You probably think all of us here at The New York Times Cooking love to cook. And for the most part, we do! We cook for work, we cook for pleasure. But we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we sometimes wither at the thought of planning another week’s worth of meals, or groan when the last ketchup runs out because it means another chore at the grocery store. Sometimes it’s just too much (wild gesture in all directions). These recipes are for those days when your survival instincts tell you to order takeout (which we do all the time, too), but your heart longs for something homemade.
This traditional Mexican soup from Jocelyn Ramirez is cozy and uplifting. If you can’t get good fresh tomatoes or don’t have a blender, chop the garlic and use crushed tomatoes or canned tomato sauce like a reader’s grandmother makes. Top with any combination of sliced avocado, sautéed mushrooms, lime juice, queso fresco, baked potatoes or Mexican cream.
This one-sheet vegetarian dinner from Ali Slagle is thankfully simple. Toss the shelf stable gnocchi, mushrooms, green onions, shallot and olive oil on a baking sheet, season well with salt and pepper, then roast until the gnocchi is crisp the edges. (For more information, this guide by Melissa Clark can show you how to make dinner on one plate with just about anything.)
In this version of gyeran bap, a Korean pantry meal consisting of fried eggs mixed with white rice, Eric Kim cooks the eggs in browned butter, drizzles them with soy sauce and sesame oil, then scatters salted roasted seaweed on the finished dish. Many readers like to sprinkle the whole thing with a little furikake or sesame seeds.
Recipe: Gyeran Bap (egg rice)
One of the original make-it-and-forget-it recipes, Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce has just three ingredients: canned tomatoes, a whole onion (peeled and halved), and butter. Simmer for about 45 minutes, then serve over any noodles you like. Ms. Hazan called for tossing the onion, but many readers bristle at the idea and serve chunks of it on the side.
Thank Cuban socialite Elena Ruz Valdés-Fauli for this beauty of a sandwich, adapted by Christina Morales. In the late 1920s or early 1930s, Mrs. Valdés-Fauli, dining at El Carmelo restaurant in Havana, requested turkey, strawberry jam and cream cheese on a roll of soft medianoche. It became a national sensation. Replace the medianoche with any soft white roll, such as brioche.
Recipe: Elena Ruz Sandwich
Some one-pot recipes are myths, but Yasmin Fahr’s recipe, which comes together in 20 minutes, is the real deal. Fry the Italian sausage until crisp, then add the crushed tomatoes, cumin, red pepper flakes, water and pasta. The pasta cooks in the seasoned liquid, so the dish is rich in flavor throughout. (Tip to readers: To avoid mushy noodles, don’t add too much water and stir regularly to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pan.)
Shrimp, hot sauce, butter, neutral oil and salt are all you really need for this quick shrimp dish from Ali Slagle. According to readers, any hot sauce works. Serve over rice or with a piece of crusty bread.
Recipe: Spicy Shrimp Sauce
Alexa Weibel whipped up this nifty vegan riff on the classic Italian pasta dish that comes together in 30 minutes. Make a quick sauce using nutritional yeast, cashew butter, miso and toasted cracked black peppercorns, then toss with al dente noodles and a little boiling water for starchy pasta until stiff. they are shiny and emulsified.
Recipe: Vegan Cacio and Pepe
This old-fashioned sloppy joe recipe by Marian Burros was first published in The Times in 1989. It works well with ground beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or plant-based meats. Pop a pan full of tater tots in the oven just before you start browning the meat, and you’ll have a cozy school cafeteria-style meal ready in less than 25 minutes.
Recipe: Sloppy Joes
This no-bake dish from Hetty McKinnon is a favorite among New York Times Cooking editors when cooking ambition is low. Silken tofu is covered in a lively vinaigrette of soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar and green onions. Add fresh herbs or garnish with fried shallots or roasted peanuts. For a happy contrast, serve it with a bowl of hot rice or noodles.
It might sound a little fancy for a Sunday sit-down dinner, but this rotisserie chicken from Mark Bittman is one of the easiest things to make. Salt and pepper the chicken dickens, heat your pan over high heat, then place the bird in the pan (watch out for splattering) and roast until done. If you think about it, slide a potato or two onto the oven rack to cook on the side. (It may take a few more minutes, but let it continue to cook while the chicken rests.)
Chef Roy Choi gave this delicious instant ramen recipe with an egg and a slice of American cheese to The Times in 2014. It’s not authentically Korean, but it’s a dish that many Korean Americans have had fun with. grown up. “It’s our snack, it’s our peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it’s our cereal bowl,” Choi said.
Recipe: Perfect Instant Ramen
This simple and crazy recipe from Sam Sifton will make you feel like you’ve won in life. It’s just Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and salmon, but the result is a melty, flavorful piece of fish that’s ready in less than 20 minutes.
You may have seen this recipe from Sarah DiGregorio before, but it’s so good and easy, it’s worth repeating. You put boneless chicken thighs, adobo chipotles, honey, and some pantry spices in the slow cooker, then cook for 3-5 hours. (Here is a Instant Pot versionand you can dutch it in a 300 degree oven for about 3 hours.)
Recipe: Slow Cooker Honey Chipotle Tacos
That box of chickpeas in your cupboard is calling your name. In this recipe, Kay Chun combines them with a lemon-tahini dressing, celery, and scallions and sandwiches the hearty mixture between two pieces of multigrain bread. It’s also great to eat straight from the bowl you toss it in with tortilla or pita chips.
Recipe: Chickpea Salad Sandwich
This deliciously easy dish from “Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics From a Modern American Family” by Priya Krishna and Ritu Krishna melts in your mouth. Combine cooked rice with sautéed onion, chilli and tomato, top with cheddar, then broil until golden.
Recipe: Tomato rice with crispy cheddar
When you’re really wiped out, assembly, not cooking, is the name of the game. This vegetarian salad from Corinne Trang calls for cannellini beans, avocado, cilantro, and lemon juice, which are tossed with an easy garlic oil made by crisping sliced garlic in olive oil. Top the finished salad with lemon zest and crunchy fried garlic pieces – a nice textural contrast to the creaminess of the beans and avocado.
Melissa Clark calls for snow peas and mushrooms in this 30-minute red coconut curry, but you can use any veggies you have in your fridge. Frankly, hard to ruin this dish. Remember that you may need to increase the cooking time a bit to get thicker vegetables. (For a non-vegetarian red curry, try Ali Slagle’s adaptation of Kua Klinga dry red curry from southern Thailand, made with ground chicken.)
If in doubt, there is always breakfast for dinner. Genevieve Ko cleverly cooks bacon and eggs together on a baking sheet, so everything cooks evenly, with no need to flip. Be sure to start with room temperature eggs. If you forgot to get them out of the fridge in time, put them in a bowl of hot tap water and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.