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Your Favorite EASY Recipes

A few weeks ago Yahoo featured a recipe called "The Easiest (and Best) Tomato Sauce Recipe". It only had 3 ingredients! Well, of course I had to try that for myself, and since it was only 3 ingredients I had everything necessary on hand. So while I read the 805 reader's comments about the recipe, 801 from people who had never tried the recipe but were sure it was a joke and mercilessly bashed it, I put the Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes (ATK's #! canned tomatoes) in a skillet, set a halved onion in, and added a stick of butter. That's it, 3 ingredients. For 45 minutes I occasionally went over and stirred it, using the back of a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes.


As I waited to see the butter separate, which the recipe said is the indication that its done, I read all those comments about how this couldn't possibly be authentic Italian. It had no garlic, no oregano, it doesn't slow cook for hours, etc, etc.. Pages and pages from outraged doubters. And I agreed. I secretly didn't think there was any way this humble recipe would turn out other than bland, and I was already planning how I would doctor it with wine and garlic so that I could serve it for dinner.

By the time it was finished I was ready with garlic and fresh herbs to salvage the experiment. But just to be fair, I dipped a piece of bread in to taste. OMG.

I thought it was delicious! Sweet, savory, and rich - which you would expect with a stick of butter in it. It was all about the tomatoes.

At this point I should tell you that I am a Raos gal. I have shelves of jars of Raos. I have eaten at the restaurant (and yes, "you gotta know somebody"). I have made Raos actual recipe from Good Morning America including tracking down cans of the San Marzano tomatoes that Raos has flown in fresh daily to make their gravy. Really, I LOVE this stuff!

Well shut my mouth if this sauce wasn't rich and tomatoey and totally authentic tasting like you get in the San Marzano region of Italy. In fact, of the 1% of posters who actually knew this recipe, most of them said things like "Oh yeah, this is how my Nana who's from San Marzano makes her gravy. No fuss, just tomatoes onion and butter. In San Marzano its all about the tomatoes"

I never did doctor it. As instructed, I removed the onion and served it over pasta topped with fresh basil. It was delicious. In fact the next day I wanted it again for lunch. I had a near empty jar of Raos in the fridge so I did a taste comparison. I put Raos on one half of the pasta and this on the other. Anybody wanna buy 12 jars of Raos Marinara sauce?

I'm not saying its perfect for everyone because if you like garlic, or herbs or meat in your gravy, this would simply be an easy, rich tomatoey, 3 ingredient starting point. Did I mention easy?

Do you have a favorite EASY recipe?

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  1. Dinner in five minutes:
    Put enough olive oil in a pan to cover the bottom. When it's hot enough that you can see motion on its surface, pop in a nice fish filet that you've towel dried. Cook first side until golden brown, turn. Cook second side until golden brown, drop in a tablespoon or two of butter when the butter has melted and begun to brown, pour in a splash of white wine. Allow to cook another minute, plate. Top with fresh parsley or drizzle some of that amazing "Easiest (and Best) Tomato Sauce Recipe" over it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      I love that recipe. No tomato sauce needed.

    2. It is Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter which has been around for quite a while,and yes it is good! Sometimes I chop up the onion after the sauce is done and leave it in. Not much with a stick of butter in it which isn't good! LOL

      1 Reply
      1. re: Mother of four

        Yes, I dug this one up *after* coming back from Italy, to try and figure out how to make that delicious tomato sauce they served there. This was it. I do decrease the butter amount, though, and it still tastes good.

        I find traditional italian has a lot of really easy, few ingredient dishes that tastes amazing. This is one, another vegetable dish is green beans steamed, and dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar or lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and served at room temperature. It's also good using asparagus, or broccoli among other vegetables.

        I made pork with milk last night. Take a chunk of pork with the fat trimmed off, brown it in a bit of oil in a pot that's not too big. Pour in milk (about 3 cups, which should be enough to just cover it). Simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours or more. Remove the meat, let the sauce boil down until thick, add about a tablespoon of lemon juice, cook until it's thick and clumpy. Slice the meat and serve with the milk sauce. It looks gross, but is amazingly good.

