/2, but she’s a fan of your website already! We made the dimply plum cake last week, and “dimply” is now one of her new favorite words. So don’t worry– it’s even more fun with a child!
Ah yes, you do need a dimmer switch in the baby’s room. Mine is deluxe- we installed a ceiling fan with a remote control. You can hang the remote on the wall (it came with a hanger that mounts over the light switch) and then take it with you to your nursing station, turn down the lights once you’re settled in, and get the baby back in the crib without wanging his head in to it. Then put the remote back in *its* cradle on your way out the door to bed bliss….Plus the fan supposedly reduces the risk of sids (and just plain prevents the room from getting stuffy).
Hi Deb, I don’t have children but my husband and I work wildly different schedules. I’m in an office 9 to 5 Monday to Friday and he’s a stage manager at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Take-out/prepared foods are not really an option for us because we both dislike all the additives. I’ve accumulated a bunch of stand-by recipes that I can make in ten to fifteen minutes. Granted sometimes the water is put on to boil or the oven is preheating before my coat is off but it’s a priority for us that we get that small window in the day to be together and share a meal. I have all the confidence in the world that you’ll do it, or you won’t and you’ll decided that’s fine too. I can’t imagine the wonderful joy and brilliant havoc the little one is going to wreak on your lives … you are so lucky …
This looks fab, and we will hopefully try it soon.
Quick note about cooking up stuff now and freezing it for after the baby arrives…. you might want to be careful about exactly what it is you store. It turned out that my baby was sensitive to my breastmilk after I ate dairy products. All that lasagna in our freezer I ended up being unable to eat, lest my baby be awake all night, screeching because of gas!
This looks like another winner! Fresh and quick–perfect for summer. Unfortunately I can’t find any acceptable form of chorizo (southern WV), any suggestions? There is happy all-natural chicken sausage in a roasted garlic flavor, I forget the other flavor the store carries… would this just totally kill the recipe or what? Thanks in advance!
Deb, has someone offered to set up a meal drop-off for you guys? For the first few weeks (or more)? It was SO wonderful to have 2-4 meals provided for us every week, by good friends, with leftovers galore. People just signed up on a schedule, and the coordinator made sure to pass along any food aversions or dietary restrictions (breastfeeding issues can mean limiting certain things). Not only did it relieve us from having to cook or relying on takeout, but it gave our friends a chance to see the baby. And the meals were so nutritious and scrumptious. So if Deb’s friends are reading this … take note!
I simply put my son in his highchair and went at it as though it were the most normal thing in the world to cook.
He now eats just about everything I make and has a huge request list. Babies adapt.
wow… the colors of this are amazing! looks delicious!
Deb, thanks for posting a recipe like this: simple, easy, quick. I actually don’t like to cook (why do I read your blog? entertainment!) so I am always looking for recipes that aren’t so darned hard. And, the less time I spend preparing food, the happier I am.
I’m looking forward to more ‘quick and easy’ as your family obligations increase… I already love that kid!
Wow… there are a bunch of ingredients I’ve never tried in this one recipe. Gotta try it! Thanks.
Nigel Slater’s Real Fast Food has lots of great ideas for thoroughly respectable (and delicious) quick meals. I heartily recommend. This looks delicious – as soon as a saw the word chorizo I was hooked.
Deb, I just love how much effort went into this quick ‘n’ easy dish! When my baby was 4 months old, I finally got 20 minutes in a row when I wasn’t holding her, and made a cake. (Get that? 4 MONTHS!)
May you have a straightforward birth and easy recovery and healthy delicious baby, and may you enjoy the food that other people prepare lovingly for you.
Deb, you might appreciate this list of 101 meals ready in 10 minutes or less from the NYT back in 2007. It is all wholesome fare, not processed junk. I am also expecting and I am collecting these quick dishes as well!
I have two children (2 and 8months) and I love to cook. My 2 year old loves any sort of kitchen appliance with a motor so I get lots of help anytime the hand mixer, food processor, or Kitchen Aid is brought out. It is so fun to work with him. I save all my extravagent meals for Sat. and Sun. now as my husband works nights and I have no help on week nights. We all eat home cooked meals every night of the week, so it is possible to still cook elaborate meals and get-it-done meals with kids. I hope you have as much fun as I did learning the balance.
Wow…, I could use of bit of your indifference:) If dinner gets done at 9:00, I’m a bit upset. 10:00! There’s no way I could shrug that off. How do you do it?
After working all day, I don’t like spending hours in the kitchen, but I do enjoy cooking and baking. If that makes any sense at all.
I’m constantly searching for recipes that are both delicious and quick/simple to put together. I especially like the ones where all the ingredients are accessible.
6 minutes…wow, that looks amazing!
