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Ten Minute Meals

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An old-fashioned alarm clock in front of a bubbling saucepan
And what can we expect if we haven't any dinner
But to lose our teeth and eyelashes and keep on growing thinner?

- Edward Lear

In this age of fast times and fast living, preparing a nutritious, home-made meal can be a daunting experience which involves chopping, dicing, frying, baking, roasting and boiling. It is often all too easy to delve in to the deep freezer, pull out the oven chips and a flabby microwaveable lasagne and flop in front of the telly. But you don't have to, because we've got for you below a few excellent ten minute wonders that will provide nutrition, flavour and general all-round big meal satisfaction - all in ten minutes or less!


Eggs are the source of many a ten minute wonder: boiled eggs, fried eggs, poached eggs, scrambled eggs, egg mayonnaise, 'eggy bread' (French toast), Welsh Rarebit, egg fried rice... the list goes on and on. One very quick, very easy and very tasty egg-based recipe is none other than the omelette. Master the omelette and you'll have a friend for life. How hungry are you? Well, your answer will dictate a) how many eggs you use b) what other additional ingredients you put in.


  1. Whisk eggs and add salt and pepper and mustard

  2. Heat pan (full power)

  3. Add large knob of butter

  4. When butter foams add eggs

  5. Pull fork from side of pan into centre continuously, allowing egg to run into grooves - until egg goes solid(ish)

  6. Turn down heat (to half power)

  7. Add extras

  8. Fold in half

  9. Leave for a couple of minutes on very low heat

  10. Take out of pan and eat

Quick Pasta Sauces

This is something that was found by chance. The Researcher had some ingredients, bunged them all together... and it worked. Quantities are largely dependent on taste, appetite and - especially with the garlic - whether or not you have a date.


  1. Boil some water and add fresh pasta. You can use dried pasta, but it isn't quite as nice and besides usually takes 10-14 minutes to cook. Alternatively you could use egg noodles, which take 4 minutes.

  2. Fry some chopped or crushed garlic in a very small amount of olive oil in a saucepan.

  3. Put a scoop of mascarpone (the soft cheese of a million uses) into the pan with the garlic and stir until it has all melted. Add herbs as preferred; either a dried Italian herb mix or fresh basil is recommended, if you have it. Also add pepper and a little salt to taste.

  4. Drain the pasta, stir in the sauce and serve.

As an alternative, mascarpone can also jazz up a regular tomato sauce.

  1. Do the pasta.

  2. Fry some chopped onion and chopped or crushed garlic in a saucepan, in a little olive oil.

  3. Add some tinned tomatoes (about a tin will make enough sauce for two - four people, depending on appetite), a squirt of tomato puree, salt, pepper and herbs (again, and Italian mix or fresh basil).

  4. Stir in a scoop of mascarpone, making sure that it melts and blends into the sauce completely, so that you don't end up with blobs of soft cheese in the sauce.

  5. Drain the pasta, serve, pour the sauce on top. Add some grated parmesan, if desired.

You could also add tuna to the tomato sauce instead of the mascarpone, or if you really feel like letting yourself go, cream. Minced beef could be added at stage four to make a perfectly acceptable bolognese, although if making bolognese or a tuna-tomato sauce you may as well use regular vegetable or sunflower oil, as the distinctive taste of the olive oil is somewhat swamped by the other strong flavours.

If you leave the mascarpone, cream, tuna and beef out, this same recipe makes an excellent plain tomato sauce.

Unnamed Tomato Melody

It doesn't really have a name, this, but it's very simple, very tasty and actually good for you. All the amounts are approximate and so you have to tailor them to suit your own tastes and appetites.


  • Pasta, your choice (angel hair is this Researcher's favourite)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped as finely as possible
  • Minced garlic
  • Fresh basil (it's important that it's fresh and not dried, otherwise it doesn't taste as good)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Optional Ingredients


  1. Cook the pasta and set it aside after it's done.

  2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil, then when it's hot, throw in the garlic, basil and sun-dried tomatoes, along with any other vegetable you might feel like tossing in there.

