In these long days of summer, with children home from school and the daylight stretching well past dinnertime, cooking is all about minimal effort for maximum return. Each shortcut for serving up an impressive meal without long hours spent trolling the supermarket aisles for specialty ingredients is well worth it. Each of these recipes is made with five ingredients or fewer, not including salt, pepper, oil and water. And if you're shopping for just one or two, it pays to prevent purchasing lots of ingredients in quantities you're unlikely to use up.
See also:10 toppings in 10 minutes
Whether you're throwing together a weekday meal with the existing contents of your refrigerator and pantry, or trying to create a gourmet meal for six without breaking the bank on a three-page shopping list, these 10 dishes offer a dining experience that's definitely more than the sum of their parts.
Buttermilk Pancakes by Marion Cunningham: These simple, light pancakes take well to a variety of toppings, and the batter can keep in the refrigerator for a few days. It works for waffles, too. Or mix things up by substituting rye or whole wheat flour or cornmeal for part of the all-purpose flour.
Eggs in a Nest by Florence Fabricant: These pretty eggs make it easy to whip up a breakfast fit for a special occasion with the eggs, English muffins and ham or lox you already have on hand.
Onion and Arugula Frittata by Michele Scicolone: Perfect for a satisfying lunch, or paired with a substantial salad for a quick and easy dinner, this Italian frittata needs only fresh, good-quality eggs, onions and parmigiano-reggiano. If arugula isn't available, watercress or spinach leaves will do just fine.
Whole Wheat Noodles With Rocket, Garlic and Chili by Deborah Madison: Spicy rocket (arugula) lends itself well to this vegetarian pasta dish, which blends the wilted leaves with Italian cheese, red pepper flakes, sauteed garlic and nutty, whole wheat pasta.
Poached Eggs on Portobello Mushrooms With Goat Cheese by Sophie Dahl: The meatiness of portobello mushrooms matches well here with soft poached eggs and bright, tangy goat cheese, making a meal for two that's almost equally suited to breakfast, lunch or dinner.