101 fast and quick–also good!–meals!

I wrote this a few years ago, inspired by an article in the New York Times with the same gimmick that I personally found unspeakably dreadful. This list had been hanging out on my old lagustasluscious.com site and the formatting was pretty bad, so here it is, all spiffed up. I’m looking forward to referring to it as I make meals for my sweetheart and me now that I’m freed from the shackles of the meal delivery service. My mom uses this list as a little mini-cookbook—I hope you like it too!

(Update: here’s what my mom had to say about it, via Facebook: I just printed it out and yes, the formatting is much better than the early version. For others who may be similarly inclined: I’ve made many of these meals & they are all delicious. The first page alone will get you through 2 weeks of great simple vegan meals (you just have to remember to take it to the grocery store so you can buy everything). #3 — addictive! #10 — easiest ever. etc. etc.) The mom seal of approval! (What etc. etc. means I am not sure. Maybe they are all “easiest ever.”?)

 

101 simple, tasty meals ready in about 10-25 minutes

  1. Avocat vinaigrette: pour your favorite vinaigrette into a ripe avocado. Amazing. Simple nice vinaigrette: 1/2 c olive oil, 2 tablespoons nice vinegar, pinch sea salt, pinch pepper, 1 ts. nice mustard. Whisk. I first had this meal on a high school trip to Paris, and it’s been a staple ever since. With some gorgeous lettuce and bread, you’re fat and happy and ready for anything.
  2. The best summertime sandwich: really really good sourdough bread, homegrown tomatoes, sea salt (preferably fleur de sel – it’s pricey, but it’s the difference between a nice sandwich and an amazing one), really really good olive oil. Maybe a leaf or two of homegrown basil, preferably lemon basil.
  3. Caramelized tofu: Weight 1 lb. firm tofu for an hour. Mix 1/4 c shoyu with 6 Tb. sugar. Shallow-fry tofu in grape seed oil, then add the shoyu mix. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until caramelized. Serve with rice, noodles, steamed vegetables, anything!
  4. Aglio e olio: While pasta cooks, make a sauce from lots and lots and lots of minced fresh local garlic cooked over quite low heat slowly in lots of really really good olive oil with a pinch of hot pepper flakes, stirring often and adding chopped parsley, sea salt, fresh pepper, and lemon juice in at the end.
  5. Chimichangas: Fry up some tempeh, onions, 1/4 of a small can of chipotles in adobo sauce (I like the brand with a woman on the label that spells chipotle “chilpotle.” (more or less depending on your hotness preferences) maybe some greens, shiitake mushrooms, or other veggies. Season with freshly ground cumin, sea salt, fresh pepper and some chopped cilantro. Make tidy square burritos with good-quality tortillas, then deep-fry in grape seed oil. Deep fried dinner, yo!
  6. Avocado on rye: Rub really good rye bread (the no-knead bread, perhaps?) with a garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil. Toast lightly. Mash avocado with some sea salt and balsamic vinegar. Spread on bread along with lettuce, maybe some chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Good with nice potato chips.
  7. The easiest Thai curry: Simmer coconut milk with Thai Kitchen green or red curry paste to taste. Serve with steamed veggies, rice noodles, and sautéed tempeh. If you have any combination of cilantro, Thai basil, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, galangal, peanuts, and/or kaffir lime leaves, add them too.
  8. The easiest Indian curry: Stir-fry veggies and tofu with Penzey’s Maharajah curry powder to taste (expensive, but the best curry powder you! will! ever! taste!). Serve with steamed greens, and rice cooked with cardamom pods (discard before eating).
  9. The easiest Malaysian curry: Stir-fry veggies with a mix of ginger, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, fennel seed, and cardamom to taste. Add chopped cashews, shredded (unsweetened) coconut, and ground sautéed tempeh. Serve with steamed veggies and potatoes.
  10. BEANS ON TOAST! Yes! Heinz vegetarian baked beans + toast + possibly a broiled tomato. Strangely awesome. Not at all strange if you’re British, of course.
  11. The best tempeh reuben: caramelized onions, toasted rye bread, homemade (or Bubbies brand) sauerkraut, sautéed really thin tempeh slices, equal parts vegan mayonnaise and mustard. And pickles. (Isa’s tempeh reuben in phyllo sounds pretty rad too, if you want to go all out.)