  3. Once the garlic begins to brown, take the skillet off the heat, and toss in the pasta.

  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

A good thing to do is start with dry sun-dried tomatoes (as opposed to the ones soaked in oil) and soak them in warm water until they are soft enough to cut. Do not throw away the water they were soaking in. Instead, throw it in with the water the pasta is cooking in. This will give the pasta a bit more flavour.


Cheating Casserole

This is a cheating casserole because you do not bake it.


  • 1 bag of egg noodles
  • 1 can of peas
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 can of tuna fish (optional)


  1. Boil a pot of water and add the egg noddles. While doing that, open the cans of soup and peas and and put them in another pot on low heat with the milk. Cut up the tuna and add it to second pot.

  2. Strain the noodles and rinse with hot water (it gets rid of a lot of starch). Put them back in the pot, add the sauce mixture and stir.

Warning: be careful not to overcook the noodles or you will end up with a mushy mess. If you have more time you can put it in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Kasspatzn (Swabian Noodles with Cheese)

This may be a vegetarian dish but it provides enough energy to fuel hungry, burly German woodcutters!

Ingredients (per person)

  • 1 medium onion

  • 150-200g Spätzle

  • 50-80g cheese (preferably Edam)

  • salt

  • pepper

  • butter


  1. Cook Spätzle in boiling water (8 to 14 minutes depending on brand).

  2. Cut Onions into small slices and roast with butter.

  3. Grate or cut cheese into small pieces.

  4. After Spätzle are ready, arrange on a flat dish with alternating layers of Spätzle, cheese and onions, season with salt and a good spray of pepper.

  5. Heat up in microwave for another two minutes to melt the cheese.

Udon Noodles

Udon noodles are Japanese and they are typically large white noodles made from wheat flour. Udon noodles in any type of soup base take essentially only as long as it takes to boil the soup, and you can add almost anything to the soup.

A great favourite with one of our Researchers involves using a cup of vegetable stock, heated with a cube of frozen spinach - which, in the time it takes the stock to start simmering, will melt down into a swirling mess of spinach. When the mixture is simmering, add the Udon noodles and heat on simmer for the recommended three minutes or so. For variety, you can add chopped shallots or other bits of greenery, should you want them, and serve with a dash of soy sauce.

The soup so formed is nutritious for all relevant nutrients except protein, of which it doesn't have much. Given the protein - and fat - most people ingest as part of a regular Western diet during the day, however, this is unlikely to do the 'eating body' any damage! It's good, tasty food, quick to prepare and quite filling.

Left-over Wonders

OK, this deals with the scary bowls in the fridge, you know, the ones covered with plastic wrap...

You'll need to have on hand some tortillas, and if you want to get fancy, you can use spinach or sun-dried tomato ones. These keep really well in the freezer too, so you needn't even worry about the best before dates. Take your leftovers and put them inside the tortilla shell. Good left overs for this are fried rice, roasted veggies, hard-boiled eggs, meat, or chicken, or you can just put salad in it. Some spicy salsa, seasoning, or peanut sauce goes really well too. Wrap it all up and nuke it for a minute or so in the microwave.

Strangely enough, the more inventive the mix, the better the meal. You'll never get tired of them, unless you always have the same left-overs! And your fridge will be empty soon so that you'll have to go shopping again.

The Best Chicken and Noodles... Ever


  • Thawed skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • Egg noodles
  • Water
  • Boullion1 cubes


  1. Heat the water in a pot.

  2. Add 3 boullion (stock) cubes.

  3. Cut the chicken into little bite size cubes.

  4. Put the chicken cubes into the boiling water.

  5. Put the noodles into the pot with the chicken.

  6. After both noodles and chicken are cooked, remove the chicken and noodles from the water

  7. Pour a bit of milk on to the chicken and noodles to make them nice and creamy.

Hole in One

Melt some butter in a frying pan to start with. As the butter gets sizzling hot, use a pastry cutter to cut a hole in a slice of bread. Break an egg into a cup. Place the bread in the fat and begin frying. Turn the bread over when golden brown and pour the egg carefully into the hole. The egg and bread will now fry together with the bread absorbing some of the egg white as it does. When egg is cooked, serve.


