Some of my favorite weeknight dinner options are the ones with only a few ingredients -- dishes I can remember easily after a long day. Nothing complicated. Each of these options comes together with eight ingredients or less. As an added bonus, you can put them together in 30 minutes or less. Try them, and they may well become favorites of yours too.
Take advantage of the great summer corn now in season with this garden salad. Lightly cooked corn kernels and chopped tomatoes are tossed with a little tart vinegar; the vinegar and natural juices from the fresh corn and tomatoes are all you need to dress this dish (no oil-based dressing needed). Add sliced green onion and chopped celery to finish the dish.
A touch of fresh-toasted bread crumbs can literally transform a dish, whether sprinkling them over vegetables or gratins, they even work magic drizzled over desserts. And they can elevate a simple pasta dish too, as Food editor Russ Parsons shows in this amazing (and simple) recipe for spaghetti with arugula and garlic bread crumbs.
Nothing beats the heat like a cool summer soup. For a variation on classic gazpacho, try this white gazpacho with grapes. Nicely thickened with soaked bread and ground almonds, the simple soup is further flavored with a few cloves of garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar. Garnish it with green grapes and dinner is served. You can find the recipe below.
The basic oil and bread emulsion is also the starting point for white gazpacho, such as ajo blanco con uvas (white garlic with grapes). Made with ground almonds, garlic, bread, olive oil and vinegar and garnished with grapes, this cold soup comes from the rich Moorish-Arabic heritage. More than the sum of its parts, ajo blanco is both unusual and delicious.
You can find all three 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
GARDEN CORN AND TOMATO SALAD
Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 25 minutes * Vegetarian
5 ears corn
2 pounds tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups sliced green onions
1 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Lettuce leaves, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and cook 3 minutes. Remove the corn from the pot and plunge into cold water to cover.
Drain the corn, then slice the kernels from the cobs: Place each cob, stem end down, on the counter and, with a sharp knife, cut down on the cob. You'll have about 4 cups of corn.
Combine the corn, tomatoes, green onions, celery and basil in a large bowl. Add the vinegar and salt. Stir to evenly mix the ingredients.
Spoon into a lettuce-lined bowl and serve. 8 servings. Each serving: 97 calories; 743 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 0 saturated fat; 23 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 3.07 grams fiber.
SPAGHETTI WITH ARUGULA AND GARLIC BREAD CRUMBS
Total time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, split in half lengthwise
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup finely chopped arugula
1. Combine the bread crumbs in a small saucepan with the garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir to coat well; there should be only a light trace of oil in the bottom of the pan. Season with a pinch of salt and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the crumbs have darkened and toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to a small bowl and set them aside to cool slightly. When cool, discard garlic.
2. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of liberally salted, rapidly boiling water. When it is tender but still slightly chewy, drain it and combine it in a mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the chopped arugula. Add 5 tablespoons toasted bread crumbs and toss to coat well.
3. Divide among 4 to 6 shallow pasta bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano to taste. Serve immediately.
Each of 6 servings: 370 calories; 10 grams protein; 58 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 48 mg sodium.
WHITE GAZPACHO WITH GRAPES (Ajo blanco con uvas)
Total time: 25 minutes, plus optional chilling time
Note: This gazpacho is best made with fresh almonds, shelled, blanched and skinned. To blanch and skin almonds: bring a saucepan of water to a full boil. Add the almonds and blanch them for 60 seconds. Drain. While they are still warm, slip the skins off.
6 slices day-old bread, crusts removed (6 ounces)
1 cup blanched and skinned almonds
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water, plus extra for soaking the bread, divided
12 green grapes, seeds removed if there are any
1. Soak the bread in enough water to cover until it is softened. Squeeze out the water and place the bread in a food processor or blender with the almonds and garlic. Pulse until the almonds are finely ground.
2. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow stream, then the vinegar and salt. Blend in some of the 2 cups water, then pour the mixture into a pitcher and add remaining water. This makes about 41/2 cups gazpacho.
3. Serve immediately or chill until serving time. Stir before serving. Serve the gazpacho in small bowls with grapes.
Each of 4 servings: 576 calories; 11 grams protein; 32 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 47 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 1,464 mg. sodium.