My 3 daughters are (mostly) grown, but reading the comments brought back such memories. They had their share of mac/cheese from the box and PB&J sandwiches for lunch every day for a year — but we eat mostly good, fresh food and exposed them to interesting non-kid-food from birth. We sometimes used to play a game of “oh, that’s grownup food, but if you’d like you can have a tiny taste…just don’t take too much” and then they would sneak bites of shrimp or smoked oysters or artichokes or horseradish sauce, and we would pretend not to notice. Good times. They all have quite sophisticated palates now and love good food. (College cafeterias present a problem.)
May I offer two new-mom hints? A small fan in the nursery provides a wonderful “white noise” that masks other, more disruptive noises. (My 19-year-old still depends on it.) And my favorite: Double-sheet the crib with a full size waterproof pad between sheets. Some night in the next year when your sweet baby has soaked through one end or the other, you’ll be able to strip off the yucky top sheet and pad, and have a fresh bed waiting. Trust me, I got through twins with this one!
Love your recipes and photos.
Hi Deb- love your blog, you are such a creative cook! For this recipe, one question- do you bake the bread first in order to make croutons, or just throw the cut squares in with everything else? Thanks, and good luck with the little one!
Not that I particularly remember the first six months of my twins’ lives, but …
I know I made a lot of Shrimp “My Way” from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.”
Of course, I didn’t REALLY do it his way. I skipped the first cooking step, threw the shrimp on a cookie sheet, doused them in olive oil, added a chopped onion, threw on the seasonings he recommended (without any thought to his measurements), and added Old Bay to his seasonings.
Anyway, it took five minutes to throw together and five minutes to cook. And I only had to clean a baking sheet.
Oh, and there was a recipe from and old “Real Simple” for grilled skirt steak and sweet potatoes that was super fast and delicious. We made a lot of that, too.
I’m just going to add a sentence here because this comment just didn’t seem long enough.
When I was pregnant, everyone told me that I’d NEVER get to cook a proper meal again, I’d lower my standards, I’d start buying Kraft Mac’nCheese (I’m not American, so this for me is comparable to Chinese torture) and blablabla. And you know what? Nothing has changed. My kid is 2 years and 3 months now and I started cooking proper dinners every night when he was 4 days old. We’ve had take-out a few times, maybe 10 altogether. And that’s it. Everything else was prepared from fresh ingredients.
So, don’t worry. Cooking is important to you, and therefore you’ll still have time to do it. It’s things like washing the curtains that don’t get done anymore. And who needs curtains. Or clean ones. All the best to you!
I don’t particularly like Rachel Ray but she makes an AMAZING orzo pasta salad with pine nuts and feta, the most time consuming thing in the whole dish is waiting for the orzo to be finished. I’d definitely recommend it!
Deb, you WILL manage to still cook. My daughter has been a terrible sleeper and her daily naps were under 45 minutes, but that’s usually plenty of time to either prepare dinner (if the nap happens to be at the right time) or to get things prepared for it.
Do bring the kid into the kitchen with you – I used to hand the little one all kinds of things or her to hold and taste and smell (raw vegetables or herbs mostly), and have had good luck with her eating habits. Slings and high-seats are best friends :)
Oh, and by the time she’s two or three you can actually start making cookies and breads with them! Don’t expect them to knead, though, but my girl loves to play with bread dough as if it was playdough. Sometimes I even color it :)
It’s just a matter of imagination, and you have plenty of that, so of course you’ll find the way!
Deb – Looks yummy! I am always looking for different things to do with vegetables. Also, I wanted to let you know that your life with a newborn will not be as crazy as you fear. Most likely, you will not even go into “lockdown” mode. Nursing, if you choose to do so, will put a cramp in your comings and goings, but I think, and hope, that you will be pleasantly surprised at what your life looks like post-baby. Thank you for the wonderful recipes!
This sounds really good and we’ll be trying it soon. I have a similar recipe using chorizo, swiss chard and cannelloni beans that everyone here loves. Whole Foods (here in the DC area) always has Marcona almonds. You should check there if you haven’t already. And a baby swing is a wonderful thing to have when you’re trying to get dinner on the table!
You’ll find a way to manage. I will say that having two people that like the kitchen helps, especially when one baby becomes four. We end up with home-cooked food on our table every night (unless we’ve planned to eat somewhere else), and I am endlessly amazed at what my kids will eat and what they expect to eat. (They recently turned down clover honey and demanded buckwheat.) It’s all about planning, thinking ahead and making sure you follow through. (Because when you don’t follow through, you end up at the local roast beef sandwich shop or any other local eatery, out the $ for meals for 6.)
The chorizo looks delicious. Definitely a throw-together kind of meal for the family. Good luck with those dimmer switches. We put ours in, bedrooms and basement, when we moved to our house 3 years ago and love them.
Everyone — Thanks for all of your wonderful, helpful and sweet stories! I just love the comments today; you’re all making me feel plenty reassured. There’s just so much “just you wait!” and “let me tell you how I know it will be” and “you’ll never have time for ANYTHING ever again” out there; I try to tune it out, remember that we all forge our own paths, but it’s even nicer to hear from parents out there that have pulled off a balance between what they value (not eating dubious food for dinner every night) and taking care of a squawker.
