Recipes for Easy Meals Chefs Actually Make at Home

Chefs concoct gourmet meals day in and day out in their restaurant kitchens, which means they don’t want to spend their days off slaving in front of the stove just to whip up something to eat. Instead, they go for recipes that are fast, flavorful, and totally fuss-free. If you want your weeknight meals to be just a little bit more special, look to these seven chef-approved recipes. They’re sure to get a five-star review from everyone you serve.

1. Mussels with Tomato and Saffron

Steamed mussels

Steamed mussels | iStock.com

Chef Eric Ripert is pretty much the authority on all things seafood, and his three Michelin Stars prove it. Though Ripert can make a seriously impressive fish and shellfish feast, even he has a go-to mussel dish when he needs something super speedy. This recipe, which he shared with Refinery29, comes together in just a matter of minutes. And because it’s made with mostly pantry ingredients, all you have to do is pick up some mussels from the seafood counter.

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ½ cup peeled, seeded, diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon loosely packed saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Directions: Pick over mussels and discard any with broken shells. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add mussels, tomatoes, wine, saffron, and parsley. Toss to combine, then stir in butter. Cover and cook until mussels open, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once with bread.

2. Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla carbonara

Spaghetti alla carbonara | iStock.com

Some of the most famous pasta recipes call for hours of simmering a sauce, but that’s just not practical for most of us. When devoting half a day to dinner isn’t an option, try Fabio Viviani’s carbonara recipe, featured on Thrillist. It’s simple enough to make any day of the week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ pound pancetta or bacon, diced
  • 8 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup cream
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Melt butter in a heavy skillet set over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring, until fat has rendered and meat has browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe skillet clean with a paper towel.

Whisk eggs, cream, and pepper in a large bowl. Meanwhile cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Transfer to the skillet, then add pancetta. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add pasta to egg mixture and toss thoroughly to coat. Add cheese and a bit of reserved cooking water. Continue to toss, adding more pasta water as needed, until creamy. Serve at once.

3. Barbecue Spareribs

glazed pork ribs

Roasted pork ribs | iStock.com/Tatiana Volgutova

Those who don’t have a smoker might feel as if they can’t make great ribs at home. Thankfully, this is far from true thanks to chef Anita Lo’s seriously easy recipe, featured on The Martha Stewart Show. The ribs get tons of flavor from a combination of ketchup and hoisin, and they only take about 45 minutes to bake. Cook some rice and sautéed greens while the ribs bake to complete the meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2¼-pound ) rack spareribs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup hoisin sauce

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut spareribs into single ribs and season all over with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together ketchup and hoisin, then pour over ribs and toss to coat.

Transfer ribs to a shallow baking dish and cover with a layer of parchment, then a layer of aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes, remove foil, then return to oven to bake for another 20 minutes, or until fat has rendered and meat begins to pull away from bone. Serve.

4. Chickpea Salad with 4-Minute Eggs

serving of chickpea salad with chicken and egg

Chickpea salad with eggs | iStock.com/mikafotostok

Most professional cooks talk about the importance of soaking and simmering dried beans, but even Gabrielle Hamilton reaches for the canned kind at home. Follow her lead with this tasty chickpea and egg dish, which she shared with Food & Wine. As easy as this meal is, you can simplify it even further by frying the eggs instead of boiling or poaching. One way or the other, you’ll be chowing down in no time.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and rained
  • ⅔ cup small green olives, pitted
  • 10 small red radishes, quartered
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 scallions, white and pale green parts, finely chopped
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

Directions: Whisk lemon juice with 4 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly crush half of chickpeas with a fork in a separate medium bowl, then add remaining chickpeas. Add half of dressing and toss. Add olives, radishes, parsley, and scallions to bowl with remaining vinaigrette and toss to coat. Divide chickpeas among four plates, then top with parsley salad.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add eggs and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water for 1 minute. Lightly crack eggs all over using the back of a spoon, then peel off. Alternatively, poach eggs in a skillet filled with simmering water. Add vinegar, then add eggs one at at time. Cook until whites are set, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Top each serving with an egg and drizzle with remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

5. The Perfect Steak

meat counter

Have your butcher take care of trimming the steak | iStock.com/andresrimaging

Even folks who love cooking appreciate a simple dish, so one-pan recipes are always welcome. Try Alex Guarnaschelli’s single-skillet steak dish, highlighted on People.com, to get the restaurant experience without dirtying a sinkful of pots and pans. We particularly like that this dish calls for hangar steak, which is both affordable and packed with flavor. Just make sure to have your butcher trim the meat for you. This cut has a tough tendon running down the middle, and it won’t break down during the cooking process.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (1- to 1½-pound) hangar steak, trimmed
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, plus 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions: Heat a large cast-iron skillet until smoking. Use a kitchen towel or paper towels to pat steak dry, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat under the skillet, then transfer steak to pan using tongs. Turn heat to high and cook until well browned on first side, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until meat reaches your desired doneness. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Slice meat against the grain.

Pour most of the drippings from pan, then add red onion and season with salt. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard, juice, zest, Worcestershire, and parsley. Adjust seasoning, then pour over steak and serve.

6. Roast Chicken with Preserved Lemon

Roast chicken

Roast chicken | iStock.com

As delicious as a simple roast chicken is, it can get a little boring after a while. Give the classic a little more attitude with Yotam Ottolenghi’s version with preserved lemon and cloves. He once penned a piece for The Guardian saying this is his go-to recipe for Thursday nights. Maybe it’ll become a regular weekday feast for you, too.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons thyme leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 small preserved lemon, seeds removed, flesh and skin roughly chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1½ tablespoons juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 (3.5-pound) free-range chicken

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine butter, thyme garlic, preserved lemon, lemon zest, and about ½ teaspoon of salt, and a good amount of black pepper in a food processor. Pulse just to combine.

Use your hands to loosen chicken skin from breast meat with the legs pointing toward you, being careful not to tear. Spread butter mixture over the meat, then over the skin and legs. Transfer chicken to a deep baking dish and drizzle with lemon juice. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Roast chicken for about 70 minutes, basting with drippings about every 15 minutes, until skin is golden and chicken is fully cooked. Juices will run clear when pierced. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Carve and serve.

7. Ginger-Poached Trout with Citrus Vinaigrette

salad with trout

Trout with greens | iStock.com/vicuschka

Poaching is a technique few home cooks use to make fish in their kitchens, which is a shame. Though it sounds fancy, it’s nothing more than gently simmering the fillets in a flavorful liquid. John Besh’s simple trout supper from his cookbook My Family Table, which he shared with WYES New Orleans, is the perfect recipe to try the method. You can try the method with other types of fish, too, just be aware you’ll have to adjust the cooking time for thicker fillets.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied
  • 1 (1-inch) pice ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  •  6 trout fillets
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Leaves from 1 sprig of fresh basil, sliced
  • 2 cups baby greens

Directions: Fill a large, heavy pot with enough water to reach a depth of  2 inches. Add lemons, onions, thyme, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Add fillets and poach until just cooked, about 6 to 8 minutes. Then remove from heat.

Whisk orange juice, olive oil, and basil in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Toss greens with vinaigrette. Carefully remove fish from liquid and serve topped with dressed greens.

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