5 Simple And Light Meals For Late Night Dining

With busy schedules and odd hours, sometimes it's tough to find the energy or time to have a healthy and light dinner at home, instead of stopping at the drive through for that quick fix. So for everyone who live with whacked out and crazy schedules, here are some of my favorite quick and simple dishes that you can make on the fly any time day or night. All of these dishes take only 15 minutes to make and you can easily adjust the quantity to serve one, two, or ten hungry folks.

Late night picnic platter

This is one of my favorite quick meals for day or night. Pair it with a great glass of wine and you will be transported to the banks of the Seine in Paris or the Grand Canal in Venice. This is really one to tailor to your tastes and geographic desires. All it takes is some great bread, cheese, meats, and seasonal fruits.

Parisian Excursion

Bread: French baguette, thinly sliced
Cheese: Brie, Gruyere, Triple Crème Blue
Meat: roasted turkey, roast beef
Fruit: sliced figs, pears, apples
Wine: French style Rose, such as Curtis Rose or Marquis de Cacques, or a nice Sancerre (Sauvignon Blanc)

Italian Rendezvous

Bread: Como or artisan bread, thinly sliced
Cheese: Parmeseano Reggiano, Asiago, Creamy Gorgonzola
Meat: roasted turkey, prosciutto, salami
Fruit: sliced figs, pears, apples
Wine: A dry white wine such as Mosby Pinot Grigio or light, smoky red such as Villa Antinori Sangiovese

Tortilla Pizzas or Pizza "Quesadilla"

This is one of the easiest pizzas possible. Great for adults and kids alike, you can essentially make personal pizzas for every member of the family. Simply add their favorite toppings and you're done. Want pizza on the go? Then fold the tortilla over to make a pizza "quesadilla." You can either make this in the oven or in a sauté pan, whichever is more convenient. If baking, then preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

- Top a whole wheat tortilla with a little fresh pizza sauce (I love Trader Joes pizza sauce for this), or a little leftover marinara sauce. Spread evenly.
- Top with sliced mozzarella cheese and just a touch of cheddar for contrast.
- Next up, your toppings. The trick here is to sauté the meat and veggies before putting them on the pizza. Since the tortilla is so thin, it would burn before the toppings cooked. I love sautéed red peppers, zucchini, and onion in a little olive, salt and pepper and crispy salami (thinly sliced and cooked in a pan until slightly crisp).
- Heat until the tortilla is crisp and the cheese is melted and bubbly (about 5 to 6 min). The sky is the limit so have fun.

Best ever BLTA (Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Avocado) Sandwich

A few seemingly simple ingredients come together in an extraordinary explosion of flavor in this sandwich. The key is to use great flavors of the season: applewood smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes and dark, leafy green lettuce, and the sneaky seasonal surprise of an avocado garlic spread.

- Toast two slices of whole wheat bread.
- Crispin about 3 slices of bacon, cut in half to make 6 slices total. Drain on paper towels.
- Thinly slice the tomato and tear the lettuce (romaine or green leaf works well) into sandwich size pieces.
- Remove the flesh of one ripe avocado. Add the juice of half a lime to prevent browning, a drizzle of olive oil, dash of sea salt, and one crushed garlic clove. Mix well and spread onto the bread.
- Assemble and enjoy. A great, dry Rose is perfect with this pairing, such as the Malbec Rose from Oreana.

Succulent French Dip Sandwiches with Aus Jus

This sandwich is a great way to use up leftover roast beef or pot roast, but it is equally delicious with good quality deli meat. I prefer Natural Choice roast beef for this sandwich when I do not have the time, nor the inclination, to actually make a pot roast or prime rib.

- Toast a good quality mini-baguette or hoagie roll and brush with a touch of olive oil.
- In a sauce pan, saute one chopped shallot in a drizzle of olive oil. Add one crushed garlic clove. When translucent, pour 1/2 cup good red wine. I love pinot noir or a hearty Italian red, such as a sangiovese. Let it reduce for a couple of minutes. Add a sprig of fresh thyme (if you don't have fresh, just add 1 teaspoon of dried). Add a dash of salt and pepper. Add a cup of beef broth then let simmer.
- Add some roast beef (about 6 oz. for a single serving) to the broth and let it simmer for 10 min.
- When ready to serve, remove the beef from the broth and place on the roll. Top with pepper jack cheese and caramelized onions. Enjoy with the rest of the red wine used in the broth. Serve the broth on the side for delicious dipping.

Penne with bacon and parmesean

I love this pasta dish. In college, it provided cheap nutrition for all night study sessions; as a single adult it provided warm comfort on a tight budget; and it remains my go-to for feeding the family in a pinch without having to run to the store. I always have these ingredients on hand, but you can add whatever suits your liking. It's yours to take over now. Enjoy!

Boil half a box of multi-grain or whole wheat penne pasta. While the pasta is cooking, toss in some frozen peas or chopped fresh green beans. Smash a garlic clove and run it along the sides of the serving bowl. In the serving bowl add the juice of half a lemon, a cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, dash of sea salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley. Whish in 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil until smooth. Before draining the pasta, add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water to the bowl and mix well. Toss in the pasta and vegetables and add 1/2 cup of crispy bacon or pancetta. Add more cheese as needed and serve. This is perfect with a nice light Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio and a green salad.

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