Anna — The bread cubes toast in the pan with the other ingredients. However, mine did not get very crisp (I think it’s the lid-on, steaming them a bit) so if you want to ensure that yours do, you might toast (or let them stale overnight) first.
Thanks for all your great recipes, Deb! And all I can say is – a good baby carrier and later on – Cheerios, pots and a wooden spoon will be your friend.
Wow, colorful dish. with chorizo. One dish meals are great for dinner or supper and lunch. My husband does this all the time – dinner and the next day’s lunch. Just whatever is on hand-endless creations. He really likes those little round cabbage like balls that smell the house up so anything new there?
And so many helpful hints :) You’ve mentioned Fresh Direct before so I’ll have to google them. BTW, my son is in love with the homemade broiche rolls. Wants to stuff them and slather honey on top – think we’re watching too many cooking shows mainly Guy from the triple D.
this looks very, very tasty. off topic, but we’re dead in the middle of summer, yet no mention of a fish recipe that i can recall. fish is a key ingredient in my summer food romps, are you not a fan?
btw, fish can increase your child’s IQ… :-o
Paul — I don’t care for fish. And the baby will be brilliant either way! Just like its mama. ;)
I for one am waiting to see what u will cook up and what direction this site will take once the baby is here. All the best
This looks so good. I would like to try it out. Do you have to peel the casing off the Chorizo sausage before cooking?
Tesawe — The chorizo is not peeled.
I love your site! As someone in the third trimester herself (two more weeks, two more weeks) all I can ask is- when is my “OMG I have to get things done” kick in? I rather take a nap!
I totally agree with you about cooking, though. I don’t know how much we really will do when the twins arrive, but DH and I are both trying to buy less and less packaged food and cook real foods, so hopefully that will continue…
REALLY looking forward to seeing baby food recipes from you! I LOVED cooking fun stuff for my little on. The only problem is when they reject something you’ve slaved over…but you can always freeze it and try again.
Cindys comment (83) is AWESOME! I never thought of double sheets with a waterproof pad between. That will be a lifesaver the next time the little one is sick.
Congrats! Looking forward to baby updates!
I will bring you frozen foods! You’ve given so many recipes to so many people–I bet every SK reader in NYC would stock you for weeks! Crumbles, buckles, slumps, buns, slaws…you name it. From the SK repertoire….and beyond.
Wanted to add that I make a similar dish with andouille, which is good if you are cooking for or live with someone who doesn’t like the heat of chorizo. Also, in the fall/winter, this with collards instead of asparagus would be awesome.
I followed a link over here and I am glad I did! Wow – I have enough here for the entire summer! I have two girls, and they both were velcro babies – had to be held all the time. I used a Maya wrap and had a swing in the kitchen.
I think this looks delicious (I have been reading for a while thanks to a link from Cakewrecks.com at some point and I love your site! There, thats my gush for the time being. Oh and congrats :))
I was thinking that I would try this with corn bread cubes, but I’m worried that it might dry out too much, or if it would be basically like adding asparagus to a chorizo cornbread dressing recipe I have.
first off, i’ve totally fallen for your blog and so appreciate all your tid bits of knowledge. case in point, i NEVER knew you could make your own buttermilk!! i am a mother of two under two and am also a stickler for all that is fresh and seasonal and unprocessed. you’ll do beautifully. my almost two year old now looks up at me when she sees me crack an egg and says, “mmmm (pause) mommy make frittata!!” that happens to be my go-to meal that can be made in minutes while not relying on the can opener (inexpensive, too).
do you ever cube or crumb and bag your leftover bread in the freezer? although it might not be at its peak for nibbling, but in a dish like this it would perform adequately. might save you a trip to the bakery (which, with an infant is no swift venture). or, maybe this suggestion goes against everything you stand for. i don’t know, i’m new here.
now, excuse me, i’ve got some reading/bookmarking to do. (thanks again for your words and recipes!)
Hi Whitney — Thanks! And of course — I put the remaining loaf in the freezer so next time I need bread cubes I won’t have to go to such ill-advised lengths. I keep almost all bread in the freezer, actually; the homemade stuff especially would go bad too quickly otherwise.
The baby thing! I feel positive that you will adjust and adapt, and the challenge will make you an even better chef. I’m not goofing.
I do remember being pressed for time? attention? someone not hassling me? all the time when the kids were little. But I did manage to cook then and now, every night SOMETHING. We had no $ for takeout EVER (I did cloth diapers because I had to, not because of eco-reasons) and really, loads of meals take less time than running out for food or Papa Johns (but then, we are in the burbs.) Sometimes I put the kids in the backpack or carrier, and that worked pretty well, sorta, kinda.