Wish Sandwich

The Wish Sandwich is a popular meal for the thrifty college student on the go. It only requires two ingredients and two steps to prepare.

  1. First, eat two slices of bread.
  2. Next, wish there were something else between them.

That's all there is to it. A delicious meal that engages the imagination. What more could you wish for?

Salad Lyonnaise


  • 1 Curly Lettuce
  • 1 Packet of smoked bacon bits
  • 1 Packet of garlic croutons
  • 1 Egg
  • French dressing


  1. Chop the lettuce and add to a salad bowl.

  2. Heat water and gently poach the egg while frying the smoked bacon bits.

  3. Add the bacon to the salad with the croutons.

  4. Add egg on top of the lettuce, bacon, and croutons.

  5. Squirt your dressing over the yolk of the egg and the rest of the salad.

  6. Mix and serve.

Really very yummy. Honest.

Strammer Max

This is a rather classic Ten Minute Meal from Germany. The term 'Strammer Max2' translates more or less to 'Tight Max' or 'Sturdy Max'. The origin of the name 'Strammer Max' is unknown; it seems to be a regional term mostly used in northern Germany, since it cannot be found in official dictionaries.

Now, how to make a Strammer Max? You take a slice of German 'Schwarzbrot', butter it and put some slices of smoked bacon on top of it. Then, one or two fried eggs are placed on top, and there you have it - a Strammer Max! Of course, there are variations around the theme of Strammer Max. If there is no Schwarzbrot or smoked bacon handy, white bread (toasted or not) will do, and you can use ham or salami too.

A Strammer Max will do outstandingly well as a snack, because it really fills you up for a couple of hours before the main meal begins. It is also suited as a main course in which case you take two slices of Schwarzbrot and double the other ingredients as well.

A Quick English Version of French Peasant Salad

I made the recipe up from a memorable Peasant Salad eaten in Fecamp, France, the day before the eclipse. They added an egg on top, fried I think, but I've come across boiled ones added too. This would add to the nutritional value but I prefer it without. The eggs need to be well done - not runny.

Quantities are for one serving - vary to taste.


  • Lightly toast one and a half to two medium thick slices of good brown bread.

  • Leave the toast to cool off.

  • Chop up a couple of small tomatoes.

  • Shred some lettuce, a reasonable amount.

  • Slice up half a Peperami stick, slices around 2mm thick.

  • Mix the tomatoes, lettuce and peperami and sprinkle liberally with French dressing.

  • Cut toast into crouton size pieces while heating teaspoon of olive oil in frying pan.

  • Lightly fry the croutons then add to the rest of the salad. Eat.

  • A couple of bacon rashers can be used in place of the peperami but that adds to the cooking time.

A version of homemade French dressing; approximately one part olive oil to two parts white wine vinegar, add a little sugar and mustard powder to taste. Put all ingredients in a small bottle and keep in fridge. Shake bottle before using. Good added to pizzas too.

The nutritional value of this recipe depends on the quality of the bread.

French Toast for Breakfast

French Toast is the ultimate quickie cooked food. It tastes really good, it has that prepared feeling to it, and it takes all of 5 minutes or so on the fire. Serves 2.


  • Beat two eggs.

  • Add 1/4 cup milk.

  • Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

  • Soak up batter with bread slices.

  • Add pat of butter to frying pan.

  • Fry slices of bread, turning over after 1 minute.

  • Serve.

Cheapa Pasta

Most supermarkets sell 'fresh' pasta that only takes three to five minutes to cook (not counting the water boiling time) They also sell a wide range of pasta sauces. Avoid the major brands; usually the fancier names/bottles taste better and have less chemicals in them. I quite like the Loyd Grossman ones. With these you can produce very good stuff, very quickly.

For example, cut some belly pork into chunks, fry with an onion, chuck in the sauce, heat for three or four minutes and serve with pasta. If you have, say, melon and ham for a starter, and ice cream for dessert, you can do a three course meal in ten minutes dead easy.