  12. A nice northern Tuscan greens supper: cooked white beans with sautéed bitter greens (escarole is great) and lots and lots of olive oil and minced garlic, with cooked pasta, sea salt, pepper, maybe some shoyu. Add some water to make this into a nice soup!
  13. Homemade kim chi (see the amazing book Wild Fermentation for a recipe) and rice. Perfect.This is what we make in my household when the cupboards are seriously bare.
  14. Homemade pesto and nice pasta – of course! Try replacing some of the basil with greens like arugula or collard greens. Olives are nice with this meal, and I also make an olive pesto with basil, blanched collard greens, and green olives, pulsed in the cuisinart with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.
  15. The easiest fancy dinner (maybe this one will take you 20 minutes, not including baking): Caramelized onions, lots and lots of broiled summer squash slices, fresh thyme (lemon thyme! YES!), layered between sheets of phyllo dough brushed with olive oil, sea salt, fresh pepper. Bake until golden brown, 275, 25 minutes or so.
  16. Miso broiled eggplant: Mix sweet white miso with some sake and sugar, then slather on eggplant and broil until bubbly. When my sweetheart and I are in Hawaii visiting his father, we make this with thin Japanese eggplants from the garden almost every night.
  17. The first recipe I ever made up was called Carrot Yum, I served it at a hair-dyeing party in college (I had gorgeous pink hair at the time), and it goes like this: Sauté carrot coins in grape seed oil with brown mustard seeds and chopped ginger. Add toasted sesame oil, shoyu, and lots and lots of shredded basil, maybe even some cooked beans. I used to serve it with black soybeans. Serve with whole wheat noodles. I miss my pink hair.
  18. Peas and carrots and pasta, only tastier than that sounds: Chop up a whole mess of carrots. Sauté. Combine equal amounts miso, rice vinegar, and shoyu. Add some chopped ginger and a little chopped garlic, and a splash of toasted sesame oil.  Add to pan when carrots are almost done. Add peas. Cook until cooked down and saucy. Serve with pasta, maybe some greens.
  19. A gigantic Greek salad is the best summer meal imaginable: local lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and cukes, those weird pickled pepperoncini peppers that always have yellow dye in them, and Kalamata olives. Toss with Greek dressing:  6T olive oil, 2T fresh lemon juice, 1t finely minced garlic, 1t dried oregano, s&p to taste.
  20. Spicy peanut noodles: while udon or soba noodles are cooking, mix 1/4 c peanut butter with 1/4 c vegetarian hoisin sauce, 1 ts. chili-paste-with-garlic (or hot pepper flakes), 1/4 c hot stock, water, or black tea, 2 Tb. shoyu or tamari, and a little lime juice or rice wine vinegar and sugar. If you have it, add some toasted sesame oil. Garnish with slivered scallions.
  21. Sesame peanut noodles: the exact same meal as above, but with sesame paste (tahini).
  22. Grapefruit and avocado salad: lettuce (watercress + Boston lettuce is rad), pink grapefruit sections, thick avocado slices, super thin red onion slices, toasted almonds, and a nice thick salad dressing made with olive oil, white miso, grapefruit juice, sea salt, fresh pepper, and mustard, maybe some maple syrup too. If you have mint and cilantro in the garden, mix those with the lettuce.
  23. Broiled eggplant, Mediterranean-style: broil or grill Japanese eggplant rounds with olive oil, then toss with nice pasta, sea salt, fresh pepper, a little pesto if you have it or pretty much any fresh herb if you don’t.
  24. Red pepper pasta: Roast a red pepper, peel off skin, and purée with olive oil, Sherry or balsamic vinegar, sea salt, fresh pepper, maybe a little stale sourdough bread soaked in water for a minute, even. Nice with mashed or baked potatoes. This is a simple version of romesco sauce, a classic Spanish sauce. If you add almonds, it will be even more authentic.
  25. Soba noodles with dipping sauce, a nice summertime lunch: Cook soba noodles, then rinse in cold water. Toss with a little sesame oil. Make a dipping sauce with shoyu, finely minced ginger and maybe a little garlic, sake or mirin, some hot chile paste if you want, and finely diced scallions. A little lemon or yuzu juice is welcome too, as is some sesame oil.
  26. Taco (salad) night! Try to find high quality tortillas, fry or bake to make taco shells, high-quality or homemade salsa, high-quality or homemade refried beans, high-quality or homemade guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, high-quality or homegrown cilantro.