The real reward has been LATER. So many of the kids in our hood eat only chicken nuggets, or popcorn chicken, and simply refuse to partake of anything else. No fruit, no veg. Just cereal and popcorn chicken. But my crew eat plenty of things, they are thrilled to go out to eat, they try things and sometimes even eat them. Mealtime is not perfect, but certainly not stressful (disclaimer: they are now 6 and 9, and things did not always go smooth but we have trained them a little bit. Plus, they are very hungry people and want to eat, so that makes them try horrific kid foods like mushrooms and then discover they like them.)
So anyway. You are going to do great. The cooking with baby will take some adjustments, but you will make it happen. Plus, baby will get exposure to smell, taste, people enjoying food from day one (though one of my kids loved the swing and swung thru every meal until she was one and too big for it….) Moms and Dads have been cooking for years before popcorn chicken was invented. You and baby and favorite spouse can do it!
And maybe you will find some shortcuts that the rest of us can steal!
This looks fantastic. I just received Fast Food My Way and can’t wait to delve into it.
I’m a first-time commenter, but constant lurker, on your wonderful blog.
Your passion, expertise and curiosity about food, your friendly welcoming voice, exciting recipes and to-swoon-for photographs are a constant inspiration.
And I must say, I felt a righteous thrill when I learned you accomplish your culinary magic in a small kitchen. I have managed scratch-cooked meals for a family of five for 20 years in a galley kitchen–disproving the myth that a ginormous kitchen and Cadillac-sized range are necessary to prepare body- and soul-warming meals.
This asparagus recipe looks delicious–I would have never thought of combining croutons in a stir-fry dish.
Regarding postpartum cooking: Can’t speak for others, but I cooked more extensively and elaborately when my children were young than at any other time in my life.
Unlike my work that required mental concentration and solitude, I found cooking one of the few creative activities I could manage while distracted by my brood.
There was something paradoxically meditative about daily food prep in the midst of the kids’ clamor and crises.
I took pleasure in making scratch-cooked hot breakfasts and dinners every day, packing lovely home-cooked lunches and preparing all my children’s baby foods.
The maxim, “food is love,” is never truer than when cooking for your children.
Ironically, now that my children are in high school and college–and I work full time–I have less time than ever to cook. While still committed to scratch-cooked family meals, fast and easy preparation–at least on week nights–is de rigueur.
SOOO looking forward to watching Smitten Kitchen evolve with your family life.
This looks great I like the concept and even though the beans are optional I would add them and maby vary with other vegetables for endless posibilities. It kinda reminds me of panzella. I’m totally making this soon.
congrats with the pregnancy and best wishes
Beyond my annual BLT that I make each summer when tomatoes are perfect, I am not a red meat eater at all. But this is so colorful and beautiful that I may just have to make it to look at!
I just had my second baby in March and learned from the first time around that I needed to be organized or my toddler would starve. I made a list of easy meals we enjoyed, scanned the internet for pantry recipes, and prepared 6 weeks of menus and shopping lists. Then at around 35 weeks, I went shopping for all the pantry stuff I would need, figuring my husband would be doing the weekly perishable shopping (and he hates grocery shopping, so the shorter the list, the better). It all worked out perfectly, and good thing I got that initial shopping done early because I had my daughter at 37 weeks. Some women nest, I obsess about food.
Gotta love meals in a bowl, eh?
This salad has all the attitude of a Spanish matador!
Deb—I understand your concerns about needing to cook quickly once the baby arrives, but the truth is, your baby will be eating on his/her own schedule for a while, and you and your husband can eat pretty much on the same schedule you do. And in terms of cooking, find a safe spot for a punkin seat and later, a high chair and let your baby spend time in the kitchen with you. He/she will become a more adventurous eater and probably a great cook too. When our girls were old enough [but still very little], my wife Marion would actually clear a space on the kitchen floor when she baked and do all the mixing and measuring there so the girls could participate.
Now, on to the food. This sounds delicious! We love Spanish chorizo—I recently used it to make another quick meal in a bowl, Chickpeas with Chorizo and Spinach.
Thank you for this wonderful meal which I shall make next week. I’m a new mom who just returned to work and love to cook, but find it harder with a baby and this entry was exactly exactly what I’ve been brewing over for awhile, so I truly appreciate it more than I can say.
I hope this inspires more meals like it.
Such a pretty meal. We love those throw-it-all-in-a-skillet dishes. We don’t have a baby on the way, but I can relate to late-night, quick dinner that must taste good! We’re starting to get pretty good at them. As for the baby, will be great fun when your little one is old enough to start helping you in the kitchen. So sweet and satisfying.
Moosewood put out a Simple Suppers cookbook a few years ago that my mom grabbed for me when I told her I was going to live “kosher dairy”. As someone who appreciates fresh produce, I think you might like it as well. Most of the stuff is “throw in a pan and let cook” ease…you can prep everything as you go along, and a mid-prep diaper change won’t screw the meal.
I can’t recommend getting a backpack enough. I know you want the baby on your chest or hip, but as soon as she can be on your back, you don’t have to worry about splattering her. She’s close and can watch what you’re doing, can play with your hair, you can even hand her things to gnaw on, and you still have your whole front to work with.
