You’re probably thinking that we all love to cook here at New York Times Cooking. And for the most part we do! We cook for work, we cook for fun. But we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that sometimes we cringe at the thought of planning another week of meals, or groan when the last of the ketchup is gone because it means another slog to the grocery store. Sometimes everything (pointing wildly in all directions) is just too much. These recipes are for those days when your survival instinct tells you to order takeout (which we do all the time) but your heart craves 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, mince the garlic and use mashed tomatoes or canned tomato sauce like a reader’s grandmother does. Garnish with any combination of avocado slices, sautéed mushrooms, lime juice, queso fresco, boiled potatoes, or Mexican cream.
Ali Slagle’s vegetarian sheet metal dish is mercifully simple. Mix the Shelf Stable gnocchi, mushrooms, spring onions, shallot and olive oil on a baking sheet, season well with salt and pepper and fry until the gnocchi are crispy on the edges. (For more info, check out this guide by Melissa Clark on how to put together a tin dinner from just about anything.)
Recipe: Tin gnocchi with mushrooms and spinach
In this take on gyeran bap, a Korean pantry dish of fried eggs scramble in white rice, Eric Kim simmers the eggs in browned butter, drizzles with soy sauce and sesame oil, then sprinkles salty toasted seaweed over the finished dish. Many readers like to sprinkle the whole thing with some furikake or sesame seeds.
Recipe: Gyeran Bap (Egg Rice)
One of the original set-it-and-forget-it recipes, Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce is made with just three ingredients: canned tomatoes, a whole onion (peeled and halved), and butter. Simmer for about 45 minutes, then serve over any pasta. Ms. Hazan called for the onion to be thrown away, but many readers balk at the idea and serve large chunks alongside.
Thanks to Cuban socialite Elena Ruz Valdés-Fauli for this beautiful sandwich adapted by Christina Morales. In the late 1920s or early 1930s, while dining at the El Carmelo restaurant in Havana, Mrs. Valdés-Fauli ordered turkey, strawberry jam and cream cheese on a soft medianoche bun. It became a national sensation. Replace the medianoche with any soft white bread like brioche.
Recipe: Elena Ruz sandwich
Some one-pot recipes are myths, but this one from Yasmin Fahr, which comes together in 20 minutes, is the real deal. Fry Italian sausage until crisp, then add tomato passata, cumin, red pepper flakes, water and pasta. The noodles cook in the seasoned liquid, so the dish is rich in flavor throughout. (Reader tips: To avoid mushy noodles, don’t add too much water and stir regularly to keep the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pot.)
Recipe: One pot pasta with sausage and spinach
Shrimp, hot sauce, butter, neutral oil and salt are all you really need for this Ali Slagle quick shrimp dish. According to readers, any hot sauce will work. Serve over rice or with a piece of crusty bread.
Recipe: Prawns with spicy sauce
Alexa Weibel made this clever vegan riff on the classic Italian pasta dish in 30 minutes. Make a quick sauce with nutritional yeast, cashew butter, miso, and roasted black peppercorns, then toss in boiling water with al dente pasta and a dash of starchy pasta until glossy and emulsified.
Recipe: Vegan Cacio e Pepe
This old-school Sloppy Joe recipe by Marian Burros was first published in The Times in 1989. It pairs well with ground beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or plant-based meats. Start a sheet pan full of Tater Tots in the oven before you start browning the meat, and you’ve got a leisurely school cafeteria-style meal ready in under 25 minutes.
Recipe: Sloppy Joe’s
This no-cook dish by Hetty McKinnon is a favorite among New York Times Cooking editors when ambition is low in the kitchen. Silken tofu is coated in a vibrant dressing of soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and scallions. Add fresh herbs or garnish with fried shallots or roasted peanuts. For a fun contrast, serve it alongside a bowl of hot rice or pasta.
Recipe: Silken tofu with spicy soy dressing
It might seem like a little fancy Sunday dinner, but this Mark Bittman Fried Chicken is one of the easiest things you can make. Salt and pepper the tails from the chicken, heat your skillet, dip the chicken in the skillet (be careful of splattering), and fry until done. If you remember to slide a potato or two onto the oven rack to bake alongside. (It might take a few more minutes, but let it continue to bake while the chicken is resting.)
Chef Roy Choi gave The Times this delightful instant ramen recipe topped with an egg and a slice of American cheese in 2014. It’s not authentically Korean, but it’s a dish that many Korean Americans grew up eating. “It’s our snack, it’s our peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it’s our cereal bowl,” Mr. Choi said.
Recipe: Perfect instant ramen
This crazy easy recipe from Sam Sifton will make you feel like you’re winning at life. It’s just Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and salmon, but the result is a melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful piece of fish that’s ready in under 20 minutes.
Recipe: Roasted salmon with brown sugar and mustard
You may have seen this Sarah DiGregorio recipe before, but it’s so good and easy that it deserves a repeat. You add boneless chicken thighs, chipotle en adobo, honey, and some seasoning to the slow cooker, then let it cook for 3 to 5 hours. (Here’s an Instant Pot version that you can make in the Dutch Oven in a 300 degree oven for about 3 hours.)
Recipe: Slow Cooker Chipotle Honey Tacos
That can of chickpeas in your closet is calling out to you. In this recipe, Kay Chun pairs them with a lemon tahini dressing, celery, and spring onions, and sandwiches the hearty mixture between two pieces of multigrain bread. It’s also great to be eaten right out of the bowl you mixed it in with tortilla or pita chips.
Recipe: Chickpea Salad Sandwich
From Priya Krishna and Ritu Krishna’s “Indian: Recipes and Escapades of a Modern American Family,” this deliciously simple dish melts in your mouth. Combine cooked rice with sautéed onions, chili and tomato, top with cheddar and grill until golden.
Recipe: Tomato rice with crispy cheddar
If you’re truly wiped out, assembling, not cooking, is the name of the game. This veggie salad from Corinne Trang calls for cannellini beans, avocado, cilantro, and lemon juice tossed with a simple garlic oil made by Crispy Garlic in Olive Oil. Top the finished salad with lemon zest and crispy fried garlic chunks – a nice textural contrast to the creaminess of the beans and avocado.
Recipe: White Bean Avocado Salad with Garlic Oil
Melissa Clark craves snow peas and mushrooms in this 30-Minute Red Coconut Curry, but feel free to use any veggies you have in your fridge. Honestly, it’s hard to screw up this dish. Just keep in mind that you may need to increase the cooking time for savory vegetables. (For a non-vegetarian red curry, try Ali Slagle’s adaptation of Kua Kling, a dry southern Thai red curry made with ground chicken.)
When in doubt, there is always breakfast for dinner. Genevieve Ko deftly cooks bacon and eggs together on a sheet pan so everything cooks evenly with no turning required. Be sure to start with room temperature eggs. If you forgot to take them out of the fridge in time, place them in a bowl of hot tap water and let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Recipe: Crispy oven bacon and eggs