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Cooking Hacks That Help You Make Dinner In 30 Minutes or Less

Skillet Kale Caesar Shakshuka with Crispy Polenta Croutons

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Reinvent the one-dish dinner; Shakshuka, traditionally eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, comes together as a rich blend of flavors and textures in a single pan—and offers tons of ways to play. The version here, for example, is packed with greens. More ideas:

  • Shakshuka Margarita: Poach eggs in tomato sauce, top with fresh mozzarella, and bake in the oven. Add fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve with toasted sourdough.
  • Spanakopita Shakshuka: Sauté two large bags of spinach with smashed garlic, olive oil, and fresh dill until wilted. Stir in lemon zest. Create wells in the spinach mixture, crack eggs into them, and bake. Garnish with crumbled feta and Greek yogurt. Serve with lemon wedges and pita.
  • Huevos Rancheros Shakshuka: Heat salsa in a skillet, then stir in a can of rinsed and drained black beans and a cup of thawed frozen corn. Create wells in the mixture, crack eggs into them, and bake. Top with cottage cheese and fresh cilantro, and serve with tortillas. (Or try this whole-grain shakshuka recipe that's also gluten-free.)
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Ginger and Red Chile Chicken Laksa with Rice Vermicelli

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Streamline prep (and slash your ingredient list) with premade curry pastes. They're packed with every spice you'll need to build a dish that's dynamic and full-bodied in almost no time. You've got a bunch of different styles to work with, including Indian, Thai, and Moroccan. And no need to stick to established recipes when there are a million ways to put the seasonings to great use. (Here's a whole list of seasonings you can keep right at your desk to give meals a flavor boost.) Try this one first to fall in love with the stuff.

Try this laska first, then fall in love with the spicy stuff:

  • Stir harissa paste into yogurt or hummus; toss it with pasta; rub it onto vegetables or meats before roasting; try it in place of tomato sauce on pizza.
  • Use vindaloo paste to coat chickpeas before pan-frying; toss it with sweet potato cubes for roasting; mix into ground meat for spiced burgers or meatballs.
  • Whisk Thai curry paste into a sesame oil and rice vinegar dressing; add natural peanut butter and thin with water for a grain bowl sauce.
  • Add tikka masala paste to the cooking water to flavor rice; rub it onto chicken thighs before coating with coconut flakes and broiling; stir into yogurt as sauce for a kebab wrap.
  • Thin Massaman paste with water and lime juice for a dip for cooked meat; thin it with orange juice for salad dressing.
  • Spread korma paste on salmon before broiling for Indian fish tacos; mix it int mashed potatoes.
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Photo: Charles Masters

Sesame Steak with Cabbage, Carrots, Onions, and Kimchi

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If you roast meat and vegetables on separate sheet pans, you miss an opportunity for deeper, more indulgent- tasting dishes. Instead, overlap your ingredients on a single pan and let their juices meld into a complex, rich dish.

Try this sesame steak or one of these other genius one-pan combos:

  • Salmon and Veggies: Thinly sliced leeks or onions, grape tomatoes, garlic, and Swiss chard seasoned with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Layer skinless salmon fillets seasoned with salt and pepper on top. Bake at 425° for about 15 minutes.
  • Chicken with Chorizo and Beans: Toss canned white beans with cubed chorizo, torn kale, a splash of sherry vinegar, and olive oil. Top with thinly pounded chicken breasts coated with tapenade. Bake at 425° until cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve.
  • Meatballs with Sweet Potato and Zucchini: Thinly sliced sweet potato and zucchini tossed with harissa paste and olive oil. Layer on thin slices of sweet onion. Top with meatballs (mix ground beef with a handful of oats, a spoonful of orange marmalade, and a pinch each of cumin and salt). Bake at 450° until cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. To serve, drizzle with a mix of yogurt and lemon juice. (Here's a whole list of one-pan sheet meal recipes that will change your life.)
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Photo: Charles Masters

Broiled Coconut Shrimp with Cold Sesame Rice Noodle Salad

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The broiler delivers high, direct heat— much like a grill—so you can make a nicely toasted meal in 10 minutes, tops. Whip up homemade coconut shrimp or one of these other ideas:

  • Broiled Moroccan Halibut with Shredded Brussels Sprouts, Carrot, and Mint: Rub halibut fillets with a prepared Moroccan spice blend and place on a baking sheet next to shredded brussels sprouts. Broil until halibut is cooked though, 5 to 8 minutes. Toss cooked sprouts with grated carrot, fresh mint, pomegranate seeds, toasted almonds, and lemon-infused olive oil.
  • Broiled Cauliflower Steaks with Raisins, Feta, Walnuts, Olives, and Pesto: Brush thick slices of cauliflower with olive oil and broil for 5 minutes; flip and broil for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. Add raisins, crumbled feta, wal- nuts, olives, and a squeeze of lemon and broil about 30 seconds more. Top with a big dollop of pesto.

  • Broiled Pork Chops, Apples, and Shallots with Kale: Rub pork chops with grainy mustard and place on a baking sheet next to quartered and seeded apples, halved shallots, and kale seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Broil for 4 minutes, flip chops, and broil for an additional 4 to 6 minutes or until pork is cooked through.

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Photo: Charles Masters


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