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No time to cook? Italian stir-fry, zucchini pizza, deli paella get dinner on in a half-hour or less.

No time to cook? Italian stir-fry, zucchini pizza, deli paella get dinner on in a half-hour or less In a hurry? You can still cook from scratch. But to cut your cooking time, you need to think as you race through the supermarket.

Many basic foods are available in a ready-to-eat stage, requiring little additional preparation. You can take advantage of these in meals that are more varied than prepared entrees-to-go. You can even get results faster than with a frozen dinner.

Here we offer three such meals. One serves 2, the others serve 2 to 4, and they can go from shopping bag to dinner plate in 30 minutes or less. The recipes call for tiny cooked and shelled shrimp, prebaked cheese crusts for pizza, cooked chicken, heat-and-eat sausages, vegetables that don't require a lot of preparation, cheese that's already grated or shredded, canned pimientos (an effective stand-in for roasted and skinned red bell peppers), canned clams, prepared salsa, and quick-cooking dry pasta.

If you have a partner who can set the table, wash salad greens, and choose the wine, you can dine even sooner.

Stir-fry Italian-style

A Chinese technique combines Italian flavors in this main-course blend of fish, vegetables, and pasta. Put water on to boil for pasta while you cut and prepare the vegetables. Both take about the same time to cook--less than 10 minutes--and should go on the heat concurrently.

While shopping, look for a ready-to-serve dessert--such as a fancy pastry sold by the piece, or cups of Italian gelato.

Italian Stir-fried Pasta Water 6 ounces dry linguini or other thin pasta 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion, cut into bite-size chunks 1 medium-size green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into bite-size chunks 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves 1/8 pound (about 18) Chinese pea pods, stem ends and any tough strings removed 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 3/4 pound tiny cooked shelled shrimp About 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a 3- to 4-quart pan on high heat, bring 1-1/2 quarts water to a boil. Add pasta when you begin to stir-fry vegetables.

Place a wok or 10- to 12-inch frying pan over high heat. When pan is hot, add oil, onion, bell pepper, and chilies and oregano to taste. Stir-fry until vegetables are tender to bite, about 5 minutes.

Add pea pods and butter; continue to stir-fry until butter melts, about 1 minute more. Add shrimp, stir well, and remove pan from heat.

Cook pasta until tender to bite, 6 to 8 minutes; drain. Pour onto a hot platter.

Spoon hot stir-fried mixture over pasta and serve at once. Sprinkle parmesan cheese onto individual portions. Serves 2.

Pizza Mexican-style

First, turn on the oven to heat. Then start the pizza makings; they are based on the prebaked, plump, cheese-flavored bread rounds sold in the refrigerated or frozen-food section of the supermarket. Even if frozen, they're ready to use in minutes.

Chop the onion as you saute the zucchini. Or put an extra pair of hands to work.

As the pizzas bake, mix a green salad.

For dessert, consider banana splits. Buy bananas, chopped nuts, one or more sauces, ice cream, and cream to whip--or the kind that squirts.

Zucchini Pizzas 2 tablespoons olive oil About 1/2 pound zucchini (ends trimmed off), cut into 1/4-inch slices 1 small onion, chopped 1 carton (15 oz.) whole-milk ricotta cheese Salt and pepper 2 packages (8 oz. each) prebaked refrigerated or frozen 6-inch-diameter cheese crusts 1 package (8 oz., or 2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese 1 can (2-1/4 oz.) sliced ripe olives 1 jar (12 oz.) tomato chili salsa

To a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and half of the zucchini slices. Cook, turning slices with a wide spatula, until zucchini is speckled with brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels and arrange slices in a single layer to drain. Add another tablespoon oil to pan; cook and drain remaining zucchini.

Add onion to the hot pan and cook, stirring often, until limp, about 4 minutes. In a bowl, mix together onion, ricotta cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Place crusts on 1 or 2 baking sheets, each 12 by 15 inches. Spoon 1/4 of the ricotta mixture onto each crust and spread to rim. Lay an equal portion of zucchini slices over the ricotta, then cover each round with 1/4 of the mozzarella. Top mozzarella with sliced olives.

Bake in a 450[deg.] oven until mozzarella melts and ricotta is warm, about 8 minutes. Transfer pizzas to plates; add salsa to taste. Makes 4 pizzas, 2 to 4 servings.

Deli paella

Cooked chicken from the grocer's deli section or meat counter, heat-to-eat Polish sausages, canned clams, and canned pimientos work well together with rice as the base in this speedy paella. All it takes is time to cook the rice.

A crisp cabbage slaw or lettuce salad and crusty bread with butter are reliable companions. Purchased individual flans (check the refrigerated section at your supermarket) are an appropriate dessert, perhaps with some biscotti-type cookies.

Polish Sausage Paella 1 or 2 Polish sausages (about 1/2 lb. total), sliced 1/4 inch thick 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed 1 small onion, chopped 1 cup long-grain white rice 1 jar (4 oz.) sliced pimientos 1 can (6-1/2 oz.) minced clams 1 can (14-1/2 oz.) regular-strength chicken broth 1 cooked whole chicken (1-1/2 to 2 lb.), cut into serving-size pieces 1 or 2 green onions, including tops, chopped

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, stir sausages briefly to render some of the fat; add garlic, onion, and rice. Cook until onion is limp and rice turns opaque, about 4 minutes; stir often. Mix in pimientos, juice from clams (set clams aside), and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until rice is barely tender to bite, about 15 minutes.

Stir minced clams into rice mixture and lay chicken on top of rice. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, covered, until chicken is warm, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer rice mixture to a platter, arrange chicken on top, and sprinkle with green onions. Makes 3 to 4 servings.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Aug 1, 1986
Words:1070
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