Serving a salad with your meal has never been easier. Most grocery stores now offer a wide variety of prepackaged salad greens and an even more extensive array of reduced-fat salad dressings. We like to rinse the prepackaged salad greens in cold water, and drain them well. A salad spinner works great! The cold water srisps and freshens the greens. Another option is to pick up fresh salad ingredients from the supermarket sadal bar. And some grocery stores sell premade salads in the produce department.
If you're making pasta salad or a shrimp Caesar, don't just make enough dressing for one meal. Double or triple the batch, and keep the remaining dressing in the fridge for another meal in the coming days--you could serve it with steamed broccoli on a baked potato. The same is true for pasta. Make twice as much as you need, and then save the leftovers in the fridge for pasta salads in the week ahead.
Try this Kitchen Shortcut with Shrimp Caesar Salad.
The key to perfectly cooked vegetables starts before you ever add heat. Chopping or slicing vegetables the same size or thickness will ensure that they cook evenly. This is particularly important for carrots, potatoes, and other vegetables with longer cook times. If you're in a hurry, remember that the smaller the chop or the thinner the slice, the shorter the cook time.
Try this Kitchen Shortcut with Garden Minestrone.
Canned clams are ideal for recipes that call for only the meat of the clams. You can buy them whole or chopped. Be aware that, as with most canned products, canned clams are higher in sodium than fresh. Clam juice, the strained liquid of shicked clams, is often used as a cooking liquid for seafood dishes. It has a briny flavor and can be found in most grocery stores.
Try this Kitchen Shortcut with New England Clam Chowder.
If a recipe calls for fresh, shucked corn, but you don't have time and need a quick side, you can replace it with frozen corn. Use 3 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed, in place of 6 freshly shucked ears of corn. To give the corn a more sophisticated taste, cook 2 to 3 minutes in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray and set over medium heat, stirring often.
Try this Kitchen Shortcut with Crab and Grilled Corn Salad.
If you know you're not going to have much time to cook a meal, one super fast option is orzo. Orzo is a small pasta, about the size of puffed rice grains. Because it's small, it cooks very quickly. You can turn almost any pasta salad into a quick-cooking dish by substituting it with orzo!
Try this Kitchen Shortcut with Lemony Orzo-Veggie Salad with Chicken.
If a recipe calls for onions and you're in a time-crunch, you can use frozen onions instead if you have them on hand. The dish won't be as flavorful, but the preparation will go more quickly. You don't have to thaw the onions before you use them. Cook them until they're just soft, about two minutes. Then you can add herbs and other seasonings if you want to.
Try this Kitchen Shortcut with Seared Tuna Sandwhich with Balsomic Onions.
A lot of recipes call for toasting quinoa before it's cooked. While doing so increases its nutty taste, it's not a necessary step. For more flavor without toasting, search for red or black varieties of quinoa.
Try this Kitchen Shortcut with Quinoa Salad with Peaches.
Here are the steps to follow to cut and pit an avocado: Cut into the avocado all the way around using a sharp knife. You'll hit the large seed (or pit) in the center, so don't expect to be able to cut all the way through the fruit. Once you've cut around it, twist both sides, and pull the halves apart. Take the knife and whack the seed; pull to remove the seed, which will be stuck on the knife blade. Using a spoon, gently scoop the flesh of the avocado from the shell.