When the quarantine started I was so excited that I would finally have the time to try out all the complicated recipes I’ve been saving on Pinterest for the last few years. Well, that got old real fast and now I find myself looking for quick and simple recipes that don’t require me to stand for more than 30 minutes.
One problem that I’ve always had with quick and easy recipes is how bland and boring they usually are. Complicated recipes usually take more time because they’re baking or simmering, allowing the flavor to soak into the meal. In order to have the best of both worlds, I have found 6 mouthwatering recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less. I even tested each one out with a timer to be sure!
Before you dive in there are a few things I want you to keep in mind. The first is that I received an air fryer last christmas from my amazing boyfriend and it changed my life! If you don’t have an air fryer, you need one, like now. Here is a link to the one I got from Amazon.
I bring this up because most of the cook times for the recipes below have been significantly lowered because I used the air fryer instead of the stove or oven. You can definitely still use a conventional stove, the cook time might just be slightly different. The results will be the same.
I chose these recipes because they are the easiest to make and the most customizable. So please feel free to customize these recipes to your specific dietary needs. Substitute vegetarian and vegan options as needed, change up the meats, or go with gluten free options. I have presented these recipes to you as I made them, not as I found them. Also all the photos you see below are my own, taken with my iPhone (humble brag).
I won’t be that blogger who bores you with a million paragraphs before you get to the recipe, so have fun and enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments!
15 Minute Tuna Melts
I decided to put a modern twist on the classic tuna melt that we all know and love. This tuna recipe is one that I’ve been perfecting over the last few years and has become a favorite in my household.
Tuna MeltsPin Recipe
- air fryer
For The Tuna
- 6 cans of canned white albacore tuna (in olive oil)
- 3 tbsp Veganaise or Mayo (I prefer vegan mayo for the flavor and texture)
- ¼ cup Sweet relish
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ½ cup White onion chopped
- ½ cup Celery chopped
- ¼ cup Fresh Dill chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
For The Melt
- Whole wheat bread
- 1 Fresh Tomato, sliced
- 2 cups Fresh spinach
- 1 Fresh Avocado
- Colby jack cheese (or cheese of choice)
- Start by emptying your cans of tuna into a bowl and breaking it up with a fork. I prefer canned tuna in olive oil because I like the flavor and texture that it gives the tuna, but feel free to substitute with the tuna you prefer.
- Add the white onion and and celery and use your fork to mix it all together.
- From there add the veganaise or mayo and incorporate into the tuna mixture.
- Next add the sweet relish and dijon mustard, making sure to thoroughly stir in all the ingredients.
- Once you have a solid mixture stir in the dill, salt, and pepper until you get the flavor you want. Pro tip: At this point you can either enjoy your tuna with crackers, or continue on to make the melt.
- Once your tuna is made, place a few tablespoons on one slice of bread and cover it with the colby jack or cheese of choice. At this point you can either melt it with an airfryer like I did or toast it in a skillet. Make sure to toast both slices of bread. It should take no more than 5 minutes to toast your tuna melt.
- Once the cheese is melted and the bread has a nice crunch, spread the avocado on the other slice of bread and top with the sliced tomato and spinach. Put your sandwich together and enjoy a union of flavors that will make your heart smile!
Blackened Salmon With Asparagus And Cauliflower Rice Pilaf
Okay I have to come clean! This recipe should realistically take like 45 minutes, but I cheated. Instead of making my own cauliflower rice, I decided to just buy frozen rice and microwave it to save time. Making cauliflower rice from scratch is not hard at all, but it does take about 20 minutes to prepare and cook. If you prefer to make your own, there is a recipe for homemade cauliflower rice in the notes below.
Alright now that you know my secret, let’s get started! The key to keeping this recipe under 30 minutes is preparing the asparagus first. The asparagus will take the longest to prepare and cook, so it is important to get it into the oven as soon as possible.
Blackened Salmon With Asparagus And Cauliflower Rice PilafPin Recipe
- cast iron skillet
- Salmon filets
- 4 tbsp Cajun Seasoning (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes)
- 3 tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- Frozen pack of pilaf-style cauliflower rice
- 1 Avocado
- ½ cup Cilantro
- ½ cup Onion finely diced
- A fresh lime or lime juice
- Start by preheating your oven to 350. Next rinse your asparagus and cut off the hard ends (not the flower end).