  27. Chili buffet. If you’re me, you have 5 quarts of delicious from-scratch chili in the freezer. Come to my house for dinner and I will dress it up with: avocado slices, red onion slices, homemade tofu sour cream (um…leave a comment and I will post the recipe, or maybe it’s in The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld? I think it might be.), homegrown basil and cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and lime slices.
  28. Summer squash “pasta”: Slice summer squash and zucchini into thin ribbons to resemble noodles. Toss with a healthy (and by that I mean “a ton”) amount of olive oil and some sea salt. Broil or grill. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. You’re good to go.
  29. Roasted garlic to the rescue: Purée cooked white beans with a lot of roasted garlic, Tabasco sauce, lots of chopped rosemary, a lot of olive oil, sea salt, fresh pepper. If you have a lot of time you could pipe this mixture into fluted mushroom caps, but you don’t have a lot of time so you can eat it with pita chips while watching re-runs of The Office. If you’re somewhere in between you can rub good pita bread with olive oil, sprinkle it with zaatar, and broil for a minute to make your own pita chips.
  30. Tofu teriyaki: Fry up some tofu in grape seed oil, then cook for a few minutes with a sauce made from shoyu, sugar or agave syrup, minced ginger, maybe some sake or apple juice. Add carrots and maybe even some burdock, cook in the sauce until cooked through. Garnish with scallions cut on a sharp diagonal. Adventurous eaters can add some arame or other sea vegetable.
  31. Mushrooms on toast: Fry the hell out of as many good-quality mushrooms as you can find in a blend of nice olive oil and grape seed oil. Don’t crowd the pan, let them get nice and brown. Add a ton of chopped garlic in at the end. Add chopped parsley and serve with any delicious carb.
  32. Homemade baba ganoush, only really good: Roast eggplants (scroll down to “char-roasted eggplants”), peel, put flesh into food processor with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil. Pulse until coarsely mixed. Fold in chopped parsley, sea salt, a little cayenne. Mix in a little water if too thick.
  33. Tomato bruschetta: Cut really thick slices from really good tomatoes (Brandywines would be perfect). Arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle with pesto (you do keep pesto in ice cube trays in the freezer, right?), finely minced bread crumbs (the freezer is also where your old bread ends go, naturally), sea salt, fresh pepper. Broil until tasty. Serve on bread with finely chopped fresh herbs and toasted pine nuts.
  34. Quickest Thai-style soup in the world: Bring coconut milk, Thai curry paste, and lots of chopped ginger and garlic to a boil. Toss in some noodles (if you see these things called “rice flakes” in your Thai market, get them and use them – they are little square rice noodles, very strange and awesome) and chopped veggies that take a little while to cook (carrots, etc). Cook until veggies and noodles are just done. Add any veggies that only need a minute or two to cook (green beans, greens). Add lime juice to taste, maybe tofu cut into small dice, and garnish with Thai basil.
  35. Quickest (bestest) miso soup in the world: Bring water to a boil, throwing in any sea veggies you happen to have on hand, as well as any leftover chopped veggies you need to use up. In a big bowl, add a little bit of this broth and mix with really good (South River is a brand to look for) miso. Add cooked rice or noodles (or quinoa, cous cous, millet, Bhutanese red rice, ETC!), maybe some greens, and fill up the bowl with the broth. Not flavorful enough? Add more miso. Add hot pepper sauce, shoyu, lime juice, etc. to taste.
  36. Vietnamese tofu salad: Thinly slice tofu and arrange beautifully in a platter just like your best friend’s Vietnamese mother would. Drizzle with dressing made from lime juice, shoyu, Chinese chile-paste-with-garlic, light (not toasted) sesame oil, and finely chopped peanuts. Garnish with lots of sliced cucumbers, Thai or Italian basil, mint, and whole chilies. Eat with your hands, making little wraps with nice lettuce leaves.
  37. If the above is a little too “light” for you, try it with peanut sauce (see #20) instead of the lime dressing. Maybe thin the peanut sauce out with some of the lime dressing! Vietnamese tofu salad with peanut dressing!
  38. When I was a kid I would make twice-baked potatoes as follows: Bake potatoes, scrape out, mix filling with a can (horrors!!!) of mixed vegetables, lots of olive oil (I used to use margarine! Shameful!), maybe some garlic POWDER, and salt. Stuff, sprinkle with paprika, rebake. These days I would use fresh veggies, and would fry up some ground tempeh and add it.
