When we asked our community on the Hotline for their best, easiest weeknight meals, there was one dish that many gravitated toward. Let me give you some hints: It’s found in nearly every pantry, and you just add water.
You’ll see lots of variations on this go-to, quick dinner below (pasta, of course!), plus other simple recipes
for when you reach 6 o’clock and realize you haven’t given a thought to what you’re going to cook. (This happens to you, too, right?)
It’s true that coming up with dinner
on the fly is far easier and more delicious at the height of summer and early fall, when fresh produce and herbs are still plentiful and need very little zhushing to be the star of a meal. But even when you have to rely upon canned and boxed ingredients only, our community has you covered. Be sure to chime in at the end with your proven weeknight winners, too.
From Our Shop
“Scramble eggs and add diced tomatoes. Add splashes of soy sauce (2 to start), mirin or sugar (2 to start), and Shaoxing rice wine (1 to start) and cook until eggs are scrambled, tomatoes are softened and the whole thing looks like salsa on scrambled eggs. Season with scallions (optional) and white pepper (not optional). Some like it sweeter and add more sugar, but I find it best equally balanced between salty and sweet. Shaoxing wine is super cheap and in every Asian corner store, but you can also substitute regular rice wine or dry cooking sherry in a pinch. Eat it with rice and for spice lovers, you can also add a dollop of a crunchy chili oil.”
LouiseZ.’s recipe is like a deconstructed pesto tossed with tomatoes and spinach. “One of my sisters lived in Italy for a few years, and rhapsodized about a raw, fresh tomato sauce. I cobbled this together from her description.” It’s her favorite in peak tomato season.
From Our Shop
Here’s another beloved chicken curry recipe from the Food52 archives that will take just 10 minutes longer, start to finish:
MMH has a very easy, tuna niçoise-ish blueprint for a refreshing dinner. She combines the ingredients below and lets them sit a while to marry the flavors. Sometimes, she also smashes the beans and spreads them on slices of toasted baguettes.
- Can of your favorite tuna
- Can of drained white beans
- Diced purple onion to taste
- Smashed garlic clove
- Minced fresh parsley to taste
- Olive oil and red wine vinegar to taste
- Salt and pepper
From Our Shop
Nancy’s breezy weeknight meal is a dish, she says, that “I grew up knowing as ‘pizza bagel,’ but you can make it with any bread on hand, tomato sauce, cheese, and other toppings to taste. Also, if your time frame is longer than 15 minutes, and you have flour and yeast on hand, you could make a pizza dough and bake the real thing. Serve with lettuce salad or composed salad and drinks of choice.”
“Zuni Cafe’s Pasta With Preserved Tuna is a snap to make,” says Happygoin, “and I always have the ingredients on hand. It’s fabulous, fast, easy and delish!”
Linsey S., moderator of the Food52 Cookbook Club, shares a recipe from the cookbook Pasta by Missy Robbins, chef and co-owner of the popular Brooklyn restaurants Lilia and Misi (and soon, we hear, a Brooklyn pasta shop). “We always have loads of dried pasta in the house and while the recipe calls for Mafaldine, I have made the dish with every variety of pasta I can think of. All you need is butter, freshly grated parm, and coarsely ground pink peppercorns.”
This six-ingredient pasta comes by way of Deborah Madison’s cookbook, The Savory Way, and is shared on our site by luvcookbooks. “The clever trick is floating a stainless-steel bowl in the pasta cooking water and melting the cheese in the bowl. It somehow makes the whole process seem easier because the whole dish is made on one burner!”
Luvcookbooks also recommends her baked chicken thighs and drumsticks with curry, cayenne pepper, and lime.