Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.
Sometimes We Need to Make a Meal in a Hurry
Last week in my Monday Question-and-Answer series, I received a request from Rochelle. She said that she loves to cook, but sometimes needs a quick fix meal that doesn't take a lot of time (or dirties a lot of dishes).
I know exactly what she means. I love to cook too (as you well know), but sometimes reality has to overrule the desires of the heart.
Here are 17 recipes I believe will fit the bill. Just add a tossed salad and you'll have a balanced complete meal for a family of four in 30 minutes or less. I reviewed these carefully; any dish that required cooking pasta or rice in a separate pot, unusual or hard-to-find ingredients, or went over the 30-minute mark were disqualified.
Recipes In This Article
One-Pot Chicken or Beef
- Chili Macaroni Casserole (25 min.)
- One-Pot Beef Mushroom Stroganoff (30 min.)
- Spanish Chicken and Rice (30 min.)
- One Pan Spicy Sausage Pasta (25 min.)
- Easy Skillet Lasagna (30 min.)
- One Pot Creamy Tuna and Shells (30 min.)
- Shakshuka (25 min.)
- One Pot Mushroom-Spinach-Artichoke Pasta (25 min.)
- One Pan Mexican Quinoa (25 min.)
- One Pan Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi (25 min.)
Sheet Pan Recipes
- Baked Tilapia with Roasted Vegetables (30 min.)
- Roasted Lemon-Butter-Garlic Shrimp (15 min.)
- One Pan Greek Chicken Veggies (20 min.)
- One Pan Barbecue Smoked Sausage Dinner (20 min.)
- Chili-Lime Salmon (15 min.)
- Sheet Pan Chicken and Black Bean Nachos (30 min.)
- Petite Meatloaf Dinner (30 min.)
One Pot Chicken or Beef Recipes
1. Chili-Macaroni Casserole
To make this chili-macaroni skillet, ground beef (or turkey or chicken) is sauteed and then beans, macaroni, broth, tomato, and spices are added. It all simmers together until the pasta is cooked. I made something very similar to this when my kids were growing up, but I already had on hand home-made chili. Chili-Mac-N-Cheese was their favorite meal (actually, it still is).
One thing I like to add to this is crushed tortilla chips. You probably have some in your pantry. Not actually "crushed", but the remnants at the bottom of the bag that no one wants (because they aren't big enough to 'dip a chip'). Toss those in too. They'll add a little more taste and texture.
2. One Pot Beef-Mushroom Stroganoff
There's no need to buy Helper-In-A-Box when you have this recipe. In just 30 minutes you will have a comforting stroganoff for your family of four, and everything simmers together in one pot.
Hamburger stroganoff is another one of those meals that was easy to put together when we picked up the kids at daycare, dashed home, and everyone was starving. It's total comfort food, and making it this way (instead of 'from the box') is a healthier way to go. No preservatives or additives. Just your own ingredients.
3. Spanish Chicken and Rice
From start to finish this Spanish chicken and rice dish takes only 30 minutes. If you have some leftover rotisserie chicken (or leftover diced turkey), you can make it in just 25 minutes.
I have not tried this recipe yet, but my family loves Spanish rice. And a good friend saw this and suggested that by adding a bit of cooked sausage or some seafood (shrimp?) this could almost be like paella.
4. One Pan Spicy Sausage Pasta
Kevin and Amanda's spicy sausage pasta is flavorful and creamy. Their recipe is adapted from one published by America's Test Kitchen and takes less than 25 minutes from start to finish. (Be sure to check out the amazing step-by-step photographs.)
5. Easy Skillet Lasagna
Yes, I know that this isn't "authentic" lasagna. Don't shoot the messenger. I love to make layered lasagna in a deep dish with simmered-for-hours sauces, but sometimes there just isn't time. That's when this easy skillet lasagna by House of Yumm comes in handy.
The Carb Diva family has tried this dish. True, this isn't "lasagna for company." No lovely layers, no separately cooked pasta, no long-simmered sauce, but seriously folks, do you really need all of that fuss when the family is starving? This tastes like lasagna.
6. One Pot Creamy Tuna and Shells
This recipe is not Tuna-Helper-in-a-Box, and it's not your mom's tuna casserole with cream of mushroom soup. It's rich and creamy, cook in one pot, and ready in under 30 minutes.
I haven't tried this dish yet, but it is certainly in the rotation. I think the one thing that most people hate about the "traditional" tuna casserole is the cream-of-clump soup. This dish guides you through making your own sauce, and the pasta simmers within. No separate pot, draining, folding in the ingredients. It all happens like magic!
One Pot Vegetarian Recipes
There are several versions of this dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. In Mexico it's Huevos Rancheros; in Italy, it's Eggs in Purgatory. And in North Africa (and most of the Middle East) Shakshuka.
J. Kenji López-Alt gives us his amazing recipe and demonstration in the following video. If you have never heard of Kenji, please allow me to boast about him.
