14 Easy 15-Minute Dinners for When There Aren’t Enough Hours in the Day
“Brevity is the soul of wit,” wrote William Shakespeare, and the same could be said of a good recipe. Weekend cooking projects and three-hour braises are all well and good, but an exceedingly delicious meal — the sort that makes you do a little chair dance when you take your first bite — ready in just a handful of minutes brings a deep sense of satisfaction and delight.
These 14 dinners are smart and easy to make your own, and they come together in 15 minutes or fewer so you can make post-dinner plans — other than the dishes.
1. Tagliatelle With Prosciutto and Butter
“This was easy and exceptional,” one reader wrote. “The taste was scrumptious and it came together in a flash.” All you need is butter, prosciutto, pasta and Parmesan to throw together this carbonara-esque dish that Alexa Weibel adapted from “American Sfoglino” by Evan Funke. No prosciutto, no problem! You can also use bacon, pancetta, sliced deli ham, salami or crumbled Italian sausage.
Recipe: Tagliatelle With Prosciutto and Butter
2. Coconut Gochujang-Glazed Chicken With Broccoli
File Kay Chun’s speedy gochujang-glazed chicken under maximum flavor, minimum effort. A silky sauce of coconut milk, sugar, soy sauce and gochujang, the Korean red chile paste, coats chunks of browned boneless chicken. Serve it alongside a pile of fluffy white rice and something steamed and green like broccoli.
Recipe: Coconut Gochujang-Glazed Chicken With Broccoli
3. Creamy White Beans With Herb Oil
One can never get enough white beans it seems, and Colu Henry’s verdant treatment is a reader favorite. In a food processor or blender, whiz together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and fresh, soft herbs (parsley, basil and chives are called for, but you can use whatever you have on hand). Swirl that into a pot of canned white beans that’s been simmered with a little garlic and stock, and that’s it. Serve with craggy pieces of bread.
Recipe: Creamy White Beans With Herb Oil
4. Classic Shrimp Scampi
Excellent made with fresh or frozen shrimp, Melissa Clark’s shrimp scampi is a classic: Make a simple garlic, white wine and butter sauce, then add fresh or defrosted shrimp to the pan and let simmer until “they turn pink all over, but not until their bodies curl into rounds with the texture of tires.” Serve over a tangle of noodles or with good bread.
Recipe: Classic Shrimp Scampi
5. Easy Kung Pao Chicken
Genevieve Ko adapted this supersmart shortcut version of kung pao chicken from her family friends Grace Han and Pearl Han. Readers have cleverly adapted it for what they have on hand: Some made use of boneless thighs instead of breasts; others red-pepper flakes instead of chiles; and one reader used tofu while another opted for pork. All finished full and happy.
Recipe: Easy Kung Pao Chicken
6. Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes
Delight everyone in the house with breakfast for dinner (brinner?) by whipping up a batch of these buttermilk pancakes from Alison Roman. If you’re feeling Pinteresty, set out bowls of add-ins like blueberries, chopped nuts, banana slices, chocolate chips and rainbow sprinkles, and let diners customize their pancakes as they cook on the first side. Serve them with a side of oven bacon (or sausage).
Recipe: Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes
7. Elena Ruz Sandwich
A big thank-you goes to Elena Ruz Valdés-Fauli, a Cuban socialite, for ordering a sandwich of turkey, strawberry preserves and cream cheese tucked into a soft medianoche roll in a Havana restaurant in the 1920s or ’30s. No one knows what inspired such a combination, but it became a beloved Cuban dish. You should experiment with other meats and jams, but do not skip the step of toasting and pressing the sandwich in a buttered pan. It melts the cream cheese into the jam and crisps the outside the roll for a lovely contrast of textures.
Recipe: Elena Ruz Sandwich
8. Broiled Salmon With Mustard and Lemon
Broilers get a bad rap, but there’s nothing quite like them for cooking fish quickly and perfectly. The outside browns and crisps, while the inside stays tender and juicy. Here, Melissa Clark brushes a slurry of Dijon mustard and olive oil over fillets, then broils until the fish is “opaque with a deep brown crust.” Serve with white rice and a tangle of buttery greens dressed with lemon juice.
Recipe: Broiled Salmon With Mustard and Lemon
9. Ferran Adrià’s Potato Chip Omelet
How fun is this? Alexa Weibel adapted this Spanish tortilla-inspired recipe from “The Family Meal: Home Cooking With Ferran Adrià,” chef of El Bulli, the famous Spanish restaurant, which closed in 2011. You need just eggs, salted potato chips and olive oil. For the tastiest results, use thin and crispy potato chips (not thick kettle chips). One brilliant reader deserves a gold star for adding a few dollops of leftover spinach and artichoke dip to the top for a “chip-and-dip-omelet.” (One thing: This 12-egg recipe makes a rather large omelet, but it scales down beautifully.)
Recipe: Ferran Adrias Potato Chip Omelet
10. Tofu and Tomato Egg Drop Soup
This lightning-fast soup from Hetty McKinnon features a sweet and tangy flavor profile similar to stir-fried tomato and egg, the much-loved Chinese dish. Brown sugar lends a bit of earthy sweetness, and ketchup, that unassuming pantry hero, provides a vinegary note that balances the whole thing out.
Recipe: Tofu and Tomato Egg Drop Soup
11. The Original Nachos
Serving nachos for dinner is a surefire way to thrill a table of nitpicky diners. This classic recipe from Pati Jinich serves as the perfect blank slate for any manner of toppings, so whip up a sheet pan or two, then slide them onto a table laden with refried beans, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa — you know the drill — then let them serve themselves.
Recipe: The Original Nachos
12. Sea Scallops With Brown Butter, Capers and Lemon
Fresh seafood is a lovely thing, but if you don’t have access to it, get to know the frozen seafood section of your grocery store. If you buy in bulk, you can often get a good deal, and you can defrost and cook only what you need. This recipe, which Alex Witchel adapted from Kevin Zraly, the wine director of Windows on the World from 1976 to 2001, works beautifully with frozen or fresh scallops. Serve it over buttered noodles or with good bread to sop up the sauce.
Recipe: Sea Scallops With Brown Butter, Capers and Lemon
13. Turmeric-Black Pepper Chicken With Asparagus
“One of the best flavor-to-effort ratios of any meal I have made,” wrote one reader about this sweet and spicy one-pan dinner from Ali Slagle. Cubed chicken is dusted with turmeric and flour, then browned in a pan, to which thinly sliced asparagus, green beans, frozen peas or baby spinach are added. The next step — adding a slurry of water and honey, then letting it simmer until it thickens — makes this otherwise ordinary stir-fry something very special.
Recipe: Turmeric Black Pepper Chicken With Asparagus
14. Perfect Instant Ramen
As a Korean American kid growing up in the United States, Roy Choi ate a lot of doctored-up ramen, calling it “our snack, it’s our peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it’s our bowl of cereal.” Once you’ve added hot water and the flavoring packet to the noodles, drop in an egg, let cook a bit, then add a pat of butter, a slice of American cheese to melt, sesame seeds and some chopped scallions. When you mix it all together, it becomes a rich and silky, almost luxurious, soup that belies its budget ingredients.
Recipe: Perfect Instant Ramen
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