      2. Todao, Yum, that sounds good! And fast! Do you have a fish you prefer? And can you do more than one filet in the skillet at a time?

        And Mother of four, did Marcella Hazan create this recipe? I got the feeling from posters talking about how their Nanas had been making this for generations that this was a traditional sauce in the San Marzano region. But if this Marcella Hazan created this amazing recipe then I say we should erect a statue to her! I am truly crazy for this sauce.

        Just last week I had a houseguest who is also a foodie and while we were hanging out in the kitchen I said "Hey, I've got to show you something." I popped the 3 ingredients into a skillet and while we visited I tried to convince her that this was really going to be something special. Well, when she went home she invited a few friends over for dinner, just so she could serve it!

        Like you say M o f, "Not much with a stick of butter in it which isn't good!".

        BTW, I read that the reason for removing the onion is because onions, like garlic, are not digested in the stomach but rather in the intestines which can cause bloating, and that's why some chefs cook with the onions and garlic whole, but then remove them before serving so that their guests don't get bloated afterwards.

        Anyone know for sure if this is true?

        2 Replies
        1. re: ski_gpsy

          " Do you have a fish you prefer? And can you do more than one filet in the skillet at a time?"
          Any firm fish filet will work just fine. I happen to prefer cod, halibut or tilapia but mahi mahi and others are good. I've done two filets at a time in one skillet but I prefer to do them one at a time, each in it's own skillet. My wife likes a squeeze of lemon at the finish, just before it comes out of the skillet. To each his own ....

          1. re: ski_gpsy

            Marcella Hazan included this traditional recipe in her 1992 book, but before that in a 1969 issue of Gourmet magazine, James Beard published the recipe (switch in garlic for the onion) in an article on quick pasta sauces. And for decades before that, Italians from the region had been making this gravy with just tomatoes, garlic or onion, and butter or olive oil. Basic ingredients, and the same in that there were only three.

            The final comment from Mr. Beard in the article was "The delicacy of the fresh tomato flavor will astound you."

          2. Make this very rarely, from Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Delicious, but oh that stick of butter.

            1. As others have said, this is Marcella Hazan's recipe and it is indeed delicious -- I really like it with the recommended bucatini. And don't throw that onion out! Chop it up and eat it on crostini. Or just eat it. :)

                1. I thought of another EASY recipe, one I already posted on the "Your Favorite Manufacturer's Recipe" thread but I wanted to post it here because its soooo EASY. Its a variation on the recipe from the back of the Famous Chocolate Wafers box (*see photo).

                  To the 'Famous Refrigerator Roll' recipe of whipped cream, vanilla, and chocolate wafers I add;

                  1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
                  1 tablespoon sugar

                  which turns it into a 'Coffee and Cream Cake'! I've also heard it called "Chocolate Cappuccino Cake", "Mocha Cream Roll", "Cafe au Lait Log",etc. Whatever you call it, its yummy.

                  Basically you just whip the cream add the sugar, vanilla and espresso powder and assemble. You make it a day in advance so the wafers swell and moisten into chocolate cake consistency. Garnish with chocolate curls and cocoa powder and it looks elegant and elaborate when really it couldn't be easier than whipping the cream and assembling!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ski_gpsy

                    My favorite tweak to this classic is to use almond extract instead of the vanilla. Amazing! And super easy.

                    1. re: ski_gpsy

                      Doesn't the whipped cream just make the wafers soggy?

                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        Yes Hank, the cream saturates the wafers and swells them into a delicious moist chocolate cake, which is the purpose of letting the roll set for 4+ hours. I make it the day before and by the time I serve, it's no longer an espresso cream and chocolate wafer roll, its a delicious mocha mouse cake, without having to bake a cake!

                      2. re: ski_gpsy

                        Also really good with graham crackers...