He is the chief culinary consultant of Serious Eats and author of the James Beard Award-nominated column The Food Lab, in which he unravels the science of home cooking. A restaurant-trained chef and former editor at Cook's Illustrated magazine. He knows food.
8. One Pot Mushroom-Spinach-Artichoke Pasta
Who could believe that something that looks this creamy and delicious could actually be cooked in one pot? Chungah is one of my favorite food bloggers. Once you try this dish, I think she will be your favorite too.
Chungah is another cook on whom I rely for carefully executed foods. Her flavors, techniques, and products are spot-on. My only regret is that she is not my next-door neighbor. I would love to be in her kitchen. I have not cooked this dish (yet), but I am confident that it is stellar.
9. One Pan Mexican Quinoa
This vegan one-pot meal is crammed full of protein. Quinoa and black beans make this dish hearty and healthy. The corn adds color and a hint of sweetness. Red onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes provide a rainbow of color.
In the Carb Diva family, we've lately been on a quinoa "thing". It's just so good for you! A total protein that is easy to find, easy to fix, and adaptable to just about any flavor profile. It's a perfect platform for just about any ethnic taste.
10. One Pan Mushroom and Spinach Gnocchi
Gnocchi is usually served with red sauce or browned butter and sage. Here's a different spin—a vegetarian meal with white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and a bit of heat from a pinch of red pepper flakes. and, believe it or not, you don't have to cook the gnocchi in a separate pan. Ten minutes of prep time, 15 minutes of cooking, and dinner is ready!
Sheet Pan Meals
11. Sheet Pan Baked Tilapia With Roasted Vegetables
I went to one of my favorite food websites, CookingLight, for ideas on sheet-pan cooking. They have a wonderful meal of tilapia and vegetables, all roasted on a sheet pan and ready in 30 minutes.
If you don't like fish because it tastes "fishy" you might want to give tilapia a try. It is mild in taste, inexpensive, and easy to find at your local grocery store.
12. Roasted Lemon-Butter-Garlic Shrimp
I'm pretty sure that Jen of CarlsbadCravings is my spirit animal. Here's what she says in the introduction to her food blog: "Some people escape in dreams of sandy beaches and sunny skies, I escape in dreams of mangoes, chipotle peppers, and bacon."
Her lemon-shrimp with asparagus is so quick to fix it could be a weeknight meal but is pretty enough to serve for company.
13. One Pan Greek Chicken Veggies
This sheet pan meal of chicken and veggies is a rainbow of colors. Just whip up some tzatziki sauce (the recipe is posted on the link) and use it to fill pita pockets or (like me) simply serve on top of a bed of arugula. It's a satisfying, low-fat, budget-conscious meal, perfect for a warm summer evening.
14. One Pan Barbecue Smoked Sausage Dinner
Dee is a mom of five, wife, food photographer, chief cook, and the creator of the food blog MeatloafAndMelodrama. She has found the perfect foil for getting even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy dinner—her secret weapon is barbecue sauce, and she uses it in this one-pan dinner of kielbasa, potatoes, and broccoli. Yes, she can even get her little ones to eat their broccoli.
The best potato to use in this dish is the Yukon gold. It roasts up crispy on the outside and buttery-tender on the inside.
15. Chili Lime Salmon
Karina is the author of CafeDelites and in her 'about me' says that she likes to create waistline-friendly recipes that are full of flavor. Life is too short for bland and boring.
I agree, and her sheet pan salmon with colorful, crunchy bell peppers certainly delivers both flavor and low calories. If you can, purchase wild Pacific salmon rather than Atlantic-farmed salmon. It is more flavorful and higher in Omega-3s.
16. Sheet Pan Chicken and Black Bean Nachos
I've yet to meet a person who doesn't love nachos, but you don't have to go to the neighborhood pub to get them. Maegan (TheBakerMama) makes a sheet pan of nachos large enough for a crowd (or a couple of teenagers).
My family has enjoyed this recipe several times. If you want to add some meat you could add some leftover rotisserie chicken, beef from a roast, or even pulled pork. Go crazy. Remember, nachos isn't a recipe. It's a "concept". Use what you have, pull out the leftovers from the frig, and have a good time. (And, everything's better with cheese, right?).
17. Petite Meatloaf Dinner
Cooking Light has been in business since 1987. Sadly, I learned just today that they will soon disappear from newsstands. Theirs is the one cooking periodical that never disappoints—the one in which page after page after page is folded or marked with a sticky note so that I will go back and try the recipe.
I'll miss their beautiful photographs, the excellent writing of experienced cooks, and wonderful, healthy yet tasty recipes such as this one for individual meatloaves baked on a sheet pan with carrots and green beans. Each meatloaf is perfect for one serving, and the veggies come out tender-crisp, caramelized, and full of flavor.
© 2018 Linda Lum