  39. Really good miso gravy and mashed potatoes: Make gravy with a chopped onion and chopped mushrooms cooked in grape seed oil, then add chopped garlic, some flour, some mustard, nutritional yeast, dried thyme and basil, tomato paste, sherry, miso, and a bottle of beer. Add enough water to make it a good consistency. Simmer 20 minutes. Mash taters.
  40. Main-dish tofu salad: Thinly sliced tofu mixed with shredded cabbage and carrots, tossed with a dressing made from a little toasted sesame oil,  grape seed oil, lemon juice, shoyu, and fresh pepper. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds, and yes this is the famous tofu salad from Bloodroot restaurant in Bridgeport, CT, but I worked there for years, and so I am stealing it. That’s their miso gravy up there too!
  41. Quick dahl: Cook red lentils, making them a little mushy. Cook chopped garlic and ginger in grapeseed oil, then add brown mustard seeds, lots of ground cumin and coriander seeds, a little ground cardamom, and fresh cilantro. Ha ha, tricked you into working! You just made a tadka – a classic South Indian technique. Fold it into the lentils. Serve with steamed rice and veggies, or good-quality naan.
  42. Turnips and apples: Fry up a whole mess of turnips (first sear to get a little brown, then add water and cook through, don’t overcook!) with fried fakin’ bacon. Add apple slices and some cider, sugar, cook a few minutes, garnish with chopped sage. Nice with pasta.
  43. Curry-scented mushrooms: Cook a whole lot of mushrooms over super high heat. When properly seared, add curry powder, then chopped garlic. Cook 1 more minute, then add a ton of chopped cilantro, lemon juice, and sea salt. Serve with cooked chickpeas and cous cous. You could do a lot worse on a weeknight.
  44. Eggplant caviar: Roast eggplants, then toss with olive oil, red onion slices, minced garlic, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, sea salt, fresh pepper, and parsley.  Serve with white beans and rye bread. For extra fanciness, add some pomegranate seeds.
  45. Roasted pepper sandwich: Roasted red or orange peppers, olive oil, sea salt, fresh pepper, lettuce, lemon juice or a balsamic vinegar, a baguette. You’re done.
  46. Summer rolls: Rice paper wrappers, plus peanut sauce (see #20), plus lots of fresh herbs, lettuce, tender summer veggies, thinly sliced harder veggies. Roll it up. Don’t call it a “wrap” or I will boink you over the head.
  47. Spring rolls: The above, fried in grape seed oil. Serve with a peanut or sesame/shoyu/rice vinegar dipping sauce.
  48. Spanish rice and beans: Cook rice (just slightly underdone) then fry with onions, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, cumin, chopped tomatoes. Serve with homemade or good-quality refried beans and cilantro.
  49. Braised fennel with white beans: Fry up a whole bunch of sliced fennel until it’s a little crispy on the outside, then add some white wine (or Pernod!) and fennel seeds. Put the lid on and cook until fennel is crisp-tender. Serve with any cooked grain or pasta, with maybe some fresh tarragon and white beans.
  50. Fennel ragoût: The above, but made into a stew with some diced onions, minced porcini mushrooms, and diced carrots cooked in olive oil until lightly browned, some water added, and a bit of coconut oil added at the end to make everything creamy.
  51. Romantic summer sandwich: A hollowed-out baguette filled with farmer’s market tomato slices, avocado slices, olive oil, sea salt, and a few (unsprayed) ROSE PETALS!
  52. A foraged dinner: Walk around your yard. Look up the things you find to see if they are edible. I bet you $100 you will find enough for a nice, free meal. Look for: purslane, lamb’s quarters, dandelion greens, mulberries, milkweed, violets, Tiger lilies, edible flowers, burdock…mushrooms are for 2.0 foragers, but if you know what you’re doing, you’ll have a feast!
  53. Saag: Cook lots and lots and lots of fresh greens with lots of cumin seed, chopped chilies, coriander, turmeric powder, garlic, and sea salt. Serve with steamed rice and red lentils.
  54. Related: creamed greens: I’ll just point you to this blog post with an interview with me with the recipe!
  55. Make a nice pasta sauce with some chopped tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, maybe some sugar and vodka, sea salt, fresh pepper. Cook up some pasta. Fry sage leaves in olive oil until crispy and serve on top.
  56. Cuban dinner: fry up ripe plantains in grape seed oil. Cook rice in coconut milk diluted with water. Add black beans, cumin, sea salt, cilantro.
