If you’re the Person In Charge of Dinner, you know that recipes aren’t really all that helpful at 10 till 6 on a weeknight. At that point, most of us are just looking for a viable alternative to scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches or the dreaded cold cereal.
Thus, this handy list of super-quick un-recipes. They all use very basic ingredients, simple techniques and can take almost any amount of tweaking, substituting or omitting. Most are from the Davis Food Co-op’s Teaching Kitchen, or at least the teachers, with some fine contributions from loyal Facebook friends.
* Mix a can of salmon with three chopped green onions, a little chopped bell pepper and garlic, a half-cup of bread crumbs and an egg. Shape into small burgers and fry with oil until crispy and brown. Serve on a bed of greens, as a burger or with rice and cooked vegetables.
* Brown ground beef with chopped onion and season with oregano and garlic. Add a cup of tomato sauce and a shot of vinegar. Serve on toasted buttered buns for the best Sloppy Joe ever.
* Stir-fry greens with garlic in an oven-proof skillet. Beat 4 eggs with salt and pepper, and stir into greens with a handful of cheese. Pop into a 350-degree oven until just set.
* Mince half an onion, a quarter of a red bell pepper and a clove of garlic. Mix with a pound of ground turkey, a cup of cooked quinoa or bread crumbs, two eggs, a bit of cumin. Press into a greased loaf pan and bake in a 350-degree oven until 165 degrees in the center.
* Combine 4 cups of torn dry bread and 2 cups or more of any cooked veggies in a greased casserole dish. Stir together 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of milk, a big handful of cheese and any herbs you like, then pour over bread mixture. Bake covered for 20 minutes then uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
* Mix a can of baked beans with some chopped onion and a spoonful each of mustard, brown sugar and ketchup. Pour into a greased casserole and top with strips of uncooked bacon, if desired. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees until thickened and bubbly.
* Steam cauliflower and broccoli while you cook cheese tortellini. Fry sliced shallots in good olive oil in a largish skillet. When everything is done and drained, marry in the skillet over low heat with a little grated Parmesan.
* Fry up a few onions, and throw quite a lot of frozen spinach in the skillet to thaw. Beat eggs with grated hard cheese and salt, and pour into the hot skillet to scramble with the spinach. Serve with toast and salsa.
* Fry a big pan of sliced mushrooms and onions in butter with a bit of salt. When tender, sprinkle in fresh or dried thyme and a spoonful of flour. Stir in milk to make a creamy sauce and serve piled on buttered toast.
* Fry a big pan of sliced mushrooms and onions in butter with a bit of salt while you cook some noodles in salted water. When mushrooms are tender, sprinkle in fresh or dried thyme and a spoonful of flour. Stir in milk to make a creamy sauce, add frozen peas, a drained can of tuna and the drained noodles.
* Brown ground beef with chopped onion and season with garlic and chili powder. Stir in a can of diced tomatoes, including juice, and a cup or so of cooked macaroni. Let marry over low heat a couple of minutes, then serve with grated cheese.
* From Bija Young: Add 2 cans kidney beans, 2 cans stewed tomatoes, 2 cups of browned ground beef or soy substitute, diced carrot, chopped pepper, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano and chili powder to slow cooker. Cook on low for eight hours. Serve with warm corn tortillas.
* From Nancy McKee: Fry one block cubed tofu in oil. Add sauce of 1/4 cup all-natural peanut butter, 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon crushed garlic and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Add steamed broccoli and enjoy this addicting vegan easy meal.
* From Corrie Haffly: Slice up a plain egg omelet and chop green onions. Sauté leftover cold rice in a bit of oil until broken apart. Add egg, onions and a bit of salt for simple fried rice.
* From Rita Riosa: Boil pasta; while it boils, sauté one sliced leek with 1 tablespoon olive oil and add 1 cup of water. Before serving, stir the pasta in the leek’s pan, with 2 tablespoons cottage cheese. Add halved-cherry tomatoes and enjoy.
* From Julia Luckenbill: Boil rice in stock while heating refried beans. Heat cheese on tortilla. Place rice and beans on cheesy tortilla; add optional lettuce, salsa, guacamole and sour cream.
* From Robyn Waxman: Soak one box of matzohs in warm water for 5 minutes while you mix 6 eggs and salt in a separate bowl. Wring wet matzohs with your hands and add to egg to soak for 5 minutes. Fry with lots of butter.
— Julie Cross is the marketing and education director at the Davis Food Co-op. She writes a monthly food column for The Davis Enterprise.