Do you ever find yourself staring at your empty fridge, wondering what to make for dinner? If so, you're not alone. Cooking can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if you're short on ingredients. But there's good news: you can still make delicious and satisfying dinners with just a few simple ingredients.
Here are some tips for making minimal-ingredient dinners:
- Start with a protein. This could be anything from chicken to tofu to fish.
- Add a vegetable or two. Chopped broccoli, carrots, or spinach are all great options.
- Use a flavorful sauce or dressing. This could be something as simple as soy sauce and sesame oil, or you could get more creative with a homemade pesto or vinaigrette.
- Finish with a garnish. A sprinkle of fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon juice can really take your dinner to the next level.
Here are some simple recipes to get you started:Pesto Chicken and Rice:
This is a quick and easy one-pot meal that's perfect for busy weeknights. Simply cook some rice, then stir in cooked chicken, pesto, and a few other ingredients.
One-pot, no chopping veggies, and done in about 35 minutes. This One-Pot Pesto Chicken and Rice is the perfect idea if you’re short on dinner prep time.
- 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil (separated)
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 8 ounces fresh green beans, stems removed
- 8 ounces fresh sliced white mushrooms
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup white jasmine or basmati or jasmine rice
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons traditional prepared pesto salt/pepper
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a deep non-stick skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chicken thighs to the hot pan and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until browning on the bottom. Flip thighs and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes or until just browned. Remove from heat and set aside (the chicken thighs may not yet be fully cooked at this point).
- Reduce heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon additional oil to the same pan. Add minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add green beans and mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add broth to the pan. Let it come to a low boil and then reduce heat to low. Add rice and stir until all rice is fully saturated in liquid. Return chicken to the pan, cover, and let cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, the rice should be fully cooked and very little liquid should remain in the pan. Remove the chicken, cut it up into bite sized pieces, and return it to the pan, along with the peas and pesto. Stir until well mixed and serve immediately. Store for up to 4 days in airtight containers.
Stir-Fried Shrimp and Vegetables:
This is a light and healthy stir-fry that's packed with flavor. Simply stir-fry some shrimp and vegetables in a wok or large skillet, then season with your favorite sauces.
For the shrimp stir fry
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 pound shrimp, deveined and shelled (or tail on), wild caught if possible
- 1 pound broccoli or broccolini (stem on), about 4 cups
- 2 bell peppers, any color
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms (optional)
- 2 green onions
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger, optional
For the stir fry sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon yellow or white miso
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Thaw the shrimp, if frozen.
- Chop the veggies: Chop the broccoli. Thinly slice the bell peppers. Remove the stems of the shiitake mushrooms and slice (or if using baby shiitakes, you can leave the stems on).
- Make the stir fry sauce: Whisk together all ingredients until a smooth sauce forms.
- Cook the vegetables: In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Add the broccoli or broccolini, bell pepper and mushrooms. Add 2 pinches kosher salt and cook 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp tender. Remove the vegetables to bowl.
- Cook the shrimp: Add the additional 1 tablespoon sesame oil to the pan. Add the shrimp and green onions. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the shrimp are almost opaque, turning once. Then add back the vegetables and the sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce is thickened.
This is a simple and elegant dish that's perfect for a special occasion. Simply grill some salmon, then top with lemon juice, herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.
- 4 (6 - 7 oz) skinless salmon fillets *
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing grill
- 2 TBSP finely minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- 4 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary
- 2 tsp finely minced fresh thyme
- 2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)
- 2 tsp fresh lemon zest
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place salmon in an 11 by 7-inch dish.
- In a small mixing bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, dijon mustard, honey, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper until well combined.
- Pour mixture over salmon (lift fillets to help marinade run under) then cover and let marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat during last 10 minutes of salmon marinating.
- Brush grill grates with oil, spoon some of the herbs onto salmon (or just use your hands to spread them over), remove salmon from marinade and place on grill.
- Grill about 3 - 5 minutes per side to cook through.
- Serve warm garnished with more parsley if desired.
With these tips and recipes, you'll be able to make delicious and satisfying dinners with just a few simple ingredients. So next time you're short on time or ingredients, don't despair. Just whip up one of these easy and minimal-ingredient dinners, and you'll be sure to please everyone at the table.