Healthy recipes for those in a hurry

Fall is the time of year when life seems to get hectic and what to prepare for dinner quite often becomes an afterthought. Some remedy the situation with fast food, takeout, or purchasing mass-produced frozen dinners at the supermarket, some of which contain all kinds of preservatives. Subscribing to a meal kit plan sounds good, however it can be quite expensive and you still have to cook the ingredients received, often requiring use of many pots and pans. Others resort to eating junk food.

Is there an alternative? Displayed on a recent visit to the bookstore, was a plethora of books with titles such as, “One Pan Wonders,” ” Sheet Pan Cooking,” “Sheet Pan Suppers,” “Dinner’s in the Oven: Simple One-Pan Meals,” “Sheet Pan Magic: One Pan, One Meal, No Fuss,” and one I already have on my shelf, “The Ultimate One-Pan Oven Cookbook,” by Julia Konovalova (2018, Page Street Publishing, $21.99)

With these titles and more, an alternative exists, where you can grab your sheet pan, Dutch oven, or roasting pan and you’re halfway to dinner, even after a hectic day.

Konovalova’s book eases cooking anxiety and gets nutritious food on your table while maximizing time spent with family or dinner guests. Her simple, yet flavorful, recipes don’t require use of multiple pots, many steps or messy cleanups. All that’s required is popping all of the ingredients in a pan and sliding it in the oven. The beauty of this….you don’t have to be in the kitchen while dinner cooks. No need to stand beside the stove, mixing, sautéing and looking at the clock for the next step of the recipe.

I was delighted to speak with Julia who told me, “I wrote this cookbook for the person who needs guidance on practical recipes they can use in day-to-day life. This cookbook is for both working families and young adults—not aspiring Michelin star award winners. It’s for the student who needs to put something in the oven while studying for finals or the mom who wants to have dinner on the way while helping the kids with homework. It’s a gathering of ideas that maximizes flavor and simplicity while minimizing effort and preparation.”

So take out your pan and try these recipes. For the recipe for Baked Apples Stuffed with Prunes and Pecans, (Julia told me during our conversation, “it is an apple pie without the guilt.”) visit

The author writes, “This is a really light and easy meal; it comes together in a matter of minutes. Although it’s very simple, it’s actually quite delicious. As with most of my recipes, if you have a bit more or a bit less broccoli, don’t worry. No need to run to a store to buy an extra floret if you only have 31/2cups. I also highly recommend using chili flakes— there’s not enough to make the dish very hot, but an occasional speck of chili adds a fun dimension to the recipe.”

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. While the oven is preheating, add the parsley, garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon zest and juice to a large bowl and mix together. Add the chili flakes, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper, though I personally don’t add any extra salt as there’s enough in the shrimp and feta. Add the diced feta and defrosted, well-drained shrimp to the bowl and mix well, so that the olive oil—garlic—lemon mixture covers everything.

Brush the remaining tablespoon of olive oil onto a baking sheet. I use an 11 x 17—inch pan. Transfer the feta and shrimp from the bowl onto the baking sheet and add the separated broccoli florets. Make sure that everything is evenly distributed. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until feta begins to melt, broccoli florets are cooked and crispy and shrimp is heated through. Serve hot with lemon wedges as a light appetizer or add a side of quinoa for a healthy and delicious meal. Serves 2 to 4.

The author writes, “Whether you are serving this side for Thanksgiving dinner or just as a treat for a Sunday supper, you won’t be disappointed. Sweet apples and salty bacon balance each other and go really well with roasted and slightly crispy Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts usually take a little bit of time to wash, peel and cut. You can prepare them a day in advance and store in the fridge. Then the next day, it will only take a couple of minutes to chop an apple and the bacon and throw this whole dish together.”

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, prepare the Brussels sprouts. Wash them well, cut the root part off and cut them in half. The author also likes to discard the outer leaves, as she finds they often have some impurities and dirt hiding in them. Scatter the prepared Brussels sprouts onto a sheet pan. Use a nonstick one that is 11 x 17 inches.

Core the apple and roughly chop into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut the bacon slices into 1- to 11/2-inch pieces. Add the apples and bacon to the pan with the olive oil. The author prefers not to add salt once everything is cooked, as there’s enough salt in the bacon and bacon juices; if you prefer saltier vegetables, add a bit of seasoning before baking. Mix everything well with a spatula, and bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes if you like the Brussels sprouts to be a bit crunchy. She prefers the vegetables to be softer, so she cooks for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve sprinkled with salt and chili flakes. Serves 4.

Recipes reprinted with permission from The Ultimate One-Pan Oven Cookbook by Julia Konovalova, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018.

What chef would you like me to interview? Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products do you have difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me: Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. (Due to volume, I might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to


Hamden Restaurant Week: continues until Sept.30. Hamden restaurants to feature either a buy-one get-one option or three-course prix fixe menu of an appetizer, entrée and dessert. Special menus will be priced $9-$15 for lunch and $20-$35 for dinner. For participating restaurants and menus, visit

Epicurean Weekend Experience: Sept. 28-30, Madison Beach Hotel, 94 West Wharf Road, Madison. The hotel, along with the Curio Collection by Hilton, bring together top Curio Collection chefs. Interactive culinary showcases with featured chefs and spirits expert, nightly receptions, live entertainment, and a five-course dinner with wine pairings. A full weekend experience with overnight accommodations starts at $1,250 for single occupancy; tickets are also available for the Saturday dinner experience at $250. For participating chefs, details and reservations visit visit

CFAL’s (Concepts for Adaptive Learning) Murder Mystery Dinner Comedy Fundraiser: Sept. 28, 5:45 p.m. Amarante’s Sea Cliff, 62 Cove St., New Haven 203-410-3679. $50 in advance, $55 at door. Proceeds will be used to improve the education of disadvantaged students in New Haven Public Schools. Details and tickets at

Harbor Brew Fest: Sept. 29, 1 to 5 p.m.,Milford’s Fowler Field, 1 Shipyard Lane, Milford. General admission $40 in advance and includes beer sampling and souvenir glass. “Brewer’s Special” VIP tickets are $60, includes admission at noon and exclusive access to the Brewer’s Beer Garden where limited release and hard to find beers will be served for tasting. Designated driver tickets $20. Enjoy a variety of beers, live music and food trucks. Must be 21 or older. More info and tickets at

Wine Dinner, Greece: A Renaissance of Wine: Oct. 3, 6:30 pm, Kalimera, 25 Temple St., New Haven. 203-469-4218. $91. More info including wine and dinner menu and tickets at

Consiglio’s Cooking Demonstration and Dinner: Oct. 4, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $75 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Menu: Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms with Mozzarella, Spinach and Roasted Red Peppers, Tuscan Escarole and Bean Soup, Bolognese Sauce over Rigatoni, Oreo Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Consiglio’s Murder Mystery Dinner: “What are you Wearing?” Oct. 12. Doors at 6 p.m., dinner and show at 7, Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489 $65 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on throughout the evening during a 3-course meal. Cast mingles table to table, dropping clues for a mystery only you can solve. Halloween costumes are getting more revealing about the person wearing them! Can you tell the good guys from the bad?