One great recipe you have here. I always enjoyed eating greens and this is one good looking meal for for an asparagus recipe. I’ll probably add this on my menu next week. Thanks for sharing this recipe.
Cranberry beans! Huh? They sound like they’d be awesome in this dish.
Um, this is awesome. I’m sitting here eating a bowl of it right now. I was looking for something quick, easy, and that used up some stuff from my fridge/freezer (moving soon. Ack!), and I happened to have everything on hand. Seriously. Who has chorizo AND asparagus AND marcona almonds just hanging around? This girl. So thanks.
I think this would be a good job for my Wok! I am learning to use it for more things and I have to say, it does the job when my mother and I are rushing to get dinner on the table.
That’s the best kind of cooking, in my opinion. I like to make all my stuff from scratch but it pisses me off to have to actually “cook” for too long.
I love the colors, croutons, and cranberry beans! This looks devour-worthy.
You don’t get much funkier than that
You know what got us through those first blissfully new, sweet, soft weeks?
Cheese, bread, grapes, dried fruit, nuts — all with a spot of red wine for the nursing mama (more than a spot for the new dad if I remember correctly!). Oh, and some pizza dough frozen before the big arrival. Cause even a tired dad can toss together a pizza margherita with his eyes closed.
You’re making me nostalgic. Now, off to remind them to pick up their toys!
I made this today and it was amazing! I can’t wait to make it again, what great flavor!
I made this tonight because I happened to have everything lying around too. It was really good- will make this many times again! I used garbanzo beans in it, plus threw in some bell peppers too. I made the croutons from scratch as well, but I think this recipe would work just fine without them too. VERY hearty and filling, and so quick! Thanks!
I’m on the yes you can team! My baby was a horrible sleeper – I didn’t do anything but help her feel comfortable in the world for 9 months. And you know what? 9 months is not that long! Now we eat better because we want her to eat well and because cooking with her is fun. I got this:
on her first b-day (note – you’re not actually supposed to use it till 2 yrs) and now we really do cook together.
I am SO excited at the prospect of some solid dinner in 20 minute meals.
All the best!
Cat — That’s so cute but if I put it in my ridiculously tiny kitchen, there’d be no room left for me! Sniffle.
I promise you…stay in tune with the goal of having a bedtime and you can have your evenings to cook again. I have two babies now—one is 25 months and one is 3 months and I am just now getting back to my nights of cooking so I can eat good and mostly healthy food. My first was a horrible sleeper at first but all it does is to give you motivation to fix it and help them sleep. Very exciting!
I love your food, I will miss you during maternity leave!
Comment n°131! Wow you’ve got quite a fan club!
I’ve just discovered your blog and I’m looking forward to exploring it!
Your recipes and way of cooking are really appealing.
Don’t worry, you’ll be able to stay in your kitchen…kids love playing with pots and pans!
That looks great! And I can also recommend a backpack when she’s old enough.
Am I the only one who really wants to see another picture of Deb with baby bump? Probably not. You are the cutest pregnant woman I’ve ever seen.
Here ya go, trying to squeeeeze into a non-maternity dress, no less. Poor dress!
I’ve found that marinades and things that need to hang out for a while are actually good for quick meals. Last night I whipped up a couscous salad after work and popped it in the fridge along with marinading chicken tenders while we took to the dog to training class (insert non-fur child activity). When we got home the salad was ready and the chicken took no time to cook.
I no see link. I sad.
Another good idea is to cook stuff that can be used over a couple of meals. A common strategy at my house is to roast a chicken or whatever, then have the leftovers over a salad a day later, along with some bread. I have friends that swear by the crockpot but I really don’t have a lot of recipes for it that I like.
I don’t have kids but I still want to make wonderful meals without spending a ton of time in the kitchen. Love this recipe. It will be fun to play around with it and change things up. Green beans, new potatoes, over rice or pasta, the possibilties are endless.
My baby is turning 21 next month, but it feels like yesterday that he was tiny. He has been a very non-adventurous eater for years, but in the past few months he’s been trying things. He has also asked me to teach him to cook!
The cranberry beans look like jelly bellys, they’re so cute!
Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! After I having my baby, I have no leisurely time to prepare meals. It has to get it done in between feeding her and bath time (about 30 minutes). And yet, lack-luster meals do NOTHING for the morale around here. Thank you for devoting this entry to a great, quick meal. Please continue on this strain as you so feel. :)
Congrats on the baby.
ops left the comment on the wrong post i meant to say this dish has such beautiful colors and that i wish the inside of my sushi would look like this yummy
This is a great meal. All that wonderful ingredients and flavours!
OMG you look so cute.
Just made this and it was loved by my whole family, including my four and three year-old daughters. I didn’t add the beans and I replaced the asparagus with green beans, because that’s what I had. Yummy! And quick!
Agree with previous reviewers that a baby carrier, particularly one that allows you to put the baby on your back, is essential to cooking with a baby. And what better way to share your passion with them from an early age?