- Then place the asparagus on a neat row on a baking sheet and drizzle a tablespoon of coconut oil. Usually I would go with olive oil to bake asparagus, but I found that coconut oil gives it a unique flavor (Use whichever you prefer). Add salt and pepper to taste and turn the asparagus to make sure that the oil and seasoning completely coat the stems.
- Place your pan of asparagus on the middle rack in the oven and bake until it becomes soft enough to pierce with a fork (about 20 minutes).
- While the asparagus bakes, season your salmon with the cajun spices. Make sure to completely coat each side with a thick layer of seasoning. This will give it the blackened appearance when it’s cooking. The salmon will cook the best in a cast iron skillet, but a regular non-stick pan will work too.
- Heat the pan on medium-high and add the remaining two tablespoons of coconut oil. Once the pan is nice and hot add the salmon and cook each side for about 5 minutes, or until you start to see a nice black crust forming. Do not turn the heat down while you’re cooking the salmon unless it starts burning.
- While the salmon cooks, place the rice pilaf in the microwave and heat for 5-6 minutes or until it is hot.
- When the salmon is done remove it from the pan and place it on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb some of the excess oil.
- While it cools, scoop out the avocado and dice it in a bowl. Add the cilantro, diced onion, and fresh lime juice then mix until you get a nice chunky salsa texture. Place the cauliflower rice pilaf on a plate with the asparagus and salmon and top with the avocado lime salsa.
Ramen With Boiled Egg And Fried Chicken
Yes, this is another cheat recipe. I have shamelessly created a masterpiece almost completely composed of ingredients that someone else already prepared for me. Shrug emoji. Your tummy will thank me later! This quick and easy ramen recipe is the perfect comfort food or cheat day meal.
Ramen With Boiled Egg And Fried ChickenPin Recipe
- air fryer
- Sapporo Ichiban ramen noodles
- Bell Evans frozen breaded chicken breast tenders
- 1 tbsp Minced garlic
- 1 tbsp Minced ginger
- 1 tsp Chili sauce
- Sesame seeds
- The key to keeping the prep time down for this recipe is to boil the eggs first. Boil one egg for each person you’re serving on medium-high heat. It should take no more than 15 minutes depending on how solid you like your yolk. For a runny yolk remove the eggs after boiling for about 10 minutes or less.
- Next boil the ramen in two cups of water until the noodles are soft. While the ramen is cooking, place a few chicken tenders in the air fryer and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. They should come out nice and crispy.
- When the ramen noodles are soft add the garlic, ginger, and chili sauce to the soup and stir. Next stir in the seasoning packet that comes with the ramen. If you like a soupier ramen then leave the water in the pot. For a thicker “sauce” drain half the water then add a tbsp of cornstarch to thicken it. Both are good!
- Pour the ramen and broth into a bowl and top with the fried chicken tenders and egg. Garnish with sesame seeds and sriracha to taste. Enjoy!
Thai Noodle Soup
This soup is not only good for your taste buds, it’s good for your soul! The spices and herbs that give this soup its flavor have anti inflammatory, immune boosting, and stomach calming properties that when combined form a “super soup” if you will. It’s definitely a recipe that I have been perfecting for a few years now. And because it’s so easy to make I have come to rely on when I’m feeling any type of ailment or sickness.
Thai Noodle SoupPin Recipe
- Rice vermicelli noodles
- Baby bok choy
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 Lime
- ¼ cup red onion
- 1 can of coconut milk
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 2 tbsp Red curry paste
- 3 Thai Chili peppers chopped (red)
- ½ tbsp Brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Coconut oil
- Fresh basil leaves
- Chopped green onion for garnish
- To keep this recipe under 30 minutes it’s best to start by washing and chopping up all your vegetables and setting them to the side so they’re ready to go when it is time to use them. For the baby bok choy, cut the end of the stalks and separate the leafy green parts. Next chop the leaves into one inch strips and set aside. Slice the red onion into thin slivers, roughly chop the cilantro, and cut your lime into wedges.
- Next add the coconut oil or cooking oil into a large pot with the ginger, garlic, and red curry paste then cook on medium heat until they become fragrant. Then add the red onion, half of the thai chili peppers, and the baby bok choy stems and fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chicken broth to deglaze the pot and gently scrape the end of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula. Next add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, about 10 minutes. While it’s boiling you can add the brown sugar and any other seasonings to taste. I like to get creative and sometimes I’ll add curry powder, turmeric, or red pepper for extra spice and flavor. At this point I also like to squeeze a lime wedge into the broth for a kick.