  57. Moroccan eggplant stew: Fry up some chopped eggplant and a chopped onion. Add a few chopped tomatoes, garlic, sea salt, fresh pepper, maybe some chili powder, and a bit of pomegranate molasses (I bet it’s at your supermarket, or else it’ll be at a Middle Eastern market). Serve with cooked French lentils, brown rice, and a green salad. Garnish with mint. If you want to get fancy add some seitan.
  58. A hearty, wintery Japanese dinner: Separately, cook short grain brown rice and adzuki beans. Fry up some onions, then add ginger, garlic, mirin or sake, and any veggies you have on hand. Add adzuki beans and cook for a few minutes. Serve over the rice.
  59. Caramelize a whole ton of onions. Fry up a whole ton of chopped fakin’ bacon. Serve with vegan store-bought high-quality pierogies. (Or make your own!)
  60. No vegan pierogies to be found? Add a bunch of greens, chopped garlic, and whatever herbs you have on hand, and serve over pasta.
  61. Black bean salad: A favorite lunch of mine that ABSOLUTELY will not work with canned beans. Cook beans (I like black or anasazi beans for this) until just soft. Toss with your favorite vinaigrette while hot (the secret!). So nice. I like to make the vinaigrette not too sour for this.
  62. Specifically, here’s a bit more of a specific black bean salad: A nice cold black bean salad: Toss cooked black beans with a vinaigrette made with olive oil, lime juice, mustard, and vinegar. Chill. When cold, add lots of sliced radishes, scallions, and parsley.
  63. Cook some polenta, but make it pretty soft (add more water than your recipe calls for). Serve with greens fried until practically crispy and with lots and lots of garlic, chopped tomatoes, and nice sea salt. Puréed white beans are nice folded into this too.
  64. Middle eastern lentils and rice (mujaddara): caramelize a few onions in insane amounts of olive oil. Add a bunch of paprika, a tiny bit of cayenne, and sea salt and fresh pepper in at the end. Mix with cooked French lentils and rice. Serve with pita bread, pickled peppers and beets, if you can find them, and olives.
  65. Seared green beans with coconut: Sear green beans in a little grape seed oil over highest heat, then toss with shredded (unsweetened!) coconut, mustard seeds, cumin seeds. Add a little bit of water and cook for another minute or two. Add sea salt to taste. Serve with cooked chickpeas and rice.
  66. Market dinner: Make a big platter with super thinly sliced fennel, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, anything that looks nice at the farmer’s market and can be eaten raw. Scatter olives, sliced pepperoncini peppers, and toasted walnuts over the whole thing. Serve with flat bread, lettuce, and a nice vinaigrette.
  67. Grilled vegetable platter: Make platter as above, but substitute raw vegetables for grilled ones, like eggplant, pepper, and summer squash.
  68. Quickie pad Thai: rice noodles, sauce made from tamarind concentrate or lime juice, Chinese chili-paste-with-garlic, hoisin sauce. Add tofu, mint leaves,peanuts, bean sprouts, scallions.
  69. Pizza salad. You think I’m going to say you should make pizza and put lettuce on it or some crap like that, but I’m thinking about that old pizza you’ve got in the back of the fridge. Cut it into bite-sized pieces and use it like croutons on a nice salad. I shamelessly stole this one from my friend Aaron.
  70. Vegetables with reduced balsamic: Open the windows. Cook one cup of balsamic vinegar over medium-high heat until it’s reduced to 1⁄4 cup. (Feeling fusion-y? Add some lavender, fresh or dried, to the vinegar!). Mix with a little olive oil, sea salt, fresh pepper, and toss with the nicest farmer’s market veggies you can find, steamed. Are you rich? Skip the cooking part and buy 30-year-old balsamic vinegar. Use as is.
  71. Chinese-y: Stir fry onions, red peppers, broccoli, then add greens and lots of scallions. Add chopped ginger and garlic, then some shoyu, black pepper, and maybe some sake. Add cubed tofu, then cook until crisp-tender. Serve with nice noodles or rice, you know the deal. Don’t even think about adding those little fried noodle things that come in cans. I might love pepperoncini peppers that have yellow dye in them, but I draw the line at those dudes.
  72. Go to the farmer’s market. Get a bag of good tomatoes. Eat them for dinner, maybe with some salt, maybe with some olive oil. Sexy!
  73. Stuffed summer squash with cinnamon-chipotle sauce: Mix together 1⁄4 of a small can of chipotles in adobo sauce with some cinnamon, then thin it out with a little olive oil. Grill or broil summer squash, eggplant, peppers, anything you can think of, adding this sauce as necessary. Eat cold, over cooked pasta.
