Casseroles make a complete meal without the fuss

FAST & FRESH

June 21, 1995|By Rita Calvert | Rita Calvert,Special to The Sun

With the limited time I have these days for life's major demands, I've had to streamline my entertaining plans. It's rare that I will labor over home-baked bread anymore; even dessert seems a chore. Rather than give up entertaining altogether, I've come up with a few standbys, such as casseroles. They make entertaining possible, but not exhausting.

The recipe here is for a casual casserole and is filled with popular flavors of the moment. Pasta, pesto, poultry, some Italian style vegetables and a blanket of marinara comprise the dish. Even the clean-up is efficient. The casserole is mixed, cooked and served in a single glass pan.

The real beauty of this dish is that the turkey cubes do not need to be cooked before being added to the pasta mixture. The 1/2 -inch cubes cook quickly in the microwave; in fact, be careful not to overcook them.

The following salad with an Italian slant nicely complements the main dish. Serve a loaf of crisped bread as well.

Poached dried fruit is the dessert suggestion. Purchase the mixed variety of your choice and plump by covering with orange juice and a squeeze of lemon, and simmering gently for about 5 minutes. Serve topped with some fruit-flavored yogurt.

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Poultry Pasta Cake

Chick Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

Poached Dried Fruit

Poultry Pasta Cake With Vegetables

Serves 4

8 to 10 ounces raw turkey breast fillets, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

1 (16-ounce) bag frozen Italian (or your choice) vegetable blend, thawed by running under lukewarm water for about 1 minute

1/3 cup prepared pesto (available in supermarket refrigerator sections)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups cooked spaghetti

marinara sauce for topping, warmed

grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

Grease a 9-inch deep dish microwave-safe pie plate.

Toss all ingredients together in the pie plate except toppings. Press gently into plate.

Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on 100 percent power for 12 to 14 minutes, or until pieces of turkey are thoroughly cooked. Rotate after 6 minutes of cooking.

Cut into wedges and serve topped with marinara sauce and cheese.

Chick Pea and Roasted Pepper Salad

Serves 4

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 (6-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained, reserving 1 tablespoon liquid

3 cups cleaned and torn lettuce

2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar

In a large salad bowl, mix all of the ingredients together, including reserved bell pepper liquid. Toss thoroughly and serve.

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