I love your blog, by the way. It has been such a great resource!
Loved this dish! Just made it tonight with a few adjustments… gorgeous skinny haricots verts instead of asparagus, and a new italian-style spicy chicken sausage from aidell’s instead of chorizo, and canned cannellini beans since that’s all I had in the pantry. Came out fab with wonderful flavor. And it was so fast! My croutons didn’t get too crispy either, but they had an amazingly olive-oil-and-sausage-drenched flavor. This is certainly going into our dinner rotation. Thanks for another great recipe.
mmm…that was delicious.
Jacques Pepin is the best – I have his “Fast Food My Way” and use it regularly (especially what we call “Frogs Legs Chicken”). I can’t agree more that if you love food, and you want to feed your family healthfully, your short cuts have to be in keeping with your style. I have always fed our kids the same food that we eat, at the same time – no (o.k., few) compromises. Consequently, my kids are adventuresome about food and are not picky eaters. Dinner-time is the best time of day at our house. You have a great adventure ahead of you!
Trust me, as someone who loves to cook but goes through long stretches of not doing it at all due to, mostly, lack of organizational skills–you will be fine and will continue to cook even after the baby is born. When baby is a newborn he/she will sleep a lot. If you’re smart, you’ll sleep during that time too, but you’ll also do things like prep for meals. When baby is older, you may still end up with dinner ready at 10, rather than 7:30, but that’s because you’ll have to put him/her to bed first. You live to cook–you’ll continue to cook, and find ways to be efficient about it.
p.s., only recently started reading your blog but have made about 9 recipes from here and not a clunker in the bunch. One has been made over and over in the past couple months.
Please everyone, don’t ever, EVER try this with Mexican chorizo.
I did and it was absolutely awful. The Mexican chorizo disintegrated and mushed into the whole thing and gave it a horrible texture and taste. I took one bite and threw out the whole pot.
Deb, I’m surprised no one’s mentioned it, but it sounds like you’re nesting.
I’m finally catching up on posts after a vacation and I’m surprised the baby hasn’t come yet!! Usually when I woke up in my 3rd with a to-do list that needs to be competed ASAP , it was a sure sign I was nesting.
A word of warning, if you are planning a several course dinner party for about ten people, you may go into labor when it is all over, as I did.
All the very best to you as you enjoy this very special time!
This recipe caught my eye while searching for recipes that use chorizo. I went to the grocery store today with this recipe in mind. I ended up picking up some smoked andouille (I just moved from the deep south, and love andouille when I can get it).
I also used this recipe to finish off most of a loaf of homemade bread that was never going to get eaten. I also substituted canned black beans.
I really like how this recipe came out. I’m not a gourmet cook at all, but enjoy trying new things. My husband said I’m free to cook this anytime. Thanks for a nice alternative!
I’m loving your archives! I made this tonight. I found DRIED cranberry beans at our farmer’s market, so I soaked and cooked them (but not quite long enough–they were deliciously mild but too dry). Used a day old challah, forgot the almonds until the last minute, and put a bit of Mexican chorizo in because it was all I had. It tasted great, but next time I will cook the beans the proper length of time and find the Spanish chorizo which would add to the color appeal. Husband loved it, I loved it, one son loved it–the other six could take it or leave it, and they mostly left it. Too bad for them. I’m having it for lunch tomorrow.
Great inspiration for dinner last night, which was constructed using what we had in the house, which was: leftover asparagus and sugar snap peas, crusty wheat bread (which got a healthy dash of salt and smoked paprika, old-nearing-death cavolo nero, which I sauteed with garlic scapes, and a little truffled salami. Yum. Thanks!
I’d like to make this recipe this weekend, but I’m a little confused about the croutons. Did you actually toast croutons before adding them to the mix or did you use un-toasted bread which then turned to croutons once added to the skillet? Thanks!
Untoasted bread. The skillet cooks them.
I made this two nights ago, but swapped green beans for the asparagus since that’s what I had on hand. Delicious!
Well put, sir, well put. I’ll cearitlny make note of that.
My post on this recipe:
This was extraordinarily fast, easy and tasty!
1 T olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed & cut into 1 inch pieces
1 pkg andouille sausage, sliced (ring bologna would be good if you don’t like spice)
1/2 loaf crusty bread, cut into big cubes
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
In a wok or large skillet, heat oil on high. Throw in asparagus as you cut it, thick ends first. Throw in sausage, then bread cubes. Saute over high heat until asparagus is as tender as you like it and bread and sausage are browned, about 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
(If you throw in the ingredients as you slice them, this dish is really fast.)
I’ve followed your blog for a long time and I love all your recipes, and thus I feel obligated to mention the fact that I found a posting on someone else’s blog with your pictures and recipe.
I’m not sure if they had your permission to do so but I thought I’d mention it just in case they didn’t. I hate being a tattle tale but I know that I wouldn’t be happy if someone took my recipes and/or pictures without permission.
Michelle — Thank you.