  74. Eat the above sauce with smashed new potatoes with greens mixed into them.
  75. Colcannon, the Irish classic. Make mashed potatoes with lots of olive oil, sea salt, fresh pepper, no need for any milky thing. Sauté cabbage and collard greens in grape seed oil, then fold both together. Surprisingly lovely.
  76. Make a nice vinaigrette with olive oil, vinegar, sea salt, fresh pepper, then blend it up with some pitted olives and chopped red onion. Serve over any steamed veggies, lettuce, cooked beans, grains, etc.
  77. Go to Chinatown and get some green tea soba noodles, or just use regular soba noodles. Cook them, then drain in cold water and toss with shoyu, sesame oil, some sugar, rice vinegar. Serve with sliced cucumbers, scallions, and maybe mint.
  78. Take the Thai curry from #7 and turn it into a noodle stir-fry – add cooked wide rice noodles and stir fry them until they get nice and mushy if you like them that way (medium heat), or nice and crispy, if you like them that way (high heat), then add just enough of the sauce (coconut milk simmered with Thai Kitchen green or red curry paste to taste) to make it a bit juicy. Thinly slice raw veggies and serve them on top.
  79. Buy prepared vegetarian dumplings. Deep-fry them in grape seed oil and make a nice sauce for them – either the peanut sauce from #20 or a tamarind sauce like the one in #65, or a Japanese dipping sauce made from shoyu, minced ginger, and dry sake.
  80. Buy prepared vegetarian dumplings. Add them to the soups from #34 and #35 for dumpling soup. (You think this is cheating? Have you read the Mark Bittman article that inspired this? I quote: “Ketchup-braised tofu: Dredge large tofu cubes in flour. Brown in oil; remove from skillet and wipe skillet clean. Add a little more oil, then a tablespoon minced garlic; 30 seconds later, add one and a half cups ketchup and the tofu. Cook until sauce bubbles and tofu is hot.” The day I eat a chunk o’ fried tofu with a sauce made of nothing more than ketchup and a little bit of garlic is the day I hang up my chef’s knife. Just to deign to eat that meal would make me have to quit. Also, it’s obvious that Bitt has never fried tofu like that – it just doesn’t work, yo. Try cornstarch. Or pressing it first. Otherwise you’ll get burnt flour bits + raw tofu.)
  81. Get some amaranth greens—the Union Square NYC farmer’s market has some, so do many farmers and CSAs, and so does my yard, and so can you if you plant amaranth one year. It’s bright red and has that spinachy oxalic acid thing happening.—and some arugula, also some Boston lettuce and watermelon cubes. Make a vinaigrette with lemon juice, fruity olive oil (greener rather than yellowy) and a little bit o’ salt. Toss all together. Dress salad lightly. For super fanciness, add sunflower sprouts, pine nuts, red onion slices.
  82. Watermelon slices with sea salt. Watermelon with freshly-ground fennel seeds mixed with salt. Watermelon drizzled with rosewater. Watermelon drizzled with pomegranate molasses. Watermelon with cardamom powder. Watermelon with chile powder à la that mango carved into a flower and dunked in chile powder thing you can get on the street in New York from tiny Mexican women. Watermelon with the reduced balsamic vinaigrette from #67 – be sure to put the lavender into it. Watermelon with a vinaigrette made with serrano chilies, Champagne vinegar, thyme, lime juice, olive oil, and chopped shallots. Watermelon with raspberry vinegar. Icy-cold supermarket watermelon in the backyard in the morning before it gets too hot out, spitting the seeds out to the side while reading The Bell Jar, your dark brown bangs hanging in your eyes, juice running down your wrist and staining the pages like blood, the summer you were 15. Yellow seedless watermelon at your sweetheart’s mother’s wooden kitchen table, grown by your partner’s childhood friend who is trying to be a farmer but it’s driving him crazy, eaten without talking, juice running down your wrists, your bleached and dyed violet hair wild and tangled the summer you were 19 and had just fallen in love. Heirloom flavor-bomb watermelon at the kitchen table you share with that same sweetheart, grown by your friends Ron and Kate, eaten without talking, juice running down your wrists, your henna-dyed black healthy hair tied back neatly the summer you are 29, and still in love.
