The inspiration for this recipe comes from a long-ago birthday dinner at a tiny neighborhood Italian restaurant. The restaurant is now (sadly) closed, but their smoked salmon pasta with tomato cream sauce lives on!
The pasta is bathed in a velvety, slightly pink, tomato sauce with a touch of cream. It’s delicious and elegant too. Make a double batch and serve it for company (they’ll think you’ll worked on it all day).
This only requires a little bit of smoked salmon (about a slice or two), so you won’t bust your budget cooking it. Even better, check to see if your market or deli sells smoked salmon ends. They’re much cheaper, and taste just as good as the fancy slices. Besides, a beautiful slice hardly matters when you are going to cut it up into small pieces!
If you don’t have any smoked salmon handy, you can use leftover cooked salmon instead. Add it right at the end. The idea is just to heat it up. You don’t want to overcook it.
To save some time (and get dinner done faster), put the water for the pasta in the pot first, and start bringing it to a boil. While the water is heating up, chop the onion. Then get the second pan going with the butter and oil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot. Finish the sauce in the second pan while the pasta cooks. That way, you have dinner in about 20-25 minutes and nothing sits around getting cold.
This recipe makes me smile whenever I make it. You may wonder what’s so funny about linguine with garlic and olive oil? Nothing really, it just reminds me of a friend.
This friend does not cook. At all. I don’t think she’s ever used her oven. I was at her house one day and I was hungry. Nobody else wanted anything, so I started poking around in her fridge and cupboards (with permission).
I found some dried pasta, bouillon cubes, some olive oil, and a can of parmesan cheese. So, I made the “shelf stable” version of this recipe. They all looked at me as if I had walked on water or parted the seas!
It is, of course, much better if you have higher quality ingredients at hand. Here at home, I used fresh linguine, homemade chicken broth, and freshly grated parmesan cheese, along with high quality olive oil.
You can do it that way, the shelf stable way, or somewhere in-between. I won’t judge.
A simple, weeknight dinner you can make even if your cupboards are nearly bare! It can be fancy (fresh pasta), or simple and basic (shelf stable ingredients). Great for those, what the heck do I eat for dinner nights. A lot of flavor without a lot of effort.
3 garlic cloves, minced
2T olive oil
2 quarts water
1 tsp salt
1/4 lb. linguine or spaghetti
1/3 cup chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Add the oil to a small frying pan. Put the garlic in the pan and cook over medium heat. until it turns slightly golden. Don't burn it! Stir it every once in a while, then turn off the heat and set it aside.
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt.
If you are using dried pasta, add it, then stir it (to keep it from sticking).
Cook for 5-8 minutes until it's al dente (soft, but not mushy).
If you have fresh pasta, add it, stir, and watch carefully. The pasta is cooked when the water returns to a boil (a minute or two).
Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot.
Add the chicken broth and turn the heat back on to medium. Let the pasta/broth mixture simmer for a few minutes until most of the broth is absorbed.
Take the garlic/oil mixture you set aside and add that to the pasta pot. Using a spoon and a fork, toss the whole thing together, like a salad.
Remove to a plate and serve, topped with black pepper and grated cheese.
Substitutions and Variations for Linguine with Garlic and Olive Oil
Make it more substantial with some cooked chicken or cooked shrimp
This week’s recipe was going to be something else, but then I realized I hadn’t defrosted it.Oops. No matter, this Indian fish fillet in yogurt sauce recipe will do quite nicely instead.You’ll just have to wait for the other recipe!
This is adapted from The Wednesday Chef , who in turn adapted it from Madhur Joffrey.Since the amounts are smaller, you don’t have to heat up the oven. You can make this in the toaster oven instead. It heats up more quickly and it’s easier to clean too!
All you have to do is lightly fry some onions, pour them onto a tray, season and mix the yogurt, and then pour all of that over the fish.
It’s maybe ten minutes of prep, and 20 minutes of baking.While it bakes, pour yourself a glass of wine or a beer or make some rice to go with it. Or both.
You end up with a rich, creamy sauce that tastes indulgent (but isn’t, since it’s yogurt, not cream). So no need to feel guilty after the holidays.
The garam masala, ginger, and cumin add a bit of bite, but not too much (unless you want it spicier, of course). It’s pretty easy and approachable for Indian food.