I made this dish for my husband and I this week and we both loved it! One quick question–I was unable to get the croutons to crisp up. They ended up slightly soggy. Do you have any recommendations to get them crispy next time? Thanks!
Jenna — Sometimes a drier firmer bread does the trick. Or a wider skillet.
Every time I cook or bake anything, family/friends are now bound to ask, “Where did you get the..?” before inevitably stopping to answer themselves with “Smitten Kitchen.” I was a budding SK devotee back in mid-2010, when I left for 2 yrs in West Africa, and I just wanted to tell you what a treat its been to come home to cooking, to the overwhelming possibilities of a…well, of a *kitchen*, is the thing, and especially to Smitten. (I’d always pined for a cookbook, and after 27 months of rare internet time, I check back and poof!–wish come true!)
I made this tonight and loved it; loved how stunningly easy it was, loved its short ingredient list, loved how clean the plates you ate it off of were (it just made it feel all the more simple and rustic and good). I can’t wait to try out a meatless version for my veg boyfriend, though it will be admittedly tough to part with the way that chorizo gets all up in there and invites everyone to the flavorparty…
After finding the perfect birthday gift for my wino Dad this past Sunday in your red wine chocolate cake (!!!), and now this, I just wanted to make sure I gave you the thank you I’m always saying every time I click my way to deliciousness here. Congratulations on the book, on the adorable Jacob, and on creating something that never fails to deliver gratitude along with “Mmmm”s to so many. Thank you, Deb!
Oh! I also toasted my croutons just a bit before cubing, and was happy with their crispness :-)
Hi Deb, This sounds terrific! I plan on making this for my in-laws, but was wondering how you think this will hold up if I make it a few hours ahead of serving? Or could you make an suggestions or adaptations if I were prepare it in advance?
Jackie — Can you make this at the last minute? It’s so wonderful straight from the skillet.
I’ve made this recipe many times, always a success, thank you Deb!
I saw the recipe in pepins book in the bookstore and made it from memory. I was searching the web for variations or advice and found your site. I was amazed at how good it was inspite of my poor cooking skills  and that I made it at work with a toaster oven and microwave  and that I tried to convert it to vegetarian. I made it with prepackaged veg chorizo, slivered almonds, rye bread, and a little jullianed and presoaked sun-dried tomato. I also started with sauteed onion and garlic. I pretoased the bread and almonds separately in the toaster oven, started onions and garlic afew minutes ahead and pretty much followed the recipe without beans except I added the bread last.
It looks delicious-aside from the chorizo….
This recipe is tagged on your website under vegetarian!
Trockwood — It doesn’t appear to be. It’s tagged as “Meat.” Where did you see it listed as a Vegetarian recipe?
FYI, you shuck an ear of corn and you shell beans.
I love your recipes!
I want to make this dish together with a salad and a main course to invite two people over to my tiny vacation rental apartment for dinner in Wellington NZ. Any suggestion for the main course? I have a very tiny kitchen with electric stove and a small oven and limited cookware.
This was surprisingly good. I crossed my fingers when I used a precious pound of our homegrown asparagus. I loved the almonds, they added texture and flavor in a pleasant crunchy way. Putting this one in my file for next year when we should have even more asparagus!
I have raised 6 ruiners-of-long-cooking-evenings, and have learned a thing or two in the process. By the way, none of my babies slept reliably through the nighttimes until they got their two-year-old molars in. So, chew on that. ;) We live on these kinds of meals, and fried egg sammages and rice + fried egg + kimchi bowls and so forth, because I really don’t want to be in the kitchen every night until 9:00, washing dishes. Much as I love to cook in a relaxed manner, that’s not in the cards for me for some time. As soon as I saw this recipe, I thought YES and went out to the garden, cut a few pieces of asparagus (it’s still asparagus season here in Nebraska) and made this satisfying skillet meal, albeit with bacon (no chorizo in the freezer, alas). It was delightful, and delightfully quick to whip up. Thank you, and blessings on you and your soon-to-be new family member.
ejane — I didn’t realize! Now edited. :)
I made a combination of this last and Food52’s somewhat similar recipe, https://food52.com/recipes/27537-a-warm-pan-of-chickpeas-chorizo-and-chevre.
And can I just say that it was AMAZING. I have leftovers for lunch today and I’m counting down the minutes. Highly recommend adding a little goat cheese to this and first sauteing some onion and garlic.
Thanks for the awesome dinner idea!
My DH has been a dream and become quite the “chef” since our little Big Boy arrived six years ago. But I am trying to launch a modest “come back” in the kitchen and this seems perfect for it (btw, I cooked your smokey oven-baked ribs last night… a massive hit!).
Question: You caution using slivered almonds but what are the almonds you call out in the recipe? They’re whole but did you remove their skins? I know the skins are very healthy and need not be removed… just curious/ocd and I cannot find the answer by looking at the photos.