  83. I used to have this crazy client named Dorothy who only wanted me to make the following salad for her. She ate it for every meal, and swore it was a trick for magic weight loss. The first day I came to her house I opened her refrigerator and there was nothing but nail polish and a bottle of ketchup in it. When I inquired about this, she informed me proudly that “that’s 10 years worth of nail polish collecting, darling!” I don’t know if she ever lost weight (she wasn’t fat) because after 2 weeks I was gone. But once in a while it’s a nice light meal: thin slices of carrots (use a vegetable peeler), thin slices of a daikon radish, thinly sliced scallions, thinly sliced radishes. Get some dried shiitake mushrooms, then soak them in hot water just to cover for 20 minutes. Strain, saving mushroom liquid. Thinly slice (it’s all about THIN in this dish, baby) the shiitakes, then reduce the cooking liquid to a tablespoon or two and use that, along with some tahini, rice vinegar, and shoyu, to dress the whole thing.
  84. Roast a whole bunch of beets, then slice them up and toss with dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, capers, chopped red onion, sea salt, and fresh pepper. Top with chopped chives, parsley, or any nice herb.
  85. Quick coleslaw: Slice up some cabbage, red pepper, mince a red onion and grate some carrots. Blend some almonds with some mustard, olive oil (I once did this with hemp seed oil. Omega 3s! It was good!), red wine vinegar, Tabasco, and sea salt. Add water to get it the right consistency. Mix the liquid with the solid. That sounded gross, but this is good. There is a longer cole slaw recipe at the bottom of this post.
  86. Broil or grill some nice peaches. It’s OK if they are a little less than ripe. Serve them with your favorite salad dressing (one made with raspberry vinegar would be yummy, wouldn’t it?), nice lettuce, and nice bread. If you have any leftover, have them over vegan ice cream for dessert – but not if you grilled them in the same spot where, say, the veggie burgers were grilled.
  87. Stuffed eggplant: Hollow out some of those nice small round eggplants you can get at farmer’s markets. Mix the flesh with tomato sauce or just tomatoes, some wine, bread crumbs, some nutritional yeast, maybe a little mustard, maybe some pomegranate molasses (as in #54). Bake, dousing with wine if it looks too dry, until eggplant is cooked.
  88. OK, let’s say you don’t like coconut milk. Not for fattiness reasons, because we all know coconut is good for you. In one of the curries that mentions coconut milk above, you could make a nice sauce by putting almonds or cashews in the blender with some water for a while. Add a little miso or nutritional yeast, maybe.
  89. Quick main dish sorta minestrone soup: Simmer for 20 minutes: all the leftover veggie bits in the fridge, cooked beans, cooked pasta, garden herbs, plus some nutritional yeast, tomato paste, maybe some sautéed onions with garlic if your leftover veggies aren’t that exciting. If you have some kombu (sea vegetable), simmer it with the soup, then remove it. If you have pesto, add it. Eat the soup with bread. If your bread sort of sucks, dry it out in the oven, tear it into chunks and put it into the bowls before you pour in the soup. It’ll taste better that way. Buy better bread next time, then rub it with garlic and toast it a minute, then eat it with the soup.
  90. If I was forced to eat a veggie burger and bottled tomato sauce, I would make a quick bolognese sauce: grind the burger up into tiny bits in the food processor, fry the shit out of it, then add it to the tomato sauce to make it more, um, “meaty.” Then I would add some red wine and coconut milk to my sauce (it won’t taste coconutty, I promise) and simmer it for as long as I could stand it. Serve with wide pasta like pappardelle, but watch out because some of that crap has eggs in it. If I wasn’t forced to eat a veggie burger, I would use ground tempeh that I had made myself and dice some onions, carrots, tomatoes, tempeh bacon, celery, tomato paste, red wine, and coconut milk to make the sauce instead of the tomato sauce.
  91. My friend Noel once told me, without realizing that this was my recipe, that this sounded “horrible.” It is not. It is, however, a certain shade I privately call “labia pink.” That’s not really accurate, it’s more like 1980s hot pink, I’m just always looking for an excuse to talk about my favorite color. So, cook some spinach fettuccine. Grate some beets and cook them in olive oil with some garlic. Make some tofu sour cream (see #27) and add it to the beets with some cayenne (and by some I mean a tiny bit), some paprika (and by some I mean a lot), lots of parsley and lemon juice. I like it.
  92. Tofu + curry powder (+ shoyu, cumin seeds, fresh ginger, garlic) green beans = good dinner. Cook it first.
