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Rigatoni with Peas and Bacon

Ramona King

Rigatoni with Peas and Bacon


19 great (and easy!) recipes that you can cook in less than an hour

After a long day of work, running errands and wrangling the kids, the last thing we want to do is spend the evening stuck in the kitchen cooking an extravagant dinner. For those of us who love cooking, but don’t have the time, we have the perfect recipes that'll smoothly fit into any busy schedule. But even though they're quick, they don't cut any corners in the flavor department.

From perfect pastas to quick casseroles, here are our top 10 recipes that take less than an hour to cook, start to finish.

Rigatoni with Peas and Bacon
Between the sweet green peas and earthy arugula, this easy pasta recipe screams spring. If you’re making this dish when fresh peas are at their peak, make sure to throw them in. If, however, you can’t find ultra-fresh peas, feel free to use frozen. 
Get the recipeShrimp Clemenceau Shrimp Clemenceau
Made popular by famed New Orleans restaurants Dooky Chase and Galatoire’s, this light Creole dish looks fancy, but can be cooked in a jiffy. Saute shrimp, mushrooms and peas, and then toss them together with quick-roasting potato slices and a creamy lemon butter sauce and you're ready for dinner. Along with that quick cook time, this dish only requires a bowl, a baking sheet and a skillet — you won’t be stuck with a lot of clean up.  
Get the recipeAnne Byrn Anne Byrn's Chicken Tetrazzini
Anne Byrn’s chicken tetrazzini is pure comfort food that'll please even the pickiest of eaters. Your dinner table companions will feel the extra love from making the sauce from scratch — it's easier than you think!  You can even alter the seasonings as you see fit and swap out any vegetables you'd like. To help you cut down on time, feel free to use a storebought rotisserie chicken.
Get the recipeChicken and Dumplings Virginia Willis' Chicken and Dumplings
On a rainy day, we love to warm up with chicken and dumplings, but most traditional recipes take a fair bit of time and effort. Luckily for us, chef and cookbook author extraordinaire Virginia Willis has created a quick version that fits into any weeknight schedule. Instead of taking the time to roast chicken yourself, head to the grocery store and pick up a rotisserie chicken. Another way to cut down on time? Whip up her quick drop dumpling dough and use it to form mini, spoon-sized dumplings — they cook fast and still taste great. 
Get the recipeSeared Salmon with Sugar Snaps and Horseradish Cream Seared Salmon with Sugar Snaps and Horseradish Cream
Often (see above) we head straight towards chicken when we’re looking for a quick and easy ingredient to cook. But we encourage you to sometimes take a step away from the poultry and look towards healthy and quick-cooking salmon, which we pair with springtime sugar snap peas and a spicy horseradish cream. Trust us — it works.
Get the recipeFontina and Fig Chutney Grilled Cheese Bites Fontina and Fig Chutney Grilled Cheese Bites
These bites are so scrumptious, you might not be able to stop yourself at just two or three mini sandwiches. While we often serve these leveled-up grilled cheese sandwiches as appetizers, these mini bites also make the perfect quick dinner dish. Each crisp, ooey-gooey morsel is both sweet and salty, tangy and bit spicy, and instantly craveable after the first bite. 
Get the recipeKentucky Hot Brown Dip Kentucky Hot Brown Dip
The Kentucky Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich with sliced turkey, bacon and tomato covered in a rich cheese sauce. To serve a crowd (even just your weekday household crowd), try offering the flavors of a hot brown as a dip instead. As a dip, we mix diced roast turkey in with the cheesy mornay sauce before topping it with crisp bacon and roasted tomatoes. We recommend using a hearty bread, such as a baguette, for serving, so that it can support the weight of the turkey-studded dip.
Get the recipeGrilled Shrimp and Peach Salad Grilled Shrimp and Peach Salad
A one-dish weeknight meal doesn't have to be boring, especially when you're talking about a salad brightened by the addition of grilled peaches. Grilled shrimp can stand up to an assertive green like arugula and sweet and juicy grilled fruit are the perfect counterpart to a tangy blue cheese.
Get the recipeSmashed Burgers Smashed Burgers
For a fast summertime meal, we usually throw some burgers on the grill and let them cook while we enjoy an ice cold beer. While that’s a good option for an outdoor gathering, you don’t always have to break out the grill for a great burger. Cooking burgers (or any meat for that matter) in a cast iron skillet gives the meat a wonderful caramelized crust, and you can up that crisp exterior even more by giving each patty a good smash with our spatula as it cooks in the skillet. Another trick? Add mustard directly to the patty as it cooks to let the savory condiment work its way into the crust of the meat itself.
Get the recipeAsparagus and Rice Casserole Asparagus and Rice Casserole
For this casserole, step away from the canned ingredients. This easy dish features a from-scratch version of the Southern pantry stand-by, and is perfect during the springtime when asparagus is at its peak.
