3 speedy and sensational dinner recipes that take 35 minutes or less

Posted by for Food and Drink

From takeaway-worthy burgers to a deliciously hearty 30-minute soup, these recipes by food writer and stylist Rosie Reynolds are the ultimate cooking shortcuts. 

If you’re currently experiencing food fatigue, you’re not alone. It’s now been almost a year since we could regularly eat out without worrying about a deadly virus – and millions of us have been working from home during this time, too, requiring us to pull together three square meals a day in our far-too-familiar kitchens.

Given that it used to be easy to go 24 hours without cooking once (grabbing a pastry on the way to work, a salad over lunch and meeting a friend for dinner at a restaurant), it’s hardly surprising that many of us are now heartily sick of thinking about what to eat. Even the most diehard foodies have felt their enthusiasm waning. 

“Remember that episode of Friends where Rachel has Joshua over for dinner, serves him food that was really made by Monica, and waves away his compliments by saying: ‘Cooking soothes me’? That used to be me, except I really meant it,” says Stylist’s Moya Crockett. “Pre-pandemic, I found it genuinely relaxing to get home after a long day at work and spend an hour – sometimes more – in the kitchen.

“But now, I’m so bored of cooking I could scream. For the first time in my life, I’ve found myself wishing I could get all the nutrients I need from a single pill, like something out of a science fiction film. Anything to save me from deciding what to have for dinner.”

The Shortcut Cook by Rosie Reynolds
The Shortcut Cook by Rosie Reynolds (£15, Hardie Grant) is out now

If that sounds familiar, a new cookbook may be the solution. The Shortcut Cook by Rosie Reynolds (£15, Hardie Grant) features more than 60 classic recipes by the trained chef, recipe writer and food stylist, all of which have been tweaked and tested until they’re as quick, easy and aesthetically pleasing as possible. 

In practice, that means recipes like scrambled egg tacos, spicy pork loin with rice noodles and lemon meringue pie, whittled down to the tastiest essentials. Reynolds isn’t afraid of using a microwave, shop-bought ingredients or food from the freezer, and describes her cooking philosophy as a “straightforward, practical approach to preparing delicious, beautiful food without pretence”.

Below, Reynolds shares three recipes from her new book: a 16-minute shrimp burger with sriracha mayo; a 30-minute minestrone soup; and a 35-minute saag paneer with kachumba salad. Hands up who’s already excited to get back in the kitchen?

  • Shrimp burger with sriracha mayo

    prawn burger recipe with sriracha mayo
    Quick and easy dinner ideas: Rosie Reynolds' shrimp burger with sriracha mayo

    Rosie says: “These shrimp burgers couldn’t be easier. Half the prawns are whizzed to a coarse paste and half are roughly chopped: the protein from the whizzed prawns holds the burgers together – no eggs or breadcrumbs required.

    “I don’t shape my shrimp burgers, I simply drop the mixture into the hot oil and then roughly push it out into a burger shape. Doing it this way means you get some nice crunchy bits at the edges, which eat really well. The sriracha mayo is optional, but when something tastes this good, why wouldn’t you give it a try?”

    Serves 4

    Prep 10 minutes

    Cook 6 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 600g raw prawns
    • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
    • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
    • small handful of coriander, stems and leaves separated and finely chopped
    • zest of ½ lime
    • 1 tbsp light-flavoured oil
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the sriracha mayo:

    • 2 ½ tbsp mayonnaise
    • 1 ½ tbsp sriracha chilli sauce

    To serve:

    • 4 sesame-seed buns
    • handful of rocket
    • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced

    Method

    Put half of the prawns into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times until roughly chopped, then tip out into a mixing bowl.

    Add the remaining prawns to the food processor and pulse until a coarse, paste-like texture is achieved. Add to the bowl with the chopped prawns.

    Mix in the spring onions, chilli, coriander and the lime zest, along with plenty of seasoning.

    Divide the burger mixture into 4 equal parts.

    Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, spoon the portions of burger mixture into the pan and gently flatten to form 4 burger shapes. Fry for 6 minutes, turning halfway through.

    Meanwhile, make the sriracha mayo by simply mixing the mayonnaise and sriracha sauce together.

    Split the buns and toast the cut sides. Spread the buns with spicy mayo, then add a little rocket, some avocado slices and a shrimp burger to each. Chop the zested lime in half, for squeezing, if you like.

    Make ahead

    The burger mix can be made in advance, covered and chilled for up to 2 days.

    The sriracha mayo can be made and chilled for up to 1 week.

    The shortcut

    Whizzing the shrimp to a paste ensures that the proteins hold the burgers together without the need for binders, such as eggs. Scoops of burger mix are fried and roughly shaped in the pan so no fiddly shaping here.

  • My minestrone

    easy minestrone soup recipe
    Quick and easy dinner ideas: Rosie Reynolds' minestrone soup

    Rosie says: “This is one of my go-to recipes and we eat it regularly, dressed up in myriad different ways – my favourite is with loads of olive oil, parmesan and garlic-rubbed toasts. I grate the vegetables directly into the pan to save time on chopping. I use orzo, but you can use whatever pasta you have – just make it small. Broken-up spaghetti works a treat.