  93. Sudanese mashed eggplant: weirdly amazing. Fry up eggplant, then add peanut butter, ground coriander, lemon juice, hot pepper flakes. Serve with toast. (Adapted from a great book, The Africa Cookbook)
  94. Tzimmes! Fry chopped carrots a little in grape seed oil, add thinly sliced lemons (thanks to Selma for that tip!), broth or white wine or water, some natural brown sugar, some salt. Cook until it tastes good. Garnish with parsley. Serve with noodles tossed with olive oil and poppy seeds. Ess! (“Eat” in Yiddish!)
  95. Make ice cream with avocadoes, pineapple juice, coconut milk, and a little sugar. Since it has avocadoes in it, call it a salad and eat it for dinner. Buy one of those fancy ice cream cone makers (pizzelle irons, I think they are called) and make ice cream cones that look like chips and pretend the ice cream is guacamole. But chips and guac is not really a great dinner either, so just admit it’s ice cream, read a trashy magazine (I like Taste of Home, aka Trailer park Food of America) and call it a night.
  96. Drunken pasta: Make the aglio e olio as above, #4. Be sure to use spaghetti or even bucatini pasta. Undercook the pasta a bit, then drain it and add a half bottle of red wine to the pot (Chianti!). Return the pasta to the pot and slowly cook it in the wine until the pasta is done, the wine is used up, or you’re ready to eat. Sauce with the aglio e olio.
  97. Make polenta using a high ratio of polenta to water. Spread on a cookie sheet. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters, then broil until a little browned. Serve with tomato sauce.
  98. A favorite dinner of mine is soft polenta with steamed greens, hot sauce, and cooked beans.
  99. I have been working on this for 3.5 hours and have not yet eaten dinner. I’m going to have chickpea bouillabaisse with rouille sauce, sourdough bread, a glass of white wine, and blueberry cobbler for dessert. I don’t eat 10-minute meals (she says as she looks down her nose at you). Which is why you will find that I have used the whole 10-minute thing very loosely and most of these meals will take a bit longer. (But not as long as my meal for tonight, which took me 4 hours the other day…but I also made 15 quarts of bouillabaisse, 3 cups of rouille, and 15 2-cup portions of cobbler. Oh, and the bread, being real sourdough, took 2 days, plus a bit of 30-year-old sourdough starter.)
  100. Even though this was fun to do, and even though I know that if most people ate my “quick meals” most of the time our palates and moods would be vastly improved, I get a little sad seeing how little time most people spend on dinnertime. Sometimes it just takes a while, and that should be OK. That’s my problem with Mark Bittman. Instead of just saying that food sometimes takes time, he pretends that faster always is better. It obviously is sometimes, and sometimes he does come up with wonderful quick meals, but overall, we just need to spend more time making dinner. More money, too!
  101. And finally, a summer drink: Mix champagne with a little rosewater. So nice! Rosewater should be at the supermarket, or the Indian market, or the health food store, in that awesome “weird ethnic stuff we don’t know how to classify so it’s all getting lumped together – tamarind paste, rice noodles, hoisin sauce, rosewater, pomegranate molasses – what is this stuff?” section.

Ess!

12 thoughts on “101 fast and quick–also good!–meals!

  1. Pingback: YOU’RE WELCOME (I’m awesome) « resistance is fertile

  2. Hi Lagusta,
    I made the mushroom gravy yesterday without miso or beer and substituted wine for sherry–it was still awesome! It was really awesome with this…uh…fake roast we had bought for Thanksgiving but didn’t use.
    I like how there are no measurements. It confused my partner who claimed that these were not recipes, but I like it like this.
    Keep on being awesome and inspirational!

  3. Pingback: 101 fast and quick–also good!–meals! (via Lagusta’s Luscious!) « OntheWilderSide

  4. Great list- My husband and I make many similar recipes and adhere to the same style of cooking- We usually make huge batches of peanut sauce and freeze it- Rice Paper rolls is one of our favorite go to week night meals- such a great way to get fresh veggies- We also love to use miso in our cooking.
    I tweeted your post- all the best- and nice to ‘meet’ you- Ren

  5. Lagusta!

    I’m committing to a month of vegan lunches, and I’m so glad to have found this list again. Because when I cook for myself in the middle of the day, it has to be fast and yummy.

    Thank you, thank you!

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