                      3. Oops! I forgot the photo.

                        1. My first boyfriend's mom used to spread a can of refried beans onto a pizza pan, brown some hamburger with chili powder or taco spice, spread the meat over the beans then cover with grated cheddar. Heated in oven for about 10 minutes and serve with taco chips.

                          It's also terrific if you jazz it up with onions, jalapenos, and fresh toppings etc but the base recipe--even just beans and cheese---is one of my keepers.

                          1. My favorite..shake and bake chicken legs. Chicken legs, italian bread crumbs. Dip chicken legs in bread crumbs. Place on foil lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until the chicken skin is crispy crusty and there is a nice brown carmelized crust on the bottom. Salt optional.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Rhee

                              That sounds yummy Rhee! Do you put anything on the chicken to make the crumbs stick, like oil or egg? Or will the crumbs just stick by themselves?

                              1. re: ski_gpsy

                                I make boneless chicken thighs this way, just roll them in Italian bread crumbs then bake. The bread crumbs adhere to the chicken meat without any other prep. I bake the boneless thighs at 400 for 40 minutes, and turn them over half way through baking. Very simple, very good.

                            2. Break up some spaghetti into pieces about an inch long. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet and add about 1/3 cup white rice. Saute that for a few minutes, then add the spaghetti. Saute rice and spaghetti together until they are lightly browned, pour in hot chicken broth a little at a time and add more as it is absorbed by the two starches. Cook until tender (about ten minutes total time). Serve with chopped parsley on top.

                              1. Here's a good, easy- and totally foolproof- way to do chicken thighs in one skillet.


                                Scrolling down through the rest of that thread you will find many other recipes for chicken thighs, most of them very simple.

                                1. Sweat 1/2 onion, chopped, in olive oil. add 2 chopped Italian sausages, casings removed, and brown. If you wish, chop some garlic and cook it a little. Throw in about three tablespoons of sherry, and let it cook off. Add a can of chopped tomatoes in juice, and let it simmer for 25 or so. Serve over the pasta of your choice - we like penne. This is paraphrased from a Food and Wine 'oh, you renewed! Here's a gift!' cookbook sent out about 15 years ago. It's popular at our house.

                                  1. Lemon Herb Chicken/Pork/Lamb

                                    In a small bowl, combine juice of 1/2 lemon, a few grinds of cracked black pepper, 1 tsp of dried Herbes de Provence (or 1 tbsp fresh minced herbs such as thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary and/or sage), optional minced clove of garlic, 1/4 tsp of pepper (sometimes Aleppo, other times sweet Hungarian paprika), a tablespoon of olive oil. I also sometimes make a variation of this with lime juice, chopped cilantro, dried oregano and cumin.

                                    Place 1-2 lbs of chosen type of chicken/pork/lamb (chicken parts, pork chops, pork tenderloin, lamb chops, rack of lamb, boneless bite-sized pieces of leg of lamb, etc.) in an ovenproof dish, pour marinade over meat, let marinate if you have the time, then bake in preheated oven until done. I usually bake the chicken at 375 degrees. With the pork, the temp I use depends on the cut. If I'm in a hurry , I'll cut the pork or lamb into bite-size souvlaki-style pieces, and bake it at 375 degrees with the convection on, until done.

                                    Lime Cilantro Fish

                                    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro (sometimes I use more, sometimes I use less), a tbsp of minced garlic, the juice of a couple fresh limes and a tablespoon of oil. Sometimes I add a tbsp of minced ginger, a little sesame oil and/or some soy sauce, other times I add a tbsp of ground cumin, a chopped seeded jalapeno, a few shakes of Cholula, some chile powder and/or a little cayenne.

                                    Place 1 to 1.5 lbs of fish fillets (I've used salmon, pickerel, haddock and cod recently) in an ovenproof dish, and top with cilantro mixture. Bake until fish flakes, usually around 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Serve with rice.

                                    Spicy Basil Shrimp

                                    I sometimes bake these in the oven, other times I cook them on the stove top. I usually serve them with rice or angel hair pasta.

