Fifteen Minute Recipes for One

I have a whole page of quick dinner recipes (usually under thirty minutes), but sometimes even half an hour is too long to wait. You’ve got an appointment. Or, you got home late. And sometimes you can almost feel your blood sugar plummeting and if you don’t get food fast, you may fall over.  So, here are some fifteen minute recipes for one (some lunch, some dinner) that you can put together super quickly.

When you’re in a rush eggs, tuna, and sandwiches are your friends.  These are minimal prep, minimal cooking, one pot meals, that are finished faster than you can order takeout. But they are still real meals (not just standing in front of the sink eating out of a container of yogurt). And not a smoothie either. I like smoothies, but that’s not a meal in my opinion.

They’re all sized for one person, so there’s no leftovers.  And, there’s very little cleanup too. Because when you’re tired or rushed, the last thing you want to do is make a big mess making something to eat.

A little menu planning trick: when you make rice, make extra.  It reheats well (you can even freeze it in small bags and then microwave it), and it’s an easy way to fill out your dinner).




tuna cannellini bean saladItalian Tuna with Beans

Lighter than tuna with mayo, and made entirely with ordinary pantry and kitchen ingredients. The only fresh thing you need is some scallions (or onions).  Other than that, just open some cans and mix it all together.

 

cherry tomato basil frittataCherry Tomato Basil Frittata

Just four main ingredients, and ready in minutes. No special shopping trip required, these are all standard kitchen/pantry staples (eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and basil).

 


strawberry balsamic grilled cheeseStrawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This grilled cheese sandwich is comfort food for grownups.  Melty cheese with strawberries and balsamic vinegar for an extra jolt of flavor. The berries and vinegar complement each other beautifully.


easy canned tuna curryCanned Tuna Curry

Another super easy recipe, with canned tuna,  just a couple of things to chop or grate, and a quick spin on the stove. It’s curry in a hurry.

 

 


fried egg burritoFried Egg Burrito

Versatile, budget friendly, and ready to eat in about ten minutes.  You can make it as is, or add pre-cooked beans, top with guacamole, or add several types of cheese instead of just one.

bacon spinach tomato aioli sandwichBacon Spinach Aioli Sandwich

Mmmm bacon with some bell peppers for sweetness to balance the bacon’s saltiness. And a super-sneaky fast way to make aioli (it’s not hard)

 


eggs with spinach and chili pepperEggs with Spinach and Chili Peppers

Fast, delicious, and you only need one pan to make it.  Chop some veggies and aromatics, add the eggs, cook them and you’re ready to eat.

 

 

cranberry chipotle turkey enchiladaCranberry Chipotle Turkey Enchilada

A tasty, quick way to use up leftover turkey (or chicken).  Chipotle salsa gives it a smoky kick, and craisins (sweetened, dried cranberries) add sweetness.

 

 




Salmon in Foil Packet with Potatoes

Want something quick and easy for dinner with very little cleanup? Salmon in foil packet with potatoes to the rescue! You just slice up the potatoes, chop the tomatoes, and then layer everything into a piece of aluminum foil, folded into a packet.  Then just pop it in the oven.  When you’re done, just toss the foil . No cleanup!

Since this is cooked in foil, there are no pots to scrub after dinner. I do like cooking, but I’m not that mad about cleaning up afterward, so this is a big bonus as far as I am concerned.

If you can, get the salmon at Trader Joe’s. Their frozen salmon is considerably cheaper than the fresh salmon at the usual market.  You will have to defrost it first, but that’s easy enough (just stick it in the fridge in the morning).  Other than that, there’s very little effort involved in making this dish. It’s flavorful, it’s one pot (er, foil packet), and it’s an entire dinner in one simple package.

The citrus adds zest, the tomatoes are sweet, and the potatoes are baked right in the package with the salmon. Plus, the foil keeps the salmon from drying out. Because nobody wants to eat hard, dry fish!

I don’t like freshly-cooked tomatoes (even though I love tomato sauce and soup), so I added them at the end. If you don’t have that weird problem, put them in the packet with the rest of the ingredients.




Salmon Foil Packet with Potatoes Substitutions and Variations

  • squeeze some orange juice over the salmon
  • add lemon and/or orange slices to the packet
  • add a dollop of butter
  • throw in some extra veggies, like bell pepper or zuchhini

More Salmon and Fish Recipes

smoked salmon pasta with tomato cream sauceSmoked Salmon Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

A velvety sauce rich sauce with just a touch of cream, layered over pasta. It tastes decadent, but it isn’t.

