All you need for easy meals

PAM ANDERSON | 9/30/2010, 1:18 p.m.
A few years ago I was teaching a...
Tangy Arugula Salad with Roasted Red Peppers


Easy Mocha Tartlets


One-Pot Penne with Turkey-Feta Meatballs


A few years ago I was teaching a cooking class when a woman interrupted me. "Pam, I can make one dish just fine," she said, "but when you start adding in vegetables and side dishes and intricate desserts, I get flustered trying to coordinate it all." I saw a lot of heads nodding, and I decided to do something about it.Since then I've learned it really can be as simple as one big, beautiful dish. That's why I wrote Perfect One-Dish Dinners -- All You Need for Easy Get-Togethers.Here's how it works: For weeknight dinner, pick a main course. With a hunk of bread or a quick salad, it's all you'll need, and you'll have delicious leftovers for later in the week. (I call it "money in the bank.")If it's supper with family or friends, you've got three options. For those with a little time, there's a very simple menu -- appetizer, salad, dessert -- to accompany each one-dish.Knowing that "life happens," I also offer an even simpler solution: equally impressive "instant alternatives" for each appetizer and dessert. On usaweekend.com, for example, you'll find the recipe for the appetizer Antipasti Flatbread Pizza. This yeastless dough, made from flour, water, salt and oil, can be mixed, rolled and topped before the oven's even had a chance to preheat.Need it more instant? Pick up a package of naan bread or even a thin pizza crust at the grocery story and top it with the same ingredients. Those impressive mocha tartlets, by the way? They are the dessert instant alternative!But for many of us, the only way we're going to pull off a meal is to make it even simpler. So in addition to the main course, put out a bowl of nuts to start, make a salad (how easy is that these days with packaged salad mixes?) and serve up your favorite ice cream in a pretty goblet or bowl.So don't let the thought of coordinating a big meal keep you from making dinner or having people over when one dish is just perfect.The assertive ingredients in this salad -- red onion, roasted peppers and feta -- partner well with the garlic and oregano flavoring the meatballs in the penne.7 ounces (about 10 cups) prewashed baby arugula

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup thinly sliced strips roasted red peppers

1/2 can (about 16 ounces) white beans, drained (scant 1 cup)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

4-6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1-1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegarPlace arugula, onion, peppers, beans and feta in a large bowl. Just before serving, toss with 4 tablespoons olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Taste, adding more oil, salt, or pepper if necessary. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar, toss to coat, adding more, if necessary, to taste. Serve.YIELD: 8 SERVINGS8 garlic cloves, peeled, 3 left whole, 5 minced

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (94% lean)

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (generous 4 ounces), plus more for topping