These flavorful recipes are the quick dinner ideas you didn’t know you need in your life. Let me paint you a picture.
It’s 6:30 at night. Do you know where your dinner is?
If you’re anything like me, then putting together an incredible meal for your family takes TIME…
TIME that you don’t have.
And so you probably settle for yet another pasta or rice dish that looks and tastes like it was thrown together at the last minute.
Because it was.
But I’ve got news for you – in the same time that it takes to boil pasta and make a sauce, you could have a gorgeous and delicious meal that’ll trick your friends and family into thinking you’re a world-class chef.
A great part of living in a big city is that I get to meet all sorts of people from every corner of the world. And I always ask for their favorite dishes to cook at home – some aren’t so great, but others are like nothing I’ve ever eaten before.
Using their kitchen secrets from around the globe, I’ve put together my list of go-to meals when time is running out, quick dinner ideas that…
- Have an exotic, from-another-world flavor!
- Are super healthy – every ingredient packs a nutritional punch!
- Take less than 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish!
Let’s start in Thailand with my…
Tantalizing and Tangy Thai Cod Curry
A friend brought this wonderful dish cooked by his Thai grandmother to a potluck a few years back. While I was familiar with the coconut-based curries of Southeast Asia, this one truly blew my mind – it felt light, but had the deep flavor you normally get with hearty dishes.
It was so good that I asked him for the recipe and this is what he gave me:
- 1 tbsp ghee (use sunflower oil as a substitute)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (smashed and roughly chopped)
- 1.5 inches of ginger (peeled and diced)
- 1-1.5 lbs cod fillets
- 1 can of garbanzo beans (drained)
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsps curry powder
- ½ tsp honey
- A handful of fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add ghee/oil.
- Add the onion and cook for ~2 minutes.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the curry powder and stir continuously until you can smell the spices.
- Add tomatoes, beans, and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil.
- Add honey and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Add the cod on top (don’t stir), cover the pan, and cook until the cod is done (~7-9 minutes)
- Transfer portions to plates, sprinkle with cilantro and squeeze a lemon wedge on top.
- Serve in shallow bowls and enjoy!
Just a quick jump across the Pacific Ocean brings us to Peru, home of…
Machu Picchu Stew With Sweet Potato & Chicken
For a thick, filling dish that’s packed to the brim with nutritious ingredients, it’s hard to beat this stew.
And you can imagine my surprise (and delight) to have discovered it completely by accident!
You see, I was going to an informal business meeting across the city and I decided that I needed to stop for lunch before arriving (I didn’t get a chance to eat anything until then). When I called to announce that I will be a little late, they said not to stop and that they are already enjoying a warm lunch which we can share before the meeting.
And what a lunch it was!
In addition to this glorious stew, they also had a cold quinoa salad and ceviche that altogether made one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. And you know I had to steal the recipe. Here it is:
- 2-3 chicken breasts (cubed)
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 2 sweet potatoes (cubed)
- 2 red bell peppers (chopped)
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 1 can black beans (drained)
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- Greek-style yogurt (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep bottomed pan and cook chicken.
- Remove chicken from the pan to a plate, leaving the oil and rendered fat.
- Add sweet potato and cook until it starts to brown, stirring occasionally (~10 mins.).
- Add onion, bell peppers, salt, and pepper and cook 2-3 mins.
- Add stock, chili powder, thyme, sage, beans, and cooked chicken and stir well to mix.
- Let cook for ~10 minutes until sauce thickens.
- Garnish with yogurt if desired, serve in shallow bowls with good bread and enjoy!
For the last stop on your culinary tour, I’m going to leave you in Eastern Africa with a dish that’s become a weekly staple in my home…
Mt. Kilimanjaro Creamy Lentils
Now, this dish warms me down to my bones.
The first time I tried these creamy, earthy, and utterly delicious lentils I was at a local restaurant. I practically begged the owner for the recipe until he finally gave up and let me have it.
The trick with this dish is in the lentils. Instead of using standard green lentils, replace them with red lentils – the red variety cooks extremely fast. So fast that you’ll need to check them often to prevent overcooking.
- 2 tbsps butter
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 stalks celery (chopped)
- 1 carrot (chopped)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3-4 cups vegetable stock
- Dash of vinegar
- 2 cups red lentils
- 1 potato (chopped)
- A small handful of roasted peanuts (unsalted)
- 4 cups baby spinach
- ½ cup whole cream (or half and half)
- A handful of fresh parsley (chopped)
- Salt and pepper
- Heat oil in a pan and add onion, celery, bay leaves, and carrot. Add salt and pepper and cook for 4-5 mins. to soften.
- Add stock and vinegar and bring to a low boil.
- Add lentils, potato, and peanuts and return to boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15-20 minutes, keeping a close watch on the lentils.
- When the lentils are done, gently mash some potatoes against the side of the pot to create a thicker texture.
- Turn off the heat and add cream, spinach, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to mix, cover, and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Serve in deep bowls with crusty bread and enjoy!
I hope these three quick dinner ideas find you in great health and that you give them a try. They’ve been absolute life-savers for me and they’re the ones I turn to whenever I want to whip something up in a hurry.
Just remember, great food doesn’t have to take hours to cook.
And these quick dinner ideas are the living proof!
If you want even more delicious and healthy meal ideas, you might want to check out these diabetic friendly (so, low carb) breakfast recipes.