5 Fast, Flavorful Dishes for Fall
Homey 20 minute recipes from the vast Kitchen Express archive
Just past Labor Day, with back to work and school (after a very long hiatus), we’re seeing plenty of fast recipes for busy people — something that Mark has prioritized throughout his career. Perhaps no book is more apt for the moment than Kitchen Express: 404 Inspired Seasonal Dishes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less. The 2009 book has a streamlined format that we’re seeing more of — recipes that are “precisely imprecise.”
“There’s almost never a critical difference between one onion and two,” Mark writes. “A ‘head’ of broccoli might weigh one or one-and-a-half pounds; a steak may be three-quarters to an inch and a half thick— to try and force cooks to follow recipes demanding precision robs them of their ability to improvise, to relax, to substitute, to use their own judgment.” Even a fast, potentially delicious 20-minute meal made with real ingredients is something to celebrate.
Read on for the first two budget-conscious recipes — lemony red lentil soup with cilantro, and a grilled cheese and apple sandwich for a nice lunch or super casual dinner; plus mushroom pasta; braised chicken with olives and raisins; and scallops with almonds.
Lemony Red Lentil Soup With Cilantro
Cook a chopped onion in olive oil in a saucepan until soft; add one cup of red lentils and four cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil, continue simmering until the lentils are soft. Puree a handful of cilantro with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt; set aside. If you like, puree half the lentils until almost smooth; return to the pan. Add about two tablespoons of lemon juice or more to taste. Stir in the cilantro puree, adjust the seasonings, and serve with crusty bread or a mound of rice in the center.
Gruyere Apple Grilled Cheese
Butter slices of good quality sourdough bread. Layer gruyere cheese and thinly sliced tart apples and top with another slice of the buttered bread. Cook the sandwiches in a few tablespoons of melted butter — you can use a press or an ordinary skillet with a bit of weight on top of the sandwich— turning once, until the cheese has melted and the bread is colden brown on both sides, about eight minutes total. (Feel free to add bacon if you’d like.)