 

salmon greek yogurt dill sauceSalmon with Greek Yogurt Dill Sauce

Another elegant meal that’s really super-easy, and with very little clean up. Tangy yogurt, fresh dill, and cool, crunchy cucumber over lightly cooked salmon.

 

fish in peppery tomato sauceSephardic Fish in Peppery Tomato Sauce

Fish flavored with garlic, coriander, and briny capers, bathed in a spicy tomato sauce. An easy weeknight meal.

 

fish fillet with yogurt sauceIndian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

Ten minutes of prep, a bit of chopping, and let it bake. This is dinner in twenty minutes. Have a glass of wine while you wait.

 




Pan-Fried Steak with Mushroom Brandy Cream Sauce

Sure it’s the holiday season, and there are a lot of parties and fancy meals everywhere.  But sometimes (holiday or no) you just want to treat yourself even without a party.  Cooking for one doesn’t have to mean dull and boring.  Pan-fried steak with mushroom brandy cream sauce is rich, creamy, and just slightly indulgent.  The cream is velvety, and the mushrooms add an earthy flavor, while the scallions and garlic bring just a hint of sweetness to the sauce. A funny thing happens to onions and garlic once you sauté them; they transform from spicy to sweet.

All that and it’s still really easy to prepare. You can have a delicious, festive dinner in about twenty minutes.  A big payoff without a lot of work!

I’ve made the sauce with pan-fried steak, but it works just as well with a pork chop or a piece of chicken.  If you make it with a bone-in chicken thigh, start that about 20 minutes before you begin cooking the sauce, as it takes longer to cook than a steak or a pork chop.

If you’re going with the steak, start that at the same time as the sauce. Then take it off the heat and let it rest while you finish preparing the sauce.




I made this with brown jasmine rice and some string beans, but it would work well with potatoes too, or even just some crusty bread to sop up every last bit of the sauce.

Pan-fried Steak with Mushroom Brandy Cream Sauce Substitutions and Variations

  • Use shallots or chopped onions instead of the scallions (I grabbed scallions because I have a pot of them growing in my windowsill)
  • Exchange the brandy for white wine and toss the same sauce with pasta
  • Add nutmeg and serve it over chicken breasts
  • Make more mushrooms and eat them as a side dish

More Steak and Mushroom Recipes

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup for One

Cold Leftover Steak Salad with Goat Cheese and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Chicken and Mushroom Skillet Recipe

Stovetop Coq au Vin Chicken with Red Wine Sauce

 




Tuna Cannellini Bean Salad Recipe for One

Tuna cannellini bean salad is a great meal for those days when you just don’t feel like “cooking.” Maybe you got home late from work, or you’ve been out running errands all day, or it’s just too hot to fuss.  This meal requires nothing more complicated than opening a few cans, sprinkling some seasonings, and a little bit of chopping. Easy.

Everything comes straight from your pantry.  The beans are canned, the tuna is canned, and the only fresh ingredient you need is some scallions, and maybe the lemon juice. Even that isn’t essential; if you don’t have scallions, use onion instead.  If you’re out of fresh lemons, the bottled juice will do just fine.

If you do have the time and energy, this is a bit better with freshly cooked beans. The canned beans tend to be slightly mushy, and sometimes they’re a little salty.   If you go the dried bean route, use my quick soak method to speed things up.  If not, no harm, no foul.

The recipe is enough for two lunches or one dinner (depending  how hungry you are).  I usually find that I eat a whole 5 oz. can of tuna for lunch if I just make ordinary tuna salad, but adding the beans stretches it enough for two meals.

I’ve adapted it slightly from one of  Pierre Franey’s Sixty Minute Gourmet cookbooks. I reduced the quantity and eliminated the parsley (never had any use for parsley). This is not only better than sixty minutes, it only takes about ten.

Serve with some fresh fruit and you have a fast lunch in under fifteen minutes.  Add crusty bread to that and you have dinner.




Tuna Cannellini Bean Salad Substitutions and Variations

  • add some capers
  • mix in some cherry tomatoes
  • try red onion instead of the scallions
  • serve over romaine lettuce
  • mix some greens (watercress, arugula, or one of those baby greens mixtures) right into the salad

 

More Cannellini Bean Recipes

white bean salad sun dried tomatoesWhite Bean Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes

I saw this fancy salad at a store for about $10 a pound. I thought I can make that myself for a lot less. So I did.

