The more than 100 recipes in Jenna Helwig's Bare Minimum Dinners are centered around the concept of "doing less in the kitchen," but that doesn't mean they sacrifice flavor or creativity in the name of simplicity. Instead, Helwig arranges the dishes here to maximize available resources, like prep time, clean-up time or limited ingredients, to best effect.
Helwig, food director at Real Simple, admits that she has spent her career up to now encouraging people to do more in the kitchen, "all for the goal of serving delicious, healthy-ish homemade meals most nights of the week." Batched freezer meals, weekly food prep, well-stocked pantries: all were fair game in her encouragement of home-cooked meals. But recognizing that it is often time that stands in the way of even these meal ideas, she began to rethink the way she framed her recipes, finding ways to achieve the same end result--healthy, home-cooked meals--with less effort and less time. Bare Minimum Dinners features meals that can be started and served in 30 minutes or less: Lamb Pita Pizzas and Moroccan Tacos; dishes that require minimal ingredients, like Baked Rigatoni, or minimal clean-up, like Za'atar Roast Chicken; make-ahead meals for the Instant Pot or crockpot; and side ideas featuring grains and vegetables. While little here is revolutionary in terms of flavor or concept, Bare Minimum Dinners stands out in its invitation to busy home cooks to spend less time in the kitchen; Helwig even includes recommended shortcuts to make her recipes even faster when necessary. The result is a beautiful and inspiring collection of meals that will appeal to any home cook looking for easy dinner ideas--ideal for weeknights and on-the-go households. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm