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Quick and easy

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What is the quickest, easiest, tastiest main dish you make when you unexpectedly have to feed people? You have time to go shopping - ingredients don't have to be store cupboard.

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  1. Joe's Specials

    1. Antipasto platter or roast chicken, depending on the time of year. And for me, it has to be in my pantry/fridge or it's not "easy" or "quick".

      1. Carbonara

        Parm or pecorino
        Pasta water

        Super simple, easy to make and delicious
        If you can't find all the ingredients make something else though. It's really not the same with bacon or panchetta instead of guanciale.

        1 Reply
        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

          Gotta disagree re the bacon. It's not AS good but it's still REALLY good, IMO. And I use the Hazan recipe which includes parsley which I think is important. Oh, wait, I don't add salt :)

        2. How many people?

          I always have ingredients for garlicky Mediterranean-style fish on hand:
          Frozen fish fillets
          Canned tomatoes
          Black olives

          Served with faux-tatoes or rice.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Seeker19104

            Could you elaborate a smidge on that please?

          2. Spiral-cut ham if they eat it, lots of rolls and mustards, some cheese and picnic-style side dishes (potato salad, cole slaw, etc).
            Roast chicken with basic fixings like mashed potatoes (or corn on the cob in season) and a green vegetable and/or salad (tomato salad in season).
            You didn't say cheapest -- roast tenderloin of beef is easy, with horseradish sauce, green salad and nice bread is quick, easy and very tasty. Could add roasted potatoes.

            1 Reply
            1. re: GretchenS

              Ditto number one. maybe throw together some Cowboy Beans as a side.

            2. Thanks everyone. Seeker: How many people? Variable.I just need ideas for whenever I want to make a speedy informal meal and my mind goes blank.This happens quite often.

              1. There's lead time enough to shop? A baked salmon filet with curried rice (saute' onions, golden raisins, and curry powder in a whole stick of butter and add this to hot rice) and salad and French bread.

                1. Recently? A variation of Vietnamese grilled beef lettuce wraps with banh hoi. Sous-vide the steak (Porterhouse or ribeye, 1 min to bag, 2 minutes post-sear). The time in the bath is plenty for drinking, the nuoc cham and lettuce washing is a togetherness exercise for those unexpected guests. Banh hoi gets steamed while the Bibb lettuce leaves are washed.

                  If it's just drinking, charcuterie, bread, olives, cheese.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: wattacetti

                    +2 minutes to season and pre-sear, don't wanna forget that.

                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                      I don't pre-sear as I have not found a significant difference for my personal taste. The meat gets bagged with long pepper, garlic and rendered marrowfat. Salt and a little sugar applied to dried surfaces for post sear with butter and sunflower oil using combination hot pan and blowtorch.

                  2. Basic, Quick Chicken
                    Lay raw thinly sliced or pounded boneless, skinless breasts in baking dish.
                    Cover with thin slices of Swiss cheese
                    In a side bowl mix:
                    1 can Campbells chicken soup
                    1 can cheap white wine
                    Marinated artichoke hearts, quarted
                    1 can water chestnuts, sliced
                    Fresh mushrooms quartered
                    Pour mixture over chicken and cheese
                    Cover with dry, seasoned dressing mix like Mrs Culberson's
                    Pour melted butter over all and bake 350 for about an hour.

                    1. My go to is always a taco or Mexican bar. It really makes it so easy. If I have steak on hand or left over steak, and then I can grill onions and peppers, I always have hard and soft taco shells on hand.

                      It's so easy because people choose what they like without having to worry about a dish where people are picking things out.

                      I make my own taco seasoning at home, I'd do ground beef, a lime, lemon marinated chicken, and maybe steak if I have it on hand. Make mexican style rice, if I have beans, salsa, chips, (Tomato, lettuce, onion, shred some cheese.) Perhaps some guacamole, and pico if I happen to have it on hand.

                      1. I'll tell you what I made a few days ago that was the cat's pajamas!

                        I got a package of country-style ribs and a jar of "Sticky Fingers" brand barbecue sauce (specifically the Tennessee Whiskey Sticky fingers).

                        I don't have a grill, so I broiled each side of the country-style ribs for 10 or 15 minutes or so on each side to get that nice, crisp browning, and then poured the Sticky Fingers over the ribs and reduced heat in oven to 400 deg. for about an hour more in the oven.

                        They were super amazing awesome. I don't know if it was beginners luck, but the flavor and texture were fantastic. With a couple of baked potatoes I threw in the oven and a salad, I had dinner with very minimal prep time.

                        1. Chicken thighs braised in stock and white wine with carrots and potatoes, with French bread.

                            1. In the summer a pretty composed entree salad like a nicoise or variation of, a quick baked berries crumble or cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

                              Individual servings make any meal special enough for entertaining- a fish and veggies combo en papillote with a side of herbed grain salad, or ramikens for a quasi french meal of eggs baked with wilted spinach and parmesan, a hearty side salad of fresh produce and interesting greens, crusty bread and red wine to go with. In the fall individual baked pot pies, lasagna, and shepards pie.
                              Ebay and amazon are a great source to get oven safe individual baking dishes at a good price

                              1. If there's time to cook it, a roast chicken. Just about everybody likes it and so many good things go with it. Here's one of them, also quick: cook 2 boxes frozen chopped spinach. Drain. While hot, mix with 2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 2 tsp curry powder. Everything melts in the cheese and makes a sauce.

                                1. Pasta with shallot, halved cherry tomatoes and bottled marinated artichokes, all usually from Trader Joe's. Cook the pasta and drain it. Drain the artichokes and keep the marinade, then chop them into smallish bite-size and set aside. Mince the shallot, cook it a while in some oil, then throw in the tomatoes and turn up the heat. When the tomatoes start getting soft sort of smash them down, cooking until there's plenty of juice. Stir in the artichokes, then add the marinade. When all that is simmering toss in the pasta and toss it all together. Serve with plenty of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino. You can also make this ahead and spread it into an oven dish or gratin pan and top with plenty of cheese, then run into a 350º oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on whether it's cold or warm. This is a good ploy for when you'll have drinks and stuff for a while before dinner – you'll get the cooking done before anyone arrives, and get to party a bit instead of cooking.

                                  I should say that I've made this with spaghetti, angel hair and ravioli, all good.