Hail Mary Pasta
and cookbook author Debbie Koenig created this dish one not-so-leisurely evening when she was staring down the clock and found withering grape tomatoes and zucchini in the fridge. Her time-saving trick: Crank the oven up to 500 degrees. The tomatoes blister and burst in the time it takes the water to come to a boil and the pasta to cook. And don't forget to save some of the pasta water to help the browned vegetable bits release from the pan.
Get the recipe: Hail Mary Pasta
A Shrimp and Veggie Dish That Isn't a Stir-Fry
Oozy, crispy quesadillas are the perfect back-pocket recipe for time-pressed cooks. You can make this version with any vegetable, from baby spinach, carrots and bell peppers, to asparagus or butternut squash. Adding chopped shrimp makes it more filling. And blogger and cookbook author Gabi Moskowitz promises this isn't just a fast dinner—it's also cheap. Two servings cost just $13.
Get the recipe: Shrimp-Vegetable Quesadillas
Photo: Food & Wine/Stephanie Foley
The key to making rich-tasting patties quickly is to use preseasoned meat. Italian sausage—whether sweet, hot or a combination—does the job nicely. This recipe has you remove the casing, press the sausage meat into burgers and grill it. And a lightning-fast topping of garlicky spinach takes just three minutes to cook and makes the burgers even tastier.
Get the recipe: Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach
The Pasta Dish That Tastes Like It Took Hours to Make
How do you build deep flavor in less than a half hour? Here's one brilliant technique: Start with three varieties of mushrooms—oyster, shiitake and cremini—and cook each type separately, which helps them caramelize. Then, hit up the power players—garlic, dried chili peppers and lemon zest—to finish the dish.
Get the recipe: Buckwheat Soba Noodles with Sautéed Mushrooms, Shallots and Mint
The Pork Chops You Just Sear, Simmer and Sauce
Mark Bittman says this method, which is essentially a quick braise, is perfect for pork chops: The browning helps the meat taste rich, while the moisture keeps it tender and juicy. You can make the dish with apples and onions, just onions, or onions and peppers or mushrooms.
Get the recipe: Skillet Pork Chops with Apples
A Tropical Dinner Right at Home
While the flavors of a Caribbean-inspired salsa made with mango, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime zest and juice mingle in the fridge, you sear salmon in an oven-safe skillet and finish it under the broiler. A generous spoonful of salsa completes the dish—and you can use any leftovers on chips.
Get the recipe: Salmon with Mango Salsa
Photo: Food & Wine/Quentin Bacon
The basil–pine nut sauce is one of the fastest in an Italian cook's repertoire. But this version changes things up by subbing in broccoli rabe and walnuts. While the greens have more bite than basil does, the nuts smooth everything out.
Get the recipe: Linguine with Walnut & Broccoli Rabe Pesto
The "Less Really Is More" Meat Dinner
Bittman sums up this recipe as "salt, pepper, meat, heat, eat." Even with the five-minute resting time (trust us, it's worth it), this is one superfast main dish home cooks can rely on for Tuesday's supper or Saturday's party.
Get the recipe: Grilled or Broiled Steak
The Très Vite Supper
Though seared sea scallops in a citrus-wine sauce sounds fancy enough to be something you'd order at a French restaurant on a night out, this lovely meal is totally within reach at home on a busy weeknight. Prepare a pot of wild rice as soon as you get into the kitchen, so it's ready when the entrée is.
Get the recipe: Sea Scallops with Orange and Rosemary
The Less-Messy, Easier and Speedier Lamb Chops
Roasting bone-in lamb chops doesn't take more than 10 minutes if you cook them in a skillet that you've preheated in a very hot oven (just turn the kitchen fan on and open a window before jacking up the heat). Bittman's favorite cut is the shoulder chop, which has the most complex flavor and texture. (Bonus: It's also the least expensive.)
Get the recipe: Oven-Seared Lamb Chops
Juicy Chicken in a Flash
If your go-to boneless, skinless chicken dish starts and ends with olive oil and a grill pan, it's time to try this impressive but just-as-fast preparation. You brown the flour-dusted chicken in oil and butter, and then keep it warm in the oven while you use white wine and water or stock to make a rich sauce.
Get the recipe: Chicken Cutlets with Quick Pan Sauce
The Plan-Ahead, 6-Minute Dinner
Taking 15 minutes in the morning to throw shrimp, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, cayenne pepper and salt together and letting them marinate for five hours means you can forget about dinner until 6. The shrimp only take about three minutes per side to cook, and their summery flavor pairs perfectly with guacamole and margaritas.
Get the recipe: Spicy Citrus Grilled Shrimp
Keep Reading: 13 more superfast dinners