Sometimes (i.e. most times), it’s easier to do things at night once the kids are in bed than during the day when there are so many hands to hold, questions to answer, snacks to make, teeth to brush, and various other needs to tend to.
I recently had the opportunity to make a meal for a family whose son is in Kindergarten with my son Cash. This family’s meal registry indicated that we could bring the meal to the kids’ school and drop it off there to the mom first thing in the morning. I loved this option because it meant I wouldn’t be struggling to prepare a meal for both our family and theirs on the same afternoon and then driving across town at dinnertime to get it to them with four kids in tow. The morning drop-off at school sounded much easier to me, even if it meant I had the extra step of choosing a meal I could make the night before that would still be good for the next day’s dinner.
I picked a dish that was actually a meal my friend Dena made for our family when we had our son Cash six years ago. It’s called Baked Orzo Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Corn. Very descriptive so those you’re preparing for know right away what they’re getting.
We really liked the meal and I made it a bunch of times after that, but then it got tucked into the back of my recipe binder as we’ve been trying to eat less gluten-containing foods over the past couple of years. I pulled it out again because I remembered the dish being a good one to prepare in advance, on top of being easy to make and really tasty.
I wrote simple instructions on a sticky note and stuck it to the top of the foil-covered orzo so the mom would know how to heat up the meal for their dinner the next night. To go with the orzo, I made a veggie tray from scratch, bought some Greek-style hummus from the grocery store, and topped the meal off with a nice fresh loaf of sweet Monkey Bread from Great Harvest.
A meal made the night before it’s due!
Baked Orzo Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Corn
- 1 pound orzo
- 1 10-oz bag or container pre-washed fresh organic spinach
- 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Using a stockpot, boil a large quantity of water. Add the orzo and cook until it approaches al dente stage (about 6 minutes).
- Stir the spinach into the pasta. Cook 30 seconds. Drain spinach and pasta in colander. Return to the pot or to a large mixing bowl. Pour on 1 T oil and toss to coat well.
- Heat 3 T oil in a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Add the tomatoes and their juices and simmer 5 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to the tomatoes as they are simmering.
- Mix tomatoes into the pasta/spinach along with the corn.
- Oil a shallow 3 quart casserole dish. Spread the pasta mixture into the dish and cover with foil.
- Bake now for 30 minutes at 375 or leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking.