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5 Best 30-minute Dinner Recipes

It's easy enough to whip up a delicious, adventurous or maybe even impressive dinner in fewer than 30 minutes. See more easy weeknight meals pictures.
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If you like to cook, there are probably meals you happily spend a couple of hours preparing, meals that look and taste delicious and meet the specific needs of the moment: special occasion, romantic dinner, simple need to indulge the inner gourmet.

Great meals don't have to take hours, though. Some dinners can seem fancy, or slaved-over or plain-old perfect for the entire family without taking much time at all. They're simple to make and a pleasure to consume on any night of the week, even at the end of a hectic day when it seems like spaghetti is the only option.

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Not that there's anything wrong with spaghetti, but it's nice to have some options when time is short. Here are five of the tastiest, most interesting 30-minute recipes in our cookbook. They run the gamut from kids' meals to dinner-party fare, so you're bound to find exactly the right recipe for your quick-dinner needs.

Serves: Four

Time: Approximately 30 minutes

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Just because you've got company coming over doesn't mean you have 2 hours to devote to cooking. This recipe takes less than 30 minutes to prep and cook (plus 30 minutes marinating in the fridge, which gives you time to set the table with your finest), and it's perfectly special. With just six ingredients, three of which you've probably got in your kitchen right now, it's a simple yet elegant meal you can be proud to serve guests.

These honey-lemon glazed veal chops serve four people. You'll spend about 10 minutes on prep and then about 15 to 20 on cooking after you marinate -- remember to start a little early to accommodate that middle step. Here we go:

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 4 veal rib chops, cut 1-inch thick (about 8 ounces each)

Method

Combine lemon juice, honey, ginger, mustard and lemon peel in large resealable food storage bag. Place veal rib chops in the bag, turning to thoroughly coat with marinade. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes. Prepare grill for direct cooking over medium heat.

Remove chops from the bag; brush with any remaining marinade. Place chops on grill over medium coals. If you like your chops cooked medium, grill 12 to 14 minutes, turning once. Cooked chops should register 160 degrees Fahrenheit on a quick-read thermometer. You can also broil the meat 4 to 5 inches from the heat source for 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium-cooked chop, or to desired doneness.

Try serving with steamed vegetables and quick-cooking wild rice.

Next, some quick, light and colorful fare ...

Serves: Two

Time: Approximately 30 minutes

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Some people have a hard time thinking of salad as a main dish, but this one fits the bill. With tuna's protein and healthy fats, raspberries' big fiber supply, and romaine's impressive supply of vitamins A, K and C, this tuna and raspberry salad is a nutritious, filling meal that looks like a restaurant dish but takes only about 30 minutes from start to finish (including the time to marinate)!

This recipe serves two and calls for raspberry vinegar, which you can find not only in specialty stores but also in most regular supermarkets. (If you want to make your own, though, go for it!)

Here we go:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fat-free ranch salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 11/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 thick-sliced tuna steak (about 6 to 8 ounces)
  • 2 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 cup torn mixed baby lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries

Method

Combine salad dressing, vinegar and Cajun seasoning. Pour 1/4 cup salad dressing mixture into resealable food storage bag to use as marinade; reserve the remaining dressing mixture. Add tuna to the marinade; seal bag and turn to coat tuna. Marinate in refrigerator 10 minutes, turning once.

Preheat broiler. Spray the rack of the broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place tuna on rack. Broil tuna 4 inches from heat for 5 minutes. Turn tuna and brush with marinade; discard remaining marinade. Broil 5 minutes more or until the center of the steaks flake when tested with a fork. Cool 5 minutes. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Toss lettuce varieties together in large bowl; divide evenly between two serving plates. Top with tuna and raspberries; drizzle with reserved salad dressing mixture.

Serve with fresh, whole-grain bread, warmed in the oven on low heat for about 5 minutes before you sit down to eat.

Next, a quick fix for a romantic night in.

Serves: Two

Time: Approximately 25 minutes

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What's better than a delicious, intimate dinner for two? A delicious, intimate dinner for two that practically cooks itself and actually requires you open a bottle of wine.

This dish is special enough for candlelight (rib-eye is, after all, something of a splurge), serves two, and takes less than 25 minutes to prepare and cook to perfection.

Here we go:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup merlot wine
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 beef ribeye steaks (8 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Method

Combine wine, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, sugar, bouillon granules and thyme; set aside.

Heat large nonstick skillet over high heat until hot. Add steaks; cook 3 minutes on each side. Turn steaks again and cook 3 to 6 minutes longer over medium heat or until desired doneness.

Cut steaks in half; arrange on oven-safe serving platter. Place in warm oven.

Add wine mixture to same skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1 minute, scraping up any brown bits.

Remove steaks from oven. Spoon wine mixture over steaks. Sprinkle with parsley; serve immediately.

An arugula-and-apple salad, French baguette and the rest of that bottle of merlot make excellent accompaniments for this zingy dish.

Next, for veggie night ...

Serves: Four

Time: Approximately 20 minutes

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Whether you're foregoing meat once a week for budget and health concerns or you're a full-fledged vegetarian, this feta frittata can inject some Mediterranean flare into a quick, easy, affordable weeknight meal.

You can whip up this egg dish in about 20 minutes, and you'll probably only have to go to the store for three of the eight ingredients. You'll need an ovenproof skillet with a metal instead of plastic handle, but you probably already have one. Traditional cast-iron skillets are also ovenproof.

Here we go:

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream or half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 package (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese with basil, olives and sun-dried tomatoes OR 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Method

Preheat broiler. Melt butter in 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Tilt skillet so bottom and side are well coated with butter. Beat eggs. Add cream, basil, salt and pepper; mix well. Pour mixture into skillet. Cover; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until eggs are set around edges (center will still be liquid).

Sprinkle cheese and pine nuts evenly over frittata. Transfer to broiler; broil 4 to 5 inches from heat source for 2 minutes or until center of frittata is set and pine nuts are golden brown. Cut into wedges.

Try serving your feta frittata with some sautéed asparagus spears (which take about 10 minutes to make while the frittata cooks on the stove) and a spinach-and-strawberry salad for a well-rounded meatless meal.

And finally, a special treat for the most typical recipients of the get-it-on-the-table-NOW cooking method.

Serves: Four

Time: Approximately 20 minutes

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It's easy to get caught up in the mac-and-cheese loop when you're hurriedly cooking for kids. And why not? They eat it happily. But there's something to be said for variety, and perhaps even more to be said for bacon. This one is a fun treat (there's a dip!) with just five common and kid-friendly ingredients, and it takes less than 20 minutes to make from start to finish.

Here we go:

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 chicken breast tenders, cut in half lengthwise (about 12 ounces)
  • 8 bacon strips

Method

Preheat broiler. Combine mustard, maple syrup and chili powder in medium bowl. Reserve half of the mustard mixture. Brush each chicken tender with remaining mustard mixture. Wrap one bacon strip around each chicken tender.

Place chicken tenders, bacon ends down, on rack of broiler pan. Broil 5 inches from heat, 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp and chicken is no longer pink in center. Serve with reserved mustard mixture for dipping.

Easy, kid-friendly accompaniments for this dish include frozen oven potatoes (about 25 minutes) and carrot sticks with ranch dipping sauce.

If we are to learn anything from these 30-minute recipes (besides how to cook them), it's that interesting meals don't have to take forever to cook. All you really need is half an hour to put something new, tasty and maybe even impressive on the dinner table tonight.

For more information on quick, easy and nutritious meals, check out the links on the next page.

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More Great Links

Sources

  • TLC Cooking. (Nov. 21, 2011) https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/
  • How Much Fiber Is in That: Fruit. FitSugar. (Nov. 21, 2011) http://www.fitsugar.com/How-Much-Fiber-Fruit-209893
  • Romaine lettuce. WHFoods. (Nov. 21, 2011) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=61

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