1. Shrimp Snack: Warm olive oil in a skillet with at least 3 cloves sliced garlic. When the garlic colors, add at least a teaspoon each of cumin and pimenton. A minute later, add a dozen or so shrimp, salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley, serve with lemon and bread. Shrimp defrost really quickly... just keep a bag on hand in the freezer, and you're ready for a great snack any time!
2. Gazpacho: Combine in a blender: one pound tomatoes cut into chunks, a cucumber peeled and cut into chunks, two or three slices stale bread torn into pieces, a quarter-cup olive oil, two tablespoons sherry vinegar, a clove of garlic, one cup of water, and a couple of ice cubes. Process until smooth, adding water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper, then serve. Garnish with anchovies if you like, and a little more olive oil. Have I mentioned lately how much I *love* my mini food processor?
3. Call it Panini: Grilled cheese with salami or prosciutto, tomatoes, and fresh thyme or basil leaves.
4. Quick Tacos: Stir-fry a pound or so of ground meat (or chopped fish) mixed with chopped onions and seasoned with cumin or chili powder. Pile into taco shells or soft tacos, along with tomato, lettuce, canned beans, onion, cilantro, and sour cream.
5. Chicken Sandwich: Dredge thinly sliced (or pounded flat) chicken breasts in flour or cornmeal; cook about two minutes a side in hot olive oil. Pull out that George Foreman grill to make this really easy! Place on bread with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
6. Taco Salad: Toss together greens, chopped tomato, chopped red onion, sliced avocado, some black beans, and some corn. Toss with crumbled tortilla chips and grated cheese. Dress with olive oil, lime, and chopped cilantro leaves.
7. Easy Pasta Primavera: Saute shredded zucchini in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. Serve over pasta.
8. Shrimp and Beets: Peel and thinly slice raw beets; cook in butter until soft. Take out of pan and quickly cook some shrimp in the same pan. Deglaze pan with sherry vinegar, adding sauce to beets and shrimp. Garnish with dill. Give beets a chance - they're worth it.
9. Portobello Eggs: Brush portobello caps with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil until tender. Briefly sweat chopped onions, then scramble eggs with them. Put eggs in mushrooms. Having guests spend the night? Make this for breakfast & impress them! I love *easy* impressive meals.
10. Sweet Sausage: Cut up Italian sausage into chunks and brown in a little olive oil until just about done. Dump in a lot of seedless grapes and, if you like, a little slivered garlic and chopped rosemary. Cook, stirring, until the grapes are hot. Serve with bread.
11. Veggie Burger: Drain and pour a 14-ounce can of beans into a food processor with an onion, half a cup rolled oats, a tablespoon chili powder or other spice mix, and egg, salt and pepper. Process until mushy, then shape into burgers, adding a little liquid or oats as necessary. Cook in oil about three minutes a side and serve.