January’s days are short, and as the sun begins to dip, hunger sets in, reminding us that no matter how weary or frazzled, we’ll have to eat. Order a pizza, pour cereal in a bowl, warm up leftovers — there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you can muster the energy to pick up the phone or open the microwave door, you might have it in you to make something that will take less time than delivery.
Silken tofu on rice with a drizzle of soy sauce and chile oil; quesadillas; nubbins of cheese, a stack of crackers and an apple or pear; scrambled eggs on a slice of toast; angel hair pasta tossed with butter and lemon zest; canned tuna forked through with mayonnaise and pickle juice — these are a few of my favorite ways to get a meal on the table in 15 minutes or less.
I dug through our Recipe Finder archives for more ideas, miracle meals that take minutes and feed at least two. They depend on quick-cooking proteins, pantry ingredients, condiments for hits of flavor and basics such as pasta, rice, bread and eggs. Many cook in one pan, and others are assembled in moments, but they’re all guaranteed to satisfy.
Za’atar Cacio e Pepe, above. Za’atar, a blend of woodsy herbs plus sumac and sesame seeds, gives traditional cacio e pepe, a famously speedy dish, another dimension in this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book with Ixta Belfrage, “Ottolenghi Flavor.”
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas. This riff on fajitas, featuring chicken breasts, onions and bell peppers, comes together in minutes and cooks quickly on a sheet pan. Serve it with steamed tortillas and sour cream.
Creamy Greek Noodle Soup. Here’s a creamy soup recipe without any cream in it. This avgolemono gets a head start thanks to premade chicken stock. Onions, carrots and noodles add texture while the signature egg and lemon juice mixture ensures every spoonful is creamy.
Broiled Shrimp With Shaved Zucchini and Pecan Salad. The key element here is the shrimp, which get tossed in a spicy sauce before they’re slid under the broiler for a few minutes. Serve them with a pecan-studded shaved vegetable salad, or on a plate next to couscous or arugula dressed in lemon and olive oil for a quicker dinner.
Garlicky Broccoli and Beans With Pesto. Pour boiling water over broccoli florets to steam them while you blend together a quick pesto. Tossed in a skillet with canned white beans and cherry tomatoes, it makes a super-fast meal with lots of flavor. Try it with an easy miso dressing, salsa verde or premade pesto to save even more time.
Fast Blender Tomato Soup. Though this soup is creamy, it contains no dairy. Instead, olive oil and bread blend in with garlic, onions and canned tomatoes to make the simplest tomato soup ever.
Grilled Kimcheese. You could make a classic grilled cheese … or you could make a grilled kimcheese. Kimchi adds incredible flavor to this pan-fried sandwich; slices of pear or apple add a touch of sweetness.
Simplest Lentil Curry. Red lentils are the fastest way to dal. They’re split, so they cook especially quickly. In this recipe, onion, garlic, ginger and spices give them a richness that’s offset by a spoonful of creamy yogurt. Serve it atop steamed rice for a full and fulfilling meal.
Spicy, Smoky Turkey Sandwich. Mash a chipotle into some mayonnaise for a little kick of flavor, then layer on sliced turkey, pepper jack and spinach for a fresh spin on the lunch special.
Mushroom “Risoniotto.” Risotto can be incredibly comforting on a cold night, but it can take quite awhile to cook. Use orzo instead for a creamy riff on classic mushroom risotto. Or try this Instant Pot risotto, which needs just 30 minutes of mostly hands-off cooking.
More recipes from Voraciously: