Fast and Easy (5 ingredients or Less) Recipes

Joined Apr 19, 2008
I would love some NEW ideas/feedback on fast and easy dishes for a class titled "5 Ingredients or Less".  I am running out of creative juices to introduce new and different dishes for this category.  Please help me brainstorm!!!!!!!!!!!
Joined Aug 13, 2006
Why do you need five ingredients or less.  Many fast and easy dishes are fast and easy because they have little preparation time, not because they have few ingredients.  And there are some with fewer than 5 ingredients that take all day to make! 

Are you participating in a contest or do you want to cook easy things?
Joined Apr 19, 2008
I am aware of what you are saying, but a survey was taken by the management and the class that had been requested the most was "5 Ingredients or Less and Fast and Easy" so that is what I have to teach.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
You have my sympathies. That whole 5 ingredient thing is both the rage and a shuck, with the whole thing fired by a show on the Food Network and a couple of erstwhile books.

For starters, if you add in the uncounted ingredients, the numbe actually ranges from 7-10. At a minimum, salt and pepper aren't counted as ingredients. In some cases, water is excluded as well. And oil. Etc. Ingredients used in different forms are counted as one. F'rinstance, if you use orange zest and orange juice it is counted as one ingredients.

In other words, the whole thing is forced into an artificial rubric whose basic contention, as Siduri points out, is incorrect.

Anyway, I recommend that you read one or two of the 5-ingredient books, watch Five Ingredient Fix a few times, and you'll be able to fake it with the best of them.
Joined Jun 1, 2010
Try this for taste:

Chicken with Shallots (Pan Roasted)


  1. 8   shallots or 1 large onion
  2. 4   medium skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (1 to 1 1/4 pounds total)
  3. salt and ground black pepper
  4. 1   tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1   medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  6. 1/4   cup snipped fresh parsley

[h4] [/h4][h4]Directions:[/h4]
Peel shallots; halve small shallots and quarter large shallots. If using onion, cut into thin wedges (should have 1 cup shallots or onion wedges); set aside. Sprinkle chicken lightly with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken; cook for 2 minutes.

Turn chicken. Add shallots to skillet.Cook for 8 to 10 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink (170°F), stirring shallots frequently and turning chicken, if necessary, to brown evenly. If necessary, add additional oil to prevent sticking. Reduce heat to medium low if chicken or shallots brown too quickly.

Transfer chicken and shallots to a serving platter. Cover to keep warm. Add zucchini to skillet. Cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add to platter with chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.

Estimated cooking time: 20 mins. (makes 4 servings)
Session data
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Some of the best recipes have less than 5 ingredients.  I was just looking through my new Mario Batali Cookbook Molto Gusto (Thank you Nicko and Cheftalk, I received it today!!!) and most of the recipes have less than 5 ingredients. You will find that this way of cooking simply and letting the flavors of each ingredient shine through is a very mediterranean concept, as opposed to far eastern cooking for example which uses very complex methods of spices and herbs to make sauces.
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
I was just looking through my new Mario Batali Cookbook Molto Gusto (Thank you Nicko and Cheftalk, I received it today!!!) and most of the recipes have less than 5 ingredients. 

Either there are two books by that name and author, KK, or you're forcing the recipes the way I described above. Most of the recipes in Molto Gusto have 7 or more (often considerably more) ingredients---if they are counted honestly.

The very first recipe, for instance, "lists" five ingredients. But one of them is a lemon vinaigrette, which itself contains three ingredients. Where I learned math, that makes seven.

By actual count, most of the recipes actually list six or more ingredeints even before playing that "well, it's a different recipe, so we'll only count it as one ingredient" game the 5-ingredient proponents are so fond of.

The best example of that would be Batali's Winter Caprese Salad. It only has four ingredients listed. But the first "ingredient" requires three ingredients; the second two others, exclusive to themselves, and the third has seven, six of which are mutually exclusive. So that four-ingredient dish, the way I count, actually calls for 11 ingredients.

I'm not trying to put the knock on either you or Batali. Rather, I'm just trying to prove the point that, despite the implication and outright claims, the number of ingredients rarely has much to do with its ease of preparation. As I said in my review, the recipes in Molto Gusto are easy to prepare. Yet some of them contain 10, 11, 12 ingredients.

Simplicity or difficulty has more to do with techniques used than it does with the number of ingredients. An example I've used in the past is my own Seafood Lollipops. They call for comparatively few ingredients. But the various stages include pureeing, poaching, batter dipping, and deep frying. Nobody in their right mind would ever call it a simple dish to prepare, even though it has much fewer ingredients than, say, Batali's Winter Caprese Salad.


most of my personal recipes consist of...





Joined Apr 19, 2008
Huy Bui - ????  I don't think you understood the question /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rollsmile.gif
Joined Aug 25, 2009
A few ideas.

Pere Ripene (pears stuffed with gorgonzole cheese)

4 small firm ripe pears

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 ounces of gorgonzole (about ¼ cup) room temp

2 Tbsp soft unsalted butter

2 Tbsp crushed walnuts or pistachio or pine nuts

With a small sharp knife, peel the pears and cut them in half lengthwise, leaving the stem attached to one of the halves of each pear.

Remove the cores and scoop a touch of the pulp out of each pear halves.

Rub or use a paint brush and gently spread the lemon juice on the pears to prevent discoloration.

Cream the gorgonzole and butter together until they are soft and fluffy.

Fill the pear cavity with one tablespoon of the mixture and then gently press the 2 halves of the pear back together again. Roll the pears around in the crushed nuts, plate, chill for two hours or until cheese is firm.


5 egg yolks plus one whole egg

2 Tbsp sugar

½ Marsala

Berries of choice

Combine the 4 egg yolks, 1 egg and 2 Tbsp of sugar in top of double boiler . Beat the mixture with whisk until is pale yellow and fluffy. Then gradually add the Marsala and continue beating until the zambaione becomes thick enoough to hold its shape in a spoon. (as long as 10 minutes)

Spoon into tall stemmed glasses, top with fruit or vice-versa.

Serve while still hot.

Sauteed chicken with cream sauce

2 ½ to 3 pound chicken, cut up, butter, sliced mushrooms, white wine, cream (S & P )

Pears poached in red wine ( poires pochees au vin rouge)

2 cups dry red wine, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 cup sugar, 1 two inch stick of cinnamon 6 pears ripe but firm, peeled , cored and halved.

Scalloped potatoes with Cheese

1 garlic clove, peeled and bruised with flat of knife

2 ½ pounds of potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch slices (about 8 cups)

1 ½ cups of grates swiss cheese

1 ¼ milk

S & P

Stuffed Salmon

Salmon (cleaned ready for stuffing)

1 lemon , sliced thin

1 onion , sliced thin

1 potato , slices thin

fresh dill

S & P

Stuff - alternating layers, wrap in foil , bake
Joined Apr 3, 2008
I was looking for something a little more creative than bacon and eggs :)
Sorry, ( a bit, but you asked for five, I delivered)'s some more honest answers :

Simple Baked Figs: can be made various ways but the easiest is split, stuffed with cheese (make mine with Bleu or queso fresco) and drizzled with heavy cream (enough to pool under it) and honey (bee easy, it's honey) bake at 425 3-8 minutes depending on size and oven.

Other then the Hollandaise sauce Eggs Benedict are not that hard to pull off in small amounts.




various Casseroles

pizza (especially if you buy dough)

Stews - including a simple Ciopinno or white chowder

Carne asada




fried rice

huevos rancheros

pastas- = goulash


almost cream of anything soup



coffee cakes

hearty sandwiches

salads galore

and a few other things I am sure I have missed.....easily.........I am sure you have used some of these....but there you go. Hope it helps out.


Huy Bui - ????  I don't think you understood the question /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rollsmile.gif
thanks for thinking i can't read and comprehend a simple question. 

if you are trying to say cooking meat is nothing new, then don't blame your lack of imagination on me. there are many meats out there people would consider new. if you really are a former chef, you should be able to connect the dots.
Joined Nov 5, 2007
I'm with Huy Bui - Some of my favorite dishes involve nothing more than a pan seared piece of something with a simple reduction of the fond.  They are fast and easy, involve some fundamental techniques and are usually quite tasty.  And you can spatchcock a chicken and broil it, seasoned only with salt and pepper, and turn out a good product.  Usually when I do this I use strips of carrots and celery as a "roasting rack" under the chicken, do those count as ingredients?  And how many ingredients would be need to make a roast of beef with Yorkshire pudding? Somewhat easy, but not quite fast.

How about four ingredients?  I've mentioned this before in various other contexts, but a quick and simple soup involves bringing some stock to a boil, throw in one or two sliced mushrooms and soy sauce to taste.  Simmer five minutes, take off the heat and throw in a chopped green onion.

If you count things like jars of store bought hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, black bean and garlic sauce, et cetera as a single ingredient,  there are countless stir fry variations to try.  A favorite of mine is pork, peanuts and green onions with just a bit of soy sauce.

