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5 Tasty Ideas For 30-Minute Dinners

Quick and easy ideas for dinnertime.

Lindsay Hunt / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Summer is one of the best times to eat.

The weather's good, the kids are out from school, and the produce is fresh. But just because it's summer doesn't actually mean you have more ~TIME~. So! Instead of sweating away in a hot kitchen for hours, you want to get your cooking done quick.

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Here are five easy dinners that you can get onto the table in fewer than 30 minutes.

The ingredient lists are short and nothing is too healthy, because ya gotta live a little.

1. Steak and Pepper Tacos

Lindsay Hunt / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

The peppers will benefit from as much time as possible on the grill, so while you *can* take them off at the same time as the steak, leaving the peppers on for an extra 5 to 10 minutes will make them juicier and softer.

GRILLED STEAK AND PEPPER TACOS

Servings: 4

Total time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 pound skirt steak, cut into 4 or 5 pieces

3 bell peppers, cored and cut into 1½-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, smashed

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Kosher salt and black pepper

12 corn tortillas

Lime wedges, sour cream, and chopped chives, for serving

PREPARATION

Combine the skirt steak, peppers, garlic, oil, paprika, oregano, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Use your hands to work the seasoning and oil into the steak and peppers, making sure all sides are coated evenly. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.


Cook the steak and peppers:
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high. Cook the steak 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Remove to a cutting board, and let sit 5 minutes before slicing. Place the peppers on a vegetable grill rack or on an area of the grill where they won’t fall through the grates. Cook, turning occasionally, until fork-tender, about 10 minutes. (See note above).

Just before serving, toast the tortillas over the grill, or if using a grill pan, over medium heat. Serve the steak and peppers in the tortillas, topped with sour cream, chives, and a squeeze of lime.

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2. Shrimp and Cucumber Noodle Bowls

Lindsay Hunt / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

The rice noodles can easily overcook, so make sure to have the strainer next to your stovetop for easy draining.

SHRIMP AND CUCUMBER NOODLE BOWLS

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp

½ pound thin rice noodles

½ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup canola oil

3 tablespoons fish sauce

3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

4 baby cucumbers (also called Persian cucumbers), thinly sliced

½ cup fresh cilantro

4 small scallions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Sriracha, for serving

PREPARATION

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the noodles and stir constantly until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the noodles to a strainer set over a bowl, leaving the water boiling. Run the noodles under cold water, drain, and set aside.

Add the shrimp to the boiling water and cook one minute. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, canola oil, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Combine the noodles, shrimp, cucumbers, cilantro, scallions, and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Toss with half of the dressing. Serve the noodles with the extra dressing and a drizzle of Sriracha.

3. Polenta Tart with Corn, Watercress, and Mozzarella Salad

Lindsay Hunt / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Make sure that the polenta is quick-cooking or instant to ensure that it's ready in just a minute or two. Normal polenta will take at least 20 minutes.

POLENTA TART WITH CORN, WATERCRESS, BEAN, AND MOZZARELLA SALAD

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quick-cooking or instant polenta

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 cups corn kernels (from 2 to 3 cobs)

6 loosely packed cups watercress, thick stems removed (about 4 oz)

1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes

PREPARATION

Place a sheet tray near your stove. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the polenta and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, whisking vigorously, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the polenta has formed one smooth mass. Stir in the butter and then pour the polenta onto the sheet tray. Use a spatula to smooth the polenta into a 10- to 12-inch circle. Set the polenta aside to solidify while you make the salad.

In a large bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt. Fold in the watercress, corn, beans, mozzarella. Once the polenta has solidified, (this should take 10 to 15 minutes), serve the salad on top of the polenta or cut into wedges and serve the salad on top.

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4. Spiced Chicken Thighs with Carrot Slaw and Quinoa

Lindsay Hunt / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

If you have a spiralizer, try making carrot noodles for the slaw.

SPICED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH CARROT SLAW AND QUINOA

Total time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 4 small)

Kosher salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup grated carrots (from about 3 medium)

3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

1 avocado, chopped

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

PREPARATION

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa and cook 11 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the quinoa boils, cook the chicken. Mix the coriander, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Season the chicken evenly with the spice mixture.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until golden brown and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Do not touch or move the chicken except to turn it. You’re better off cooking the first side longer to get a good crisp instead of checking frequently, which could cause the meat to tear. Remove the chicken to a plate and let rest while you make the carrot salad.

In a medium bowl, mix the carrots, feta, avocado, vinegar, parsley, pumpkin seeds, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken on top of the quinoa and dress it with the carrot salad.

5. Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

Lindsay Hunt / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Serve the soup straight away from the blender or chill for an hour or so if you want it cold.

YELLOW TOMATO GAZPACHO WITH PESTO-YOGURT SWIRL

Total time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ pounds yellow tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 peeled and chopped English (seedless) cucumbers (about 4 cups)

½ medium white onion, chopped

¼ cup olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

½ cup basil pesto

½ cup Greek yogurt

Fresh basil leaves, for serving

PREPARATION

Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a blender. Puree until completely smooth. Check seasoning and adjust the consistency with ½ cup to 1 cup water if you want it to be a bit thinner.

Serve the soup dolloped with the pesto and yogurt, dividing evenly. Sprinkle with basil leaves and more salt and pepper if you want.

Make ahead: You can make the soup up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Recipes by Lindsay Hunt

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