 

pasta e fagioli soupPasta e Fagioli Soup (Small Batch)

An Italian classic in a scaled-down version that’s perfect for single person cooking. And it’s nearly entirely pantry ingredients too (just the pancetta, but that will keep in the fridge).

moroccan bean and chicken soupMoroccan Chicken and Bean Soup

A variation on harira, which is usually made with lamb and lentils. There’s lots of flavor from garlic, tomatoes, and a bit of a kick from hot pepper.  Perfect for chilly days and uses largely shelf-stable ingredients.

Brazilian chicken paprika stew

Brazilian Chicken Paprika Stew

A Brazilian twist on Hungarian chicken paprikash. This version has beans and sausage, with no sour cream in sight. It’s comforting, filling, and only uses one pot.

 




Cold Leftover Steak Salad with Goat Cheese and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Ever get stumped by what to do with leftover steak?  Steaks aren’t sold for one person, generally. The portions are too big!  It’s not enough for another steak dinner, and too much to toss without guilt.  You could make a steak sandwich, or try something a bit different and toss it into a steak salad.

Add some veggies, goat cheese, and a homemade red wine vinaigrette and you’ve got a delicious dinner without any cooking.  Cold leftover steak salad is the perfect solution for late summer  or busy days when the thought of turning on the stove is too much to bear.

This recipe is inspired by a steak salad on Food Network.  I liked the basic idea, but wasn’t about to buy three kinds of greens, extra red onions, or bleu cheese (since bleu cheese and I don’t get along).  I used just one kind of lettuce (green leaf) instead and swapped the bleu cheese for herbed goat cheese.

This is best with leftover steak (since it’s already cold), but you can pan fry your steak and let it rest (or chill in the fridge) while you do something else. Use the rest for a steak sandwich or in a stir fry.




 

Cold Leftover Steak Salad Substitutions and Variations

  • Add a bit of Dijon mustard to the vinaigrette
  • Go for the bleu cheese if you like it
  • Use a handful of mixed greens (or make the entire salad with them)
  • Add half a sliced scallion
  • Saute some shallots and add them to the dressing

More Entree Salad Recipes

Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwichchicken caprese salad panini

Grilled to a deep golden brown crispness, stuffed with gooey melted cheese, sweet tomatoes, and basil.  Comfort food for grownups.

 

leftover roast lamb eggplant spinach saladLeftover Roast Lamb Eggplant and Spinach Salad

Rich lamb, meltingly soft eggplant, and a garlicky aioli sauce. It’s an entire meal in a single bowl. Use leftover roast lamb breast, or make it with a lamb chop.

 

mixed greens egg potato chicken saladMixed Greens Egg Potato and Chicken Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

A fresh take on an entree salad, with hard boiled egg, potatoes, and a zippy vinaigrette. Use leftover or rotisserie chicken. Mix it all together and poof you have lunch (or dinner).




Sauteed Garlic Parmesan Spinach

In my head, this was Roman spinach.  Then I looked and realized that was a completely different recipe (with pine nuts and raisins). I was wrong about the Roman part, but at least sauteed garlic parmesan spinach is really Italian.

The recipe that inspired this called for blanching and baking the spinach and then broiling everything.  That was too much bother!  I’ve adapted it to make it simpler and easier.

This way, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to prepare.  It will go nicely, I think, with a simple pan fried fish, or grilled fish. Or, serve it with a steak.

Unlike the Roman spinach (which would have required a trip to get pine nuts), this sauteed spinach is made from everyday ingredients you probably already have at home.  No special shopping trip needed!

If you want, you can add additional ingredients to the basic recipe (see the substitutions and variations section below for more ideas).




 

Substitutions and Variations for Sautéed Garlic Parmesan Spinach

  •  add a sliced mushroom or two (put that in before the spinach)
  • try some sautéed onions
  • add this recipe to some scrambled eggs and make it a main course for breakfast, lunch, or brunch
  • roast the garlic first
  • add some chopped fresh cherry tomatoes just before serving

More Spinach Recipes

Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich Recipe

Spinach and Egg Frittata for One Person

Spinach and Feta Cheese Omelette

Shakshouka for One

 




Easy Canned Tuna Curry

There are some nights when you want dinner and you want it quick. This easy canned tuna curry can be made in just a few minutes. There’s very little prep work.  The toughest bit is opening a can. Just cut up a bit of onion, chop some garlic, grate some ginger, and open a can of tuna. Yes, canned tuna.

If you make extra rice in advance (as I usually do), you just have to heat that up and you have dinner. It’s curry in a hurry.

I adapted this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking. Her recipe made two or three servings, which I have reduced. She calls for fresh chopped cilantro (which I never have, so I used a bit of dried coriander, which is the same thing). If you do have the fresh version, use 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons.