                                    Marinade: 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp hot sauce, a few shakes of hot pepper flakes, a few grinds of black pepper, 1 tsp minced garlic, 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil.

                                    Pour marinade over a pound of peeled shrimp, and let sit 5 minutes. Can be baked in the marinade at 375 for 7-8 minutes, or cooked on the stovetop in a saucepan/skillet, until done.

                                    Plaka-style fish

                                    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place fillets of fish (trout, pickerel, whitefish,etc) in an ovenproof dish that has been brushed with olive oil. Place thinly sliced lemons (with or with rind, but I remove the pits), tomatoes, red onion on fish. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with dried oregano and freshly ground black pepper. Bake until fish flakes, approximately 15-20 minutes.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: prima

                                      One of my favorites is to put some ribs in the slowcooker, smother in onion and pour a bottle of bbq sauce over the whole thing......I get so many compliments on a dish that basically took me three minutes to make.

                                      1. re: lilpixy

                                        this is my favorite easy recipe (recommended by another CHer about 2 years ago, and used regularly ever since. Easiest meal, and so versatile depending on what chicken I have, also, good in a pan on the bbq.


                                        1. re: lilpixy

                                          Oh lilpixy, I am in the mood for ribs and your recipe sounds so good, and so easy!'
                                          May I ask what you prefer to make it with, beef or pork ribs?
                                          And how long does it usually take?
                                          On low or high?
                                          And do you have a preference on BBQ sauces?
                                          Gosh, my mouth is watering thinking about it!

                                          1. re: ski_gpsy

                                            I prefer pork ribs...and any kind of bbq sauce really no preference there as far as cook time and temp I use med or low for about 8 hours...

                                        2. re: prima

                                          new easy recipe: Apricot Jam/Balsamic/Garam Masala pork chops.
                                          Made these last night.
                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Warm 1/2 cup of apricot jam for 30 seconds in a microwave, stir in 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp garam masala and 1/4 tsp cayenne. Pour over pork chops. Bake until done. Serve with rice.

                                          1. re: prima

                                            i do something similar with fish, except i do it in foil or parchment. i lay a bed of thin lemon slices, thin onion slices, maybe some fennel or leek, spray with non-stick spray, drizzle on some broth if i feel it needs it, some parsley sprigs, fish, salt and pepper; tent and bake. Sometimes I do variations using: blackening seasoning, sometimes different veggies, occasionally some fresh sage or fresh cilantro (the only way i eat cilantro is roasted), or some white balsamic vinegar, or some sesame oil, etc. i like it with tilapia, halibut, mahi mahi, etc.

                                            love doing seared sliced tuna (sprinkled with salt (sometimes smoked) and freshly ground pepper) over a salad of spinach, very finely sliced fennel, tomatoes, roasted green beans and caramelized onions.

                                          2. Oven baked ribs...I made the Chinese cinnamon one since since I didn't have bbq sauce on hand. No mess, no fuss & tasty.


                                            1. Granita (sorbet): puree your favorite fruit, add some sugar syrup (2:1 sugar to water) and lemon juice, and freeze!

                                              Guacamole: mash ripe avocado, add lime and some spices if you like (I like chili powder and cumin).

                                              Lemon chicken: roast chicken, when done pour lemons juice/oregano/garlic mix over it and bake for 5 min.

                                              Blackened pork chops: coat chops with Emeril's Essence, pan fry pork chops.

                                              Japanese salmon: marinate salmon in soy/mirin mix, bake and baste with marinade.

                                              Jerk chicken or fish: coat chicken or fish (whole or in parts) with jerk seasoning and bake/grill.

                                              Miso eggplant: cut eggplant in half, coat with miso/mirin mix, bake and sprinkle with green onions.

                                              Roast tomatoes: cut tomatoes in half, sprinkle with rosemary, roast until "not stewed."



                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: steinpilz

                                                There's also gazpacho: blend together tomatoes, a bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, a couple of bread slices, and a spoonful of vinegar. Garnish with finely diced cucumber.