The cous cous and spinach I made last week had cous cous, spinach, onion, cumin and cinnamon but the onion was sweated in a bit of oil and some chicken broth was involved in cooking the cous cous.

Joined Aug 13, 2006
omelette - egg, butter, [salt and pepper]

the all-american favorite fettuccine alfredo   - fettuccine, butter, egg, parmigiano [salt, pepper] [if you make the fettuccine, you have     to add flour, since you have the egg [water]]

pavlova - egg white, sugar, flour, strawberries, cream

bread - flour, water, salt, yeast [ if you like, you can make sourdough and eliminate the yeast]

meringue-based ice cream - egg white, sugar syrup, cream, vanilla [or add melted chocolate]

pasta with cauliflower (or zucchine) - rigatoni, cauliflower [or zucchine], garlic, oil, hot red pepper [salt]

straccetti with rughetta- straccetti (thinly sliced beef), garlic, sage, rughetta, wine [oil, salt, pepper]

spongecake with ganache filling - eggs, flour, sugar, cream, chocolate [salt]

panna cotta - cream, gelatin, vanilla, sugar

bavarian cream - eggs, sugar, vanilla, gelatin, cream

carciofi alla giudia - artichokes, oil [salt]

pasta alla carbonara - pasta, bacon, eggs, cheese [salt]

pasta all'amatriciana - pasta, oil, tomatoes, onions [salt, pepper]

penne all'arrabbiata - pasta, oil, garlic, hot red pepper

pasta alla norma - pasta, tomato, onion, eggplant, ricotta salata [oil]

melanzane alla parmigiano - eggplant, egg, tomato, garlic, cheese [salt, pepper, oil]

pasta e ceci - chickpeas, onions, garlic, pasta, [salt, pepper, oil]

zuppa di scarola - escarole, onion, rice, parmigiano

pasta cacio e pepe   - pasta, cheese, pepper,[oil, salt]

Polenta al formaggio - cornmeal, fontina, butter [salt]

....... should i go on?  these are just off the top of my head, and with no real order and without consulting my cookbooks

Most of them are Italian, and  i would say most italian dishes are very simple.  In fact, if an italian recipe has more than five ingredients you might suspect it's not a traditional recipe! (not really,  but most are so simple).  And there are plenty of difficult recipes that are also very simple in terms of number of ingredients. 

If you want some recipes (not all, please!) i can provide.
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
As a teacher myself, I feel your pain about someone deciding that what the students really want is X and you have to teach it. I have a couple of questions about how the class works.

Is this hands-on or demonstration? I mean, if you're a pro, there are things that will take you very little time that would take them quite a lot more. You could use that difference to encourage students to learn a little technique, of course, but that may or may not be something you want to do.

Five-ingredient I get, stupid though I think it is (and yes, I know it's not your fault). "Fast and easy" I do not get. What's "fast"? Are we talking about "I get home at 6, I can have this on the table by 6:30 with no pre-prep" or are we talking about "so long as I don't have to spend more than 30 minutes total in the kitchen, I don't really care if I have to start the night before," or somewhere in between?

Here's why I'm asking. Suppose you've got good technique and don't mind working ahead a bit. Take one chicken, spatchcock it for broiling, and set aside in the fridge. Strip the fat from the back and render it in strips for cracklings, and save some of the rendered fat. Cook the two fat pads, minced, until well rendered, then add the liver in lobes, and cook until just barely done, then puree the mixture, pack in a little crock, and refrigerate overnight. On the next day, broil the chicken. While it's cooking, make a simple vinaigrette with mustard, red wine vinegar, and the warm rendered fat (and S&P), then toss with frisee and top the salad with crumbled cracklings. When the chicken is just done, spread the surface lightly with mustard, sprinkle with a mix of fresh bread crumbs from a crusty loaf, salt, pepper, and a little more rendered fat, then broil until deep brown. Serve with the rest of the loaf.

Ingredients: 1 chicken, mustard, red wine vinegar, frisee, crusty bread (and S&P)

Now that's an elegant meal, it's not difficult or time-consuming to make, and it's five ingredients. Terrific. But somehow I suspect that this is not quite what this class is intended to be about, right? If I'm wrong, this sort of thing is fabulous. But if I'm right, then it turns out there are some constraints that are implicit, and it's those that need to be identified. Does that make sense to you?


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Vanilla Souffle.

1c heavy cream

1 T flour

1c sugar

6 eggs

2 vanilla beans

Separate the eggs.  Make a custard with the yolks and remaining ingredients.  Beat the eggs until stiff peaks.  Fold. Bake.
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