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Country Ham and Broccoli Frittata
Think of a frittata as a crustless quiche, or an omelet without any pressure of the ever-treacherous flip. It’s a great one-pan wonder that can easily feed a small group, and can be a perfect outlet for any cooked meats or vegetables you may already have in your refrigerator. The only special equipment you’ll need is a large nonstick skillet.
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Creole Broiled Catfish
Catfish is a Southern delicacy. Whether breaded and fried or gently baked, it is a regional favorite that can be served in po'boys, alongside hushpuppies and, of course, next to crispy french fries. This freshwater fish is prized for its meaty texture and relatively mild flavor. Because of its ready availability, catfish is also incredibly affordable, making it the perfect fish to reach for when preparing some of the more demanding Southern dishes. 
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Leftover Steak Nachos
Have some excess leftover steak on hand? Slice it up and make nachos! The nachos are only in the oven long enough to melt the cheese, so the steak runs little risk of overcooking. Using a combination of store-bought white cheese dip with shredded cheese helps coat all the tortilla chips with some type of cheese (even the ones hiding on the bottom) and provides a great contrast between creamy and melty. You can always cook these on a baking sheet, but we love to cook nachos in cast iron.
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Chipotle Cauliflower Tacos
For this dish, cauliflower florets are roasted at a high temperature, coated in a thick chipotle and garlic paste. Corn tortillas and charred poblano peppers help round out the tacos and give them a flavorful kick. Of course I couldn't give up my salsa verde addiction, they're best paired with the traditional Mexican salsa. A squeeze of lime ties all these flavors together and in 25 minutes, you have a mouthwatering meal.
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Anne Byrn's Favorite Shrimp and Grits
There are three secrets to Anne Byrn's favorite shrimp and grits: The first is to use really fresh, and preferably local, shrimp. But if you cannot find local shrimp, then do the next best thing and buy frozen Argentinian Red Shrimp from Trader Joe's. They are sweet and more lobster-like in flavor than most shrimp. Secondly, don't overcook those shrimp. With the method in this recipe, you cannot overcook them because they are nestled raw right in the grits and baked to doneness. And lastly, use stone-ground grits. They have more texture and more corn flavor, and they make a huge difference.
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Easy New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp
This is a classic dish that’s quick, delicious and great for an easy weeknight meal — yet impressive enough for entertaining. Be sure to choose fresh shrimp that are all about the same size, so that they cook evenly and at the same rate.
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Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
Beef stroganoff is typically made with a finer cut of meat, such as beef tenderloin or sirloin. Since we’re using the Instant Pot as a time-saver, you’ll want to find a cut that won’t toughen in a moist cooking environment. This means looking toward the working cuts of the steer, like stew meat, chuck or short ribs.
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Instant Pot Jambalaya
Jambalaya cooked in the Instant Pot is the best way to enjoy this hearty dish on a busy weeknight or to feed a crowd on game day. Tasso adds just the right amount of smoke and spice, but if you can’t find it near you, opt for smoked ham.
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Sweet Corn and Zucchini Pie
This pie is by far photographer Ramona King's favorite recipe with zucchini. The dried herbs perfectly compliment the mildness of the summer squash while the corn and Vidalia onions add a sweet and crunchy note. Add cream cheese and cheddar cheese, and you’ve got yourself a comforting and bright bite. Here in the South, we like to cover our vegetables in cheese and we don’t like to be judged for it.
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Photos (shrimp clemenceau, salmon, hot brown dip, casserole, frittata, nachos, stroganoff, corn and zucchini pie): Ramona King
Photos (tetrazzini, shrimp and grits): Danielle Atkins
Photo (chicken and dumplings): Virginia Willis
Photo (grilled cheese): Lisa Lotts
Photo (burger): Ideabar Austin
Photos (catfish, tacos): Ryan Hughley
Photos (barbecue shrimp, jambalaya): Julie Koppman

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Rachel Taylor is a staff writer at Southern Kitchen. She moved to Atlanta earlier this year after graduating college in Maryland, and has been a digital audience specialist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Politically Georgia, as well as a freelance writer for publications such as USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times on Maryland's Eastern Shore. She has lived in France and Italy, and loves to travel.