I have also simplified the preparation a bit.  Yes, it’s possible to want to speed up even a canned tuna curry recipe! I was in a rush! And I was hungry. Rather than slicing the onions into rounds, I chopped them.  I grated the ginger with my microplane zester, instead of slicing it into strips; I didn’t want to bite down on big hunks of ginger! Besides, this way is faster.

During the quarantine, if you don’t have fresh ginger, ground is fine.  No fresh jalapeño? Use canned chilis instead. Don’t have that either? Red pepper flakes work too.

 




More Quick Fish Recipes

 

pan-fried tilapia with lemon butter saucePan Fried Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Just a few ingredients and you’ve got a fancy-looking dinner.  Tilapia is mild, so it’s a good “starter” fish.  It’s mostly pantry ingredients (you just need to buy fish; Trader Joe’s usually has it frozen).

fish fillet with yogurt sauceIndian Fish Fillet in Yogurt Sauce

A few minutes prep and twenty minutes of baking. The sauce tastes rich and creamy, but it’s made with yogurt so no guilt. There’s a bit of heat, but it’s subtle, not overpowering.

 

tuna cannellini bean saladTuna Cannellini Bean Salad Recipe for One

Got beans? Mix them with some tuna, serve with bread or fruit and you have a meal. You don’t even have to actually cook anything.  All pantry staples, other than the scallion. If you don’t have one, use onion.

 




Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich Recipe

Mmmm bacon….We’re obsessed with it.  We have bacon appetizers, bacon cocktails, and even bacon ice cream.  And now, meet the bacon spinach tomato aioli sandwich, a slightly different twist on the tried-and-true BLT.

I made this with Trader Joe’s uncured bacon (which is delicious; get the bacon ends if you can and save some money).   I tend to use spinach far more than lettuce, because it’s more versatile. You can cook with it, as well as use it in salads.  So, I reached for that rather than lettuce.

Then, I added some mini bell peppers. The sweetness and crunch of the peppers makes a nice foil for the salty bacon.

Finally, I decided to ditch the standard mayo in favor of aioli (which is mayo with garlic, some lemon juice, olive oil, and a bit of cayenne pepper).

If you are ambitious, and want to make your own aioli from scratch you can do that.  It’s delicious, and freshly made mayonnaise is far tastier than the stuff in the jar.

On the other hand, it doesn’t keep nearly as well, and making (and eating) a whole batch is a bit much for one person. Of course, you can always use the leftover aioli for french fries (like they do in Belgium) or as a dip for crudités.

I like to take the jarred mayonnaise and then add fresh ingredients to brighten the flavor so it tastes a bit more like homemade. That way, there’s no leftovers to worry about.




Substitutions and Variations for Bacon Spinach Tomato Aioli Sandwich

  • Add more heat with sriracha instead of just cayenne
  • Chop some basil or cilantro and incorporate it into the aioli sauce
  • Make it a bit lighter by using half mayo and half Greek yogurt
  • Prepare the aioli in advance so the flavors have more time to blend

 

Thick Cut Bacon

Make your sandwich even better with thick-cut bacon. Choose either natural (humanely raised with no antibiotics, and a vegetarian diet), or heritage.  Heritage pork is more flavorful and less fatty than standard pork.  You can even choose your farm (and check exactly what goes into your bacon).

More Sandwich Recipes

vegetarian eggplant sandwichVegetarian Eggplant Sandwich for One Person

Israeli salad, plus eggplant, and hummus and you have a delicious easy meal.

 

three cheese grilled cheese sandwichThree Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Why settle for only one kind of cheese when you can have three?  Ooey, gooey melty and delicious. Just the comfort food you need right now.

 

chicken caprese salad panini

Chicken Caprese Salad Panini Sandwich

Crispy, golden brown, and delicious! Transform a caprese side salad into a complete meal with chicken and sandwich fixings.

 

strawberry balsamic grilled cheeseStrawberry Balsamic Grilled Cheese Sandwich

You probably didn’t expect strawberries and balsamic vinegar in a sandwich, did you?  The tangy vinegar complements the sweet strawberries and enhances their flavor too.  And, of course, cheese nearly always makes everything better.




Egg Chili Cheese Burrito Recipe

This egg chili cheese burrito recipe is adapted from a Southwestern cookbook I bought long ago. Their recipe called for refried beans, and while I had beans, they were dry beans and hadn’t been soaked or refried, and I didn’t want to bother.  I did have tortillas (the ones I use as sneaky crepes), plenty of eggs, chilis, scallions, and cheese.

