Cooking

Stir Lazy

The go-to meals we make when we're just too damn lazy
Photo: Tasting Table
Pancakes

We've all been there. You get home late from work, or the bar, and you need to eat something immediately—not in 20 minutes but right now. We're talking about the moments when even a super-quick pasta dish won't do. It's two-ingredient pancakes or bust.

Or in the case of Saturday Night Live's Vanessa Bayer, it's the feeling of rolling out of bed and realizing that the prospect of leaving your apartment, let alone your couch, to get food is not an option.

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Bayer described her "very lazy" Sunday routine in the New York Times this weekend, and whether or not you live in NYC, where ordering a bagel and cream cheese for delivery is perfectly acceptable (or somewhat), the essay should strike a chord. Bayer not only orders bagels, but she's been known to order bags of microwave popcorn, too. Everyone can relate to those conflicting emotions of needing a full meal as quickly as humanly possible, but with as minimal effort possible, too.

Here are the go-to meals we at Tasting Table make when we're stuck between a rock and a hard couch cushion.

Karen Palmer, Editorial Director
This is one of my "single-person dinners," as I like to call them: Cook a small chopped onion in olive oil spiked with chile flakes until soft. Add a crushed garlic clove and some tomato paste and cook down. Throw in some rinsed, drained canned chickpeas; season the whole thing with a boatload of garam masala; and squeeze some lemon juice in there. Add a sh*t-ton of drained frozen spinach, more garam masala (maybe some cumin and turmeric if I've got them on-hand) and more lemon juice. Cook a few minutes more until everything comes together. It's my completely inauthentic poor (wo)man's chana masala-meets-saag paneer.

OR: When I'm really hungry and have absolutely no food in the house, I'll eat Carr's pepper water crackers slathered with whatever jam I have in the fridge. After about 45 of them, I'm completely satisfied.

Devra Ferst, Senior Editor
My lazy meal: We might as well just call this "my regular dinner." It's the meal I make when I get home from a run or yoga, and it's already late and there's just no time to cook a real meal. Two fried eggs (za'atar on top!) and an arugula salad with sultanas and pistachios. I've gotten this down to under 10 minutes. I would be embarrassed by how often I make this if I didn't actually love it as much as I do.

Abby Reisner, Assistant Editor
If for whatever terrible reason I don't have enough baby carrots and almond butter to fashion a meal, here's what I do: First, grab a bowl. Measure out 1 cup of cereal (preferably Kashi's Honey Sunshine, but substitute at will). Take out an extra handful; test for quality. Repeat if necessary. Take the almond milk from the refrigerator, give it a proper shake (between 2 and 4 times should do), pour over the cereal in the bowl until 3 millimeters above the top grain of cereal. Let marinate for about 90 seconds or until it's the consistency of lightly trodden soil. Enjoy with a spoon, either from bed or the couch.

Elyse Inamine, Editor
Instant ramen, obvi. Sometimes, it's super-fancy Nissin Demae black garlic tonkotsu or janky roast chicken-flavored Maruchan with a splash of kimchi juice and pickled bits. But instant noodles are not your oyster, I've learned. Out of desperation—and the fact that my husband was out of town for work—I once thought I could hack red-sauced spaghetti by dumping warmed and watered-down tomato paste and a lot of Parm over instant noodles. Not my finest moment, and it's sad because this was a couple months ago—not back in college.

Rebecca Firkser, Editorial Intern
My laziest meal: Crack an egg into a pan, sprinkle with whatever cheese is in the fridge and red pepper flakes. Flip. Serve with something green, hopefully. Repeat if necessary. Or, if even lazier, Rice Krispies and mini marshmallows in a giant mixing bowl, like in that episode of Gilmore Girls (you know the one!).

Alison Spiegel, Senior Writer
Grilled cheese: It will always be grilled cheese. My favorite combinations, in order, are Swiss or Jarlsberg on rye, cheddar on whole wheat or Muenster on white. If I have the ingredients on hand and can muster the energy, I'll add ham to the first, hot sauce to the second, or wasabi and avocado (it's amazing) to the third. But lazy people can't be choosers, so I usually just stick to bread, cheese and butter on both sides of the bread. If I'm too lazy to use a knife, I'll smear the butter straight from the stick. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Rachel Vanni, Photo Intern
There was a period of extreme laziness last year when I often made up various meal combinations of couscous or quinoa with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and frozen peas. As you can imagine, that got boring pretty quickly, and I haven't made it since. Fortunately, my apartment is almost always stocked with at least one of type cheese, so my favorite defaults are grilled cheese and omelets. Or as a last resort, no-dishes-to-clean dining on baby carrots, veggie chips and hummus.

Jane Frye, Managing Editor
My no-time, go-to dinner is a handful of pork and chive dumplings from Vanessa's in New York City. I always have a bag in the freezer, ready to go at all times. Not even bothering to separate the ones that stick together, I throw them in a pot of boiling water and by the time I've changed into the appropriate post-work loungewear, these suckers are afloat, begging to be spooned into a bowl and topped with Sriracha and soy sauce. Not to be deterred by the copious amounts of steam pouring off, I take a bite right away and wait for the tongue burning to begin.

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