                                                1. re: steinpilz

                                                  I love gazpacho but dread the prep. Your recipe sounds so toss-everything-in-a-blender easy, and we had a bumper crop of tomatoes this season.
                                                  May I ask how many tomatoes you use?
                                                  And how much olive oil?

                                                  And I love the idea of the cukes as garnish rather than losing them in the gazpacho. Yum! I can't wait to try it.

                                                  1. re: ski_gpsy

                                                    Hi ski_gypsy: I don't have specific amounts, but roughly: cut up tomatoes until they nearly fill a blender, add 1/2 to 1 sweet pepper (w/out seeds). a couple of Tbs of oil, a couple of slices of bread, 1 or 2 garlic cloves, a 1-2 tsp of vinegar.

                                                    Thanks for the thread!


                                                2. re: steinpilz

                                                  What a novel idea for Lemon Chicken!

                                                  "Lemon chicken: roast chicken, when done pour lemons juice/oregano/garlic mix over it and bake for 5 min."

                                                  I love Lemon Chicken but infusing lemon flavor into chicken meat isn't easy. Next time I make it all stuffed with garlic and lemon halves, I'm going to try your technique of basting it with lemon juice the last five minutes of cooking.

                                                  Sounds easy enough!

                                                3. It's impossible to exaggerate how much I LOATHE that Hazan sauce, and when I've seen the Rao recipe being made on TV it was obvious that that one's not up my alley, either. So I am not sure our palates are compatible, but in the non-Italian vein, I have a 3-ingredient chicken breast recipe that is easy, looks elegant, and tastes great:

                                                  Put a skin-on (MUST be skin on) boneless breast in a baggie or in plastic wrap and pound until as flat as you can get it. Remove from bag/wrap and lay skin side down. Put a melon-ball sized dollop of either chive/onion or garden vegetable cream cheese in the middle of the breast. Starting at the thinnest end, roll it up. Lay half-slice (halved crosswise) of bacon over the chicken skin, down the length of the roll. Lay as many rolls as you are making in a bakind dish but do not let them touch. About an inch between is good, because you want some evaporation.
                                                  Bake at 375-400 for about 45 min - what you want to see is nicely rendered, browned bacon, and brown around the edges of the cheese that has leaked out of the rolls. Remove the rolls and stir the drippings together with a rubber scraper to make a scrumptious sauce for whatever starch you are serving alongside the chicken.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                    I made that Hazan sauce today using 2 cans of San Marzano tomatoes and it was delicious (to us)

                                                    1. I just made this Taco Soup for a crowd and marveled again at how easy it is, how delicious, and how many it feeds. Since it's soooo easy I thought I'd post it here on the EASY RECIPES thread.

                                                      TACO SOUP

                                                      In a LARGE stock pot brown 1pound lean ground beef or turkey (add 1TBS butter for turkey). I add in 1 large onion chopped. When meat is hot sprinkle with 1 envelope Taco Seasoning. You are now done cooking!

                                                      Open and add undrained one16oz can each;

-pinto beans
-kidney beans (or black beans, or any other beans you like. I also add a can of Garbanzo beans) 

-cream style corn
-diced stewed tomatoes 

                                                      -diced tomatoes with chilies
-Sprinkle in 1 envelope ranch style dressing mix

Heat thoroughly til bubbly. That's it!

                                                      Ladle over tortilla chips and serve.

                                                      I put out bottled hot sauce (I use Cholula) and toppings of;

                                                      -mexican mix shredded cheese
                                                      -sour cream
                                                      -black olives
                                                      -chopped canned jalapenos
                                                      -chopped scallions
                                                      - fresh cilantro
                                                      ...and anything else you like.

                                                      Makes 5qts - feeds alot. Deeeelicious!

                                                      As hokey as it sounds with the packets of taco mix and ranch dressing, it turns out so delicious you'll be surprised. And you'll get great response, I guarantee it! Don't break up the meat too much, keep it chunky. And most importantly, use FRESH cilantro, if you like cilantro.

                                                      Even better the next day, and freezes beautifully.