We're big fans of easy homemade meals on weeknights when it seems the only quick alternative is greasy fast-food dinners—or downers, we should say. So we invite you to take these short-cuts—from pastas and soups to stir fries and salads, we've collected 15 dinner recipes you can throw together in just 15 minutes. Heck, that's less than the time it would take to make it out of the drive-through line.
Quick-cooking dried pasta—or even quicker-cooking fresh pasta, available in the prepared foods section of most local markets—makes an ideal backdrop for any number of ingredients. Here, it's the only ingredient that need ever touch a stove. Vibrantly hued crushed tomatoes (or canned if not in season), basil and chunks of creamy Brie cheese blend easily to compete this balanced one-dish dinner.
Get the Recipe: Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil and Brie
Brimming with all of the ingredients one would expect on a lush antipasti board—olives, peppers, cheeses, salami and garlic—this salad makes for full, happy bellies. To shave off even more prep time, skip the homemade dressing and opt for a similar store-bought version.
Get the Recipe: Big Italian Salad
Eggs are versatile, quick-cooking and packed with protein, making the breakfast-for-dinner route an ideal option for a meal in a hurry. These baked eggs glean extra richness from a splash of heavy cream and buttery toasted breadcrumbs, all bubbling in individual serving dishes. Throw in a loaf of crusty bread, and you're in business.
Get the Recipe: Baked Eggs with Olives
With breakfast still on the brain, we turn to an egg sandwich with a twist, and we find another fabulous 15-minute meal. All of the flavors of Caprese salad—basil, tomato and fresh, creamy Mozzarella cheese—meet protein-rich eggs atop toasted whole-wheat English muffins. Quick, simple and so delicious.
Get the Recipe: Caprese Egg Sandwich
An ultimate comfort food, this tomato soup is perfect after a long day. Once ingredients have been allowed to simmer, hurry along the desired consistency with the use of an immersion blender, food processor or potato masher. It's a brilliant shortcut. Plus, the brief stove-top simmer leaves you with just enough time to throw together a few grilled cheese sandwiches.
Get the Recipe: Easy Tomato Soup
Making use of one of our favorite kitchen shortcuts—deli rotisserie chicken—this simple one-dish dinner showcases fresh tomatoes, herbs and crisp romaine lettuce. But here's the kicker: Quick-cooking couscous adds an extra layer of texture and flavor, transforming this dinner salad into an unexpected chicken salad.
Get the Recipe: Couscous Chicken Salad
Stir fries are a fabulous way to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Courtesy of Helen Chen's Easy Chinese Stir Fries, this rendition features crispy asparagus and boneless pork chops—which are great to have wrapped, frozen and waiting on-hand for occasions like these. While frying up the main event, have quick-cooking noodles or microwave rice prepping right alongside.
Get the Recipe: Stir Fried Pork with Asparagus
Courtesy of Helen Chen's Easy Chinese Stir Fries—and known in her family as Coral and Jade, thanks to the striking color combination—this stir fry feels like a special-occasion treat. But you won't believe how quickly you'll see it on the table. Snow peas and juicy shrimp (which you can purchase already peeled and deveined at the market) cook up in no time at all, and the components that make up the sauce are simply thrown in along the way. No fuss required.
Get the Recipe: Coral and Jade Stir Fry
This new take on tuna salad—featuring olives, Feta cheese and red onion—is packed with Mediterranean flavor, and more than its fair share of protein and omega-3s. Serve atop a bed of fresh salad greens, on crusty bread, or with a pack of your family's favorite crackers.
Get the Recipe: Mediterranean Tuna Salad
In the time it takes to boil red potatoes, you can chop and arrange the remaining components of this Nicoise Salad and have them ready and waiting on a platter. Featuring generous chunks of canned tuna and nutritious veggies, this 15-minute meal is hearty, satisfying and almost too lovely to be true.
Get the Recipe: Nicoise Potato Salad with Tuna
Filled fresh and frozen pastas generally require half the cook time then the un-filled dried variety, and they're doubly satisfying. Like many of our 15-minute wonders, you can finish the rest of the meal while the main ingredient takes care of itself. A quick chop-and-toss of fresh veggies, cheese, deli-shaved turkey breast and simple vinaigrette, and you're on your way to dinner.
And it's not called "Lunchbox Tortellini" for nothing'—this dish is especially tasty the next day for packed lunches.
Get the Recipe: Lunchbox Tortellini
Lettuce wraps are a surefire crowd-pleaser. The family will love the fun, hands-on quality of this dish, and the cook will turn to this recipe's easy convenience and feel-good nutrition again and again. Super economical ground beef stars in the filling, and Boston lettuce leaves are ideal for wrapping.
Get the Recipe: Asian Express Beef Lettuce Wraps
Making another appearance on our list is the ultimate ally to busy cooks everywhere—rotisserie chicken. Lightly dressed with a fresh lime-cilantro dressing and accompanied by a quick sauté of peppers and onions, rotisserie chicken proves itself a weeknight workhorse once again. Simply warm tortillas in the oven, lay out any additional garnishes you might enjoy, and you're ready for a Tex-Mex dinner affair.
Lime Cilantro Chicken Tacos
Pasta and protein-packed canned beans make powerhouse ingredients. Both require (drastically) minimal prep times, and both are wonderfully satisfying. Combine the two with cheeses and a fresh herb dressing, and you're left with our Simple Bean and Pasta Salad—and dinner on the table in under 15.
Get the Recipe: Simple Bean and Pasta Salad
A sandwich may seem like an obvious conclusion in the search for a meal in minutes, but this is no ordinary sandwich. Hearty and filling, this panini is piled high with chicken—we may have mentioned how much we adore the deli rotisserie variety for occasions such as these—greens, cheese and jarred pesto. And then, it's pressed on a griddle or grill-pan until it's perfectly toasted. This, friends, is a meal.
Get the Recipe: Easy Pesto Chicken Panini
Put that cream cheese away—or at least dress it up a little. These toppings will revolutionize the way you think about bagels.
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