To do that, for Dinner in Minutes, I drew from old favorites that I’ve made again and again (shrimp étouffée, anyone?) and new ones that I learned about from readers, colleagues and terrific cookbooks.
Each week, a few days after I hit publish, I’d get a little thrill when readers write to tell me a dish is now in the “clean plate club!” or when they report back: “The recipe is clear and easy to follow, I had a bit of trepidation, but it all turned out really well.”
As I look back on this tumultuous year, I found it tough to pick favorites. So, here, in alphabetical order because I just can’t play favorites among my favorites, are my top 10 Dinner in Minutes recipes of the year.
Hope you will try or, better yet, re-try them in the coming year.
Akoho Misy Sakamalao. Sometimes the simplest dishes have a surprisingly big flavor. This five-ingredient, one-skillet chicken dish from “In Bibi’s Kitchen” by Hawa Hassan with Julia Turshen shows the power of combining coconut oil with lots of garlic and ginger to turn forgiving chicken thighs into a memorable meal in minutes.
Bacon-Stuffed Shrimp Burgers. This one comes from my own stash of favorite recipes. I love bacon-wrapped shrimp, and this dish is the next best thing. You tuck crispy bacon bits inside a ground shrimp burger, then pan-fry the burger and serve it on a crispy bun.
Baked Chicken Nuggets With Warm Potato Salad. When I’m craving a picnic — even an indoor picnic — I turn to this dish. The chicken nuggets are a fine alternative to fried, but what I keep coming back to is the tahini-dressed potato salad. Whisk together the olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and pepper and then stir in a bit of chopped parsley and toss that with the warm potatoes until coated. Add a sprinkle of scallions if you like. So simple. So good.
Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry. The combination of beef and broccoli is a longtime favorite of mine, and this version nails it. The addition of the scallions, ginger and garlic right at the end gives it a bright burst of flavor. I adapted it from Eating Well, which does a great job of taking favorite dishes and making them just a bit healthier without sacrificing flavor. It’s not always easy, but this is a great example of that effort.
Coconut Rice With Salmon and Cilantro Sauce. Our team is a hotbed of recipe sharing, as you can imagine. When I first started, Olga Massov handed me “The Kitchen Shelf” by Rosie Reynolds and Eve O’Sullivan, with a sticky note on this recipe. It is a dish she makes again and again. I found out why when I tasted the salmon served over the creamy rice made with coconut milk and topped with spicy-sweet cilantro sauce whirred in a food processor.
Instant Pot Beef Stew. For this stew, I pretended I was on one of those timed cooking shows and worked hard to bring it to the table in 45 minutes. To do that, I relied on baby carrots and potatoes, frozen pearl onions and pre-cut beef and, of course, my trusty Instant Pot. I made it under the wire, and it truly does taste like it has simmered on the stove for hours.
Mosca’s Chicken a la Grande. Garlic lovers unite around this one-skillet, big-flavored chicken recipe from Mary Jo Mosca of Mosca’s Restaurant on U.S. 90 in a little town outside New Orleans. There, the dish is served family-style. I like to move the chicken to a platter, tent it to keep it warm and then blister some green beans in the garlicky skillet to go with the chicken.
Shrimp Étouffée. This was one of the first dishes I made once I settled in Washington. I like to fill a new home with familiar scents from the kitchen as a way of christening my new surroundings. Everyone interprets étouffée their own way, but this recipe is a quick and easy way to dip your toe into the Cajun canon. In January, I wrote: “As the new Dinner in Minutes columnist, I know I must earn your trust. I hope this étouffée gets us off on the right forkful.” I hope it did.
Souvlaki-Style Chicken With Tangy Yogurt Dip. I love to create platters for dinner. It makes a meal feel more festive – all those flavors and textures. I learned to make this tzatziki, a dill-flavored yogurt dip, from Ginny Zissis, director of the New Orleans annual Greek Festival. It’s great anytime, but I love it served with oregano and lemon-flavored chicken skewers, fresh tomatoes and onions and warm pita. It’s a light meal that’s fun to eat together.