Getting dinner on the table in about 10 minutes can be a workout. If you plan to cook, rather than just nuke, that sort of speed requires a fair amount of multitasking. Which means your best bet is to stick with simple, one-dish meals.
But that doesn't mean you need to skimp on flavour. Here are my top tips for speed cooking:
• Make friends with fresh pasta. It's pricier than dry pasta, but it cooks in just minutes and has a wonderful texture. And to save time, the first step of any recipe involving pasta should be to set the water on to boil. This lets you do other things while the water heats.
• Fresh herbs taste best, but dried are faster (shaking a bottle versus washing and snipping). In this recipe, garlic powder does a respectable job standing in for fresh garlic.
• Opt for veggies that need little or no prep. Most grocers offer plenty of washed and chopped varieties. In this case, prewashed arugula needs nothing more than being tossed into the pan. Baby spinach is another good choice.
• Meat that cooks quickly - or is already cooked - saves time and can add tons of flavour. Cooked chicken sausages, prosciutto and chorizo need little work or time but add serious flavour.
• If the cheese will be melted or tossed with other ingredients, get the shredded or crumbled varieties. Not only is it faster, you also won't need to wash up the grater.
Fresh Pasta With Arugula and Chorizo
• 30 ml (2 tbsp) extra-virgin olive oil
• 5 ml (1 tsp) garlic powder
• Pinch red pepper flakes
• 250 g (8 oz) chopped or crumbled chorizo, casings removed
• 1 pkg (350 g/12 oz) fresh linguini
• 750 ml (3 cups) arugula
• 250 ml (1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
• Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over high, heat oil. Add garlic powder and red pepper flakes, then heat for 30 seconds. Add chorizo and saute until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add pasta to water and cook until just al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain pasta, then add it to skillet with chorizo. Toss well, then add arugula and cheese. Toss again until arugula is wilted and cheese melts. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 818 calories, 375 calories from fat, 42 g fat (14 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 76 mg cholesterol, 67 g carbohydrate, 41 g protein, 3 g fibre, 1,439 mg sodium.