Pamela Salzman bought her first cookbook in second grade—and she’s cherished homemade meals and family dinnertime ever since. Her family’s simple meals influenced Salzman to learn how to make real meals from accessible and realistic ingredients.
Now, she shares her cooking know-how and quick recipes in “Quicker than Quick,” a new collection of 140 crave-worthy recipes that deliver healthy comfort foods in less than 30 minutes. Read on to learn more about her cookbook and kitchen hacks.
I saw a demand in my cooking classes for more recipes that were not only quick to prep, but quick to cook, too. People are busier than ever, and I know I can’t change that. But if I can help people cook more by giving them an entire book of quick, healthy recipes—then, challenge accepted!
I did not go to culinary school, but I love to cook and taught myself everything I know now. Anyone can be a better cook with practice. But the most important thing I want people to know about me and my approach is that I am a full-time cooking instructor who teaches in private home kitchens four days a week. I have a unique perspective from speaking with my students face-to-face in classes, using “normal” kitchen resources, and having recipes that get vigorously tested and refined class after class. My recipes are clear, easy to follow, and have been approved by my students and their families.
Plan in advance. I create a dinner planner every Saturday for the week ahead. It removes the “dinner cloud” from hanging over my head during the day.
If there’s something you can prep in advance, do it. On my market day, I always wash and dry my salad greens, peel garlic, make a salad dressing, and do whatever I have time for that will help me during the week.
Keep staples in your pantry and freezer that can boost flavor or get turned into a meal fast (such as canned beans, frozen or canned wild fish, good-quality marinara sauce, and spice blends).
Focus on quick-cooking proteins, like ground meats, seafood, and boneless, skinless poultry cuts.
Get out your biggest skillet and cook on the stove. A bigger skillet will cook ingredients more quickly than a smaller one, and stove top is generally faster than the oven.
That was what my students complained about with other “quick” recipes—that there was something that had to have been done in advance, like a roasted sweet potato or cooked brown rice. They wanted a book they could turn to at 6 p.m. and have dinner on the table at 6:30 p.m. So that was my criteria. I tried to find ways to create flavor in short amounts of time or rework recipes that I loved, but took a long time to cook. It was actually easier than I thought once I started cutting things in smaller pieces, using the stove more than the oven, and seeking out clean, store-bought items like curry paste, frozen vegetables, and salsa.
I am a huge proponent of zero waste! One of the most important strategies for not wasting food is to plan your meals. I also encourage people to plan meals around what they already have and then fill in with a grocery store shop. One of the keys to cooking quickly is to have the building blocks for meals already in your pantry. But just as important is to develop the confidence to change a recipe to use what you’ve already got. If you have canned wild salmon, but no tuna, use that. No olives? Use capers.
I love oatmeal cooked with riced vegetables like cauliflower, zucchini, or carrots. It can still be a sweet bowl, but it’s bulked up with vegetables that add no flavor and hardly any calories, just more fiber and nutrients. I also make a lot of breakfast “quesadillas” which are nothing more than a good quality tortilla warmed or crisped up with nut butter, fruit, crunchy bits, vegan cream cheese, whatever. It’s healthy, tasty and super fast!
If I’m working at home, a go-to for me is tuna “ceviche” because it’s clean, tasty, quick, and keeps my energy stable for the rest of the day. Another is the Olive Bar Chickpea Salad. It’s the easiest salad in the whole world because you take staples like olives, sun-dried tomatoes, jarred or frozen artichoke hearts, canned chickpeas, and any other compatible ingredients, then doctor it up with dried oregano and vinegar. Boom! You’ve got your fiber, good fat, and protein—and it’s packed with flavor!
I save longer recipes for the weekend, so during the week I am making easier, quicker meals that revolve around fish, poultry, or legumes, or things that can be made on the stovetop. I am obsessed with my Spicy Peach Skillet Chicken. I love the combination of sweet and spicy, plus you can use frozen fruit and change it up with apricots or oranges. I also make my Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers a lot. They don’t require any precooked ingredients besides than black beans (I keep canned on hand) and they hold together amazingly well without needing to be refrigerated prior to cooking. The burger sauce that goes with the recipe is to die for!
I have been a Thrive Market shopper literally since Day 1. I think I was Thrive’s 41st order! I love that Thrive is making healthy foods accessible both logistically and economically. I have saved so much money without sacrificing quality, and the convenience of having it all delivered is a huge bonus. Many years later, I really appreciate the value in the Thrive Market private-label products and the expanded offerings like frozen seafood. I don’t think people realize the depth of what can be purchased on Thrive. Not only do I buy food, but I also stock up on parchment paper, cleaning products, beauty products, supplements, lunch box supplies, and even my dog’s food!
Online grocery shopping is so much faster and easier than going to the store, plus I can do it at odd hours of the day and when I am traveling. I can compare prices in an instant and the convenience of having it all delivered is a game-changer. I imagine having access to less mainstream products would also be a huge advantage for people who don’t have natural foods stores close to where they live.
I love that I can look at my previously purchased items on Thrive to remind myself what I usually buy. And I now have a great system that works for me where I add things to my Thrive cart as I need to replenish them and then buy once I have enough for free shipping. Have I mentioned that I have saved so much money shopping Thrive Market?
Honestly, there are too many to mention! I am a big fan of all the Thrive Market private-label nuts and seeds which I use in salads, in baking, and on bowls. I love all the Jovial Foods glass-jarred tomatoes (for soups and stews) and gluten-free pastas. I have been loving the Thrive Market organic olive oil, which I use every single day. One of my quick hacks is to use raw cashew butter in place of soaked, raw cashews, so I always buy Artisana raw cashew butter. And since I have been doing more grain-free baking, I buy a lot of Thrive Market private-label almond flour, tapioca, cassava, and arrowroot. This is just the tip of the iceberg!
Search for the brands and products you use at home, because you’ll be surprised at what is available on Thrive Market. Once you become a regular shopper, click on the “favorites” button to remind yourself what you have bought in the past. And definitely try the Thrive Market private-label products for exceptional quality at very affordable prices!
I don’t think I could live without my food processor. It makes very quick work out of tedious tasks like shredding, slicing, and chopping. I use it to make pie crust and pestos, dips and purees, and even for mixing grain-free cake batter. The key is keeping your food processor in prime real estate in your kitchen so you’re more motivated to use it.
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