- When you have your desired flavor add the noodles and baby bok choy leaves and cook until both have softened, about 5 minutes usually.
- Serve in a bowl and garnish with the remaining thai chili peppers, basil, cilantro, lime, and green onion.
Polenta And Spinach With Shrimp And Sausage
If you’re looking for a mouthwatering meal that’s not too high in calories, then look no further! This recipe is a healthy take on the southern classic, shrimp and grits. Of course I had to add a little pizazz with the andouille sausage but its chicken so it doesn’t count! The polenta is 140 calories per ¼ cup, so this meal is bikini body approved! And did I mention it only takes 20 minutes to cook?
Polenta And Spinach With Shrimp And SausagePin Recipe
- ½ cup Bob's Red Mill Grits/Polenta
- 4 cups of fresh spinach
- 1 lb of shrimp however you like it
- 1 pack Andouille chicken sausage
- 2 tbsp Cajun seasonings (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes)
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- ½ tbsp of olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- pinch of salt
- Start by boiling water and salt in a medium pot over high heat then add the polenta and lower the heat to low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is creamy. Turn the heat off and cover once you get your desired texture.
- While the polenta is cooking, wash the shrimp and set aside. Then heat the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the minced garlic, cooking 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the shrimp and sausage to the pan and saute until both are cooked in the middle. Add the cajun seasonings to taste and allow the meat and shrimp to blacken a little on both sides.
- In a separate pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and cook the spinach for 5 minutes or until soft and wilted.
- To serve, spoon the polenta onto a plate or bowl and top with the spinach then the shrimp and sausage. Drizzle any of the remaining garlic butter sauce over the meal and enjoy!
Sesame Cauliflower And Vegetable Stir Fry
I saved this one for last because it is my absolute favorite meal to make. I love asian food, but sesame chicken and orange chicken have been a long time favorite of mine since I was a kid. As I got older, however, my hips and tummy have not agreed with my decision to have those meals as often as did when I was younger. So, I had to find a way around gaining 10 lbs each time I wanted fried rice and sesame chicken. The solution? Cauliflower. I know what you’re thinking,“ what do you even make with cauliflower? Well sis, the answer is EVERYTHING. Because of cauliflower’s unique texture and distinct lack of flavor, you can substitute it for most meats and other things as long as you season it right! I’ve made cauliflower rice, cauliflower chicken, even cauliflower pizza crust once (that one didn’t hold up though). At the end of the day you get the same great flavor and texture, for a fraction of the calories.
Sesame Cauliflower And Vegetable Stir FryPin Recipe
- air fryer
- Cauliflower head
- 2 Eggs beaten
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup Breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 Onion sliced
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 1 cup of rice
- Sesame oil
- ⅓ cup Soy sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp chili paste
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- There are two ways to prepare the cauliflower. You can either air fry it or bake it. Baking will take about 30 minutes, not including 10 minutes of prep time. Using the air fryer shaves 10 minutes off that time, making it 30 minutes in total, including prep and serving. To prepare the cauliflower, wash it thoroughly then cut off the stems. Next use a paring knife to separate the florets into medium size pieces similar to boneless chicken breast chunks.
- Take 2 small bowls, fill one with the eggs then fill the other with the breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Next lay out aluminum foil or parchment paper. Dip the cauliflower florets into the egg mixture then into the breadcrumb mix and lay it on the foil sheet. Repeat this process until all the cauliflower is breaded, then pop it in the air fryer with a tsp of oil for 10 minutes on high, then flip them over and cook for another 10 minutes. The result should be golden brown, slightly crunch looking cauliflower bites.
- While the cauliflower is in the airfryer you will have 20 minutes to prepare the rest of the meal. Start your rice first either in a pot or using a rice cooker.
- Once the rice is cooking, wash and chop the bell peppers and onion into one inch squares then toss in a wok to cook with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. As the vegetables become softer, slow the heat on the wok and start the sauce.
- For the sauce, whisk the soy sauce, chili paste, garlic, and honey in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the cornstarch with a little water. When the vegetables have finished transfer them to a plate then add the sauce to the wok to simmer. Stir in the cornstarch and mix until the liquid begins to thicken. At that time, remove the cauliflower from the air fryer and transfer into the wok to coat the florets with the sauce.
- Add the rice to a bowl and serve the cauliflower over rice. For the vegetables, coat them in the remaining sauce in the wok then serve alongside the cauliflower. Garnish with sesame seeds and sriracha.