Ah, having time off over the holidays was so relaxing — no fixed schedules, no 7 a.m. school bus, no lunches to pack, lots of dinners out (so I didn’t need to plan and cook every night). Reality crashed back in, though, when I received an email message last week from Celia’s coach informing us that our one and only free weeknight had now been claimed for winter soccer practice. Goodbye relaxing Thursday night.

Whether or not your weeknights are filled with soccer and band practices or other activities, chances are excellent that you’re also feeling the need to get your family dinners back on track after the holidays. For most of us, that means making quick and nourishing recipes that the whole family will gladly enjoy at the dinner table. (You have cleared all the holiday cards and gift wrapping paper off the table by now, haven’t you?)

To keep things saner, I always plan my meals for the week on Sunday morning before heading to the grocery store (and farmer’s market, in the warmer months). My kids’ favorite meal of the week is often pasta night. If your children are pasta lovers, too, they’ll likely fall for this ravioli dish with spinach and sundried tomatoes. Serve it with a green salad with grapes, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese and your wholesome, colorful dinner is done in less than 30 minutes—which still leaves plenty of time for baths, homework, sports and musical instrument practices…

Tip:  If your young children are eager to help you in the kitchen, you can give them a plastic knife and a cutting board and ask them to cut the grapes in half for the salad.  They can also use their math skills to count the ravioli to determine how many each family member can eat.

This dinner has a combination of sweet, spicy and savory that I love.  It may look like a lot of spinach at first, but it melts away to practically nothing once it’s cooked, so the kids probably won’t even mind—ours didn’t. 

What do you do to keep family dinners on track now that the holidays are behind us?

Recipe: Ravioli with Spinach and Sundried Tomatoes

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 15 min(s)
  • Total Time: 25 min(s)

This dish works well for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients

  • 20 oz. cheese ravioli
  • 6 - 9 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (1 – 2 cloves)
  • 5 sundried tomatoes, marinated in oil or dry, chopped
  • ¼ - ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups red pasta sauce

Instructions

  1. Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.  When it is one minute from being done, add the spinach to the water with the ravioli, then drain the spinach and noodles.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté them for about 4 minutes until they are softened. 
  3. Add the garlic, sundried tomatoes, and crushed red pepper flakes (optional) and sauté them with the onions for about 1 minute. 
  4. Add the pasta sauce and bring it to a low boil. 
  5. Reduce the heat, if necessary, and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally, until the ravioli and spinach are cooked and drained.
  6. Combine the ravioli, spinach and sauce, and serve it immediately, or refrigerate it for up to 48 hours, or freeze it for up to 3 months. 

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