Fish Fillets in Yogurt Sauce, creamy indulgence without any guilt.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/2 pound cod (or haddock or halibut) fillet
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
generous pinch garam masala
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger*
1 T butter (optional)
Remove the tray from your toaster oven. Start by preheating the toaster oven to 350. While that’s warming up, heat the oil in a small skillet. Then add the sliced onion. Cook that until you can see through the slices. This should take about five minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the onions from the pan and scatter them over the toaster oven tray. Cut the fish into small pieces (about 2 inches) and arrange the pieces over the onions on the tray.
Take a small bowl and mix together the remaining ingredients (except the butter). If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a teaspoon or two of water. Pour that over the fish and the onions and stir it around to cover the fish completely on both sides.
Cover the tray with foil, place it in the hot toaster oven and cook for about 20 minutes. The fish is done when it’s white and flakes easily with a fork.
If you want a thicker sauce, pour the sauce from the tray into a small saucepan, heat it to boiling, and then slowly add the butter.
* I grated the ginger using my microplane. If you don't have one, just use a cheese grater.
Substitutions and Variations for Indian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce
Add some curry to the sauce for more kick
Try pan frying the fish (about three-five minutes per side); add the yogurt sauce at the end, off the heat so it doesn’t curdle
I seem to be making a virtual trip around the Mediterranean. This week, instead of Israel, we’ve “landed” in Greece. This recipe for Greek fish with lemon and tomatoes is adapted from a recipe in The New York Times.
The Times recipe is good, but a bit too fiddly. It also requires whole fish. That’s generally too much food for one person. And, they have to be cleaned and stuffed, and then baked. So, I used fish fillets instead.
Plus, the original recipe requires that you cook the tomatoes. I love fresh tomatoes, and tomato sauces, but don’t like the taste of freshly-cooked tomatoes. So, I simplified everything and added the tomatoes just at the end.
In my version, you make the marinade, leave out the tomatoes, and let it sit for a bit so the flavors combine. Then season the fish fillet, pour the marinade over it, and cook it. Add the tomatoes at the end, and serve. Also, I didn’t make it in the oven (too hot!). I grilled the fish in a pan instead.
A fast and healthy tilapia recipe with lemon and tomatoes.
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
generous pinch of hot pepper flakes or 1/4 tsp chopped fresh jalapeño
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound fish fillet (like tilapia or cod)
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to season the fish
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes and slice them in half)
Combine the olive oil with the lemon juice, hot pepper, oregano, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Let the marinade sit for 15 or 20 minutes.
Season the fish with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Add the fish and the marinade to a small frying pan and cook, about four minutes per side.
When the fish is almost cooked, pour in the chopped tomatoes. Leave them in for two or three seconds, just to get them warmed up slightly.
The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.
Remove fish with a flexible spatula and serve.
Substitutions and Variations for Greek Fish with Lemon and Tomatoes
Follow this suggestion from the comments of the original recipe: fry the fish for a minute or two with olive oil. Then add the marinade, a splash or two of white wine, and simmer (covered) for 5-10 minutes.
If you don’t mind cooked tomatoes, add them to the marinade at the beginning.
Try cod instead of tilapia. Or, use a small whole trout.
If you want more lemon flavor, slice some lemon and squeeze it over the fish.
Add some olives or capers to the marinade.
Add 1/4 C sliced zucchini to the pan when you start cooking the fish.
It’s summer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), the sun is calling, and even I don’t always feel like cooking. So, here’s a list of no cook meals for one person that require no boiling, sautéing, roasting or toasting! And, since there’s no cooking, you can make them all in less than 15 minutes.
No mayo needed to make this chicken recipe. Instead it has Greek yogurt and currants (or raisins or even dried cranberries if you prefer).
Italian Tuna with Beans: 1 can white beans, 1 can tuna, 1/4 C chopped red onion, romaine lettuce, 1 sliced tomato, 1 small mini bell pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Drain the beans, rinse, and pour into a bowl. Add the tuna, and onion. Mix together. Serve on top of romaine lettuce with tomato and pepper. Season to taste. Make dressing with 3T olive oil and 2T lemon juice. Pour over tuna.
I know this sounds weird, but it’s really good. My mom invented it. The cucumber gives it crunch and the peanut butter makes it salty and slightly sweet (if you use the sweetened kind). Make sure to use rye bread.
Italian Tuna Sandwich: one can of tuna (packed in olive oil), 2 tsp chopped red onion (or scallion), 1/2 tsp capers, olive oil to taste, 2 T lemon juice, 1 T basil leaves (chopped), plus salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Eat as a sandwich, or serve with a green salad.
