Easy dinner recipes: Three great ideas in about 15 minutes

Dinner in about 15 minutes? You bet. Because we all have those days where we're short on time -- or energy -- and we need something that fast. Have your meal ready in minutes with these hearty ideas. 

Rigatoni with mushrooms and pancetta: This pasta sauce has an old-fashioned, long-simmered taste, but takes less than 15 minutes to cook.

Clams with pine nuts and serrano ham: Rich flavor comes together in minutes with this dish. Plan to serve the clams with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.

VALENTINE'S DAY RECIPES: 43 perfect ideas when you're cooking for two

Curried slaw: You'll love the brightness and depth of flavor in this so-simple take on cole slaw served with a curried vinaigrette.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less.


Active work time: 15 minutes | Total preparation time: 30 minutes | Serves 2 to 3


1 tablespoon olive oil

3 ounces pancetta, diced small

1 small onion, diced small

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 pound button mushrooms, minced

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice

1/2 pound rigatoni


1 tablespoon minced parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the pancetta and fry until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on paper towels, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

2. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, 1 minute, being careful not to burn it. Add the minced mushrooms and cook until they release their moisture, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. When the water is boiling, cook the rigatoni until al dente, 11 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste to the sauce, along with the parsley and thyme. Toss the pasta with the sauce and top with the pancetta and Parmesan to taste just before serving.

Each of 3 servings: 369 calories; 991 mg sodium; 16 mg cholesterol; 15 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 47 grams carbohydrates; 15 grams protein; 5.78 grams fiber.


Total time: 15 minutes | Serves 8

Note: Adapted from El Suquet de L'Almirall in Barcelona.

1 1/2 cups best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

2 small cloves garlic, sliced lengthwise

3/4 cup pine nuts

3 to 4 ounces serrano ham or prosciutto in one piece, finely diced

3 pounds small clams, such as cockles, Manilas or littlenecks, scrubbed

2 to 3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

Crusty bread

1. In a wide earthenware cazuela, a very large (12- to 14-inch) heavy skillet or a wide casserole, heat the oil with the garlic over medium heat until tender and fragrant. Add the pine nuts and the ham and cook, stirring, until the nuts just begin to color, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the clams, raise the heat to medium-high, cover and cook until the clams open, about 5 to 9 minutes (depending on the size of the clams), shaking the pan occasionally. Discard any of the clams that don't open.

3. Serve directly from the cazuela or transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the sauce. (If you have oil and pine nuts left over, toss it with pasta the next day.)

Each serving with 1 tablespoon oil: 361 calories; 13 grams protein; 3 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 34 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 32 mg. cholesterol; 306 mg. sodium.


Total time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4 to 8

Note: Adapted from a recipe in "Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook" by Cindy Pawlcyn with Brigid Callinan. Indian curry paste can be found in many well-stocked supermarkets as well as specialty cooking stores.

Curry vinaigrette

2 tablespoons prepared Indian curry paste

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together the curry paste, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, salt and pepper until the salt is dissolved, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, and continue to whisk until fully emulsified. This makes a scant cup of vinaigrette, which will keep for up to 3 days, covered and refrigerated.

Slaw and assembly

4 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/3 head)

1 carrot, peeled and grated

1 red Fresno or jalapeño chile, seeded and thinly sliced

Prepared vinaigrette

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, carrot and chile.

2. Stir the vinaigrette to make sure it is emulsified and toss the slaw with just enough to coat lightly; you may not use all of the vinaigrette. Place the slaw in a serving bowl or divide onto plates. Garnish the bowl or servings with the cilantro leaves and green onion.

Each of 8 servings: 87 calories; 1 gram protein; 4 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 8 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 90 mg sodium.

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