When they first came out, frozen dinners were a marvel of science; a product of convenience for the modern woman. Later they became a symbol of poor nutrition and of lack of finesse in the kitchen. Today, you can find frozen dinners that are tasty and healthy. One that I tried when I had a solo weekend was by Healthy Choice (I think) and called “Mediterranean Pasta.” I loved it! It had pasta, rice apples, cranberries, spinach – very flavorful. Naturally, it was discontinued, but not before I wrote down all the ingredients and attempted to re-create this dish for myself! As it says in the title of this post, it is a work in progress…
I still don’t think I have the spices down quite right – none were specifically mentioned on the package (curse them!), but who’s going to know the difference? They don’t make this one anymore! If this sounds like your kind of recipe, please give it a try and let me know what you thought; what changes you made; how it can be improved, etc.
And speaking of changes, I like the flavor of Swiss chard better than spinach and I added mushrooms (small, sliced Portabello mushrooms). I’m calling it “Orzo and Red Rice” because I already have a recipe I use with the original name.
Let’s talk about ingredients: Red rice is an interesting choice and you may need to look hard for it, but I think a wild rice would be an acceptable substitute, nutrition and texture-wise. Fontina cheese is similar to mozzarella, but I’ve also substituted smoked extra sharp cheddar – the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup, so it is not a huge issue. Swiss chard is a fairly new vegetable for me – we bought a farm-share one summer and ended up with a lot of it. My research indicated that the stems are not eaten and the big vein down the middle should be removed, so that is how I prepare it. Also – a bunch makes a big pile of chard shards! Don’t panic because it will cook down in a few minutes. Like most of the other meatless main dish I make, my husband thinks it would be better if it included sausage or some other meat. Up to you! Apple juice was listed in the original ingredients’ list, but that is not something I keep around much. I usually end up buying a 3 pack of 100% apple juice in little boxes. (Hence, I chose 6 oz. as the amount of apple juice needed in the recipe!)
This recipe takes about 45 minutes, including prep., so it is very doable on a busy night. It all goes into one pot – in my case, a deep, 12 inch covered skillet (one of my most-used pans!), so you don’t have too much to clean up afterward- especially if you have a dog who will snap up that apple piece you dropped!
Be sure to let me know how/if you liked it and any other comments you wish to make!