Turkey and Avocado Sandwich: Sliced deli turkey, sliced avocado, roasted red peppers, honey mustard on whole grain (or even better 7-grain) bread. You can toast the bread if you like (even though that’s cooking, sort of.)
Tuna and White Beans: If the tuna/bean salad is too much effort, just mix tuna and beans with some olive oil. Put the mixture in a wrap or pita bread and add lettuce and tomato.
Rosemary ham, goat cheese spread, crackers, olives, fruit, and a lovely glass of red wine.
Goat cheese spread: Take the goat cheese out of the fridge ahead of time to soften it. Add a bit of milk to make it more spreadable. Then roll it in ground almonds.
Israeli salad, pita bread, hummus, olives, and feta cheese. Or add some pickled herring.
Salmon with Greek yogurt dill sauce is a great combination. The piquancy of the Greek yogurt complements the rich flavor of the fish beautifully. The pinch of mustard gives it a bit of a bite, without overwhelming the rest of the dish.
The other great thing about this dinner is that it’s quick and easy to make. Just mix a few simple ingredients for the sauce (which uses ingredients you probably already have, so no need for a special trip to the grocery store), season the salmon, and put the fish in the oven while the sauce flavors combine.
I’ve written the recipe for a toaster oven (since I don’t want to heat up the whole apartment), but you can make this in a standard oven too. Or, if you’re really pressed for time (or very hungry), you can cook it in your microwave. If you do, once the sauce is made and the fish is seasoned, you can have dinner in 6 minutes.
It’s a quick meal that looks (and tastes) like you cooked for hours. And, it’s easy to scale this up and serve it when you have company.
If you have the time, do let the sauce sit for a while before you cook everything else. It really does improve the flavor.
I served the salmon with some jasmine rice (which is my new favorite rice), the rest of the cucumber I used for the sauce (fresh from the farmer’s market), and some beautiful, ripe Jersey tomatoes.
It’s a great summer meal because it’s light, doesn’t require a lot of fussing, and it’s ready in a few minutes. And, since you’re cooking the dish in foil, there’s one less thing to wash when you’re finished (which is always a bonus, as far as I’m concerned).
Add all the sauce ingredients (using half the cucumber) to a small bowl and mix together. It's best if it sits for an hour or two so that the flavors blend together. If you don't have the time (or you're really hungry), just let it sit while you cook the salmon.
If you're letting the sauce marinate, wait forty minutes and then start the salmon. If not, then start once you've finished mixing the sauce.
Heat your toaster oven to 350 degrees.
Place the salmon skin side down on a sheet of aluminum foil. Pour the wine over the fish, add the bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the fish in the foil and place it on the toaster oven's baking tray. Cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on how thick your salmon fillet is. The fish is done when it's an even pale pink color.
Serve with the sauce and top with the remaining cucumber.
If you're in a hurry, you can also cook the salmon in a microwave. Place the fish on a microwave proof plate. Add the wine, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Microwave 4-6 minutes.
If you don't have an open bottle of white wine, you can use chicken stock instead.
Strawberry season has finally arrived! They’re wonderful just right out of the box, but much as I love strawberries, they’re not a complete meal. This strawberry spinach salad with balsamic dressing and feta cheese is easy to make, delicious, and even healthy (all those greens and Vitamin C). And the colors look pretty too. The tartness of the balsamic vinegar, and the saltiness of the feta cheese complements the sweetness of the strawberries. The almonds on top add a bit of extra crunch.
Since I wanted more veggies than just spinach, I added carrots, red cabbage, and tomatoes for extra color and more nutrition (I was trying to make up for indulging at a party!). The tomatoes were, sadly, flavorless, but I left them in the recipe since they’ll be better later in the year.
Make the dressing first, and let the flavors blend together while you fix the rest of the salad.
This is a great quick lunch or dinner. Just double the spinach, and add more tomatoes. You might want to increase the dressing recipe too (I like less dressing than most people).
This easy chicken curry recipe is a quick and delicious way to get the taste of Indian food without a lot of work. The original recipe came from The New York Times (I think), but I had to put my own spin on it. It only requires a few ingredients and a small skillet and you can put the whole thing together in fifteen minutes.
If you don’t have Greek yogurt, you can use sour cream instead. As a bonus, sour cream is more heat-resistant than yogurt so you can add it directly to the pan, rather than dirtying a separate bowl. I use the yogurt because I prefer the flavor.
1 boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs, cut up
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
Heat oil in small skillet on medium high heat. After a minute or two, add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook the onion, stirring, until it becomes clear. This should take about 5 minutes.
