Two 20 Minute Meals

The most common excuse I hear when people say they’re not into cooking is “I don’t want to slave for hours on end in the kitchen just to make something to eat”. That could be a legitimate excuse but the reality is that you can make something tasty in a fraction of that time and it doesn’t even have to be complicated, as these two dishes prove. I think the real reason why people make excuses when it comes to cooking is they either don’t want to expend any effort or they don’t know how to cook. And we wonder why fast food and obesity are the issues they are today.


Thin spaghetti with mustard greens, garlic, pine nuts and golden raisinsThis is an adaptation of a dish at Contigo, a restaurant located in Noe Valley in San Francisco. The original uses fava greens instead of mustard greens and doesn’t contain pasta.

2 T. pine nuts
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
2 T. olive oil
2 cups mustard greens, washed, trimmed and chopped coarsely
2 T. golden raisins
kosher salt, to taste
freshly milled black pepper, to taste
chopped oregano
chopped basil
cooked spaghetti
extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat or until the pine nuts are golden. Do not burn or the nuts will turn bitter. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat some olive oil in the same pan. Add a clove or two of crushed garlic and sauté over medium heat or until garlic takes on a bit of color, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the greens to the skillet and a pinch of salt. Cook until the greens have partially wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and the raisins. Cook, stirring occasionally or until the greens have cooked down, about 3 to 5 additional minutes. Add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet and toss so that the greens are mixed thoroughly with the pasta. Check seasoning. Discard the garlic cloves. Stir in some chopped oregano and/or basil. Remove from heat, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil if you like, and serve immediately.


Eggs sunny-side up, with tomato salad and sourdough toastThe tomato salad is the labor-intensive part of this dish, except it takes about 10 min. to make. Dice one tomato, a couple of small summer squash or zucchini, a small cucumber and one shallot. Combine in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste, chopped fresh oregano and fresh basil and the juice of half a lemon. Drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil, toss and set aside to let flavors blend. Can be made an hour in advance but if you do, add the herbs just prior to serving.

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anna brones

writer + artist + activist

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