Chicken with Whisky and Honey

This recipe is an old favourite. It's a real attack on the taste buds but the honey and coriander work surprisingly well.


  1. 2lbs chicken goujons
  2. 500g fresh penne pasta
  3. 3 tablespoons of clear honey
  4. 25 - 50mls whisky
  5. 1 massive bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  6. Salt to taste
  7. Olive oil


  • Put the pasta on to boil; this will need eight minutes to boil and cook.

  • Cook the chicken goujons in a non-stick wok.

  • When cooked, add the honey and cook on a medium heat until chicken is covered in honey.

  • Check pasta, drain, stir in chopped coriander and a little olive oil and cover.

  • Turn up the heat on the chicken; the honey will start to caramelise.

  • Add the whisky and stir for 20 seconds or so and remove from heat.

  • Serve on top of a bed of the coriander pasta.

Garlic Prawns


  • 1 prawn, uncooked, shell on, fully thawed out, per person. As big as you can find/afford
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 oyster mushroom (or any other) per person
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 lump of fresh ginger
  • White wine (the same as you are going to drink with the meal)
  • Approximately 125g of that new 'fast' (10 minute) risotto rice that comes in different flavours/colours (saffron, mushroom, squid ink etc.) eg made by 'Gallio' of Italy, available at most supermarkets
  • 1 sprig (per person) fresh herbs for decoration (dill or parsley, for example)
  • Good olive oil
  • Butter
  • 1 ramekin3
  • 1 wok with stirrer
  • 1 saucepan of boiling water (cheating a bit, but we've only got 10 minutes)


  1. Follow packet instructions for rice, get it cooking.

  2. Gently warm 1 teaspoon of oil per prawn in the wok.

  3. Roughly chop the onion.

  4. Finely chop the garlic and ginger.

  5. Slice the mushroom into fine strips.

  6. You've got three minutes, so work quickly. Pause only to throw one knob of butter per prawn into the warmed oil. The idea is that the oil prevents the butter burning and blackening, so if the butter starts burning, turn down the heat.

  7. Carry on chopping.

  8. Chuck the chopped onion in the wok, and allow to cook gently until clear (one minute) then throw in the garlic and ginger. Allow to cook for a minute or so.

  9. Throw in the prawns and mushrooms, turn up the heat. Keep stirring and turning the prawns gently. As soon as they are completely pink, pour in a glug of white wine (If you splash it about, you might get some impressive flames... looks good if you have an audience; don't be frightened).

  10. The rice should now be coming up to its ten minutes. Get your plates ready. Butter the ramekin. If the rice has absorbed all the water, as it should have, fill the buttered ramekin with rice and press in hard. Turn it out onto the plate. (Put the plate upside down on the ramekin, turn both over together and rap the bottom of the ramekin - you should have a nice tight mound of rice in the shape of the ramekin).

  11. Repeat for each serving.

  12. Place a cooked prawn on each mound of rice. Spoon a little of the remaining cooking sauce from the wok on each, and decorate with the herbs. If you use the yellow saffron rice, the colours are especially impressive. For even extra extravagance, you can buy ready made coulis in, say orange flavour/colour to make a pretty pattern on the plate.

  13. Serve with a flourish, a napkin and a bowl of lemon water to wash fingers, plus, of course, the white wine (Chablis?) and a candle or two on the table.

What's it called... who knows? Where does it come from... loads of places! Ten minutes is a bit tight, but just about possible with practice.

The Best Ten-Minute Meal

The best Ten Minute meal of all is a good deed...

The other day I gave a candy bar to some co-workers for them to share. The next day, one of them gave me a piece of fried chicken!
1Bouillon is rich stock made from stewed meat, fish or vegetables.2The name of the meal leads to occasional bad jokes from those with dirty minds... for instance if you ask a waiter 'Do you have a Strammer Max' he might reply 'No, I always walk this way'.3'A small dish for baking and serving an individual portion of food' - Concise Oxford Dictionary.

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