    “I also stir in a generous amount of finely grated parmesan at the end of the cooking time, which ensures that the all-important umami flavour is stirred throughout the soup while also transforming it into an unctuous bowl of goodness, packed full of vegetables and flavour.”

    Serves 4

    Prep 15 minutes

    Cook 15 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
    • 100g smoked bacon lardons or pancetta cubes
    • 2 carrots
    • 1 onion, peeled
    • 1 celery stalk
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
    • ½ tsp dried oregano
    • 400g tin good-quality chopped tomatoes
    • 1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
    • 100g kale, chopped
    • 75g orzo pasta or small soup pasta
    • 75g parmesan or cheddar, finely grated
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Heat the olive oil and the bacon lardons together in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Holding a box grater directly over the top of the pan, use the coarse side to grate in the carrots, onion and celery, then flip the grater around and finely grate in the garlic. 

    Increase the heat to high and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring frequently until the veg is soft.

    Throw in the bay leaves, oregano and tinned tomatoes.

    Use the tomato tin to measure out 2½ tinfuls of water and add to the soup along with the vinegar. Stir in the kale and orzo, pushing them down with a spatula to submerge them in the liquid.

    Bring to a simmer, then partially cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

    Remove the pan from the heat, quickly add a quarter of the grated parmesan and stir into the soup until melted – the soup should turn a creamy red colour and thicken slightly.

    Season well with salt and pepper and leave to stand for a few minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve drizzled with olive oil and plenty of the remaining parmesan.

    Make ahead

    You can cook this up to the point of stirring in the cheese and keep in the refrigerator for 2–3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

    The shortcut

    Grating instead of dicing will save a good 30 minutes, depending on how good or bad your knife skills are.

    Stirring in parmesan thickens and adds a long-cooked mouthfeel without the time deficit.

  • Saag paneer with kachumba salad

    easy saag paneer recipe
    Quick and easy dinner ideas: Rosie Reynolds' saag paneer with kachumba salad

    Rosie says: “This is my go-to Indian takeaway order, but I am often left disappointed by what I get, so I came up with my own supereasy version, which means consistency every time.

    “I make a spice mix to coat and marinade the paneer – it forms a delicious crust on the cheese and forms the basis of the spinach sauce. The frozen spinach really does the rest of the work and creates a smooth, delicious, fresh base.”

    Serves 4

    Prep 10 minutes

    Cook 25 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp ground cumin
    • 2 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1½ tsp chilli powder
    • 1½ tsp ground coriander
    • generous pinch of salt
    • 2 x 250g packs paneer, cut into 2cm cubes
    • light-flavoured oil, for frying
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 1 green chilli, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, grated
    • handful of coriander, leaves and stalks separated and chopped
    • 500g frozen spinach
    • 100ml double cream

    For the kachumba salad:

    • ½ cucumber, halved lengthways
    • 4 ripe tomatoes, halved
    • ½ small onion, finely chopped
    • pinch of cumin seeds, bashed
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the mint sauce:

    • 150g plain yoghurt
    • 2 tsp shop-bought mint sauce
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    To serve:

    • mango chutney, naan bread or chapatti and/or rice

    Method

    First, make the kachumba salad. Use a teaspoon to scoop the seeds out of the cucumber and tomatoes, then finely chop them into small dice. Transfer to a bowl, along with the onion and cumin seeds. Season and mix together. Set aside.

    In a separate bowl, make the mint sauce. Mix together the yoghurt and mint sauce with some seasoning, and set aside.

    In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the ground spices with a generous pinch of salt. Tip half of the spice mix out into a small bowl and set aside. 

    Lightly wet your hands with water, then toss the paneer in the remaining spice mix until well coated (the water from your hands will help the spices stick to the paneer).

    Heat a generous glug of oil in a large non-stick frying pan with a lid set over a medium–high heat. Add the paneer and cook on all sides for 2–3 minutes, turning frequently, until golden and a crust has formed. Remove from the pan and set aside.

    Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the onion and fry for 3 minutes until starting to soften. Tip in the chilli, garlic, coriander stalks and the remaining spice mix, and fry for 1 minute, or until fragrant.

    Dot the frozen spinach over the surface of the pan, cover the pan with the lid and cook for 12 minutes, stirring halfway through. Stir in the cream, return the paneer to the pan, and heat through.

    Serve with the kachumba salad and mint sauce, along with some mango chutney and bread or rice, if you like.

    Make ahead

    You can coat the paneer in the spice mix up to a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator – even better flavours will develop. This is great reheated and can be made up to 2 days in advance.

    The shortcut

    Using frozen spinach means no washing leaves, no wilting, and no blitzing to a sauce – quicker to make than to order a takeaway. The added mint sauce and salad helps to get the takeaway feel at home.

    From The Shortcut Cook: Classic Recipes And The Ingenious Hacks That Make Them Faster, Simpler And Tastier by Rosie Reynolds (£15, Hardie Grant), out now

Photography: © Louise Hagger

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