Short Recipes for Longer Days

Hi, hello. I’m filling in for Emily, who often asks me what I actually make for dinner when I’m not creating new recipes. (When I am, it’s sometimes cake for dinner.)

The one constant recently: The meals have to come together quickly. The longer days of spring are lovely, but the later-setting sun makes me lose track of time. Even if I had hoped to roast a whole chicken or bake this creamy spinach-artichoke lasagna, I find myself glancing at the clock and gasping. I thought I still had plenty of time to cook! How did it get so late?

Having lost the minutes intended for heating up the oven, I opt for recipes that come together in the time it takes to make rice or cook pasta, and feel like a whole meal alongside stir-fried vegetables or a simple salad. Speedy recipes don’t come at the expense of taste. They may not develop the deep caramelization of slowly roasted anything, but quick-cooking on the stovetop or grill often delivers the kind of freshness we crave this time of year.

And, because these dishes are so fast, they leave plenty of time to enjoy the meal as the sun sets and to dream of even longer nights ahead.

Mushrooms end up as crisp and rich as meaty curls of chicharron when sizzled in oil. Jocelyn Ramirez sears oyster mushrooms in batches to ensure deep browning, but I’ve found that my extra-big skillet can fry a full batch at once (and that sliced ​​creminis taste great, too), making this meal ready even faster. Double the avocado pico de gallo — you’ll want extra to scoop with chips.

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It’s pretty challenging to make boneless, skinless chicken breasts intensely flavorful and juicy, but that’s exactly what Zainab Shah does here. Thin slices cook quickly with ginger, garlic and spiced onions, then get a load of cilantro and mint. Those herbs are the hallmark of this South Asian dish, and this version ends with additions of creamy yogurt and almond butter, a smart shortcut to ground almonds.

Cherry tomatoes always line produce shelves, but they’re especially sweet starting now and running through summer. Here, Naz Deravian cooks them gently in garlicky, spicy oil with fennel seeds, a nice surprise, before swirling them with shrimp and spaghetti. This dish is delicious just as written, but when I’m really pressed for time, I’ll crank up the heat on the tomatoes so they break down faster.

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Kay Chun highlights the silky softness of tofu by steaming squares on a “rack” of bok choy, so it’s easy to slide the wobbly slices onto plates or a bowl of steamed rice (my preference). Any of the creamy, tangy, herby sauce that doesn’t soak into the tofu slips into the greens, keeping every bite refreshing and rich.

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