Turn down heat to medium. Add half the curry powder and cook for another minute or so.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, plus the remaining curry powder and the cumin. Push the onions to one side of the pan, away from the heat.
Add the chicken and cook about 2 minutes. Turn the meat on the other side and cook another two minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside on a plate.
Turn the heat down to very low, and wait a minute or two until the pan cools slightly. Measure the yogurt into a cup and add some of the pan drippings. Stir it around to blend (this will keep the yogurt from curdling when you add it to the pan). Add the yogurt mixture to the pan and stir it into the onions. Keep stirring until it gets hot again.
Put the chicken back in the pan, add the jalapeño pepper and cook another 2 minutes. Turn after halfway cooked.
I served this over jasmine rice, along with a side dish of cabbage seasoned with ginger, garam masala, and red pepper flakes.
Chicken Curry Recipe Variations:
If you don’t have jalapeño pepper, add a pinch of red pepper flakes along with the curry
If you don’t have boneless chicken, cut up a bone-in thigh, or just start the chicken first, cook it for ten minutes, then add the onions and follow the rest of the recipe (with the bone-in thighs, the recipe will take about 25 minutes total).
Recommended Tools and Ingredients
Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking I love Indian food, but I used to find it a bit intimidating, because it’s not as familiar to me as a home cook. However, this cookbook made that a lot easier (and I use it quite a bit).
My favorites are quick chicken korma, lamb with spinach, fish fillets in curry sauce, and curried tuna (the canned kind, not fresh). Most of the recipes take less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Many Indian cookbooks use ingredients that can be hard to find if you don’t live in an area with a large Indian or Pakistani population. I have some excellent spice stores near me, but many don’t.
That’s one reason this cookbook caught my eye. He gives you the standard ingredients, and then tells you how to “cheat” if you don’t have the usual ingredients available. It makes the food much more accessible. The recipes are easy to follow and have 10 ingredients or less.
You get home from work, you’re tired, you’re hungry, and you’re thinking, “How can I make a quick dinner for one that won’t take forever to cook?” You open the refrigerator, and stare inside, hoping for inspiration. You’re tempted to go for fast food, or reach for the menu from the pizza place.
Skip the takeout and make one of these quick dinner recipes for one person instead. They’re all a single serving, but you can make enough for two, save the rest, and reheat it a day or two later (then you get dinner in 2 minutes!).
Most of these recipes take about 20 minutes to cook. Cut up some fruit, heat some rice (I always make extra), make a quick salad, or grab some crusty bread, and you’ve got dinner!
1 chicken breast (or thigh) 1/2 egg (beaten)* flour for dredging salt/pepper to taste 1/4 tsp. dried tarragon pinch mustard powder 2T olive oil 1/2 C frozen broccoli 1/2 C. portobello mushrooms 4 T chicken broth
1. Season flour with tarragon, mustard, salt and pepper. 2. Dip chicken in beaten egg, then in flour mixture. 3. Cut the chicken into thin strips, about 2 inches long and 1/4 inch wide. 4. Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook a minute or two. Add the broccoli, then the chicken broth, and the chicken. Cook stirring about 1-2 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Get in and out of the kitchen quickly with tasty food that’s easy to prepare. Add some bread, maybe some wine, and you’re done. Note that these are (as the author notes), not “formal recipes, but outlines.” Follow along, adapt, or mix and match as it suits you.
Start with a French chef and you know the food will be good. His version of fast food has no Big Macs in sight. Instead, you’ll get sweet potato chowder, oven baked salmon with sun-dried tomato and salsa mayonnaise.
Mark Bittman is the king of quick and easy cooking. Many of the recipes don’t even require measuring. The book is divided by seasons; 101 dishes for each one. He’s got Latin, Creole, Caribbean and Asian flavors, including pasta jambalaya, Korean barbecued beef, and white bean stew.
The name pretty much says it all. It’s got over 1,000 recipes made with ingredients that are easy to find. This book uses everyday ingredients, tells you what’s in season, and organizes the recipes by both types of foods and meals. Great if you’ve got some fish and don’t know what to do with it.
Before Rachel Ray, there was Eduard de Pomaine. This cookbook shows you how to make veal, beef, fish, desserts, and even soups in only a few minutes. And, it’s funny and well-written.
Yes, it was written long ago, but the translators have kindly included instructions on updating it for the modern kitchen (if it took 10 minutes chopping by hand, imagine what you can do with a mini-chopper!)