Margaret — Whole almonds are recommended in the original recipe. I used slivered, actually sliced, almonds and found that they burned too easily. Sometimes I find them with skins, sometimes without. I certainly wouldn’t go through the effort of removing almond skins, there’s no reason. I probably just used what I had.
Made this as written (with the beans) and could not have been more pleased. My husband said (more than once) that it is just about the best thing he has ever eaten. I fear that before the night is through it will end up serving 2, not 4, however, even with the 4-cheese risotto I served it with.
This is a great recipe and candidate for the “Put an Egg on it” tag. Speaking from experience of course! :)
I had a half-pound of asparagus left over from your Spring Asparagus Hash (delish) and wasn’t sure what to do with it, when I saw this recipe. Pulled a Mexican chorizo link out of the freezer along with some whole salted roasted almonds and a Schar gluten-free baguette. Cut up half the baguette into cubes and lightly toasted in the convection oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sautéed the crumbled chorizo first, then removed from skillet. Added some olive oil and sautéed the chunks of asparagus, almonds and bread cubes. Took only about three minutes. Then added chorizo back to the pan along with about a cup of Rancho Gordo cranberry beans. Oh my goodness, so good and so easy. Tomorrow night I get to eat the rest of this . . . with a fried egg on top! Thanks for another great dinner!
Made this for dinner tonight and my husband commented several times “outstanding!”. Delicious, quick supper. Glad you reposted the recipe, missed it the first time.
I made this tonight and it was a hit with everyone , gobbled up even by the pickiest child in all the land. Loved how easy it was to throw together. Perfect weeknight meal.
I made this with a bunch of modifications. I couldn’t find the chorizo so I used a generous amount of Andouille instead. I used a can of cannellini beans, rinsed. My husband had suddenly got switched to the afternoon shift so we haven’t had any dinners together for awhile. So I made it for breakfast, I added two eggs over easy on top with some American cheese for his serving.
I loved everything about this except the croutons. I think I cut mine too small, they absorbed olive oil and didn’t really crisp up. They were unappetizingly oily.
But, my husband loved his version with eggs & cheese, I had mine without the eggs and cheese and loved it, except for the croutons and loved it. With a small amount of effort I can tweak this to fix my crouton problem.
Even with the croutons issues we both thoroughly enjoyed this meal for breakfast and we plan on doing it again.
Thanks so much.
I’ve been playing around with this for a riff on it for my next cookbook (erm, different ingredients but I like the core idea of a crouton sauté) and I found that the most reliable way to make sure your croutons are always crispy is to use a little oil first and toast them in it before you add anything else. Get them light brown and mostly crisp all over (but not so hard and brown that they’ll overcook when you add everything else) and then add the rest and finish the dish. I hope this helps.
Thank you for saving me from what I call “grocery store purgatory” where I am in a daze from the gym and very hungry, wandering the store with no clue what to make. I looked under the “Quick” tag on your site and found this. This was ready SO FAST once I got home, and it cured my need for protein after the workout. I also squeezed some lemon over the whole thing, which was delish. Lastly, eating this cold for lunch the next day was positively dreamy. Hooray!
Fabulous recipe. I used walnuts and pumpkin seeds because that is what I had, and added the croutons last so they would not get soggy. This is a great recipe because every forkful has a different flavor and crunch profile – and each is rich and flavorful. Too, variations are endless – I used a can of black beans and sauteed them briefly at the beginning. Thanks!!
I make this recipe at least once every spring – quick, relatively healthy, and so much better than the sum of its parts. I like to finish mine with a glug of apple cider vinegar for brightness.
This is my go-to dinner when I don’t know what to cook. Everyone eats it and it is so flavorful and simple.
What veg would you use when it’s not asparagus season? What about green beans?
Definitely green beans!
Wondering about substitutes for asparagus….now that it’s later in the spring.
Should have read the questions section. Thanks Deb.
Do you have further thoughts?
Finally made this, but with bacon instead of sausage, because I have some eaters who are adverse to spiciness in any amount. It was a winner for everyone—the six year old through the 70 year old.
Great idea! We found the original a bit bland, so we made a sauce of 2:1 dijon to worchestershire. We left out the beans, and broiled the croutons, coated in olive oil, 3-4 minutes, flipped them, and broiled them 3-4 more minutes. The result is crunchy, spicy, salty, and savory. Go to week night dish.
Shitty chorizo at the store, I used the good andouille instead. And chopped the almonds very roughly, pre-cooked the asparagus with a couple minutes in the microwave, and used canned beans because laziness. It wasn’t the greatest ever, but it was quick and easy, and tasty enough
Or you could microwave the asparagus first for a minute or two.
Made this for dinner tonight. I just moved to a new country and only have a couple pans and some knives at the moment, so I have been looking for dinners that use as few extra bowls and utensils as possible.
Bought some butter beans to go in the dish but realized I don’t own a can opener yet (oops) The dish was delicious even without them!
I put it on top of some arugula and added a few slices of manchego on top and it was incredible! So simple but with incredible payoff. I was on the fence about adding the almonds, but loved what they added to the dish.