When you need a meal to cook faster, deconstruct it! And who doesn’t need a meal to cook faster? I set my own schedule and I still always feel behind. Sometimes I just need things to go quicker than they normally go.
That’s when I like to think of my kitchen as a fancy restaurant where they don’t hesitate to deconstruct things and charge me more for them. Don’t have time to worry about keeping heavier ingredients from falling to the bottom of the salad? Don’t toss it. In fact, don’t even stack it. Just put everything side-by-side on a beautiful platter and serve.
I love the presentation possibilities of a deconstructed salad. And things go faster because I can leave the eggs in halves or quarters rather than chopping them smaller. The carrots, squash, and cucumbers can be left in long strips as can chicken or steak. I can throw on some leftover asparagus, whole banana peppers, cherry tomatoes right out of the garden. Such yummy freshness!
Don’t have time to bake meatloaf for an hour+? Deconstruct it. Sauté onion and green bell pepper until onion clears. Move to the edge of pan. Place a long, flat layer of ground beef. Allow to brown for a few minutes on one side of the layer. Sprinkle the uncooked top of the meat with salt, pepper, garlic. Add a tablespoon or two of your favorite meatloaf topping. Crack an egg over it. Cover with a thin layer of gluten free bread or cracker crumbs. Gently fold toppings into meat and mix in onion and pepper. Continue to cook until meat is lightly browned.
Reconstruct it. Spray microwave safe dish with olive oil spray. Press mixture into dish and top with your favorite meatloaf topping. Microwave about 5 minutes. Serve hot. This version may not compete with the best meatloaf you’ve ever made, but it has the same satisfying flavors in less than half the time.
You can also take a deconstructed approach to chicken and rice. Instead of raw chicken in a pot of rice and cooking it, use microwave rice bowls, rotisserie chicken, and boxed chicken broth. Microwave the rice and pull the chicken off the bone. Place in a pot with a little chicken broth and any herbs or spices you desire. If you want to add some veggies, throw in some frozen English peas or a mixture of carrots and peas. Heat until vegetables are cooked and chicken is heated through. Serve.
Even dessert can be deconstructed. Sprinkle crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers over a jar of lemon curd and top with whipped cream. Or make it fancy and layer lemon curd, vanilla wafter, and whipped cream in individual glasses.
If you’re not fond of lemon, use cherry pie filling and crushed Oreos along with whipped cream. Or mix the whipped cream with cream cheese for a deconstructed cheesecake feel.
Deconstructing allows you to use food in different quantities than you may normally. And when food is deconstructed, everyone’s plate can be different. This can mean a great opportunity to empty the pantry of small items you’ve been saving.
If you’re tired of battling against time every meal, consider doing what I do and deconstruct it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”