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COOKING ON DEADLINE: Recipe for easy steak and cheese pasta

This June 9, 2014 photo shows easy steak and cheese pasta in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

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This June 9, 2014 photo shows easy steak and cheese pasta in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

Parents love back-to-school season because it gets the whole family back on a schedule. Parents hate back-to-school season because that schedule usually leaves too little time to get dinner on the table.

And it usually takes a solid month of shakedown to work out the bugs in that schedule, sorting out which days leave time for a home cooked meal, and which simply demand take-out. The meals we do make during that month need to be particularly fast and easy. September simply isn't the time to reach for new culinary heights.

That was the inspiration for this pasta dinner, a rethinking of the classic steak and cheese grinder, but as a comforting bowl of carbs. If rice is more your style, the cheesy steak and onions would be just as good served over that. Or if you are watching the carbs, you also could spoon the mixture over bowls of steamed or roasted vegetables.

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EASY STEAK AND CHEESE PASTA

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 6

12-ounces whole-wheat spaghetti or other pasta

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 large red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

1 large green bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 pound flank steak, sliced very thinly across the grain

4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a small glass, mix together the soy sauce, tomato paste, water and cornstarch. Set aside.

While the pasta cooks, in a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion, both peppers and the garlic. Saute until tender and just starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the steak and saute until just barely cooked, about 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture and return to a simmer, cooking for 2 minutes, or until thickened.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss well to coat with the sauce and mix with the vegetables and steak. Add the cheese and toss until melted and mixed into the sauce.

Nutrition information per serving: 510 calories; 140 calories from fat (27 per cent of total calories); 16 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 51 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 42 g protein; 650 mg sodium.

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J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at jhirsch@ap.org

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