Easy dinner recipes: Shrimp pasta, chicken curry and shaking beef salad

Can't figure out what to fix for dinner tonight? Whether you're craving beef, chicken or shrimp, we've got great dishes with bold flavors that come together quickly and easily.

Capellini al gamberetti: Love shrimp? Fresh and bright with large shrimp, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic and a sprinkling of fresh parsley, Capellini al gamberetti, a pasta dish from Napoli restaurant in Loma Linda, doesn't get any easier. Make it in less than 30 minutes.

Massaman curry with chicken: Bright and fresh and mildly spicy, Cholada Thai's homemade Massaman curry paste in this recipe marries perfectly with sweet coconut milk in this rich, slow-simmered chicken stew. Start to finish, it's ready in an hour.


Shaking beef salad: A salad version of the Vietnamese entree, this dish from Gingergrass in Silver Lake works perfectly as a one-dish meal combining the hot, sauteed beef over a cool watercress salad. Strips of filet mignon are marinated in a traditional combination of garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar. Shortly before serving, whisk together a light, ginger-garlic dressing to toss with a salad of crisp watercress and thinly sliced red onion. The beef is quickly sauteed in a wok or skillet until caramelized and aromatic, then arranged on the chilled salad and topped with chopped green onions.

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


Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Napoli Italian Restaurant in Loma Linda

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound large (16 to 20 count) shrimp, peeled and cleaned

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup drained jarred artichokes

Salt and pepper

1/2 pound capellini (angel hair) pasta, cooked al dente in salted water

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

1. Heat a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the olive oil, shrimp and garlic and cook, tossing or stirring frequently until the shrimp is just cooked, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes and artichokes and continue to cook until the mushrooms are softened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Stir in the pasta and parsley, and toss to combine and warm the pasta. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Each serving: 519 calories; 29 grams protein; 50 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 168 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 328 mg sodium.


Total time: 1 hour

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Cholada Thai Cuisine in Thousand Oaks. The restaurant uses Mae Ploy brand coconut milk, which is generally available at Thai and Asian markets, as well as well-stocked Asian sections of select supermarkets. Lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and shrimp paste are generally available at Thai and Asian markets.

Massaman curry paste

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoons ground clove

10 dried Thai chiles, chopped (seed the chiles for less heat)

1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped

4 ounces shallots (from 3 to 4 whole), peeled and chopped

2 ounces lemongrass (about 1/2 stalk), trimmed and chopped

1 thumb-size piece galangal, peeled and chopped

3/4 teaspoon chopped kaffir lime leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons shrimp paste

1. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds: In a small sauté pan, toast the seeds over medium heat until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Shake the pan frequently to keep the seeds from burning on any sides. Remove from heat and grind the seeds, along with the cardamom seeds, in a spice grinder, coffee mill or using a mortar and pestle.

2. Transfer the ground seeds to a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Add the nutmeg, clove, chiles, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Pound the ingredients until finely pulverized with no visible chile pieces. Add the shrimp paste and mash to combine. (If using a food processor, drizzle in a little water as needed to purée the ingredients to a paste.) This makes about 1¼ cups curry paste, more than is needed for the recipe. The paste can be made up to 2 weeks in advance, covered and refrigerated until needed.

Massaman curry with chicken assembly

1 tablespoon oil (soybean, peanut or corn oil)

3 to 4 tablespoons Massaman curry paste

1 (19-ounce) can coconut milk (unshaken so the cream rises to the top), divided

1 boiling potato, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size cubes

1 cup whole raw peanuts

1 tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Stir in the curry paste. Cook the curry paste, stirring frequently, until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Stir in the coconut cream (the thicker liquid at the top of the can). Simmer until the oil separates, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Stir in the potato and cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes just begin to soften, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken cubes turn opaque on the outside, about 3 minutes.

4. Stir in the peanuts and tomato and remaining coconut milk. Simmer for a few minutes to marry the flavors.

5. Stir in the sugar and fish sauce. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture darkens and the oil rises to the top, 15 to 20 minutes. If the sauce begins to thicken too much, stir in a little water as needed.

6. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Each serving: 697 calories; 37 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 53 grams fat; 30 grams saturated fat; 63 mg cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 858 mg sodium.

Total time: 35 minutes, plus marinating time

Servings: 2

Note: From Gingergrass in Silver Lake. This makes slightly more dressing than is needed for the recipe; it will keep refrigerated for 1 week.
1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/8 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup grapeseed oil

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger powder, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, grapeseed oil and black pepper. Set aside. Makes slightly more than one-half cup.
8 ounces filet mignon, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons diced yellow onions

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1/2 bunch watercress, washed and dried

1/8 cup thinly sliced red onion

Scant 1 tablespoon dressing

3 green onions, chopped

1. In a nonreactive container, toss the beef with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the minced garlic, the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

2. Heat a large sauté pan or wok over high heat and add the oil. Add the beef and sear until browned on all sides, then remove and drain on paper towels.

3. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic and diced onions and sauté for 30 seconds, until aromatic.

4. Return the beef to the pan and add the oyster sauce, shaking the pan to distribute the flavors, then remove from the heat.

5. In a medium bowl, toss the watercress with the red onions and a scant tablespoon of the dressing (enough to just coat the greens). Arrange the salad on a plate and top with the cooked beef. Garnish with the chopped green onions; serve immediately.

Each serving: 379 calories; 26 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 27 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 71 mg. cholesterol; 969 mg. sodium.