I decided to improvise with what I had ready to eat, rather than waiting for the beans to soak.  I was hungry, and didn’t want to fuss.

If you want to make the refried beans, you can use canned beans. If you have dried beans, and you have more time than I did that day, use the quick soak method to speed up the process.

To refry beans, just heat some bacon drippings in a pan, add cooked (or canned) pinto beans, plus some of the soaking liquid, cook them on high heat, and mash them up.  Turn the heat to low once the beans get thick and simmer until they’re soft.




Egg Chili Cheese Burrito Variations and Substitutions

  • add refried beans (about 1/4 cup)
  • cut up a sausage, fry it, and add that to the burrito
  • swap the salsa for some spicy stovetop chili
  • vary the cheese; I used sharp cheddar, but Colby, Monterey Jack or Colby-Jack would work too

More Egg Recipes

eggs with spinach and chili pepperEggs with Spinach and Chili Peppers

An easy light meal, flavored with ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. First you cook the seasonings, then the eggs, all in the same skillet.

 

frittata recipe for one personFrittata Recipe for One Person

A flexible recipe that uses whatever veggies you have around (fresh or frozen). Keep it vegetarian, or add some ham.

 

egg and tomato gratinEgg and Tomato Gratin

Fast food that’s so much better than anything from a takeout place. This is fragrant with thyme, garlic, and, onions. The whole thing is then topped with Swiss cheese.

 

shakshouka for oneShakshouka for One

Poached eggs bathed in a spicy tomato sauce, enlivened with fresh spinach. A bit more effort, but definitely worth it!

 

 




Cranberry Chipotle Turkey Enchilada

Thanksgiving is great, but finding new and different ways to use up the leftovers can be a bit of a challenge. However, it’s also an opportunity to be creative. I had an idea for a turkey cranberry chipotle turkey enchilada and went looking for cranberry chipotle salsa or even some cranberry relish in the supermarket.  The store had both, but I eventually decided I didn’t want to buy a whole jar (and end up with more leftovers to use up).  So I created my own instead.

I took some of the leftover turkey, a few craisins (dried sweetened cranberries), and added chipotle salsa which I already had (and could use for other recipes like chili or meatloaf). I combined them together to make cranberry chipotle turkey enchiladas.

If you already have cranberry relish or cranberry salsa from your own dinner that would work beautifully too.

It’s pretty simple. Just warm up the turkey, heat the tortilla in some oil, add the rest of the ingredients, and roll it up into an enchilada.

A few weeks ago, those tortillas were “crepes“, but this time I decided to use them as intended on the package!




 

Tools and Ingredients for Turkey Cranberry Chipotle Enchiladas

 


OXO Good Grips Box Grater

Much as I love my zester/microplane, there are some jobs that require a different tool. A box grater can slice or shred food better than a zester can. Use this to shred or slice cheese, carrots, onions, and potatoes or to coarsely grate citrus peels (use the microplane for finer results).

This particular grater comes with its own marked storage container, so you can measure while you’re grating and just make exactly the amount you need.


SilverStone Ceramic 8-Inch Deep Skillet, Chili Red

I don’t like the old-style non-stick pans, but I confess I am enjoying using my ceramic pan. I can make eggs, enchiladas, frittatas, and many other things without worrying about it sticking and it cleans up easily. So far, the coating has held up beautifully. I don’t have this exact pan, but if I had seen the red I would have gotten that one in a New York minute. Do keep the heat a bit lower than you would with a stainless steel pan, and be careful if you have a glass top stove.

More Turkey Recipes

easy spicy turkey soupQuick and Easy Spicy Turkey Soup

Turkey soup with south of the US border flavor from lime, cumin, and cayenne, topped with cooling sour cream.  Zippy, and easy.

 

easy leftover turkey soupLeftover Turkey Soup Recipe

If you’d prefer something more classic, this soup is more traditional.  It’s flexible too. Use whatever fresh or frozen veggies you have (potatoes, broccoli, carrots, peas), toss it all together with some wine and broth and let it simmer.

 

sweet and sour jelly turkey meatballsSweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs with Jelly and Chili Sauce

Remember those childhood jelly meatballs? These have a bit more oomph. They’ve grown up, gotten a bit spicier, and less sweet.  You may lick the plate!

 

turkey pot pie for one personTurkey Pot Pie for One Person

Perfectly sized for one, without making more leftovers. You don’t even have to make turkey (get it cooked from the deli instead). The crust is rich, flaky, and all butter.