Getting dinner on the table in about 10 minutes can be a workout. If you plan to cook, rather than just nuke, that sort of speed requires a fair amount of multitasking. Which means your best bet is to stick with simple, one-dish meals.
But that doesn’t mean you need to skimp on flavor. Here are some top tips for speed cooking:
• Make friends with fresh pasta. It’s pricier than dry pasta, but it cooks in just minutes and has a wonderful texture. And to save time, the first step of any recipe involving pasta should be to set the water on to boil. This lets you do other things while the water heats.
• Fresh herbs taste best, but dried are faster (shaking a bottle vs. washing and snipping). In the recipe at right, garlic powder does a respectable job standing in for fresh garlic.
• Opt for veggies that need little or no prep. Most grocers offer plenty of washed and chopped varieties. In this case, prewashed arugula needs nothing more than being tossed into the pan. Baby spinach is another good choice.
• Meat that cooks quickly — or is already cooked — saves time and can add tons of flavor. Cooked chicken sausages, prosciutto and chorizo need little work or time, but add serious flavor.
• If the cheese will be melted or tossed with other ingredients, get the shredded or crumbled varieties. Not only is it faster, you also won’t need to wash up the grater.
FRESH PASTA WITH ARUGULA AND CHORIZO
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch red pepper flakes
8 to 9 ounces chopped or crumbled chorizo, casings removed
12-ounce package fresh linguini
3 cups arugula
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over high, heat the oil. Add the garlic powder and red pepper flakes, then heat for 30 seconds. Add the chorizo and saute until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to the water and cook until just al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain the pasta, then add it to the skillet with the chorizo. Toss well, then add the arugula and cheese. Toss again until the arugula is wilted and the cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper.